Should You Have Disney Plan Your Ireland Vacation?

I don’t claim to be a Disney aficionado; I’ve been to Walt Disney World once in my life- and that was at the invitation of WDW.  That single experience showed me that Disney is in the business of providing magical experiences. A few years ago I started noticing the Adventures by Disney- trips around the world with the magic of Disney.  When I saw that an Ireland Family Vacation was one of their offerings, I had to look a bit deeper.

at Bunratty Castle, Ireland

My Family at Bunratty Castle

What an Ireland Family Vacation by Disney Includes-  and What It Doesn’t

The Ireland Family Vacation is 8 days and 7 nights.  You will lodge in two very nice hotels and one castle.  Breakfast is provided daily, as are some lunches and dinners.  Child care is provided one evening.  As this is a tour you will be driven by motor coach to your scheduled destinations, as well as picked up at the airport.  But, as I said earlier, Disney provides magical experiences and they have many lined up including lunch in the private dining room at the Guinness Storehouse, Irish dance lessons in Killarney, a cruise on Lough Leane with a seanachaí (Irish for storyteller), an adults only dinner at Dromoland Castle, a visit to a working Irish farm and a farewell feast with an Irish balladeer.

Prices for an Ireland Vacation by Disney range from $3,869 – $4,419 for adults and $3,479 – $3,989 for children.  Children must be 4 years of age for this adventure and suggested minimum age is 6.  This is a land only package; airfare is not included.

Compare a Do It Yourself Irish Family Vacation to Disney’s Ireland Family Vacation

I’ve not been on an Adventure by Disney, but I have been to Ireland multiple times.  And looking at the itinerary I think it is possible to plan a very similar magical adventure- while saving money, seeing more of what Ireland has to offer and enjoying more of Ireland’s greatest resource ~ her people.

To provide the best comparison possible I am creating a table; Disney on the left, self planning on the right. Just FYI:  This is going to get long- to see the cost comparison scroll down.

Disney Self
Day 1

Arrive in Dublin. After clearing customs a drive assists you with your bags and takes you to your hotel.Check into Westin Dublin. Get information from Disney Hospitality desk and learn about Dublin.

Private reception dinner at the hotel with other families on the tour.

Arrive in Dublin. After clearing customs retrieve your rental car (I prefer Dan Dooley). ($335.19 weekly rental, includes insurance)Check into Westin Dublin. (2 nights; Junior Suite; $419/ night)


If you are driving I would recommend staying in a B&B outside Dublin and taking the Luas into the city. (Botanic

Villa B&B; 3 bed, ensuite bath; $268.05)

Luas combi tickets (2 days; $64)

Dinner in Dublin ($150)

Day 2

Privately guided tour including Dublin Castle and Guinness Storehouse.

Lunch at the SourceBar, Guinness Storehouse.

Afternoon and evening on your own in Dublin. (at your own cost)

Dublin City Hop on/ Hop Off Bus Tour -will drop you off near Dublin Castle and at the Guinness Storehouse. ($40.34; Children under 15 free with adult)Guinness Storehouse ($34 family ticket)Lunch at the Brewery Bar ($73, appx.)Dublin Castle ($18.75)Afternoon and evening in Dublin. (at your own cost) Ideas: shop on Grafton Street, visit Molly Malone, cross the Ha’ Penny Bridge, visit the site of St. Patrick’s Well behind the cathedral…


Begin at the Dublin Tourism Office on Suffolk St. in the former Church of St. Andrew. It’s a beautiful location and
you can collect quite a lot of helpful information!  Get your Hop On/ Hop Off tickets.

If your children are under 8 I would skip the Guinness Storehouse and head to the Dublin Zoo and Ashtown Castle in Phoenix Park.

The Iveagh Gardens are often overlooked but have an incredible maze your kids will love!

I recommend the OPW Heritage Card if you plan to visit 5 or more heritage sites. ($79.31 family pass- good for one year) Buy this at the first site you visit.

Day 3 Board your coach for the journey to Cashel.Explore the Rock of Cashel. (Lunch on your own)Journey to Killarney and be welcomed by the Killarney Town Crier. Take Irish dance lessons and enjoy Irish cheeses.Settle into your room at the Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa.Dinner on your own. Drive from Dublin to Cashel.Explore the Rock of Cashel. ($20.19 family)Drive to Killarney. Check into Killarney Plaza Hotel and Spa. (Suite, $360.50) They can probably point you to the Town Crier.Stroll to a market for cheese. Stop in a pub later for a session and dancing. Kids are welcomed in pubs in Ireland. (Appx. $100)


Oh, how this day bothers me. There is so much to be seen between Dublin and Killarney…

There are so many incredible places you can stop and visit on the way to Cashel… And all are covered by the OPW card!

Glendalough, Jerpoint Abbey, the Famine Workhouse, Moone High Cross and Cahir Castle to name only a few. Pick one or two. Many shops in central Killarney close early- 6 pm- so unless you arrive quite early there isn’t a lot to do.

Cashel is incredible. Awe inspiring. Do not miss it. And included on the OPW Heritage Card.

Choose a B&B- Killarney is filled with them. (A triple ensuite room at Northwood House would cost $346.20)

Stroll into central Killarney for dinner.


Day 4 Journey to Muckross House via Killarney National Park in a Jaunting Cart.Tour Muckross House and enjoy lunch after. Stroll the grounds or along Lough Leane.Killarney on your own. Journey to/from Muckross House via Killarney National Park in a Jaunting Cart. ($120)Tour Muckross House ($28.86) or House & Traditional Farm ($43.29 family ticket)Lunch at Muckross Garden Restaurant ($60)Killarney on your own.


Journey through Killarney National Park via Jaunting Cart ($60) to Ross Castle (included in your OPW card). Tour Ross Castle. Ride back to Killarney.

Drive out to Muckross Abbey. Explore the Abbey- it is incredible with a Yew in the center and towers to climb. Walk from the abbey to Muckross House. (Or drive.)

Explore Muckross House (included in the OPW card). Dine at the Garden Restaurant. ($60) The Traditional Farms are not included on the OPW Card. ($28.86)

Explore the beautiful Muckross Gardens. Then drive to Torc Waterfall and the Ladies View. These are both naturally beautiful areas, very picturesque and worth visiting. Or drive to the Gap of Dunloe and stroll through the ancient trade route.

Killarney on your own.

Suggestion:  Take dinner in a lively pub.

Day 5 Cruise on Lough Leane with an Irish storyteller.Coach travel to Adare. Explore and lunch on your own.Arrive at Dromoland Castle for 3 nights.Adults only dinner and Disney movie night for the kids. Killarney Waterbus Tour ($57.75)Drive to Adare. Explore and lunch.Arrive at Dromoland Castle for 3 nights. (Stateroom, $801.33; Deluxe Bedroom $628.10)Dinner at Fig Tree restaurant for 2 + childcare (can be arranged with advance notice). ($450)


I would probably skip the waterbus tour and head down to Dingle. Though it is a bit of a drive it is well worth visiting. I would spend the night here after driving the Dingle Peninsula– it’s spectacular. Visit Fungi, Dingle’s resident dolphin. Stay at a B&B. (Lantern Townhouse B&B, triple en suite, $144.38)

Eat in Dingle. I suggest a pub with lively music. ($150)

Day 6 Explore Dromoland Castle; take advantage of some of their offered activities. (Additional costs may apply)Coach trip to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.Traditional Irish Night or Medieval Banquet at Bunratty. Explore Dromoland Castle; take advantage of some of their offered activities. (Additional costs may apply)Drive to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. (Family Ticket, $48.52)Traditional Irish Night (best with kids under 14; $150.18) or Medieval Banquet.


Leave Dingle. Take the car ferry across the River Shannon-the kids will love it!- ($26) on your way to the
Cliffs of Moher. (Book online for great savings! $17.33)

Drive to Dromoland Castle for 2 night stay. (Deluxe Bedroom, $418.75, Stateroom, $534.22)

Adults only dinner + childcare (arranged with advance notice) ($450)

Day 7
Irish farm tour and lunch.Cliffs of Moher.Farewell dinner at Dromoland Castle. Irish farm tour. (Contact Clare
Farm Heritage Tours.
No prices given; estimate $200)Lunch ($100)Family Dinner at Dromoland Castle. ($300)


Disney day 6 option:

Explore Dromoland Castle; take advantage of some of their offered activities. (Additional costs may apply)

Drive to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. (Family Ticket, $48.52)

Traditional Irish Night (best with kids under 14; $150.18) or Medieval Banquet.

Day 8  Enjoy breakfast and head to the airport.  Enjoy breakfast and head to Shannon Airport. Drop off your car. (Small, friendly airport- this will take only a few
CostFamily of 4 Cost was calculated using dates June 11- 18, 2011


Cost was calculated using dates June 11-18, 2011

Like Disney Vacation: $3544.38

Alternate: $2837.11

  Which Ireland Family Vacation is Right For You?

Of course I do not know every little “extra” Disney has up its sleeve; I have done my best to recreate the same trip on a much smaller budget.  (Remember- neither trip includes airfare.)  I also made a few changes in the itinerary, including  and excluding stops based on my experience traveling with children in Ireland.  The biggest difference?  Disney’s Adventure requires children to be 4 years old; my trip is for children of any age (my daughters were both 1 when they made their first trips to Ireland.)

While there is no doubt the Disney trip is quite luxurious, it feels a bit dry to me and leaves me wondering- where is the craic?  Granted, the driver meeting you in Dublin would be very nice.  But you can certainly do that, spend 2 days in Dublin and then have a driver pick you up and take you to get a rental car.

I can’t help but wonder how much you would drive past, wishing you could stop and see it, while on a bus.  In my mind the freedom of renting a car far outweighs the convenience of a tour guide.  And, yes, I noticed that I suggested dining in pubs quite a few times.  But honestly, we had some of our best meals in pubs- and a couple of our worst in regular restaurants.

Of course any trip to Ireland is a good trip, in my book.  It all comes down to preference.  What is yours?

I would love your input!  Have you been on an Adventure by Disney to Ireland?  What did you think?  Would you suggest it?  Why or why not?


  1. says

    Wow! Thanks for the side-by-side comparison.

    I haven’t done a Disney Adventure in Ireland… I’m sure they take care of every detail, but for families on a budget and a sense of adventure, I’d probably choose your alternatives.

  2. Aisling says

    IMO, looks like just another money-maker for Disney if people chose this option. I’d rather be able to plan my own vacation, for considerably less as you have pointed out, and not have such a set schedule. The beauty of going to Ireland is having the freedom to experience everything in your time and do what you want to do. Plus, if airfare isn’t included, for us (2 adults, 3 kids), that would easily add another $5000 on to the total cost. Disney is pricey I know, but that seems a little over the top.

    • says

      Again, I am sure there are “extras” that I don’t know about- Disney is incredible when it comes to making vacations magical. One day I would like to try their vacation- just for the experience.

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