The most luxury experiences at Disney

The most luxury experiences at Disney

For some Disney fans, waiting in ride lines and dining with the masses at the theme parks just won’t do.

Those seeking a lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous experience can be ushered through lines by a dedicated guide for as much as $900 an hour; watch fireworks from a private boat for $450; or spend three hours sampling food and wine in the kitchen of a fine-dining restaurant for $635 a person. Not pricey enough? There’s always the $18,000 private dinner experience.

Plenty of people are paying for these experiences; in some cases, demand is so high that there’s a waiting list.

“There are a number of people out there where money is no object,” said Greg Antonelle, co-owner of the travel agency MickeyTravels. “I’m a little jealous.”

He said a five-day trip with VIP access, fancy food and luxury accommodations could easily add up to $30,000 to $40,000.

The Walt Disney Company has made headlines for exorbitant prices, including the now-closed $5,000 Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel and role-playing experience and $115,000 private jet excursion to every global Disney park. Even entry-level visitors complain about ticket prices, food costs and the relatively new expense of skipping lines.

The company offers more budget-friendly options, with the cheapest ticket priced at $104 or $109 in California and Florida respectively. In low season, a value-priced hotel room at Disney World runs for about $155 a night.

“Like other vacation destinations, we give our guests lots of options to customize their Disney experience,” Disney spokesperson Avery Maehrer said in a statement.

Still, some fans complain that a Disney vacation has become so costly that it’s out of reach for the middle class, even without luxury upgrades. Between tickets, hotel, food and souvenirs, even a penny-pinching trip can set a family of four back more than $3,000.

For those who have never pinched a penny in their lives — or just saved for a special-occasion splurge — Disney provides a host of options. The extras range from pricey add-ons to truly aspirational indulgence.

Consider some of the most annoying aspects of a Disney trip — parking, hiking to the gate, queuing to get in, then standing in, line for rides all day. Now imagine avoiding all of that. That’s the promise of a VIP guide who will pick you up, sweep you through backstage entrances and usher you onto rides with minimal or no waits.

The convenience doesn’t come cheap. At Walt Disney World, the tour costs between $450 and $900 an hour, depending on the time of year, with a minimum of seven hours and maximum of 10. Ten people can be part of the group. Park admission is not included — and neither is a tip.

Antonelle said his company has clients who will book 10 days at Disney World and opt for VIP tours for seven of those days. He said it’s not uncommon to see a plaid-wearing VIP tour guide carry a family’s food trays at restaurants or push strollers with the group.

Cara Goldsbury, president and founder of the luxury Disney travel agency Glass Slipper Concierge, said the guides also share stories, trivia and history, and provide access to special viewing areas for parades and nighttime shows.

“That’s the only way to do it as far as most of our clients are concerned,” she said.

Photographers are stationed all over Disney World parks to take photos of guests, but those snapshots aren’t free. To get downloads of all the pictures from an entire trip, including from rides, the “Memory Maker” package costs $185 if purchased in advance, or $210 during the vacation.

For those who want more time with a photographer, or don’t want to wait for six other families to get that shot in front of the castle, Disney offers private 20-minute photo sessions for $99.

Staci Kimball, a travel adviser and vice president of GSC World Travel, a sister company to Glass Slipper Concierge, said clients care more about memories and experiences than merchandise.

“We really do always recommend either a private photo session or certainly buying the Memory Maker photo package so they can capture all of those memories,” she said.

Mickey Mouse ears, popcorn buckets and bubble wands are always in demand, but some travelers want to have a role in making their souvenirs.

Kimball said she helps clients book the Savi’s Workshop experience, where Star Wars-loving visitors can custom-build their own lightsaber. It costs about $250 at Hollywood Studios in Florida and $220 at Disneyland in California.

“That is a really popular, popular activity,” she said. “That can also be hard to get.”

Another in-demand interactive gadget: a build-your-own droid for about $120 in Florida and $100 in California.

Don’t want to brave crowds for fireworks? There are a number of ways to get a better view — including from the water.

Starting at $449, a private fireworks cruise at Disney World can seat up to 10 people and includes snacks and drinks. Chartered boats set sail from several hotels to view the fireworks show at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

“What we’ve learned is people that are spending exorbitant amounts of money on their vacation, they don’t like waiting in lines, number one, and they don’t like being 20 rows of people back for fireworks,” Antonelle said. Sure, fireworks are overhead, but who really wants to camp out for a good spot and look at hundreds of other necks craning if they can avoid it?

Kids who dream of being royalty, or just looking like the product of a fairy godmother’s magic wand, can visit Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom or Disneyland Park.

Packages start at $99.95 for the princess treatment in both locations or $19.95 for a knight’s look in Florida and $49.95 in California. The most expensive option, starting at $450, includes a “signature Disney Princess gown,” crystal tiara, garment bag, hairstyling, makeup, sash, face gem and nail polish.

“I just did Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with my 5-year-old granddaughter,” said Goldsbury, who wrote The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World Resort.” “It was the most darling experience.”

$7,900-plus a night hotel

Goldsbury said her company prefers to book clients at Disney World’s priciest, most conveniently located — or “deluxe” — resorts, especially those connected by monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Some rooms have “club level” designation with lounges and free food, she said.

A search of available inventory shows a club-level two-bedroom suite at the Grand Floridian for $3,597 a night in early April of 2025. The Polynesian’s King Kamehameha suite is listed for $3,320 in late August of 2025, a typical slow season.

In California, the two-bedroom Mickey Mouse suite at the Disneyland Hotel is going for about $5,025 in June of this year, and the two-bedroom Mount Whitney suite at the Grand Californian is listed for a whopping $7,984 a night in June.

For some travelers, deluxe hotel prices pose zero problems. Antonelle said he books a “royal family from overseas” at a Disney World deluxe resort.

“They’ll book out literally dozens of rooms because they’re bringing their nannies, they’re bringing their security,” he said.

$18,000 private dining experience

Disney parks are full of budget-stretching drinking and dining options. But three-course dinner inspired by “Beauty and the Beast?” Get ready to shell out $70 per adult. A tequila tasting with a “certified Tequila Ambassador” costs $180 per person. The Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s, a restaurant at the Grand Floridian Resort, is a hot ticket at $635 a person for wine and food.

21 Royal, a private dining experience situated atop Pirates of the Caribbean in California, may take the cake. It costs $18,000 for a group as large as 12 and promises transportation, a reception, opportunity to explore the apartment-type surroundings, a meal on gold-plated dinnerware and balcony dessert with a view of evening entertainment.

AJ Wolfe, owner of the Disney Food Blog, has eaten at 21 Royal twice.

“It was luxurious for sure — the food was wonderful, and I felt like a VIP,” she wrote in an email. “Also, for a Disney history nerd it’s amazing because you know that Walt was integral in thinking about that space — maybe not the decor necessarily, but the layout.”

$95,000 top-floor hotel buyout

The Four Seasons Resort Orlando, near the theme parks, allows guests to rent out its entire 16th floor, which includes balconies with a view of fireworks at Epcot and Magic Kingdom. While the hotel isn’t operated by Disney, advisers say it’s a good fit for luxury travelers who are used to five-star service.

According to the resort, the cost for the top floor is $95,000 a night, plus tax. On a smaller but still extremely expensive scale, prices for the Presidential Suite start at $19,000 a night and $22,000 a night for the Royal Suite.

Jennifer Kozlow, a travel adviser and vice president of Glass Slipper Concierge, said she had clients who spent their five-week honeymoon at Disney World. The trip included transportation to a special event in a carriage, a custom gown, private dining as the characters from “Beauty and the Beast” danced, a special fireworks viewing and VIP tours every other day for the five-week stretch. The couple stayed in presidential suites at four different hotels.

Another client managed to spend the same amount of money in a much shorter stretch: four days. Kozlow said the group — a family of 37 — bought out the top floor of the Four Seasons to celebrate the matriarch’s 80th birthday. The family had private meals delivered to their suites so relatives could come and go. The group did daily VIP tours using four guides.

“They flew in on a private plane just to see the resort,” Kozlow said.

There is one thing money can’t buy, she said.

“People do ask: Can they get a character to come to their suite? That you definitely can’t do,” Kozlow said. “They don’t tuck you in at night.”

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