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

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  • *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 trip.tax-refund

  • 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 Disneystore.com – 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

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  • 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
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Save an Extra 10% on Every Disney Vacation

Frequent Disney travelers have become accustomed to Disney running regular special offers throughout the year.  With the right amount of planning, patience and luck, most visitors will not need to pay rack rate for their vacation. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to save a few extra bucks? Here is a relatively easy way to save an extra 10% on your Disney vacations.

The key to your savings is that you live near a Target store.  One of the items that Target sells by the registers is Disney gift cards; they are usually sold in $50 and $25 amounts.

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These cards can essentially be used for anything related to Disney, including at the Disney Store, Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line.  Since Target technically categorizes these as “entertainment” cards, there are a couple of discounts that can be used to purchase them:

1. Target REDCard 5% Discount

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If you use a Target REDCard on any purchases at Target, you get an automatic 5% discount.  The REDCard is available as both a Debit card and a Credit card, and you can use it as soon as you apply in store for it and are approved. While this 5% discount does NOT apply to Target gift cards, it will apply to the other gift cards (“entertainment” cards) that Target sells, including the Disney cards.

EDITED – Target still allows the 5% discount using a REDCard, but has changed it’s policy regarding the Pharmacy Rewards Coupon, originally posted below.

2. Target Pharmacy Rewards 5% Coupon

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Target runs a Pharmacy Rewards program that offers an additional 5% savings, if you’ve earned it.  To earn the 5%, you must enroll in the program and get 5 prescriptions filled. Once your fifth prescription is filled, you will receive a coupon for 5% off a shopping trip.  This coupon can be combined with the REDCard discount, effectively saving you 10%.

Since the cards are in $50 increments, you will need quite a few to pay off an entire vacation.  While it is certainly possible to purchase thousands of dollars worth of these cards, it may require several trips to Target, which in turn would necessitate several pharmacy reward coupons. So, it is best to give yourself plenty of time to purchase all the cards.  Then, it’s the fun part: paying for your trip with dozens of gift cards.  Disney cast members will sit patiently on the phone with you while you read each gift card number, but here’ s a better idea: let DW Dads book your trip and we can take care of this part for you!

There are certain risks associated with this plan. For example, while you should be able to return the gift cards (as they are considered merchandise), you will have abide by the Target return policy.  If you are outside of the return window, and you have to cancel your Disney trip, you may be stuck with hundreds or thousands of dollars in Disney gift cards.  Some guests have started small, only buying enough gift cards to pay for souvenirs and food.  Even that is a great way to save a little extra money on your next Disney vacation.

Money-Saving Disney Vacation Tips: Shop Before You Go

Let’s be honest: There are reasons why we are willing to pay when places like the Disney Parks overcharge us for things that would cost a fraction of the price in the real world.  For one, we are on vacation, so the money in our pockets may be considered a bit more disposable than when we are home.  Plus, it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment when we are living “in the bubble” for a week; suddenly, we forget that we usually spend $2.50 for an entire case of water at home, but in the parks it is the cost of a single bottle.  So, we have to rely on our “still at home” selves to save some money for the “on vacation” spendthrifts we become!  Here are some things that you can purchase while you are still at home that could potentially save you a bundle when you are in the parks.

1. Rain ponchos

"Look, kids, these 50-cent ponchos match Mickey's shoes!"

“Look, kids, these 50-cent ponchos match Mickey’s shoes!”

Florida is known for its daily rain showers, sometimes only lasting a few minutes, sometimes lasting all afternoon.  While looking through the photos from a typical family’s Disney World vacation, you would be hard-pressed to not see at least one picture of people in rain ponchos.  Disney charges a little less than $10 for a poncho, so a family of four is spending close to $40 for ponchos.  The good news is that these are destined to be family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.  OK, not so much.  They are plastic and they have a picture of Mickey Mouse on the back.  Also, if it rips, Disney will replace it free of charge.  Otherwise, there is no reason to have to pay that amount.  Most Targets, Walmarts and dollar stores sell ponchos, many times in a 2-pack for $1.00.  Honestly, these are trash bags with a few holes in them, and you are usually better off using them and throwing them away rather than trying to dry them and reuse them; but that sounds better than lugging around wet plastic for the week anyway, doesn’t it?

2. Bottled Water

Dealing with hydration, especially in Florida, is a top priority for any Disney vacationer.  Free water is plentiful in the parks, either at the tap or at counter service restaurants.  Many of us, however, have grown accustomed to bottled spring water.  Disney charges $2.50 for a single bottle in the park.  This isn’t too bad; the same bottle at a movie theater or a ballpark may cost you twice as much.  But it adds up.  Let’s say you drink 4 bottles a day, for 7 days: $70 multiplied by the number of people in your family.  Many online retailers (Amazon, Staples, etc.) sell cases of bottled water that can be ordered and shipped to your hotel prior to your stay.  These are usually priced higher than the case you would buy at your local supermarket, but they still represent a significant savings.  For example, a recent search on Amazon turned up a 35-pack of spring water for $22 with free shipping.  When you get to your hotel, you would have the water sent to your room with your luggage.  In the morning, everyone grabs a bottle or two and it will save you a few bucks (or some snack credits) in the park that day.

Purchase souvenirs before you leave home, so you can buy more expensive ones in the parks!

Purchase souvenirs before you leave home, so you can buy more expensive ones in the parks!

3. Souvenirs

Buying souvenirs is an important and fun part of many family vacations.  Chances are, all the money-saving preparations in the world won’t stop you from buying that really cool Epcot thimble when you see it and fall in love with it.  But, sometimes it can become frustrating to continue to spend money on things that are being sold back at home for a lot less.  Here are a few tips to help you out with souvenirs.  First, hit up the Disney Store before you leave.  Check out their clearance section for t-shirts, toys and other fun items.  Don’t tell the kids about them, and you can surprise them with little toys and gifts throughout the trip.  If you are into Vinylmation, check out that section of your Disney Store as well.  Many times, there are great deals (Buy 1, Get 1) or clearance sales (I’ve seen them marked as low as $2.99) on these collectibles.  The deals may not be on the type you want, but these make great traders in the park.  A couple of traders can keep a child collector busy for the whole vacation.  Finally, check out the dollar store for nighttime entertainment souvenirs, like glow sticks or other glow-in-the-dark toys.  Many of the toys sold during parades and fireworks can cost $15 or more.  You can be a real hero if you break out a huge package of glow sticks to give to your family (and maybe even your sidewalk neighbors, too!) while you are waiting for the nighttime parade to begin.

While these tips won’t stop you from spending (perhaps more than you wanted) while you are on vacation, they can help you avoid overpaying for some things, saving extra money for another Mickey Bar or  Dole Whip Float!