So I’ve mentioned a few times on here we are headed to Walt Disney World this spring. I was able to save a lot of money on my trip using a variety of tactics, each of which I’ve explained on here. But it’s always helpful to see things with a real life example.
So I wanted to outline how I got my roughly $3,800 vacation for around $1,700.
First let’s breakdown what I got.
- Three round trip plane tickets from Trenton, NJ to Orlando International Airport including assigned seating, three personal items and one carry-on.
- Seven night stay in a preferred room at Disney Pop Century Resort.
- Two adult and one child five day tickets with parkhopper option.
First I took advantage of sales.
For our flight I used a code for 15% off and purchased early. We are flying Frontier Airlines. Their best deals tend to be 6 weeks out from travel, but in this case I didn’t want to risk it so I booked several months in advance when our dates became available and there was a coupon code.
Flight Savings: $27
Total cost for flight: $404
For our stay and tickets I took advantage of a package deal that Disney was running. I received 15% off our room rack rate, and a fifth day free on our parkhopper tickets. The package also included complimentary mini golf passes and magicbands.
- Mini golf passes: $40
- Magicbands: $60
- Free extra ticket day: $48
- 15% off rack rate: $130
Hotel and Ticket Savings: $278
Total Savings: $305
Total cost for hotel and tickets: $2,100
Because we are staying on property I took a good look at the dining plan. As expected, even with two character meals booked – lunch at Akershus and breakfast at Cape May Cafe – the lowest dining package was still $200 more than what we plan to pay for food, which I am calculating at around $600 without breakfast. (I must admit I nearly fell over when I saw this total food cost – this is triple what we pay for food in a month!)
Total cost for food: $600
Total trip cost: $3,100
But, wait, you said you only paid $1,700. How did you do that?? Let me explain.
- $40 came for free from Disney Movie Rewards
- $140 was won on four separate occasions
- $40 came for free as a bonus for paying out of a Disney Vacation Account Disney cancelled the Disney Vacation Account program in September 2017.
- $25 came for free for booking with my travel agent
- $200 was a Disney Visa sign up bonus
- $75 was earned with Disney Visa awards
- $175 was earned by doing Swagbucks or getting free bonus $5 gift cards at Target
- $75 was gifted to us
Total for free: $770
The rest was paid with gift cards acquired via Target.
I took advantage of a promo during Christmas and got $300 worth of gift cards for $255. The rest I got throughout the year using the method described here. After cashback, and a little help with some Target bonus gift cards, I paid $1,010 for $1,600 worth of gift cards.
Total saved on gift cards: $635
Total amount in gift cards: $2,670
You may notice that my hotel, ticket and food costs ($2,700) slightly exceeds the amount I have in gift cards. This is by design. Not wanting to have money tied up in gift cards after our trip, we intend to pay with our Disney Visa card for a few meals where we will receive 10% off. This will free up some of that gift card money for extra magic experiences (like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique) and souvenirs.
Total amount saved: $2,085
Total out of pocket cost including flight: $1,695
I must admit, when I set out to have this vacation almost two years ago, I thought it was a pipe dream. And at the full sticker price of $3,780 it absolutely was. But through some consistent strategy and planning, I was able to bring the cost down to an average beach rental. I hope this helps you know that Disney can be accessible to anyone.