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Money Saving Tips for your Disney Vacation

Episode 9: Pocket Change Podcast

Have you ever wanted to experience the magic of Disney but financially it didn't seem possible? On this episode of the podcast, you'll learn tips and trick on how to make the most of your Disney trip while sticking to a budget. 

"We typically don't get just like a regular burger and fries meal just because there is so much else to get. So we try to seek out the more unique stuff that we can't really get at home. And you can look ahead of time. All the menus are online. If you want to get online, look up the prices so you kind of know what to budget for."

Summary

On this episode of the Pocket Change Podcast, Kristi Woody, an avid Disney fan, talks about tips and tricks on how to save money and make the most of your Disney experience. 

Whether its your first time going to Disney, or your 25th trip in ten years, like Kristi, this podcast will certainly have something for everyone! From places to stay, hiring a free planner, how to save money, give back, and keep kids from buying every toy, this podcast is designed to help you create your Disney experience while keeping your budget in mind! 

"Especially if you haven't been before and you don't really know where you want to stay, where you want to eat, what rides do you want to do? They (Disney planners) will answer all your questions. And usually, they have emails they'll send you periodically to inform you about all the things you do. Disney planning is intense, like there's just a lot to it."

 

Key Takeaways

  • You can get a Disney travel planner for free that will plan your stay, and give your great tips on places to eat, activities, and the best parks to explore. 

  • You can save money by buying gift cards ahead of time at places like Sam's Club or Target.

  • Depending on what you want your Disney experience to be, there are many hotels and resorts to choose from.

  • Memory Maker is Disney's Photo Pass and if you're traveling with a group family member or something with a different room, only one person has to buy Memory Maker to get to see and download the photos.

If you're looking to start planning a trip to Disney, check out the Champion Rewards Checking that earns interest with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements or the Fast Forward Savings to help your jump-start your savings. 

Support Kristi's Disney small shop, Favorite Deputy Co.

Learn more about Give Kids the World Village.

 


 

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Full Transcript

Shea:

Hey, this is Shea.

 

Mary Helen:

This is Mary Helen.

 

Shea:

Welcome to the Pocket Change podcast.

 

Mary Helen:

Where you'll learn better ways to spend, save, and invest and take control of your financial journey.

 

Shea:

So I've got my first time Disney pin on and some Disney ears, because we're going to be talking about the most magical place on Earth.

 

Mary Helen:

That's right. So if you don't watch us on YouTube, be sure to jump over on that platform. Check out the video. You can actually watch us as we record, see what we're wearing. We've got some fun props, some fun ears, maybe a little...just some fun accessories.

 

Shea:

This is actually my son's Disney ears that I'm wearing. So it's very tight.

 

Mary Helen:

His first pair!

 

Shea:

Leave it here for the rest of the podcast. But, you know, we have it to celebrate our podcast episode today.

 

Mary Helen:

Absolutely. I'm so excited. I think it's going to be...we're talking about the most magical place on earth. The podcast is going to be magical. It's going to be great.

 

Shea:

It's going to be a pretty great podcast. You know, Walt Disney World has an average of over 50 million visitors a year.

 

Mary Helen:

That’s crazy.

 

Shea:

It takes planning. It takes a budget to make the most of a trip to Disney World. So we're going to talk a little bit about that today.

 

Mary Helen:

We are so excited to welcome our podcast guest today: Kristi Woody. You're an avid Disney fan. You know everything that there is to know about Disney. You're going to give us so many good tips and tricks on how to make our visit the best that it can be. Welcome to the podcast.

 

Kristi Woody:

Thank you! Glad to be here.

 

Mary Helen:

Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in Disney World.

 

Kristi Woody:

So I am a photographer here in town, Woody & Pearl Photography. I also have a hobby shop where I make T-shirts, pins, and patches that are themed to the Disney parks, and I use that as a fundraiser for Give Kids the World Village. It's where Make-A-Wish Foundation kids go for their Disney trips. Other than that, I am a mom to a four year old, married to my husband of ten years and yeah, we love Disney World.

 

And we started going... both of our first times, me and my husband, was our honeymoon. So that's when our love of Disney started. I had been to Disneyland some growing up, but yeah, so we just have gone back a lot and on my upcoming trip is going to be my 25th trip to Disney World in ten years, which know I have some friends that are even bigger Disney fans than I am and have been that many times in like three years.

 

So it doesn't sound- I mean, it sounds like a lot, you know. But also there are wilder people out there than me.

 

Mary Helen:

So in one year, how many times...like the most amount of times you've gone in a year?

 

Kristi Woody:

I think the most I've gone in one year is four and that included like I've gone down a couple of times for solo trips to volunteer at Give Kids the World Village. And then I've done a couple of January trips with friends.

 

Shea:

So I just...me and my wife just took our nine month old. We were down in Orlando for another reason and decided to go over to Disney. So it's not cheap. You know, there's a lot of costs associated to planning a trip to Disney World. So what are some money saving tips that you have for us?

 

Kristi Woody:

Okay. So some of the things that I do when we're saving for trips, I like to buy gift cards from Sam's. And I think there are some other places you can do this where you the gift card is a $500 gift card, but you get it for I believe it's $479? $469? It's a, you know, $20, $30 savings.

 

So if you buy a $500 gift card from Sam's every few months, you know, it adds up. And over time, you'll have saved like $150 maybe. So that's one of my money saving ways. And then I don't do this, but I know a lot of people that have the Target red card. I believe you buy it. You can buy gift cards with your target red card and save 5% on the gift cards.

 

Yeah. So that's another way to save a little money. And it's not a lot, but it adds up.

 

Shea:

Every little bit counts at Disney.

 

Kristi Woody:

Every little bit counts. And not trying to, like, you know, bolster y'all up too much. But I love the Leaders checking account that has the 2% interest. So if we earn interest in our checking account, we just don't we just pretend it doesn't exist and use that as like a savings. Same if you have like a high yield savings account or something, just look at that and say, okay, we're going to keep that and save it for our trip.

 

Shea:

Like our fast forward savings? I mean, all that interest you could save up for, you know, your meals.

 

Kristi Woody:

It's amazing.

 

Shea:

Souvenirs or just like a certain thing at Disney.

 

Kristi Woody:

Yeah, and like, credit card points, if you have a cashback card or something. And something I like to do is use a travel planner, which I think a lot of people don't realize this. Most travel planners are free. You don't pay anything to them. They get a commission from Disney for booking your trip. So if you use a travel planner, they will apply the discount to your room when it comes out.

And you don't have to keep checking for it and try to call and have a two hour hold time. So they're really, really nice to have.

Mary Helen:

I didn't realize that you could get a planner for free and they just kind of do it all for you. But that also is nice because it takes the pressure off of...you're kind of in a way, letting the experts handle it. They know who to call. They have the contacts.

 

Kristi Woody:

And especially if you haven't been before and you don't really know where you want to stay, where you want to eat, what rides do you want to do? They will answer all your questions. And usually they have like emails they'll send you periodically to inform you about, you know, all the things you do. Disney planning is intense, like there's just a lot to it.

So it's good to have a travel planner not only for the discounts but just for the information.

 

Shea:

So you gave us tips for saving for Disney, but there's also tips that when we get to the park, we can save more money that way. So what are some of those tips for saving at the park when we're there on our vacation?

 

Kristi Woody:

So one big one that a lot of people like to utilize - and this is another one that doesn't save a ton, but like I said, it all adds up. Undercover Tourist is a place [website] where you can buy tickets like park tickets discounted. And this only works if you don't book a package. I like to book a package because you only have to pay $200 down on the packages.

 

But if you're not doing a package, for whatever reason, you can buy the tickets at Undercover Tourist and save like, I don't know, $15 per ticket. So not a lot, but a little bit. And then another option would be if you're wanting to stay at one of the really nice resorts, they can get very expensive, like I'm talking $600, $700 a night, which is a lot.

 

Shea:

That’s close to a mortgage or rent payment.

 

Kristi Woody:

Right. So like if you're staying for a week, you know, that's a ton of money. But the resorts are great. They're like the best locations and have the best pools and stuff. So but if you want to stay at those resorts and you want to save some money, there's DVC, which is Disney Vacation Club. And so it's a timeshare basically.

 

I'm not saying buy the timeshare, but the people with the timeshare, if they're not going to use their points, they will rent their points out. I like to go through a broker. I don't know anybody with DVC, so there's nobody that I can just like use their points and feel like I trust them. You can just go straight to an owner if you find them on like a board online.

 

Kristi Woody:

I'm just a little more cautious with that. But there's brokers online, the two big ones, DVC Rental Store and David's DVC Rental. So basically you just contact them and tell them the dates you want. They'll tell you what's available and then the owner books it for you and you're technically staying as their guest.

 

And it's usually...I can't remember the percentage, but I mean, it's like a lot of a discount off of the rack rate from Disney. And you can do like one bedroom villas if you want more space, which those have full kitchens. And that's really nice. You know, there's different levels of resort. So you've got value, moderate, deluxe. If you don't want to stay in a luxury resort, good way to save is to stay at those value resorts - better price point.

 

Mary Helen:

And so what are like the top two resorts that you would recommend.

 

Kristi Woody:

For the value I like Pop Century. It's the most expensive of the values but it has the Skyliner which is a new form of transportation. I say new - it's three or four years old now, but it will take you straight to Epcot or Hollywood Studios via another station, but it's-

 

Shea:

So it’s not the Monorail. It's a different sky transportation?

 

Kristi Woody:

It's like a ski lift kind of thing. Like a fancy ski lift, I guess. Yeah. So that transportation and not having to use the busses for every park is really nice. And it's just a really cool park. Like it's fun for kids. The All Stars are the other values and they're also perfectly fine. They're just a little bigger, a little more like bare bones. And then moderate,

 

I'm partial to the French Quarter resort. French Quarter and Riverside are side by side, and they have kind of a I guess Louisiana is the theme and French Quarter is where I stayed on my honeymoon. So it's just very small and quaint. And they have beignets.

 

Mary Helen:

Always a plus!

 

Kristi Woody:

And then Deluxe, I'm going to say the Boardwalk. I think my husband would say the Polynesian, which is over by Magic kingdom, but the Boardwalk is the one that I've stayed at the most with very good discounts. But I don't know. I just like the theming. It's New Jersey boardwalk, but it's just got some like cool, kitschy things in the lobby and the rooms are nice and airy and light.

 

Shea:

I always love going to the Contemporary resort when the monorail goes through.

 

Kristi Woody:

The Contemporary is cool. Also, the reason I like the Boardwalk is you can walk to Epcot and that's our park.

 

Mary Helen:

That’s so nice.

 

Kristi Woody:

That's our favorite park.

 

Shea:

Those are really great tips for the resorts. So I know the meals at the parks can also be very expensive. Listen to this. When I was a kid, my mom...we would have me and my brother and then we'd go with another family and they had like four kids. And so my mom would get a bag of Tyson chicken nuggets, make it the night before, throw it in Ziploc bag.

 

And I don't know if you can bring it now, but we brought it with us and that was our lunch on Tom Sawyer Island on a picnic table. And that's how we didn't pay for an expensive, you know, $7 hotdog. We brought our own chicken nuggets. So what are some tips on saving for meals?

 

Kristi Woody:

You can absolutely do that. They allow you to bring whatever you want. I think the only thing you can't bring in is like ice maybe, or loose ice. I don't know. There's some like there's some weird restriction, like you can't bring something in, but most things you can bring in. I highly recommend bringing water bottles. Or if you don't want to bring a water bottle, you can get water from the quick service locations, which are the walk up dining places.

 

They will just give you a cup of water because you need to stay hydrated. It's very hot in Florida. But you don't want to pay...I don't even know how much it is now, like $4 for a Dasani water bottle, a regular size. I just- that blows my mind. That's so much money for water. Anyway, so I recommend getting water bottles.

 

What we do is, if we don't rent a car, which sometimes we rent a car and then make a stop at Publix or Walmart or something. If you don't do that, you can Instacart whatever groceries you want, you can do water. You could get snacks for breakfast. Like if you just want to eat granola bars for breakfast, donuts, or whatever.

 

You know, breakfast is a really easy one to get, you know, in the room to eat.

  

Shea:

Unless you do a Character Breakfast.

 

Kristi Woody:

Unless you do a character breakfast, and if you have a child, you still might need to feed them breakfast before you leave the room.

 

Shea:

With the puffs and the snacks and all that, at least for a younger child.

 

Kristi Woody:

Yeah, no, my kid needs to eat pretty soon after she wakes up or she's not going to be happy. So we always try to have something in the room. But I will say there are a lot of really good snacks at Disney World, especially like in Epcot. If they have the festivals going, there's a lot of really good snacks there, so don't like completely rule out eating the food there.

 

We typically don't get just like a regular burger and fries meal just because there is so much else to get. So we try to seek out the more unique stuff that we can't really get at home. And you can look ahead of time. All the menus are online. If you want to get online, look up the prices so you kind of know what to budget for.

 

And that way you're not like getting to the end of your trip and like, oh my gosh, we've spent so much money. Like, you know how much you're going to end up spending.

 

Mary Helen:

So you mentioned your favorite park is Epcot, and that's the place that y’all go to the most. But what's your favorite ride?

 

Kristi Woody:

Well, my favorite ride is the Haunted Mansion, which is in Magic Kingdom or at Disneyland is the original. I have this memory of riding it with my grandfather at Disneyland when I was little. And so it's just always been my favorite.

 

Mary Helen:

Disney is to me, like I think one reason people love Disney so much is that it can be so sentimental and like you grew up watching these shows and then you get to meet the characters in person and I think they do a really good job of I don't know, making it sentimental, but tying, like no matter what your age is, you know you're going to go and you're going to have fun and there's something for everybody.

 

Shea:

Look, my mom told me that Big Thunder Mountain was a train ride as a kid when I was not experienced with roller coasters. She was like, “it’s just a train ride come on”. And then it’s this roller coaster going in and out, up and down, all over. As a kid, I was like, “this ain’t no train ride”.

 

Kristi Woody:

Well, what's nice now is you can watch the POV videos on YouTube before you go. Like if you have a, like, skeptical kid.

 

Shea:

That's a good tip.

 

Kristi Woody:

Why not just watch it, you know?

 

Shea:

Yeah, because my mom just said, “hey, it's a train ride. Get on”. And then here we go. And we’re taken off. Yeah, there was no video back then.

 

Mary Helen:

So what are some other tips that you may want to discuss?

 

Kristi Woody:

A couple of things. One, there's a Memory Maker is what they call their like photography service. They have Photo Pass photographers throughout the parks and they will take your family photos in front of like park icons and other just random places in the park and with the characters. A lot of the characters have a Photo Pass photographer.

 

Shea:

Got some of those.

 

Kristi Woody:

But they cost money. You have to pay for it unless you have them take one with your phone and sometimes they will. You could go that route and then you get the photos on your phone for free. Or if you want to buy a Memory Maker, if you're traveling with someone, like a group family member or something with a different room, only one of you has to buy Memory Maker and you all get to see the photos and download the photos.

And then another thing I would say, if you have young children, like my four year old walks into a store and she wants every single toy that she sees and every single snack and every single everything. You could give them a gift card or give them just a budget like this is how much you can spend on this trip if you want to save it all up for the end and we just have a big shopping spree, you could do that. Or you say once you spend your hundred dollars, or however much, then we're done. We're not going to buy anything else. I know, depending on the kid, that may not work. But for a lot of kids that works to kind of rein it in a little bit. So you're not just buying a new toy in every store that you walk in because there's a lot of cool stuff, but it's also really, really expensive. 

So it's good to kind of budget that out and [you] don't end up spending $1,000 on spirit jerseys or Minnie ears.

 

Shea:

And some things you could get on Amazon so that you don't necessarily spend as much. If your budget doesn't allow for it.

 

Kristi Woody:

Yes. Disney has licensed products everywhere. Kohl's, Amazon, Walmart. Like if you want to get stuff beforehand, even the bubble wands that they sell at the parks, you can buy those ahead of time. Not the exact same ones, but like a similar product for half the price.

 

Shea:

Thanks for sharing those tips. You also mentioned at the beginning your Disney small shop and supporting Give Kids the World. So can you tell us more about that organization and your involvement and how to find your shop?

 

Kristi Woody:

Yeah. So Give Kids the World is where if you do a Make-A-Wish trip, your family stays there. I don't think they have to stay there, but like, that's where the majority of them stay. It's accessible. There's a couple of accessible rides, like a carousel, maybe even like a Ferris wheel now. It's just a really whimsical place and it's all free for the families.

 

They don't have to pay anything. And there's lots of volunteers. It's very, very high percentage of the people working there are volunteers. So that's why I went down to volunteer. Usually you work in like a...I think there are two hour shifts, so you can sign up for a couple of hours if you wanted to volunteer on your trip and you do things like I ran the carousel one time and then they also have an ice cream shop.

 

They encourage people to have ice cream for breakfast because the whole point is with your Make-A-Wish trip is to get away from like the medical, you know, the hardships and just try to relax and enjoy.

 

Shea:

So It’s for families with, you know, kids that have medical needs or medical issues?

 

Kristi Woody:

Yeah, and it's not all children in cancer treatment. There's all kinds of different things that kids go for. So yeah, it's just an awesome place. So yeah, I was just really moved by what they do. And so I started my small shop where I print. I just do like one color screen-printed shirts. It's nothing fancy and it's just kind of a fun, artistic hobby for me to do.

But most of the proceeds from that go to Give Kids the World.

 

Shea:

And how can they find your shop?

 

Kristi Woody:

It is all on Etsy now. Favorite Deputy is the name of my shop, and honestly, right now I can't remember if it's Favorite Deputy Co on Etsy. It’s Favorite Deputy Co on Instagram. So if you want to find me on Instagram, there's a link to my shop there. But it's just Favorite Deputy.

 

Shea:

So the organization is Give Kids the World and your Etsy shop supports that so we can find it on Instagram: @favoritedeputyco that's the handle and then search Favorite Deputy on Etsy to get some great merch. We hope all of our listeners will check it out as they plan their trips to Disney.

 

Mary Helen:

Okay, so we have a fun last question to wrap up the podcast. If you had extra change in your pocket, what would you spend it on? Pocket change, as some would say.

 

Kristi Woody:

Well, I've been...Shea wants me to get ears. I've been thinking about like all the Spring things, you know, everything's blooming. So maybe a new plant for my yard. That's what I'm going to go with.

 

Mary Helen:

A specific color? Type?

 

Kristi Woody:

I don't know. I, listen, I'm old. Just like a bush for the front yard. Something pretty.

 

Mary Helen:

I love it.

 

Kristi Woody:

Maybe some flowers. Maybe some, like marigolds or something.

 

Shea:

Sprucing up for Spring! Well, thank you for sharing your tips on Disney for our listeners to save money if they plan a trip down to the most magical place on earth. So thank you so much.

 

Mary Helen:

I’ve learned so much.

 

Kristi Woody:

Good.

 

Mary Helen:

In this podcast and just sitting down and talking with you. And so thanks for being here.

 

Kristi Woody:

Yeah, thank you all for having me.

 

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