Prelude to an Annual Pass - A January 2013 PTR!
Hi everyone! I've been around the DIS for a few months now, but this is my first PTR! I needed an outlet to share all my planning updates since DBF is less than enthusiastic when it comes to this stuff. We're going on our second trip together in January 2013 (his 3rd trip, probably my 11th or so). As it's starting to get closer more plans are starting to fall into place (and change!). Come join us for the ride!
Who We Are:
Me, Ari, 23
Lover of all things Disney. First trip to WDW (and a Disney themed cruise in the pre-DCL era) at 2 years old, in addition to 8-10 other family trips throughout my childhood and one spur of the moment trip to DL in 2001 (one month shy of DCA opening :/). Favorite character is Winnie the Pooh. I am a seamstress/costumer in my spare time when I'm not working my day job in retail. I also enjoy scrapbooking, watching Say Yes to the Dress, and of course surfing (lurking) on the DIS. Love polka dots, stripes, and anything (hot) pink or (lime) green. Self professed nerd: <3 Harry Potter, sci fi/fantasy, comic book movies (AVENGERS, omg!), and recent convert to the dark side of Star Wars! I am basically an 8 year old in a 23 year old's body!
DBF, Tony, 2 weeks from 28!
Secretly loves Disney but pretends to be too cool. Went on one trip at about age 5 but only has fuzzy memories, so his first real trip was in May 2012. LOVES Stitch. Fan of the Pixar movies (and super excited that Nemo comes back to theaters on his birthday!) Huge gamer, really into Call of Duty/Fallout type games. Also works in retail (at the same store, in the same department as me hehe). Avid reader (Stephen King), audiophile (obsessed with Incubus!), Superman fanatic (including a tattoo on his arm), and fellow superhero lover. Always up for a midnight movie release. Healthy appetite and loves to try new things to eat/drink. Could probably spend all day in the Japan pavilion if not forcibly dragged away. Turns into a big kid as soon as he enters the parks but doesn't care to do the planning. ("I'll get excited when I get there.")
Currently Hampton Inn Lake Buena Vista. Also subject to change. My aunt works for Doubletree Hotels, so we get a friends and family employee rate at any Hilton hotel. Of course, the one we wanted (Hilton Downtown Disney) was completely booked up as the booking starts one year in advance. The Hampton is what we finally ended up with ($29 a night!) but I'm still holding out for an AP/general public discount for January.
Currently Tuesday Jan 22- Monday Jan 28, 2013. Subject to change. These dates were what was available from the Hilton employee discount website. We are considering staying longer (especially if we end up onsite with a dining plan) and according to our workload calendar at work, both of those weeks should be fairly light = guilt free time off! Hehe.
Next up, a little backstory!
A Little Backstory...
Why: (Like I really need a reason!)
I had originally planned on going with my family in 2009 and the trip had been all booked and paid for when I was hired at my current job. While signing paperwork HR asked if I had any days I'd need off in my first 90 days. I replied, "Yes, I have a family vacation the week before Christmas!" "Umm... this is retail. No vacations in December. You don't have to take the job." "Oh, um, no, I want the job..." :( Oh well. So December 2009 came and my mom, aunt, brother, and cousin all went and enjoyed the plans I suggested for them (including Cinderella's Royal Table, jealous!).
Originally last fall I had contemplated a solo trip in the spring for my return, but that fell through. In January, I heard about the spring room-only discount, and I was able to convince Tony that we needed to take a long awaited trip to Florida in May 2012. We started out with only a 4 day/3 night trip (Mon-Thurs), which worked at the time since I was mostly working nights and weekends so I wouldn't have to take much time off, and it was the first weekend of Star Wars Weekends, so we wanted to leave before that to avoid the crowds. Although Tony loves Star Wars, I had actually never seen the movies (despite playing personal tailor to our friends who are a part of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion, the official Star Wars costuming organizations), and so agreed with his sentiment that "I'd rather go to Celebration for Star Wars stuff". That was all dandy until Phantom Menace came out in 3D shortly thereafter and we decided it was finally time for me to watch the saga. We borrowed the blurays from a friend and sat down with them for a weekend, breaking only for food and to see Episode I at the theater. I have to admit part of the reason I'd waited so long to see them is because I knew that I would either love them and become obsessed (curse you, addictive personality!), or I'd hate it and my friends would all disown me. Kidding, of course, but you see the dilemma.
Fortunately I DID love them, and thus convinced Tony that we should stay an extra day so we could check out SWW. While researching options for this, we got a pin code for free dining and tried to book that, only to find out we couldn't use it because it was in my mom's name. Rats! The idea of free dining, though, got us excited for the DDP, so we did end up booking that. At that point I knew I was going to want to go back ASAP as this was such a quick trip and started working on suggesting we upgrade our package tickets to Annual Passes. It ALMOST worked, but I had yet to persuade Tony that he was going to fall in love. He knew he was going to have a good time and ride some rides, but he had no idea how magical it was going to be and said we'd talk about AP's and subsequent trips after we got the first one out of the way. By the time we were done with the first day of the trip he was already taking about next time.
We spent a while debating when we should go back. We really want to try the Food and Wine Festival, but figured that wouldn't be enough time to save up for the trip we'd want so that got put on the back burner. Christmas is always appealing too, but of course, we could never go then because of work. New Year's was an option, and we almost booked then, but the prices for those nights were a little crazy. Then Marathon Weekend got thrown up as some of our friends are going then to run, but the hotel dates we'd need weren't available. I finally found the Tuesday 22- Monday 28 (I had wanted Wed-Tues for cheaper flights).
We definitely knew we'd want a longer trip not long into our May trip because we just didn't have enough time! We drove down, leaving on a Saturday night and arriving Sunday afternoon. We stayed about an hour away that night, which is one of my regrets for the trip because we arrived much earlier than we'd originally planned and were so close we wished we had just gone all the way to Disney and had an extra night! We were also continually thwarted by the rain. There was a tropical storm off the coast of Florida while we were there and we missed a lot of shows and rides due to it. (I mean, really, who wants to go on Splash Mountain in a thunderstorm?) We also had to adjust our internal time clocks to real world time because we work on the 4 am shift (4-11 am), so our normal bedtime is around 7:30-8:00 pm. Trying to do 8 am - 12 am days didn't work! On top of that, we had so many ADR's in such a short time that it felt like we were always eating, and there was so much food that we often wouldn't be able to go commando after filling up.
So the goal for this trip is a more relaxed pace, which will be aided by the fact that the parks just aren't open as long in January as they are in May. Plus it will be much cooler, which will be a comfort to Tony, he just doesn't do well in the heat! We decided that we WOULD be getting AP's this time because after the final investment we'd be able to plan a few more cheaper trips with the Hilton discount and airfare sales. We started off wanting to do everything as cheap as possible, like eating in the room and renting a car to stay offsite, but the more we plan, the more the "go big or go home" attitude creeps in. We will see what we end up with.
It doesn't help that we get employee discounts on Disney gift cards and tickets (most likely buying discounted DQ tix as I have been unsuccessful in swaying Tony into getting Premium AP's so we have the Water Parks & More options as he dislikes water parks :confused3). I still wanted that "vacation treat" feel, so we do have a few ADR's booked. Even though I am happy about having time built in to relax with the early park closings in Jan, I can't help but feel like we'll still want extra time so I'm leaning towards either staying more days (possibly the Friday before we're currently leaving to the Sunday or Monday we're coming home, since we'll have the weekends off anyway) or staying on site so we have EMH (or both! ;) ). I'm sure I'll be having these kind of debates with myself almost daily until we leave as I am incredibly indecisive.
Also, we are actively trying to recruit friends to join us. While we loved having so much alone time on our last trip, this one won't be as romantic as that one was an anniversary trip. Our friend Tom (Tony's BFF) recently went through a breakup and has been working his butt off nonstop for the past year or two, and we think he deserves a nice getaway to the land of magic, so we're working on getting him to come (we will probably help offset some of the cost for him too if he comes because he deserves some pixiedust: )
So those are the plans so far. I'll probably start with my tentative itinerary soon. Stay tuned!
Whispering Canyon Cafe - 7:45 PM on the night we arrive
This one is new to both of us. I'm seriously excited for the skillet. I loved being on the DDP last trip but there was so much food that at times we wasted precious park time because we were too full to walk around and hit attractions. So I figured this would make a good arrival day meal since we may or may not have a chance to hit a park. We love horseplay so I can't wait to have fun with the waitstaff's antics. DBF will definitely be asking for some ketchup :rotfl:
Pirates and Pals Cruise/Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party
I'm still debating which one of these to book. I'm trying to surprise DBF with one of them but I'm having trouble deciding which he'd like better. We watched Wishes from the bridge to Tomorrowland in May and loved the location so it might bring up awesome memories of our last trip. On the other hand though, DBF's not too much into desserts, although I'm sure if there's a buffet of them set up in front of him he'd take his fill. Then there's the P&P Cruise. I would definitely love to catch the EWP so this would be a fun option. He is really into Peter Pan as well so he'd love to meet Peter (again), Hook and Smee. Hmm. The cruise is $53.99 per person and the dessert party is $29.81/pp. Is there anyone who has been to one or both of these that could give some input?
This is all we currently have planned, but if we do end up moving onsite, I'm thinking a DP might be in order just to save the hassle. Possibly Deluxe just so we can use the credits however we want and have plenty to combine so we can check out some signatures.
Sounds like a good trip planned so far :goodvibes
Hampton Inn looks nice. Here's hoping you get a discount before January though!
I like the Hampton. I love that includes breakfast, and at $29, it's a STEAL! But it's just not the same as being on property. I wouldn't have minded as much if we had gotten the DTD Hilton because then we'd still get EMH but that place apparently gets booked up for employee rates a year in advance! :scared1: I'm waiting on pins and needles for the 2013 discounts!
I finally had a minute to start organizing my itinerary, so here's the start. Tony wants a more relaxed trip this time, especially since we'll have the AP's and will obviously be going back, but the OCD planner in me is having a hard time with that! We'll see how that works out. As for now, I bring you day 1!
Day 1/Arrival Day - Tuesday
Today we'll be flying in from Chicago. I'm still on the fence (noticing a trend here?) about what time I want the flight to be. We probably could go to work this day and still have a decent amount of time for travelling since we'd only be working until 11 am. But then, I also kind of just want to take the first flight out so we have ALL day in WDW! It will either be a 6:05 am flight if we take the day off (which I'm sure Tony will anyway) which would put us into MCO around 9:45 am (!), or a 12:15 pm flight that would get us there at 3:45 pm (most likely would have to leave work early for this one). When we finally arrive I have an ADR at Whispering Canyon Cafe planned for 7 pm! If we have any free time this day, I'd love to squeeze in some MK. If not, a rest at the hotel will be in order. That would probably be beneficial anyway to help us ease back into "real world time" from icky 4 am time (bedtime is 7:30 at the latest with a 3 am wakeup call, boo!)
Day 2 - Wednesday
This morning we'll be starting off with Magic Kingdom! They're open 9 am - 8 pm this day so it's likely we'll get there for rope drop and do a late counter service lunch - either Cosmic Ray's or taking a small break from the MK to head over to Captain Cook's at the Poly (dying to try the fill-your-own Dole Whips!). After that we'll head back to MK for the night and plan on grabbing dinner after the park closes.
Day 3 - Thursday
Animal Kingdom day! AK will be open 9 am - 5 pm today, so we'll stay all day. I definitely want to hit Flame Tree Barbeque as that was probably our favorite counter service last trip, but since we'll be spending all day in the AK sun, I wonder if I should do a table service lunch instead to get out of the heat. Maybe I'll make a cancelable reservation and play it by ear. Since Animal Kingdom closes so early, I'm sure we'll probably hop to Epcot and have dinner there. I think this might be a perfect time to grab some fish and chips from Rose and Crown and catch Illuminations!
Day 4 - Friday
Friday is our day to take it easy. On our last trip we didn't really plan in downtime, so one day we came back to the hotel to take a break and change clothes and ended up passing out so long that it was too late to head over to Magic Kingdom like we'd planned. To avoid a repeat of that, today will be a pool day (assuuming it's warm enough for that). After we're done swimming (about 15 minutes after we get there, if Tony has his way), we'll head over to Downtown Disney. Tony is a HUGE gamer, so he's chomping at the bit to check out Disney Quest. I've heard the negative reviews, but I still want to see for myself, and I'm hoping it won't be too busy in the off season. When we've got our fill of gaming, we'll bum around and do some shopping. I'd like to check out Earl of Sandwich or Wolfgang Puck Express while we're there. Depending on how late we're there, we might end up at a park.
We haven't done the dessert party but did do the P&P cruise last year and LOVED it!! We will definitely do it again but I'm thinking that it may just be too cold out on the water in January for us. An hour is a long time to be chilled for us lol (I have 2 kids though so your tolerance for chilly weather is probably higher!!) Enjoying your PTR!
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