It’s the age old question: should we take a vacation to Disney World or Hawaii? Okay, maybe it’s not a super common question, but if you’re planning a vacation, we’re sure you’ve considered whether you should spend your time off relaxing on a beach or frolicking around Disney World!
Fortunately, there is somewhere you can enjoy the magic of Disney and relax on the beach — Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa! It’s located in Oahu, Hawaii and is affiliated with Disney Vacation Club. The project was overseen by legendary Imagineer Joe Rohde (who is responsible for a lot of Animal Kingdom) and celebrates the spirit of the island, located right on the water. So, let’s see which option is more expensive — Aulani or Disney World!
We’re going to compare the two by creating example trips to both locations. Our trips will both be for a family of 4 from May 15th, 2022 to May 21st, 2022. Let’s get into it! Just a note that these are the prices as of writing and they can and will vary.
We’ll start in Disney World, where we are going to show examples for 2 different scenarios: A family staying at a Moderate hotel and staying at a Deluxe hotel. Deluxe hotels at Disney World are the most comparable to Aulani in terms of amenities, but you don’t have to stay at a Deluxe hotel on your trip, which is why we’re also showing you a moderate, too.
We chose Disney’s Port Orleans Resort — Riverside as our moderate. A standard room here for the dates we’ve chosen in May start at $333.50 per night, before tax. If you multiply that by the 6 nights of the trip, it comes to a grand total of $2,001before tax, for the hotel.
For our deluxe, we chose Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. A standard room here for these same dates starts at $762.17 per night, before tax. Multiply that by the 6 nights and you get a total of $4,573.02before tax — that’s a BIG difference from the Moderate!
Now, we have to get our theme park tickets for the trip. Since we’re at Disney World for 5 full days, we’ll need a 5-Day Park Hopper ticket — because this family wants to park hop! A 5-Day Park Hopper for the dates we have chosen comes out to $622.63 per person, including tax. If you multiply that by the 4 people in the family, it comes to a total of $2,490.52 total, with tax.
As for transportation, that will vary based on whether you’re driving or flying to Orlando. But, since we have to fly to Hawaii, we’re going to include airfare to Disney World as well! We found these prices through Kayak and we’re choosing Dallas, Texas as our example city. The cheapest roundtrip flight from Dallas to Orlando we found for the dates we chose is $248 per person, before taxes and fees, with American Airlines. So, for our family of 4, this would be a grand total of $992before taxes and fees.
Then, once you get to the airport, you have to get to your hotel! Since both Disney World and Aulani have shuttle services, we’re going to use them for our example. The shuttle service from the Orlando Airport to the Disney Hotels will be Mears Connect. This service is $32 per adult round trip, and $27 per child (ages 3-9) round trip. So, with these prices and our example family having kids between the ages of 3-9, the total for the shuttle service would be $118before tax.
So! That brings us to the total for the basics of our trip. If the family of 4 stays at Port Orleans, their total would be $5,601.52. If the family of 4 stays at the Polynesian, their total would be $8,173.54.
Now, let’s take a look at Aulani! This is not an all-inclusive resort like some others you can find in Hawaii. So, a standard room for 4 people for our chosen dates starts at $549 per night, before tax. Multiple that by the 6 nights of the stay and it comes to $3,294.
Next, let’s take a look at airfare. We are again using Kayak and flying from Dallas, Texas, just to try and keep things as equal as possible. The cheapest round trip flight for our dates from Dallas to Hawaii is $649 per person, before taxes and fees, through American Airlines. This would give our family a grand total of $2,596 for your flight, before taxes and fees.
The shuttle from the Honolulu Airport to Aulani is $24 per adult, which includes children 3 and over, BOTH to and from the airport. So, since the kids in our example family are between the ages of 3 and 9, they qualify as adults. This means the shuttle service to and from the airport would be totally up to $192before tax.
The total for the basics of our Aulani trip comes to $6,082.
So, it really depends on where you stay at Disney World! If you go with the Disney Moderate hotel, it would be cheaper than this trip to Aulani by $480.48. But, if you stay at a Deluxe Disney hotel, it would actually be more than this trip to Aulani by $2,091.54! That’s definitely a big difference that could be a deciding factor in where you’re going on vacation, and where you’re staying.
Now, we want to be sure to note here that there are many factors at play that might make your experience different. Keep in mind that while you are paying for Disney World tickets that guarantee you will have plenty of activities to choose from, you are not paying for any activities at Aulani in this calculation. Your stay at Aulani does include many free activities at the resort, but we suspect that if this is your first trip to Hawaii, you will want to book an excursion or two to see some of the more quintessential Hawaii vacation sites — such as Pearl Harbor or the North Shore. That will add to your cost.
In both cases, we have made no calculations for food. while we find the prices on menus at Disney World and Aulani comparableif you are dining off-property, keep in mind that food on Hawaii could cost more.
So, if you stay at a Moderate hotel at Disney World, the basics of your stay will most likely be slightly less expensive than Aulani, but if you stay at a Deluxe hotel, Disney World could cost significantly more! Your experience will of course vary based on when you travel, how far in advance you book and many other factors. But if you’re dreaming of a Hawaii trip, this may show you it is within reach! Stay tuned to DFB for more Disney news, updates, and info!
Click here to learn about Disney World’s Genie+ program that has replaced FastPass+!
Have you ever been to Aulani? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!