An Extreme Couponer's Surprise Trip to Tatooine-12/4 Bringing the Magic Back
Hi. Welcome to my Trip Report. I'll be back a little later with more details. I'm getting this report started with a title because if I post it, I will have to write it.
If you are reading this and trying to decide if you should subscribe or check back, here's the bottom line synopsis:
1 mom. 2 sons. 10 nights. 3 hotels. 4 days of Star Wars Weekend adventures. 3 major surprises including telling the boys at the airport that they are going with me to Disney.
Want to come along to Tatooine?
A Slip Up
The Worst Mother EVER
Are You Serious?
A Bad Check In
Hello to Disney World
No Freaking Way
No Wake Up Call
Getting My Geek On
Tears on a Lightsaber
Alex's Best Day Ever
SWW Bonus Pics
Boring Old Epcot
Kringla - Kring u lah - Kringa lahh
10 hours at Animal Kingdom (was not enough)
AK - Bonus Pics
Extreme Couponing and Disney Fruit Bars
AK Day Continued
Happy Birthday to Nick!
Nick's Birthday Party Day
'Ohana with Real Cousins
The Freak Out!
Pizza Party Picnic
Star Wars Friday!
Our Night at the Dolphin
Bringing the Magic to the Kingdom
Yay! Welcome to my first subscriber! :goodvibes I'm glad that you're here.
Count me in
Now this should be interesting. . .
I love a new trip report! Can't wait!popcorn::
Who - What - Where - When - Why
Thanks for joining me on my adventure. This wasn’t my first trip - it was my 14th. Like my children, each one has been unique and amazing and unpredictable and worth every penny. This one was no different.
Who-What-When-Where and Why -
I am bizeemom4 -
Here I am on a trip last year -
I have four kiddos and a husband - The husband and the older two did not come on this trip - work, school, life are other priorities for them. Some people just don’t know how to manage their time. :)
The two boys that accompanied me are -
Alex - 15 years old. Loves swimming, soccer and Star Wars but growing out of Disney.
Nick - turned twelve on the trip. Still loves Disney!
Nick’s birthday is the same day as my niece Zoe. She was born 10 years after Nick. My Dsis wanted to go to WDW to celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary which is the day after Nick and Zoe’s birthday. Got that? Nick and Zoe’s birthday June 8. Anniversary June 9.
As all of my trips to Disney do, it started out with me going for a long weekend. I would fly in late Wednesday, June 8th and leave Sunday, June 12th. We ended up going Friday, June 3rd thru Monday, June 13th. That’s some long weekend, eh?
My favorite - Pop Century. It’s my favorite only because the transportation and customer service has always been penultimate. I always feel happy and energized at this hotel. Note that is a very important point for later on in the report. We also will be staying three nights at the Dolphin. On Nick’s last birthday trip in 2006, we stayed at the Dolphin. Nick commented then that he wished we could have paid the extra ‘50 bucks’ so that we could have had a balcony - a comment that ripped thru my heart. I suffer from serious mommy guilt at times such as that and the comment has never left me. There was no doubt that when I contemplated a stay at the Dolphin, we were getting a balcony room no matter how many streets I had to walk or kidneys I needed to sell on Craigslist.
Those are the two hotels where we have reservations. As noted in the synopsis, we stayed in 3 hotels. Details on that will come later on that.
DSis began talking about her plans and I really don’t remember if I volunteered to babysit on her anniversary or if she asked me to fly down to help out but the decision was made that I would join her for Zoe’s birthday and their anniversary. School would be finished and because it was Nick’s birthday also, he is coming along. Initially, I had not planned to bring Alex. I often travel to WDW with a child or a couple of them or a few times just by myself with my Dsis and nephews/niece. So this trip was only going to be a celebration of Nick’s and Zoe’s birthday and my Dsis’s anniversary. But then….Mommy guilt and Star Wars showed up.
I booked the trip for Nick and I for Tuesday, June 7 to Sunday, June 12th and shared the trip information with DSis. She offers to pay for 2 nights of my trip if I will babysit her three kiddos on her anniversary!
I tried to justify not taking Alex with me.
He would miss a week of swimming practice.
It would be another $700-800 to bring him.
He had a birthday trip in 2009.
I would have five kids to 'babysit' during my sister's anniversary dinner instead of 4.
There are many compelling reasons to support not bring him with me. A niggle of mommy guilt here and there when I realized that it would be Star Wars weekend. And a little more when I justify the money my DSis would be contributing because I'm babysitting.
I ponder this for a week or so (we are about 3 weeks away from the trip at this point) and then I asked him if he would be sad if I went to Star Wars Weekend without him. His response was "Not saaaaaad. Just probably kind of jealous." HA! Ok so he wants to go. I book the plane ticket but I decide not to tell my sister. I thought it would be a nice surprise. Her oldest son likes to be Alex's ride buddy so this will be a very fun surprise.
At this point, neither Nick nor Alex knows that they are going to Disney. DSis doesn't know that Alex is coming. The trip is less than 3 weeks away. I think - hmmmm - that's not toooo long to keep a secret. Right?
A Slip Up!
My boys know that I'm going to Disney so I can dwell on Disney planning sites without being suspect. It does get tricky communicating with DSis. I have caught myself typing "the boys" in emails to her then backspacing and typing Nick. I am careful. I can do this.
The problem is that now that I think there is too much to do in just one weekend. To change flights from first flight Tuesday the 7th to last flight Friday the 3rd, I have to give up the great $69 one way rate but $84 still isn't that bad. Sold.
Next is to get a spy on the inside to help me keep tabs on her. I send her husband an email with the Subject line: I need a co-conspirator. As her husband is an attorney in the public arena, I knew that would definitely get his attention.
Here's the content of the email to him:
"I am praying that your wife doesn't have access to your email! I really want this to remain a surprise.
J thinks that I'm arriving at Disney on Tuesday the 7th to help you guys with your anniversary dinner. BUT I booked flights to Orlando for a late Friday (the 3rd) night arrival. I plan to surprise her on Saturday morning when you guys are heading in to Magic Kingdom (because she will have Nick's park ticket). I'm also surprising Matthew by bringing his buddy Alex. J has NO idea!
I spent over an hour on the phone with her yesterday trying to ply her itinerary out of her for the trip so I know what you guys are planning to do. What I need from you is to be my itinerary spy. If she goes off the grid and changes her mind about where you will be and when on Saturday the 4th, I need you to update/text me. I can't wait to see her face when I run into her!"
His response was similar to what my husband's would have been:
"Good God do you understand what you are asking of me? Now I have to pay attention to when she prattles on about Disney! Usually I smile and nod at appropriate intervals, perhaps throw a chuckle in there every now and then, but this....you are asking a lot."
He does agree to help me out and we're good to go. I head out of town the weekend before Disney for a girls weekend at the beach. Late one night, I found myself reading a post on here about Star Wars planning. Without reading each post, I typed "I will be there the next two weekends…..blah, blah, blah"
The next morning, I received a message via Facebook from DSis….."SOOOOO, um, you're going to be there for the next TWO weekends eh bizeemom4? is there something you're not telling me about your flight???????"
The Worst Mother EVER
What I missed in my late night - post girls night out at the club - is that my Dsis (who is also a member here at DISboards) had just posted prior to my posting. So she read my post and was understandably confused.
Anxiety and a few curse words ensue and I start muttering repeatedly to myself "What do I say to her?" I send her a response of "Ooooh. Well, it was after midnight when we got back to the hotel and instead of typing out my sister will be there this weekend and I will be there next weekend, I just put I will be there the next 2 weekends." Then I try to change the subject and complain about how long the lines have been lately. I have been monitoring the wait times all week to see what lines are like at the park where we would be on that day using the Free WDW Waits app.
Will she buy it? Her response was "Yeah. That is too much information for the Dis. I have to be honest. I was really excited there for a minute." YES! She falls for it. I try to use the Disboards to throw her off track. I posted a question about what time to show up for the Star Wars parade and make sure to mention that she will be there this weekend and I will be joining her the next weekend so that she will read it and know it's true. She never sees it.
When I get home from the beach weekend, I walk in and find Alex and Nick watching a Star Wars movie marathon. I almost cave and tell them about the trip. What a perfect time to do it, right?!??! I run and ask hubby and he says to keep it a secret. We are only 4 days away now. Stay strong.
I almost spilled the whole secret the next day. A better person than I would have caved. I had told the boys weeks ago that my Dsis was going to be paying two nights of the hotel for me as a thanks for watching her kids. So the kids think that this is the only reason that I'm able to go on this trip. Here's the scene: Me - sitting at the computer desk, checking on park hours and so on. Nick - comes up beside me and very quietly says "If Aunt J had sent you $200 more, maybe I could have come along too." OMGGGGGGGGGG. I felt so bad that he was secretly hoping that we had enough money for him to go on the trip too. I AM THE WORST MOTHER EVER. I want to tell him in the worst way. It killed me to not tell him the truth. I ask him to tell me what characters he would like me to meet and get autographs from to bring home for him. Really, he's helping me plan his trip but he doesn't know.
You may be wondering how I managed to pack clothes for the boys for 10 days at Disney without them noticing. I was lax this year in switching out their winter clothes with summer. Their dressers were still full of turtle necks, sweaters, jeans. Well, I also found candy wrappers, legos, pencils, art projects, and snow pants stuffed in them as well. I feign (well not a stretch) disgust and state that we have to clean out and reorganize these dressers. I unpacked the summer stuff, making a few different piles of clothes around their room. To them, it was organized chaos. To me, it was clothes to stay here, clothes to pack on Thursday, clothes that are for my sister's boys. Genius if I do say so.
They need new sandals for the trip. Alex has none at all and Nick has one flip flop. How does that happen? I feign (well not a stretch) guilt that "I have been such a bad mom and didn't even buy you new sandals this year and tomorrow is the very last day of school. I have to get you new sandals or I will feel really bad!" That's the last purchase needed for the trip. I've already hit CVS and purchased my Aveeno sunscreen - 3 of them for $11 out of pocket after coupons and extra care bucks. If you've ever run out of sunscreen at Disney, you know that Disney will be glad to sell it to you for $11 each and they don't accept coupons!
Thursday night after work, swim practice and dinner, the boys are watching TV in their room. I swoop in and snag the 'take' piles and they don't even glance at me. So easy.
I pack everything quietly in my room and Friday morning while they are still sleeping (hooray for first day of summer vacation!) and my dog is still in bed, my husband and I put everything in the car. My dog knows what suitcases mean and she gets depressed so we had to hide them from her as well as the boys.
The boys had agreed to ride along with me to the airport. I want a hug goodbye before my trip. They have no reason at all to be hopeful or suspicious. My DD wants to ride along to say goodbye (really to see their reaction to their surprise) and DH is going to drive and drop us off. Parking for 10 nights at BWI is more expensive than a tank of gas spent driving to Baltimore and back. Besides, what husband doesn't enjoy driving a three hour roundtrip on the beltway on a Friday night?!
I leave work at 3. I walk in the door and yell for the boys. Two little hobos show up ready to go with me to the airport. I guess when I took 12 of the nicest polos and shorts from each kid, it left them with nothing better than gym uniforms and old hand-me-down condition t-shirts. Alex is complaining that he can't find any shorts at all. "I don't know what happened to all my clothes!!!!!!!!!" Hahaha.
We find ourselves at the airport at 5:15 - almost 3 hours before the flight. That's perfect for us. We always get there super early. It's peace of mind for me and also because I need the extra time to obsessively check that I have the plane tickets, my license, credit card, money, everyone's stuff and so on.
Brian parks in hourly parking and I jump out and grab the camera. I can't wait to see the reaction when the van door opens up and they see a mountain of luggage.
You're going to leave us with THAT cliffhanger??
OMG! You can't leave me hanging there!!
I seriously don't know how you didn't spill the beans when your DS came to you about the extra $200. That would've broken me right there!
Great job packing without anyone noticing. My dog has suitcase anxiety too. We have to do all our packing in the basement.
Are you Serious?
When DH had removed the summer clothes from the attic, he pulled all of the suitcases down too. Alex asked me how many I was taking on my trip. I said "Just three." I'm glad that they are both going because I need a suitcase for my shoes - only 9 pair for the 10 day trip and another for my makeup/shampoo/bodywash/etc. My DH thinks that's a lot. Clueless.
Back to BWI………….and the back of the van goes up and there are SEVEN suitcases, a jammed Disney backpack, a small Igloo cooler and a Disney messenger bag stuffed with my laptop and camera.
The boys are standing by the van and see the luggage. Alex says "Mom! I thought you were only taking three suitcases." I say "Yeah. And I also told you that you weren't coming with me." Nick looks puzzled but then I see it in his eyes right away. He realizes what I mean. It takes Alex a beat longer. DH is all business. He pulls luggage out of the van, opens a suitcase to show Alex and says "Alex. You'll need these clothes." Alex then starts reacting with "Are you serious? We're going? Are you serious? When? Right now? Are you going too Dad?"
I did it! They really didn't suspect anything. As they process the news, it all starts making sense. Why they couldn't find clothes to wear this afternoon. Why my story kept changing - I told Nick that I would be back for his birthday because I wouldn't miss it but then how could I be there for my Dsis's anniversary? Things that weren't adding up but they didn't question. It all clicked. We talked about all the character autographs that they had asked me to bring home and all the Star Wars seminars and shows that I talked about recording for them. Well they were going to be able to do it all! Alex says "Too bad we didn't bring our light sabers." Oh but you did. I thought of that too and Dad scrounged around in the basement and found them and they are in the suitcases. Very happy boys.
I needed a few minutes to make sure that I had everything and then we started the walk to the ticket counter. I had checked in on my phone but didn't print the actual boarding passes so we needed to do that and surrender all this baggage. Thanks to my daughter and my husband for coming along. I definitely couldn't handle all of these bags by myself! It was a challenge for five people to get [reminder - the 7 suitcases, the backpack, the laptop/camera bag and a cooler of Alex's meds] from the car in/out of the elevator, down the moving sidewalks, thru the airport and the snaking line at Southwest.
I had debated the 'magical express delay or claim our luggage ourselves' argument with myself and some folks here on the Dis. Our flight was arriving after 10 p.m. so you have to either go to baggage claim to get your bags or wait until the next morning to let Disney do the work for you. I was thinking (when we were still at home) that it wouldn't be too hard to get the bags myself and drag them to the bus. Was I crazy? There is no way! I had packed a 'tomorrow' carry-on that had everything that we needed for Saturday just in case all of our bags were sent to Buffalo. I decide at the counter in Baltimore that we are going to use the 'tomorrow' inventory and wait for the luggage to arrive on its own time. I make sure that there isn't anything over 3 fluid ounces in that bag and then send everything else over the wall into the screening room.
Wave to Dad and Chloe! He hangs around to make sure that the meds clear security. It's not life-sustaining but Alex is supposed to have it daily. We had $1,000 worth of medicine (about a week and a half) and DH was not going to allow them to throw it away. He would take it back with him if he had to. I had assured him that all would be fine as the prescription is right on the cooler but he insisted on standing and watching until we were cleared and I shooed him away.
I was too nervous to eat dinner (as I always am when I fly) but the boys split two stuffed pieces of pizza and a soda. We go to the gate and not too much later, I tell the boys "Hey. Your ride's here!" We line up at the gate and the boys were 3 people back in the line (A40 and A43/A44). They had a different confirmation number than I did so I checked them in a nano-second after me. Shot in the dark here but I guess I wasn't thinking right. I should have let A41 and A42 in front of me and stood with the boys. Instead, I stood there and turned around every 30 seconds (seriously) to make sure that they were still there and nothing had been stolen or left behind. Maybe my greedy mind was thinking the seating choices of A41 and A42 would have such a negative impact on our selection that I refused to consider letting them cut in line. Idiot.
Next up - Hello to Disney World
Hi there! bizeemom4's DD here. Just needed to show bizeemom4 that yes, mother, I am indeed reading your trip report, and I am fascinated. Lol keep the posts coming mom!
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