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The weather’s warming up, cities are beginning to thaw out, and many kids (and grown-up kids!) are dreaming of taking a trip to Walt Disney World this summer.
But tickets to the park alone can cost ~$100 per person per day! So how can a family make it more affordable?
I’ll show you how you make your kid’s dreams come true for less!
(Almost) Free & Cheap Flights to the Magic Kingdom!
1. Southwest Airlines
Southwest is an excellent way for families to get to Disney World. That’s because with the Southwest Companion Pass your child or spouse can fly with you for free!
You need 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass miles to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which you can earn in 8 Easy Steps! Once you have those points, you can fly to Disney World for a fraction of the price.
Let’s say you have a family of 4. If 2 adults earn the Southwest Companion Pass, 2 kids can fly for nearly free! That means you only need to pay for 2 award tickets. A round-trip flight in coach from Chicago (MDW) to Orlando in June can cost just 15,628 Southwest points, plus ~$11.
Just like magic a family 4 can get to Orlando for only ~$22 out of pocket!
2. British Airways
You could also get to Orlando for almost free with British Airways Avios points. British Airways Avios points are great for short-haul flights because it’s only 7,500 points for flights up to 1,149 miles.
Use the British Airways visual map tool to find out how many points you’ll need!
And there are lots of ways to earn British Airways Avios points including:
- The Chase British Airways card
- Transferring American Express Membership Rewards points (sometimes there are transfer bonuses!)
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold
- AMEX Starwood points transfer to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio and get 5,000 bonus points when you transfer 20,000 points
3. Finding Cheap Paid Flights
If you plan on paying for your flights, budget carriers like Frontier Airlines, Southwest, and JetBlue often have sales that could save you some money! Also check out my post on how to find mistake & low fares.
With Southwest your 1st 2 checked bags are free, which can save you ~$25 per person each way! Or check out my list of cards that can save you money on checked bag fees.
Find Your Castle for Less!
Use Points for Your Stay
If you sign-up for the AMEX Starwood personal and AMEX Starwood Business card, you get 50,000 Starwood points when you complete the minimum spending on both cards. The 5th award night is free, so that’s enough for 6 free nights at the Disney World Swan or Dolphin hotel!
Sometimes you can save more by redeeming for your flight and hotel stay together.
Pay for Your Stay
You may be able to save on paid stays with:
- AAA membership – Reduced rates for members at select hotels
- MouseSavers – Sometimes has discounts for Walt Disney World hotels
- Visa Savings Edge – Enroll a Visa business card an get 5% back at participating budget hotels
Remember to use TripAdvisor to ensure you find a hotel that fits your needs!
If you’re traveling in a large group, you might save money by staying somewhere you have more space and can cook your own meals. For example, the Staybridge Suites Lake Buena Vista.
If you need a car during your stay, check out my series on cheap car rentals for tips on how to save money. And AutoSlash will keep an eye on prices for you and re-book you if they find a better rate!
Paying for your rental car with a card that offers primary insurance will make sure damages to your vehicle are covered in case of an accident.
Save money on parking expenses with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus (2.1% back when redeemed for travel purchases of $100+). And fill-up your tank with cards that earn bonus points on gas like:
- Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express – 2X American Express Membership Rewards points at US gas stations
- Chase Freedom – 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (on up to $1,500 in spending) on rotating quarterly categories, which sometimes includes gas
- Citi Hilton Reserve – 6X Hilton points at gas stations
- Wells Fargo Propel – 3X points at US gas stations
But keep in mind, parking at Disney World is pricey at $17 per day. So you’ll often save money by finding a nearby hotel with a free shuttle.
Tickets, Food, & Souvenirs
TouringPlans (paid membership ~$13 for a year) will help you organize your trip and give you time and money saving tips!
And you can save 5% to 6% on Disney tickets and more when you buy Disney gift cards at grocery stores or office supply stores with cards such as:
- SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express – 5% cash back at US office supply stores
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – 6% cash back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year; then 1%
Or better yet, you can pay for your tickets, food, souvenirs, and more at Disney World by completing the minimum spending and earning sign-up bonuses on cash back cards like:
- SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express – $250 cash back
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus – ~$420 back (when redeemed for travel purchases of $100+)
- Chase Ink Cash – $300 cash back
- Wells Fargo World Propel – $400 cash back
You can also pay with the Citi Prestige card, which earns 2X points on entertainment expenses including amusement parks.
The great thing about using miles and points for your airfare and hotel is that you have more cash to spend on entertainment when you get there! But there are also other ways you can save:
- Pack your own food & drinks – Freeze your drinks so they stay cold and pack special treats your kids don’t get at home
- Buying an Annual Pass may be cheaper for longer stays
- Get souvenirs, like those famous mouse ear hats, beforehand at Amazon, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, or the Disney Store
- On a rainy day, ponchos can cost $15 to $20 at the park – Pick them up at Dollar General ($5) or Dollar Tree ($1)
Remember to use a shopping portal for purchases you make online!
Certain groups can also get discounted tickets:
You can make your family’s dream vacation to Walt Disney World a reality for a fraction of the price!
Get your flight and hotel for (almost) free with airline miles and hotel points! And cash back cards can save you lots of money on tickets, food, souvenirs, and more!
Let us know in the comments if you have any tips for saving money on a trip to Disney World!