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RuggerBrad 02-08-2013 05:50 PM

I know its January but its still Christmas
I spent way too much time here planning our last trip to DLR, and enjoying other folks trip reports for both DLR and WDW. So, I figured I should give back with a little with a tip filled trip report of our recent visit out West. For example...

TIP ONE - The time from New Year's to the end of the Christmas season is a great time to visit DLR. We were able to fill what would have otherwise been a dead zone in our son's school break, the crowds were manageable, and the decorations and special activities were awesome.

Okay, here's some quick background on our trip. There were five of us in two rooms at the GC from Jan 2-6. We ate a lot, saw or rode everything on our must do list, and didn't exhaust ourselves beyond reason. That reminds me...

TIP TWO - The food at DL was way better than expected. We've visited DL or WDW about once a year since we got married 17 years ago, and I grew up going to WDW once or twice a year with my grandparents who retired to FL around the same time the FL park opened. We've also been to Universal, SeaWorld, etc. over the years. As a whole the food at DL was the best (even better than some of our recent experiences at non theme park resorts).

I'll be back soon to let you in on who made up our party of five and whatever I can remember or fake from our planning spreadsheet (yes, I did that). Sorry, no pictures though as I'm doing this on my work laptop as the home machine has bit the dust.

RuggerBrad 02-08-2013 06:31 PM

TIP THREE - If you're ever not sure about whether or not to take a vacation, take the vacation.

Alright, so here's the cast (to be followed by the reason for our trip, which is the reason for the above tip)...

Me - I'm Brad. I'm a business analyst, and as I told my son when career day came around this year I hit buttons on a keyboard and move and click a mouse all day broken up by the odd phone call or meeting (I think it may be time for another vacation already).

The wife - She's Amanda. She's a consultant who works and travels a lot. She is not nearly as into the Disney thing as I am, but she did agree to a WDW honeymoon back in the day. She likes all inclusive vacations, so Disney is a pretty easy sell for vacations. She's an accountant, so she also likes being able to calculate most of the cost out ahead of time.

The son - He's Will, and he's 11. If he isn't using the tv for video games, its on one of the Disney channels (unless Duck Dynasty or Top Gear is on). He plays the big three sports (I can't get him to wear contacts so he can play rugby like his old man). He's outgrowing the Disney animated characters and movies, but we really enjoyed watching him start to appreciate some of the more grown up things about Disney vacations like gourmet food and the non-ride attractions, shops, scenery, etc. that Disney does so well.

The rest of our party was my mother, Becky, and her friend Dianne. Mom is a retired school teacher, and she was the main reason for the trip. About a year ago, she was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. She lives in TN, and we live in TX and I was scrambling a bit for what I could do to help her. We're very blessed that her friend Dianne was there to help with doctor visits etc. In my research into dealing with cancer one thing that really struck me was giving the patient something to look forward to and how much that helped with getting through treatment.

Back in '95 we went to WDW for an anniversary trip. We brought Mom and Dianne along to hang out with Will so we could have some alone time and do some less kid-friendly things (RIP Pleasure Island). We brought them both since we were getting a second room anyway, and we've always found outnumbering the kid to be a real plus. Anyway, we decided that since that trip was so much fun a similar post cancer treatment trip would be a good idea.

We debated whether or not to do the trip: would she be up to it health wise, would it be too much like a last hurrah or the one last vacation of her life, would she even make it to the vacation (survival rates for this type of cancer are pretty low). We booked the trip for the first week of January, since the boy would be out of school and hoped for the best.

Mom finished chemo in November, and her post chemo labs came back cancer free. The treatments were pretty rough on her, and she was hit with some pretty sever side effects but nothing that would keep her from being able to make the trip. So, there you go...

TIP THREE - If you're ever not sure about whether or not to take a vacation, take the vacation.

RuggerBrad 02-08-2013 06:38 PM

Did I really type an anniversary trip in '95. We got married in '95. The anniversary trip was in '05. FYI - we were able to push it back to the fall since the kid wasn't in school yet to save some cash and to catch both the Halloween Party at MK and Food & Wine at EPCOT. So here's a little aside tip...

TIP THREE(A) - We've found the fall to be the best time to visit WDW, since you can get the double whammy of the Halloween party and decorations and Food & Wine. The weather is still plenty warm for swimming, etc. but not nearly as hot and humid as our summer trips have been. The crowds were no problem, and since I've mentioned food in just about every post you can probably figure out that we're big fans of the Food & Wine fest.

TIP THREE(B) - We printed "COSTUME" on some white t-shirts for the Halloween party, and have worn them as generic Halloween costumes pretty much every year since. They're always a big hit.

RuggerBrad 02-11-2013 12:32 PM

Day One
Day one for us was actually day three or four for the folks from TN. Dianne had never been out to the West Coast, so we flew them out ahead of us so that they could do some studio tours, show tapings, or whatever it was that they did. We flew from TX on Wed. the 3rd and we all met up at United baggage claim. We used DK Livery for car service from LAX to DLR, and everything went smoothly. Check-in at the GC was smooth as well, and that leads me to...

TIP FOUR: Don't hesitate to use a travel agent to book your Disney vacation. We're Disney vets at both coasts, and we have always booked directly. I decided to use a travel agent this time to save some hassle while looking at booking options: two rooms vs. DVC accomodations, etc. It made the trip planning much simpler as I could do everything via email at my convenience.

We had already decided that my mother was going to need a wheelchair, and we asked at check-in about options. The cast member suggested we check with bell services as they have a limited number of standard wheelchairs available for rental through a third party provider.

TIP FIVE: If you think you're going to a need a wheelchair and are staying on property, get one from the resort. I don't remember the exact rate, but it was very reasonable. Also, having the chair to get around Downtown Disney, or even to/from the gates was a real help.

Our rooms were ready, so we dropped off our bags and rested for a bit. Picking up a couple of extra hours traveling west allowed us to plan a lot more activity for our first day. In fact we were able to book the afternoon Holiday Tour at 3:15, and made it from our house in TX at a not-too-early 7:30 am to all checked in and in Disneyland with time to head to the end of Main Street for a few of the world's best corn dogs before the tour.

TIP SIX: There's something about the corn dog cart down at the end of Main Street. Eat there. Send someone to the line, and someone to grab a spot at one of the tables behind it. You won't be disappointed.

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