And you can, too! Here’s how I did it, step by step
This isn’t clickbait, it’s actually true: I recently went to Walt Disney World for FREE! My long weekend visit to Disney included myself and one other guest. Find out how the tips and tricks I used to pay for our resort hotel room, park tickets, airfare, meals, and even a t-shirt. I’ll break down exactly how I did it in this step-by-step guide. Some of these methods you’re probably familiar with, but some of them may be new to you. Let’s get started!
Decide on a budget
As with any vacation, one of the first steps in planning is deciding on how large or small of a budget you will be working with. This was a quick trip with little downtime, so we felt that a value resort would work well for what we needed. We planned two full park days and an evening of dining and shopping at Disney Springs. And, with the Disney Dining Plan currently unavailable during phased reopening, we had to factor in the cost of our meals, too.
Since there was only two of us going for a long weekend, this kept costs down considerably. However, if you have a larger group going for a longer length of time, these techniques will work great for you, as well. If you reduce your out of pocket vacation cost by $500-$1,000 (or possibly even $2,000) wouldn’t it totally be worth it? It definitely is in my book!
Get the best rate possible on your vacation package
This whole concept starts with getting the best possible pricing on your vacation package. Whether you book directly through Disney, rent DVC points, or buy discounted park tickets through an authorized reseller, the less you have to pay with the following techniques and the easier it will be to hit your goals! I booked a discount directly through Disney’s site that offered up to 30% off resort hotel stays to residents of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Other discounts were also available to guests outside of these areas. These techniques will work with any discount, so if you’re a military family or Florida resident, this will be awesome for you, too!
Regular readers of this blog and folks that know me outside of here may think I went to Disney World for free because I’m a travel agent–I wish, haha! Travel agents get a limited number of discounted trips per year and they’re subject to availability.
Since we were only there for a long weekend and there were only two of us going, that kept costs down considerably. We planned two full park days and an evening of dining and shopping at Disney Springs. However, if you have a larger group going for a longer length of time, these techniques will work great for you, as well. If you reduce your vacation cost by $500-$1,000 (or possibly even $2,000) wouldn’t it totally be worth it? It definitely is in my book!
Take advantage of credit card perks and frequent flyer miles
I didn’t use this tip as much this visit, but it you’re a Chase Disney Visa cardholder, check for your redeemable rewards and bonuses. If you paid for your Disney room, tickets, or package with your Disney Visa card from Chase, you’ll earn rewards for booking Disney travel. Transfer those rewards to a redemption card to use for dining, souvenirs, and more. In addition to Disney Visa rewards, you’ll also get exclusive cardholder PhotoPass opportunities and discounts at select dining and merchandise locations.
I had an unexpected perk pop up in my Amazon account shortly before this particular trip: my Capital One rewards balance was displayed on my Amazon account! Our mid-November trip was forecasted to be too balmy for my cute Mickey Mouse and Star Wars Christmas sweaters. This meant I would need to shop for lightweight options for the temperatures in the upper 80s and 100% humidity. I’m always down for a little retail therapy and headed over to see what Amazon Prime options I would have when I spotted a nice little bonus from Capital One waiting for me. I’m unsure if this is a new feature or if I just hadn’t noticed it before, but the timing was right since I was planning to do as much of this trip for free as possible.
While I didn’t have frequent flyer miles to cash in, I did have a credit of $111 with American Airlines that I was able to use towards our flights. Had I not had this credit, I would have used one of my next hacks to put towards them. I did pay for the remaining balance and upgraded seating from my positive PayPal balance that I forwarded to my banking account. I’m sure you’re wondering how I did that, right?
Cash out Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars, and any other apps you have
This is how I was really able to accomplish going to Disney for free! I cashed out from these apps multiple times during the past year to put towards my free trip. Prior to this year, the most I had put towards a trip using any of these apps was around $200–and I was ecstatic to have accomplished that! So, for me to be able to pay for our trip that cost $1353.11 entirely with these apps was super exciting. Here’s every app and site that I used, how much I made by using them, and what I did to earn the totals for each one:
• Capterra: $150 in Visa Gift Cards for leaving reviews of software applications on Capterra’s website. For more details on how this works, check out my article here.
• Dabbl: $85 in Disney Gift Cards for watching videos and answering short surveys
• Shopkick: $100 in Disney Gift Cards for scanning products in stores and uploading receipts from purchases
• Whealthy app: $18.40 cashed out to PayPal for tracking fitness goals, such as counting steps and drinking water.
• Swagbucks: $600 paid out to PayPal for watching videos, answering surveys (including participating in long-term studies for higher rewards), printing coupons, cash offers (like $40 back for playing Solitaire Cube) and cash back from shopping (example: 5% back on my recent Ashley furniture purchase). Consistency and patience is key! Keep at it and set a daily and weekly goal and you’ll be surprised at how much it adds up. Join Facebook groups to learn how to maximize your earnings by seeing what tips and tricks are working for fellow Swagbucks users.
• Inbox Dollars: $400 paid out to PayPal. Very similar to Swagbucks plus the addition of opening paid emails (looking at their promotions and advertisements), daily trivia, and paid games. Yep, you read that right, get paid to play free games such as solitaire and mahjong. Slow and steady wins the race here as it takes a little while for funds to add up, much as it does with any of the other apps and websites.
Part of my PayPal cash out was used towards the remaining balance of our airfare. I applied the Visa Gift Cards and Disney Gift Cards directly to the balance of my Disney vacation package. One thing to keep in mind: If you have to cancel your vacation, Disney will refund you using your original payment method. So, if you paid by gift card, hang onto those physical cards or confirmation emails for your electronic gift cards! It’s a major headache if you don’t.
Buy discounted Disney Gift Cards
This is the other super savings hack for a free (or discounted) Disney vacation! Remember how I cashed out my Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars earnings to PayPal? I transferred the PayPal balance to my bank account and bought discounted Disney Gift Cards. My first Disney Gift Card was discounted by 15% by purchasing through giftcarddeal.com. Word is spreading fast about their deep discounts, so they’re often sold out. I had to sign up for email notifications to snag one. The remaining Disney Gift Cards were purchased at Target with a 5% discount by paying with my Target Red debit card, which was linked to the same bank account as my PayPal account. See how it all ties together now?
I used my discounted Disney Gift Cards to pay off our Disney vacation package. Having multiple electronic and physical cards, I went to disneygiftcard.com to merge the remaining balances to one physical gift card that I took with us to Disney. This is how I paid for our meals while we were at Disney! You can use them at any dining location in the parks, resort hotels, and Disney Springs. There may be a few smaller kiosks that don’t accept them, but that’s pretty rare. Our meals consisted of a few visits to the Pop Century food court, a quick service mobile ordered dinner at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, breakfast at the Riviera resort (highly recommended!), dinner and drinks at Raglan Road in Disney Springs, and several yummy snacks.
After all was said and done, I still had a balance of $55.29 on my Disney gift card. Not too bad, right? It was a nice leftover amount that I used on some last minute souvenirs before departing our hotel.
Think you can use these tips and tricks for a free or majorly discounted vacation of your own? Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
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