Last night I started seeing ads in my web browsing for Disney Vacation Account, a program from Disney Parks and Resorts to help visitors save money for a future trip to Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, or Aulani.
There is a Budget Estimator tool to help calculate the total cost of your vacation (the fine print says the costs of a Disney vacation are not fixed and may rise after you set up your account), and then you start a savings plan where your make regular or one-time deposits using a debit card, credit card, or Disney gift card into a non-interest earning account (initially Disney will use Chase bank) up to 5 years in advance of your vacation date. Once you have enough money in the account, you can book your vacation reservation.
They give a couple of incentives. For every $1000 you save on your vacation plan, you get a $20 Disney gift card to use on your vacation, up to $500 in gift cards per household. There are no fees (but no interest earned, either), and you can take the money out of the account at any time.
On one hand, this sounds like a great way for families and individuals to save the money for a theme park vacation without going into debt by budgeting and paying for their vacation in advance. At the same time, it would be a lucrative way for Disney to make more profit through interest on the money from thousands of individual accounts in one financial institution. It would be interesting to see if enough people sign up for this program to make it viable for Disney to continue this for the long-term.
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