How We Save THOUSANDS on Trips to Walt Disney World!

by Steve Rhodes and Pat Neistat

So you want to save a shit load of cash on you trip to Walt Disney World? Well, get in line asshole. Okay, we know you clicked on this article for a lot more information than that. And while even using the tips we’re about to so generously spill upon thee, please note that your trip is going to cost you gobs of money. It’s just plain expensive to travel to see Mickey and stay in one of his hotels, eat his food

Credit Card Rewards 

One of the biggest ways to save money on a Walt Disney World Vacation is to use credit card rewards. The Capital One Venture card offers 2 miles (pts) for every $1 dollar spent. That’s 2% back for every damn purchase! The miles are unlimited and can be redeemed for all things travel related. That means no blackout dates for airfare, Disney Resorts, Disney Park tickets (even from discount brokers) and anything that you have to prepay for- such as advanced dinner reservations at Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. Throughout the year, I purchase everything on my Venture card including all of my bills such as water, sewer, electric, gas, internet, mobile, and anything else that allows me to pay with a credit card. If you pay off your credit card monthly then this will really add up.

For example, if you spend $25,000 a year on your Venture card that earns you 50,000 miles, which is equivalent to $500. You can see how this adds up over over a couple years, depending on how much you spend. Capital One offers every new card member 50,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from opening the account. That’s a free $500, bitches! This card does have a $95 annual fee so you’ll need to spend $1,055.50 monthly (which is equal to $12,666.70 a year) to make that fee worth it compared to the Capital One Venture One card that has zero fee. Theoretically, you could earn enough points to pay for your entire Walt Disney World vacation!

There are now 3 consumer options for the Rapid rewards Visa from Southwest; Plus ($69), Premier ($99), and Priority ($149).  Since each carries an annual fee obviously it’s only worthwhile to own if you fly Southwest as your main or second choice carrier. That being said each card accrues 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. The Plus card gives you 3,000 points on your card anniversary while the Premier gives 6,000 and the Priority offers 7,500. The Plus card really should be free, I don’t see the value in it so skip it. The choice between the other two comes down to whether or not you’ll fly Southwest at least once per year if so take the Priority as it comes with $75 in annual travel credit which takes care of the difference in annual fee. It also gives you free collision damage waiver for car rentals, 4 free upgrades to A1-15 seating and 20% off in-flight purchases. The beauty of this card lie in the underlying reward program from Southwest, Rapid Rewards. Since there are no black-out dates and your points don’t expire (so long as your use or earn at least one point annually). With one way flight’s starting around 4,500 points you can get where you need to go pretty quickly with just accruing the anniversary points. Plus new card members can get great sign-up bonus of 40,000 points after spending just $1,000 in 90 days. This card has paid for my flights to Orlando from St Louis for my last three trips.

Discover Card has no annual fee so this is one of those cards you should just get if you are so inclined. Right now there’s even a $50 statement credit just for using the card once in the first 90 days. They have a rotating 5% cash back schedule and every fall heading into the holiday’s their category is Amazon and Wholesale Clubs so BOOM!, Couple this with the Sam’s Club discount (see below) and you’ve got nearly 10% off your trip. Also this is not really Disney related, but Discover has price protection all year round including Black Friday. I use this to avoid the shit show on the day after Thanksgiving. You can get refunded up to $500 per item (max $2,500 per year), for any item you buy that drops in price within 90 days after purchase. So when that Black Friday ad hits just go buy that coveted item you want for full price and once the sale price kicks in submit your claim and they mail you the difference.

 

The Disney Visa Card has some decent benefits. You can earn unlimited points 1% on everything . Obviously this doesn’t compare to the Capital One Visa card but it can be useful. Since there’s no annual fee (there is a Premier Card with a $49 fee – skip that shit) this is a great card to sign up for shortly before your trip since all new card members can earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from opening the account. That’s close to a 40% savings for a family of 4  on any special event tickets such as MNSSHP and MVMCP.  You can also save 10% on select merchandise and dining of purchases of $50. It also offers exclusive Disney character meet-and-greets. Which can save you time and fastpasses.

Gift Cards 

You’re going to spend money on your Walt Disney vacation so why not buy discounted Disney gift cards

Sam’s Club sells preloaded Disney cards for discounts ranging from 4 to almost 5%. They sell $150 (sold in a 3 pack of $650 cards) and a $500 card. Inexplicably the $150 bundle is actually the cheaper way to go. Right now you can sign up for a Sam’s membership and get a $20 e-gift card in return.

Target REDcard: Whether you have the debit or credit version of Target’s REDcard you save 5% on virtually everything in store, including the preloaded Disney gift cards (even the in-store Starbucks). If you shop at Target regularly you really should have the debit REDcard anyway (it’s free).You can sign up online and it just attaches to your existing checking account so you don’t need to do much leg work. Plus you’ll get lots of exclusive deals, an additional 30 days to return items and early access to sales like Black Friday.

BJ’s Wholesale will offer Members discounts on gift cards around 8% off like this one 

 

Discount Ticket Brokers 

Walt Disney World just created a new ticketing system which in-turn raised prices for almost every ticket type. While we can’t escape the annual increases we can curb them by buying tickets from reputable third-party broker. Most visitors will save money by going this route with the noted exceptions of Florida residents, Military members (and some family), and anyone buying an annual pass. Everyone else should skip the Disney box office and seek a reputable broker. While there are a handful of good ones to choose from we have personally only used Park Savers and Undercover Tourist, both of which are great. You can expect to save 7-12% on your tickets vs Disney pricing (the longer your ticket the better the discount). The tickets include tax up front so there’s no surprise at checkout. A family of four buying a 7 day Park-Hopper can expect to save around $250 during peak season, not too shabby.

Renting DVC points

Disney Vacation Club is essentially a timeshare. Members that can’t use their points for the year can rent their points out to recover their cost. Because DVC is only offered for deluxe resorts, renting points offers substantial discounts from Disney prices. Here are some examples of the rack rates vs renting points of studio rooms for December 2018…..Disney does offer discounts throughout the year so savings may vary. While you can rent directly from an owner you know or find online, there’s an easier way to do so and that’s through a company who has dozens of owners ready to sell their points. Of course the middle man aspect brings some markup versus contacting an owner directly but it also eliminates the risk of you getting scammed and increases the likelihood that you’ll have enough points to rent since you’re dealing with a pool of owners and not just one. We have used DVC Rental Store on multiple occasions for just this purpose and have saved a ton. There is one other very reputable outlet for this and that’s David’s DVC, we can’t speak first hand on them but know from many sources they are legit. Check out some of you potential savings:

  • Disney’s Beach Club VillasAverage cost per night booking direct with Disney is $585 plus tax…  Renting points from DVC Rental Store is $274.50 with tax. That’s a savings of around $310 per night!!! That’s equivalent to moderate resort prices, such as Port Orleans Riverside whose average cost is $268.75 plus tax.
  • Disney’s Bay Lake  Tower – Average cost per night booking direct with Disney is $746 plus tax… Renting points from DVC Rental Store is $330 including tax. That’s a savings of around $416 per night! Disney’s Caribbean Beach cost $273 plus tax. Damn, for an extra $60 dollars a night you can stay on the monorail!!!
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Average cost per night booking direct with Disney is $634 plus tax…Renting from DVC Rental Store is $270 with tax. That’s a savings of around $364 per night! The Cabins at Fort Wilderness cost per night is $483 plus tax. You want to spend $200 more to spend the night in a cabin?! Hell, a damn campsite site is $179.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Average cost per night booking direct with Disney is $703 plus tax (savannah view)… Renting points from DVC Rental Store is $288 with tax (savannah view). That’s a savings of around $415! You can even rent a standard view room through the DVC rental store for $216!!! That’s only $50 more than Disney’s All-Star Sports which cost $166 and that’s a damn Value resort.

And now that you have a room that’s got at minimum a kitchenette you can buy groceries or have them delivered. Which can save you on breakfast and snacks. It could save you on every meal if you really want to push it but realistically making breakfast in the room and packing snack for the day are the easiest things to manage. Breakfast at you hotel quick service is going to cost you $30-40 each day for a family of four. If you can cut that cost to $5 that’s at least $175 you save over 7 days.

An added perk of renting DVC points is you may receive the 10% DVC discount at restaurants and gift shops. While you really shouldn’t ask for the discount unless you own DVC points some places will scan your magic band for payment and see the DVC stay and just give the discount to you without asking – BONUS!! I had this happen to me on my last trip and while some may snarl at that, I’m not going to tell the cashier or waiter to remove a discount I didn’t ask for so don’t @ me fuckers.

 

Summation

Like we said from the begining, your trip to Walt Disney World is gonna run up a substantial tab but you don’t have to be the one mortgaging their house to make it happen. These are just some of the biggest ways to cut chunks out of the cost. There are dozens of other little things you can do as well that will save small amounts which will add up but in the spirit of trying to keep this article as succinct as we can we’ll pass on writing about them here. Feel free to add your two-cents (or more) in the comments below and let us know how you keep more of you money in your wallet during your Disney trips.

 

 

 

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