The Darling Family June 2011: A Last Minute Budget Vacation
:welcome: everyone! I know this report is a bit late, but I havenít been DISing much this summer. I figure it is better late than never. Before I begin, I have a confession to make. Iím not sure this is the best place to make the confession because I have noticed that you are a bunch of enablers.:rolleyes1 But Iím going to make my confession anyway. (Gotta start somewhere, right?) I maybe just might have a small addiction to Disney World. There I said it. In a public forum too. That is got to count for something right? ;)
First let me introduce you to the Darling Family.
We have DH. At home he masquerades as a government attorney. Also pictured are Wendy, age 11; John, age 9; and Michael, age 6.
Here is the heroine of the story.
That is me, Jenny, proudly portraying my hard earned Mickey medal. I earned it last January and Iím still bragging about it.:woohoo:
My addiction this past year has been very well fed. If youíd like to read all about it check out the links in my siggie. This trip was a bit different. It wasnít planned months and months out. I didnít agonize and map out every little detail.:eek: (Though my DH might claim it was still over planned.) It just came about rather quickly and by accident.
Our Annual passes expired on Friday, June 17. The kidsí school was scheduled to end on Tuesday, June 14. Definitely not enough time to squeeze in a trip. Then rumors started flying about how school may end early to get a jump on some summer construction. This, of course, got me to thinking. (Always a scary thing.;)) If school ended on Friday, June 10 that would leave plenty of time to get a trip in. I anxiously awaited official word and mapped out a potential plan.
I presented my plan to DH. He rolled his eyes and told me I had to find a way to pay for the trip out of our planned summer vacation budget. We always spend a few weeks out west visiting family every summer. This year we were adding a jaunt to CA on to the end of our trip. The plan was to spend some time at Disneyland, the beach and Legoland. Whatever I could squeeze out of the planned budget for this trip I could spend in Florida. So I started squeezing. I eliminated several nights in hotels and we stayed a bit longer with family. I also determined a single marathon day in Disneyland would do the trick. Presto! I had $1000 for Florida.:yay: How could I possibly do a week trip to Florida for a family of 5 for $1000? A little bit of Disney magic. We would drive down; passes were already paid for; we could use DVC points for 3 nights, and we had enough Disney reward points to cover most of our food at the parks. I presented this to DH and by some still unexplained miracle he thought it sounded like a great idea!
Now the only suspense was the school schedule. We finally received word that the last day was Monday, June 13.:headache: Not what I was hoping for. However, 5th grade promotion was scheduled for Friday, June 10. So Wendy was in the clear. Michael was in kindergarten so I didnít feel bad about pulling him. John, the 3rd grader, is my greatest Disney lover and assured me that all they would do is watch movies on the last day. So the trip was on! Let the adventure begin!popcorn::
The Post pre-trip report
Day 1: Travel Day
Day 2: Dabbling in Star Wars Weekend
Hilton Bonnet Creek
Day 3: An Epcot Rope Drop
Things Don't go as Planned
Duffy the Disney Bear
Just a Little More Epcot
An Epcot Evening
Day 4: A Hollywood Studios Morning
My Secret Spot at Hollywood Studios
Old Key West Check In and Dinner at Epcot
An Old Key West Evening
Day 5: Magic Kingdom at Last!
More Magic Kingdom
Even More Magic Kingdom
And Still More Magic Kingdom
Another Old Key West Evening
Day 6: Animal Kingdom Here We Come
More Animal Kingdom and More Photopass
The Backlot Tour, A Lovely Boat Ride and Downtown Disney
A Mother/Daughter Evening at the Magic Kingdom
Day 7: It is All About the Bear
Duffy Quest Completed
I'm in! I've lurked on your reports for a year, now I'm subbing!:cool1:
I'm in too! And I too have lurked on your previous reports!! My sisters are the same ages as Wendy and Michael!
That's what an Annual Pass is for - to plan another vacation before it expires. Right?????
I'm in. Great start!
The post pre-trip report
So I didnít do a PTR because there wasnít time. We had less than a month from the time we decided this vacation was happening. And as all you DISers know, a month when it comes to Disney World is a truly last minute vacation. First challenge was where to stay. For me there was no question.
Last summer my kids and I stayed in an Old Key West studio and had a marvelous time. I really wanted to show DH how relaxing a vacation at Disney World could be. Add to that the low point values of OKW and my curiosity about the size of the 1 bedroom units. (Everyone always raves about them.) So I was just hoping we could get in last minute. Disney magic was with me because when I called there was a 1 bedroom available for the days we wanted. I was feeling lucky and asked for the Hospitality House (a separate DVC booking category.) It wasnít available, but I went on a waitlist for it thinking there was no way it would come through on such short notice. I was wrong though. About a week before our trip our waitlist came through.:banana:
Unfortunately we only had enough points available for 3 nights at OKW and we were planning on spending 5 nights at WDW. So I needed to find someplace to stay the other 2 nights. And it had to be within our budget (which was $100 a night.) I toyed with the idea of POR Riverside (the only moderate that will sleep 5), but even with my AP rate it was over budget. So I made a reservation at Buena Vista Suites. It is off property, but it had come very well recommended. Then one day I was cruising around over on the Orlando resorts board and found a great deal at the Hilton Bonnet Creek.
For those of you not familiar with the Bonnet Creek area, it is a piece of property not owned by Disney World, but surrounded by Disney on 3 sides. It fourth side is bordered by I-4. Thus the only way you can access it is by going through Disney property. It is right behind the CBR. Frankly it is closer to both Epcot and DHS than most of the Disney resorts. By booking through Last Minute Travel we could stay there and keep within budget. I looked at one picture of the pool and decided to go for it. I really think it was a steal to be at such a nice hotel in such an incredible location for so cheap. ($89 a night.) Then I found a couple inexpensive hotels for the drive down and back and we had places to sleep for 7 nights.
Next up was the food. We really werenít planning on many ADRs. First of all I didnít think much would be available and secondly table service at Disney would blowthe budget right out of the water. DH did mention one night how heíd missed eating at Garden Grill in January and I agreed. So we decided we would do one splurge and try for a Garden Grill ressie. Luckily after trying for a few days I finally snagged a 4:00 dinner reservation.:) Then Wendy saw a picture of the new refillable mugs and decided she just had to have one.:rolleyes:
At $15 a pop I didnít think that fit in the budget either. But then I got to thinking. (Remember that is always a dangerous thing for me.;)) DVC had recently introduced the ability to split a reservation and only add the dining plan for part of your stay. So if we added the dining plan for just one day we would all get a mug good for the duration of the stay. Plus we could then use the dining plan to cover the Garden Grill. Only kink was the mug is not included in the regular dining plan. So what is a girl to do?:confused3 Obviously, my only choice was to add the deluxe plan for the first night. And luckily we had enough Disney reward points to cover it. So really we got the plan free, right? So that left me with 2 more ADRs to make. Iíd always wanted to try lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern so I made one there. Then we just had to figure out one more dinner. Since we really wanted to spend some quality time at Old Key West we settled on Oliviaís. Then I noticed that DVC members get a 20% discount for lunch at Les Chefs de France. Well I have to take advantage of that when Iím on a budget. So our ADRs were set and all of them except Garden Grill were easy to get even though we were less than a month out.:woohoo:
Last thing to figure out was our park schedule. We had arrival day, four full days and departure day. So we decided to hit a rope drop in each park with an evening in Epcot for Illuminations and an evening in the Magic Kingdom for Wishes. So the plans were set and we wouldnít even have to wait too long to execute them.
Next up: The trip begins.
We did a "Surprise, we are going to WDW" vacation last summer with our kids. We also planned it very last minute. I received a "Kids Stay, Play and Eat for free" promotion in the mail with my Disney Visa bill and I just could not pass that up! So I started thinking, "how can I put all 5 of us in a value resort to stay in our budget?" Voila--"Let me invite my parents!" (Our trip was very last minute so we had a very stiff budget to follow. The flier was in my May bill and we left June 19th for 7 nights). :) My parents came also so we stayed at POP, put one child in their adjoining room with us and only had to pay for the room, tickets and quick service meals for the adults!!! Woohoo!!! :cool1: (When I get to thinking, it is very dangerous for us too!!) :lmao: We had a FABULOUS time.
Then in October, a friend that I work with had a 2 bedroom room booked at Bay Lake Towers for the week of Thanksgiving. Her brother and his family decided that they could not go, so she invited me and my family :cheer2:!! I just could not pass that up either!! Another last minute trip!! So I started thinking again---remember this is dangerous for me too! I presented my plan to my DH and he said it was a GO!!!! :woohoo: I was beyond excited especially when I realized that we would see most of the Christams decorations. We had to buy tickets for all 5 of us this time, so we planned on eating many meals in the room and make full use of that full kitchen! We had an amazing, fabulous, wonderful time (did I use enough adjectives)!!!!!!!!
Now March of 2011 comes around and I was showing all of my Disney Christmas pics to my parents, and they said "I would love to go at Christmas some year." My response--"Really, how about THIS Christmas? It can be a present for all of the grandkids. My Dsis and I can buy all of the "extras" that go along with a Disney trip as Christmas presents also." Their response was "why not, we never know what to buy them anyway". :dance3: We are going again!!! This time it was booked for Dec. 21st to Dec. 28th for my family, my parents and my sister and her family. A grand gathering Christmas. We are all soooo excited and since it is a present, the kids do not know anything about the trip.
August of 2011 comes around and Disney announced free dining--I got to thinking again (uh-oh) :goodvibes. I looked at the dates of free dining and our dates-we missed it by 4 days. But hold up, if we take the kids out of school on the Monday and the half day on Tuesday, we can leave on the 17th, check in and have free dining for our entire stay---or could we. I plugged in dates on the website, called Disney to verify that my findings were correct and I called my parents screaming with excitement. I discovered that we can extend our stay to 11 nights, have free dining and save $600 per family!!!! :yay: So we rebooked and now we are staying for 11 nights, 10 days in the parks and free quick service dining for our entire stay!!
My “thinking” has really paid off for my family and I can’t wait to see how it will for yours too! I really think it is a good trait sometimes :rotfl:.
PS. I was just reading your tickers--our Christams trip is also my 40th B-day trip--Dec. 30th!!!!! and my family is really enjoying that little tidbit!
Sounds like a great start to a trip! I'm addicted to Disney too. I've got a Moms Only Trip planned for Jan/Feb and I'm working on a June family trip in my brain. :rotfl2: Disney planning is sooooo addicting. I'm especially interested in your trip because school ends for our youngest DS(13) on June 8th supposedly but you have to factor in snow days. Ugh. I'm not sure when to book our vacation but it will probably start Sunday June 17th. Looking forward to your June trip report!!!!!!
How awesome is that! A surprise trip to Disney!!!!
Joining in!:goodvibes I'm so excited to hear about your last minute trip!:thumbsup2 Glad you were able to get some great ADR's despite only having a month to plan.:goodvibes Can't wait for more.....popcorn::
Hi! I've always followed your TRs but just started posting this year :goodvibes WOW your plans make my head spin! That's AWESOME that you could figure all of that out and that it all fit! OKW looks so amazing...and I've heard great things about Olivia's! I'll be here reading along!
It seems like luck was on your side and your eagle eye and excellent planning skills saved the day.....and the budget, too. This sounds like a fun trip without any of the excessive planning (that would be my borderline obsessive planning mode, ahem:rolleyes1) that can make you feel like a rat in a maze sometimes. I can't wait to read more. :yay:
Can't wait to hear all about your trip. I love your reports. :yay:
Looking forward to see pics of OKW and Bonnet Creek. I am staying at OKW in December and it will be my first stay there. Can't beat the points for a studio. Really looking forward to it.
Ah - yes - the dining dilemma. I am going through that now. I want to do two days of the DXDP and I am considering a third. What to do? :laughing:
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