One of the great things about being a DVC member, in my eyes, is the spontaneity of it all. You can literally see what’s available today with points, book your room, and be off for an unplanned weekend getaway with no cash out of pocket for accommodations. With some luck, persistence, and a bit of help from your friendly neighborhood DVC podcast, you can even catch folks walking a reservation day by day and get a last-minute amazing room. We actually just did this for our upcoming trip for the second week of August. We started with booking four nights at Saratoga Springs for what could be a nice relaxing “no park vacation”, but lucked into the first two nights of the vacation staying at a Lake Tower One Bedroom Theme Park View, by going one day at a time in the booking process. While we were not the ones to walk the reservation, we knew how to follow what can be a bit of a rigged system and scored a couple of amazing nights in arguably the best hotel on property, extremely last minute.
But like everything else, spontaneity needs a little bit of structure behind it. Maybe that makes me a control freak, or maybe just makes me a Disney freak. The structure I’m talking about is having your own internal controls to mitigate the costs of those quick trips. These are those money-saving, time-saving, and effort saving agenda items that make the whole thing that much more fun.
So, what are some of the tricks of the trade, you may ask? How can you book a trip on Tuesday and be sipping Champagne in France on a Friday (Epcot’s version of France, of course)? Well, here are a couple of things that we do to make “hopping a flight to Disney” that much easier.
We all have our favorite airline for whatever reason. Be it for their amazing first class, their extra legroom, the low cost of flights, or even which preferred airport we fly out of. The one thing they all generally have in common is credit card reward programs. These little babies can be gold when mitigating costs. Be it utilizing a credit card in that airline’s name or utilizing another larger non-Visa or MasterCard credit card and transferring the points over to your frequent flyer bank. While there is no such thing as free money in this world, these credit card reward programs touch as close to that as possible. A great thing to utilize for your business or personal expenses, as long as you’re disciplined to pay them off immediately and avoid the interest charges. And don’t feel bad for the credit card companies, they are certainly making their dollar on the processing charges (usually somewhere between 2-3% of the purchase price) through the retail vendors.
Dining at WDW can be a tricky thing with spontaneity. While you generally need reservations far in advance to ensure getting your table at California Grill, you can sometimes catch those last-minute cancellations, if you are diligent. But how to pay for them? Well, this trick may seem familiar, but again I fall back to credit card rewards programs. Specifically, the Disney Chase Visa credit card reward program. We personally put every personal expense that is chargeable through it and pay it off. These are rewards that in some years can equal up to $1,500 in “Disney Dollars”. These rewards are then traded in for what is essentially a Disney gift card, which we then utilize to pay for dining, and to a lesser extent souvenirs. Secondarily, The Tables in Wonderland discount program offers significant value if you plan on dining in Walt Disney World more than five or six times a year. While there are a lot of variables that go into calculating your exact break even on this program, the cost of entry is relatively low, and it does include adult beverages for discounts.
Now, when I say traveling light, I don’t necessarily mean what you probably think that I mean. While I would love a world where I could throw five outfits into a duffel bag and take it as my carry-on, that’s probably not the reality of it. But we’ve been able to achieve this by offsite Walt Disney World storage. While I’m not here to promote a specific company that does this, this is essentially where you store your belongings in a sealed storage container, which is then kept offsite but nearby from Disney property by a third-party company and both delivered to and picked up from your room upon your request. This has allowed us to keep a great deal of the items that we only use while on Walt Disney World vacations. This could be your favorite Mickey shirts, sunblock that we almost never use in New England, a Keurig coffee maker, and your make-up and hair products.
While not a comprehensive list, these are just a couple of ways that we sprinkle spontaneity into our Disney magic.
Do you have any tricks that you use to add to your quick getaway Disney World vacation planning? I love to hear about them.