Booking a Dream Disney Vacation for Cheap
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Welcome to the NerdWallet, smart money podcast for we usually answer your personal finance questions, and help you feel a little smarter about what you do with your money. I'm Liz. Weston and I'm Sean piles of your money questions, call or text us on the nurse hotline at 901-730-6373. That's 901-7308. Any Rd or email us at podcast aetna.com, hit that subscribe button to get new episode delivered to your devices. Every Monday and if you like what you hear, latest review, and tell a friend this week, we're talking with travel nurse Sally. French about how she booked her dream vacation for way less than what most people would. Pay a cent for NerdWallet. We will also discuss the steps you can take to accomplish your own Financial drains, whatever they are. And what's that? Welcome on to the podcast, Ally takes cheap travel and Disney Vacation, it was me and my boy,
We went to all four of the parks at Walt Disney World in Florida. Honestly, it was an amazing vacation waking up early trying to go on every single ride. In fact, at Magic Kingdom, we went on every single ride that was open. The caveat being Hall of Presidents, which is one of the longest attractions does not open because it was close to get the new President, Joe Biden animatronic but you can see now, okay. Now the question is, did you get on the resistance did and that is wild.
The process of Catan. Rise of the resistance is truly like winning the lottery. Have to log on to your phone early in the morning at 7 a.m. We're ready and we were clicking and already it was God we didn't get to go up in like 2 seconds ago but they opened another series of boarding passes at 1 p.m. And at that point, we were in the park. And so we were on her phone trying to get the second batch boarding passes. And what's so weird is at like, 12:55, the part goes silent because everyone is staring at the phone.
starting to read, it was wild and everyone is just looking down at their phone and then exactly at 1 p.m. at hit and like, people start cheering
It's like all sorts of bad because the people were cheering, obviously got the boarding pass for Rise of the resistance, but then you have to imagine some people didn't. Luckily, we did get the boarding pass, it was totally worth it. Be high blood pressure to try to get on it, the ride itself for today. What's going on at the whole part, just goes dead. So I didn't know where it was truly bizarre, but it was like team mentality. We were all in it all rooting for each other, to get the boarding passes as long as you yourself, and then you finally got it. So that's awesome. I'd love to hear about what made this trip your dream vacation one really, really nice to get out and do something. Completely different. Of course, Disney is always this feeling of getting away from the real world. But I think especially in 2021, we re
I still remember the first trip. I had post the beginning of the pandemic and what a relief. It was to be able to go somewhere new and see people. I'd seen in a long time and get out into the world a little bit. So good to know at that. I have my vaccine. I can go to Disney and feel great and get lost in this magical world to avoid crowds. And this is something top of mine for me, because with my partner's family is nephew goes to Disneyland every year that they've been able to for his birthday, barring the pandemic and all of that. And so far I've had an out because I don't really like crowds. And also his nephew was young enough that I figured he won't remember it. Anyway, if I'm not there. Now, he's getting older. And that's going to be less and less of an excuse. I think sooner or later, I'm going to suck it up and go to Disneyland. But again, I would like to avoid as many people as possible. So what are your tips for that?
Oops. I mean, it definitely always try to avoid going during times when schools are out. So summer and Christmas and spring break, those times are always going to be crowded. We did go in June, the caveat was he had to go to Florida for something else? Was that powerlifting? Meet that we were sort of tied to the June dates if I could do it again. I would not like to go in June in February, so I'm guessing that's all season that is the best time because the weather is nice but not extremely hot. So I think you're taking the best route to Florida for my mom's birthday in February, but this is in. California are going to Disneyland. People think I'm on vacation, so I want to sleep in. Let's go to The Parks at 10 that is not going to buy ice when it comes to Disney at. You should go as soon as it opens on every single ride at Magic Kingdom.
I will say probably in the first hour we went on about 10 to 12 rides and then in that was 9/11. When do we really went on two or three? Get everyone's coming then you got to go as soon as it opens and that's how you maximize rides with my niece and her family were just at Disneyland and they took that advice, they were there at what's called rope drop. That meant getting to the park, half an hour, an hour before the time, it's supposedly opens. They got to ride every ride that they wanted to go on. That makes a big difference. What I'm gathering is that between the rise of the resistance ticketing approach, and getting there at rope drop, you really have to have a game plan for how to approach these parks and you have to have a game plan, for sure. But luckily Disney does make it easier to get in early. If you stay at the Disney hotel, Disney World and then, as well as what they call a good neighbor hotels, which are bigger branded hotels, if they don't necessarily own and operate, but they partner closely with those hotels.
Allow you to get into the parks about a half an hour or sometimes an hour early depending on when you're going in it. So, even if a Disney hotel is more expensive than the Motel 6. If your priority is to get on rides and not, wait in line, it can be worth it pain at 4 to upgrade to get into the Disney hotels and then be able to get into the park earlier. I've also noticed that the app is really helpful. Now, it's giving you wait times for all the rides and that can help you navigate the park and make sure that you're not standing in one 60 Minute line. After another lines fluctuating often, if a show just gets out, then the ride next to the show that suddenly has a giant lion in his den of that, but the acting to show you at some point. This one ride has a 20-minute line and then all the sudden has an hour line and you're like what the app better explain that to you. So how did you wind up saving so much money on your last trip, calculator?
What the cash value of this trip would have been and it would have been about $4,000, that's what it is. A trip can easily cost by the time you gave her food, flights tickets, hotel rooms. But for all those things, we paid $1,600 in cash and then the rest was all covered by credit card points. Other benefits that come out of having a credit card. Honestly, that $1,600 in cash, a huge chunk of that was just the theme park tickets which are about $500, each that was you know, $1,000 for the two of us and then, you know, $600 for other things. Thank you so much. The credit card benefits and points, spent very little money, actually, on the big portions of this trip before you even made your game plan to the theme park, you had a game plan for how you're going to deploy, all of your various points to cover this vacation.
I have a Southwest credit card and as a thank you for signing up and spending a bunch of money on the card at the beginning it so that kind of course gives you a whole bunch of points which I was able to book my flight through and then Southwest offers the same called a Companion Pass which is basically a buy one, get one free airfare your companion. We have to pay the taxes and fees which are 565 $5.60 and then your companion, which was my boyfriend, gets to fly with you. The way you are a nut Companion. Pass is, when you hit a certain threshold of points with Southwest, it's we use a companion pass for all my trips that I take them. Very cool. How did you cover the hotel? Did you stay at a Disney property? So we opted not to stand Danny property at the reason being is because I have a Houston credit card it on top of my Southwest credit card and that card offers all sorts of benefits. So we stayed at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista.
Which I love staying at because it's in walking distance of Disney Springs, which is there shopping and dining district. And that hotel normally has a cash rate of $1,700 for the five nights. We would have stayed at. However, I also did not pay $1,700, I did have to Fork over 140,000 Hilton Honors points on her website, has a calculator of what your points are worth, and those points that would book $1,700 worth of a room only cost me about $700 in value valuation. That sounds like a really good deal because Hilton points to not to be worth as much as a lot of other program. So you have to throw a bunch of them at any room that you want. So you said you got five nights for a hundred and forty thousand points. That is a bargain, exactly. Is when you book a room at Hilton on point they act
Wave the resort fees and I think they were $50 a night. So you figure that's huge savings right there. Another really awesome thing is, if you're at Hilton Honors member, which is free to become a base level, Hilton Honors number and you pay with points, you get your 5th night free. So it's basically a 20% discount right there. And I think you mentioned that you were a diamond level members that, right? I have one of the Hilton credit card, do automatic, Diamond Elite status, and that is so great to have your eligible for real upgrades. But one of the best benefit is, if you have Diamond status, they give you a daily food and beverage credit, that's a nuisance coronavirus, the price varies based on your hotel for us, it was a $30 daily credit. The night before, we went to the hotel Cafe and we used our $30 credit just to get sandwiches to go little yogurts and muffins advance. So that way, we can get straight to the parks and eat heater Chris on in line.
Leon food food is always going to be expensive at Disney and there is no getting around that. When you're just need to get to Nikki. Barr get the churro you're on vacation. You should definitely Splurge. Hey sharing you need to eat a whole true or are you just a satisfied? Eating half a churro and sharing that with your travel buddy is that is one of my best to get the food but if you can just split some of that, another chick that I have is that Disney actually does, like you bring it in your own food to both are California and therefore depart safely say that the loud. If you do, find yourself, just buying food stamp lady cuz you're hungry and you should be hungry. You're walking around the parks all day. I recommend packing your snack spring turkey, nuts, protein bars, so that way you avoid buying that overpriced popcorn for when I wait a minute, I love the overpriced popcorn.
And some of them are cute, but I know people that have a side business selling those because this is for Halloween and there was a Mickey that was dressed up like a mummy and those went like instantly and I saw them afterwards $150 online.
It should be interviewing the popcorn bucket side Hustlers. I also want to talk about souvenirs a little bit because that is my weakness. Whenever I go anywhere, I will happily spend more than I should for anyting. The one time I did go to Disneyland, I bought myself a nice Mickey Mouse wrist, watch which I adored, I spent, I think like $40 on it, which is embarrassing. So, how can people save money on souvenirs when they're at places like Disneyland or Disney World line or at your local toy store? As long as you're not buying the $150 popcorn bucket online? The Mickey Mouse plush that they sell it, if he is probably very similar to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that they sell at Target or Walmart. The difference being at Target or Walmart is probably a lot cheaper. So if you trying to buy souvenirs for your kids I recommend just
It had a Time. Stash it in your suitcase. Don't want the kids. See it pretend like you got it and surprise them in the hotel room at night. They will not know whether it came from Tomorrowland or Target. Another thing you might try is to look online for a big bag of Disney pins. As begin training is this huge deal like elementary school kids? I don't know that your nephew is kind of old enough to get into it, but the bag online will be a lot cheaper than spending eight or ten dollars for pain. And then there are sites where the kids can trade with Disney cast members so they can take a pain that caused you pain. He's essentially and trade it for one that they really want. From one of the cast members, that it's a way to interact with the park. That's really fun day. Remind me of Beanie Babies in a way. It's a little bit. Like Beanie Babies are better than Beanie Baby Shot, better than a bee.
and there are
do you think I've been late, like thousands and they have them for every single character? Every movie? Every holiday? If you could drill down on a theme and say, I'm only collecting baby Yoda pins, and you can probably make that your mission. It's so fun. Thank you so much for sharing your vacation story with us. And at this point, usually lives, and I will give our take away tips. But since this was your dream vacation, that you achieved, can you tell us who your take away tips for anyone who's looking to do the same, but they can certainly help you save money if you play your cards, right? Like I did number to bring you bring food and drinks into the park. So definitely do it to save money there. If you have kids, you can save money by purchasing the Mentos at the retail stores rather than in the park.
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