13 Days of Fun and Fantasy
As someone who loves to plan the idea of posting a pre trip report is very exciting to me because I get to share all of my planning.
I'm Dawn and I will be travelling with my husband Scott and 2 children Sam (8) and Brody (5) Here we are last year at Downtown Disney
This year we have planned an amazing vacation.
6 nights in Orlando followed by a 7 night Cruise on the Disney Fantasy sailing August 31.
Here is our Vacation Breakdown
Aug 24 - Board the Amtrak Auto Train in Lorton Virgina
Aug 25 - Arrive in Orlando check in at Caribe Royale for 5 nights. Today we will be lounging by the pool with dinner at Sanaa (AKL)
Aug 26 - SeaWorld
Aug 27 - Character Breakfast at O'Hana followed by a hotel pool Day with a Cabana at the hotel
Aug 28 - Legoland
Aug 29 - Aquatica
Aug 30 - Kennedy Space Centre and check in at the Radisson at the Port
Aug 31 - Board the Fantasy for 7 nights
A lot of work and planning has gone into this vacation and we are still 4 1/2 months away. I will use this pre trip report to review each of these days hoping to save you some planning in the future.
I hope you enjoy.
Planes Trains and Automobiles
For the second year in a row we have decided to use the Amtrak Auto Train to travel from Ontario Canada to Orlando.
I recently wrote a blog post talking about the auto train. For anyone looking for additional information you can check it out here http://makingmousememories.wordpress...d-automobiles/
There were lots of reasons that led to our decision to take the auto train instead of flying, but the main reasons include
- The need for a vehicle while staying in Orlando since we won't be on WDW property
- Flexibility in packing for a 13 day vacation
- The kids voted for the auto train
The only downside of this mode of transportation for me is coming home. After a long vacation I would love to be home in a single day, the overnight trip down to Orlando doesn't bother me, but like driving the return trip seems that much longer.
Staying Offsite, a first for us
We originally planned to stay onsite and do 4 days of WDW parks. We later decided to try some of the other Orlando theme parks so it made sense to look at offsite hotel accommodations.
Staying offsite is definitely new for us. I am very comfortable with the different WDW, but the vast world of off site properties is new to me. Thanks to the disboards and tripadvisor as well as hours and hours of research we settled on a hotel choice.
We are currently booked at Caribe Royale which is located approximately 1 mile from the WDW gates. The price is great. 5 nights at $97.45 a night. The room includes a separate bedroom and living area. Here is a photo of the hotel.
Here is a photo of the room
The only downside of this hotel is that wifi is not included, but this isn't a big deal. During our pool day we have arranged to rent a cabana. The cost is $25 and with this you get a covered cabana by the pool, lounge chairs, extra large towels, free wifi for the day and 2 frozen drinks from the pool bar, this seems like a great deal.
Apparently there are other Theme Parks in Orlando
After 5 trips to WDW we have never gone to a single theme park outside of WDW. We decided that it was about time.
There were some factors that led into our Decision about what parks to visit (I won't go into the details, but we are anticipating that there will be cost savings for admission to some of the parks) and we have settled on visiting Sea World, Aquatica, Legoland and Kennedy Space Centre.
Since no trip to Orlando isn't complete without a trip to WDW we have scheduled 2 meals on site. Sanaa dinner for my husband's birthday and a Character Breakfast at O'Hana.
Planning to visit theme parks outside of WDW led me to parks of the disboards that I have never visited before. I was happy to find lots of informative threads about Sea World and Legoland. Aquatica is currently a maybe, depending on our energy levels we will either visit Aquatica or spend a second day at the pool and perhaps a trip to the Outlet mall.
Losing for Disney
One of the things that I am excited about for this vacation is the weight loss journey that I am working on. I started my journey on January 1 and am currently down approximately 20lbs. This is definitely an ongoing journey and I'm looking forward to being a lot smaller in my 2013 vacation photos than I was in the photo in the first post of this report. Here is the progress of my journey.
Goodbye Orlando, Hello Cape Canaveral
Friday morning we will check out of the Caribe Royale and make the 1 hour journey to Cape Canaveral.
We have decided to spend the day exploring the Kennedy Space Centre. After a day at Kennedy we are planning an early dinner at Fish Lips. Unfortunately there are no Disney Ships in Port that day, but we will be able to watch a RCCL ship leave. Here is a picture of me at Fish Lips last year.
After Dinner we will be checking into our hotel for the night - After careful consideration we decided to stay at the Radisson at the Port. Here is a photo of the hotel and then I will review why we chose this location.
There are 3 hotels that seem to be the top choices when looking at a pre cruise stay in Cape Canaveral.
- Rated #1 on Trip Advisor
- Cost is $189 for park and cruise rate
- Includes breakfast
- Includes shuttle for 2, plus extra $12 for the children
- Negative, the Disney shuttle does not leave until 11:15am and we are hoping for a 11:00am Port Arrival Time
- This is the highest price of the 3 hotels
- Lots of positive reviews on Trip Advisor
Country Inn and Suites
- Rated #2 on Trip Advisor
- Cost is $159 for park and cruise rate
- Includes shuttle for 4, but shuttle can not be booked until check in
- Includes breakfast for 4, described as basic and edible when reading reviews
- Good reviews on Trip Advisor
Radisson by the Port
- Rated #5 on trip advisor
- Trip Advisor reviews rate the hotel as either amazing or run down
- Cost is $145 for park and cruise
- Breakfast is not included, cost is $25 for our family of 4
- Pool is beautiful
- Shuttle can be booked in advance and we are confirmed for the 10:30am shuttle
- Friends/Family have stayed here and report that the hotel is nice
We decided after weighing all the options that
- we like being able to book our shuttle in advance
- the Radisson has a very nice pool
- Radisson has a full breakfast buffet and even paying for it the cost is cheaper than the Residence Inn.
- Members of our Cruise Meet are also staying at the Radisson and we are playing a pre cruise meet and greet at the hotel.
Subbing in!! :)
and the Fantasy Begins
As excited as I am for our 6 days in Orlando, it is really our 7 nights on the Fantasy that I am most excited for.
We have the fortune to sail the Fantasy Last September.
We will be sailing a 7 night itinerary to the Western Caribbean.
Our stops on this cruise will be
- Costa Maya
- Grand Cayman
- Castaway Cay
We have decided to visit Mr. Sanchos during our stop in Cozumel. This is an all inclusive beach club. For $45 you get unlimited food and drinks for the day. We have been to this beach club before and we had a great day. We have created a group event on our FB Cruise Meet page for this beach day so we are hoping to be joined by others in our group for this great day.
popcorn:: Subbing popcorn::
Planning . . . my way of extending vacation fun 365 days
It is pretty much mandatory that I have a vacation in the works at any given time. While I won't say that planning a vacation is as much fun as going on vacation, it is definitely a decent second.
Some people get stressed by vacation planning, those people may be best to look at all inclusive vacations where all they have to do is pick a resort and flight. I find that planning the details of my vacation can be relaxing, stress reducing and a way of starting the vacation excitement long before the trip begins.
So what do I need to plan for this trip?
The answer - lots of things
One of the things that requires a fair bit of planning is our FE exchange. If you are a member of the disboards you likely know what a FE exchange is so I won't bore you with the details. We decided last year to order a customized FE off of Ebay. I'm glad I did, with one cruise complete another this year and a 3rd planned in 2014 we are definitely getting our money's worth.
Figuring out FE gifts is still an area that I am figuring out. Since some of my cruise mates may read this I won't go into details about my FE gifts, so far I have a few small purchases made and lots of ideas.
Some other areas of planning have included
- transportation to Florida
- hotel stay while in Florida
- restaurants options while in Florida
- parking options
- Decisions about Palo and Remy
- BBB reservations
The other awesome part of planning that I enjoy is wardrobe planning. Our current cruise is at the end of the summer, but that doesn't stop me from thinking of the cruise when making every purchase of spring and summer clothing. This has led to my children having a significant number of dress clothing that they typically don't wear at all during the year except for cruises.
Looking forward to hearing more about your FE. This is our first cruise and I'm trying to wrap my head around it all...plus no one else has joined our trip meet yet. Maybe we will be on a ghost ship? ... :rotfl2:
Palo Reservations and Dining Rotation Requests
Who thought planning where to eat dinner would be so stressful?
Last year we planned our Palo dinner for the last night of our cruise. This was a strategic decision since we had booked Palo brunch for Costa Maya Day and Remy lunch for the second sea day.
We requested a dining rotation that did not put us in Animator's Palate the last night (so we wouldn't worry about missing the animation show), we also requested a rotation that put us in either the Royal Court or Enchanted Garden for formal night because we liked the theme.
The downside was that our rotation put us in Enchanted Garden 3 times (my least favourite restaurant) and we only got to dine in the Royal Court once because our second rotation was on our last night.
Fast forward 9 months later and I am having the same dilemma. I originally requested whatever rotation put us in the Enchanted Garden on our last night so this would be the restaurant that we miss for Palo.
Lots of discussions have been happening today on our Facebook Cruise page about Palo and the different dining rotations. Someone has posted that the dining rotation options for our cruise are:
AERAEER, ERAERRA, RAERAAE
This would make our requested dining rotation RAERAAE
The good things about this rotation:
- only in Enchanted Garden 2x and 1 of those nights we will be in Palo
- Pirate night in Animators palate which is cool because we get to have the extra pirate theming on all the video screens
- First night is in Royal Palace which is a nice way to start our cruise
We will be in Animator's palate for both formal night and semi formal night and Animators is the least formal of the 3 restaurants.
Now some of you at this point may be thinking that I am completely insane and wondering why anyone would put this much effort or thought into deciding what order they eat in the various restaurants, but like I said in post 1, I love to plan and find it to be lots of fun. Also as a veteran WDW travelling I'm used to putting lots of thought and planning into our dining arrangements.
For anyone who has cruised on the Dream or Fantasy - if you have any recommendations for me they would be greatly appreciated. I am now going to spend some time doing the following: watching a new episode of Grey's Anatomy and playing around with different dining rotation options including the best day to go to Palo.
This afternoon my husband and I were looking up some trip related info when he jokingly said why don't you price flights. This is a long standing joke between us since while my husband has accepted the Autro train plan it is his secret desire to fly.
So I checked our favourite budget airline spirit. Not our favourite because of service or the jets, but definitely due to the price. I almost fell over when I saw that if we arrive 1 day later (Monday instead of Sunday) we can fly for $531 for all 4 of us return on direct flights. $160 for bags still puts us at $700 which is $200 cheaper than that train.
When we look at what we won't pay in gas, and the food costs for the extra day of travel going and coming back we still come out ahead even when we factor in a rental car in Florida - and we get to fly instead of the overnight train.
After I got over the initial short and the realization that I would have to rework some of my vacation plan I realized that we couldn't pass this up. So we are now flying to Florida.
I have priced out the train and flights and I think it's safe to say that as long as my old Montana holds up (or even if it is replaced by then... ;) ), we are going to bite the bullet and hit I-75.
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