If you’re a regular visitor to Walt Disney World or if you pay particular attention to menu boards or your receipts while on vacation, you may have noticed some inconsistencies in the pricing of items and foodstuff across the sprawling property.
So why — oh, why! — does a Mickey Pretzel seem to cost more in some Disney World locations versus others? Why are certain resorts taxed at a higher rate? And what’s the deal with water that’s even more expensive than usual? Let’s get into it.
Mickey Pretzel, Why Art Thou Pricier?
Imagine this scenario: on day one of your vacation, you purchase a Mickey Pretzel (with gooey cheese sauce included!) for $7.19 at Magic Kingdom’s Lunching Pad. It’s delicious! On day two, you simply must have another. SO you stop at The Land Cart in EPCOT to discover that the SAME snack is now $7.50! What’s the deal?
If you read the fine print on many of the theme parks’ free-standing snack kiosks and stands, you’ll discover that tax is “included where applicable” — and that means the Mickey Pretzel! So when you’re purchasing your snack at a stand, you’re not really paying more — they’re just generally listing the price with tax included versus not included.
In other spots, you’ll notice that it will sometimes specifically say “sales tax not included.”
So if you’re noticing a weird difference in price between some snacks, take a look and see if sales tax being included vs. not being included is what’s making the difference!
Click here to read about the HUNDREDS of price increases that have reached Disney World’s restaurants!
Do the All-Star Resorts Have a Hidden Fee?
No, not really, but guests staying at an All-Star Resort hotel are paying a smidge more in taxes than at any other resort at Walt Disney World. Who’s fault is that? Osceola County! 😉 That’s right: geography is to blame for this slight increase in the tax rate on rooms at the All-Stars.
That’s because these properties are located just over the Orange/Osceola County line (they fall into Osceola County), and Osceola County’s tax rate is higher. Add that higher rate to the flat state sales tax rate (6%), and you get 7.5% taxes in Osceola County versus Orange County’s 6.5%.
Disney actually outlined these taxes and the tourism tax in a post on planDisney from September of 2021. In it they noted that the Disney World resorts are subject to an additional tourism tax that applies to Orlando hotels (this is in addition to the regular state and county sales tax). That extra fee is 6%. So typically Orange County resorts will have a total 12.5% tax rate, while Osceola resorts (the All-Stars) will have a 13.5% tax rate.
Though that is always subject to change. On May 1st, 2022, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings won the approval needed to put a sales tax increase for transportation projects on the ballot that will go before voters in November.
This proposal (if approved by the voters) would increase the Orange County sales tax from 6.5% to 7.5% starting January 1st, and the extra penny-per-dollar increase would be in effect for 20 years. We’ll keep an eye out for updates.
Blame It on Osceola!
That tax rate also generally impacts purchases made in Osceola County, so some of your food and merchandise will typically cost a few cents more at the World Premiere Food Court or gift shop in Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort than it does at Sunshine Seasons or stores at EPCOT. It’s that county tax coming back to attack your wallet again!
In the 2021 post on planDisney, Disney outlined some scenarios when you might see this applied. Generally, theme park tickets and most merchandise in the parks fall under Orange County and thus the 6.5% sales tax would apply. Anything in Osceola County will usually have the 7.5% sales tax. According to Disney, groceries are usually tax free, but prepared foods and restaurant foods get the same sales tax treatment that merchandise gets.
If you’re really set on pinching pennies — and we totally know how important that can be at Walt Disney World — consider making your purchases outside of Osceola County if you can. For example, if you’ve got to have a particular souvenir and know you can find it at Disney Springs or in a park, plan to buy it there instead of getting it at an All-Star Resort.
We know as well as anyone that it’s expensive to vacation at Walt Disney World, but these wacky price inconsistencies are part and parcel of living that Disney life. 😆 Still, when you’re trying to be mindful about spending, it’s helpful to know what’s going on behind the receipts.
And if you want to be even better prepared for some hidden Disney expenses, check out this DFB Guide YouTube video where we break ’em down!
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What are some hidden costs of a Walt Disney World vacation that you’ve encountered? Tell us about them in the comments.