How to do Disney on a budget with Points and Miles

Growing up, Disney World was always out of reach for me and my family because it was just waaaaayyy too expensive!  The first time I stepped foot in Magic Kingdom, I was 19 years old, visiting with my boyfriend Will (who is now my husband…..Yes, it was that magical, haha). Through a faxed message, I had “WON” this “FREE” 3-day Disney Pass including Hotel stay in exchange for listening to a 2-hour sales pitch in Orlando for a Time-Share.  If I could go back in time, I’d tell my 19 year-old self that there are MUCH better ways to travel on a budget. Fortunately, we managed to come out of the “Pitch” unscathed and with ZERO Time Share properties. 

Here’s how to book your Disney Vaca with Points and Miles:

Today, the average family of 4 spends anywhere from  $6,000-10,000 for a 5-7 day Disney World Vacation (depending on hotel upgrades and extra add-ons in the park). Since our son Jimmie was born (6 years ago), we have visited either Disney World or Disneyland every single year by booking Disney with Points and miles.

Here’s how we do it for LESS than $1,000:

How to get Free Flights

Open a great travel rewards credit card with a large welcome bonus.  THIS one gets you 64,000 points after spending $4k in 3 months. Meet the minimum spend and collect those points.  Then, transfer those points to Southwest Airlines. Book 4 roundtrip flights to Orlando for 64,000 points and $44.80 in taxes. See pic below for example flight.

Disney with Points and Miles

How to get Cheap Disney Tickets: 

THIS card from Capital One has a travel eraser tool plus comes with a 75,000 point sign-up bonus. Be sure to book the tickets with a travel agent, like “Get Away Today.” If you purchase your tickets on the card directly from Disney, they’ll code it as “entertainment.”  You need them to code it as “Travel” to be able to erase the purchase.  This credit card will erase at least $750 worth of DW tickets. 

Disney with Points and Miles

How to get a Free Hotel Stay: 

Here’s 3 ways to Stay at DISNEY for nearly free:

*A- Disney World – Both Walt Disney World SWAN and Walt Disney World DOLPHIN Hotels can both be booked through Marriot using Marriot Points. This Marriot Bonvoy Card can get you 5 free nights at one of these hotels. Sometimes the points for the hotel fluctuate, so if you need more points, you can top it off with this card.

*B- Disneyland, CA– Skip the Disney Resort experience all together. This past May, we visited DisneyLand in Cali and we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton (a luxury Marriot resort) just outside the park that was still walking distance to the Disneyland entrance. I signed up for a Marriot card that earned me 3 free night certificates, so our entire stay was covered for FREE! Marriot has a variety of properties all around Anaheim, so if the Sheraton point rate is too high for your dates, check out some of the other great properties!

*C- Make friends that live in Orlando. Haha/actual not kidding. Our secret? We have some very best friends that live in Orlando. So we sometimes will stay with them. Is it AS convenient as staying at one of the Disney Resorts? No.  But the money saved allows us to go on many more vacations that year, rather than just the one. Plus Disney is so much more fun with friends!

**** Over the past 15 years, I have accumulated MILLIONS of miles and learned how to strategize and optimize credit card points to take multiple discounted vacations like this one, every single year. You can do this too! If you are new to this whole points thing, check out this easy 4-step beginner guide to getting started. I promise, it is waaaayyy easier than you think! *****

Here’s a few more Easy ways to Save at Disney World/DisneyLand

1. Buy tickets in advance to take advantage of early bird discounts. And consider purchasing multi-day tickets:  They often offer better value compared to single-day tickets. 

2. Bring your own snacks and water bottles:  Disneyland allows outside food, so pack some snacks to keep hunger at bay and save on pricey park treats. 

3. Take advantage of free entertainment: Enjoy parades, street performances, and character meet-ups without spending extra.

4. Set a budget for Disney merchandise beforehand. I purchased the Minnie Mouse ears online and bring them with us 

So, you see, it IS possible to enjoy the magic of Disney without breaking the bank! I hope this was helpful! And feel free to DM me on Instagram if you have any questions!

Related: Guide to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom with Toddlers