It’s easy enough to say that you want to purchase the cheapest tickets and plan one vacation at a time. The hard truth of it is, Disney is additive. And they know it.…
I love housekeeping! I love knowing that I don’t have to make my bed or fight the kids to make theirs. I love that I don’t have to wash my own towels (though we do reuse them, we aren’t animals) and I especially love having someone else vacuum the floors after my kids have (accidentally) left crumbs everywhere.
Now Disney is making this luxury a little harder to handle: a Disney gift card for cleaning your own room. But how do you get a gift card for declining housekeeping services at Disney World?…
We Canadians tend to get the short end of the stick more often than not. All over social media, there are giveaways and contests and they look amazing. Wouldn’t it be great to win a week at Disney.. .nope. Cause you live in Canada and the small print says it’s only for US citizens.
So when it came time to budget for our next Disney trip, we thought it would be great to check in on some of those discounted Disney gift cards everyone keeps telling us about. It’s a long shot, but research isn’t going to hurt anyone. Right?
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Why buy Disney gift cards in Canada?
For the vast majority of Canadians, we get which ever Credit Card our bank tells us is the best deal for our spending habits. This usually means low interest rates, low to no annual fee and few terms and conditions. While this is great for online shopping and traveling to visit Grandma for the holidays, it isn’t great when leaving the country.
Credit Card companies
If you purchase a Disney Gift Card here in Canada, it will be in Canadian funds, just like your credit card. And when you make a purchase with your Canadian-funds Disney Gift Card at Disney World, you will be charged the exchange rate based on yesterdays closing numbers. Just like your credit card. The only difference is, no Foreign Currency fee.
By using a Disney Gift Card purchased in Canada, you aren’t buying the card at a discount, as you would in the States, but you are saving yourself the Foreign Currency Fee. Which, based on a $6,000 vacation, that’s between $150-175 savings. Better in my pocket than in theirs.
Best places to buy Canadian Disney Gift Cards
The first thing you will hear about is Sam’s club. Similar to Costco, Sam’s club is a membership based warehouse retailer that sells bulk gift cards for less than face value – a $50 gift card sells for $44.99. That’s amazing.
But you need to pay for the annual membership first, which is $49 USD ($59.49 CAD). Everything you purchase will be in USD funds and your credit card may or may not charge Foreign Currency Fees.
Once you have created an account and signed up for their membership, simply purchase the cards and the codes will be emailed to you. Easy Peezy.
Grocery stores are a great way to purchase a few cards while doing what you normally do. Add a $50 card to each purchase or every other purchase and you are slowly making your Disney dreams come true.
Why grocery stores above any other store? Because most credit cards give up to 3% cash back / rewards for shopping at grocery stores – and they don’t actually care what you purchase there. Clothes, gift cards or a tub of ice cream, it’s all the same on your Visa statement.
Best Buy and Walmart
As one of the few major Chain retailers left in Canada, both Best Buy and Walmart sell Disney gift cards at the store level.
Both companies offer their own corporate cards and both have their own cash-rewards programs for purchases made in store. It does not look like there are exceptions to their rewards program but check with them just in case.
The easiest way to purchase a Disney gift card is to go to the source; a Disney Store. They will be more than happy to sell you what you need. You won’t earn anything from it, in terms of reward points or Airmiles, but you won’t have to worry about being out of stock either.
Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall both carry a wide range of Gift Cards. While you can’t claim your 20x Optimum points for purchasing a gift card, you can still reap a few rewards with your cash back Visa.
And just in case you were wondering, no, you can not claim Air miles on gift card purchases either. We checked. You also can’t buy a Disney gift card with your Sobey’s gift card. They are sneaky little buggers.
Canadian Tire/ Lowes / Home Depot
Just like the drug stores, you can purchase as many Disney cards as you like at your local Canadian Tire, you just won’t be receiving any Canadian Tire money from it. Once again, you can not use Canadian Tire money to purchase a gift card either.
Not an option for most Canadians
While we no longer have Target in Canada, that doesn’t mean we can’t cross the border to buy some gift cards. You can only buy gift cards at the discounted rate if you have a Target Red-card – their in-house credit card. And you need an American Address to apply for the card.
Can I use multiple Disney Gift cards to pay for my park tickets online?
Now that you have upwards of 100 gift cards in your possession, you need to actually use them to pay for your vacation. Very rarely will a retailer carry gift cards larger than $50.
Merging Disney Gift Cards is fairly easy and straight forward. Regardless of denomination, simply create an account on the official Disney Gift Card Website, upload your Primary Gift card – this is where you want all the money to be loaded on to – and add 4 more cards to your cart. Transfer the balance, delete the empty cards and repeat. Each card can hold a maximum of $1000 USD.
Registering your cards on the website is also a great idea because if you lose one with a balance, you can go online to your account and transfer it to another card! Do this for any cards that remain in your possession and will tour with you into the parks or left in your hotel room.
Is buying Disney gift cards in Canada worth it?
The short answer is yes. And no.
There are a handful of great Credit Cards available that don’t force you to pay Foreign Currency fees, which is the main reason one would want to buy an American Discounted Disney Gift Card in the first place.
If you can’t get a hold of a fee-free credit card, all of your savings will be eaten up by this fee.
Let’s look at Sam’s Club, for example. Since it is the only Gift Card that would require you to purchase across the border. After paying for your membership, which comes to roughly $59.49 per year, you need to pay that off in savings, before you are in the black. At 3.5% savings, and 2.5% fees, it takes a minimum of $6,000 spending before you net save your first $50. You are then still looking at 1% savings on every dollar spent after that. While it is better than nothing, you are not hitting any multipliers on your credit card from your local grocery store.
As mentioned above, you are looking at between $150-175 savings on a standard $6000 purchase, which is better than nothing, but don’t spend too much time looking for deals. You’re best bet is to earn Air miles for “free” tickets, or PC Optimum points for free groceries (and put the cash towards your Disney purchase). Simply buy gift cards whenever you see them, knowing you are saving these fees and prepurchasing expenses.
Be sure to sign up for our newsletter. We will be updating this list as new offers become available and finding new ways for Canadians to pay for their Disney vacations.
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The green eyed monster makes her appearance every time I hear about someone visiting Disney for the 4th time this year! It drives me even crazier when I come to learn they leave near me, which means I know exactly how much it costs to visit. Or at least, I think I know.
There are a few tricks to getting to Disney on the cheap. And it doesn’t involve leaving the family behind and going solo for the week. Though that is an option too. This is how families can do Disney on a dime.…
The Canadian’s Guide to Planning Your Walt Disney World Vacation
Canadians are not immune to the allure of Disney World. We are, however, not on Disney’s radar, in terms of target audience. Since Disney has their eyes on their fellow Americans, finding tips and travel discounts that apply to Canucks can be a little difficult.
Just because there aren’t as many ways to save from Canada, that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
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Ways for Canadians to save for Disney World
Disney Gift Cards
Disney Gift Cards save on the bank fees for foreign transactions.
Wait? What Bank fees?
Oh they didn’t tell you?! Your bank charges you a foreign transactions fee each time you use it outside of Canada. Not all cards, but a good portion of them do. And they are not always transparent with the fees. Sometimes they are lumped into the exchange rate and you have no idea you are paying up to 2.5% extra.
A gift card, purchased in Canada, in Canadian funds, does not trigger such bank fee, because it’s not foreign. Then, when you call Disney to pay off your vacation or use it in the parks as a means of purchasing meals or souvenir, there is no foreign fee. Just your standard exchange rate, at yesterdays closing rate.
So if you are holding on to a few hundred dollars worth of gift cards, watch the stock market carefully and call Disney as soon as you see the dollar near it’s projected peak.
Air Miles and other rebate websites
Airmiles, Aeroplan, ebates, Swagbucks and a handful of other online points systems exist to help the every day user save a few dollars here and there in exchange for a lot of hard work.
While the savings can be significant, one reader reporting getting free Disney 7-day Park Hopper tickets for her family of 4, it took her nearly a year of saving and couponing to achieve this. That’s just over $1800 USD in savings, which is incredible. Our only concern is the time spent and the amount of personal information that was given to these websites in order to achieve such savings.
Personally, we stick to reward Credit Cards and PC Points/Air Miles/ Aeroplan miles. I don’t have to do surveys, scan products in stores, run around town chasing discounts or buy a ton of pickles just to get 100x the rewards. (I can’t make this stuff up if I tried).
While many of our personal choices don’t turn into ‘free’ Disney tickets, they do translate into gift cards at my local grocery store. Take the cash I just saved by using a “free” gift card and put that in my Disney savings jar.
There. PC Points just helped me get that much closer to Disney. Thanks Loblaws.
It’s no secret that travel agents have access to some pretty amazing discounts. But they aren’t a secret; Disney does not give them a special deal, they just know EVERYTHING about Disney because that is their job. They may also be able to provide on board credit or booking discount for reserving with them, but this comes from their bottom line, not Disney’s end.
Regardless how you get the discount, Travel Agents can be a wealth of information and even help you pick better dates based on crowd predictions.
Special Ticket Pricing for Canadian Residents
Disney doesn’t offer a whole lot of discounts to Canadians, so when they do, it’s best to get in on it. Authorized Disney resalers aren’t able to compete with these offers either, as they are exclusive to Disney.
Tickets may be purchased from August 29, 2018, through March 15, 2019, for usage through September 27, 2019. Blockout dates of December 24, 2018, through January 1, 2019, apply. Keep these dates in mind, since they have been releasing Canadian Residency discounts with these stipulations for the last few years and we haven’t heard of any rumors threatening to end the trend.
As you can see from the chart below, the discounts are significant.
|Number of Days||Non-Discounted Ticket Price (USD)|| Canadian Resident Special Offer Price (USD) ||Canadian Resident Ticket with Park Hopper Option||Canadian Resident Ticket with Park Hopper Plus Option|
|4-Day Ticket|| |
|5-Day Ticket|| $419.58|| $350.39USD||$420.68USD||$444.11USD|
|6-Day Ticket|| $432.40||$359.97USD|| $430.26USD||$453.69USD|
Planning a trip to Disney World from Canada
So now that we have looked at a few of the ways you can save a few dollars, let’s look at the unique specifics of planning a trip to Disney World from Canada.
Manage your expectations
It is going to be expensive!
Not only is our dollar not the greatest these days, but flying out of Canada isn’t the cheapest way to travel either. If you live near an American airport, we strongly advice you take that route into consideration when making your travel plans.
We’ve had friends drive as far as 5 hours from home in order to reach a cheaper airport. We aren’t talking about $150 savings here; this was over $1000 savings and they are a family of 5. That is their food budget for the week. It’s incredible.
With the low dollar also means replacing anything forgotten is going to eat up your vacation budget fairly quickly. Make sure you pack enough of everything and don’t forget anything at home.
Also a point to note; there are brands that are not available in
While our provincial health insurance is incredibly comprehensive, using your healthy insurance outside of the country is a little limiting.
OHIP, for example, (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) pays up to $400 CAN per day in U.S. hospital costs, depending on the level of care. The plan also reimburses outpatient visits at $50 CAN per day. And it reimburses physicians costs at the rate they would be paid in Ontario. If a U.S. physician charges more than an Ontario doctor for the same procedure, the Ontario patient pays the difference. All of this is just to say that you need Travel Insurance, even when making a day trip across the border for gift cards or a Target shopping spree.
Travel insurance also covers unexpected things like canceled or delayed flights, lost luggage and time off work due to injuries. If your boss suddenly decides you aren’t getting the week off you asked for months ago, Disney probably won’t refund you but your Travel Insurance will; you just need to show proof that your time off request was approved before purchasing the vacation eh voila! Refund!
Check to see if your Travel Credit Card comes with insurance, though it may not always be as comprehensive as third party insurance, or insurance straight through Disney themselves.
Using US currency
Unlike in Canada, where we exchange American currency freely at the register, they are not as accommodating south of the border. Sure, their tills probably have a way of registering the different currencies and factoring in the exchange rate, but they won’t. Plain and simple.
When heading to America, be sure to have enough cash on your person or be prepared to visit an ATM to replenish because your Canadian bills are no good there.
Same goes for coins. Pressed pennies and other coin operated machines will not accepted our currency either. Hit up the bank and buy yourself a fist full of American pennies. Or buy some from the first Timmies you see in America – I’m sure they won’t mind selling you a roll of pennies. One less thing to do at the bank later.
I regret to inform you that Magic Bands will not be mailed to your door. Walt Disney World will mail them to any US address but not a Canadian address. You can still order Magic Bands from Amazon or Shop Disney for offsite guests or you want something fancy. Otherwise, you will have to wait until you check in to your hotel and pick them up there.
This makes pre-check in a little funny. Traditionally, Disney allows guests to precheck into their hotels via the App without even stepping foot on the resort and head straight for the parks – this is great when self-driving and you know your room won’t be ready for a few hours anyway.
Sadly, if you haven’t received Magic Bands, we get to wait in line, process more information and have our bands given to us then. If this is not your first time visiting, feel free to use your old Magic Bands, pre-check-in and go about your business. Come back later and get your new Bands for another trip.
Speaking of checking procedures, according to Disney themselves, Canadians are required to present proof of residency via Government issued Photo ID (and remember, your Health Card is not a valid form of ID when presented to a non-Health Care Physician). This is also true for the first day you plan on using your Canadian Resident Tickets – they want to make sure you are eligible. There have been recent comments from readers suggesting that they have not been checked at the Hotel or the Park gates, and this is up to the CM. I wouldn’t risk it, and therefore we still suggest having your ID ready just in case they ask. We wouldn’t want to waste our entire EMH shleping back to the hotel just to get our wallets, would we (true story).
Roaming on your current phone plan
What is Roam Like Home? For $7 Rogers and $8 Bell per day in the U.S, you get full access to the data, talk
While Wifi is available in the parks, it has been known to be a little slow when there are more users on the network. You will probably also want to have access to your smartphone while in the airport, on the bus or any time you aren’t within a Wifi zone.
I don’t know what went wrong in the planning stages of Canada Pavilion but it is not a taste of home. We tore it apart in our detailed review of Epcot vs Reality series and are sad to report that Canada pavilion missed the mark when it comes to representing Canada. Sure they have toffy, Canadian Mouse gear and Goofy dressed as a lumberjack but it’s not 100% of what Canada is about. I want you to know this before heading to the Parks and being disappointed in person. This goes back to managing your
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Whether you are planning a Disneyland Paris vacation for the first time or the hundredth time, there will always be something that you missed; a discount here, a tip there. It’s endless. Throw in some exclusive offers like Disneyland Paris Military Discount, and your whole train has been derailed; start again from scratch. These Disneyland Paris Travel Tips are tailored to helping military personnel…