Disney World is more expensive than ever. The cost of a single-day admittance ticket during the Magic Kingdom’s debut in 1971 was just $3.50. Now, depending on the day you want to visit, a one-day ticket to a single Disney World park might cost anywhere between $109 and $159.
A family vacation to Walt Disney World is no longer affordable for many families, and Disney loyalists have taken note. Time2Play surveyed nearly 2,000 self-described Disney World fans, and the consensus is that it’s now a luxury destination and is longer affordable for middle-class families.
- 92.6% say the cost of a Disney vacation is now out of reach for average families
- Repeat travelers say they expect to pay 35.7% more for their next Disney trip compared to their last one
- 68.3% expressed Disney World has lost its magic due to rampant price increases
Fortunately, Walt Disney World is not the only option for theme park fun. Here are several regional theme parks that are considerably more affordable and perhaps even more fun than Disney-themed parks.
Silver Dollar City, Branson Missouri
The internationally acclaimed 1880s-themed theme park Silver Dollar City is situated atop one of Missouri’s deepest caves and offers more than 40 exhilarating rides & attractions. Silver Dollar City also has many live shows & concerts, 100 resident craftsmen demonstrating American heritage crafts, multiple restaurants, and 60 unique shops.
Season ticket holder Darius B. explains, “Silver Dollar City is a great option for those on a budget. Not only can you park for free (with a free tram ride into the park!), you can also bring in your own food and drink. That is a huge cost saving especially if you have multiple kids. Also, if you’re content with water, you can get free ice water at any food or concession stand.”
From spring to Christmas, top-notch festivals and activities are presented as the park is decorated with approximately 6.5 million lights.
Tickets to Silver Dollar City are only $79, and kids aged four and under are free.
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dollywood was voted the #1 Theme Park in the US by TripAdvisor in 2022.
There are many similarities between Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, as the parks are owned (co-owned in the case of Dollywood) by the same parent company.
The resort has on-site playgrounds, storytelling, a game room, and camp DW- fun summer-filled themes and activities to keep their imagination running wild.
In addition to the rides, Dollywood is also home to Dollywoods’ Splash Country. This waterpark will fill an entire day with fun and excitement for everyone.
Tickets to Dollywood are $89. Children under four do not need to purchase a ticket for Dollywood. Children 4-9 will need a ticket, but they are available at a discounted rate.
Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri
Worlds of Fun also has a waterpark called Oceans of Fun, which is connected to Worlds of Fun and included in the price of admission. Oceans of Fun has many family-friendly and little kid-approved water attractions.
In addition to the fun slides, there is a Captain Kidd’s area and Castaway Cove where the kids can splash and play while cooling off from the summer heat.
World of Fun only costs $29 for a day pass.
Six Flags, Many Locations
Six Flags offers more than just thrilling rides. Many theme parks now remain open with weekend hours through the holiday season.
Many Six Flags locations have Halloween-themed events, and most offer special badges or buttons that little kids can wear to let the costumed employees know not to frighten these little ghouls.
If you don’t mind warming up with hot chocolate, some Six Flags locations have started decorating their parks with thousands of twinkling lights and displays for the Christmas season, Holiday in the Park.
The theme park is decorated with Christmas trees and lights, and there are even areas where children can work on fun holiday-themed crafts they can take home with them.
Rides are still open, weather permitting, during Holiday in the Park, but be warned, it will be more chilling than thrilling.
Six Flags Tickets are only $35. Plus, there are many ways to get discount tickets at Six Flags.
Neli’s Dutch Village, Holland, Michigan
In addition to experiencing the Dutch lifestyle, from cheese making to wooden shoe making, Neli’s Dutch Village also includes several perfectly sized rides for little kids and little kids at heart.
At Neli’s Dutch Village, you will find a traditional hand-painted carousel, swing ride, pedal cars, and a Ferris Wheel.
The buildings are designed and decorated as you would find them if you vacation in a European country.
There are also a wide variety of Dutch-themed shops at Neli’s where you can purchase cheese, dutch fudge and place an order for Tulips in the spring for pick up and planting by fall.
Holland, MI, is home to the Tulip Time Festival each spring, where thoughts of visitors flock to see the brilliantly beautiful Tulips bloom each year.
Tickets to Neli’s Dutch Village are only $15.
Instead of spending Uncle Scrooge’s money bin at Walt Disney World, consider visiting one of these regional amusement parks. You’ll save quite a bit of money and have just as much fun.
Greg is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with 22+ years experience in Financial Services. He has held numerous FINRA Securities licenses (series 7, 63, 65, and 66), and is an expert on Investment Products and Financial Planning. Greg has 22+ years experience as a real estate investor and degrees in Psychology and Philosophy.
Greg has been quoted/interviewed in Yahoo Money, Yahoo Finance, USA Today, Authority Magazine, Realtor.com, Business Insider, and others.
Greg is an avid runner, and the father to identical twin girls and their awesome brother. His love of budgeting and his kids led him to join The Great Resignation in 2021.
Disclaimer: Any Financial Tips on ChaChingQueen are general and informational. Speak with a professional about your specific situation.