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Las Vegas Or Disney: Which Is America’s Ultimate Vacation Spot?

Now that spring is in full swing and summer is on the horizon, it’s vacation time for many — or at least vacation planning time. But with so many prime destinations around the country worth visiting, what factors (and magic) make a place the ultimate vacation spot?

Sure, the word “vacation” means a lot of different things to different people, but there’s no question that iconic microcosms like Las Vegas and Disney are at the top of many lists.

Do glittering lights combined with the endless entertainment of Sin City outweigh the magical world of Disney, where dreams always come true? We explored several trends when it comes to these two classic destinations — and which one wins the title of America’s ultimate vacation spot just might surprise you.

Key Takeaways

  • People spend a whopping 65% more overall on a typical Disney vacation than they do on a typical Vegas vacation.
  • Mississippi residents spend the most on Vegas trips, while Wisconsinites spend the most at Disney.
  • States are most likely to select Disney (19) as their preferred vacation spot over Vegas (14). The destinations are tied in 13 states, and 5 prefer neither.
  • The majority of respondents said their vacation preference was influenced by promotions, special offers, or discounts that could help them save money.

Las Vegas vs. Disney: A Battle of Iconic Destinations

Even if you haven’t been to either of these places, it’s almost certain you know a good bit about them — what they promise, what kind of fun you’ll have, and where you’ll be spending your money. In Vegas, you might expect a rowdy night or two full of casino cha-chings and money spent on mai tais, whereas in Disney you may be paying premium prices for a fancy tea party or some sun by the pool.

Frequency of Visits

When it comes to frequency of visitation, Disney holds a slight edge with 53% of vacation-lovers opting for the most magical place on earth once every few years, compared to 43% for Vegas. People rarely visit either of these destinations more than twice in one year, and just 7% visit Sin City once a year — not much more than the 5% who frequent Disney on the same basis.

Perhaps most startling is how often people never visit Las Vegas or Disney: 47% of those surveyed said they never visit Las Vegas, while 38% said they never visit a Disney Park. (This might be a peek into how costly it is to go on vacation, period – no matter where it is.)

Emotional Attachments

Of course, emotional connections play significant roles in choosing where to vacation. Not surprisingly at all, Disney pulls at the heartstrings of significantly more travelers, with 43% admitting they had some kind of emotional connection to the magical kingdom. Only 26% of Vegas visitors claim a similar sentiment (which may ironically have more to do with nostalgic trips to the strip in the past).

Perhaps it’s the childhood nostalgia or enchanting characters that make Disney more than just a vacation spot for many, but it continues to successfully draw people in by tugging at heartstrings (and wallets) for an unforgettable experience. While Vegas also has the potential to give visitors the vacation of a lifetime, it’s also likely at least some wild times might be forgotten — which might be exactly what some are looking for.

Social Media Influences

In the age of Instagram Reels, TikTok, and infinite feeds, social media’s sway on vacation decisions cannot be underestimated. Both Vegas and Disney influence potential customers with exceptional social media posts and photos, with 46% of former Disney visitors and 36% of former Las Vegas visitors admitting its impact on their desire to visit.

Although nothing is ever exactly what we see on social media, the allure of joining in and sharing our own iconic Vegas moments or Disney princess encounters seems too strong to resist for many – and those tickets are booked before you know it.

Which Vacation is More Cost Effective?

While Vegas might evoke images of flying dollar bills and flowing coins, it actually has the lower spending per visit by a fair margin. Those who have visited before shelled out an average $1,644 compared to a much larger $2,717 at Disney. Though this makes sense when you think about how long a typical Vegas vacation might be compared to one at Disney, it’s still an extra thousand bucks — a lot for a lot of people.

Except for in Mississippi, of course, where they are spending $4,536 on their dream vacation to Vegas (and have the chance at endless riches). Pennsylvania leads the pack for Disney, with visitors from the Keystone State spending $3,811 on an average trip (perhaps ensuring they get out of the cold during winter).

Rising Costs, Promotions, and Discounts

Unfortunately, rising costs put a damper on vacation plans — which is why 27% of those headed to the kingdom and 16% of those headed to the casino have had to postpone their trips due to financial constraints. It’s a sharp reminder that the luxury of vacation isn’t immune to economic realities, so making it the best experience you can for your budget is what matters.

The economy has dictated that a one-night stay at a Disney resort more than tripled in price over the last 30 years ($167.00 in 1994 ballooning to $577.67 in 2024), and that an average ticket to Vegas has gone from $83.01 to $293.92 in the same amount of time. With this data, it’s a wonder people go on “vacation” at all any longer.

But, not shockingly, people need to get out of their lives from time to time, and the travel industry continues to grow. Promotions and discounts play a crucial role in enticing visitors to both destinations: Disney sways 59% of visitors with discounts, and Vegas isn’t far behind, with 56% admitting their influence. It’s very clear that saving a few bucks can make the difference between a trip to the blackjack tables or a ride on Space Mountain.

Who Wins America’s Ultimate Vacation Spot?

In the battle between Las Vegas and Disney as ultimate vacation spots, there’s no clear winner, as both destinations offer unique experiences and cater to different tastes and preferences. Some are drawn to the glitz and glamour of Vegas, some enchanted by the magic of Disney, and some are choosing strictly based on what they can (or can’t) afford.

When it comes down to it, America’s ultimate vacation spot is in the eye of the beholder — and the wallet that they’re holding, too.

Methodology

This survey of 2,000 Americans was completed in March 2024.  The median age of respondents was 36, with 60% responding as women, 38% men, and 2% non-binary.

The average cost of accommodation at these vacation spots was determined based on either existing city statistics or by using the average cost of an array of budget, moderate, and high-priced hotels. This was combined with the historical price of tickets for the main attraction to get a total that represented average expenditure on entertainment and accommodation for a day.

Sources

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts

https://jansworld.net/disney-ticket-history

https://www.disneytouristblog.com

https://www.portorleans.org/roomrates-historical.php

https://c.touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/hotels/disneys-all-star-sports-resort/rates/2013#gsc.tab=0

https://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo

https://www.tripadvisor.com

https://www.reviewjournal.com

https://www.statista.com/statistics/221047/daily-room-rate-in-las-vegas

https://www.latimes.com

https://www.travelpulse.com/news/hotels-and-resorts/100-years-of-hotel-trends

https://www.ocregister.com

Written By
Erica Prush
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