How I Saved Hundreds on a 12-Day Disney and Caribbean Cruise Vacation

How I Saved Hundreds on a 12-Day Disney and Caribbean Cruise Vacation

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I’ve had this blog post in my drafts folder since September and I’m just now publishing it! Oops, my bad. We’ve been back from Disney for 6 weeks now and are heading out on another adventure soon so I thought it’s about time to get this post out there, finally! I’ve had this post swirling in my mind for a good six months now but just struggled to bring it all together cohesively. But I think it’s important, because who doesn’t like to save money!

*This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small percentage of sales at no cost to you.*

Saving Money at Disney World

There are hundreds of blogs written and articles composed on how to save money at Disney World and Orlando, but let’s face it, you’re never going to take a cheap holiday to Disney. Be prepared to shell out big time for a Disney vacation. Maybe you can trim 5% off the ticket price by going to a outside retailer (basically all you might save is the tax and shipping if you want your tickets mailed to you). When it comes down to it, unless you’re willing to sit through a timeshare presentation or you know a Floridian who can get tickets for you, forget about saving any major dough on park tickets. It just doesn’t exist. But here are some other ways we were saving money at Disney World and on a cruise!


Grand Turk Beach


I really wanted to make this trip special and not have to adhere to a strict budget. The trouble with that was, we WERE on a budget! Because we’ve got several major trips planned in the next year. So I worked hard to find some ways to add a little extra to the coffers. Here’s what I came up with. 

  1. Swagbucks: I did a whole post on using Swagbucks, and I talked about how my family ate for FREE at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival and how I earned over $300 in gift cards with Swagbucks. You can find that article HERE if you’d like to know exactly how I earned those gift cards! It was super funny to bring a stack of leftover Disney gift cards to breakfast on our last day at WDW in order to use up the leftovers! I think I handed our server 7 cards with $1-$7 left on them!
    • Here’s a breakdown of what I earned from Swagbucks and how I spent it.  From July 1 – September 25th
      • July = $30
      • August = $80
      • September = $225 
        • How I used it
          • $150- Disney GC
          • $100- Carnival GC
          • $25- On the Border GC for dinner in Airport
          • $25- HuHot GC
          • $20- Sephora
          • $15- Starbucks

2. Cardpool discount gift cards: If you’ve never checked out, I highly suggest you do! Especially with Christmas upon us! You can get discounted gift cards ranging from 3-30% off for numerous restaurants and stores. In the months leading up to our trip, I always got gift cards from Cardpool to restaurants I knew we were going to and the grocery store. In addition, Swagbucks gives you points too for using Cardpool! I got several Safeway gift cards to use for grocery shopping I was already going to do! Might as well save a 30little money on it, right?

3. Signed up for panel discussion (earned $150): This was actually something I heard about through a survey on Swagbucks. I filled out a survey with a marketing research company in my town called Elevated Insights and from time to time, they will contact me about participating in a marketing panel on a new topic or item. Before our Disney trip, I participated in one for Red Robin’s new pizza release. It was fun and for two hours of my time (plus free pizza!), I earned $150. This paid for the two cruise excursions we did, a power snorkeling trip in Grand Turk and a local food tour in Nassau.


Bites of Nassau Food Tour 


4. Ambassadher: Now this opportunity is really only for those that blog or have a thriving social media presence. Because I run a blog, I was able to sign up for Ambassadher’s influencer club. They have a list of different companies that would like to work with you. In exchange for a social media blast or a blog post (they’ll tell you what is expected for each campaign), they pay a little something and you get to try new products for free. I’m honestly not sure if I would recommend them going forwarded (I’m about to cancel my membership). I have had quite a bit of customer service issues with them lately. But doing several of their campaigns did net me $100.


One of Ambassdher campaigns

5. Travel credit card (earned air miles + free checked bag): I know this is not for everyone. I, personally, went back and forth for months about whether I wanted to apply for a credit card again. In the end, I did decide to do that and you really can get some massive travel perks if you decide to go this route. Free plane tickets and free baggage is nothing to sneeze about in this day and age! I think this blog post by the Money Crashers gives you a good run down of the top travel credit cards and their perks. I’m definitely no expert when it comes to travel awards though I’d love to know more if you are and want to give me tips! LOL

6. Frontier Airlines club last year saved us $80 in tickets this year: This is another take it or leave it suggestion. For us, we’re all about getting the cheapest airfare possible most of the time. Air travel is just a way to get us to our destination and we don’t really care about comfort or convenience if it costs more. Unless we’re headed internationally. For long-haul flights, it’s worth it to upgrade.

Frontier Airlines is a budget airline and I will admit, not the most comfortable. However, it is better than Spirit! I hate Spirit with every fiber of my being, but that’s another story. Frontier is also the only airline that flies a direct flight from Colorado Springs (where we live) to Orlando. We’ve been to Florida twice in the last year and you just can’t beat a direct flight for $85! We saved money with Frontier’s Discount Den club and got to fly from our home airport. That’s definitely worth the less comfortable seats to us!

7. Signed up for online checking account, earned $300: I actually saw this on Facebook and decided to go for it! A local bank was advertising setting up a new checking account with them and they’d give you $300 as a bonus. It took all of 15 minutes and I got $300 in return! Score!

8. Birthday presents and discounts: I knew I’d be spending my birthday on vacation so I looked up all the birthday freebies you could get at Disney World! There’s actually quite a few, though most of them are in Disney Springs and not at the parks. However, I did get some free swag and treats in the parks and plenty of birthday wishes from cast members and characters a like! Here’s a few things I got:


Wetzel's Pretzels Disney Springs

  •  Signed up for birthday rewards at restaurants in Disney Springs and close by the parks: Red Robin, Sprinkles cupcakes, Origins, Wetzel Pretzel, Earl of Sandwich, Huhot (we went here for lunch on the way to airport), Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Sweet Tomatoes, Steak n Shake, Sephora… We didn’t end up eating at all these places but you could potentially get free birthday goodies at all these places!
  • Also, if you too are celebrating a birthday at Disney, make sure you stop by a Guest Service desk and pick up a Happy Birthday pin! You could potentially receive free stuff by wearing it too! For example, wear it to Club Cool in Epcot and they’ll give you a free slurpie of your choice!
  • One last birthday goodie: If you sign up for AMC rewards (it’s free!), they’ll give you a free large popcorn during your birthday month. I got that, along with a discounted AMC gift card from Cardpool, and we went to see a movie at Disney Springs! Between the gift card and free popcorn, we saved almost 40%!

9. Birnbaum’s Disney Guide Book has coupons in it! We ended up only using these 3, but there’s over 40 different coupons in the back to choose from:

  • $1 off Ghirardelli sundae
  • 10% off Earl of Sandwich
  • Free Sephora product (+ used birthday gift)
Ghirardelli Sundae Disney Saving Money at Disney World: Ghirardelli’s 

All in all, I earned over $800 in gift cards and cash by doing all the things listed above in the months leading up to our 12-day vacation. I also roughly estimate I used about $100 in coupons to save us even more money! We had a wonderful vacation and I truly do feel we got to experience more and splurge a little more than we would have done without the extra earnings and savings. Now on to our next adventure!

Saving Money at WDW