I started planning our trip to Disney about a week ago, and worried that our rushed trip would seriously affect being able to do Disney on the cheap. After reading every Disney blog I could, and doing hours of research, I’ve been able to plan to do Disney on a dime — it is possible!
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times — you need to shop with Ebates. It’s free to open an account, and you can get electronic rebates (money back) on most of your online purchases. I’m racking up tons of rebates shopping for this trip, so go open your account now!
I highly recommend the Chrome/browser extension, as I was delighted to get $26 back from booking our hotel (I hadn’t checked Ebates because I assumed there wouldn’t be a rebate offered). Thanks to my browser extension, a pop-up let me know that I could save 4.5% on our hotel — cha-ching!
We opted to drive down because trying to figure out a car seat situation was a hassle (especially since our hotel does not offer airport shuttle service). By driving, we have no limitations on what we pack (well, you know what I mean), which means I can do grocery shopping at home, where I know prices, and get all of the things we need for snacks and meals on the go. Realistically, I know my husband will probably want to stop somewhere for a meal or two on the way down, but we aren’t tied to fast food in our travels.
I used a trip cost calculator — Gas Buddy — which estimates that our fuel cost for this trip will be $126. I’m not sure how much I trust that, but we’ll go with that figure for now!
I’m fortunate enough to get a friends and family discount for a large hotel chain, which really helped cut our lodging expense. As I said in my previous blog, booking a Disney trip four weeks out means that most of the Disney resorts are booked. If we wanted to stay on property, we’d be looking at a nightly rate starting at $600+, which would be a budget-crusher.
You can use your Ebates account to receive up to 10% back on travel and lodging (flights and hotel), if you book through a site such as Expedia or Travelocity, but at this point in the game it was slim pickins. We actually got a much better hotel rate — avg $145 per night — through F&F, and were more than happy to pay an additional $10 per night (it would have been around $137/night) to get a two-bedroom suite. Our little guy typically stays awake if we share the same hotel room, and even a suite with a pull out couch, so it’s better for all of us to have two separate bedrooms for our stay.
Thanks to my handy Ebates Chrome extension, we receive 4.5% cash back for our hotel stay. This was a nice surprise, since I would never have thought to check Ebates for a rebate, but the extension let me know that there was cash back available – score!
For all of my research, park tickets were going to be our largest expense, and discounts are scarce, at best. We’ve only planned 3 days in the parks, but when I went to order our tickets, I made sure to explore all of our ticketing options. Imagine my surprise to find that purchasing 4-day tickets was cheaper than purchasing tickets for 3 days!
To save on costs, we opted not to choose the Park Hopper option, as we’d probably not use it with a 4 year old. The ticket cost, for two adults and one child, would be $852 — that’s one park per day, for three days. However, Disney is currently offering a 4-Park Magic deal; for two adults and one child, one park per day, for four days, comes to $817! Yep, it’s cheaper. While we likely won’t use that additional day, it’s nice to know that we can pop into a park when we arrive, should we feel up to it.
Oh, but that’s not all. When I went to pay, a pop-up appeared with an offer of a $200 statement credit if I opened a Disney credit card. Huh?
Upon further exploration, Disney Visa cardholders receive Character Experiences at each of the parks, in private locations just for cardmembers. In addition, cardholders receive 10% off of dining at the parks, and 10% off of merchandise purchases of $50 or more (at the parks). Yep, I got the card, it really wouldn’t make sense not to. Thus, our 4-park tickets, after taxes and fees, ends up being $670!
**WARNING** If you suspect you will be unable to pay your Disney card balance upon your return, or within a month or so, do not open an account. The interest rate is high, and you will not end up with any savings if you don’t pay your balance quickly.
Park Tickets: $670
I’m happy to say that I’m no longer in panic mode (like I was a week ago), and I’m pretty pleased with the savings I’ve amassed planning this trip [on the fly]. You definitely can do Disney on a dime AND you can even do it with last minute planning!
Check out even More Ways to Save On Your Disney Park Experience