Almost Half of Parents Go Into Debt for Disney Vacation, But Most Have No Regrets

Shannen Ace

Front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom

Almost Half of Parents Go Into Debt for Disney Vacation, But Most Have No Regrets

A new survey finds that almost half of parents go into debt to take their kids on Disney vacations — but most don’t regret the decision.

Disney Vacation Debt

Bar chart showing the percentage of those who took on debt for a Disney vacation, split by demographics. The highest group is parents with children under 18 at 45%, followed by adults without children at 16%, and parents with children 18 or older at 10%.

LendingTree surveyed over 2,000 U.S. consumers, finding that 24% of all Disney guests have gone into debt for their trip. When it comes to parents with children younger than 18, the number jumps up to 45%. This is an increase from LendingTree’s 2022 survey, which found that 18% of all park-goers and 30% of Disney parents go into debt.

Parents of young children took on an average of $1,983 in debt for their Disney trips. This is the highest of all demographics. The average for all Americans who took on Disney debt is $1,690.

Pie chart showing 41% of respondents regretted going into debt for their Disney trip, while 59% did not. Source: LendingTree survey of 196 parents with children under 18, conducted in May 2024.

Of the parents who went into debt, 83% acquired the debt in the past five years, and 35% acquired it in just the past year. But 59% say they have no regrets, and 90% of all parents who have taken their children to a Disney park say it was a treat.

Of all Disney-going Americans, 64% say they have no regrets.

LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said it makes sense that so many parents would take on debt for a Disney vacation and the numbers don’t surprise him.

“For so many parents, taking their kids to Disney is a rite of passage, something they remember fondly from their youth and want to experience with their kids,” he said. “Because of those feelings, they’re often willing to take on debt to get there.”

“I’d argue that could be considered good debt,” Schulz also said. “That debt helped bring you an experience that you and your family are going to remember and talk about for the rest of your lives, which is a pretty darn good return on your investment. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should do it too often. Every once in a while, a little debt generated in service of a greater goal can be fine.”

75% of Americans who took on Disney debt said they paid it off or would pay it off within six months. 32% said it took three to six months.

29% of Disney guests visit without kids. 20% go with adult family and 10% go with adult friends. Gen Zers and baby boomers are the most likely to have adults-only Disney trips at 35% for both. 28% of Gen Xers go on adults-only trips and 24% of millennials do.

Bar chart showing expenses significantly more expensive than budgeted for Disney. Top expenses: in-park food/beverage (65%), transportation (48%), lodging (47%), admission tickets (40%), and fast passes (28%).

65% of guests with Disney debt said food and beverages cost more than they expected. 48% said transportation and 47% said accommodations cost more than planned.

41% of those surveyed used a discount on their most recent Disney trip, including discounts on tickets, dining, and hotels.

Cost is the biggest consideration for Americans who haven’t visited Disney. 60% of those surveyed who have never visited a theme park say it’s too expensive, 31% say it’s too far away, and 26% say they can’t stand the lines.

Pie chart showing responses to "Disney's political views affect my interest in going to a Disney theme park." 50% said no, 19% said yes (more interested), 22% said yes (less interested), and 10% don't know.

40% of all Americans say whether or not they go to Disney is affected by its political views. 22% were less interested in the parks because of politics while 19% were more interested.

What do you think of these numbers? Have you ever considered taking on debt for a dream Disney trip? Share your thoughts with us in the comments and on social media.

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