The Great Debate: Disney Cruise or Walt Disney World?

Here at Hi Ho Vacations were asked many questions by our clients and those who follow us on social media. Most we can answer easily. But theres ONE question that continually comes up..

Should we do a trip to Walt Disney World or take a Disney Cruise?

Its a valid questionbut, as your trusted Disney experts, it is seriously the HARDEST question to answer (without knowing more about you personally). Asking whether to take a Disney Cruise or visit Disney World is like asking

Should I go to Alaska or the Bahamas?
Should I have wine or coffee?
Should I spend my Saturday Netflixing on the couch or having brunch with my friends?

They are both great options with wildly different experiences and there is no wrong answer.

This “debate” is one we hear often, but with a simple phone consultation— which we offer all clients before quoting— our Hi Ho Vacations planner can help you figure out which option is the best for your family!

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Walt Disney World

Disney is the MECCA of family vacations. Theres so much to take in- the characters, the food, the rides, the sounds, the people. Add to that, visiting Disney World has a certain nostalgia that becomes ingrained memories from many of our childhoods.

Heres what one Mom had to say about why she prefers Walt Disney World over a Disney Cruise:

As you know, I love Disney World and other than the ambiance and sentimentality I have for it (my best childhood memories were made there) the rides are my favorite part!! I love feeling like a kid again on the rides and just letting loose and enjoying the moment. I have heard that Disney Cruises are amazing and I am sure they are far more relaxing 😊. But I dont go to Disney to relax 😉– A. Nunn, Mom of 2, Tennessee

Shes so right! Disney World isnt where you go to relax; however you can build in time to relax while there. We are huge fans of building in downdays at the resort or breaking up your time during the park with a low key mid-day break back at the resort.

The Pros:
The look on your children (or your adults!) face when they meet their favorite characters, experiencing the rides together and having (mostly) uninterrupted family time are just the beginning of our list of reasons to love Walt Disney World.

From a parents perspective, Disney is a fun place to say YES! Lets face itas parents we often spend our time telling our children NO; its fun to get to turn that on its head.

At Disney World you are immersed into this magical, carefree world. We usually have no idea whats going on outside of our vacationits a total and much needed escape.

The Cons:
In some cases, patience is necessary. As your planner, one of our top priorities is helping you make the most of Fastpass+ and Dining Reservation selections. By booking these early, your wait times will be minimal. 

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Meeting Donald Duck at Chef Mickey’s!

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruises are topnotch. You cant compare the experience you had on any other cruise line, as Disney ups the ante on every level.

Heres what one Mom had to say about why she prefers to take her family on Disney Cruises over a Walt Disney World trip:

Disney Cruise hands down. You are treated like royalty. For example, as you are walking onto the boat, they announce your name and then a line of cast members clap for you. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. Disney always does a great job at giving its customers a great experience, but the Disney Cruise was on a different level.

Another examplewe stayed in a room that had a small verandah. I suffer from extreme asthma and the guests next to us were smoking on their verandah even though smoking is not allowed on the cruise ship. I mentioned it to a staff member in passing and later that evening, the Disney Cruise staff arrived at our door with a gift basket of Disney treats apologizing for the man smoking next door. Ha ha it wasnt even Disneys fault, but they were the ones apologizing.

Last thought about it all: we all know that decision making uses willpower and we all have limited amounts of willpower in any given day. Disney cruises basically give you an itinerary that you follow daily (when to eat, when to attend shows, what entertainment is available and when) that you use limited amount of willpower and end up just really enjoying your time. I love Disney world, but I find it can be exhausting when to do what and when to be where. Disney cruises do a great job at keeping you entertained and making sure you are absolutely enjoying your time. If I could, I would be going on a Disney Cruise quarterly!” — C. Wray, Mom of 2, Utah

The Pros:
Disney Cruises are known for their incredible attention to detail, as well as their standards for service and cleanliness. Overwhelmingly, families become obsessed with DCL because it is a true vacation. Every detail is taken care of, so everyone gets to relax. EVEN MOM!

The Cons:
The worry of sea sickness is a common one, but often the fear of motion sickness is more the issue. If you are prone to motion sickness there are ways to manage your experience.

And while you might think that wed put the price on the Conlist, the truth is Disney Cruise Line is WORTH the price! Of course, we know great ways and tips that save you money. With a minimum deposit and great planning, you absolutely can budget for a Disney Cruise for your family!

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Cabana at Castaway Cay!

Sonow that you have an idea of the fundamental differenceswhich one should you take? Here are some thoughts directly from some of our planners:

Both. Seriously. They are as different as night & day. Disney World is more thrilling, Disney Cruise is more relaxing.– Donna Bickert

“…completely different vacation experiences. When we cruise, we know were going to walk off the ship feeling relaxed and recharged (and sad to be leaving!). Our time on the ship is worry-free and truly gives us all a chance to unwind. The customer service and attention to detail on DCL is impeccable and the whole family can enjoy the vacation in the way they want. We LOVE Disney World, but it rarely feels like a relaxingvacation. But having the opportunity to spend time together as a family, riding the rides we want, enjoying the shows and fireworks and character interactions is also an awesome vacation!– Allison Barmore

Even though Disney World has accommodations for those having differing needs, nothing can eliminate the sensory overload that comes with the environment. DCL is our vacation of choice. I am able to give the boys a little more freedom then they might otherwise be given in another environment (or at least let them think that the leash is a little longer      😉), we can escape back to our room quickly if we need too, the kids areas are amazing, and the service is fantastic. But the best thing form me is that we are all unplugged while we are on the ship.– Heather Tyler

I love them both for very different reasons. I have never in my life been more zen than after the rainforest room on the Disney cruise. It was heaven. Theres no better vacation where you get both family vacation time AND personal vacation time. I also love the rides, atmosphere and experiences of WDW. I love being on the go and being a kid in the parks.– Amber Moss


Instead of choosing one, plan to experience both! When the time allows, experience Walt Disney World with your family and maybe for your next Disney vacation, go with the cruise. Once youve done both, your family will be able to tell your their preference.


Theres always the Land AND Sea option! Spend a day or two at the parks before heading to the port! Heres how one Mom of two plans her Disney vacations to get the best of both worlds:

Both land and sea in that order – best of both worlds. Do the parks for a few days and then do a cruise and rest from being on your feet and rushing around. 

If you can swing both, then I like to pick a Park for the Friday before the cruise and then go to the port on Saturday and do a one week Fantasy. We have done four DCL and they are simply the best. The level of service is above and beyond. It is a spendy trip, but our Disney cruises are the best vacation memories of all!A. McGuire, Mom of 2, Ohio

Whether your next trip is to Walt Disney World, a Disney Cruise or one of our other premium vacation options (like Aulani and Adventures by Disney), know that your Award-Winning Hi Ho Vacations Planners are here to take the stress out of planning!

If you have any questions or are interested in getting a quote for your next family vacation, contact your planner directly or email us at

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