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Let me preface this post by saying that I hail from a long list of Disney fanatics- but really! It can be a bit ridiculous how hard my family collectively loves Mickey Mouse.
My Dad worked at Disney for a summer in college and I think that definitely “upped” our Disney game. When I was growing up I remember going to WDW alot. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from Disney.
Years later when I was in college my Dad and stepmom took us all for Christmas for a week. We stayed at the Grand Floridian which was decked to the nines for Christmas and included the life-sized gingerbread house. It was a very special Christmas.
A few years later we had family members that got married at Cinderella’s Castle. You hear people say they got married at Disney but what I mean by they got married at Disney is the bride was pulled in by eight white ponies and dropped off at the front steps of Cinderella’s Castle in Cinderella’s glass carriage by the literal fairy godmother. It is still the most impressive wedding I have ever seen to date.
Fast forward a few more years and my husband and I went for the first time together (probably my 20th time or more by this point) when my little one turned two. My grandparents and our family that got married there took the three of us for my baby’s first trip to Disney World.
We stayed at an AMAZING three bedroom, two story villa at Bay Lake Towers that looked directly at Cinderella’s castle and had literally been decorated outside to inside with every kind of mickey sign, balloon, and toy that one could possible imagine.
They collectively pulled out ALL of the stops and it was a literal Disney extravaganza I will probably never be able to duplicate and definitely will never forget. My husband still talks about that trip every time we go the WDW and how we will never “Disney” like that again lol.
On our second trip together to WDW we stayed off property at the Magic Village Resort with my family for several days. It was during this trip my husband finally realized exactly how intense of Disney fans we really were.
On more recent trips to WDW I like to play a little game called….” Figure out how to do Disney on the cheap”. Am I the only one? Sure, I am ALL for going down there and going nuts which is OH SO easy to do in Mickey world, but then the thought of opening up that credit card statement a month later makes me prematurely and hypothetically sick to my stomach.
I like to go more than once a year IDEALLY and I find that with a little planning here and there and some ingenuity this can be quite possible for similar to the cost of going once and blowing it out.
Neither is right or wrong it’s just a matter of preference and what works for you! In the first of what will hopefully be several posts addressing the most magical place on earth- because lets face it there is WAYYYYY to much to try and attempt in just one post- I am going to throw out a few money saving tips both pre-trip and next when you actually get to the most magical ( and expensive) place on earth.
Saving for your trip
First a few ideas of ways to save some extra funds before you go because friends Mickey is literally on a mission to take every dollar to your name AND all the college funds too if you will let him 😉 It is NEVER too early to start planning for that next Disney vacation friends. I outline a plan below to save $3154.61 for your next vacation over the next year. Tons of families I have read about online literally plan 1-2 years in advance, so get started today! Tell the kids I said you are welcome 🙂
If you have not already tapped into this resource I suggest you do. It costs nothing to you and literally takes two extra seconds in order to participate. All you have to do is when you are about to order something online from let’s say Kohl’s, instead of going directly to www.kohls.com go to Ebates.com first and then search for kohl’s and ebates will launch a shopping trip and you will be awarded a certain percentage of whatever you spend that day back to your ebates account which will be paid out to you quarterly. I try to remember but can’t say I remember every time- but the point is that is under a year I earned $92.61 for money I would have spent either way. I like it. Sign up here using my link
Credit Card Rewards
Rewards cards, when used responsibly of course, can be a great way to add to that vacation savings. I was recently logging in to pay our Bank of America Cash rewards card bill and noticed we had $103 and change that had accrued simply by using our cash rewards card to pay various bills which we then promptly used our checking account to pay the card statement. Again- money you were going to be spending anyways!!
This number could of course be much higher depending on how many bills you put on there and which rewards card you use AMEX ect. Credit card companies of course are hoping you leave the balance on there and accrue the interest charge but what you and I the savvy consumers know is when managed correctly this is a great tool to earn some extra vacate funds on bills you have to pay regardless.
There are also TONS of introductory offers from lots of different banks to open new cards and these can be quite hefty!!!!
Clean out the closets
This one requires some more work on your part however, in my opinion it is THE most lucrative and quickest way to drum up some more mickey money. Twice a year I participate in a local kids consignment sale where I put all of Pierce’s clothes, shoes, and toys that he has outgrown and still are in great condition in the sale. This most recent sale I profited $591.50 which would certainly be a step in the right direction for a great Orlando getaway.
In addition, I took the remaining items that did not sale but were very quality and condition and listed them on Facebook where someone purchased an additional $130 of clothes. I then took the remaining items to a local consignment store where I earned $68. Combined for a grand total of $789.50 of vacation money that had previously been hanging in my four year old’s closet!
These totals are typical of what I earn each sale I participate in. Multiply 789.50 times 2 sales a year and you get a grand total of $1579 per year towards a trip to see the mouse. Hallelujah somebody get me dole whip stat! The sale I participate in twice a year can be found HERE
Keep the change
This one is pretty cut and dry and very simple to do. Every time you have spare change in the car, your purse, the counter (MY HOUSE), make a designated “Disney jar” and let this accumulate! You will be SHOCKED when you take it to coinstar or roll the coins and cash them in. Over a period of time this can easily add up to a couple hundred dollars!!
Bank of America has a program called keep the change where when you make a debit card transaction that is an uneven dollar amount it rounds up to the nearest dollar and moves the change to a designated savings account. This is a great way to save for the trip without it being such a huge expense at one time. I looked at the total that has been moved from our checking to our savings over the course of our keep the change account , which we have had about 5 years now, and it’s over $2,000 so on average close to $400 in a year’s time again depending on your debit card usage and frequency ect.
Open a separate savings
This tip may not work for everyone depending on how you bank and your mindset but it has worked really well for me in the past! I opened a separate vacation savings account at a local credit union and with this account I did not open online banking or get a debit card so that I would not be tempted to access this account.
With our primary bank it’s was so hard to let the vaca funds accumulate because it seemed like there was always something coming up that I could use those funds for ( tires, new appliances ect and so on into eternity). The separate bank worked well because once a week or once a month or however often when I got an unexpected refund of some kind or money I wasn’t expecting or just had some extra I would run over there and put it in the “invisible” account.
And it would have been such a pain in the put to get the money out because I would have had to physically drive to get it. It sounds silly but it really worked for me and I looked forward to seeing it grow. $20 here and there will really surprise you. And it was a great feeling to pull it all out on our way out of town and know it was paid for and I wasn’t putting it on a high interest credit card.
Give up something
I can just see Dave Ramsey smiling as I type this and let me just say I am the world’s worst!!!! I will use my weakness as an example! Dunkin Donuts is my weakness. I look forward to it almost daily.
I will get on a kick for awhile everyday and then realize how much I am spending on something I easily have the ability to make at home for little to nothing if I spend an extra 5 minutes in the morning in preparation. I would say on average it runs $3 bucks a day times 5 days a week= $15 per week times 52 weeks per year for a grand total of $780 dollars in a year which would buy a HECK of a lot of mickey shaped ice cream bars!!!!!
And it’s really something I can easily live without and not even miss! Truth be told it’s probably better for my health too 🙂 Maybe yours is buying breakfast on the way to work or something else but you get the idea.
I LOVE staying on Disney properties. It is SO awesome and special. I DO NOT love paying for it. When I see what my money will buy for $650 which is one night at a resort with monorail (recently priced)- I get very sad!!! I am SOOOOO not making a case against the resort hotels or trying to talk you into or out of them. I think they are awesome and wonderful and if that works for your present budget by all means I say go. for. it.
I have stayed at the Polynesian, the Contemporary, the Grand Floridian, the Bay Lake Towers, and the Wilderness Lodge and they were ALL fab!! Every trip my husband says just go ahead and book it on the resort this time and then I think , ” OK, lets just do it” and then I start looking at what I get for the money and I have yet to be able to pull the trigger. But- maybe next time….
What I am trying to get around to is that if you feel you do not HAVE to stay on the property this is a great place to find ALOT of savings and if you are careful and shop smart you won’t have to sacrifice. In some cases you come out on top IMO.
We have stayed twice now at the Magic Village Resort More info here. It is less than 2 miles from the Animal Kingdom and these are brand new townhomes in a gated resort complete with a restaurant. It is very safe and has onsite security. This property is on a quiet side street right by any and everything you might need including TONS of restaurants and a Super Target. We have stayed in the 4 bedroom 4.5 bathroom unit the last two times which includes an outdoor kitchen, gourmet kitchen, two master bedrooms, and IT. IS. HUGE.
I always wait to catch a sale and this last time I got 6 nights on orbitz.com for $1500. These units could easily be split between two families for around $750 a family for 6 nights at a VERY nice accommodation with a TON of space for the kids. Still a lot of money but a lot less than $650 X 6 which would have been $3900 total.
I will probably catch heck for this next tip but if it saves someone a bunch of money and helps a family get to Disney then I am ok with that! If you are really on a tight budget one excellent way to score a Disney trip for MUCH cheaper is to find a time share presentation deal!! Now am I suggesting you go only to get the deal??? Not necessarily.
MAYBE this is something you are legitimately interested in? I know quite a few people who have them and seem to like them just fine! For all I know you are considering!! We have now been to two different tours and properties. I can tell you two things. We have not bought one (yet) and I felt like it was worth it!!
My favorite of the two was a deal where we sat through a 90 minutes presentation and in return got FIVE nights at a two bedroom condo and 4 DISNEY TICKETS FOR $600 ( Silver Lake FYI). I found this particular deal on EBAY so look around.
I am not sure what you dollar value you put on your time but to me it was 90 minutes well spent and then we had FIVE more days to enjoy Disney and I never thought about the presentation again. They also fed us breakfast and while we did not utilize this service they offered childcare for the duration of the “tour”. Incidentally I would have bought it both times but hubby said no lol.
There you have it a year long plan to save:
credit card cash rewards $103.00
sold clothes, shoes, toys $1579.00
Pocket change plus keep the change $600.00
Give something up a daily expense of around $3 dollars $780.00
Grand total of $3154.61 to put towards your next Disney Vacation. Couple that with a smart choice on your accommodations and you are ready to go see Mickey and the gang.
There are like a million other ones out there including but not limited to IBOTTA, swag bucks, disney savings accounts, and so many more. I just wanted to speak to the ones I actually use and have used. But you can really get creative and find ways to make it work!
Next up ways to save once you get there 🙂 Check out part 2 here.