So one of my big (self imposed) challenges for this trip was to make it as nice as possible while also making it as inexpensive as possible.
With careful planning and taking advantage of CC perks I was able to take the cost of the trip from $7,683 down to $2,877a 62% savings!!
Hope this helps people in planning and thinking of creative ways to save money thought creative CC use. A few things thought. You MUST pay off the balance every month or it will kill you. NO I don’t have a business or anthing – we just put EVERYTHING on the CC so we get a lot of points.
Airline – Southwest
Retail Cost $744.00 My Cost $241 Saved $503
Signed up for their CC and got 25,000 points. Constantly rebooked to bring the points cost down so I can use them elsewhere. CC First year fee $100, Booking fees $81, Early Bird boarding $60
Disney Hotel – Swan
Retail Cost $1,875 My Cost $0 Saved $1875
Signed up for Starwoods card and got 35,000. Got enough points for a balcony room (44,000). Also, unfortunately the housekeeping was horrible – so I complained (nicely) – they took off the resort fees. Now I realize the Swan isn’t a DISNEY hotel – and in my opinion isn’t a great hotel. However the location is awesome, the staff friendly and you are still in the middle of everything. The kids loved the pool and grounds are very nice.
Retail cost $1,340 Cost via Undercover Tourist $1271. Saved $1,340
I HIGHLY recommend using Undercover Tourist. There is no difference in the ticket and you can get a great deal. We got a 5 day for the price of a 4 day. Additionally was able to use my CapitalOne card to “travel erase” the whole thing. So my Disney tickets cost $0
Retail cost $909 Cost via Undercover Tourist $776. Saved $133
Once again recommend using Undercover Tourist. They had a discounted 3 day park to park that had an expiration date – but was after we were traveling. As an aside – I used to be a DISNEY purist and thought anyone going to Universal also kicked puppies and said bad things about their mothers. However I fully change my opinion on them. They have their act together. The parks and resorts are wonderful, the staff is great and Harry Potter is unparalleled in any park anywhere.
We used MCO Destination – very nice!! Had a car from MCO to Portafino, Portafino to SWAN and SWAN to MCO. Renting a car with parking would have been almost $500. It was great having a driver. Didn’t have to worry about getting lost, paying tolls, paying for parking etc. I would even recommend this if you can take magical express. It was MUCH more relaxed – you’re in a big SUV, nice music, water and you go right to your hotel.
Retail $1136 My Cost $185
First off I can’t recommend the Portafino enough. It was an AMAZING hotel. Beautiful grounds, wonderful room and staff was exceptional. My only disappointment was that we stayed here first and then went to the swan. I would have much rather made this my last destination. Staying at a deluxe onsite is VERY MUCH WORTH IT. The convenience of taking the boat back and forth was just a nice way to start and end the day (we NEVER had to wait as they were constantly running). The Express pass privilege was PRICELESS. MUCH better than Fastpass in the fact that we didn’t have to plan a thing. Only thing we had to do was get to HARRY POTTER first thing in the morning. Universal (although we rode MORE rides) was much more relaxed and just enjoyable IMHO.
So we are a family of 4 – 2 adults a 12 yr old and 9 yr old. My wife eats off the kids menu and my son off the adult menu so it evens out. So our average was $150 a day. We do pack breakfast and eat in the room. I usually have oatmeal, kids have cereal and my wife has a shake. It just makes the morning routine a bit more relaxed and it cuts down on costs. None of us are big eaters as well. We did have some nice meals. Mythos in Universal is GREAT. Nothing super special – but very nice sit down and the food was great. Not any more expensive that getting bad pizza somewhere else. Mama Della at the Portafino was also wonderful. Other noteworthy meals were at Chef’s de France and eating poolside at Portafino. My son did love Nine Dragons – however I thought it was ok at best. We did do Be Our Guest as well. Food was nice, however they need to get their act together. We had 11:15 reservations – but didn’t even get to the kiosk until 11:45 due to “issues” they were having. Balance were counterservice and twice we ordered pizza from Splashes at the swan which was $20 so that brought down our meal cost average a lot. We aren’t drinkers – but did order at a few meals. BIG way to save is to order water instead of soda. I would, however budget $200 a day of the average family and if you end up saving – cool