Top Ways to Save Money on a Disney Vacation
The topic I am most frequently asked about is ways to save money on a Disney Vacation. Nothing thrills me more than helping a family make their Disney dream a reality. For some, it’s about removing the stress of planning and for others, it’s about finding ways to visit without breaking the bank.
There are a handful of tricks that I use for my own family and that I share with many of my clients for their own visits. So grab the popcorn and feast your eyes on my favorite money-saving hacks.
While many will argue that there isn’t really a “low crowd season” anymore, the reality is that there are always times of the year when Disney is less crowded than others. These times of the year, prices for rooms, tickets, and staterooms all tend to be a little less since Disney uses prices to help disperse crowd levels.
The rule of thumb is that value seasons tend to fall during times that school is in session. Peak seasons fall around major holidays and during school breaks. However, we have also seen attendance start to decrease a bit during the summers so this is also a time to consider a trip (if you can handle the heat).
Disney Gift Cards
If you have browsed any Disney Facebook groups or message boards, you have probably heard something about Disney Gift Cards. This is one of my favorite hacks for a few reasons:
- It’s easy
- You save money upfront
- They’re easy to add to your wishlist for holidays and birthdays
When buying Disney Gift Cards, you want to be sure it’s a location that offers them at a discount such as Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Target (you need a Target Red Card to be eligible for the 5% discount). For example, you can purchase a $500 Disney Gift Card for $479.99. This may not seem like much, but if your vacation is $3000 that’s a $120 in savings. I’d rather much rather pocket that $120.
My preferred Disney Gift Card purchasing method is ordering them online from BJ’s. If you do not have a membership you can currently purchase an online membership for $10 for an entire year. The membership will allow you access to membership pricing for online purchases which (at this time) includes Disney Gift Cards.
We use our Disney Gift Cards to pay for our trip, pay for meals/snacks during our visit and also for souvenirs. The gift cards can be used pretty much anywhere on property so we are always sure to purchase a few extras to bring along with us.
I also love that when people ask what to get us for Christmas, birthdays, etc… we can just say “Disney Gift Cards, please!” The kids love having their own cards to purchase their souvenirs and we love gifts that are about activities and spending time together (especially when Disney is involved).
Let me start by saying, a credit card may not be for everyone. However, if you’re looking for one you will find a mix of cards that offer various rewards programs.
A Disney Visa allows you to earn Disney Dollars to spend on your vacation. This card also includes special offers such as a discount on select purchases at the Disney Store and”card member only” meet and greets within the parks. However, I have another favorite.
Factoring in the cost of flights is enough to make some families cringe. When my husband and I went from buying tickets for 2 to tickets for a family of 4, I knew we needed to find a way to save. Enter my favorite Rewards Card… the Southwest Rapid Rewards. Using this card, my family of 4 has not paid for flights for our past 4 trips. That’s 16 FREE roundtrip tickets!
The Rapid Rewards card allows you to earn points to use toward future flights (all valued at different points). There are no blackout dates and no seat restrictions when you redeem your points. In addition, if you find your flight is offering better rates after you’ve booked, you can change to the better rate and recoup the points difference.
Upon opening the card, you can earn bonus points if you meet their criteria (i.e. spend $1000 in the first 3 months). After that, you can earn points on all of your eligible purchases. Additionally, you’ll receive anniversary points each year just for having the card. We like to put our daily expenses on the card and pay them off as we go along. Easy peasy – and boy do those points add up quickly!
If you’d like to earn some free flights for you and your family, check out my referral link and earn 40,000 points!
Pro Tip: Use your rewards credit card to purchase your discounted Disney Gift Cards. This allows you to earn the reward points on your credit card while still saving money on discounted gift cards. Double bang for your buck!
Now that you know you can use Disney Gift Cards to pay toward your vacation, this is one of my favorite items to add to my Christmas List. We have the kids add it to their lists as well and they love it! They know when those Gift Cards come in they’ll be able to buy souvenirs or save up for a reservation at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Did you know that even after you’ve booked your Disney Vacation, you can still save on it? Disney releases various offers and promotions throughout the year and it is important to stay on top of them. Even if you’ve already booked a trip, you may still be eligible for a new promotion/discount and Disney is happy to apply it for you.
The only trouble with this is that many people have full-time jobs and trying to stay on top of a discount that may or may not appear is a lot of extra work. This is why I always recommend using a Travel Agent who specializes in Disney (like myself) to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.
A good agent who specializes in Disney will have an idea of when promotions/discounts will be released and they will automatically be checking on availability to see if they can save you money. Wouldn’t it be nice to book your trip and wake up one morning to an email from your Travel Agent saying they saved you money? Contact me now if this sounds like something you are interested in.
Note: Not all reservations are eligible for promotions and special offers. Restrictions apply.
Start a Disney Fund
Create a Disney fund and put away a little bit of money each week. There are also some fun ways to get the whole family involved:
- Collect loose change in a jar
- Returns cans
- Use coupons and any amount you save add to the jar
- Have a garage sale
You can also find fun “swaps” for your day-to-day spending:
- Swap the Starbucks for a coffee at home
- Instead of a trip to the movie theater plan a movie night at home
- Make a homemade pizza instead of ordering out
A knowledgable Travel Agent will be able to help advise you when it comes to selecting your resort, tickets, and travel dates to ensure you’re paying the best rate. Feel free to reach out to me for assistance with planning your Disney Vacation and staying within your budget.
What are your favorite money saving tips? Leave a comment below with your favorite ways to save.
Looking to plan a Disney Vacation without breaking the bank? Contact me today so we can plan a trip that’s just right for you! In addition to a full range of complimentary planning services, you’ll get all of the best insider tips to make your Disney dreams a reality! Simply fill out the form below, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on Facebook, or call (716) 383 – 8806 for more information. MickeyTravels is a Platinum-Level, Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.