Disney trips lead to debt for almost 50% of parents with young children, study finds

The trip of a lifetime to a Disney theme park has turned into a financial nightmare for many U.S. parents, especially those with young kids, according to a new study.

A recent LendingTree survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers found that 24% of Disney visitors have incurred debt from their trips, with this number increasing to 45% for parents with children under 18.

That figure represents a 50% rise from the 30% of parents with small children who reported two years ago that they went into debt for Disney trips.

The majority of families with young children took on the debt in the past five years, with 35% taking it on in the past year alone, the study revealed.


ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 1: Cars enter the grounds of Walt Disney World on June 1, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

The data also discovered the millennial age group – those ages 28 to 43 – were more likely to take on the debt. 

LendingTree Chief Credit Analyst Matt Schulz said in a statement that he understands why parents would consider going into debt for Disney. LendingTree found that parents believe the memories at Disney are worth the overspending. 


"For so many parents, taking their kids to Disney is a rite of passage, something they remember fondly from their youth and want to experience with their kids," Schulz said. "Because of those feelings, they’re often willing to take on debt to get there."

Despite some Americans being prepared to take on debt for Disney, the survey highlighted why others choose not to.

At least 60% of Americans said they haven't gone to a Disney theme park because "it's too expensive", 31% said "it's too far away" while 26% said "they can't stand the lines," the report revealed. 

Recent political events – such as the fight between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney regarding Disney's comments on the sex education bill that critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which will become law in July.