This September we will be taking a trip the kids have been dreaming about for years. That’s right, we are finally making that epic trip to Walt Disney World. We have been putting the trip off waiting for the kids to be tall enough for most of the rides. My oldest two, Michael-10 & Milo-7, are now tall enough for pretty much all of the rides. Their little sister Ellie at 5 years old is still tall enough to enjoy herself even if she has to sit out a few rides. And the baby…. well, clearly we are going to have to make another Disney trip in the future when he is bigger!
If any of you have looked into Disney World you know the cost adds up pretty quick. Single day tickets to the Magic Kingdom alone start at $93 and $99/person, dependent on age. Try taking a family of 6 and you will see the cost added up rapidly! Thankfully Elijah flies free as a lap child and enters Disney for free since he is under 2 but grandma is coming along so we still had to cover 6 flights and 6 sets of theme park tickets.
Since I have a lot of British Airways Avios, my original intention was to find award space on American from Sioux Falls>Chicago>Orlando. Unfortunately ever since American changed their award charts back in April it has been all but impossible for me to find MileSAAver level award space for one person let alone the full crew. After sever weeks of daily searches I finally accepted defeat and decided to look into using Delta SkyMiles.
Surprisingly availability on Delta was excellent and I was able to find 5 seats on the days I wanted at 25,000 miles each and the 6th seat at 32,500 miles. Since Elijah is under 2 years old, I do not have to pay for a seat for him which saves on miles.
- Total cost for flights was 157,500 SkyMiles + $60 in Taxes & Fees – I should have charged the $60 in fees to my Barclaycard so I could redeem points to pay for them but I forgot. Oh, well.
We have a lot of other things to do while we are in Florida so we decided 2 days at the parks would be perfect. For 6 two-day tickets with the Memory Maker photo service my total rolled in at $1,322.64. Thank God for my Barclaycard Arrival Plus card or this would have been a painful bill to pay!
The Arrival Plus card has become my default card this year thanks to a great earning ratio of 2x points per dollar on all purchases. When you redeem the points against eligible travel charges you are essentially getting 2% back on all your purchases. Plus you earn a 10% rebate on all the points you redeem! For a while the Barclaycard Rewards Boost shopping portal was giving 4x extra miles per dollar on Amex gift card purchases which made for an awesome manufactured spending opportunity! So I was able to quickly amass a large stockpile of Arrival miles to pay for the tickets!
- Total cost for tickets: 132,200 Barclaycard Arrival Miles & $0 cash!
We are staying 3 nights at Disney World and 3 nights on Daytona Beach so we needed a couple different hotels. The rest of the nights we will be staying with family so we don’t need hotels every night.
There are many different resort options at Disney World but only 2 that are bookable with hotel loyalty points and both are SPG properties. The Walt Disney World Dolphin (a Sheraton property) and the Walt Disney World Swan (a Westin property) are both category 4 properties requiring 10,000 points per night or anywhere from $179/night to $450/night. Because they are both Disney properties you get most of the added perks of staying at a Disney resort including Extra Magic Hours in theme parks, FastPass+, complimentary transportation, and on-site character dining.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have a ton of Arrival miles so in the end I decided to book a stay in one of Disney’s value resorts that was running a promotion on their family suites for only $172.80/night + tax and then I will reimburse myself using Arrival miles. Disney charges you immediately for the 1st night and then charges the remaining amount at check in. The biggest reason I decided to go with the Disney All-Star Music Resort was because of the family suite which has a bedroom with a queen bed plus a Twin-Size Sleeper Chair and 1 Double-Size Sleeper Sofa and 1 Twin-Size Sleeper Ottoman. It says it should comfortably sleep 6 adults so we should have no problems!
- Total cost for 3 nights at Disney hotel 58,581 Barclaycard Arrival Miles!
Daytona Beach Hotel
The choice was actually pretty easy for our 3 nights on Daytona Beach. Both my wife and I took advantage of an offer from Citi for 40,000 Thank You points for opening a new checking account. We cashed out our points for $400 in Hyatt gift certificates and $400 in Alamo gift certificates for the car rental. And just as luck would have it there is a nice Hyatt Place right on the beach offering some pretty good rates –Hyatt Place Daytona Beach Oceanfront. And after my 1st Hyatt Place experience in Puerto Rico, I am eager to return to a Hyatt Place. The free AM Skillets hot breakfast is a fantastic way to get the day started!
For a total of $418.50 for 3 nights we were able to secure an ocean view room on a high floor large enough to accommodate all of us plus $25 food credit! But remember $400 of that is covered via Hyatt gift certificates so the remaining $18.50 will go on my Arrival card and get reimbursed
- Total cost for 3 nights at the Hyatt Place Daytona Beach – Oceanfront -$400 in Hyatt gift cards from paid for w/ 40,000 Thank You points from Citi and 1850 Arrival miles – $0 cash
With 3 adults and 4 kids you can pretty much guess what we have to rent for this trip… Yep, I’m stuck with a mini-van.. Prices on rentals in Orlando can swing wildly so you have to search diligently to get the best price. There are a lot of great resources for finding low rental car rates including Priceline’s “name your own price”, shopping through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, among others. But for this trip my hands are tied to Alamo since we have $400 in gift certificates.
Just today I was able to secure a rate for only $290.03 which is pretty awesome considering rates were $300 higher with Alamo a month ago. The $100 Alamo vouchers (courtesy of Citi Thank You points) can only be applied to the base rate which was $227. So I used 2 of my vouchers bringing the cash portion down to $90.93 which we be charged to, none other than my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World MasterCard! 9,000 points should basically cover that charge making the car rental also free!
- Total cost of rental car – $200 in Alamo vouchers (bought using Thank You points) + 9,000 Arrival Miles and $0 cash
So there you have it!
This trip is costing me a massive amount of miles & points but it will be well worth it. The kids (wife included) are ecstatic about our coming adventure. Ellie is dreaming of meeting Elsa from Frozen and the boys both can’t wait for their chance to drive at the Tomorrowland Speedway!
So the total cost of taking my family of 6 plus grandma comes in at:
157,500 Delta SkyMiles
201,631 Barclaycard Arrival Miles
60,000 Thank You points
What do you think? Have you done the Disney World trip yet? What would you do different?