I am fairly frank about costs, as that is a HUGE factor in planning trips for families on a budget. Most of my blogs end with a basic detail of expenses-gas, lodging, food, etc.
Disney is a little more in depth as far as expenses go and the range is astronomical. From sleeping free in a local relative's floor to $1500 or more a night at the high end resorts; you can really go through the money at Disney!

In 2006, we camped free at a campground owned by a camping group a family member was part of at the time, Thousand Trails. I am not a person to talk to about the benefits of such a membership. We attended via the Y.E.S. program as arranged by our local homeschool guru. We had 5 park hopper passes and 5 waterpark/Disney Quest passes and the kids attended a class on physics one morning of the trip. The tickets were $220 each along with a $10 deposit per person. We only ate in the parks twice and brought in hearty snacks or headed out early the rest of the trip. That was the year Ben got addicted to caffeine breakfast bars and we nearly had an intervention. Parking was $10 a car per day.


In 2008, we stayed outside the parks at Knights Inn Maingate. It was $33 (including tax) per night. We stayed 10 nights total again with the Y.E.S. 5 and 5 passes through the same local homeschool group. It was $225 each with I believe an additional $20 deposit per person. The motel was very basic and served our needs just fine, we were barely there. The kids attended a class on animal behavior, Matt and I were the chaperones. Parking was $12 a car per day. Our motel offered a free shuttle but after we arrived, we found out it ran at 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and that was IT. I did not want to be trapped all day with no options like that. We ate at a counter service (cheaper) place in the parks once a day, brought snacks and ate food at the room.

Both previous trips were the week following Thanksgiving.

This year we are staying at Fort Wilderness in the campground, with our AAA discount, the site averages out to around $48 (incl. tax) a night for 13 nights ($625 total). We are going sans homeschool group this trip so we can attend the student seminar instead. I bought our tickets via Disney Youth Services. An 8 day park hopper pass with the water parks and more option was $276 each ($1380 for all 5). Without the education discount, the same 5 tickets would be $2220.40. The park will be done up for Halloween, which we are all a little geeked about. Our AAA discount saved us around $125 off booking ourselves through Disney for our campsite. I had our reservation code the same day we made the reservations, there's no reason not to take advantage! We will be attending one class all together again, this one on sustainable farming.
Staying on site, we get several advantages such as free parking (it's $17 a car now!) as well as extra magic hours for more time in the parks.

The food plan is to eat breakfast at camp, lunch in the park via restaurants and snacks, dinner at camp, back to the park. It's too expensive to eat every meal in the parks, a sit-down meal for 5 adult diners starts at around $125 and goes up from there and counter service without drinks added is $50-60 for 5. We can take in a couple meal or protien bars to eat around 11 and have a yummy treat around 2 or 3 and most nights make it back to camp for a quick, filling dinner. Every park has a special snack, a $20 splurge even daily is worth budgeting in. Skip stuff like the Mickey ice cream bars, cupcakes or sodas, you can buy those at home! Instead, look over the menus and pick a few new things to try. I suggest the school bread in Norway for EPCOT!