One of the most common family vacation trip ideas is to go to Disney World or DisneyLand and as a miles and points “expert”, one of the most common questions I get from people wanting to get in to the miles and points world is “How can I use points for a Disney World trip?”
Since my family and I just got back from Disney World, I thought I’d share a few tips on using miles and points for a Disney trip.
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Using points for airfare to get to Disney
This is probably the easiest way to use points for Disney – Disney World and DisneyLand (and all Disneys around the globe) are served by pretty major airports (Orlando, LAX, etc). So all of the strategies that you have for using miles work great to get to Disney as well.
One other thing to keep in mind is that because Orlando specifically is a major leisure market, you’re going to often see very cheap fares from some of the low-cost carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, etc. In that case, you can use “cash” points like Capital One Venture, Barclaycard Arrival or even some of your Chase Ultimate Rewards to book a CASH ticket with your points.
Using points for Disney vacation hotels
There are only 2 points hotels that are actually on Disney World property. Both the Swan and the Dolphin are part of SPG (soon to be Marriott).
The Dolphin is a Category 4 hotel (12,000 points / night) and the Swan is a Category 5 hotel (12,000-16,000 points / night). You will get the 5th night free on any award stay, but keep in mind that you will likely be subject to a hotel resort fee in addition to the points needed for the hotels. (See a list of some of the best hotel credit cards here.)
Every major chain has hotels in the Orlando area, and most of them have shuttles or other ways to get to Disney. Yes, you will miss out on the benefits of being “on property” but on-property or off-property is a discussion that’s outside of the scope of this guide to using points for Disney. The last time my family and I were at Disney, we stayed at the Homewood Suites Orlando Theme Parks. For 30,000 points / night, we had a 2 bedroom suite, free breakfast every night and free dinner Monday-Thursday.
You can also many types of miles and points as “cash” points and just pay for your hotel directly.
Tips for using points for Disney vacation tickets and other Disney expenses
Using miles and points for Disney airfare and hotels are doable, but now we get into the tricky part – using miles and points for your actual Disney tickets. And unfortunately, the news is not good – there is really no good way to use your miles and points
Another option that can help take some of the sting out of the price of Disney tickets is buying Disney gift cards either at a discount or at a store that offers a good category bonus. Disney gift cards are usually purchasable at grocery stores or office supply stores, both of which have cards with good category bonuses.
Readers – any other good tips to use points for Disney? Leave them in the comments?