Most of our friends know that we have been on 3 (absolutely awesome) Disney Cruises in the last 5 years, in addition to visiting the (immensely fun) Disney parks so we often get asked, "What should we do: the parks or a cruise?"
So much of a successful trip depends on your family's unique travel style but here is a comparison of the two, quite different, experiences.
Self-proclaimed as "The Most Magical Place on Earth", Disney World is hard to beat. With a mind-blowing 20.49 million visitors* each year, Magic Kingdom ranks as the world's most popular theme park. But like all destinations, there are pros and cons.
Rides and Attractions - If your family enjoys rides and interactive attractions, Disney World takes the trophy. While there are but a few high-speed roller coasters, there are plenty of theme rides to satisfy the youngest to the oldest. A cruise cannot compete with this particular feature!
Cinderella's Castle (and light show!) - One of the most iconic castles in the world, this one delights like no other! And the spectacular light and laser show offered every night is a beautiful array of art and technology.
Multiple Parks - Walt Disney World offers a unique variety of theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios as well as two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Even when the kids [think] they've outgrown Mickey and the Magic Kingdom, you can still "wow" them with a safari at Animal Kingdom or take a mini trip around the world at EPCOT.
More Affordable - While a trip to Disney World is not cheap, it is generally more affordable than a cruise in a day to day price comparison.
(*Statistics from Walt Disney World Statistics, https://magicguides.com/disney-world-statistics/)
Crowds of People - Earlier I cited the whopping stats of just the Magic Kingdom park and that averages out to about 56,000 people in that one park alone. Even on off-season days, Disney World can be crowded.
Unpredictable Weather - While weather can certainly impact a cruise as well, theme park adventures can be severely dampened by disagreeable weather.
Extensive Walking - Each park covers multiple acres so you'd better prepare for lots and lots of walking to cover everything you want to see.
With 4 ships sailing constantly around the globe and another two set to debut in 2020, Disney Cruise Line is a small but mighty fleet. Offering the exceptional service that only Disney provides, many families choose to cruise, especially with extended family. Here's the lowdown on Disney Cruises.
All Inclusive - For the ultimate ease of planning and relaxation, cruises are your best bet. And Disney excels like no other with it's family friendly atmosphere, cleanliness, and good cuisine. While you do have to pay for port excursions and a few on-board amenities (think spa and adult beverages), once you pay for the cruise, there are minimal costs. You get Broadway style shows, unlimited food, movies and tons of free activities.
Kid's Clubs - Need I say more? The fact that mom and dad can enjoy a little kid-free time, all while the kids BEG to visit the kid's clubs, makes for a win-win!
Frequent Character Experiences - At Disney World, when your kid must see Elsa or Pluto, you almost have to plan your whole day around the time it takes to stand in line to see them....And each character is usually a separate location and line. Not so on Disney cruises! Characters frequently roam the boat and you can also visit most characters 3-4 at a time with about a 15 minute wait.
Disney Fun + Destination - The great thing about a Disney cruise is you get the excitement of Disney plus a cool destination. Disney sails the Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Canada, Europe and more!
Overall Cost - Though a cruise includes most of your trip's expenses, it admittedly is not cheap. Watch prices constantly if you are interested in a particular cruise. Fares occasionally drop and then you know when to pounce on the good price!
Children Aren't Free - Disney Cruises have to fund the awesome club facilities and the exemplary staff so don't ever expect find a "kids sail free" deal on Disney. They run almost as much as adult fares. Though you don't have to pay for infants, they do charge for nursery care for children under 3 years of age.
Limited Sailings/Seasonal - Disney offers some great cruise itinerary's but you will be more limited on travel times depending on season and any inclement weather. While Disney World is open almost every day of the year, you may only have a few weeks of cruises to choose from if you want a particular destination.
So there you have it, the pros and cons of both Disney experiences. So I wanna know... Which will you choose for your family? Comment below to share why!
(And if you just can't choose between the two, Disney now offers a Land & Sea Package starting with 3-night cruises and park tickets!)
<< I purposely withheld our family's personal favorite until the end so we would not influence you, but our pick, hands down, would be....... a Disney Cruise! There is nothing like the feeling of sailing away to sea with your family as you leave all work and worries at shore!>>