Disney Vacation Account: Worth It?

So…I’m on a Disney kick again, much to Josh’s chagrin. He’s not really a fan, but me…I kinda can’t help it. I love Disneyland. My family has been three times in the past thirteen years, once when my kids were 3 and 5 (horrible trip), another time when they were 5 and 7 (another awful experience), and again when they were 7 and 9 (FANTASTIC). There’s a lot to be said for not giving up.

disney dress up

Anyway, there are lots of ways to save money on a Disney trip. This time around, I decided to harness the power of Amex Offers, Target, and the Disney Vacation Account program. How, you ask?

Step 1: Amex Offers.

Over the past year, I’ve been opportunistically using Amex Offers to buy Target gift cards. Last year, I was able to stock up on Target gift cards for half off during the awesome Smart and Final promo, and currently, I’m maximizing the Staples.com offer (spend $100, get $25 back).

amex offer

Step 2: Target

Once I have the Target gift cards, I use them to buy Disney gift cards at Target.com. I select my Target debit card as the payment method (even though I am actually using a gift card to pay) to save an extra 5%.

target disney

 

Step 3: Disney Vacation Account

This is the step I’m not sold on. It might be one step beyond. I decided to open a Disney Vacation Account so that I could add all of the Disney Gift cards to one central location, like a big Disney bank, then withdraw funds when I was ready.

disney vacation accountHowever, once I began to book our trip, I learned that you cannot use the funds from a Vacation Account to pay for a “hotel only” reservation at Disneyland, and that if you want a refund, you will be refunded to the original form of payment. Seriously?!? I didn’t keep all of my gift cards, so a refund won’t work, and I don’t want to buy an entire vacation package – I want to wait for a deal, then pounce on a room.

I think the only way for us to get value out of the account will be to cash out into one gift card, then use it while we are actually at Disneyland:

disney gift card

Questions for discussion:

  1. Why does Disney make this so challenging?
  2. Has anyone else created a Disney Vacation Account, and if so, what did you think?
  3. Anyone else headed to Disneyland in the near future?

 

Comments

  1. I am a massive Disneyworld fan, I live in Philadelphia and I got at least twice a year , since my son is 5 and has been 4 times already, the easiest way to save money at Disneyland is to go to Disneyworld , it’s hundreds of dollars cheaper and a more immersive experience than Disneyland. I went to Disneyland twice in 2015, for conference but I stayed at a good neighbor hotel and bought tickets to Disneyland and DCA for 4 days and the total was 790 dollars more for the same trip at Disneyworld. If your not into going to Disneyworld, then I suggest getting the Disney chase premium credit card, once you book ur trip to either Disneyland or world , you receive a 200 dollar credit and u have 6 months of 0% ARP to pay off the trip

    • Points Pixie says:

      Allen,

      Love your tip! Since we live in CA, flying out to Disney World is a big endeavor for us, so if we want to keep things simple we need to stick to the left coast.

      I used to have a Disney Visa, back in the day! 🙂 I swapped it for a few other Chase cards, though.

  2. Very odd you can’t use the DVA to pay for a hotel only reservation at Disneyland. I used my DVA to pay for a hotel only reservation in Orlando.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Hi Ang! 🙂

      Yes!! I know – so odd! I think when I set it up, I was planning to go to Disney World, but we never got there and then I switched my focus, only to learn this annoying fact.

  3. I missed all of these! Sheesh! I’m going to email you later today. (Seattle FTU a while back) I have a favorite Disney area hotel that has been fabulous for our family.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I might be persuaded to do a Disney trip later in the year. My sister’s kids have annual passes from a recent visit, and perhaps I could figure out how to use points for hotel. When are ya’ll going? Maybe we could arrange a PnPD kids meetup!

  5. We have a DVA, and have used it to pay for 2 cruises, 1 WDW trip and a DL trip. It cannot be use for hotel only at DL (we stay off site anyway), but it can be used for tickets. Last time we bought a 3 night package that included tickets, then moved a bit further down Harbor for the last 4 nights of our trip. We like the $20 bonus for every $1000 spent, and we usually buy our gift cards at Safeway for Fuel Rewards, then add them to DVA.

    The other thing about getting the money back is not to request a refund, but instead buy a Disney gift card with the DVA. If you are not interested in the $20 bonus, then it might be easier just to combine your gift cards on the Disney site (up to $1000 per card) and go that route.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Krista – Thanks for the tips. I’m thinking I’ll just cash out into a Disney gift card!

  6. I think its greed, they want to make sure all the money gets poured back into disney. About 10 years ago we had a trip to disney what was cancelled due to a huge snowstorm, we had trip insurance and when we got the money back from disney, it came in “disney dollars” ($ 4000 in what looked like monopoly money) I think they were terrified that a penny might not go back to them…

  7. Avoid DVA. I have blocked out many of the particulars but I do remember dealing with it was a huge pain in the butt. The website is very klugey and I had to make many calls to make it work. It was definitely not worth the 5X. I’m surprised Disney offers such a lousy product. The vacation though was a blast.

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