A Disney vacation is a wonderful, magical experience. But a lot of planning goes into making it something unforgettable – and the first task is always “Can we afford it?” There are a lot of ways to cut the cost of a Disney vacation (later this month I’m reviewing Strategies for Paying for Disney – an entire book devoted to paying for a Disney vacation!), but the fact is that most of us can’t just sneak the cost of a Disney getaway into our normal monthly budget. Unfortunately that can prevent us from even trying – the knowledge that Disney is expensive. It might even seem out of reach, so we don’t even try. Today I’d like to answer the top 5 Disney budget questions that I hear all the time:

Q: Just how much does a Disney vacation cost?

A: That all depends on the options you choose – staying in a value resort vs. a Deluxe, choosing the quick service dining plan vs. the Premium package, length and time of your vacation, etc. In general, I ballpark our Disney vacations at between $2000 – $6000. Our first trip, for two adults, three children and one infant, for 5 nights at a moderate resort, cost $5000 including airfare. Our solo trip next year, two adults for three nights, is coming in around $2000.

Q: Do I have to pay for everything up front?

A: No. Disney requires a $200 deposit to secure your reservation. After that you can pay it off however you like, as long as the balance is paid in full 45 days before you travel. You will have to pay for your airfare up front, in addition to the Disney deposit.

Q: What are some ways I can lower the cost of a Disney vacation?

A: That really depends on what’s important to you. Staying off-site is definitely less expensive than staying on-property, but for me that immersive resort experience is part of what makes a Disney vacation special. For me, staying in a Disney resort hotel is essential. If you have the flexibility, plan your vacation for one of the value seasons (generally, any time the kids are in school). Forego the park hopper and water park ticket add-ons. You really do need a full day for each park anyway, and the resort pools are pretty amazing.

Do you have questions about fitting a Disney vacation into your budget? Ask in the comments!