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Affording a Disney Vacation as a First Responder Family

This is a guest blog post written by Tiffany, a police wife and travel agent helping families plan Disney vacations. I learned so much on how to save money when planning a trip and even learned that using a Disney Travel Agent is free! Who knew? Read below to learn about Tiffany and how you can afford to take a Disney vacation.

Hi there! My name is Tiffany O’Keefe. I am a law enforcement wife, girl mom of two (ages 5 and 2.5), Great Dane mom, Finance professional at an Aerospace and Defense Company, and a Travel Planner with a passion for all things Disney. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. After high school we attended High Point University in North Carolina together. After college we moved back home to Massachusetts and got married. After our oldest daughter was born my husband decided to make a career change from working in Special Education to becoming a Police Officer. Since then, I’ve been so honored to be part of the thin blue line family and love connecting with other first responder families locally and within social media communities.

I grew up taking Disney vacations, whether it was to the parks or on a cruise. As an adult I’ve developed a passion for planning Disney trips and staying up to date on Disney news (let’s face it Disney news is more uplifting than national and local news!). In September 2022 I had an opportunity to join Simple Magic Travel Company as an Original Agent and now I get to help families travel to Disney and experience the Magic for themselves! There are a lot of considerations that go into planning a Disney vacation and my goal is to make it stress free, simplified, personalized, and memorable for others!

I would love to chat or help you plan! Please don’t hesitate to contact me via Instagram @lifeofa_disney_copwife, by email at, or by filling out my quote request form by visiting Tiffany O'Keefe | Linktree .

Being a first responder is hard work. It is honorable, and no doubt comes with stress, driving responders to become easily and quickly burnt out. One of the best ways to decompress and escape the everyday stressful responsibilities that comes with the job is to take vacations and getaways with the ones you love. “Work hard, play hard” is a motto I stand by (if the play hard part is within a realistic budget of course)! The police wife and full-time working mom in me appreciates the need to “play” in order to balance out the “work” aspect of life. The travel planner and finance professional in me fully appreciates the need to be cognizant of vacation budgets and leverage every trick and opportunity to make it affordable!

Disney is a family-friendly vacation hot spot that provides an opportunity to unwind, release stress, and take in the Magic! If you have children, seeing the look and reactions on their faces at Disney is one of the most heartwarming feelings. If you don’t have children, bringing out the inner child in yourself as you forget about the daily hustle and soak in the Disney atmosphere is truly therapeutic. Whether you are at the Disney theme parks or on a Disney cruise, a Disney vacation is a way for first responder families to leave the stress of the real world behind and immerse themselves in the Magic! After all, it is known as the Happiest Place on Earth!

How can a first responder family afford Disney in today’s day in age? Let’s break it down into three different categories:

  1. Ways to Strategically Pay for a Disney Vacation

  • In the profession of being a first responder it is very likely to have opportunities for overtime. Use the overtime income as a means of funding for your vacation. Determine a percentage that works for your family to set aside from the additional pay that will go into your fund.

  • Book your vacation far in advance so you can slowly pay on your trip. For Walt Disney World vacations the only requirement to secure your booking is a $200 deposit. You can make payments however you would like leading up to 30 days prior to check-in, which is when the balance is due. Setting up a monthly payment schedule is a great way to spread the costs out over time making it more affordable.

  • Travel at a time promotions are being offered! Disney often releases promos. There is currently a spring/summer 2023 promotions going on I would love to help you take advantage of if interested!

2. Ways to Save while Planning your Disney Vacation

  • Use a Travel Agent! I don’t just say that because I am one, I say it because the travel agents that specialize in Disney are in the know on all the promotions that Disney releases, and they can apply any applicable deals to your existing reservation for you. Also, using a Disney Travel Agent is FREE. That’s right, Disney bakes in the cost of a travel agent to their prices whether you use one or not, so why not leverage the expertise and have your own personal Disney resource if you’re paying for it regardless?

  • Stay at a value resort. Disney has numerous budget friendly resorts with fun architecture and themed accents! They also include complimentary transportation to the parks so you cut the cost of a rental car and the cost of parking.

  • Consider skipping any extras that may not be worth the added costs for your family. This includes items such as park hopper tickets, magic bands, and memory maker.

  • Travel at less busy times. Holidays, spring break, and marathon weekends tend to be more crowded driving up prices.

3. Ways to Save while at Disney

  • Purchase discounted Disney gift cards (commonly found at places such as Target and Sam’s Club) to help pay for expenses incurred while there.

  • Save on food by using a grocery delivery service for snacks, breakfast, lunch and beverages. You are allowed to bring your own food into the parks. You can also save by eliminating or limiting the number of table service meals. When ordering Quick Service meals consider sharing (portions are typically large) or order off the kid’s menu.

  • Bring a refillable water bottle with you. There are free water refill stations within the parks.

  • Get to the parks early and rope drop the popular rides opposed to paying for Individual Lightning Lanes.

  • If the idea of budgeting for food and extras while at Disney stresses you out, consider a Disney cruise. On the cruise ships many food options, non-alcoholic beverages, and entertainment is included in the price which takes away the stress of needing to pay for those things while on the trip.

As you can see there are many ways to make a Disney vacation affordable and I would love to put my Disney knowledge to work by helping you and your loved ones plan a much-deserved vacation where you can escape reality, unwind, have fun, and make core memories!

Go check out what Tiffany has to offer and support another first responder family!

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