How I Saved Money on Our Disney Vacation
My family has done two Disney Cruises and next month we are going to Disney World for the first time. I've blogged several times about my obsessive planning (find Disney Cruise posts here, and the Disney World post here), and I've worked hard to make our trips really fun for my family. I really love to plan, but more than that, I love to save money. I swear, no matter how much money we ever have, I know I will always be on the hunt for a bargain. I hate to pay full price for anything and Disney is no different. Disney does not have any reason to discount things, so I had to do a little research and find out the best way to save money without actually changing our trip and leaving out things that we wanted to do. The ideas that I'm going to share with you aren't going to get you huge savings, but I look at as anything I save can be used towards something else fun later on. Disney is definitely not cheap, but being the frugal person I am, I'll take any savings I can get.
Ok, here's first task at hand..Open a Disney Vacation Account (DVA) at least 120 days prior to your payment due date for your cruise or trip to the parks. This is a free service, and acts like a savings account. You set your goal amount that you need to save, add the goal date, and then can either set up recurring contributions or do one time contributions anytime you'd like. You can make your final payment directly from your DVA. So, why use this and not your regular bank account? For every $1000 you pay out of your DVA, Disney will send you a $20 Disney Gift Card. When we did our cruise, I just took those cards with me on the ship and had them add it to our on board account for any extras we did while sailing. Our Disney World trip is costing just over $4000, so I'll get $80 in gift cards for us to use (because I know the kids are going to want souvenirs and that sort of thing) while we are in the parks. $80 for adding money to an account? Totally worth it to me.
The next way that I saved can be done a handful of ways, but I'll only go into detail on the one that is tried and true for me. I pay for our entire trip with Disney Gift Cards. Say what?? One of the fun things about the DVA is that you can add funds from Gift Cards instead of from your bank or credit card. I know you're thinking, "Why would she want to do that?" Don't worry, I'll tell you. Do you have a Sam's Club near you or a Sam's membership to shop online? If so, you can buy Disney Gift Cards there at a discount. They sell $150 in cards (three $50 cards per pack) for $142.98. That means for every $150 in cards you buy, you save $7.02. For our vacation, I bought 29 packs of cards which equaled a $203.58 savings on our trip. I added all 87 of those cards to my DVA and then called my final payment in to Disney. If you don't have a Sam's near you, I know there is another way to buy gift cards and save, but since I've not tried it I can't speak much about it, and it also seems like a lot more work. There is a website called raise.com where people sell gift cards they no longer want at a discount. You can purchase Target gift cards there at a varying discount (some even use their Target RED Card for additional savings), and then they go to a Target store and purchase Disney cards there. I did the math when I was researching all of this for our cruise and it was easier for me to just go to Sam's and buy my gift cards there. It was a small amount of effort on my part, but totally worth it to save over $200, plus get the $80 in bonus gift cards I will receive from my DVA account.