View Full Version : The big one: Trip report!!*NOW WITH PICTURES! POST #69*

03-30-2012, 11:43 PM
Well, here it is...Our big trip! We are just under three months out...or just over two months out, however you want to look at it:goodvibes. I'm going to try and kill the time by writing a pre-trip report. Even if nobody cares to follow along, it will be a nice way to journal our long-awaited extended-family vacation:surfweb:.

Part 1: The Cast

My dad and mom...the BEST parents ever:worship:. They are 64 and 60 respectively. Dad is one year away from retiring from his 40+ year career as a computer programmer. Mom is a lymphoma survivor who was forced into an early "retirement" from nursing 20 years ago when the chemotherapy knocked out 50% of her lung function. She is currently doing fine, but does have frequent respiratory infections due to her fragile lungs. They have been to WDW 6 times, most recently in 2010.

Me (37) and my DH (43) and our two daughters, ages 8 and 6 currently. We have been DVC members since 2008 and this will be the fifth visit for our children. DH is not a Disney fan but he comes along anyways...and would never admit that he actually has fun when he is there:rotfl:.

My brother (35) and his wife (35) and their three children...DD10...DS8...and DD7. My brother's last trip was in 1988 when our parents took us as kids. His wife took her first trip in October 2011 with me as an information-gathering excursion. This will be the first trip for their kids.

My sister (33) and her husband (36) and their two daughters, ages 3 and 5 months (currently). My sister's last trip was also in 1988 and neither her husband or kids have ever gone.

So, in case you lost count, that is a total of 15 people, ranging in age from 5 months to 64 years old:grouphug:. Dad and mom are paying for EVERYONE:woohoo::dance3::yay::banana::worship:!

...up next...Part 2: You're Planning HOW Far Ahead??

03-31-2012, 12:32 AM
Part 2: You're Planning HOW Far Ahead??!!

The seed for this trip was planted over 11 years ago, in February 2001. I wanted to take a trip to WDW as a "grown-up". My only requirement was that I was going to stay on-site since I had never done that as a child. DH and I (engaged at the time, not yet married) thought it would be a nice bonding experience if we invited my parents to drive down to Florida with us. From a practical perspective, it was the prudent thing to do. We split the gas and lodging costs en route and we were also able to split up the driving between the four of us. It proved to be quite an adventure! Our first night on the road, we put the 4 of us into a Best Western that we affectionately dubbed "The Dive":laughing:. I thought it would be a great bargain ($40 for the night, split in half, made it $20 per couple) but not so much. There was no heat when we arrived (in February) and the "free breakfast" was a bag of powdered donut holes set out on the lobby table in the morning:lmao:. We only needed the room for about 8 hours to sleep so we dealt with it. After we'd been asleep for about 3 hours (fully clothed, jackets and all), we awoke to find that the heat had kicked in:scared1:. If felt like we'd gone to bed in Canada and woke up in Cancun:rotfl2:. After we stopped laughing at the irony of the situation and changed into appropriate bed clothes, we tried to snag a few more hours of sleep before heading out again. The next night was a step up. We stayed at a Country Inn & Suites in Lake City, FL. It was so nice, compared to the dive, but we noticed a lot of construction supplies. We asked what that was all about and the front desk staff told us that the hotel had just opened....the day before!

Ok, trust me, I have a point to all of this popcorn::...

We arrived in WDW and drove to our resort of choice...Old Key West. I thought it was a great bargain! A 2BR villa for "only" $429 a night:scared1:. Since I was budgeting for $250 a night for our half, this fit my budget perfectly. (*This is also where I learned my lesson to do more research before I travel:laughing:) We were completely surprised by the sheer size of the villa. It was amazing! Of course, it wasn't going to take too much to impress us after "The Dive":lmao:. Up until that trip, we'd never even heard of the Disney Vacation Club. Now, here we were, staying at the first DVC resort and not even realizing it:goodvibes. We actually sat through the DVC tour too and they comped us a lunch at Big River Brewing. We were intrigued by the DVC pitch, but with a wedding and hopefully children on the horizon, we decided not to purchase at that time. (*BEST DECISION EVER*) We loved our first onsite stay and dad said he would never stay off-site again.

On the drive back home, dad made a mention that he would love to take the entire family there someday. At the time, only my brother was married so the "entire family" was only a total of 7 people at the time:grouphug:. In 2007, I rented DVC points for the first time from a fellow Michigander. My dad was intrigued by the process when I told him how much money I'd saved:teacher:. I found out that the person I'd rented from was more than willing to transfer the points we'd need for our entire family:cheer2:. That was when my dad decided that in 2012, he was going to treat the entire family to a WDW vacation at Old Key West resort:flower3:. Let the planning begin!!

The first decision to tackle? When are we going to go:confused3? Although we all live within 15 miles of each other, our kids are in different schools. The main consensus was that we wanted to avoid taking anyone out of school. Christmas was immediately off the table since nobody was interested in tackling the crowds, especially the first-time visitors. The first suggestion was spring break. Unfortunately, we could not be sure that everyone would have spring break at the same time. The second suggestion was missing a little school and going in February over mid-winter break. This corresponds with President's Day. My dad was really pushing for this option since he likes the weather in February. Unfortunately, one of the schools involved cancels their mid-winter break if they accumulate too many snow days. I also pointed out that we'd have a legitimate risk of weather-related travel delays which could prove financially catastrophic if 15 people got stranded.

So, we decided on June. We would have preferred early June, but again, when the dates had to be finalized, we didn't know the exact days that everyone would be breaking for the year. As it turns out, June is the perfect time for our celebration:dance3:. My parents have their 40th wedding anniversary on June 30:love:. Then there are the birthdays... nephew turns 9 on June 12...my daughter turns 9 on June 23...AND my niece turns 4 on June 23...and my brother's wife turns "29":rolleyes1 on June 25. We settled on June 16-23, 2012.

Dad had his heart set on OKW. Initially, he'd dreamed of a grand villa. The family quickly grew and he realized that two 2BR's would be cheaper and more practical. We now have two 2BR's booked for 7 nights (cash-points-cash) and hopefully, it will all be correct when we arrive:scared:.

That is how this trip was born....stay tuned...

....up next: Part 3: How are we going to get 15 people to Orlando?

03-31-2012, 02:09 AM
I'm totally in Kristen! Can't wait to hear how you're going to wrangle all 15 of you. Sounds like you're going have a lot of fun.

03-31-2012, 08:26 AM
What a great story! Don't forget . . . Father's Day is on June 17th!!

I grew up in Michigan, but now live in Indiana. I wish the Michigan schools got out before June, like here in Indiana. We have some friends in Michigan who are teachers and have a 7 yo and we would like to take them to our "second home" sometime. I just wish we could do it in early June when the point values are lower. Of course, our schools start by mid-August, so we can't take advantage of the lower point values at the end of August, as you can.

Looking forward to the rest of your report!

03-31-2012, 08:40 AM
Sounds like an amazing trip. Can't wait to see the TR on this one. Have a great time. :goodvibes


03-31-2012, 11:00 AM
Sounds like a fun family "memory maker" trip. Looking forward to hearing more.

Tinks "SS"
03-31-2012, 05:34 PM
sounds like a lot of fun!! Can't wait to hear about all the first timers first impressions. :thumbsup2 Ready for some more!

03-31-2012, 06:53 PM
Also looking forward to more...

03-31-2012, 08:33 PM
I think we may have tried to stay at "your" Best Western. :lmao: We were also lured in by a low rate. However, it being summer, we were scared off by the enormous COCKROACH on the pillow.

Looking forward to more! :thumbsup2

03-31-2012, 10:03 PM
Part 3: How are we going to get 15 people to Orlando?

Dad knew right off the bat that flying is the ONLY option. Although we have driven before, it just was not a good option for this trip. The working budget was $500 per person for airfare, or $7000 total. (At the time, the baby was not yet in the picture so he was planning for 14) I thought that was WAY too much, but better to over-estimate than under-estimate.

We live in West Michigan and the most remote family is about 30 minutes from the Grand Rapids airport. Historically, the major carriers have not offered non-stop flights to Orlando and the average price has been in the $300-$350 price range. When AirTran came to Grand Rapids, I was thrilled:woohoo:. My family of four had already made the drive to Detroit (twice) just to fly AirTran, and it saved us about $400 each time. Even though I did not have a trip planned, I began to watch the AirTran flights from Grand Rapids to Orlando. The lowest I ever saw was $92 one-way on the non-stop option.

When the time rolled around and our flight dates were released (in early November 2011), the non-stop flight was listed at over $350:scared1:. We tried calling AirTran directly and talking to their group sales division. They quoted us the same price so there was no advantage to booking at $350. My dad thought about it, but I told him to wait a few weeks because I thought we could do better than $175 each way. The lowest I saw it drop was down to $96 for the flight down...but it was still over $150 for the return.

The other issue was that there is only one non-stop option from Grand Rapids and it departs at 7:15am:scared1:. I know, most people would love to get to the resort by 11am:yay:, but not me. At first, my dad really liked the idea:love:...until I pointed out a few disadvantages. First, the kids (and me, a career third-shifter) would have to be up by 4am so that we could be to the airport by 5:30am at the latest. Then, we'd have the flight and DME ride...that's no big deal, we'd all be excited. Then, we'd arrive at OKW around 11am, only to find out that our room won't be ready for 5 more hours. I am fairly certain that the younger children, particularly the baby, would like to rest and nap. Well, we'd just hang out by the pool, right:idea:? Maybe...but in the middle of the day in the middle of JUNE!? It could be sweltering (not good for the baby, or anyone) or it could be thunderstorming so then what:confused3?

This led us to look at Detroit. The flight times were much better for the non-stop options, plus there are two non-stops to choose from. The morning non-stop leaves at 11:30am and the return departs at 4:15pm, landing around 7pm. We'd prefer a little bit earlier return, but not the 10:30am option:eek:. We also found the prices to be a lot cheaper from Detroit:banana:. I also convinced him that getting a seat for the baby would be the safest option and that he was going to be way under his budgeted amount anyways. He agreed so we began looking for 15 seats.

In order to take advantage of the "fare buckets", I told my dad to book each family separately. I also told him to BUY THE SEAT ASSIGNMENTS!!! He agreed and even booked the "premium" seats at the front of the coach section. The total cost for all 15 seats, including the seat assignment fees, came to $3650:banana:. Just for reference, the cost for the flight out of Grand Rapids would have been about $3700, without the seat assignments.

Now, we have flights out of Detroit....a three-hour drive from home:rolleyes1. Luckily, I have experience with this scenario, as I have done it before:goodvibes. Since our flight is scheduled for 11:30am, we are going to drive over the night before. That way, traffic backups or any other unforeseen delay should not cause us to miss our flight. (:offtopic: I was involved in an accident on the way to board our dogs before our first trip. If I hadn't added time into our itinerary to have a sit-down breakfast, we would have missed our flight. Instead, we had to eat on the run.) We booked three rooms at the SpringHill Suites, using the park and fly rate. The suites sleep up to 6 people so even my brother's family of 5 can be accomodated in one room. My family has a Suburban so we offered to drive my parents to Detroit so that we will only need the parking for three vehicles. Dad booked a king-bed room for him and mom. It was about $450 for the 4 rooms, which includes parking for 8 days:teacher:!

Since my parents are the best in the world (did I mention that already;)?), they have offered to give each family a $100 gift card for gas to drive to and from Detroit. They have also offered to pay for a hotel room for anyone that wants to spend the night upon our return so that we don't have to drive home after a 2.5 hour flight. So far, everyone is just planning on driving straight home. We'll see if that changes...

Let me catch you up herepopcorn::...

We are all leaving on FRIDAY, June 15, and driving to the SpringHill Suites in Detroit. Then, the next morning, we will all be flying AirTran, non-stop to Orlando at 11:30am:dance3:.

The next thing that we hope to add to our flight is the business-class upgrade. Airtran offers an upgrade to business class for $69 each way but you can only purchase it 24 hours or less before your flight. The upgrade entitles you to 2 free checked bags, priority boarding and free snacks and beverages, including alcohol:drinking1. I've done this for every flight I've been on to Orlando and I highly recommend it:thumbsup2. Since there are only 12 business-class seats, we cannot all get the upgrade. Dad decided that he will try to upgrade two families on the way down and two families on the way back, if possible. On the way home, there are already 3 of the 12 BC seats booked so that means our chances are less. We're keeping our fingers crossed:wizard:. We're mostly interested in the upgrade so that all of our checked luggage will be included. As of now, it looks like we will have a total of 6-8 checked bags. Those who are upgraded will check the bags and the others will stick to carryons. Even if we can only get one family upgraded, we should be covered.

When we get to Orlando, it is Disney transportation for the rest of the week:car:...:boat:...:moped:...:teleport:. There's no sense in having multiple rental cars since we have no intention of leaving WDW property. The bus system is not perfect, but it is a much better alternative considering how much $$$ it would cost to rent vehicles.

That's it for this installment...

...Up next: Part 4: Dining Without a Plan for 7 Days with 15 People...:faint:!

Pirate Granny
04-01-2012, 07:13 PM
We are arriving the 16th...four adults, two children...first night in a two bedroom at Bay Lake Towers, then we move to OKW on the 17th, in a two bedroom by HH until the 23rd. We did a grand gathering last year, in a GV, 7 adults, 4 children. Was wonderful. We ate breakfast most times in the Villa, and had table service together once a day. We'll be on the look out for your family. You got a great deal on airfares...we are paying $300+ a ticket.:eek:

04-02-2012, 09:16 AM
Lovin' your PTR! Look forward to reading more.

04-02-2012, 08:01 PM
Nice start to your PTR. As a GVSU alumna who flew a lot .... going to Detroit is really the best, and its great that you get a relaxing start to your trip going to a hotel even before you fly! Would not want to drive to DTW then hop on a plane, especially since I remember the two seasons in Michigan: winter and road construction! :lmao:

DH keeps eyeing the GVs since they look so beautiful, but always come back to the reality of how much farther points go with the 2 bedrooms.

Sounds like y'all have made some great choices and are ready to go! Can't wait to hear about your ADR's (or lack thereof).

04-09-2012, 01:38 PM
Part 4: Dining for 15...without a plan!

Let me clarify...we do not have a DINING plan. When this trip was in it's "research and development" phase, my dad wanted to get the Deluxe DDP for everyone:eek:. He figured that would be the easiest way for every family to get their three meals a day. He changed his tune in 2010 when he came with us to AKV. We did the DxDDP for 2 nights and he was able to experience first-hand how much food it is. I tried to warn him:rotfl2:...

Since DVC did away with the segmenting of the reservations, we had to decide between going with a DDP or skipping it altogether. One of my dad's main concerns with this trip is making sure that everybody gets the most out of it as possible without completely breaking the bank. Dining at WDW is such a big part of the vacation expeirence so dad wanted to make sure that everybody could eat a sit-down meal every day, if they so desired. We crunched the numbers and came to the conclusion that the DDP would not make a lot of sense for our family. Thus, dad created our own dining plan:goodvibes.

DSiL and I went to WDW in October and bought AP's. Dad gave us each $300 towards the cost since that is what he spent on the 6-day PH's for the others. I bought a TIW card in October and DSiL is planning on buying one when we arrive in June. These cards will be used extensively as you will soon see. Dad even reimbursed me for half the cost of my card and he is paying for half of my DSiL's card too.

For the most part, we are going to one park each day for the first four days of our trip. We don't plan on being together all day, every day, but we do want to meet up for dinner.

I made our reservations at the 180-day mark. I think I made some online and then went over to my dad's house to make the rest over the phone. So, without further ado....here they are:wizard:...

Arrival night (Saturday)
6pm dinner for all of us at T-Rex
...more on this later...

Sunday: Epcot Day (Sunday...Father's Day:love:)
5:20pm dinner at Garden Grill for the entire family...except our family of 4...
...we *have* to eat at LeCellier (5:50pm) for dinner:cloud9:

Monday: Hollywood Studios Day
Dad is treating the entire group to the Fantasmic "Dinner" Package at Mama Melrose's. I put "dinner" in quotes because the latest "dinner" we could get is at 3:30pm:sad2:. I told my dad to try calling back inside of 30 days in case a later time opens up. Fantasmic isn't until 9pm that night so 3:30pm for dinner is rather early.
UPDATE: We opted to book a lunch ADR at 1:20pm. This way, there will be time for the young and restless to head back to the room after lunch for a nap or brief swim.

Tuesday: Animal Kingdom Day
Everyone is splitting up today!
My parents and sister's family chose Tusker House for dinner at 6pm.
My brother's family chose Yak N Yeti for dinner, also at 6pm.
My family has to have our traditional meal at Boma:love: at 6:25pm.

Wednesday: Magic Kingdom Day
We are sending mom and dad to the 5:15pm Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show for their anniversary present:lovestruc. The kids bought them Cat 1 seats so we're hoping they get a great view.
While they are enjoying their luau, the remaining 13 of us have a 5:00pm dinner at O'Hana.

Thursday: Open Day
My sister's family is going to Akershus for an 11am breakfast with the princesses.
My sister-in-law really wanted to try the Coral Reef so they are eating there at noon.
My dad loves the 50's Prime Time Cafe and he wanted to squeeze that one in somewhere. My kids love that one too so we are going to eat lunch with them at 12:05pm.

Friday: Last Full Day:sad2:
We are closing out the trip with a 5:45pm dinner for all of us at Chef Mickey's. My dad is elated that the MK has EMH that night and he wants to stay until 1am:eek:. I think he is going to be napping before dinner:rotfl:.
:offtopic:I really wish that they would open the TOTWL to all DVC members and their guests because I think it would be so neat to close out our family trip by watching Wishes from the roof:goodvibes...but I digress...

Saturday: Time to leave...
As of now, we have a breakfast booked at Olivia's for all of us at 10am. This is still up in the air because we have ordered groceries that are mostly breakfast foods. If we have a lot left over, we'll just eat in the room before checkout. OTOH, it is my daughter's 9th birthday and my niece's 4th birthday...oh, and my niece's name is OLIVIA! It almost seems like we *have* to eat there;).

We'd like to do something special for the birthday girls ON their birthday (besides subject them to 8 hours of travel:headache:) but we will be working with a limited timeframe. My mom is making birthday cupcakes but since I'm fairly certain the restaurant will not let us bring them with us, we'll probably have a little make-shift "party" by the pool. Our flight is scheduled to depart at 4:15pm so I'm planning a DME pickup time of about 1pm. I figure we'll have at least an hour to enjoy the pool, which would still give us another hour to change, re-pack the swimsuits and ready ourselves for the DME bus.

Getting back to dad's dining plan (our version of a "DDP":lmao:)...

Each adult has been allotted $50/day for 5 days and each child has been allotted $25/day. Dad based it on 5 days because he is paying for two dinners for the group (Mama Melrose's and Chef Mickey's). He is also paying for the grocery order which includes most of the food we will need for breakfast. Mom has "The Box" packed in her basement, ready to be shipped. She has cereal, pop-tarts, granola bars, trail mix, pancake mix, syrup, and a whole bunch of stuff for the baby, all ready to go. They paid for all of that stuff too since they really wanted to make sure that everything was covered.

After purchasing gift cards for each family, dad realized that my oldest niece is 10 and considered an "adult" for dining purpose, but he counted her as a child in his calculations. He decided to adjust their family's dining allowance by an extra $50.

Dad is awesome:thumbsup2 (have I mentioned that already?:rotfl:) and when he looked at the T-Rex menu and that we were all eating there together, he had a concern. He said that he didn't want everyone's dining budget to take a huge hit on our first meal. So, he decided to give each family $10 per adult and $5 per child towards the cost of their T-Rex meal:worship:. (In case you weren't paying attention, my family's "first" meal will be at LeCellier...for dinner...THAT will make a dent:rotfl2:)

I went through everyone's table-service meals and gave them a rough estimate of how much they would have left to cover any of their other meals and/or snacks. Each family will have about $200 left over for their snacks, beverages and counter-service meals.

So there you have it...7 days of dining for 15 people:dance3:. We leave in 7 weeks and 4 days!

Up next...Part 5: Packing and Other Pre-Trip Tasks
(It might be a while until the next update now that Spring Break is over and there is a LOT of stuff coming up on the kids' schedules)

04-09-2012, 04:22 PM
Subscribed! I will be in your boat NOV of 2013, so I can't WAIT to see how this goes, and HOPE to learn something from your experience. THANK YOU for sharing!


04-09-2012, 05:02 PM
What a fabulous trip you have planned. I second your description of your parents. They are obciously very generous and loving people. Lucky you!

04-09-2012, 05:40 PM
:love:I love your Dad too.:love:

What a meal plan and to think I have trouble making reservations for 8.:lmao:

04-09-2012, 06:09 PM
This almost brought tears to my eyes. After reading so many reports where family members are at each others' throats, this was such a joy to read. I'm looking forward to more.

04-09-2012, 07:29 PM
I love reading this. My mom is planning our family trip for 12 next summer (and that includes my Dad and his NEW WIFE--but that is another story). I am glad to see it is possible for everyone to enjoy the planning, researching and just being together.

We live north of Detroit so I know I am spoiled with non stop flights to MCO. I have never checked Air Tran but I might especially with the first class upgrade option! We usually like to leave early (Delta leaves at 8:30) but I can see the logical in getting in a little later! Can't wait to read more.

04-09-2012, 07:36 PM
Wow -- loving the PTR. Loving your dad too!

We just got our family of nine to commit to a 2013 trip. I'm so excited already! I'll learn much from your experiences!

We will be booking a 2BR and a studio at BLT -- couldn't believe the premium for a GV. Just not worth it, IMHO.

04-09-2012, 08:34 PM
:surfweb: Great parents! Keep writing, this is great....

04-09-2012, 10:38 PM
What a great pre trip report this is! Thanks for taking the trouble to tell us all about it!:thumbsup2

04-09-2012, 10:55 PM
I am loving your PTR so far. Your parents sound like amazing and generous people. I hope you all have a wonderful time!

04-23-2012, 02:58 PM
Hi Everyone!

I have a little break in my day so I thought I'd pop in and do a little "journaling":goodvibes.

I went over to the 'rents house today to help mom figure out how to get her library books on her Kindle. Dad is a computer guru:surfweb:...mom, not so much:badpc:. So, after I took care of mom and sent her off to read, dad called me into the office and wanted me to walk him through the process of upgrading to business class at the 24-hour mark. Good grief!...We're still more than 7 weeks out! I don't know who I get my planning obsession from:rolleyes1.

When he saw what our airfare would be if we booked today ($680/person!) and what he actually paid for it, he was in awe. My streak continues:woohoo:. The last 5 flights I have booked have never gone down in price after I booked them, and they were never cheaper before I booked them either:yay:. I think I posted it earlier, but I believe the total airfare with premium seat fees included came to about $3700 for the 15 of us.

I can tell that Dad is getting antsy. I've been distracting him by inviting him and mom to come with us to HHI next April. With our 11-month booking window opening next week, I've shifted the focus to next year:flower3:. At least this will help lessen the post-vacation depression that he is sure to have. After planning for THIS LONG, I have to believe that there will be a significant sense of deflation after the trip is over. Hopefully, planning a golf vacation to HHI will raise his spirits:beach:.

He hasn't mentioned the DME packet yet. They've never used DME so I don't think he realizes that the packet will be arriving in the next few weeks. I'm not going to tell him:ssst: because I am afraid he will start stalking my mailbox:tiptoe:.

That's all for now...:wave2:

04-23-2012, 03:25 PM
You will know how antsy he is by how quickly he puts the DME tags on his luggage!

We have 18 going in October 2013 and that number could easily double. I have 9 siblings, and 44 nieces and nephews, and there are about 30 "maybes" out there. We really are going to start planning it later this summer, with the hopes that we can book the entire thing on points (many rented!!!). I am curious, you said you are doing points/cash/points, did you look into renting points for the whole thing?

I am eager to follow along with your trip, June will be here before you know it. Sounds like you have it well covered.

04-23-2012, 03:49 PM
We live north of Detroit so I know I am spoiled with non stop flights to MCO. I have never checked Air Tran but I might especially with the first class upgrade option! We usually like to leave early (Delta leaves at 8:30) but I can see the logical in getting in a little later! Can't wait to read more.

Check AirTran out of Flint...They have a non-stop that leaves around 7am!

04-23-2012, 03:55 PM
I am curious, you said you are doing points/cash/points, did you look into renting points for the whole thing?

The member we "rented" from charges $12/point (and 100% worth it:thumbsup2) so the weekend nights would be $576* on points. We got the member cash discount so it came to only $535* for the weekend nights. (*That is per 2BR, per night)

04-23-2012, 04:16 PM

05-11-2012, 04:48 PM
I went to my mailbox today and found my DVC lithograph for the webcast last month:cool1:...

....oh, AND MY DME DOCUMENTS CAME TOO!!!:banana::banana::banana:

Now what?:confused3:confused3...we wait....

The next step will be online check in, but I don't think we are going to do that. Since we have so many people and our reservation is a cash/points combination, I would rather just do it all in person to avoid any snags. I've done online check in before and it really didn't seem to save too much time.

We're down to 5 weeks from today and we still have a LOT to do..

...get the A/C in my truck fixed (OUCH...it's about $700 for the "patch job", $2K to get it fixed completely:faint:)
...lose 8 more pounds:yay:
...help out at mom and dad's condo association garage sale (next weekend)
...get extended family portrait taken (also next weekend)
...DD6 field trip next Wednesday...
...DD8 field trip next Thursday...
...DD6 kindergarten "graduation" program on the 25th...
...LAST DAY OF SCHOOL on the 6th...

Of the 35 more days until we leave, I work 14 of them:headache:. On top of that, I've just found out that my new field intern starts with me next week. The first few weeks of the program are really the most stressful, especially when the new paramedic is right out of school:worried:. I will be SO ready for a vacation, but I will have about 3-4 more months of training to look forward to when I return.

I'm headed over to dad's tonight. Mom is visiting her sister in Illinois this week so dad has been home with the cat:cat:. I'll update later if there are any new developments after our "meeting".:thumbsup2

05-16-2012, 04:35 PM
Well, this is a new twist:tongue:....

Waaaaay back when, I mentioned to my dad and my sister that they might want to look into renting some "baby equipment" for Emilee since there is nothing more than a pack n play at OKW. At the time, the answer was, "No, we won't need any of that...she'll be fine". Ok, if you say so...:duck:

Today, my sister had to take a major exam at work. Since Emilee hasn't been sleeping well (and therefore, neither has my sister), my parents took her overnight last night:worship:. Guess what? Emilee has a little problem sleeping away from home too:scared1:.

Since we are sharing a villa with my sister's family, I re-visited A Baby's Best Friend. I want to make sure that we don't have to deal with a cranky baby too:sad:. I saw that they offer the same bouncy seat that she has at grandma's house:banana:. I e-mailed both my sister and my dad and really stressed that they should consider renting at least a bouncy seat and a rocking chair, if not more.

Surprise!! NOW they think that would be a good idea::yes::. Dad told my sister to pick what she wants and he will get it reserved. I'm just hoping that it isn't too late:worried:. She said that Em will probably end up sleeping in one of the beds with her so she doesn't want a crib. I am going to talk to her tonight and finalize what she wants...

...stay tuned:happytv:...

05-16-2012, 09:51 PM
My sister decided to go with a rocking chair, exersaucer, Boppy pillow and the tub-side bath seat. We will be bringing Emilee's Bumbo seat to use as her "chair" so the bouncy seat won't be necessary. She loves the exersaucer at granny's house so hopefully she'll like the one at OKW just as much. She has her own Boppy pillow at home but it would take up way too much space to pack it and bring it.

It still feels like there is so much to do, but it's too soon to start:scratchin. I have to pack, get a haircut and pedicure, order EarPlanes, find and break in new sandals for the girls, and hopefully lose a few more pounds:laughing:.

...only 12 more work days!...well, that's still 30 calendar days, but I think it looks better:goodvibes.

05-17-2012, 06:47 AM
I'm exhausted just reading this PTR!:rotfl: Actually, since I am a bit beyond your parent's ages, and our "kids" are around the ages of your siblings, I'm going to take some planning tips from your mother. We are planning a family trip (DH, myself, our son 37 and our daughter 43) to Hawaii next February. So far I have booked the condo for the Big Island at Kona, and I know which dates I want for our week at Aulani, but I can't book it until July. Beyond that, I've mostly been trying to find decent airfare. NOT an easy thing when we are talking about flying from Minneapolis to Honolulu. This will be our 5th Hawaii trip, but the first that our "kids" will really remember, since they only got to go on our first trip, and they were too young to remember or enjoy it.

I do know there wont be any shipping of food, but we will be renting cars on both islands and I'm now planning what we will do on the trip.

05-20-2012, 11:15 PM
Today, we all got together and headed out to the golf course where my brother has worked (part-time) since he was 15 years old. We had our family portraits taken at various locations on the course:flower3:. It took about 90 minutes and we had shots of the individual families, just the kids, and the entire extended family taken. It was a beautiful, sunny and slightly breezy day:goodvibes. I can't wait to see the results.

Afterwards, we got together at my parents' house and enjoyed brats and burgers on the grill. The kids all played outside and they all behaved like little angels:cloud9:. I sure hope that today was an indication of how our trip will go. Nobody was crabby (despite the fact that it was 90 degrees outside:eek:!) and everyone was so well-behaved. My parents were so proud:hug:.

I still have a lot to do...but I still think it is too early to start. I guess I will just keep updating my PTR:lmao:.

05-21-2012, 02:12 PM
I'm almost embarrassed to post this:scared:...

On a whim, I went to the casino this morning with some of the money from my bonus check...I won $180:cool1:!

So, that helped push me over the edge on a few purchases. First, I've been wanting to replace my ECCO sandals for a while. They are 4 years old and I bought them on a 50% clearance for $65. They are perfect for my plantar fasciitis and I wear them ALL summer long. For the last 2 years, I've been scouring for a new pair, but they are $130...and most places don't take coupons on the ECCO brand. Today is the last day that EBates has 13% rebates at Shoes.com and, lo and behold, Shoes.com has a 20% off code. SUPRISE!...it is valid on ECCO AND they have my size in stock:worship:. I ordered them and my total came to $104 and I'll be getting another $13 back from EBates. It is a lot more than I ever thought I would spend on sandals, but if I can get another 4 years out of them, that breaks down to only $25 a year.

Second, the girls need new summer shoes. I usually get them Crocs, but this year, I had them try on some Keen Newport H2's. I hesitated at the $50 price tag, but I realized that they are a perfect all-purpose summer shoe (close-toe, waterproof and machine washable), I figure the girls will get good use out of them. Amazingly, Shoes.com had both the colors and sizes that the girls wanted so I took the rest of my winnings and bought them:thumbsup2. (Plus, eventually, DD6 will grow into DD8's so that pair should last a while;))

The whole shoe thing was starting to give me anxiety since we are running out of time to break in new pairs. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief. DH still wants to get a new pair but he's so indecisive. I think he's going to end up going to the mall at 7pm the night before we leave:lmao:.

05-24-2012, 03:18 PM
Wow and this is all pre trip? The trip is going to be a piece of cake with all your planning. Some pixiedust: to make it all come together at WDW too!

05-24-2012, 04:45 PM
I woke up at noon today (I worked until 5am and didn't get to sleep until 6am so don't judge:lmao:...) and it was 79 degrees, sunny with a 10-15mph breeze...:cool2:. DH came home from a 4-mile run so, being the good wife that I am, I told him he had to go for a bike ride with me. We rode the bike trail for 10 miles and it took us an hour to finish it. It was so nice! The weather was perfect and I got a pretty decent workout in too:yay:.

05-24-2012, 05:33 PM
Hi Kristen! Ok, you're dad is just awesome!! We are leaving 1 day before your family with our family. We're taking DH's mom, sister, DBIL and our niece and nephew! They have to pay for their stuff though, except the villa and 1 suprise dinner that DH and I set up. Have a safe trip! Haven't been to the casinos in MI for awhile since we just got one in Cleveland.
Safe travels to all of you! We're at SSR for our trip. Perhaps we'll see you all around the parks! ;)

05-24-2012, 07:30 PM
I do know there wont be any shipping of food, but we will be renting cars on both islands and I'm now planning what we will do on the trip.

Good thing you live in Minnesota, you can start eating your SPAM early and even tour the SPAM Museum. Unless, you don't care for the Hawaii Delight that is SPAM... :rotfl2:

05-24-2012, 08:43 PM
I too am hooked on this adventure. Planning a similar trip in Feb 2013, can't wait how you all make this work:worship:

05-24-2012, 09:53 PM
Looking back on our itinerary, I realized that I missed a few things...

First of all, on our AK day (Tuesday), my oldest daugher (the birthday girlprincess:) chose me to accompany her on the Wild Africa Trek. Normally, this would not be in our budget, but since dad is paying for this trip, we have our own vacation account that is going untouched this year. Since it is DD's birthday, DH and I decided that she could do this tour as her present. We let her choose who she wanted to bring and she chose me:banana:. She is a HUGE animal fan...she will probably talk the guides' ears off...so I know she will absolutely LOVE this tour:love:.

We don't want to leave out our other DD so we also booked a fishing excursion from OKW. Both of our girls are very outdoorsy. DH is an avid outdoorsman and the girls have been fishing since they were 3 and 5. On Thursday, we have a 7am trip booked for DH and DD6. Since the trip is for up to 5 people, we invited the other kids (the older ones) to come along, but DSiL declined the invitation:confused:. So, we're not sure who exactly will be taking the fishing trip. We told DD8 that she could go too, but only if there was still room. Now, it looks like it will be our family of 4 and maybe Dad too. It's awfully early so I doubt we'll get any more takers:laughing:. My girls keep talking about catching some "keeper bass"...but they know that it is catch-and-release. They're already making bets as to who will catch the most fish:lmao:.

That's all for now...thanks for reading!:hippie:

05-25-2012, 01:48 PM
We did a MG in Oct. 2010 with 15 ( 9 adults& 6 kids). We stayed 14 days in 5 rooms at AkL. My Parents paid for the whole deal, It was a huge undertaking planning and so forth. Have a great time!
Make sure you make T-shirts and have your pictures taken at as many locations as you can.

05-31-2012, 05:02 PM
I did another "practice pack" today and I discovered that the girls have way too many cute outfits:p. I was planning on packing 2 outfits in their carryon and then another 3 outfits in the "main" bag. There's about 8 outfits that I want to bring! I know that they will want to wear the same few outfits over and over (hence the reason we book a room with a w/d;)) so it is pointless to overpack.

So then I moved on to my stuff...and realized that I have a serious shorts shortage:lmao:. I have about 3 pairs of nylon, running-type shorts. They're so comfy for the hot, humid weather, and they look great with my running tanks (also perfect for summer in Florida!), but do I really want to look like I've just come from the gym:confused3? I know, there's not exactly a dress code at the theme parks (and we aren't doing any signature dining) but still...

My mother is insisting that I pack some long pants (jeans) and a sweatshirt or jacket for everyone. Really??? Even if it gets "cold", aren't we talking like 60 degrees? My kids wear shorts and tees in 60 degree weather without batting an eyelash. I guess I will keep an eye on the weather forecast and watch the lows. The weather channel shows the average low to be 70 so I really don't think we will need cool-weather gear.

School gets out on Wednesday and once the girls are officially on summer vacation, I think I will really start getting anxious. There is still stuff to do, but it just seems like it is too soon to do it. I did get the AC fixed in my truck ($1500:sick:) so that is one thing crossed off my list.

Just 15 more days until we leave for Detroit:rolleyes1....

05-31-2012, 05:54 PM
You're doing great with your planning! Cant wait to hear how much fun everyone has - it's good that each family has some alone time.

Also, we stayed at OKW during our grand daughter's birthday week. Her name is Olivia as well, and the staff at Olivia's restaurant went out of the way to make her feel special. I hope you get the birthday girls to Olivia's!

06-04-2012, 05:01 PM
Oh my...it's starting to set in:eek:...

We ran into a snag:scared:...We can't find the carseat carrier (backpack) for Emilee's car seat! I bought it in 2008 when I flew with DD2 but I held on to it specifically for this trip. I promised my sister that I would carry the backpack and be in charge of it if she agreed to use it on the airplane. Now, it's AWOL. I had it out about a month ago to wash it. Then, I brought it over to my sister's house to make sure the car seat and the Bumbo seat both fit in it. I *swear* I left it there for her...she said that it sat at the top of the stairs for "weeks"...now she can't find it. Neither of us can remember if I brought it back home...I don't know why I would have done that. She thinks that maybe she brought it over to the parents' house, but I checked there...nope. It's HUGE so it's not like it could be hiding in a drawer or something. She is at work now and doesn't get home until 9pm so she said she will check the basement when she gets home. She said that there is a possibility that DBiL brought it down there for "safekeeping".

I'm crossing my fingers and praying that it is there:worried:. Since I promised that we'd have it, I feel obligated to provide it. It's only available online so if we can't find it soon, I'll have to order it.

On another note, I spent the afternoon at mom and dad's today. Dad works from home on Mondays so I go there for lunch on my days off. We sealed and labeled the boxes. The baby stuff is 20 pounds and the other box is nearly 50! It looks like it will cost about $60 to mail both of them. We're sending them UPS next Tuesday so that they will arrive by Friday.

Mom was a hoot:rotfl2:. She was showing me the stuff she was going to pack. First, she hauls out a suitcase the size of a sofa:laughing:. I told her that it is so big, she better make sure that it won't be considered oversized. She said, "Oh, it won't be over 50 pounds":rolleyes1. Oh dear...I have a little educating to do:teacher:. Out comes the tape measure...62 linear inches empty. It might be close since AirTran's limit is 64". My mom, still a little confused, says, "Kris, 64 inches is over 5 feet! This isn't even close to 5 feet tall":rotfl: Aye carumba:sad2:... It's not like she's never flown before. They went on an Alaskan cruise 3 years ago and not a lot has changed since then.

So then we move on to her toiletries. She had her lipstick, toothpaste, Neosporin and lip ointment (among other things) all set to go in her carryon...then, she hauls out her 3-1-1 bag, which was already full:upsidedow. Again, mom needs a little remediation. The tricky thing with mom is that she has an implanted spinal cord stimulator so she will set off the machine at the airport. She already knows that she'll be subject to a pat-down so she is prepared. I told her that she may want to leave for the airport about 30 minutes before everyone else because she will definitely cause a traffic jam at security. We'll probably all go through and act like we don't know her:snooty:.

Now I need to wait until my sister gets home and checks for that backpack:rolleyes1!

06-06-2012, 12:56 PM
Well, no luck with the backpack...DSis says it wasn't in her basement. I went ahead and ordered a new one from Amazon.com yesterday...

...and of course, guess what turned up underneath a box in our garage today? Yup, there it was, folded in half underneath a huge empty storage box that DH uses for target practice:sad2:. Luckily, I was able to cancel the order from Amazon since it hadn't shipped yet. Let me tell you, this took a huge load off my mind:flower3:. I had a feeling that I was the one responsible for losing it and I really felt obligated to provide it as promised. DH was NOT happy when I told him I spent $40 to order a new one:mad:. We have ZERO use for it so I understand why he was upset. Finding it this morning was a great start to my day...

...and then I stepped on the scale....

:dance3: :banana: :dance3: :banana: :dance3: :banana: :dance3: :banana:

I made it down to 155:woohoo:!!! I guess my bike riding and lettuce diet paid off:rotfl:. (Ok, it wasn't just lettuce...but I have maintained a strict 1200-calorie/day diet for the last 2 weeks) The lowest I have been in the last 15 years was the 153 that I weighed last Easter when we went to HHI. I was back up to 164 pounds as of 2 weeks ago so I was a little depressed about that:sad1:. I would love to drop 2 or 5 more pounds but I am not going to stress about it. I know that I will probably gain 8-10 pounds while I am there so I want to start out as low as possible without being unhealthy:goodvibes.

It was the last day of school today and the girls are getting really excited for next week. This Saturday is DNephew's birthday party. It's at his other grandpa's house and they have a huge outdoor pool. Since it is supposed to be sunny and 80 degrees, I can't wait for this weekend:beach:.

I'm off to work now...only 3 more shifts:cool1:...

Tomorrow, I will do the SINGLE-DIGIT DANCE:dancer:

06-09-2012, 12:08 PM
...that we will all be together before we leave:grouphug:! My nephew turns 9 on Tuesday so his party is today. The only person that can't make it to the party is my DH...he has to work:sad1:.

There are still a few final preparations to do which we will probably cover today. My SiL has decided to send down a package too (in addition to the 2 that mom has already prepared) so I need to bring her a label. I have to bring the strollers and carseat bag to my sister since I won't see her before we leave either. She used to work on the east side of the state (Canton) and their family is leaving around noon on Friday so that she can meet up with an old friend.

I have no idea what time my brother's family is planning on leaving on Friday, but dad said he is leaving work at 2 so we'll probably be on the road by 3.

I've gotten almost everything done:banana:. I need to vaccuum my truck and actually pack the bags (for real, no more practicing:lmao:) but otherwise, we are pretty much good to go:yay:.

I need to make it through two more shifts at work (and they will be ROUGH:headache:) and then go with mom and my DD's to get pedicures on Thursday.

Friday cannot get here soon enough:rolleyes1

06-10-2012, 08:38 AM
Good Morning:goodvibes.

If I can make it through the next 2 days without completely going crazy, I will be good to go:rolleyes1. I got up at 7:30am today and I'm waiting for the girls to get ready for church. After church, my parents take the kids and I boogie on home to try and catch a nap from 11:30-1pm. Then, it's off to work I go...2:30pm until 4:30am, if I'm lucky:headache:. DH is working today, but he is off tomorrow so I will get to sleep in until noon. Then, I get to work another 14 hours. Normally, these two shifts would be a breeze and I would just put myself on auto-pilot, but the scheduling gods lined up against me:mad:. I am a field training officer, which means that I am assigned brand new paramedics, fresh out of school, as my partners. I have to put them through a 3-5 month training program. As luck would have it, my new partner starts with me TODAY. The first week with a new hire is always the most stressful which is why I am not really happy that they waited until my last 2 days before vacation to assign him to me. My brain checked out last week:laughing:. So, hopefully I can muddle through the next 44 hours without too much drama:upsidedow.

That's it for now...I have to go light a fire under the kiddos since it is almost time to leave:teeth:.

06-11-2012, 12:52 PM
In about 16 hours from now, I will be clocking out and I don't have to punch back in until JUNE 25:dance3:.

I'm really starting to get anxious now because the dream of the vacation is starting to become a reality. Years of planning are finally going to pay off:yay:. It's time to haul out the bags and pack them...FOR REAL:rotfl:.

But first, I must head off to work. Boy, you have no idea how tempted I am to call in "sick":sick:, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Hopefully, we'll be nice and busy and the shift will fly by:teleport:.

06-12-2012, 08:26 PM
Oh boy!!! No more work days for me!! :dance3: Now, it's time to really get moving on those final preparations. I got the suitcases out into the living room and they are opened and waiting to be filled.

I have soooo many little things to do that I just want to get started and get it all done with. I have a load of laundry in the dryer and when it is done, I will be able to do a "final" pack for me and the DD's. By tomorrow, I should have everything except the last-minute items packed. DD8 just came up to me and said, "Mom, can you do me a favor? When it is the night before we leave, can you *not* tell me? I don't want to be so jacked up that I can't sleep.":hug:

DH still hasn't bought shoes, and he has to work tomorrow and Thursday so it's not looking like he is going to get new ones for this trip. He told me how he is going to pack...

"A handful of T-shirt, a handful of shorts, a handful of socks and a handful of underwear":lmao:.

I guess it won't take him too long at all to get his stuff together. Of course, once we get there, I'll here, "Where's my comb? Where's my razor? Did you pack hair gel?":rotfl:

All this talk of packing again has me motivated to go work on it some more.

Prepare for random sentences ahead...my thoughts get very scatterbrained as I get closer to the trip.

06-13-2012, 09:47 AM
Have a wonderful trip Kristen! I have enjoyed reading your updates and I am looking forward to the post trip report. :goodvibes

06-13-2012, 07:46 PM
I got a LOT done today:goodvibes.

Started the day a little late and took DD8 to the gym for a 4-hour day camp that she decided on doing this morning. DD6 decided she would rather hang out with me and run errands.

Next, it was off to the salon to get DD6's hair cut. They had an appointment available in 40 minutes. Perfect! We ran down the street to Target and bought socks for the girls, a camera, case and memory card for DD6, a memory card for my camera, and some disposable razors for DH.

Then, back to the salon where DD6 got a much-needed haircut. After the salon, I had to run back home and take the bike carrier off my truck. I cleaned all of the stuff out (I live in my truck:drive:) while DD scooted around on her scooter:moped:. When I was done, we headed to the car wash so I could vaccuum out the truck and then we got it washed.

By then, it was almost time to pick up DD8 from day camp. On the way, we stopped and bought some moleskin and some new wiper blades, as well as a run through BK for some lunch.

After picking up DD8, we went to the airport viewing area. I find that it eases my anxiety about flying if I watch planes take off and land like it's an everyday thing. While there, I finished detailing the inside of my truck while the girls ran around in the grass and played with some new "friends":flower3:.

By then, it was 5:30 and DH gets home from work around 6ish. We left the airport and stopped for an oil change on the way home.

DH came home about 5 minutes after we did and he immediately started going through his clothes to figure out what he is going to pack:faint:.

The rest of the night is going to be spent just hanging out. DD8 wants to go back to day camp tomorrow and I am seriously considering letting her attend again. I'd love it if DD6 would go too...that would give me 4 hours of peace and quiet:cloud9:.

We all have "pedicures" scheduled for 6pm tomorrow. The girls are just getting their nails polished and mom and I are getting the real thing. Dad sent me an e-mail and said that he wants to go over the upgrade process one more time before Friday. I think we've reviewed it about 5 times already, but he really wants to make sure he has it all in order:thumbsup2.

Until next time....

06-15-2012, 10:03 AM
We're leaving for Detroit today:dance3:!

My sister's family is leaving around 1pm because they want to stop and visit a friend that lives on the other side of the mitten. They will head to the hotel after that.

My family is heading over to my parents' house at 2:30 to pick them up and we will be on the road by 3pm.

My brother's family is bringing up the rear. He doesn't get out of work until 5 so they won't be on the road much before 6pm.

At 11:15, I have to get online and do our check in with the airline. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can get 10 of us upgraded:wizard:. Dad is going to go online and upgrade one family at the same time that I do the other family. So far, the BC section is still wide open so I am optimistic that we will be successful:flower3:.

...Stay Tuned for the resultspopcorn::...

06-15-2012, 09:16 PM
We all made it to Detroit, safe and sound:goodvibes. Everyone was very impressed by their suite. The hotel did a great job! My brother and his family are right next door to us. Across the hall is my sister and her family, next to my parents.

As expected, we arrived first around 5:15pm. My sister's family arrived at 6pm and we walked over to Big Boy for dinner. My brother's family arrived around 8pm since they stopped for dinner along the way.

After dinner, my girls and my 3yo niece went swimming for almost an hour. Little Emilee decided that she liked her dinner so much, she wanted to see it again...on my shirt:eek:. She returned her carrots all over my WHITE zip-front hoodie that I am planning on wearing all week, including on the plane tomorrow. Well, since I had to throw the swimsuits in the dryer anyways, I just did a quick load of laundry too.

Everyone is in bed now. DD8 is asleep, thanks to her melatonin:angel: and DH is reading a bedtime story to DD6. I still have another 15 minutes before the laundry is dry and then I will take some melatonin and try to get some shut eye too.

Tomorrow morning, we have the alarm set for 7am:sad2:. We are planning on walking out the door at 9am to head for the airport. The hotel serves a continental breakfast so we'll "fill up" before we leave.

I will try my best to keep this updated and I will see what I can do about pictures. It didn't even occur to me to take pictures of the hotel room before we defiled it:rotfl:.

Tinks "SS"
06-15-2012, 11:23 PM
WOOHOOO! It's time for yall's big trip. Have a safe and quick flight tomorrow. :wizard:pixiedust: that the room will be ready when yall get there!! Keep us updated if you can.

06-16-2012, 07:22 AM
wishing you an AWESOME family vacation!! Enjoy and savor every single second of it!!:)

06-16-2012, 11:55 AM
Your long planned trip is finally here. I hope it's everything you thought it would be..or better. All your DIS friends are anxious to share your family fun. Enjoy every minute.

06-16-2012, 09:58 PM
Hope you have a great family vacation!! Your pre-trip details were great!

06-18-2012, 05:48 PM
I can't wait to read how your trip turns out. Sounds like so much fun.

06-18-2012, 09:11 PM
Just found your TR. I plan on leveraging your hard work, we are doing a trip like yours next June. Can't wait to find out how the trip goes!:coffee:

06-19-2012, 01:47 PM
I'm subscribing! Have fun and post when you can! You have alot of fans out here hanging ...waiting for updates! LOL:rolleyes1

06-19-2012, 02:38 PM
I'm looking forward to reading how it's going!


06-23-2012, 08:48 PM
It has been so much fun reading your pre-trip report-hope you had a wonderful time and can't wait to har an update! :)

06-24-2012, 12:07 PM
Love your PTR! Can't wait to hear more!! :)

06-24-2012, 01:15 PM
So sorry that I didn't update...I never even powered up my computer for the entire trip.

I don't have a lot of time to post right now, but I will let you know that the trip was absolutely FANTASTIC:banana::cool1::banana::cool1:. There were a few ups and downs, mostly due to hot and tired children (and occassionally an adult:rotfl:), but overall, we had a great time:goodvibes.

Our flight was on time and probably the smoothest one I've ever experienced. We had a short (less than 15 minute) wait for DME but we were the first stop:banana:. From the time we stepped off the plane to the time we arrived at OKW was just over an hour.

As I expected, they had all kinds of confusion with our reservation:sad2:. They filled our requests, putting us in the Turtle Pond area in villas right next to each other. We were in rooms 3422 and 3423. Our view was nothing spectacular...an overgrown tree obstructing the view of a fairway and and algae-covered pond...but we never spent any time on the patio anyways so it was not an issue.

The rooms were in good shape with a few minor issues...shower door a little crooked and a wheel missing from the dishwasher shelf in our room and the other villa was missing a spatula. We mentioned it at check out so that maintenance could take care of it.

Oh boy, are their computers a mess:scared:. As I mentioned, we booked a continuous 7-night stay through Member Services, with the first and last nights on cash and the 5 in the middle on points. They said that they could see that we had a continuing reservation, but that their system wouldn't recognize it. So, we had to go back the next morning and get new keys...and guess who was knocking at the door? Yup, mousekeeping:rotfl:. THEIR system said we were checking out so we ended up with a full cleaning. Then, on Wednesday (day 4 of our points stay)...here they are again with our trash and towel service. Well, you can guess what happened Friday afternoon...yup, we returned to find we'd received another full cleaning:laughing:. THEIR system showed that we'd checked out on Friday which was the "checkout" day for our points stay. Then, as expected, our keys didn't work on Saturday morning. That was not a big deal since we didn't leave the room until we were checking out anyways.

If Disney could just get all of their computers to communicate, it sure would save a lot of money:teacher:. Good grief! We had THREE visits from housekeeping (which should have only been one!) and we went through 45 resort ID cards, which could have been only 15. Oh, and then there was the check out...

Dad and I went to the HH at 9:15am on checkout day because he had $1000 in gift cards that he needed to apply to the room charges. So, they "merged" our rooms (oh, sure:rolleyes:) and it shows the total owed is $386:confused3....uh....that's not right. So we look over the "itemized" bill. I think you need some sort of advanced degree to understand it:sad2:. DH and I charged the $216 fishing trip to the room. That showed up as a charge of $64.15:confused3. Then, there were the transactions that weren't even there...
...$450+ for dinner at Mama Melrose's...
...$250+ for 1/2 of the bill at Chef Mickey's (oddly, the other half WAS on there)...
...at least 3 different charges for food at the resort...
...the $250 payment that DH made with gift cards...

It didn't help the matter that the poor CM trying to help us did not have English as her first language. We kept trying to tell her that we owed almost $1000 in charges and she kept saying "No, this is the correct total". She finally went and got the manager, Hope, who was also completely confused by our folio. My dad pulled out the receipt from Mama Melrose's which clearly showed that it was charged to the room. The reason that this was such an issue is because dad had bought the gift cards specifically for these purchases. His credit card was on file so if the missing charges were eventually found, he didn't want them charging his card since he had the money in gift cards. He certainly didn't want to go home with $1000 in gift cards AND another $1000 charged to his credit card.

Since we had a 10am reservation at Olivia's, and it was now 9:55am, Hope told us to head over and enjoy breakfast and she would get the problem resolved. Sure enough, as we were finishing up, she came to our table and gave dad the corrected bill. It took a total of almost 2 hours to get it all straightened out, but in the end, it all worked out:woohoo:.

I'll get into more details about the trip later. Right now, I have to get ready to go back to work tomorrow:sick:.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them:goodvibes.

06-27-2012, 08:00 PM
Does your Dad want to adopt.... say a 37 year old??? :rolleyes1

06-27-2012, 09:12 PM
Does your Dad want to adopt.... say a 37 year old??? :rolleyes1

He's already got one:lmao:.

06-27-2012, 09:46 PM
On our arrival night, we all took the bus to DTD for dinner at T-Rex. It was a bit of a wait, but since we'd arrived almost an hour before our scheduled reservation, we weren't suprised or disappointed. Dinner was delicious, but the service was only so-so. It wasn't so bad that I wouldn't eat there again, but it certainly wasn't exceptional.

After dinner, we took the boat back to OKW to try and get a little settled in to our rooms. Our groceries from GG, our baby furniture from ABBF and the three boxes that we'd sent down were already brought to our room when we arrived so we had some unpacking to do.

The first full day was at Epcot. We got there just after it opened. We got FP's for Soarin and got in the standby line to ride it immediately since it was only a 20 minute wait. Then we rode Living with the Land while mom and dad rode Soarin (they'd stayed out with Emilee the first time through). After that, everyone wanted to ride "the big ball". My goodness...you'd think that was the only ride at WDW:rotfl:. My nephew *LOVED* that ride! He is 9 and he loved the fact that they take your picture and you can see it at the end. He wanted to ride that ride ALL DAY!

We lunched at Sunshine Seasons. Again, good food, but nothing that blew me away. I honestly don't remember what we did in the afternoon, but we did hit The Seas, Ellen's Energy Adventure, Journey Into Imagination and Soarin again. Then, it was dinner at 6 at LeCellier....YUM! Both of the girls wanted just soup and pretzel bread and the waiter was happy to accommodate them. I had the pork chop (delicious) and DH had the filet. Unfortunately, DD8 did not like her soup at all. She ended up sharing some of my pork chop and filling up on the bread. DD6 happily finished off DD8's soup:hug:. I tried it, and I have to admit, it was really bad:sick:. I normally love that soup, but it tasted like there was an entire bottle of beer in that small little cup. The beer taste was overwhelming and I can completely understand why DD8 didn't like it. (Perhaps I should be concerned that DD6 was licking the bowl clean:confused3)

On the way out of the park, we had to ride the big ball again:laughing:.

Day 2 was DHS day. In no particular order, we rode ToT, RRC, TSMM, and the Great Movie Ride. We also saw both of the stunt shows, Beauty and the Beast and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Somewhere in there, we had lunch at Mama Melrose's. That was the first time I'd eaten there and I don't think I will be back. Dad wanted to do the FDP and this was the "lesser of the evils" choice. The appetizer choices were nothing we were interested in so we defaulted to the antipasto. It was OK, but I wouldn't order it again unless I have to. I chose the chicken parm for my appetizer. The chicken was good, but the marinara sauce was awful:sick:. The dessert tray made up for it! All three selections were delicious!

Again, the afternoon was a blur...I can't remember what we did. I know that we rode ToT again. That ride became a favorite for the older kids. Even my DD6, who HATED it in 2010 when she first rode it, wanted to ride it over and over. My nephew was so nervous and almost chickened out, but then he rode it and absolutely loved it. My DD6 also rode RRC which was her first "upside-down" roller coaster. I was scared because I was holding her hand at first, but I noticed that one of our bags appeared to be falling out of the pouch. I had to let go of DD's hand to grab the bag (I couldn't reach it with my other hand) and I didn't see her move or hear her scream for the rest of the ride:scared:. I was praying that she wasn't scared stiff! When we got done, I asked her if she liked it...she said "THAT ROCKED!!" Whew:cool1:.

At some point, all of the families separated but we all met up again for the 9pm Fantasmic show. The show got rave reviews from the entire family. After the show, DHS had EMH, but DD and I had our Wild Africa Trek scheduled for the next morning at 8am so we all ended up calling it a night.

I'll get to the rest of the trip later...stay tuned:cool2:.

06-27-2012, 09:54 PM
Oh, here's a few random observations...

Weather: FANTASTIC! Everyone was nervous, going to Florida in June, but the weather was great! It rained on our last night into the day (Debbie showed up!) but other than that, we enjoyed highs in the mid to upper 80's with lots of sun. (*Note that while we were in Florida, Michigan was enjoying record heat with highs in the 90's and heat indices around 100!)

Crowds: Completely tolerable. We heavily utilized FastPasses and, although we spent a lot of time criss-crossing the parks, we rarely experienced any waits greater than 30 minutes. The part of the group that rode Space Mountain (not me) waited about an hour and 20 minutes. We also had about an hour wait for Kilimanjaro Safari the day that we arrived at AK around 3pm. (*Disclaimer: Many of my past WDW trips were over Easter so those are crowds that I consider "heavy")

Buses: No problems! We rarely waited more than 10 minutes for a bus and we were always able to get all of us on the same bus without having to wait for another one.

If anyone has any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them:flower3:.

07-07-2012, 02:45 PM
On Tuesday (June 19), DD8 and I went on the Wild Africa Trek, which was her 9th birthday present. It was a blast! She had so much fun and can't stop talking about it. In fact, when we go back to WDW in 2014, our younger DD will be 8 and cannot wait to take her turn.







I'm still waiting for our PhotoPass CD and the pictures from our other family members. I'll post more as soon as I get them...

Thanks for reading:wave2:.

07-12-2012, 07:46 PM
I am loving your TR!! I think it would be fun to plan for so many people! I'm glad you had a great time!

Sounds like we work similar schedules. I am finally getting used to 11-12 hour shifts!

07-13-2012, 09:09 AM
Oh, here's a few random observations...

Weather: FANTASTIC! Everyone was nervous, going to Florida in June, but the weather was great! It rained on our last night into the day (Debbie showed up!) but other than that, we enjoyed highs in the mid to upper 80's with lots of sun. (*Note that while we were in Florida, Michigan was enjoying record heat with highs in the 90's and heat indices around 100!)

Crowds: Completely tolerable. We heavily utilized FastPasses and, although we spent a lot of time criss-crossing the parks, we rarely experienced any waits greater than 30 minutes. The part of the group that rode Space Mountain (not me) waited about an hour and 20 minutes. We also had about an hour wait for Kilimanjaro Safari the day that we arrived at AK around 3pm. (*Disclaimer: Many of my past WDW trips were over Easter so those are crowds that I consider "heavy")

Buses: No problems! We rarely waited more than 10 minutes for a bus and we were always able to get all of us on the same bus without having to wait for another one.

If anyone has any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them:flower3:.

We were there for nearly the same dates..got out just before Debby!!! I was blown away by the good weather and low crowds!!! I was expecting a mob scene. Was this unusal for June? This was our first June visit and I was so thrilled with how everything went I'd like to go again. Have you been in June before?

07-13-2012, 11:56 AM
We were there for nearly the same dates..got out just before Debby!!! I was blown away by the good weather and low crowds!!! I was expecting a mob scene. Was this unusal for June? This was our first June visit and I was so thrilled with how everything went I'd like to go again. Have you been in June before?

My brother-in-law said he overheard a CM talking about "how empty it was" so I guess it wasn't too bad. The only other time we went in June was in 2009. That year, the girls got out of school on the 4th so we went June 5-9. That trip was hot and humid. I think this June felt a lot more comfortable because there was almost always a nice breeze and the humidity was unusually low for that time of year.

I can honestly say that I am looking forward to taking another trip in June:thumbsup2. As long as DVC keeps that AP discount, it is much more affordable for us to plan our trips for June (as soon as school gets out) followed by April (spring break) the next year. This way, the added cost of the Easter/spring break transportation will be offset by the fact that we won't have to buy tickets for that trip:). In our "off" year, we go to HHI for spring break. 2013 is our HHI year so I am in the preliminary stages of trying to decide where we want to stay in June 2014:scratchin.

07-15-2012, 04:56 PM
can't wait to hear about how all of your planning paid off!!

08-12-2012, 03:40 PM
Loving your TR! Just finished mine! Looks like your family trip went as well as ours! It's nice to see that families can and DO have great trips to the World without squabbles. DMIL wound up picking up dinner for our group at Ohana and LTT which was awesome! We were there the same week and we live in Oh where there was also record heat! Funny that it was cooler in Fl than Oh and MI. :rotfl2: Good for us!! Can't wait to read the next installment!

08-18-2012, 10:07 PM
Just found your Pre-TR and what a great job you have done! Your parents sound wonderful and what a great thing for them to do -- making memories. Our family enjoys our trips to WDW and about every couple years we plan a "gathering". Looking forward to reading more and so glad everything worked out for you. Oh, were you able to get the upgrade at the airport?

Thanks for sharing!

dvc at last !
08-18-2012, 10:31 PM

08-19-2012, 08:58 AM
Here's some pictures of the cast...

My Family...
Me, DH, Kamryn (9) and Kaedyn (6)

My Brother's Family...
Brother, SiL, Kenadie (10), Jaxson (9) and Eastyn (7)

My Sister's Family...
Sister, BiL, Olivia (4) and Emilee (7 months)

...The Best Parents Ever!!!...
Dad and Mom!

...And here we all are on our first day of vacation!...

Oh, guess what? The trip was such a hit, dad is already starting to plan for another one in 2017:cool1:. Everyone is already starting their "Disney Funds" because Dad can't afford to pay for another once-in-a-lifetime trip:rolleyes1.

08-23-2012, 12:41 PM
I love re-reading my TR...brings back great memories:blush:.

I noticed that I forgot to mention that we were successful in getting our upgrades on AirTran both down and back. My sister was glad she'd opted to get a seat for Emilee instead of travelling with her as a lap baby. Olivia did really well on the flight, even though her DVD player died about 20 minutes into the flight. She thought that "going potty on the plane" was really cool:thumbsup2. Emilee slept through most of the flight, riding comfortably in her car seat. On the way down, it was my sister and brother's families that were upgraded, along with mom so that there was an even number. Dad sat with Kamryn and I on one side and DH and Kaedyn sat across the aisle from us. We were in the 4th row of coach so we weren't too far away from everyone else. On the way home, our family flew in BC and then dad upgraded himself and mom to keep it even. Then, he moved around my sister's family of 4 so that they sat 2/2, one behind the other. My brother's family of 5 just took up one row across.

I mentioned our breakfast at Olivia's but I failed to talk about the rest of the afternoon. We got done eating around 11:30 and our DME pickup wasn't until 1:15. Amazingly, nobody wanted to swim:confused3. I think it was because they all found the community hall:thumbsup2. I have to say, that place was a GOD-SEND!! Kamryn, Kenadie and Jax all played the Wii...Olivia colored with Granny...The hubby, brother, BiL and Kaedyn all played pool...and sister, SiL and I just floated from group to group, "supervising". Dad just watched and admired all the fun everyone was having:lovestruc. Around 12:45, mom busted out the birthday cupcakes that she'd made the night before. We got some candles and sang "Happy Birthday" to Jax, Kamryn, Olivia and Hollie (SiL)...and the CM's even joined in:banana:.

Our DME bus was a little late and I have found that the best way to get it to show up quicker is to have half of your group take a last-minute potty break while the other half wanders through the gift shop to spend the rest of their gift cards:rolleyes1. Then, watch the person who actually stayed to wait for the bus lose their mind while trying to wrangle up the other 14 people and their bags:furious:. We were OK, though, since there was another party of 15 AND a party of 8 that were "in line" ahead of us. By the time they were boarding, our group was reunited and in line with their bags;).

My mom was talking to me yesterday about the trip. She was still raving about the great weather we had and how she would really have no problem going again in June. I know that my SiL has already started thinking about taking her family again, but she also mentioned that she'd love to do F&W again in October 2013. I don't know if she's thinking about taking her kids out of school or if that will be an "adults only" trip. My sister wants to wait until Emilee is 4 or 5 before she goes back. She said her Disney fund has $75 in it already and she has started putting $25 per paycheck into it. Dad said he is shooting for 2017 as the next family trip. I think everyone will be on board with that:wizard:.

I'll post some more vacation pictures when I get a chance.

01-24-2014, 09:38 AM
...but I thought I would update...


We are ALL going back from June 18-25, 2016:beach:

It's a little early to start the PTR, but the dates are set and the planning (and saving:thumbsup2) has begun.

The only thing that is fairly certain is that we will be staying at AKV this time instead of OKW. Although, Dad and my sister are contemplating OKW...they love it there;).

01-27-2014, 02:20 PM
Thank you for such a great TR. It's amazing how much your kids look like you and your hubby! I hope you have a blast planning your next big trip!

03-15-2014, 11:36 AM
Thank you for such a great TR. It's amazing how much your kids look like you and your hubby! I hope you have a blast planning your next big trip!

When people see my girls, without hubby and I, they can't believe they are sisters:lmao:. What's funny is that my girls and Olivia all go to the same school. The school secretary thought that Kamryn and Olivia were sisters and that Kaedyn is their cousin:rotfl2:. My mom has commented that Kam and Olivia look like sisters and Kaedyn and Emilee look like they could be sisters too. I guess it's in our genes;).

03-27-2014, 04:59 PM
...but I thought I would update... THE DATES ARE SET!!party: We are ALL going back from June 18-25, 2016:beach: It's a little early to start the PTR, but the dates are set and the planning (and saving:thumbsup2) has begun. The only thing that is fairly certain is that we will be staying at AKV this time instead of OKW. Although, Dad and my sister are contemplating OKW...they love it there;).

With your group. The pools and the extra potty will be a huge benefit if you stay at Kidani. But nothing beats the sq footage at OKW

03-27-2014, 05:07 PM
With your group. The pools and the extra potty will be a huge benefit if you stay at Kidani. But nothing beats the sq footage at OKW

Yes! Especially with all those girls:rotfl2:. At travel time, we will have 6 girls ranging in age from 4-14...and that doesn't include the 4 adult ladies:laughing:

04-21-2014, 06:49 PM
loved reading about your last trip and can not wait to hear all about the new one :)

05-25-2014, 01:22 PM
[QUOTE=kristenrice;50555258The only thing that is fairly certain is that we will be staying at AKV this time instead of OKW. Although, Dad and my sister are contemplating OKW...they love it there;).[/QUOTE]

Well, I can change this statement right now...

My sister and her family decided that due to the cost, they would really prefer to stay at OKW again. Of course, Dad feels bad that they will be the only family over there. So, I compromised...

My family will be a bit strapped for points (the others will be renting from individuals) so we had to plan for a studio/1BR split. We decided that we will do our split between OKW and AKV so that Kim's family isn't "all alone" for the whole trip. We will do our first three nights in a studio at OKW and then move to a standard 1BR at Kidani for the last 4 nights.

Of course, this might change again...

Kim's family has never been to AKV and they are joining us for 5 nights at Kidani this October. They may decide that it is worth it to spend the extra $100 to stay at AKV instead.