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kristenrice
10-07-2009, 07:01 AM
Hi All!

I am about to embark on my TENTH trip to WDW:banana:!

This trip will be full of firsts....

...My FIRST time in Disney World ON MY BIRTHDAY:cool1:!...

...My FIRST time riding a horse (one that isn't attached to a carousel:lmao:)...

...My FIRST time to experience the Food & Wine Festival...

...and my FIRST time (as a parent) going without my kids:sad1:...


Now, the final countdown is on...only 7 days and 8 hours until I touch down in Orlando:dance3:. Since this is a celebration of "firsts", I thought I would try my first pre-trip report:idea:. Here goes...

kristenrice
10-07-2009, 07:20 AM
THE CAST

ME, Kristen

I am a soon-to-be-35 year old from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have a wonderful DH:cool2:, DD6:Pinkbouncand DD4:bounce:. I have been a paramedic for almost 12 years and I love my job:cheer2:. I love:love: everything Disney, especially Disney vacations, and DH thinks I am nuts:crazy:

BFF, Ina

Ina is a co-worker of mine:drive:. We were partners on the ambulance for almost a year:hyper2:. Since I spent almost as much waking time in a week with her as I did with my DH, I think we almost qualified as a couple:lmao:. She is also 35, single, and I am supposed to be helping her look:magnify: for "Mr. Right".

Up next: The Plan

kristenrice
10-07-2009, 08:02 AM
The Plan...Part 1

I bought my first AP this past June since we are planning on going again next April. I had no intention of taking a trip this fall...but then the deals started rolling in:teacher: and I couldn't help myself....

First, I got a 40% off PIN for a trip in October to celebrate my birthday. I contacted Dreams Unlimited (Tracey is awesome:woohoo:!) and got a quote for $355 for 5 nights at Pop Century:dance3:. Since it is just the two of us, we really don't need anything fancy so Pop is perfect.

Then, the airfare....

This deal was...well....completely unbelievable:eek:

Although we live about 10 minutes away from the Grand Rapids airport, it is about half the price to drive 2.5 hours and fly out of Detroit. On top of that, AirTran is AWESOME:thumbsup2 and they do not fly out of GR:guilty:. I looked at the flights and found that we could fly non-stop for $54 each way:yay:. That was a great price....but...it gets better...

I found the link for the $25 coupon and sent it to four e-mail addresses, including Ina's. This way, we were able to book each leg separately and get $25 off each segment:cool1:. So, when we went to book, we found out that our flight home had dropped to $44:cheer2:! ROCK ON:rockband:! That brought my total flight cost, with all fees included to

.....wait for it.....

.....wait for it.....



$69.20!:faint:

To top it off, I have enough A+ credits between me and my 2 DD's that we were able to receive 3 vouchers for FREE upgrades to business class:yay:. Ina might pay for the upgrade on the way home, or else I will sit by myself:snooty:.

We are leaving the Grand Rapids area around 11pm on Wednesday (due to our work schedules) and driving over to Detroit. There, we will stay at the Fairfield Inn and depart in the "morning" for the airport. Our flight does not leave until almost 2pm so we can sleep in until about 10am. I booked the park and fly rate so our long-term parking is included.

....Stay tuned:happytv:....Part 2 will be coming soon....

kristenrice
10-12-2009, 07:05 AM
The Plan: Part 2- Dining

Even though we are travelling during FREE DINING, we are not doing a DDP this time.

Why?

Because we are staying at Pop Century and I like my TS meals. It would have cost us a total of $450 more to take the "free" dining and upgrade it to the basic DDP.

But we are still going to eat:banana:....

Arrival night: Boma at 8pm (What a great way to start the trip....zebra domes on a BUFFET:lmao:)

Friday morning: Breakfast at Everything Pop before Animal Kingdom (We're doing the Backstage Safari at 8:30am)
Friday afternoon: Lunch at Sanaa at 2:30pm (This is my birthday meal:woohoo:)

Saturday morning: Breakfast at 11:15am at Trails End (After our Segway tour, but before our horseback ride!)
Saturday evening: Hmmm....it's our Magic Kingdom day so counter-service somewhere....probably Pecos Bills

Sunday morning: Breakfast again at Everything Pop
Sunday afternoon: This is a toss up....it's our DHS day so we will either keep our late lunch at Mama Melrose's or walk over to the Boardwalk and eat at Big River Grille. Ina has never been to the Boardwalk and I think it would be great to show her the "adult" side of Disney World. On top of that, there isn't too much we want to see/do at DHS anyways.

Monday morning: Yup...breakfast at the food court again!
Monday afternoon: Lunch at LeCellier at 2:45pm. Since this is our Epcot day, we will also be sampling and noshing on the F&W offerings. We have a wine seminar scheduled for 5:30pm too. I know that this is a day that we will NOT go hungry:dance3:.

Tuesday morning: Last chance at the food court:upsidedow Since AirTran let me down and did not change our flight, we have to be on our plane at 10:30am:headache:. So, we will be up with the chickens on our departure day.

Ina and I are planning on eating kid's meals for breakfasts and splitting appetizers and entrees for our TS meals. That, in addition to our TiW discount, puts my total food budget at about $200 for the 5 days. I just finidhed loading my gift card yesterday. I had to top it off with about $75, but I was able to save $125 in four months just by returning pop cans:yay:.

I would say that Part 3 is coming soon....but I leave for WDW in 62 hours:cool1::banana:

tink519
10-12-2009, 07:12 AM
I'm in! Can't wait to hear your post trip report...sounds like you are going to have a blast.

kristenrice
10-15-2009, 02:28 PM
Updating...

Currently, I am at 31,000 ft cruising to Orlando:banana:.

We successfully upgraded (FREE) to business class and I have taken full advantage of the complimentary "beverages":drinking1 ((Oh, that pilot REALLY needs to turn off the seatbelt sign:))

We are on schedule so far. We had an easy drive over to Detroit last night. Our room at the Fairfield Inn was great, nothing special, but exactly what we needed. The shuttle to the airport was very quick. From the time we left the hotel to the time we were at the airport was about 15 minutes. This included driving to the QuikPark lot, parking, catching the shuttle and driving to the airport. Not too shabby:thumbsup2.

So far, it has been a relatively smooth flight. We are coming into some turbulence now, which sucks since I am a nervous flyer, but we'll be in Orlando in an hour, so I can deal with it.

Thanks to the internet, I have been able to IM with my dad and my DH so that was a nice perk.

I'll post more later....the captain just turned off the seatbelt light!:dance3::dance3::dance3:

ShannonMB
10-15-2009, 04:45 PM
Wow, Kristenrice, you sure know how to crunch those #'s!!!! I'm impressed! Have a great time on your trip, and hope to see a TR from ya!

kristenrice
10-20-2009, 08:40 AM
Ok, in case I forgot to mention it, the theme of this trip was "Cheap Birthday Vacation". That translated into "NO INTERNET" while at Pop Century.

Right now, I am waiting at MCO to return to Michigan.

Here are some highlights of my awesome:love: vacation....


Day 1:

Arrived at MCO right on time, just as we always do with AirTran:cutie:.
Got off the plane, hit the potty (remember the free beverages:laughing:) and went straight to DME. We were on the DME bus within about 15 minutes and at Pop Century at 5:30pm:banana:.

(oops...I have to pause here since they just announced that our aircraft has landed and we will be boarding soon...time for one more "pit stop":lmao:)

TO BE CONTINUED>>>>>>>

kristenrice
10-20-2009, 10:11 AM
:drinking1Here I am, back at 30,000 ft or so....

We departed "on time", but I think it was a little late for AirTran. (Seriously, why do people wait until the LAST minute to get on the plane!?:confused3)

Anyways, back to the trip...

After arriving at Pop Century, we went to claim our groceries to get them up to the room. We'd placed a small order with GardenGrocer which included a foam cooler. We also bought pop, water, orange juice and cranberry juice. I went to bell services to claim our groceries and they told me that they were already in our room waiting for us.:hippie: Very nice touch!

We were assigned to room 6425 in the 70's section, which I am still not convinced was a standard room. It was about 3 minutes from Classic Hall! We were on the top floor, right by the elevators and ice machine. We could even see the tops of the Fantasmic fireworks from our "balcony":wizard:. I think it was more than just a coincidence that I was born in the 70's and I was celebrating my birthday:hippie: and now I am assigned a room in the 70's section:goodvibes.

After a bit of organization and unpacking, we caught the bus to transfer to Animal Kingdom Lodge. We took the first bus that arrived and I think it was the Magic Kingdom bus. It was a MNSSHP night and it was so cute seeing all of the children in costume. At this point, I was starting to miss my girls:sad1:...

...That feeling quickly dissipated when we arrived at the MK and saw tired, cranky children waiting to leave the park for the day. Ina turned to me and said, "You still wish your kids were with us?" At that point, I was glad to be a "solo" adult!

We had a great dinner at Boma....as always:lovestruc. It is my absolute favorite restaurant. I was only able to have 3 zebra domes. They are so rich and delicious, but I did not want to start my vacation with a sick stomach (remember the flight :drinking1:drinking1)

After Boma, we checked out the savanna. We saw some zebra, giraffe, bontebock and ankole cattle. It was dark so they were a little difficult to spot, but they are so beautiful in any light. I took Ina over to do the night vision viewing. She had never done that before and the last time I did it, there was one lonely gazelle, waaaaaaay in the back! This time, there were three giraffe strolling around. It was awesome! Giraffes and eland are my favorite animals at the AKV.

Then, it was back to the Magic Kingdom to catch a bus back to Pop Century. It was time to hit the hay! We watched POTC3 and then went to bed.

Up next: Day 2....MY BIRTHDAY!!!

kristenrice
10-20-2009, 10:58 AM
Woo-Hoo!!!:banana::cool1::banana::cool1:

The whole reason for the trip!

We got up EARLY! (Oh, did I forget to mention that Ina and I both work nights? We don't usually get home from work until about 5am so getting up a 6:30am is HARD:headache:) We were up early and ate breakfast at the Pop food court. I had eggs and potatoes and my bill was $3.90:banana:. I really took advantage of my TiW card this week!

We caught the bus to AK and headed over to guest services. We were signed up for the Backstage Safari so we had to check in for that. While we were waiting for the tour to start, I went to get my Birthday Fun Card. Luckily I did since I found out that my AP had been de-magnetized:scared1:. They fixed it rather quickly and I was back with the tour.

This was my first actual tour. I did the Wanyama Safari at the AKL in June, but this was very different. I enjoyed it immensely. I had heard that they give pins away on most of their tours, but not on this one. Instead, we received a very nice insulated mug. I will post pictures when I get back. (I am on the plane right now:cool2:) At the end of the tour, we got to take our own ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari, without the wonderful narration:dance3:. I have ridden that ride so many times that I am really sick of hearing Warden Wilson and chasing poachers:sad2:. Our tour guide was our narrator and she did a great job of explaining what was really out there on the savanna.

After the Kilimanjaro Safari, we said our goodbyes and we were on our own. We walked the Pangani Forest Trail and then headed over to the AKV-Kidani for lunch at Sanaa. Even though we had an ADR for 2:15, they were able to seat us around 1:30. We had a great seat right by the window (pictures are pending!) and the food was great....OK...there is a funny, but slightly gross story here...

We'd ordered the bread sampler with sauces. After eating the first "layer" of bread, I went to grab the next piece... I looked at it, looked at Ina and said, "Is it me, or is that a DEAD FLY on our bread?":laughing: OK, so we find these things funny, sorry, but we tend to laugh at the unbelievably gross (remember, we are both paramedics!) I quietly called our server over. I told him, "I know it's my birthday, but aren't you supposed to put a candle on the bread?" He was mortified! The manager came out and talked to us but I still thought it was a bit humorous, I mean, I know they didn't *plant* it there. Anyways, we never ate anything that had touched the bug. They replaced our bread and, naturally, took it off our bill. We had a great lunch (with a funny story to tell!) and it cost me a total of $14.44. I loved it! The food (minus the bug:lmao:) was great. I had the Tandoori Chicken and it was the best chicken I have ever tasted. Yummy!! It was so good, I forgot about the fly.....

After dinner, we returned to the Animal Kingdom park. We went to see the Finding Nemo musical and then the Festival of the Lion King. Ina is not really into roller coasters or rough rides so Dinosaur and Expedition Everest were out of the question. I was not too disappointed since I was there in June and I will be back in April. This was just an "interim" trip.

After we left AK, we headed back to Pop to get some dinner. I had a delicious turkey sandwich and chips. Nothing too special, but still delicious, and a great deal with the 20% TiW discount. After dinner, we headed back to the room and watched POTC2 before bed. (Ok, I know we watched them backwards, but we just like to see Johhny Depp and Orlando Bloom, forwards or backwards, it doesn't matter:laughing:)


Next....DAY 3: My First Horseback Ride!