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-   -   TR May 2010-An Aussie's Journey - California Here we Come (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2392081)

PrincessInOz 02-08-2010 04:02 AM

TR May 2010-An Aussie's Journey - California Here we Come
 
TRIP REPORT - QUICK LINKS

California Here We Come









PRE-TRIP REPORT
Departure city: Melbourne, Australia (not Florida)
Departure date: early May 2010 (OMG under 90 days to go)
Travelling companions: DH, 9 y.o. DS = immediate party (Update #3). DParents, DBrother, DBGirlFriend, 11 y.o. DBTwins = extended party.
[NOTE: Previously travelled with extended party to DL and SoCal Theme Parks; so we know the good, the bad, the ins and the outs....all cool:grouphug:]

Quick Links

An Aussie in Near Panic #2
A little bit about myself #3
Finally making it to the US #4
Dining plans Report #5
Dining plans Report #5.1
Road trip Miami to Orlando #6
World beating plans? #7
To bag or not to bag #8
Melbourne to Orlando via Miami (and Melbourne) #9
World Beating Plans? Part 2 #10
Thinking of Disney Cheating with Harry #11
I've done ToT for real, now for WDW version #12
7 weeks to go before I'm on a plane and all paid up #13
It's about the camera, not the photographer! #14
Countdown to May! It's time to get fit#15
Countdown to May! 39 days to go
Countdown to May! 38 days to go
Countdown to May! 36 days to go
Countdown to May! 34 days to go
Wishes Dessert Party vs getting fit #16
Countdown to May! 27 days to go
Countdown to May! The slide at SAB is what?? #17
Countdown to May! 19 days to go
Countdown to May! 18 days and weight loss!
Countdown to May! 14 days to go!
Countdown to May! 13 days and packing??
Countdown to May! 12 days: Freezer clear out time
Countdown to May! 11 days - lost more WEIGHT
Countdown to May! 10 days to go
Countdown to May! 9 days to go and a great FOREX rate
Countdown to May! 8 days & DH, DS R ready 2 go?!
Countdown to May! 7 days = 1 week....1 WEEK
Countdown to May! 6 days & time to start culling
Countdown to May! 5 days & free disney photo
Countdown to May! 4 days and a sea of clothes!
Countdown to May! 3 days to go.....!
Countdown to May! 2 sleeps left!
Teleport & backup Stargate not working. Flying to World!


1. Passports! Just realised DH and DS passports expire B4 May 2010. Yikes! Have organised renewals for them. Hmmm...what about myself? 3 years to go on my passport, so I don't need one myself; but DH and DS will have the newest microchip technology in their passports. They can fast track through customs whilst I stand in line for manual processing. Solution? Organise new passport for myself. I only need to convince the passport processing officer why I'm getting a new passport despite having a perfectly good and valid one already.....I'll get back to you on this one. (Update #2)

2. Long haul tickets. DH has traded in Qantas airline points for the most direct flights from Melbourne AUSTRALIA to Los Angeles. It's only a 15 hour flight. Turns out that this is the most expensive flight for DS and myself to get on :scared1:. "Minor" technicality....do I cough up the $$ or should I book DS and myself on another flight (cheaper and potentially with a different airline)? I'll have to get back on this one too....still thinking. Extended party are travelling on a different airline and flight. (Update #4)

3. Internal flight. LAX to somewhere in Florida. After much deliberation, I've bitten the bullet and have booked LAX to Miami. Yes, I know this is somewhat south of the World...but I've always wanted to see the Everglades. You Floridians might consider this to be nothing but a mosquito infested swamp...but it is considered one of the great ecosystems of the world. DH, DS and I have been in this neck of the woods in 2005 and drove down to Key West (missed out on the keys) and yes - the mossies are huge. We missed out on the Everglades the last time and I'm not travelling down to Florida twice without seeing the Everglades! Any input and advise on things to do at the "swamp" will be gratefully received.
Hmmmm...do I book the red eye (after flying potentially 17 hours from Melbourne AUSTRALIA to LAX) or do I stay one night in Los Angeles?? Decisions, decisions. I'll have to get back to you on this one. Extended party have booked the red eye.
(Update #6 and 9)

4. Road trip from Miami to the World. DH, DS and I have done this trip B4. The last time, we bought our park hopper tickets in YeeHaw junction. They price matched Undercover Tourist prices. Not sure if I'll buy tickets from them this time (see below point 6 for why). I think we're going to have to go to Melbourne FLORIDA on the way up. For those Melbournians reading this (anyone??), please tell me where to go for the best photo opportunity shots. My Melbourne AUSTRALIAN friends would never believe me otherwise.
(Update #6 and 9)

5. Accommodation ONSITE! :dance3: DH and I have decided to "go for it" this time. Our first (and only other) visit was in 2005 and we stayed off site. With the general WDW discounts, the accommodation is much more affordable even with a 92 (nope), 90 (nope), 88 (nope), possibly 85 cent exchange rate. I used a TA to make my booking for me (yes I know I could have done this myself but I couldn't face staying up to 1 am Melbourne Australia time to call Orlando) and we're doing a split stay at a moderate and a deluxe. Note to self - keep watching that exchange rate and hope that the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) don't kill the global financial markets this time. Prepay, prepay, prepay! Extended party will be looking for Offsite accommodation within their budget.

6. FOOD glorious FOOD. Thinking about change the 5 night moderate stay to a package, with the QSDP. Hmmm...this will mean that I'll have to pay full price for the park hopper tickets...and yes, I am aware that most people think that the QSDP is breakeven at best and that doing counter service food is "limiting"...but table service really isn't our thing with a 9 year old. I'm also not planning on purchasing a one day park ticket so that we can get the dining plan added on when we're at the deluxe; so will be able to test out QSDP vs OOP and post the results. I'm sure I can convince DH that this will be a good American community service opportunity for us :cheer2:.
I've gotten TA to book DH, DS and myself in to a Character Breakfast in the deluxe component of our trip (another 1 a.m. call I haven't had to stay up for). Extended party like to sleep-in (we're early risers) so it's all good. (Update #5 and #5.1)

7. What are we celebrating? I'll be celebrating a birthday during the deluxe part of our stay (and no, I'm not telling you how many times I've celebrated my 21st birthday...and no prizes for guessing either). I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to make this an extra special Disney day (aside from the buttons)....I'll wait till you get back to me on this one. (Update #10)

kangaand2roos 02-08-2010 06:22 AM

Subscribing! I think I'm first! I don't think I've ever been first before! :dance3:

OK...Now I'm going to go and actually read the PTR!

kangaand2roos 02-08-2010 06:40 AM

OK...I read and I look forward to more!

I'm interested to hear how your son handles the long flights. We're considering taking our two (DD7 &DS5) to Israel some time in the next 2 years, but I am afraid of the voyage. DD would probably do fine, but DS easily gets bored. Australia and New Zealand are also on our long term travel goals, but later. The only reason we are considering Israel now is that I have a couple of cousins who will be living there for 2 more years.

As far as celebrating, make sure you mention your birthday (or have the TA do it) when you make hotel and dining reservations (TA can add them on to existing reservations.) Maybe you could book an extra-special meal that day, like dinner at the California Grill or Ohana during Wishes. Or, get a spa treatment. Whatever would be special for you!pixiedust:pixiedust

PrincessInOz 02-09-2010 05:48 AM

Thanks for reading ...Kangaand2roos
 
Quote:

I'm interested to hear how your son handles the long flights.
Thanks for subscribing! My son travels super well. This is his 6th trip to the US and we started travelling with him when he was 7 months old, which with the benefit of hindsight, by far the easiest trip we've ever had with him. I am blessed with a very easy-going and loving child; and travelling with him has always been fantastic. When we leave Oz, it's usually mid morning and arrival in the US is morning of the same day (we cross the International Dateline and go back in time:confused:). So, our strategy is for us all to stay up and go without sleep for about 36 hours. After we crash and wake up the next day, we're all acclimatized to the time zone..no jet lag.

Quote:

DS easily gets bored
In-board entertainment is a wonderful thing! Lots of kids movies, games and music. But then we always supplement with our own games to reduce the amount of screen time DS has.

If I've gotten things right, my next post will include pictures.

PrincessInOz 02-09-2010 06:14 AM

PreTrip Report - An Aussie in near panic Report #2
 
So I was going to post some pictures by way of introductions. But turns out I still have a few "ears" to earn before I can post.

Here's an update on the passport issue...
Quote:

I only need to convince the passport processing officer why I'm getting a new passport despite having a perfectly good and valid one already
I took my renewal app form to the "interview" and sure enough...I had to do a "please explain". Took me about 60 seconds of rambling before she smiled :thumbsup2. So, with my perfectly good/valid "old" passport now cancelled, I have to wait 2 weeks for my new passport to arrive. Task 1 nearly accomplished.

Why a I in near panic? I have to organise all tasks and haven't even started planning my park strategy yet! For an obsessive compulsive, this is bordering on near disaster :headache:. I'm reading all these threads of PTR where people are planning what they are doing.....and they still have 10 months to go...

kangaand2roos 02-09-2010 07:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrincessInOz (Post 35358126)
Thanks for subscribing! My son travels super well. This is his 6th trip to the US and we started travelling with him when he was 7 months old, which with the benefit of hindsight, by far the easiest trip we've ever had with him. I am blessed with a very easy-going and loving child; and travelling with him has always been fantastic. When we leave Oz, it's usually mid morning and arrival in the US is morning of the same day (we cross the International Dateline and go back in time:confused:). So, our strategy is for us all to stay up and go without sleep for about 36 hours. After we crash and wake up the next day, we're all acclimatized to the time zone..no jet lag.


In-board entertainment is a wonderful thing! Lots of kids movies, games and music. But then we always supplement with our own games to reduce the amount of screen time DS has.

If I've gotten things right, my next post will include pictures.

My kids have also been traveling since infancy, but never so far. Six hours across the country is the longest either has done. I'm sure we would get through it, but it's a matter or deciding whether it is worth it at this point!

We did the QSDP in November and it worked out well for us for that trip but it really was a lot of food (but part of that was because DH was only with us part of the trip, but had the plan for the whole trip, so most days we had breakfast included too! With dessert included in each meal, plus 2 snacks per day, that was a lot of food. That said, it did cost several hundred dollars less than had we paid for the same OOP. I definitely think it is worth a try! I'm considering adding it to our fall trip because the snack credits will be great with the Food and Wine Festival. I may not actually make that decision until soon before the trip.

PrincessInOz 02-10-2010 03:57 AM

Quote:

QSDP in November and it worked out well for us for that trip
Nice to hear.
DS is 9; so we are up for 2 adult and 1 child QSDP for 5 nights at POR. DS is a great eater; so I'm hoping that I can share my portion with him. He also loves his snacks so the plan should work out great for him - just based on the snacks alone.

I'm working on "earning my ears" so hopefully before you jump on tonight MLB time, I'm have pictures up.

PrincessInOz 02-10-2010 03:59 AM

Quote:

considering taking our two (DD7 &DS5) to Israel some time in the next 2 years
I'd love to visit Israel. DH has relatives living in TelAviv and we keep thinking we should make a visit ourselves. How long is the trip from your side of the US to Israel?

PrincessInOz 02-10-2010 05:11 AM

PreTrip Report - A little bit more about myself - Report #3
 
So let me post some pictures by way of introductions.

This is DH, DS and myself taken from the top of a building in Melbourne, called the Rialto. If you look hard enough and through the security grill, you'll see the bay in the background. I used to work in this building and we came up to see the views one last time before they close the observation deck and convert it to a Michelin star restaurant. Next time we want to see the views of the city, we'll have to pay $$$ for fine dining.
http://i816.photobucket.com/albums/z...z/PC300054.jpg

Here's a view of Melbourne city skyline, the city I live in. We live in the 'burbs and it takes me about 20 - 30 minutes to drive in to town. The Yarra River is a constant "muddy" colour. In Oz, our rivers are mostly "upside down". The sediment floats at the top - something to do with the Eucalyptus when they break down and the residue floats rather than sinks - but the waters are clean. Travel about 10 - 20 km (8 - 15 miles) upstream of the city (definitely still the 'burbs) and you might be lucky to see native Platypus (no, I've never seen any in the Yarra). But very occassionally, there will be the odd dolphin swim up the bay into the Yarra. I'm sure the dolphins come up for the media frenzy that follows.
http://i816.photobucket.com/albums/z...z/P3180016.jpg

This is my DS. That blob above his head in the trees is a Koala Bear, asleep. I'd like to claim that this is taken from my backyard - but no - my backyard is pedestrianly surburban. This was taken at a Koala Sanctuary at Phillip Island, an hour's drive away.
http://i816.photobucket.com/albums/z...z/P1070044.jpg

And this is my backyard - NOT. Just thought I'd throw in another picture of Aussie wildlife. Unfortunately for me (because I don't want to perpetuate the "myth" that Aussies have kangaroos for pets), this picture really IS a friend's backyard. They live in the "bush"...nearest city is about 2 hours away.
http://i816.photobucket.com/albums/z...z/IMG_2104.jpg

I like cooking and food of any kind, puzzles of any sort, gardening, knitting and travelling. I work 3 days a week and get to be the SAHM for 4 days. Oh...I'll be celebrating my 21st birthday for the 23rd time in May (yes, I'll be 44). I have one more year of being able to tick the 35 - 44 demographics group in those impersonal personal surveys we get sucked in to do.

kangaand2roos 02-10-2010 08:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrincessInOz (Post 35371714)
I'd love to visit Israel. DH has relatives living in TelAviv and we keep thinking we should make a visit ourselves. How long is the trip from your side of the US to Israel?

When I was looking at flights, there were no direct, so there were layovers and that made the trip about 18 hours gate to gate!

PrincessInOz 02-11-2010 04:00 AM

Still trying to make it to the US from OZ
 
So I'm hoping that this weekend will be the lucky Valentine's Weekend for me. Flight Centre are holding a Travel Convention this weekend. I'm hoping that the flights I want will be discounted. Come what may...I'm booking DS and myself on a flight after this weekend....wish me luck!

kschafer 02-11-2010 11:42 AM

Came over from my PTR to check out your plans! Gotta go back and read now.

Wow! That is a lot of travel you have planned!!

Glad you were able to get the passport part straightened out.

A hint about the QS credits. If your 9 year old is like my 8 year old, the kids meals won't be large enough for him. When we went in 2008, we had the regular dining plan and the QS credits were pooled together (not separated into adults/kids credits like the TS was). Look closely at this when you check in (you will receive a paper indicating how many credits you have to start) If they still keep them pooled, your son can eat off the adult menu. We only had a cashier say something to us once about doing this, he said he would charge us for 3 adult meals but since they are not separated, this really had no effect in the end.

kangaand2roos 02-11-2010 02:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PrincessInOz (Post 35371809)
Oh...I'll be celebrating my 21st birthday for the 23rd time in May (yes, I'll be 44). I have one more year of being able to tick the 35 - 44 demographics group in those impersonal personal surveys we get sucked in to do.

You're OLD!! (I don't turn 44 until September!:lmao:)

PrincessInOz 02-13-2010 05:26 AM

Quote:

You're OLD!!
Still able to tick the 35 - 44 demographics age bracket :)

PrincessInOz 02-13-2010 05:27 AM

Yay! Someone else wants to talk to me.

Quote:

QS credits were pooled together
I'll be doing the happy dance if this was the case! Thanks for the tip.


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