Orlando Disney Springs Area Staycation For FREE!!
So you’re telling me free stuff still exist? Now that we’ve moved back to one of the resort capitals of the world (Orlando) Whitney and I began to pinpoint many of the places we wanted to visit and explore. As always, we wanted to explore for either cheap or free. One of the top destinations on our list was Disney Springs Area, formerly known as Downtown Disney. Since leaving Orlando in 2013, we never got a chance to explore the newly renovated area. Now back, we can blame our new found curiosity on our 3 year old son Caleb (We knew he would come in handy one day). In celebration of Mother’s Day weekend, we thought it would be a perfect time for a staycation. Read along to see how we booked our staycation for nearly free
Card Lineup For The Staycation
For our Disney Springs Area Staycation, we utilized the benefits of 4 cards to get us through the weekend with minimum spend. The card lineup and its associated benefit can be seen below.
Booking Our Hotel
To book the hotel, We utilized Whitney’s Hilton Aspire Card. Whitney’s Resort Statement credit of $250 was renewed on her card and ready to be used. We took a look at hilton.com/resorts and found a few Hilton Resort locations in the Orlando Area. After reviewing, we decided to book the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace Disney Springs Area establishment. This resort is literally right across the street from the Disney Springs Area, and is easily accessible. To gain the room for free, we simply booked through the Hilton App, found the cheapest room rate of $199 and used the Hilton Aspire card for payment. Within 3 days of payment, the credit was debited back to our card. That’s a win right there, if you ask me.
For the remaining $50 resort credit, we utilized $22 to pay for the overnight parking fee. With the remaining $28, we splurged at the hotel marketplace store and purchased a few snacks to munch on in the room.
Travel Note: The Hilton Aspire Card’s statement credit can only be used at approved resort locations. To see which locations qualify for the credit, be sure to check the following Hilton Resort link before booking hilton.com/resorts.
To kick off the fun, we began at the Aerophile at Disney Springs Area. The Aerophile is a tethered helium air balloon that ascends into the Air 400 ft high and allows for a 360 degree panoramic view of the Disney springs area and 10 miles away in any direction. The view lasts for 8 minutes before we descended back to the ground. The basket is 19 ft in diameter, fits 29 people at full capacity and offers a lot of room to walk around. We arrived as soon as they opened at 8:30 AM to beat the crowd. On arrival, there was a total of 8 people (including us). Also,parking was easy and plentiful. Caleb was amazed and excited to see everything from a high viewpoint.
Travel Tip: The Aerophile cost $20 per adult and $15 per child older than 3 years old. To cut cost, we found the aerophile ride, buy one get one free with an additional 20% off of total cost on Groupon. Check it out before you go.
Hotel Float Lagoon
After the Aerophile, we decided to relax poolside at the Hotel for a little while. As should be expected from a resort, the pool area boasted more than just a small 3 ft pool. It had a nice Lazy pool called the Float Lagoon, a cool ambiance for the whole family, and a shallow kiddy pool section with a splash pad to keep the kids entertained for hours.
In addition to the Disney Springs Area, we also took a quick 22 minute drive to the Florida mall to try out the Crayola Experience for Caleb. Full disclosure up front... We were not impressed at all. There were a lot of interactive parts, but the price point in our opinion was not worth what you got. For entry, the price was $24.99 for Ages 3 and up. The highlights for Caleb was the multilevel indoor playground for kids, the melting crayon shape maker and the ability to wrap a crayon with a customized wrapper.
Travel Note: For Active Duty, Reserve and Veterans, for the month of May, entry was free for the family. Which means we paid $0. On regular days, the price is $20.99 for military. For free it is worth the trip, but in our opinion, it is not worth the regular entry price or discounted rate.
Disney Springs Area
After having fun throughout the day and riding the aerophile in the morning, we decided to head back to the Disney Springs Area in the afternoon, when it was more lively. In the afternoon, as you can imagine, it was more crowded and harder to find parking. While there, we had to make a stop at the Goofy Candy store and the LEGO Land store. The Disney Springs Area is a lot more interactive than what Whitney and I remember when we lived here in the past, and its free to visit. In our opinion, it was a great introduction to Disney World for us. Next time we'll takeover the park!
Once we made it back to the room and started to feel hungry, we made sure to use our UberEats Credit. Between the three platinum cards, we had a total of $45.00 to spend. We found a meal of our choice and had it delivered to the hotel.
Travel Note: UberEats have raised their associated fees, so, be sure to compensate for the raise in fees before making your final purchase. To ensure you are below your credit and minimize any out of pocket expense, check the order total before proceeding. During some times of the day, the delivery fee is sometimes waived or greatly reduced.
Breakfast with Characters
One of the cool perks of the Hotel and being a Diamond member was the free buffet breakfast offered to us. Even better, on Sundays, the hotel host the same buffet breakfast in the morning, but with Disney Characters. Caleb was excited and thrilled to see his favorite characters in real life. That in itself was a fun experience and cool to see.
Travel Tip: The Disney characters come to the restaurant at 8:30 AM, but, the line is usually long at that time. Try to get there at 8:00 AM to ensure you already have a seat in the restaurant. Also, Using diamond member status allowed us to be taken to a private back room, where the characters came to spend time with a smaller group of people.
All in all, our staycation was a success. We enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed experiencing Disney Springs Area as “tourists”. With minimum out of pocket spent, it was well worth it. If you decide to do the same staycation, let us know how it works out, we would love to hear about it.