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Opening Magic Kingdom

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How A "Couponer" Prepares For A Disney Vacation (Or Any Vacation For That Matter)

Last summer, after our multi-day Walt Disney World trip, I wrote a post about how a “couponer” does Disney—click here to read more.  But as our summer 2014 adventure approaches, I thought I would confess/tell/share how a “couponer” prepares for a Disney vacation.

Let me begin with the fact that I know taking a family vacation to the most magical place on earth is a potential budget busting affair.  Flights, resort stay, park tickets, and dining can all add up and that isn’t even taking into consideration souvenirs or other magical experiences.  A husband of a friend was surprised to hear about how much we spend on a multi-week vacation that includes adventures on land and sea.  He was under the impression that since we save so much in other parts of our life that we would save on vacations, too.  Well, Disney hasn’t give us a trip, but we have saved by purchasing and reserving in advance, using a travel agent that can snag discounts and perks for us, and not adding extra days or privileges to our park tickets that we would not use which means we aren’t paying “full price” for our vacation.

Let me also add that our multiple trips gives us some advantages such as not having to go out and buy stuff like a misting water fan or umbrellas or ponchos or a park bag.  These items, among others, are things we already have on hand and I make sure to keep tabs on them when we return from a trip so that they are easily accessible for the next trip.  Having these items saves us money before AND during the trip.

Another caveat is that we do not, I repeat, do not, go out and buy a bunch of new clothes for a vacation.  If something new is purchased, such as a new dress for me for formal night, it is purchased well in advance, is most certainly on sale, and the purchase comes out of our regular budget.  But sometimes, other items are needed. . .

There were some new items that were needed/purchased for the upcoming trip.  Some did not cost us a thing and many of them I made money back when purchasing them!
  • The husband needed a new pair of black, closed toe, fisherman sandals.  These could be worn on the ship as well as at the parks and are perfect for cruise casual evenings.  I “bought” them from Amazon using Amazon gift cards I had earned through Swagbucks.  And, not only did I not pay a thing, I MADE money, as Ebates was offering 3% back on shoe purchases on Amazon.  ChaChing—money in my pocket—cash money!  (Click here to get started with Swagbucks and click here to start earning cash back every time you shop on line with Ebates.)
  • One of our planned meals for our upcoming trip is at T-Rex Café.  Again, we used Swagbucks to earn a $25 gift card AND will earn another $25 credit on our Landry Select Club account as it will be the anniversary of joining Landry Select Club.  Nothing like dining for FREE!
  • Also, the husband needed some rash guards.  Those, too, were FREE with Amazon gift cards and I earned cash back—click here to read the post about the FREE rash guards.
  • All three of us were in need of waterproof watches.  Enter Amazon and Swagbucks.  Again, paid zippo and earned 3% back when shopping on-line through Ebates.
  • This one is a need/want, depending on your perspective.  We promised the boy a new game for his Nintendo 3DS for the trip.  He selected a game and I added it to my cart on Amazon and waited until I had enough gift cards to cover the cost.  This item is on its way!  But, the boy won’t get it until the day of the trip.  
  • The boy had outgrown several of his swimsuits.  K-Mart had boys’ swimsuits 50% off ($6.49) and because I started my on-line shopping at Ebates, I earned 4% back on my purchase.
  • A big cash rebate from Ebates came when we booked our stay at the Hyatt at Orlando International.  I knew we needed a reservation for two nights and I also knew that we were members of Hyatt’s Gold Passport Program.  Then, I waited.  And to our luck, Hyatt offered a “double cash” back promo on Ebates and so I got 12% cash back for our stay!  And, points earned using our Hyatt frequent stayer program.
  • The boy also needed new tennis shoes.  He wanted Nikes (gulp)!  Thanks to MyCokeRewards, I snagged $50 in Nike gift cards for FREE and the boy has new black/red Nikes.
  • What’s in it for me?  Well, in addition to knowing that my fellas are well taken care of, I am looking forward to a treat of a pedicure prior to our trip.  No out-of-pocket costs though, as I was given a gift certificate during the holidays AND am getting a $30 check from an on line company that pays me!

There you have it.  A family prepared for a summer vacation without breaking the bank or busting the budget.  I am so grateful for Swagbucks and Ebates—both allowing me to keep our budget in check.

Click here to get started with Swagbucks.  And, if you sign-up now and earn 1,500 Swagbucks by July 14, you'll get an addition 500 Swagbucks Bonus!

Click here to get started with Ebates—remember to start at Ebates every time you shop on line AND be sure to select your sign-up bonus!


  1. Are you serious!? Oh my word, I'm amazed you could do this! If you get a chance, I would love your perspective on the Landry card. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across you blog somehow (I can't even remember how - it's been ten minutes so that's a distant memory ;) ), so I did a quick search. Seems like a pretty good deal, except when I looked further people were complaining about how long it takes to get the actual card (crazy that in a day of so much tenchnogoy you even NEED a card), points not being added, welcome and b-day rewards not being applied, bad attitudes and greedy restaurant owners)..... What's your experience been, though? any problems? We live near Disney and are hoping to go to the T-rex café to end our homeschool unit on dinosaurs, and this could be a great way to do that! :) Thanks for any ideas!!

    1. Christie,
      I'm glad you stumbled across our blog and thanks for reading. And, yes, I'm serious! Saving money is something our entire family takes seriously and I am happy to share some of the tricks of the trade--I even teach coupon classes in my spare time.
      Back to Landry--we've been members since 2013 and have been nothing but pleased. During our 2014 summer trip, I hadn't made advanced dining reservations as I wasn't sure how one of our days was going to play out and whether we would want to eat at T-Rex or Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. Turns out, we ended up on the Rainforest Cafe side of the Marketplace when it was time for dinner. While other guests had a 3 hour wait, ours was more like 30 minutes due to being members of the Landry Select Club. So, we dined for free--due to gift cards and Landry Rewards and had minimal wait. T-Rex cafe is great fun--here's the link for our experience in the Downtown Disney location: http://toddjodybrent.blogspot.com/2012/07/dining-at-t-rex-cafe-in-downtown-disney.html