Disney on a Budget

Well I have been reading many articles lately on Disney and all the little “tips” people have for where to stay, when to go, park hopper passes, etc.

These are all great tips for people – don’t get me wrong – but I have a way to go to Disney that will save you on flights and hotels rather than tips on what to do and when to do it.

So this is a different write-up on Disney – and yes it involves Canadian credit cards.

The value of flights and hotels I am writing about is worth approx. $3000. (give or take a few hundred)

1. This gets you 4 flights from our area (Sarnia, Ont) out of Cleveland to Miami, FL.

2. This gets you 5 nights (3 nights after SPG 20,000 bonus is over March31/15) at a Disney Starwood property (Dolphin or Swan)

This doesn’t include Disney passes, food or rental car but it does include your bigger expenses. You could start this process now and be in Disney by the summer or earlier.

Between you and a travel partner/spouse/friend you will have enough points to do this. Always remember  – pay your balance in full every month – if you can’t this probably isn’t for you.


Here is the link for that.

You will end up with 25,000 points for spending $500 on it, 10,000 more for referring partner and they will get 25,000 points.

Total points between you is 60,000 points – Membership Rewards points. You can fly 4 people from Cleveland to Miami for those 60,000 points plus about $56 in taxes total.

See our “Avios” page on signing up for that (do family account) and see our page on “Booking Free Flights” on how to do that. Here is the screenshot of 1 flight. karen1

What is 4 flights from Cleveland to Miami worth?

Well time of year has something to do with that, but let’s call it an even $300.

So that is $1200 in flights.

2. GET THE AMEX STARWOOD PREFERRED GUEST CARD AND REFER YOUR PARTNER AS SOON AS YOU GET IT. (numbers below go to 10,000, 5000 and 10,000 after March 31/15)

Here is the link for that.

You will end up with 20,000 points for spending $500 on it, 10,000 more for referring partner and they will get 20,000 points.

Total points between you is 50,000 points – Starpoints.

You can stay 5 nights (maybe 6) at Disney Dolphin or Swan for those 50,000 points plus a resort fee they may charge. disney1

What is that worth if you pay cash? disney2

So about $2000 CDN right now March 5/15.

You are getting $1200 in flights + $2000 in hotels for 2 annual fees of $120.00 each on the Starwood cards.

You are up about $3000 in travel when it is done.

That is awesome.


3 and half hour drive Miami to Disney.

Car not paid for. ($300ish)

Tickets not paid for.($100 pp)

So, yes it will cost you, but at least that takes a big chunk out of your costs to visit Disney.

After some thought and conversations with people that have been to Disney I looked into different options Disney offers as far as packages go.

What I found out in short.

1. The food packages they offer will save you some money as opposed to going out every meal within the Disney complex. karen1 Doing some quick calculations it seems a basic quick service dining plan adds about $100 per day for a family of 4, so about $25 per person per day from this picture (give or take a few bucks)

After chatting with a few people this is good as you will probably spend more than that plain and simple(you will probably be eating within Disney most of the time remember) – this also includes your drink mug for free drinks(non alcoholic)

2. Don’t use them to find your flights!!! Use our method to fly free or just look up the flights yourself. Here is a screenshot of what I found when I let Disney find me flights.

Now this price is after everything so it’s $4473 – $1918 = $2555 for 4 flights.

karen1 $2555 for 4 one-way flights!

No thanks Disney.

3. The more 1 day ticket packages you get. ie. 2 day vs 6 day, the cheaper the passes get.

2 days – they are near $100 each.

6 days – they are between $50 – $60 each. karen1 Calculation above is based on hotel price of $2000.

Also, I want to point something else out from this screenshot.

The hotel itself, Dolphin which I showed earlier can cost you as low as $240 for 5 nights – Starwood points.

This hotel without Disney passes is $2000 for the 5 nights when booked through Disney.

It is $1553.87 when booked through Starwood (see above) Just an FYI there!

4. You can just stay in their “Economy” resort and still get passes, food and transportation. karen5

This is for the All Star Movies Resort.

Note the final price for 5 nights, 6 day tickets for all and the quick service dining plan – $2470.12 – pretty good if you don’t mind economy.

What about 5 nights, food and just 2 day tickets? karen6

That seems more realistic for a family with younger kids.

Of course there are many other calculations but these are the big ones – remember you get convenience when you go through Disney and the work is done for you.

My conclusions?

1. Go for the free flights for sure through Amex and Avios. You can’t do better than free.

2. If you don’t mind the extra drive and only plan 1 or 2 days max. at the theme parks try our method of Starpoints paying for your hotel rooms and you paying for the rest.

Remember you are still in the Disney group of hotels and the magic that comes with it.

This way you can also leave for day trips to the beach or wherever!

3. If you want Disney everywhere, all the time – book through them. There are great deals in the economy hotels as I showed you and I know a few people that went this route and are happy they did.

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