Quoted from statsdoc:
I think we all know families whose dream is to vacation at WDW. They add up the costs of Disney hotels, parks, etc. and realize that it is too much for more than a one-time occurrence in a lifetime. As Pinsiders, we are already a subset of the population that has high-priced hobby machines. We are definitely more "monied" than the typical family that would like to visit WDW.
I try to explain to friends that there are ways to cut costs. We stay off-property, rent a house for the six in our family, bring lunches and drinks, make the most of the hours, and stay for more days (marginal costs of tickets drop dramatically). One trip for us likely costs less than a third of the costs for others.
That is one way to make it work ... but it fails when all of the costs rise substantially.
You make a great deal of sense, but I take exactly the opposite approach. Our family of 4 has been to WDW probably 6 or 7 times in the last ten years, and on each trip it has gotten more and more stressful. I am a park commando and spend literally weeks prior to the trip researching Touring Plans for the best time of the year to travel, the best days to visit each park, what order should the attractions be visited, etc. Which rides can utilize single rider for shorter lines, when to buy Genie+ or ILL, etc.
Besides all that, we need to make reservations literally months in advance in order to get into the better restaurants. Because the trip is already expensive, adding in flights for 4 to Orlando, kennel costs for two dogs, airport parking for the week, park admissions, meal costs, and now a ride from the airport since Magical Express is no more, and purchase of the new "line shorteners", I feel that we really NEED to maximize our experience while there to help justify the extra cost.
We have found that the added cost of staying on property, and specifically on the monorail, can be worth it in terms of getting you into the parks quickly and maximizing your time on the rides. We tend to prefer the Polynesian, which is very expensive, but also very nice and very conveniently located. If not on property, I hate waiting for the bus to arrive, driving for ten or fifteen minutes to get to the park, and related activities. With the monorail (or maybe now the Skyliner which we have not tried), that time could be spent on rides.
I would say our family of 4 typically spends on the order of $8k or more for a week long trip. Probably closer to 10k if you add in meals, wine, etc.
With that kind of investment, I could never justify missing out on a major attraction. To commit that kind of money and not be able to ride all of the latest rides would make me crazy. I feel like I HAVE to get everything on my list done on each trip to justify the expense.
Maybe if I lived in Orlando and could make many small trips throughout the year, it would be better as you could hit the major attractions over a period of a few weeks or months, but unfortunately, we live in PA. Also unfortunately, we can't justify spending the kind of cash a WDW trip costs more than every few years give or take. We are blessed to have been able to afford to do it as often as we have in the past.
WDW has gotten more and more stressful for me with each new trip. Since by intense planning, I have been able to do everything on my to-do list up to now, I would say that in the end, the trips have all been a success. But the pre-trip stress worrying about everything being planned to the smallest detail gets worse each time. It definitely takes a lot of the fun away for us but I don't really see any solution with increasing costs, crowds, and WDW's attempts to level all times of the year so there are now no more down times.
All having been said, when it goes well, WDW is one of the most fun places in the world to visit, it's worth the money, and we totally love it. I just hope it doesn't get so bad, we are forced to give it up and go somewhere else. It's a tradition for my family that we really enjoy, and I hope to enjoy it with my grandkids in the future.