The cost of a trip to Disney World has undoubtedly increased, especially in recent years. But one family who visited the Central Florida parks was dealt a devastating blow as their week-long Disney vacation ultimately cost them more than $316,000.
For individuals and families who love all things Disney, there’s no better vacation destination than the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. The Resort offers Guests magical experiences, exciting attractions, and heart-pounding rides at Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are also two exciting themed water parks–Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon–teeming with thrilling water rides and attractions that make for a fun day outside of the theme parks (and a really magical way to stay cool on those warm days in the Sunshine State).
In addition to the four theme parks and two water parks at Disney World, there are also more than two dozen Disney Resort Hotels, and each one of them is–you guessed it–uniquely themed as well. There’s something magical for everyone to enjoy on a Disney trip, and because it all takes place as Guests are immersed in the wonder and magic of Disney, the opportunities to make long-lasting vacation memories are literally endless.
But while a visit to Disney World is definitely the most magical vacation on the market, it’s by no means the least expensive option when it comes to vacation destinations. Depending on where Guests live, they will incur varying transportation costs, which may or may not include a rental car, as well as the cost of park tickets for each member of the traveling party, meals for everyone during the trip, accommodations, and of course, the almighty, can’t-leave-without-them souvenirs and theme park merchandise. (Yeah, we all say we’re sticking to our budget on that last one, but who are we kidding?)
Recently, Disney trips have gotten noticeably more expensive as prices for theme park tickets, annual passes, merchandise, hotel accommodations, and food have all increased. Call it inflation, call it Disney, call it Disney greed–the fact remains that there aren’t many price breaks when it comes to a Disney vacation. And for one family who visited the Walt Disney World Resort, their trip was not only pricey but continued to cost them more and more as the days went by–long after they’d returned home.
When British father Jon Platt made the decision to take a week-long Disney World vacation along with his immediate family and several of his extended family members, he couldn’t have possibly known what he would face once he and his family returned home to the United Kingdom. Because there were 17 family members going, scheduling the trip proved to be a difficult undertaking. When all was said and done, there was only one week in April of that year that would work with everyone’s busy calendars, despite the fact that school was still in session.
Platt’s daughter was only six years old when it was time for the family’s magical getaway, and while it’s not uncommon for families to take their children to the parks at Disney World during the school year, the decision means missed instruction time at school, as well as absences for the student. But British truancy laws are harsh, and school attendance is mandatory. Failure to comply with truancy laws can result in penalties for the involved parents.
Platt and his family had an unforgettable Disney vacation, experiencing all the magic and wonder of the Most Magical Place on Earth, but as with every Disney trip, the last day finally arrived, and the family reluctantly headed to Orlando International Airport to begin the long flight back to the U.K., their minds still brimming with all of their newly-made magical memories. Platt’s daughter went back to school immediately following the family’s return home from the parks, but the family was met with anything but a warm “Welcome home.”
Platt was fined £120, or approximately $150 USD, for taking his daughter out of school so she could travel to the United States with her family. But the young father had no intention of paying the fine, deciding instead to take steps to dispute it.
According to Metro, Platt was convicted of “failing to ensure his child regularly attended school after a court heard clearing him would ‘undermine Parliament’ and go ‘against public interest’ following a Supreme Court ruling.” That’s right. The government determined that Platt’s decision to remove his daughter from school for a week posed a risk not only to Parliament but also to the general public. During a hearing held at Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court, magistrate Jeannie Walker said that Platt’s actions were clearly a breach of the law.
“The circumstances of this case fall squarely into that breach of school rules,” Walker said during the court hearing, in which Platt was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay an additional fine of £2,020–nearly $2,550 USD. When Platt stepped outside the courthouse that day, he was quoted as saying that he had spent “close to £30,000” [$37,850 USD] over the course of his legal battle up to that point. He further stated that he had no plans to appeal the magistrate’s decision any further.
“This is the end for me now,” Platt explained. “This has gone on for far too long, and far too much money has been spent by me and the taxpayer. I’ve spent close to £30,000, [and] a Freedom of Information request found £140,000 has been spent by the taxpayer, but if you include the Supreme Court legal costs, I think it isn’t far off a quarter of a million [pounds].”
A quarter of a million pounds is equal to approximately $316,000 USD.
“Way too much money has been spent, but I’m not going to appeal it,” Platt continued. “I don’t agree with the magistrate’s decision, but I’m going to respect it. I’m sure there are parents out there that hate me, and I’m sure there are some who think I’m a hero. But at the end of the day, I turned up to court to say ‘not guilty’ to an offense I’m not guilty of.”
— Louise Stainton (@LouiseStaintonU) June 23, 2017
In the end, Platt’s attempts to fight the fines imposed on him for taking his daughter to Disney World instead of sending her to school for a week cost him two years of his life. His case was eventually heard by the Supreme Court, as Platt’s attorneys attempted to prove their case by showing that Platt’s daughter had an attendance record in school of 92.3%. But their efforts were in vain, as the entire panel of Supreme Court judges ruled against Platt.
During a hearing before the Supreme Court, one of Platt’s attorneys, Paul Greatorex, argued that the ongoing prosecution of Platt was unfair and unjust. Attorneys went so far as to request that the case be thrown out of court.
“[Attorney] Paul Greatorex outlined his case for an ‘abuse of process’ argument by saying Platt’s daughter had an attendance level between 90 and 95 percent, which the school deemed as ‘satisfactory.’ Mr. Greatorex said the documents Platt received from the school were ‘completely vague,’ and it was not made clear that if he took her on an unauthorized holiday, he would receive a fixed penalty notice and be prosecuted if he did not pay it.
[Greatorex] also said it was ‘grossly unfair’ to ‘criminalize’ Platt despite being told his daughter’s attendance was ‘satisfactory’ and that a holiday would not change that.”
It’s not clear how much Platt paid for his family’s trip to Disney World, including airfare from the United Kingdom to the United States, Disney World theme park tickets, lodging and accommodations, meals, and other expenses. But when those expenses were added to the more than $316,000 in legal costs paid by Platt and the British taxpayer, it’s safe to say that though Platt lost in court, he wins for having the most expensive Disney World vacation–ever.