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Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

Chicago
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Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

I just completed plans for a 3 night Wisconsin Dells August trip with moderately frugal activity/food items and a discount rate at Great Wolf. Adding up all the numbers we're going to spend about $1,100 on a four day trip for 2 adults and 1 child.

I'm reeling in shock! I could seriously go to Disney World for this kind of money! We did Disney World in February for 5 nights and only paid $1,500 and that included resort, park tickets, dining and airfare!

Not only was the Dells hotel expensive ($570 for THREE nights after taxes and fees) but even frugal activities really add up. Our room has a fridge/microwave so my plan includes only 1 restaurant meal per day, either breakfast or lunch to keep costs down. The rest is stuff I bring from home that we'll heat and eat in the room. The only activities planned are 1 round of mini golf, 1 round of MagiQuest and 1 night at the drive in theatre.

If you're planning a Dells trip add it all up first and I bet you'll be surprised at that big fat number in the Total box of your spreadsheet.

The next time I plan a vacation I'm not even looking at the Dells.

Milwaukee
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1. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

I don't think anyone ever said Wisconsin Dells is cheap.

Your comparison may be a little unfair however in one regard. August is high season for the Dells. February is not high season for Orlando. A more accurate comparison might be August in the Dells and Easter at Disney.

WI
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2. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

we usually stay for no more than $100/night anytime during the summer but we don't do the high end resorts opting to enjoy a day of what we like--Noah's Ark. We also typically stay only one or possibly two nights. We do the motel, Noah's and maybe two, maybe three at most other activities while there and it comes out to be a reasonable (not cheap but not super expensive either). It's not cheap but I've found similar prices in areas of CO and other areas of travel too. We try to make the most of it the best way possible and enjoy the Dells despite high prices and crowds by going at the right times and getting the discounts that are out there to take advantage of. For us it's on our way to other places when we travel too so often we dip into the Dells for one or two activities and leave the same day and onto our next destination. I understand your frustration things do add up quickly.

Chicago
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3. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

Perhaps comparing February Disney to August Dells is apples and oranges - but I don't think anyone could argue that $1,100 for 3 nights for 3 people is very expensive (especially since we're not really doing that much and 2/3 of our meals will be self-prepared.)

I always thought of Wisconsin Dells as more of a value-type vacation destination versus say a cruise, an ocean beach or Disney World. That's why I was so shocked to see the bottom line when, for the first time ever, I actually added everything up.

Now we officially know. It ain't cheap! ;)

Edited: 23 July 2011, 19:12
3rd Chaise to the...
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4. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

The big waterpark resorts get the big money. If you want to stay cheaper in the Dells you can.

But I will admit that I can fly to New Orleans and spend a week there off-season for less than it would cost me to drive to the Dells and stay for a week in accommodations that meet my minimums..

Iowa
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5. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

It sure can be:-)!

If you're coming to the Dells on a budget (and who isn't these days?), I think it's important to figure out exactly what you want to do ahead of time, and price everything out. Because it really can add up.

But, it's certainly no different than other tourist areas. I've started planning a vacation to the Smokies for June 2012, and Gatlinburg is just as pricey for things as the Dells (hence we're spending most of our time in Smoky Mountain National Park which is free instead of Gatlinburg;-).

And, the one great thing about Disney World is that the more days you add to your Magic My Way tickets, the cheaper it is. BUT if you add in tickets to Sea World, Universal, Kennedy Space Center, etc. it really adds up fast too. We were going to go to Islands of Adventure on our recent Disney trip, but it was almost $500 for one day tickets for the five of us!!! We decided to stick with Disney for the entire trip instead:-).

Milwaukee
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6. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

I've never thought of the Dells as a value vacation destination. Even before the waterparks and luxury resorts when I was a kid I think my parents always spent more than they planned when we visited the Dells.

What I hear in the media is people are trying to save money by vacationing within driving distance to avoid paying for airfare. That doesn't mean it's cheap once you arrive.

I've heard many people say cruises can be much cheaper than Disney, if you find a good deal on the cruise and airfare since meals are included. Of course they can nickel and dime you for drinks and lots of things to buy on the ship and day trips at ports of call, but if you watch your incidental expenses cruising can be a very affordable vacation option.

Gladstone, Michigan
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7. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

It's not for everyone, but we are members of "The Club" at The Chula Vista, and pay very little (less than $150) for 2 nights with 4 adults and 2 kids in a big room with our discounts. This enables us to go several times a year :) but everything else is pricey- we eat breakfasts at Denny's and dinners at Applebees aren't too bad either.

Illinois
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8. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

I love this post because I've been saying this for years but it falls on deaf ears. I'm in the NW suburbs of Chicago and SO many people out here only go on vacation to the Dells....or to Disney. Both are great places, both are a total blast, but both are expensive. I love both but tend to plan my visits off season. I also recommend that people stay a little off the beaten path-my family has always stayed and a great little "resort" in Westfield, Wisconsin-about 35 minutes from the Dells. We stay for under $400 for the entire week and then drive over to walk around downtown and hit Noah's Ark.

And Kren-have you looked at staying in Townsend instead? I can recommend a fabulous cabin. You'll save $$ and can drive into Gatlinburg once or twice for your fix but will be minutes from the park entrance and Cades Cove.

Iowa
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9. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

librarychick--yes, Townsend is where we've decided to stay! We're going to stay at a camping cabin at the KOA--super cheap, and I think the kids will love the whole camping experience. I think we'll only drive to Gatlinburg once, to go to the aquarium. We're doing a day too at Dollywood, otherwise we'll be in the national park.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: Wisconsin Dells is as Expensive as Disney World

I agree with those who say that the Dells have never been a "cheap" vacation. My dad refused to stop there when we were on trips to the North Woods from Illinois. Also, you are looking at $122 per night per person inclusive. Not cheap, but not totally unreasonable either. It shows that when you buy packages, you get deals.

Pam