Did I mention that we are going to Disney World in November already? Just a couple of times? Thought I might have done.
As anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Disney fan, I never thought that we would be able to go to Disney World more than once because it’s so costly – so I am extremely excited to be going back! This year, after months of saving we’ve managed to book flights and accommodation – I wanted to stay on the complexes so that we could make the most of the parks magic hours so that we could go every day if we liked.
I noticed this time round however that we were more interested in coming out of Disney and exploring the different attractions a bit more. This means not just doing Universal (which we did last time too, but only over one day) but also Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens and Gatorland as well. I sat down and worked out that when we are there we will have spent a small fortune on extra magic hours, a dining plan and yet we wouldn’t be on the complex for a good 5 days that we had paid for – so if that is the case, could there be a better way to do things?
I think when it comes to a holiday like Disney World, I’ve always leant towards spending more moola where I can to save those moments of queuing, but then also feeling like we have to shell out hundreds and hundreds of pounds to have a character experience at dinner time. It’s a case of weighing up whether or not we will spend enough time on the complexes to warrant booking directly with Disney and I think as time goes on the answer to that question will be less “of course!” and more “well, what else can we go see in Orlando?”
Whilst we’ve been having the discussion about whether or not we should stay on the Disney path next time we go over to Orlando, or if perhaps we should look at doing a villa/apartment and spreading our wings further afield like Tampa, Expedia have approached me and asked me to look into their new ‘Add-On Advantage’ feature. This new feature can save travellers up to 41% off the cost of accommodation! At the moment, we’re in no position to make the decision regarding staying on site or off, but I’ve noticed that flights are already available for 18 months for some airlines and 12 months for others. So, if we were to look at going back in September the time is fast approaching when we could really make a saving on booking that flight early. But what to do about all these choices? Stay on site and have the Disney experience but potentially not use it to the full, or book a villa and hope we don’t regret it by being mainly based at Disney still?
That’s where the ‘Add-On Advantage’ feature has impressed the shizzle out of me. The idea is that you book a flight, car or package to any holiday destination on Expedia, this instantly unlocks all hotel savings, which will remain in place until your holiday commences. Your stay needs to occur within the travel dates, but other than that you are free to pick and choose your location, it doesn’t even need be where you fly into at all. I could fly us to Orlando, stay for a week in Tampa and then take a connecting flight (or drive – it’s around 4/5hrs) to a hotel I’ve booked using these discounts in Miami for a week.
The research that Expedia carried out shows that families are forking out £5000 per year (which was more than my ANNUAL wage when I was working at Mothercare) and I can honestly say that as a family of 5 (my mum included as well) this figure doesn’t shock me. We’re spending far more than that just on the one Disney trip and it has taken me over a year to save for it all. (When we ate at the Ohana restaurant last time it was £350ish including tips!) The Add-On Advantage feature gives us the opportunity to access hundreds of thousands of hotels after our flight booking has been made and still gives us the flexibility to be able to change our minds about how we want our holiday to be. It offers a new take on the “bundle and save” deal that can sometimes seem like a fab idea and then perhaps doesn’t fit your family if you book as far in advance as we do, in order to save for a type of holiday like Disney. In 18 months’ time I will be able to see how much my children have changed as their interests continue to grow and book according to that need, saving myself a small fortune of up to 41% in the meantime.
It’s a tool that I would like to see rolled out to more travel companies and I’m genuinely impressed with it.