Everyone knows I
am obsessed with love vacationing at Walt Disney World. As a family, we go at least once a year. (I’ve scored an extra weekend women-only trip the past two years. A benefit of running the Princess Half Marathon.)
But I’m not going to lie, y’all. It is expensive to visit the land of the Mouse. I understand this. We are blessed. We were able to purchase into the Disney Vacation Club ten years ago, before the cost of the timeshare program exploded. (I still think it is a great deal if you are a Disney fan and plan to travel there at least every other year. A post on DVC is coming soon.)
Because we are DVC members, we never have to factor in the cost of the resort. (Again, more on DVC in a future post.) But add in the cost of park tickets, dining, souvenirs, and getting there. It still costs a pretty penny to vacation at WDW.
Over the years, I figured out a way to soften the blow to our wallets. A Disney savings plan, of sorts. For those who are not familiar, let me introduce you to the Disney gift card.
Many people think these cards are only good at the Disney Store or DisneyStore.com. Not true. They are accepted as payment at WDW, Disneyland, on the Disney Cruise Line, and even as payment for Adventures by Disney. If you book a vacation through an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you can use the cards to pay for the trip. Last year we nearly paid for our cruise in full using Disney gift cards. Since I make our own arrangements when staying at WDW, I just apply them to our account the day before we check out of our resort.
My Disney Savings Plan
Every pay day (twice a month) I purchase a Disney gift card. The minimum purchase is $25. Sometimes I splurge and spend $50. It’s a small amount that really adds up. For example, we always go to WDW for fall break in October. If I start purchasing $25 gift cards in January, by the time our trip rolls around, I’ve saved $450 in Disney gift cards.
I’ve decided this is genius for a few reasons. First, I am putting my money into a card that I can only spend with Disney. If I put my money into a bank savings account, I could easily dip into that from time to time. With the Disney cards, I can’t do that, thus making it easier to actually save.
Second, you can purchase Disney gift cards at a number of retail locations and leverage those purchases for other perks. Some people buy their cards at Sam’s Club or Costco and receive a discount. Others purchase them at Target, using their Target credit card for a 5 percent discount. (I have heard this sometimes works, sometimes does not. I think it depends on the actual store management.) I purchase mine at Kroger, where I earn double the gas points on the purchase of gift cards. Sometimes Kroger offers four times the gas points. Those points rack up and I often save 20, 30, 40 cents a gallon on gas. I have even purchased enough to save $1 a gallon on gas. (Score!)
An even more brilliant idea: use my Chase Disney Reward Visa to purchase the gift cards at Kroger. You must be disciplined to make this work, or you will rack up interest. When you buy your gift cards this way, you earn Disney Rewards Dollars on your Visa and gas points on your gift card purchase. But you must immediately pay the Visa charge, as to not accumulate interest. It’s a win-win!
The one down side to this plan. I end up taking a dozen or more cards with me on vacation. The poor cast member behind the desk has to add them all in by hand. This can take 15 minutes or more. But I read some interesting news today on the Chip & Company blog. (It’s a great resource for info on all things Disney.) You can now consolidate all of your Disney gift cards into one number. Less cards to carry. Less hassle when it’s time to redeem the cards. I am thrilled about this development!
So, what are you waiting for? Start saving with Disney gift cards. And don’t forget, these make great gifts. (Thanks, mom and dad, for the early Christmas present!)
Do you purchase Disney gift cards to use on Disney vacations? Do you have another way you save for your Disney habit? Let me know in the comments below.