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I thought it would be fun and helpful if I sat down and wrote a post on how we afford our trips to Disney World, and how you can, too! I completely understand how overwhelming is… Disney World is seen as a vacation that is expensive (it can be) and out of reach (doesn’t have to be), or a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. In all honesty, it doesn’t have to be seen that way. There is so much to do at Disney and it’s impossible to do it all in the same trip. Depending on how you do it, it can be as cheap as you want. It just takes a little thought…
At the time of this post going live, I’m just 3.5 months away from my second Disney vacation in two years time, so let me preface this by saying that I am not a Disney guru, junkie, genius, etc. by any means. Who I am is someone who is really good at maximizing my dollars for vacations and I see that family time as a priority. I’m someone who is strategic about spending, and I LOVE planning my vacations! I’m someone who loves to plan things far out in advance, and when it comes to planning for a Disney trip, you have to plan, and plan, and plan some more if you want it done right and for less money. Seeing as we leave in a few months for our second trip, the financial part is still so fresh and new (and 75% paid/saved for). Side note: we never use credit for vacations. We reserve credit for other life events, so all vacations are paid in full before we leave.
My site isn’t going to become a Disney hub or anything like that – all I’m doing is sharing what I do know. It may not be much, but I hope it helps some of you get started on your Disney planning. If you are a Disney guru and have more savings tips to add, please feel free to leave a comment, including links to your own site if you have posts that are Disney specific. My family will probably continue our “every 2 years” pattern because while we do love Disney, there are plenty of other great vacations we enjoy, like camping, or visiting the beach or mountains. When I start getting into the Disney financial planning mode again, I’d love to be able to come back to this post and see not only my own tips, but yours as well.
Consider Hiring a Disney Travel Agent
Disney travel agents are FREE for you to use! Yes, you read that right – FREE. Their commission all comes from Disney, so you don’t pay anything extra to hire them for your travel plans. A Disney agent will help you find the best deals and will do all the grunt work of booking reservations, applying applicable promotions as they release, booking dining, and your fast passes. So if you’re overwhelmed, not sure where to start, and want to maximize your savings, start with an official Disney travel agent for the best prices. I’m using Lauren from Main Street Travel Co. for my upcoming trip and it has been awesome. I did all the work for our first trip for 6 of us and I was pretty exhausted. While I thoroughly enjoyed the planning aspect, I did not enjoy getting up extra early to book our dining and our fast passes myself, especially when I work full-time outside the home and had to get ready for work. Knowing someone else could do that for me for FREE was worth it this time. Plus, she pays attention to new promotions as they release in case she can apply any to our trip, which I greatly appreciate.
If you’re like me, you want to make small dents in your pocket, not get hit with a financial meteor. The sooner you book the trip and commit to it, the longer you have to save the money you need to go. Stretch out those savings so it’s less of a hit. We start discussing our Disney trips 18 months out and book at 12 months out. We currently have two vehicles without any car payments, so honestly what we would spend on a car gets spent on our vacation savings right now. Afraid you might accidentally spend that money if you book too far in advance? That brings me to my next point.
Buy Disney Gift Cards
This is one method to get you to force your savings into Disney if you need the extra push. Those gift cards are usable for everything… your hotel, your dining, your souvenirs, all of your extras on Disney property. So as part of your savings strategy, buy a Disney gift card on each paycheck, and you’ve coerced yourself into saving for Disney and not accidentally spending it on something else. Need ways to earn Disney gift cards for free? Next point!