Can You Save on a Last Minute Disney Trip?

So many people plan for a long time for their Disney vacations – and they should. It’s a large expense especially for families and with many others going, it can be difficult to get reservations for dining and attractions that you prefer. So what happens when you decide to plan a trip last minute?

Well, my family recently found out when we threw a Walt Disney World trip together in less than a month. The sudden rush was due to a number of reasons, but namely it was due to my husband changing jobs. We had a small window time to take a vacation, and didn’t have much time to research. Since we had meticulously planned our previous trip, and I have consistently followed along with the changes in the parks, a trip to Walt Disney World ended up being an easy plug and play solution.

One of the biggest expenses for us, living in the Northeast is travel to get there. What really sealed the deal is that there were last minute flights to Orlando for $200 for the three of us – a $150 savings from our last trip. We snatched that up right away.

Total flight cost: $200 (savings $150)

Next we needed a place to stay. I researched and when I included things like taxes, resort fees, parking and/or ground transportation, the Disney properties became more appealing. They were running a room deal for 25% off, and included ground transportation with Mickey’s Magical Express – a roughly $150 value. The standard room at Pop Century Resort ended up being $115-135 a night in June.

Our total room cost for 9 days, 8 nights: $1,080 (Savings $244)

However, I didn’t pay that. Using my knowledge from before, I purchased Disney Gift Cards at a 5% discount at Target with my red card. This saved me an additional $54, plus I will be receiving a $20 gift card as a bonus for paying out $1,000 from a Disney Vacation Account.

So actual out of pocket costs for the room were: $1,026 (total room savings $298)

Alternatively, I could have stacked savings by purchasing through Orbitz which features the same great deals as purchasing directly through Disney, and you can use additional savings codes (usually an additional 15% off plus cashback). However they were showing no availability during our travel dates, so Disney directly it was.

Next we needed tickets – and fast. Unlike my last trip I had not meticulously saved. I just needed the best possible deal on tickets. Because we wanted parkhoppers again, and we sprung for the waterparks option since we were going in June, we ended up purchasing our tickets from Parksavers. We paid for 4 days, got 5 and then added a day onto our trip when we got there for another $60.

465 x 2         930

455 x 1         455

1 more day  60

Total:  $1,445 (Savings $132)

After that we had to account for food, which is hefty. We decided to order more groceries this time. And utilized an awesome new service to Amazon Prime members called Amazon Prime Now. With a $20 order you get free grocery delivery within 2 hours direct to your hotel. The offerings are somewhat limited if you are picky about brands, but we found it more than adequate ordering cereal, bread, deli meat and cheese and even hot dogs. We did this twice for a total of roughly $40.

We booked three character meals this time, which I admit is a bit excessive – two is usually enough in my opinion. And we also sprung for a special dining experience – Happily Ever After fireworks dessert party. This added up to a pricey food bill. We chose ‘Ohana breakfast, Bon Voyage Breakfast (a new offering with Rapunzel, Flynn, Ariel and Eric), and the lunch buffet at Tusker House as part of the Rivers of Light Dining package.

Together these dining experiences added up to: $456

In addition we grabbed bites at Peco’s Bills, ABC Commissionary, Gaston’s Tavern and quite a few snacks like Mickey bars and Mickey pretzels – for a total around another $100.

So $600 in food costs.

I had earned $200 in Disney Gift Cards for a Disney Visa sign up bonus and $37 in rewards. This helped cover food expense and lesson the blow.  I also purchased $150 in discount gift cards for another $7 savings.

Total food costs: $356 (savings $244)

Total trip cost: $3851

Total trip savings: $824

Actual trip cost: $3017

Not too bad considering it was a last minute decision. Reviewing our last trip I believe we ended up spending about the same, but we stayed one less day and had fewer special dining experiences. I call that a win!

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