Can you afford a trip to Disney?

Can YOU afford a trip to Disney?

HammFirst let me say that ONLY YOU can really answer this question.  In order to honestly answer this question, however first you must be informed, which is where DWDads hope we can help.

The first step in deciding on whether you can afford a trip is to find out how much it will cost by answering these 4 simple questions:

  1. Who is going [# of Adults + # of Children (with ages)]?
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights?
  3. Where do you want to stay?
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?

By answering these 4 simple questions DWDads can give you a quote (without discounts) so you can begin saving or budgeting for your trip.

**Note – We will often book/quote clients at “rack rates” knowing there is a strong possibility of a discount coming in the future.  When the discount is released, we then apply the discount and the balance due decreases or a refund is issued.

Here is an example:

  1. Who is going?  2 Adults and 2 Children (ages 8 & 5)
  2. When do you want to go and for how many days/nights? October for 6 nights and 7 days
  3. Where do you want to stay?  Anywhere on property – Value is fine
  4. How do you think you’ll eat – table service or counter service meals?  We like to eat one big sit down meal and the other meals we will eat on the go.

Given the information above the Hotel (Pop Century), Meals (Dining Plan with 24 Table service, 24 Counter Service, 24 Snacks & 4 refillable mugs) and Tickets (7 day base tickets) would cost just about $3,000 before any discounts that might be released.

 So how do I save $3000? 

Here are some ways the DWDads recommend saving:

Simple budgeting 

Put $250 per month or $60 a week in a separate account = $3,000 after 1 year


  • *Better yet each month go to Target and purchase $250 in Disney entertainment cards with your Target REDCARD (saving 5% on each purchase) – By the end you’ll have spent $2,850 on $3,000 in Disney Cards a $150 SAVINGS – Stack the REDCARD with a 5% Pharmacy Rewards Card (not valid in NJ) and you will save $300 on the $3,000 in cards.

Use your income tax refund

Many people receive a tax refund when they file their yearly taxes.  What better way to use this “found money” than on a family

  • In 2012 my federal and state return totaled – $3,248

Use your credit card cash back or miles balances

  • Disney Visa Card gives you 1%-2% (depending on the card) on all purchases and also saves you 10% on purchases of $50 or more at select locations including the Disneystore and – Current Disney Visa Balance – $126
  • Discover Cash Back Credit Card – (2% on all purchases and 5% on select purchases each quarter) – Current Discover CASH BACK balance – $1,204

Save pocket change or even every $1 or $5 bills when you break a large bill


  • Every time you come home, empty your pockets into a jar or milk jug.  You’d be surprised how much you can save over time.
  • DO NOT use Coinstar machines that charge a fee or spend your time rolling your change – many banks (TD Bank in my area) have FREE coin sorting machines and you do not even need to have an account there to use these machines.

Make a sacrifice for Disney

  • Quit smoking – $8 per pack per day = $2,920 in one year. Not only can you save the money, but you’ll be healthier and touring the parks will be easier too.
  • Give up Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks for daily coffee – $3-$5 or more per day
  • Pack your lunch daily – Lunch can cost you $5-$10 or more per day and those savings add up

DW Dads Best of 2013: Disney World Discounts

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article comes from August 7 and it gives an overview of how Disney World offers their discounts. Enjoy!

Going on any vacation, especially a Disney vacation, is a major investment, both of time and money.  If there is a way to save money on our Disney vacation, we will all happily take advantage of it.  There are times, however, when Disney runs multiple discounts or discounts that are not available to everyone at the same time.  How do you know when or how to get the best deal?  Here are some basics on how Disney offers discounts and how you can take advantage of them.

First, we should define a few terms:
Vacation Package is when you combine a stay at a Disney World resort hotel with tickets to get into the theme parks.  Packages can also include the Disney Dining Plan, but they do not have to.  The tickets in your package can also include optional upgrades, such as the ability to hop from park to park.
Room Only reservation is just what it sounds like: a reservation for a room at one of the Disney World resort hotels.  Tickets can then be added to this, thereby essentially making it a Vacation Package; but, it is important to note that this type of reservation started as Room Only.

Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.
Right now, Disney is offering Free Dining and Room Only Discounts for this fall.

Types of Discounts

Disney likes to offer two main types of discounts: Free Dining and Percentage-Off Room Only

Free Dining: This discount would add one of the Disney Dining Plans to your reservation for free if you book a Vacation Package at the rack rate.  The level of the Dining Plan depends on the level of resort you book.
% Off Room Only: This is a certain percentage off the Room Rate.  The percentage tends to go up as the level of hotel goes up.  As mentioned above, you can then add tickets and dining, usually at full price.

There have been other discounts, of course.  Kids Stay and Play Free basically gives your kids free park tickets.  In the past, there have been gift cards given out or free nights added, but these are a lot less common today.

Who Gets Discounts?
General Public
: Many of the discounts are available to the general public; however, there are a few groups that sometimes get to take advantage of them first:
Disney Visa Cardholders: Sometimes get to book with a discount a few days earlier than the general public.
Annual Passholders: They also get to book a few days early.  AP holders also get many discounts offered to them exclusively throughout the year, including special room rates.
Florida Residents: If you live in Florida, you can often get special room rates.
Pin Code Recipients: Many times, Disney sends out personalized postcards or e-mails that include a unique code.  This code allows the recipient to take advantage of an unpublished discount (free dining, room only, etc.).  Who gets these codes and why? That is a mystery only Disney knows the answer to!

This year's Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall's discounts.
This year’s Food and Wine Festival is included among the dates for this Fall’s discounts.

What You Need To Know
1. You can only take advantage of one discount at a time; no double dipping!
2. Most discounts require you to pay for some of your vacation at rack rate.  Often, two discounts are offered at the same time, so do the math to see which is the better deal for you.
3. There are only a certain number of rooms at each resort earmarked for each discount.  So, the discounted rooms will sell out before the actual resort runs out of rooms.
4. If you book a vacation at rack rate, then a discount comes out, you can call and have them apply the discount to your reservation, as long as your room type is still available under the discount.
5. If the room you want is sold out under a discount, keep calling back.  It may become available as others change their vacation plans.
6. Let a Disney Vacation Specialist do the work for you! DW Dads are Disney Vacation Specialists. At no cost to you, we will find you the best discount available for your family.  If one is not currently available, we will keep in constant contact with Disney to apply a discount to your reservation as soon as it is released.  Let us crunch the numbers and make the phone calls; you can just focus on making great vacation memories! Click here to request a quote.

Related articles


Taking my family of 5 to Disney World (on-property with tickets & meals) for under $999

First I need to give you some facts.  My children are ages 4, 2, and an infant, so in Disney’s eyes we only need to pay for 1 child; therefore we qualify as a “Family of 3.”  Second, I have not included transportation to Orlando, which could cost us another $300 (driving) to $2,000+ (airfare for 5).

Intro to DW

Last week Disney released a new Discount Package called Intro to Disney.   With this special offer, you can purchase a 3-night, 2-day Magic Your Way Room and Ticket Package PLUS Quick Service Dining at select Disney Value Resort hotels (Pop Century and All-Star resorts) for under $1,000 for stays most nights Jan. 5 – Feb. 12, 2014 (based on a family of 3).   This is the Pop Intro Offer quote I ran for my family and it came out to $977.22 for the 5 of us at Pop Century.  This package is ideal for families with young children or any family who wants to give Disney World a test drive, or those that want to take a short trip over a long weekend.  Because the crowd levels are typically lower during this period, you should be able to get a lot accomplished with a good touring plan on this quick getaway . The availability on these packages is limited so if you are interested we can run you a quote.

There are great rates for other lengths of stay, alternative family configurations and other Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights Jan. 5 – March 5, 2014.  If you have any questions about this discount package or any other question, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Top 5 Disney Dining Snack Credit Values at the Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival

One of the great touring tricks to Disney’s annual Food & Wine Festival in Epcot Center is to get the most value out of your Disney Dining Plan (“DDP”) snack credits.  Since DDP snack credits are accepted for many items at prices varying from $2-$9, DWDads is listing the top 5 stands to visit in 2013 in order to get the most value out of your DDP snack credits. All of these items can either be purchased at the prices listed below or 1 DDP snack credit, so make sure to save up your snack credits for the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot Center.

5 – Australia

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies – $6.00


4 – Ireland

Lobster and Seafood Fisherman’s Pie – $6.25


3 – Canada

“Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce – $7.00


2 – Hops ‘n Barley (near America)

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter – $7.50

Lobster Roll with Lemon Herb Mayonnaise – $7.50


1 – Refreshment Port (near Canada)

Fried Shrimp with Dole® Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce – $7.19

Fried Chicken Chunks with Dole® Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce – $8.69


The Dole Whip

Some of you might be curious about our DW Dads logo with that yellow swirl in the background.  Well, the DW Dads decided to feature our favorite Disney treat the “Dole Whip” in our logo.  Since we consider ourselves both Disney World Dads and Dole Whip Dads – DWDads was a fitting name.


The Dole Whip is a soft-serve frozen desert traditionally in pineapple flavor with a close relationship with Disney Parks.  At one time you could only find this treat in Disneyland, Disney World and Hawaii.  Today you can find copies at the local fro-yo shop and there are many online recipes to make this treat at home.  You can even order the mix online or in smaller quantities on ebay.  But for the DWDads, there is nothing like enjoying the original Dole Whip inside the parks on a bench in Adventureland, or waiting for a parade to start.


Becky took this artistic shot to highlight the refreshing color of this tasty treat

You can enjoy the Dole Whip in a variety of flavors (pineapple, vanilla, orange, pineapple/vanilla swirl, or orange/vanilla swirl) and in a variety of ways (in a cup with a spoon, or as a float over juice).  DWDads endorse the traditional Dole Whip float with pineapple soft-serve over pineapple juice as our go-to snack, though you should feel free to mix it up.

This frozen treat is non-dairy because it’s a fruit puree reconstituted with water and then frozen. At only 80 calories for 1/2 a cup, this snack is guilt-free for those watching their weight.  It’s refreshingly cool, which is wonderful when you are trying to catch a break from the hot humid Florida sun.  It is fat free, cholesterol free, gluten free, allergan free and lactose free food, so most individuals can enjoy it without worry.

Another popular and similar treat to the Dole Whip that deserves to be mentioned is the Citrus Swirl, which can be purchased at Sunshine Tree Terrace (across from The Magic Carpets of Aladdin).  This cousin to the Dole Whip had a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century before being brought back to the parks in 2012.  The Citrus Swirl is a refreshing soft-serve ice cream blended with frozen orange juice.

Locations to purchase a Dole Whip:

DisneyWorld  – Aloha Isle in Adventureland (across from the Jungle Cruise) & at Captain Cook’s Snack Co. in the Polynesian Resort (self-serve)


Aloha Isle in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom      (Photo property of Disney Company)

What a treat by Mr. Niter at Captain Cooks

Check out this masterpiece by Mr. Niter at Captain Cooks

[Tip: If you are dining at Captain Cooks, for dessert they will give you a bowl for you to self serve your Dole Whip.  If you have good technique, you can make yourself quite a snack!!]


DisneyLandTiki Juice Bar at the Enchanted Tiki Room

[Tip: If you are on the Disney Dining Plan snack credits are accepted for Dole Whip Floats (valued at $4.99), which is a great value for your credit.]

Hawaii (Oahu)DOLE® Plantation or Lapperts ice cream


Sugar, Dextrose, Coconut Oil, Stabilizers (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Karaya Gum, Pectin), Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavor (contains Pineapple Juice), Modified Food Starch, Malic Acid, Beta Carotene (Color), Mono & Diglycerides, Less Than 2% Silicon Dioxide (Anticaking).

Dietary/Allergy Info:

Vegan Statement:  The ingredients used in this product do not contain dairy, therefore, the product is considered dairy free.  The Rabbinical guidelines classify this product to be kosher-dairy.  Allergen control and sanitation procedures are in place and are strictly followed.  In addition, this product does not contain any animal based ingredients.
Allergens: None – Based on FDA FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004) “Big 8” allergens.
Fat Free:  **Coconut oil contributes a trivial amount of fat.