Cheap Cheap Cheap! Disney on a dime PTR *Concluded

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Rubygoose, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Please visit my TR located here:

    We're visiting our laughing place. From BC with APs, August 21-28th.



    *UPDATE: Our trip is set for Aug. 21st to 28th, 2014! So, you can just forget about all of the December talk in the first couple pages of this ptr.

    So excited to be writing a pre-trip report! Our trip is in the VERY early stages of planning, and over a year away. But I had so much fun writing my TR from our summer trip, so I thought I might as well get started early. I'm planning to include all of the savings strategies that I'll be using, and hopefully that won't seem too tacky. I love to save money and it's very costly to travel anywhere from Vancouver Island, but my goal is to do this trip using "points", "miles" and any other little bonuses I can gather. I'm not quite setting a budget yet, rather my goal is to keep the entire trip under $3000, including airfare for 4, hotel and park tickets. Lets see if I can do it!
     
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  3. kaoden39

    kaoden39 <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your

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    Hi! I'm on board!!
     
  4. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Welcome! :banana:
     
  5. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    The who, what, where, when why and how of this trip:

    Who: taking this trip will be my family: K-BAG (Kati, Bryan, Annalise and Gavin)

    Kati- that's me.
    [​IMG]
    I'm a Mom and substitute teacher. Silvermist gave me the title of "craft fairy" after seeing the autograph books and hats I made for the kids in July. I enjoy crocheting and have started up a blog http://katididcrochet.blogspot.ca/ (that I often ignore) along with my (equally ignored) facebook page http://www.facebook.com/KatiDidCrochet.

    Bryan- my hubby of 9 years. He loves Disneyland, the Canucks and Star Wars.
    [​IMG]

    Annalise, a.k.a Annie, aka Annie Roo, aka the reason we buy travel medical insurance - Loves Minnie mouse and princesses and can't wait to be tall enough to ride california screamin'.
    [​IMG]

    Gavin, aka The Goose- more cautious than his sister, but was brave enough to ride all the 40" rides. He loves the fab 5 and is getting interested in Star Wars. Oh, and he loves flirting with the ladies!
    [​IMG]

    What: this will be a budget friendly, air miles, companion fare inspired trip.

    Where: we'll probably drive and take a ferry from Victoria to Seattle, then fly out of Seattle, since it's so expensive to fly from Victoria. We really like the John Wayne Airport compared to LAX, so we'll hopefully get a direct flight from Seattle to SNA. We will stay offsite, probably across the street at Ramada Maingate, BWPPI, or Fairfield Inn. However, Disney sent me a pincode for this December to stay onsite, so maybe they'll send up another one. We'll do 3 days in DL and DCA. We'd also like to fit in Lego Land and maybe San Diego Zoo. (I originally wanted to go back to SeaWorld, but Bryan and I watched "Blackfish" so now I don't want to give SeaWorld any of my money.)

    When: December 2014. Not sure exact dates, but probably after Christmas. We could go before, but this would mean either taking the kids out of school and missing their Christmas Concert, or spending Christmas day away from home. So, we'll likely go Dec. 26th or there abouts.

    Why: because we love Disneyland! Also, because we have 2 companion fares with Alaska Airlines that expire Feb. 3rd. So, we'll book our flight as soon as the dates we want appear and before Feb 3rd. Also because I've been racking up airmiles and will hopefully have enough points for at least 2 3-day park hoppers.

    How: still figuring all that out! Gavin loves to watch Special Agent Oso on the Disney Jr. Channel (so glad to have that channel here in Canada!) Oso always has 3 Special Steps to complete his assignment, so my 3 special steps are... Step 1: Get a bunch of credit cards. Step 2: spend a lot of money and earn a lot of airmiles. Step 3: Go to Disneyland!

     
  6. rnorwo1

    rnorwo1 DIS Veteran

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    I love to budget, even when we don't have to! I am planning our first trip to CA, and probably our only trip to DL, for March 2014, so I'm definitely in on this PTR! Your kids are precious!
     
  7. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Welcome! I'm hoping to use this PTR as a place to share budgeting ideas. March should be a good time to visit, but it might be busy with the spring break crowds starting. We thought our first trip to DL was a once in a life time trip, but we've be a total of 3 times now!
     
  8. DisneytheKid

    DisneytheKid A bad attempt at Billy the Kid

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    I'm all about the budget. We are big on staying at Desert inn and Suites because it is right next to the entrance and has great prices. Definitely helps the budget:thumbsup2
     
  9. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Step 1: Get a bunch of credit cards

    DH and I are pretty both pretty good with money. Credit cards scare us a little bit, so we always pay them off right away. Neither of us are comfortable living beyond our means, so we are too terrified to go into debt. But after discovering all of the perks that different cards offer, we jumped on them.

    In January of this year, I was chatting with a friend who is a retired teacher and she was telling me all about her upcoming trip to Hawaii and how her husband was flying round trip for $100. I begged her to tell me more! It is so expensive to fly out of Victoria, and we often end up taking the ferry to Vancouver to fly from there, which isn't cheap either. She explained that she has an Alaska Airlines Master Card which gives her one $100companion fare each year when she pays full price. So as soon as I got home, I looked into the card and applied for it. Not only did they offer the companion fare, but they also offered 25,000 bonus miles and no annual fee. So, Bryan and I both applied and in about 2 weeks we received our cards. We then used our combined 50,000 miles to book 4 one way trips from SNA to Victoria on July 23rd 2013 (you can read all about our July trip in my TR. The link's in my signature.) Our return trip cost us 12,500 miles + $5 for each of us. I'm not sure why it was only +$5 to come home, since it was +$45 in the other direction. So, now we were excited! DH starts saying "We're actually going to Disneyland again!" and then I reminded him, "Um... we're coming home from Disneyland. We haven't actually booked our flight TO Disneyland yet!" A week later, we found a reasonable flight with Air Canada, which was nowhere near as exciting as flying 2 adults and 2 children home for $20.

    About 2 weeks after receiving our cards and redeeming all of our bonus points, we each got a letter in the mail from Alaska Airlines Master Card. The letter stated that there was a "technical error" on the website when we applied for our cards. The error was that there is a $75 annual fee for this card, not "no annual fee" as was listed on the website. The letter apologized for this error and said the fee would be waved for this year. DH and I jumped for joy at getting our 50,000 bonus points for free, and I was so glad that I had clicked onto that website on the right day!

    Since we used our points for our July trip, we couldn't also use our companion fares. We still have those in our Alaska Airlines mileage plan accounts, and I'm pretty sure they are independent from the credit card (which I'm going to cancel soon. Too many cards in wallet are making me nervous!) So, the plan is, we'll use companion fares for the kids and DH and I will pay full fare. We've flown to Disneyland on several different airlines now, and I enjoy flying with Alaska Airlines. I like West Jet a tiny bit more because of the TV's in the seat backs, but until they offer a 'kids fly free" program (like the one we took advantage of in 2012) we'll stick with Alaska Air. A couple months ago, Alaska Airlines Master Card offered DH a "gold card" with 10,000 bonus miles and no fees this year, so he said "yes please!" So, I think we'll be sticking with Alaska Air for a little while now!


    After reading on the Canadian side of the DIS about people using air miles to purchase park hoppers, I was more than a little intrigued! I kept getting junk mail from Air Miles addressed to the lady who used to live in my house, so I finally applied for an air miles points card. After a couple months, I accumulated a grand total of 7 air miles. Man, it was going to take me a long time to get to Disneyland at this rate! So, I looked into getting a BMO Airmiles card. No annual fee (an so far that's not a "technical error") and 500 bonus air miles for charging $200 before Oct 31st. So, DH and I each signed up and started using that as our dominant credit card. I'm going to cancel the Alaska Airlines card now, as long as they'll let me keep the companion code. Recently, Air Miles had a banner on their website offering their American Express card with 1,200 bonus miles, so DH and I are in the process of applying for that one too! We'll spend enough to get the bonus and then cancel the card next year when we have to pay the annual fee. With a 3day disneyland park hopper costing 2,160 miles for adults, we already have enough miles for 1 of us to get a free park hopper! By next winter, we'll have enough miles at least 2 adults 3-day hoppers, and maybe enough to get one of the kids passes for free (and then they other kid can stay home with Grandma and feed the cat! :rotfl2: I joked that I'd go to Disneyland by myself without them and they both freaked out!)

    I'd love to get the Chase Disney Visa, but so far, Canadians can't apply for it. Probably all for the best, as my wallet will burst at the seams with all of the plastic in it!


     
  10. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Desert Inn and Suites is on my list of hotels to look into for this trip. We won't book a hotel until much closer to the trip, though. It's just the airfare that we need to take care of before our codes expire. So fare we're thinking of BWPPI, Ramada Maingate, Tropicana and Dessert Inn. DH really wants to stay onsite again, but I don't think we'll be able to afford the DLH again, and we won't be using the pool in Dec, so there's not much point to splurge on the DLH like we did in July.

    Tell me more about Desert Inn! I'm guessing location and price are the big selling features. Do they have free breakfast? Free parking? Comfortable beds?
     
  11. ChefChristopher

    ChefChristopher Earning My Ears

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    We have stayed at Desert Inn & Suites twice. It's a very no-frills place. Rooms were clean, but old and ran down looking. They did have continental breakfast for no charge, so that's a plus. Also, they have a rooftop deck where you can view the fireworks and the Disney fireworks music plays.

    Parking was not free (maybe $10-15/night... I can't remember). Beds were comfortable enough, but not big, plush comfy beds.
     
  12. kaoden39

    kaoden39 <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your

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    If you don't mind not being within walking distance we love the Ayre's hotel in Anaheim. It is a beautiful place to stay, ranked number 1 on tripadvisor.com, and they have the best free breakfast.
     
  13. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    I looked into Ayre's a while ago (while reading your TR I think!) and although it looks lovely, it's a bit too far away. I like being right across the street, but then you do give up the quality a little bit by staying at the motels on Harbour.

    Last night I started browsing on Home Away to see what the vacation rentals in the area charge, and they're pretty reasonable. It looks like a lot of people rent out the 2 or 3 br condos off Walnut for around $240 a night during the time we're looking at. So, that might be an option.
     
  14. kaoden39

    kaoden39 <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your

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    I thought I would never like to stay away from the action like the Ayre's but I found that it made for a more relaxed time away from the parks. I have thought about renting a house but I am always afraid to rent something like that. Call it California cynicism.
     
  15. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    We've rented a house before, when we travel with other families. It's nice to get a big house and split the cost. We've done this on Saltspring Island (not far from us here in Victoria) and in Seattle. I like using HomeAway, so it's a bit more secure than renting privately. I like the idea of paying the same amount for a condo as for a 2 queen room at the Fairfield Inn. We wouldn't get a free breakfast, but we'd get free parking, and we'd have a full kitchen to make our own breakfast. I'm still toying with the idea of doing a split stay and sneaking in at least one night at DLH.
     
  16. kaoden39

    kaoden39 <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your

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    I do not under any circumstance want to stay somewhere I can cook. That is not my idea about vacation. We went camping for years and although it is fun it is not really a vacation for me.
     
  17. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Ha! I never thought about that! DD has food sensitivities. Her body doesn't properly process artificial ingredients, especially food dyes, so as a family we've switched to a mainly whole-foods diet. It's tough to stick to any kind of diet to Disneyland, so having a kitchen is helpful to us. Plus, DH and I have had a deal since we started living together, several years ago... I cook and he does the dishes. So, he's the one who would end up having to wash dishes while on vacation! :rotfl2:

    And I totally agree about camping. We used to camp a lot before we had kids. We took the kids camping for the first time this summer, just for one night because we were worried they wouldn't be able to handle it. They loved it, and DH and I wished we had stayed 2 nights because we spent most of the first evening setting up the tent and then most of the next morning putting it away!
     
  18. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Step 2: Spend a lot of money and earn a lot of air miles

    Well, I've put this PTR on the back burner for a few weeks. The trip is so far away that there really isn't a lot of planning that I can do right now. So, instead, I've been crocheting. I decided to make christmas gifts for all of the kids' teachers, especially since DS has 4 teachers at his preschool. The reason I put him in that school is because it has a high teacher to student ratio - but I didn't think about getting 4 gifts for 4 teachers at christmas and at the end of the year! So I decided to make them scarves. They spend a lot of time outside with the kids, so hopefully they'll get a lot of use out of them. I've also had a couple local orders for R2D2 hats, which are tricky and time consuming, but my favourite project to make.

    [​IMG]

    I've also been working on making fortune cookies for a friend who's wife is having a baby and they're decorating the nursery in an asian theme. They also asked me to make a lucky bamboo, which I'm still working on very slowly.

    [​IMG]

    And yes, all of this yarn business DOES have something to do with getting to Disneyland! When I started collecting air miles, I noticed that Michaels (the craft store) is an air miles sponsor. So, now I've been buying all of my yarn from there. I even got a $5 off coupon twice in a row the last two visits for being "randomly selected" to take a survey. And I think Michaels had a 5x the airmiles promotion on at the time.



     
  19. Rubygoose

    Rubygoose Everybody's got a laughing place

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    Step 2: (cont)
    Now, although I call step 2 "Spend a lot of money, earn a lot of air miles" I have discovered that the former is not necessarily required for the latter. I've been watching the air miles site regularly for contests and ways to earn bonus miles. I've started doing my Christmas shopping (actually I'm almost finished) and I went through their shop site to get to Lego and Chapters/Indigo to get most of the kids toys, and earned about 35 miles just from logging on. And then today I did something that scared me a little... I went into an optometry store even though I don't wear glasses! I saw that they had a coupon for "20 air miles with your first visit, no purchase necessary." 20 free miles? Yes please! I was a bit nervous, and I almost walked out of the store while the lady was in the back getting glasses for the only other customer in the store. (Ok, she was the ONLY customer, as I had no intention of buying anything!) But I didn't leave, and the lady was very nice. She just needed to see my air miles card and then she had to take down a bit of my information to sign me up into their system. Much easier than spending the $400 it would have cost to normally earn 20 air miles!

    I've checked my miles balance and I'm a little more than half way to a 3 day adult park hopper ticket! Plus, DH and I just got out AMEX cards, so once we put $500 on each of them, we'll get 1,200 miles each!
     
  20. jerseygirl81

    jerseygirl81 DIS Veteran

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    I also love using our rewards cards. My favorite is a cash card it has no annual fee so no need to cancel and I can cash it in at any amount and use it to pay for any part of our trip without having to accumulate a certain amount of points like our airline card. We are thinking about a trip to California and doing Disney for about 2 or 3 of those days. Our trip would be more expensive then our trips to Disney World since we are on the east coast and our stay would be a little longer so we could see more of California this would be our first trip there! Looking forward to reading more about your plans. Linda :)
     
  21. kaoden39

    kaoden39 <font color=peach>Prayers and pixie dust from your

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    You have a great reason for wanting to cook your meals. We don't have any issues other than likes and dislikes. That in itself is bad enough. I refer to the menus on allears.net all the time when planning for ADRs.



    You do beautiful work! I thought so from your kids hats last trip too. I am not if I mentioned it there or not. Thise fortune cookies are such a cute idea.

    Wow they sure add up don't they? Yay for the free 20 air miles!
     

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