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BigDogHU75 03-07-2009 02:40 PM

Plans are made to be broken … aren’t they? Our first trip home to AKV
Hello! Welcome to my first trip report. :welcome: I decided to write a trip report because all the trip reports that I have read have been so informative, funny, and helpful. Also, they tell a great story that makes me feel like I am living the experience with them and helps to make the countdown to my next trip to Disney World more bearable (shout out to GlendaMax, brookelizabeth, wdwgirl03, joech, and Donald is #1). Though we have never met your trip reports helped make the wait more bearable.

My plan was to write down what we did at the end of each day. I was going to take pictures of everything, including the food and the menus. Well, that went right out the window as soon as we arrived. :rolleyes1 Hey, I can only get better with time which is more of a reason to take as many trips as possible. I do have a good memory and did take some pictures, so, I hope you enjoy my first attempts at writing a trip report. Now, let’s begin.

By the way, here are a couple of details before we begin:

Dates: February 7 – 14, 2009
Resort: Animal Kingdom Villas – Rooms 5425, 5427, & 5512
Transportation to Disney World: Van
Parks Visited: Epcot, MK, AK, & DHS

BigDogHU75 03-07-2009 03:03 PM

Is the beginning a good place to begin? I think so.
So where should I begin? :idea: At the beginning of course. The next few posts will be a pre-trip report of sorts - even though my trip is over. Oh, how I wish it wasn’t. :(

I started planning our trip to Disney shortly after DH & I became DVC members. I first learned about the Disney vacation club while listening to the Steve Harvey Morning Show in January 2008. I visited the website, ordered the DVD, watched it with DH, and together we decided that DVC would be right for us. This would be a way for us to vacation at least once every other year if not every year. Both DH & I love Disney. However, the last time we were at Disney was for our Disneymoon in April 2002 when we did the Land & Sea vacation and had a blast. That was way too long ago.
DH & I. Even though my shirt says 2001 it was 2002
DH on the Wonder
Somewhere in Nassau
Ahhh, the memories ...

Plus, we had a new addition to our family, our DS, who had to experience the magic of Disney.
DS just hours old
DS in Feb. 2008

So, we contacted DVC, spoke to a very nice guide who mailed us the paperwork, completed all the it, and became in March 2008 owners of a 160 points with our home resort at AKV.

One of the incentives for new contracts was 100 developer points which we had to use by February 28, 2009. So, vacation planning began. DH & I discussed when the best time would be for us to take a family vacation. We couldn’t do it in 2008 because we already had plans to visit relatives in FL. So close but yet so far. We discussed going in January 2009 around his birthday but DH felt that was too close after our Christmas vacation. If I only knew about Disney’s theme for 2009 back then, I would have insisted a little harder. So, we decided February 2009 would be best. Let the planning begin.

duckybelle 03-07-2009 03:15 PM

GREAT start! More more!

OhMari 03-07-2009 03:16 PM

I don't know to much about DVC,
how does it work?

BigDogHU75 03-07-2009 04:34 PM


Originally Posted by duckybelle (Post 30686719)
GREAT start! More more!

Thank you and welcome! There is definitely more to come.


Originally Posted by OhMari (Post 30686734)
I don't know to much about DVC,
how does it work?

I did not know much about it in the beginning. DH & I had gone on a lot of timeshare presentatons but after viewing the video and doing my research I was hooked. You can either purchase a set number of points from Disney (which is what we did) or purchase a contract through resale. We purchased the minimum number of points (160) based on when we thought we would be traveling to Disney, the room we would likely book, our typical length of stay, and, of course our finances. Our home resort is AKV. So, we could book a room at AKV 11-months before our check-in date. At the other resorts (i.e., Saratoga Springs, Boardwalk, Beach Club Villas, Old Key West, Hilton Head, etc.) we would have to wait 7-months before check-in to book our room.
For me, one of the advantages of owning is that I do not hve to worry about the cost of staying at a hotel onsite. Plus, I get to stay at a deluxe resort and there is no charge for extra people. All I need to do is book the appropriate size room to accomodate my party size.
We do have to pay maintenance fees every year but you have to pay those with any timeshare.
In addition, you can use your points (plus you have to pay a fee) to book a Disney cruise, or to stay at other Disney resorts, or exchange them for a vacation through RCI.
Points are good for your use year. For example, my use year begins in Aug. so every Aug. for the length of the contract I will get 160 points. If I do not use all of my points in a use year I can bank my points to the next use year (but you can only bank points once). You can also borrow points from the next year. For instance, my contract had points starting with a use year of August 2007. So for this vacation, I banked those points and borrowed points from Aug. 2009 UY. I went during the Dream season this year so a 2-bedroom was 315 points for the entire week and the 1-bedroom was 182 points (I believe). I sill have points left over for 2009 albeit a small amount.
If you decide you need more points, you can purchase additional points. We purchased an additional 50 points at AKV so now we have a total of 210 points.
I hope this helps somewhat. If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to ask.

Donald is #1 03-07-2009 05:03 PM

Hi Marsha! I'm on board. You're trip report is off to a great start.

BigDogHU75 03-07-2009 05:37 PM


Originally Posted by Donald is #1 (Post 30688265)
Hi Marsha! I'm on board. You're trip report is off to a great start.

Hi Robbie! :wave: Thank you for joining my TR.

BigDogHU75 03-07-2009 05:50 PM

The planning (or is it obsession) begins.
Let me begin by telling you I am a planner or should I say PLANNER. I need to have a plan. I am not the type of person who easily goes with the flow though that changed over the course of this trip somewhat. ;)

It was settled (at least for now) that our dates would be February 7 – 14. Now, the countdown began. The first was the countdown to when we could book the trip. With the developer points we had to wait until the 7-month booking window. So, I decided to book the rooms in two steps. I would book the 2 bedroom first and then wait for the 7-month window and book the one bedroom.

My reservation for the two-bedroom was confirmed on April 10, 2008. I marked my calendar as to when I could book the one bedroom. – July 14, 2008. This is when DVC calculated the time you can book based on your checkout date. In the meantime, I scoured the web to find as much information as I could to make our trip a magical experience. It was during this time that I discovered the Mecca, the Holy Grail of websites – the Disboards. :disrocks: :thanks: OMG! How did I not discover this website before? I joined immediately. And, that is when my research grew into an obsession according to my DH. I chalked it up as him not understanding my desire to gather as much info as possible to make the trip more enjoyable for all of us and my need to plan and then plan some more.

It was on the Disboards that I found out about the change in DVC policy. I discovered that I could book a whole week earlier. YAY! I called to make our reservations on July 10.

Now, you may be asking why we needed the two bedroom and a one bedroom. Well, during our planning, DH & I decided to invite some family members along since part of our reason for buying into DVC was so that we could have big family trips. We decided that we would invite my parents and DH’s mother (my DMIL). Plus, it would be a great way for some of the grandparents to spend time with DS.

Because of the party size, we decided on a 2 bedroom which we would share with my DMIL & a 1 bedroom for my parents both with a savannah view at AKV. We were keeping our fingers crossed about getting a savannah view since we knew that the Sunset Savannah would be closed during this time. Anyway, I called member services for the first time (there would be many) and yes rooms were available. So, now the vacation was booked.

I will not bore you with all of the details but needless to say I called MS more than once. I changed our reservations from Feb. 7 – 14 to Feb 8 – 15 to Feb 8 – 14 back to Feb. 7-14. And, I will not begin to tell you how many times I changed my dining reservations (ADRs). It was not totally my fault, though. I was consulting two touring websites to figure out which days would be best to visit the parks and for what times I should make my ADRs. I had it all planned out beautifully – a 7 day touring schedule. It was truly a sight to behold. Then, something happened; Disney started changing EMH and show times and park opening and closing times. But that is not all; more guests were saying the wanted to come or would visit us while we were there.

In August, when we visited family in FL, my DH’s brother mentioned that he might want to join us in Feb. but he was not sure. In October or November, my DM asked if her brother, my uncle, could come with us. I said sure I would love for my DU to vacation with us. So she asked him and he was totally onboard. That was perfect because now my DMIL & DU could ride together. They both live in FL not to far from one another. My DBIL decided that he would join us for part of the vacation. Now, I am glad that I got the two bedroom villa. Then, in January my DH’s father learned that we would be in Orlando. Since he lives in Tampa, he decided that he and his wife would see if they can get a timeshare in Orlando and spend a day with us (at least that is what I thought). Then, DH’s other father (DH has a biological father and an adoptive father (but we don’t distinguish in our family since they are both his fathers) told us he would drive down and try to visit us. He too lives in FL. I need to make another change to my ADRs.

Then there was the ultimate contributor to the change, in the itinerary Disney’s Salute to the Military January press release. What is this I am reading? Is it true? Yes, it is. Active or retired military can get a free 5 day park hopper with water park option and more pass. And, that is not all. A military person can purchase up to 5, 5 –day park passes for $99 and can add the park hopper option for an additional $25 more. Why did this excite me? My uncle is retired military, army to be exact. So, I called my mom right away and told her the news. She too was excited. That was a great savings. Since the pass was only for 5 days, the itinerary had to be changed. I was okay with that because who can argue with saving $ on park passes. That meant more $ to spend on other things. It also meant that my 7-day itinerary (where DH, DS, & I would be visiting the parks on 7 different days) would need to be changed to a 5 day one. And, I would need to change my ADRs again.

I had everything finalized two weeks before we left. I was also packed and ready to go. Now, the only thing left to do is wait for the day of departure to arrive.

BigDogHU75 03-08-2009 05:04 PM

Our vacation can finally begin!
Leave by 8, take three hour shifts driving, stop in Jacksonville to sleepover in a hotel and visit friends who live in Orange Park.

What happened:
After all the discussing and planning, the day of departure was finally here. My parents had arrived at our house on Feb. 5. When I came home from work, I helped my DF load up the van. Was there any room for our stuff and us? Let me tell you, my DM had the van packed and loaded. She told me that she was bringing some food but I did not think she would be bringing that much.

So we stuffed everything in the van and still everyone had a place to sit (barely). All we had to do next is get a good night sleep and leave by 8 a.m. on February 6.

Well, we did not quite leave at 8 a.m. on the 6th. My DF left before 8 to fill up the van and get breakfast for all of us and coffee for my DM & him at WaWa. Well, 30 minutes later, I am wondering where DF is. It is a few minutes to 8 and he isn’t back yet. I know that they are doing construction on the road to get to WaWa but it shouldn’t be taking this long. We are already behind schedule. DM suggested I call his cell phone which I do. DF is fine. He is just waiting for them to make the sandwiches. So, I wait patiently (not). DF finally returns. Now, it’s time to eat. OK everybody stuff the food into your mouths and let’s go. Wait a minute, I forgot, my DM likes to enjoy her food. Tick tock, tick tock … . All done! It’s time to get in the van and leave.

Everyone gets in the van except me.
DS getting into the van with his Mickey we got at JCPenny’s for considerably less than what they were selling it for at the parks.

DH forgot to tell the neighbors that were going on vacation. So, it is left up to me. I walk over to the neighbor’s. He invites me inside, we have some small talk, he agrees to watch the house, asks if he could park the van in our driveway, I say “no problem”, thank him, and finally I get in the van. We are on our way at 9:03. I know not too late.

My DF takes the first leg of the trip with me in the front passenger seat. Route 301 South to I-95. We stop in Skippers, VA for a bathroom break, gas, snacks (don’t we already have snacks), and to switch drivers. I take over the driving and DF is in the front with me. I drive to Florence, SC where we take a bathroom break, get gas and lunch from Taco Bell (don’t we have some food in the van). DH takes over. I thought I would sit in the back seat with DS since I haven’t been near him since we left the house but, DF had other plans.
DS having fun with his Pop Pop
DF holding Mickey for DS

So, I am in the passenger seat again. DH makes it to Euloia (?), GA where the gas was over $2.00. We hadn’t paid that much for gas all day! We did our usual and DF took over the driving with me still in the front seat. Did you notice that DM did not do any driving? She likes to be chauffered. :laughing: I noticed at the next exit gas prices were under $2. :confused: Oh well, what can you do. DF drove to Kingsland, GA. Instead of going to Jacksonville, we decided to stay in the same hotel we stayed at when we traveled to FL in Aug. – Country Inn and Suites.

I wish we would have gone to Jacksonville. Our friend could not meet us at the hotel because she was working late. We definitely were not driving to Jacksonville to head back to Kingsland. So, we settled into our room to unwind. I had put some food in the microwave for DS and turned it on. Next thing I hear is a pop and the TV goes off. Then, we smell smoke, didn’t see it but smelled it. A fuse had blown. So, I called down to the front desk to let her know what happened while packing up our things. She told me to turn the air conditioner on and come down and get another key. She did not even bother to send someone up to check on the room, let alone the guests. I took DS to the grandparents’ room, DH packed, and I went to the front desk where another key was waiting for me. She just handed me the key. Did not say a word. I guess because another person was checking in. So, we moved to the new room and tried to go to bed.

DS was not having it though. He did not want no parts of going to sleep. And, he wanted us all to share one bed. We were in a room with two double beds and I know you can tell from the pictures of us that we are not a small sized family. But, that was the only way he would lay down. What we parents do for our children. So, he finally went to sleep. DH moved to the other bed and I finally went to sleep.

Though I was the last to go to sleep, I was the first to wake up. So, of course, I went to the bathroom to get ready. Well, to my surprise, the toilet was not working. It would not flush. Thank God I did not use it before I found that out. So, I go traipsing down to the front desk to report the problems from this morning and last night and to demand a refund or a discount. A refund or a discount was not happening. But, he did come up to the room and plunge the toilet. By then, I was ready to G-O.

DH & DS finally woke up. My parents were dressed and had reloaded the van with their overnight bags. I dressed DS & DH got ready. We went downstairs and had the complimentary deluxe continental breakfast. But, I was too excited to eat. I was ready to leave! Next stop Animal Kingdom Villas at Disney World! :cheer2: :dance3::cheer2:

saratogadreamin09 03-08-2009 07:40 PM

Can't wait for more and to see AKV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Backstage_Gal 03-08-2009 10:16 PM

Great start, subbing :thumbsup2

BigDogHU75 03-09-2009 01:25 PM


Originally Posted by saratogadreamin09 (Post 30706345)
Can't wait for more and to see AKV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome! The next couple of posts will have pics of AKV. If I have the time tonight I will post the next installment.


Originally Posted by Backstage_Gal (Post 30708661)
Great start, subbing :thumbsup2

Thank you and welcome.

BigDogHU75 03-09-2009 09:13 PM

We arrive!
The Plan:
Everybody arrive at AKV by 2:00 p.m. Explore Downtown Disney until the rooms are ready.

What happened:
We left Country Inn & Suites shortly around 9:30 a.m. DF was at the wheel. He is a retired bus driver so he is used to driving. Thank you Daddy, (yes, I still call him daddy). As we near Orlando, I get more excited. Am I the only one, because DH & DS are in the back of the van asleep. But, that is okay. Eventually, they do wake up before we get there. After a couple of hours, I see this:
Yay - we are almost “home.” :cheer2:

A few minutes later I see this:
Is this security?

Then we saw this sign:
Getting more and more excited

We did get to the other hut. The security guard looks up my DF’s name since he gave her his ID, gives him a one day pass and let’s us proceed. (DF was only given a one day pass initially because when I first reserved their room it was from Feb. 8 – Feb. 14. I later added on Feb. 7. However, since I used developer points to reserve their room and my regular points to reserve the additional day, the system showed two separate reservations). We then proceeded to park our van and check-in. We had made it “home” by 12:15 p.m. Way ahead of schedule. :dance3:

OMG! The resort was beautiful! The atmosphere was enchanting. I could not believe I was here. I was in love and I had not been further than the lobby. My DM did comment about the resort being dark. But, I only heard that comment when we first arrived. She too fell in love with the resort. I do not know why I did not take any pictures. I was just too excited I guess. But, I promise you, there will be more pictures in the next post.

We all get in line to check-in. By this time DS wanted me to pick him up. When I did I noticed that he was soaked! So, I gave DH my binder with our reservation #s in search of a restroom. DM & DF also had to use the restroom so they went with me. Halfway to the restroom I realized that DH did not know where anything was in the binder though I had sticky tabs. I signaled for him to get out of line but he did not understand what my flailing arm meant. Needless to say, he stayed in line.

When I got to the restroom I realized that the diaper bag that I grabbed did not have a change of clothes. I did not want DS to walk around with just a diaper and I did not want to walk back to the van. What did I do? I stripped him down, changed his diaper, took off his onesie, put his shirt back on (which was not wet thank goodness), looked around for a hand dryer (which the bathroom did not have – c’mon now), grabbed some paper towels, dried off his pants the best I could, slipped them back on, and went to find DH. By this time, I thought DH had me it to the front desk. But, when I walked out, he was still in line.

When we all got back in line the wait was not too long. The CM checked us all in, even the guests who had not arrived. We all received our KTTW cards. The CM even gave DS his own KTTW with DS’s name written on it. There was one slight problem, though. We did not have all of the KTTW cards. DBIL’s card was missing. The CM did not have it in the computer. But, that was not a problem. He checked with another CM who was standing at the main computer (I guess) and issued a card for DBIL. We were all checked in. And, there was a bonus – one room was ready. Room 5512, my parents’ room, was ready!

The CM showed us on the map where the room was. He also showed us the area where the other room would be but did not give us the room number. Instead, he gave us a card with a number to call to see if I room would be ready. He told us to call back in about an hour because the way things were looking, mousekeeping was working their way down the hall to our room.

So, we decided to see where DMIL & DU were. DH called his DM. She told him that they would not arrive for a couple of more hours. They had stopped to eat lunch. Well, there goes everyone arriving by 2. But, that is okay, we still had to unload the van.

Before unloading the van, we decided that would check out the room. Now, I did not realize that when you enter AKL, you are already on the third floor. So, we only had to take the elevators, which the CM directed us to, up two floors make a right and find room 5512.

Donald is #1 03-10-2009 07:36 PM

So exciting! I can't wait to hear your impressions of the room. popcorn::

that's nice 03-10-2009 10:38 PM


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