A $1,993 Disneyland Vacation for $509 (74% Off): Not a Fantasy

At any given moment, there are thousands families all over the country who are in the process of “saving for Disneyland.” They share meals in restaurants, give up vices, and clip coupons – all in hopes of setting aside enough for a week of Disney entertainment. The savings targets vary, but few families can pull it off for less than $2000.

I’m going to show you how you can plan an entire Disney Vacation for about $509 – that’s not much more than you’d spend in a week if you just stayed at home. It will require the careful and diligent use of your good credit to obtain frequent flyer miles and benefits, but that’s something that you can feel comfortable doing once you fully understand that applying for more credit cards won’t demolish your credit, so long as you always make your payments on time and in full. We talk about this extensively on our blog, and we don’t take the idea of applying for credit lightly, but life is too short to put everything off for “someday.”

Disneyland Hotel

Anaheim Hotel

Sheraton Garden Grove Hotel – 3-4k Starpoints a night!

Right now, you can get as many as 8 nights in an Anaheim Hotel, in the shadow of the Disneyland fireworks, without paying a single dollar, you just need 30k Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

How do you go about it? You need to have a credit score of at least 700 and be capable of making your payments on time and in full. It requires that you spend $5000 within the first 6 months of having the card, so you’ll need to use the card for most of your monthly expenses and then pay it off immediately – never paying interest.

  • Step 1: Get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card
  • Step 2: Spend $1000 a month for the first 5 months
  • Step 3: Get 25k bonus Starpoints, plus 5k for the spending
  • Step 4: Use your 30k Starpoints to book this Anaheim Hotel with a shuttle to Disneyland for 5 free nights (save your other 3 nights for your next vacation)!

Disneyland Airline Flights

You can take the idea a little further and get your flights free, too.

  • Step 1: Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card
  • Step 2: Spend $1000 month for the first two months
  • Step 3: Get 50k Southwest Rapid Rewards Points (SW also has free baggage – mega savings over other domestic airline flights)
  • Step 4: Pay the $69 annual fee
  • Step 5: Use for 50k Rapid Rewards Points to book 2 RT tickets in the US (You can get SW “Wanna Get Away” fares for 60 points per dollar – so these points equate to $834 in free travel – 2-4 RT tickets!)

Disneyland Park Passes

You knew it. At some point, you’d have to pay for something. Such a shame. But we won’t let you do this the expensive, unwilling-to-research-the-good-deals price. If you really want to do it right, you need a multi-day park hopper pass that will allow you entry to California Adventure Park, too. A 3-day pass would run you $250 over age 10/$235 under age 10. Ouch.


Disneyland Castle – not so far away after all.

But before you pony up all that cash, take a look at these options:

  • Military Discount: $125, must be purchased by active or retired military at military sales outlets or at the ticket desk.
  • Craigslist:~$150, but be careful. Your best option would be to buy in person and check expiration.
  • Mousesavers.com: ~$215, with various options and good advice about getting deals on entry.
  • (There is a way to redeem Hilton HHonors points for Disneyland Passes, too, if you have any of those).

What you’d spend at home

Now, I promised you could do this for what you spend at home. I’ll have to make some assumptions here, but I’ll give it a shot. Let’s say you’d normally spend $130 in fuel costs between your two vehicles. You also spend about $600 a month in groceries, so let’s take a quarter of that for another $150. Staying home would also necessitate a date night, which you’d spend a good $80 between dinner, a movie, and a babysitter. That about covers the cost of your 3 Park Passes assuming you can get a military relative to help you out.

You’ll be on the hook for some booking fees ($15) and the $69 for the Southwest card. Those costs you’ll have to cover with what you save on a week of low/no utility use – turn down the furnace or the AC, unplug electrical devices, and put your home on conservation mode.

You’re going to have to eat on your Disneyland trip, and that can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. For our purposes, we’re going to ask you to go backpacker-style. You can bring snacks and meal bars into the park. Spring for a $12.99 refillable mug, rather than several $4 drinks a day. Use your hotel room microwave to make other meals and shoot for $10 a day… we don’t want to starve you, but we want you to do this now, not “someday.” Hopefully the money you spend there will be saved in not making that $50 shopping trip you make every week.


Over the past 5 years, Brad Christensen has traveled to more than 8 different countries, spending between $380 and$1500 a trip – sometimes even bringing his family of six! Follow him and his brother, Sheldon, as they guide you through the process on the WorldWanderlusting blog.


  • Ok, let me get this straight…first, I need to apply for 2 new credit cards & rack up $7,000 in 5 months. Then, I will get a “free” hotel & flight to Disneyland……..what part am I missing where this is FREE?????

    • Sally, The whole objective behind this is that you use your credit cards like you would a debit card, or cash. It would be for purchasing items that you’re already buying. We would never recommend that someone use a credit card for credit or to purchase something that you wouldn’t already be buying. The objective is to pay the balance in full each month.

      I took an unforgettable trip to Alpine Europe last year for under $1000 that took me twelve days through some of the most beautiful country in the world. I used points and miles for most of the trip and it reduced my trip costs from $5000 to $1000. That saved me $4000 (It really made the trip possible). Today we look through the pictures of taking our 10 month old boy to Europe and we have memories that will last a lifetime.

  • We use our SW Visa for everything and save up our points. We pay our balance each month. I just booked 5 tickets to California and we will be using the military deal. Also, Red Lion is across the street and usually is well priced (but you do pay parking, which you would have ti pay at Disneyland anyway). If you use Hotels.com yiu can earn a free room after 10 nights.

  • Kristin- Good call… the SW card is a beautiful thing. If you’re booking on hotels.com, yes, be sure you register for the Welcome Rewards program and there’s also a link on this post for a rebate from hotels.com when you stay multiple nights. https://worldwanderlusting.com/2013/02/04/hotels-com-welcome-rewards-program/

    • I am looking for a website that offers frugal travel vacations sort of like how discountqueens offers deals on other things. Please let me know.

      • Pam, our site is dedicated to showing people how to travel. We want to put the unattainable in your hands. We want your family to have unforgettable experiences and we’re dedicated to showing you how to make that happen. With varieties of offers it is very possible for you!

  • I work for Walt Disney Travel, just wanted to give you an FYi on the Military Tickets.
    The Active Duty Military Person must be in attendance when entering the parks with the Military Ticket. They will have to show ID upon entrance to the main gates of the parks. They cannot be gifted to friends or other family members if the military personnel is not accompanying them. Didn’t want anyone to have trouble after going through all of this. Great tips by the way. 🙂

    • Thanks for the heads up Tracy. It is very nice of Disney to offer them such a nice deal. They do so much for us. Thank goodness they serve us!

Leave a Reply

Want to see your picture by your comment? Get your custom avatar by registering for free at Gravatar.

Your email address will not be published.