How to plan a Disney World vacation with points
Planning a trip to Disney World can be intimidating, even for the most seasoned traveler. From hotel stays and park transportation to the dreaded FastPass system for park attractions, there are many moving parts to consider.
And that only adds to the insult that Disney is anything but cheap. Depending on the time of year, standard rooms at some of the hotels in the middle of the park road can cost over $ 300 per night, not to mention the cost of flights, park admission, and on-site food. .
That’s why it makes sense to use those credit card points or airline miles for your trip to the happiest place on the planet. Here we’ll explore ways to cash in your points and miles at Disney, including using points to cover the cost of tickets to the park (yes, really).
Getting to Orlando
You’ll want to get to Orlando International Airport (MCO), by far the closest major airport to Disney. Since this airport is larger, you will likely have a lot of options when booking flights. Airlines that serve Orlando within the country include:
From a mileage perspective, it gives you some good options. We found flights from southwest Cincinnati to Orlando starting with less than 4,000 Rapid Rewards points, for example. Pro tip: If you’re flexible on travel dates, use Southwest Low Fares Calendar, which allows you to choose arrival and departure dates based on the lowest rates available for a given month.
And don’t forget the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows travelers to book a free companion ticket on any flight you buy or book with points – just pay the taxes and fees.
We also found comparable JetBlue flights from Pittsburgh to Orlando for between 10,400 and 33,000 TrueBlue points.
While JetBlue can be a solid option for affordable flights, the process of finding low fares is not as intuitive as with other airlines – for example, it lacks the easy-to-use calendar finder. from Southwest, which can be used. even when paying for flights with points.
If you prefer to travel with a legacy carrier, we’ve found basic economy class tickets on Delta for as little as 11,000 miles in the same date range. Similar to Southwest, they have a pricing calendar that shows pricing options if you’re flexible – prices can vary widely, so be aware.
Save on hotels
Now let’s move on to accommodations. There are four levels of Disney-branded hotels on-site: Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas. While most are not affiliated with a standard hotel loyalty program, there are a few exceptions.
The Walt Disney World Dolphin and Walt Disney World Swan hotels are affiliated with Marriott, so you can use Marriott points to pay for your stay. However, please note that this property charges a service charge of USD 30 per day plus tax, adding over USD 200 to a week’s stay.
Want to stay with your favorite hotel brand? You have options – lots of options. From the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, to Marriott’s Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center, to the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Lake near Disney Springs… there is a choice for almost everyone who lives with the brand.
We have found rooms at several Hyatt properties near Orlando for 12,000 points per night, including the Hyatt Place Orlando / Lake Buena Vista and the Hyatt Place across from Universal Orlando Resort (still close to Disney World).
We found rooms at Marriott’s Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center starting at 20,000 points per night, while the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Lake near Disney Springs had prices between 40,000 and 44,000 points per night. Keep in mind that unlike Hilton and Marriott, Hyatt does not offer a free benefit for the fifth night.
While it can be tempting to pay for your Disney vacation stay with points alone, remember the golden rule of rewards redemption: getting good value for your points. For example, if a hotel room has a relatively cheap rate (less than $ 200 / night), it may not make sense to use a lot of points for that particular stay. Consider saving them for splurging at a more expensive hotel, say $ 750 / night or more.
Back to Disney – there are downsides to staying off site. Aside from paying for parking in the park itself ($ 25 / day), you’ll also miss out on other perks like overtime in parks, transportation throughout the day between parks and hotels Disney brand and even a free shuttle. at the airport when your magical vacation is over.
The bottom line? Consider your accommodation options carefully and be sure to factor in any extras you will need to pay when booking off-site.
Use of points for park tickets
Day admission tickets to Disney World start at $ 109, but if you plan to stay longer, the price per day goes down as you aim for more days. Either way, you’re probably looking to save some money here, too.
The good news is that you can use part of your credit card points pool to pay for your tickets. A good option is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which offers the function of buying gum. Simply pay for travel expenses like a hotel stay or rental car with your card, then use the Purchase Eraser feature to redeem your points and receive a credit for the cost. There you go, your cost is “erased”.
And while Venture Miles can be redeemed for any qualifying travel purchase (such as flights, hotels, and rental cars), it is essential that your park tickets be coded as “travel”. One strategy is to buy your Disney hotel and tickets together as a package when you book directly with the park. The hotel part means that this code is a trip and therefore makes the tickets eligible for the Purchase Eraser feature.
While there are ways to use credit card points for admission tickets, Disney isn’t making it easy for you.
The bottom line
Many children dream of visiting Disney World one day. And while the price of a Disney vacation may make you howl like a deranged Disney villain, the strategic use of points and miles can help make your trip more affordable.
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