Should You Take a Disney Ireland Vacation or DIY?

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Updated for 2019

I don't claim to be a Disney aficionado; I've been to Walt Disney World twice in my life – once was for a foodie tour, the other we camped at Fort Wilderness. Those trips showed me that Disney is in the business of providing magical experiences.

A few years ago I began noticing Adventures by Disney; trips around the world with the magic of Disney.  When I saw the Adventures by Disney Ireland vacation, I had to look a bit deeper.

Malahide Castle Lawn Games. By Aoife for Flytographer; Dublin, Ireland. All rights reserved.
Lawn games in front of Malahide Castle : Crack the whip.
By Aoife for Flytographer; Dublin, Ireland. All rights reserved.

Is a Disney Ireland Vacation Right for Your Family?

Below you'll find a breakdown of the Adventures by Disney Ireland Vacation side-by-side with a DIY experience. Please note that I have never experienced an Adventures by Disney Ireland Vacation myself, but have nearly two decades of Ireland family vacation experience.

What an Adventures by Disney Ireland Vacation Includes-  and What It Doesn't

The Adventures by Disney Ireland itinerary is 8 days and 7 nights.  Your accommodations include 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 private tours at some of Dublin's most popular attractions, a shamrock hunt at Cashel, a traditional Irish farm dinner, an adults only dinner at Dromoland Castle, and a farewell feast with performances by local musicians.

Prices for a Disney Ireland vacation begin at $5,899 for adults and $5789 for children (2019 pricing; dependent on dates).  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 and must be purchased in conjunction with the vacation package.

Read: Do You Need Vacation Insurance for Your Ireland Vacation?

Adventures by Disney Ireland Vacation or Do-It-Yourself Ireland Itinerary

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

As mentioned above, I've not been on an Adventures by Disney Ireland vacation, but I have been to Ireland many, many 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 the country's greatest resource ~ her people.

To provide the best comparison possible I am breaking it down by day and creating a table; Disney on the left, self planning on the right. Prices are approximations priced from June 2019.

Just FYI: This is going to get long- to go directly to the cost comparison click here.

Disney Trips to Ireland or DIY Ireland Itinerary

Disney Self-Guided
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.

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

Arrive in Dublin, clear customs and retrieve your bags. For ease, arrange for a car service to pick you up (I recommend Collins Travel) or utilize a taxi from the airport to your hotel.

Drop bags/ check into Westin Dublin. (2 nights; 2 rooms- Queen + Classic Twin. Includes breakfast. $573 per room, per night.)

Get active to combat jet lag! Explore Dublin. I recommend purchasing the Dublin Pass as it includes most of the city's most popular attractions + 24 hour Hop on Hop off bus tour. (appx €272)

Dinner in Dublin (est €150)

Day 2

Breakfast at the hotel

Privately guided tour including EPIC- The Irish Emigration Museum

Music and Dance - Sharing the Tradition - Irish Dancing. EPIC the Irish Emigration Museum, Dublin

Private guided walking tour of Dublin

Lunch at a pub

Private guided tour of Guinness Storehouse

Afternoon and evening in Dublin, including dinner, on your own.

Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship. Dublin with kids. Ireland travel tips.

Irish music pub crawl (adults only; not clear if child care is included for adults partaking in this tour)

Palace Bar in Dublin. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com

Breakfast at the hotel

You'll find Dublin to be a very walk-able city!

Visit EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum. (Included in Dublin Pass or €37/ family)

Enjoy a tour of Dublin. Choose Dublin Highlights & Hidden Corners or The Best of Dublin by Pat Liddy Tours or a Musical History Tour with Fiona Dalton. (appx €46-52)

OR

Enjoy a Hop on Hop off bus tour. (Included with your Dublin Pass  or from $23.26 per person; kids under 14 free with paying adult.)

Stop for lunch. You'll find most restaurants share their menu outside- so handy! (appx €50)

Guinness Storehouse tour. (Included in Dublin Pass or €69)

Get out and explore more of Dublin! Utilize that Dublin Pass to the fullest!

No Dublin Pass? Ideas: Visit Trinity College & the Book of Kells ($; book tickets online to skip the queue!), The National Museum of Archaeology is a must- the bog bodies are incredible! (free), the Iveagh Gardens (free) are often overlooked and have an incredible maze, visit the National Museum of Ireland- Natural History, aka the ‘Dead Zoo' (free).

Pop into a pub for dinner. (appx €125) or utilize your Dublin Pass for savings on tours or events this evening. Pre-booking necessary so order your Dublin Pass prior to your trip!

Day 3 Breakfast at the hotel

Board your coach for the journey to Kilkenny and your chance to experience the Irish sport of Hurling followed by lunch.

Explore the Rock of Cashel while kids enjoy a Shamrock Hunt.

Rock of Cashel. Ireland vacation. #IVF2015

Journey to Killarney and check in to the Killarney Park Hotel or Great Southern Killarney.

Private group dinner at the hotel.

Hotel breakfast

Pick up your car in Dublin city (I recommend Irish Car Rentals; use promotion code IFV to save 10%) (appx €610; automatic + CDW)

READ: Everything You Need to Know About Car Rental in Ireland 

Drive from Dublin to Kilkenny (consider a stop at the Rock of Dunamase on the way).

Enjoy your hurling experience at The Kilkenny Way. (Family package with lunch €70).

Explore the Rock of Cashel. (€20/ family)

Drive to Killarney. Consider a stop at Cahir Castle (along your route)

Tip: the OPW Heritage Card is the best deal in Ireland! Gain admission to Office of Public Works sites (including the Rock of Cahsel & Cahir Castle) across Ireland.

Check into Great Southern Killarney (family room $393/ night; check special offers for family package deal.)

Explore Killarney & wander into Killareny National Park.

Dinner on your own. (appx €125)

Day 4 Breakfast at hotel

Journey to Ross Castle via Killarney National Park in a Jaunting Cart.

Boat ride on Lough Leane.

Ross Castle, Killarney, County Kerry. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | Irelandfamilyvacations.com

Board bus for Kenmare. Enjoy lunch on your own before chocolate workshop experience.

Dinner and evening on your own (presumably back in Killarney)

Journey to/from Ross Castle via Killarney National Park in a Jaunting Cart. (€80, cash)

Join a Killarney Lakes Cruise (from €15 pp)

Drive to Kenmare and explore the town. Plan to visit Lorge Chocolatier and book a workshop (ages 6+; €17 pp)

Or

Journey through Killarney National Park via Jaunting Cart (€80) to Ross Castle (€13 family or included in your OPW card). Tour Ross Castle (OPW). 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 (from €28 family or included in the OPW card). Dine at the Garden Restaurant. (€80)

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.

Enjoy Killarney on your own.

Consider Irish Night Experience with Dinner at Major Colgan's.

Day 5 Breakfast at the hotel

Coach travel to Foynes Flying Boat Museum. Includes lunch.

Arrive at Dromoland Castle for 3 nights.

Adults only dinner and Disney movie night with dinner for the kids.

Breakfast at hotel

Enjoy your morning in Killarney, then drive to Foynes to tour the Flying Boat Museum (€30 family)

Arrive at Dromoland Castle for 3 nights. (Deluxe room from €679.50/ night. Advise castle upon reservation of children traveling.)

Dinner at Fig Tree restaurant for 2 + childcare (can be arranged with advance notice). (expect to spend €300, minimum, for dinner & child care+ room service for kids.)

Day 6 Hotel breakfast

Private tour of Dromoland castle grounds.

Birds of prey demonstration.

Falconry Ireland at Adare Manor in County Limerick. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation | IrelandFamilyVacations.com

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

Authentic Irish Farm Dinner, Cheese Tasting, and Entertainment

Hotel breakfast

Explore Dromoland Castle; tours available for guests.

Schedule a Hawk Walk (advance reservations required) (appx €200)

Visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. (Family Ticket, €61.50; online rate)

Traditional Irish Night (best for kids under 14; €35 per child, €42.50 per adult) or Medieval Banquet. (€35 child, €63.00 adult)

Day 7
Hotel breakfast

Cliffs of Moher, Ailwee Cave, and other sites in the Burren.

Poulnabrone Dolmen, the Burren, County Clare, in the Spring

Lunch at a traditional Irish Pub.

Farewell dinner at Dromoland Castle.

Hotel breakfast

Plan a day filled with activities in the Burren! Including the Cliffs of Moher, a Cliffs of Moher cruise, tasty stops along the Burren Food Trail, Poulnabrone Dolmen, and so many more! Use this article to help you decide what to do!

Choose a tasty spot along the Burren food trail for lunch. Recommendations here. (appx €75)

Family Dinner at Dromoland Castle (plan at least €250)

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 minutes.)

Cost: Family of 4

Cost was calculated using dates June 15-22, 2019

$26,116

Cost was calculated using dates June 15-22, 2019

€7200(appx $8200)

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?  The Adventures by Disney Ireland Itinerary 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 Ireland vacation is quite luxurious, it  leaves me wishing it allowed more flexibility.

I can't help but think about how much you would drive past, wishing you could stop and see it, while on Disney trips to Ireland.  In my mind the freedom of renting a car far outweighs the convenience of a tour guide.

Want to recreate this trip on your own, with a private guide?
I recommend Ireland Chauffeur Travel.

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

Need more Ireland itinerary tips? Check out my free Ireland itineraries!

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

It's so easy to share or save this article!

Comparing Disney Trips to Ireland and Do-It-Yourself Ireland Itinerary

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great breakdown, Jody!.. & I’d like to second your suggestion of using Ireland Chauffeur Travel… wonderful folks & they provide excellent service & an unforgettable experience…

      Thank you Leslie! It’s always great to hear that the companies I recommend are living up to expectations!

    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.

      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.

    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.

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