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Old 06-14-2007, 01:24 PM   #1
ChrisLei
Dreaming of the Disney Magic!
 
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Location: Jersey Shore, NJ
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THe It's Never Too Late to Write a Trip Report Trippie- 11/20 through 26th, 2005

That's right, this trippie has been in the making since 2005! EEK!!! I have read many reports on the board and have loved every single one of them. And I always said I would set out to make one of my very own. Well, with returning from the trip right in the height of Christmas Shopping season....well, I kinda put it in the back burner. Then of course life got in the way... Christmas led to spring....which led to summer vacation.....plans to start school to earn my certification and Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education...and not knowing how 11 years out of college, 2 kids, and a list of activities in which I have to shuttle the kids to or lead (I am also a Girl Scout Leader). WHOA! It's a miracle I got my head screwed on the right way!

But enough about that! Now I am ready to relive the Magic! This will also be a great way for me to get even more excited about our upcoming trip to the World!

The Cast:
Let me begin by introducing you to the cast. We are a funloving family of four originally from the heart of the Big Apple, New York City. We relocated to the Jersey Shore in the Garden State almost 7 years ago. We surprisingly fell in love with it immediately. We love our little house, love the schools, the town, the activities....(I Did say we were funloving! LOL). We are also HUGE Disney fans. We have the Disney channel on all day, purchase all the movies the moment they are released, and make special trips into the city to visit The World Of Disney Store in order to experience a little magic at least twice a year. Unfortunately we are not one of the blessed families that gets to go to the World every year. To be exact, prior to this trip, we had not gone to Disney as a family at all. DH had gone twice as a child and one time once we became a couple. I had visited every year from the time I was 9 till I was about 21. (Lucky enough that my favorite uncle is a castmember!) DD had been there 2 times for day trips when visiting the grandparents, and DS went once as a 3 month old, again with the luk of having an uncle who is a castmember, so they were not planned trips, but free spur of the moment trips. But we have never experienced Disney just the four of us.

So without any further interruptions here are your Cast:

Tink- Quite simply me. I am sweet and friendly until you push me to the limit. I can be one fiesty lady! LOL I am a self proclaimed OCD planaholic. I leave no I's undotted, no T's uncrossed. I love knowing what I will be doing at all times. I enjoy seeing things fall into place. I am the type that has a plan for the year on New Year's Eve. I feel like I have accomplished so much when I see them all get crossed off as Mission Accomplished.

Prince Donald- He is like Half & Half, just enough Prince Charming, with just as much Donald in him. He lets me do all the planning but will question every step of the way. I call him a closet Disney fan. He will tell you that Disney is no big deal, but just take a peek at him watching a parade, and you can see the twinkle in his eye!

Princess Ariel- She is the epitome of a princess! She loves all things girly, is sweet, and kind, but with just enough sass. She was born for Disney. She has grown out of me calling her my baby girl....but does not mind at all, in fact strongly approves, me calling her princess.

Stitch/Experiment 626- My little man is your classic energizer bunny! From sun up to sun down, he keeps everyone in the house going. He also gets himself into some huge messes. But he can get himself out of it with that adorable dimpled smile. Stitch is fitting for this little guy!

The Start of The Dream Vacation:

After becoming parents, we decided that we would leave the big city behind for a quiet little existence in the suburbs. With housing cost astronomically high in NYC and taxes no better, we decided that we would move out of our homestate altogether. This meant moving somewhere that we were not familiar with. It also meant we had to make a big decision. Ariel's babysitters were either her grandma or my very close friend. Would I continue working and leave Ariel with a total stranger? She was a late talker so this meant she couldn't tell us if something was wrong. Not to mention child care costs are through the roof! So we made the decision that although we would miss my nice salary, we would be forfeiting it for a good cause. I would be seeing my little girl grow myself. Of course this meant we would have to be more frugal with our spending and not take vacations every year (who am I kidding???? Vacation would be few and far between! LOL) So we made our choices and add another child, we stick by our decision and are happy with it!

Since we had not taken a real vacation in 4 years, we started discussing going to Florida to visit my mom and dad (divorced and living on two ends of the state) as our next vacation. We planned to drive and visit with my mom for 3 days and then with my dad for 4. We knew that we would require a hotel stay for the visit with my dad since his place is really small. No matter. Everything was going as planned until.....

We see the Disney commercial on the television! The one with the family having fun at the resort and the parks and all that stuff. Yeah, well Ariel tells us, "Wow that looks like so much fun! Is that the hotel we will be staying at?" I immediately answered no. But Prince D looks at me and says "Hmm, I wonder how much it would cost to stay on property?" THe wheels of planning were cranked on! It has been a dream of mine to stay on property since I was a little girl. But of course my uncle worked there, so it was more cost effective to visit daily and stay at his house. Or when my whole family went we stayed at those motels along I92 that cost $30 a day. Rent a car was the way to and from the World those days. Besides at that time, staying on property were for the wealthy! LOL So I didn't get my hopes up and told Prince D I would run the numbers and call AAA and see what they can offer us.

Up Next: The Dream is Becoming a Reality!
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Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:

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Old 06-14-2007, 02:55 PM   #2
ChrisLei
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4/2005-
I wake up the next morning refreshed and ready to do my research. I call Prince D and he tells me to look into a trip starting on November 20th, and ending on the 26th. Sure thing! I scour the resorts onsite. Prince D already said if we are going for our first experience onsite he wants it to be at a moderate. Bless his heart! My dream is slowly becoming reality! I remember back when I was teen I went to work with my uncle he swung by the Carribean Beach Resort to drop something off to a friend. I instantly fell in love with the tropical oasis! I dreamed of laying on a hammock and watching the clouds go by......Here I am bursting with excitement looking up quotes on the Disney website. With their quote in mind I called AAA. I was connected to a cheery representative named Celeste. She took my dates and said she would call me back.

I paced the kitchen for what seemed like an eternity. (Good thing we have tile floors, for if we had carpeting, Prince D would know exactly what I was doing all day!) Finally the phone rings. It's Celeste! Her quote knocked my socks off! She was offering the same amount of days at The Carribean Beach Resort for $490 less than Disney was quoting me! WOOHOO Then she springs one on me...."Would you be interested in the Magic Your Way PLUS Dining?" HUH? What is that?

At this point I had not been introduced to the DIS boards, and I had no clue what Magic Your Way PLUS Dining entailed. So she goes on to explain the benefits of it. One Counter Service, one Table Service, and 1 Snack per day, for the duration of your stay. Table Services include Character Meals, Signature Dining Experiences and all. WOW! Is all I could muster saying. She said she would put a courtesy hold while I called Prince D.

My little fingers couldn't dial straight! Could it be? Could we be going to Disney and staying on site at the resort of my childhood dreams, AND be able to dine with the Princesses, and Mickey and Pooh too?!?!?! The moment Prince Donald answers the phone this is what he was greeted with:

"Hi Hun, it's me! I went online and I researched how much our trip would cost booking through Disney and they quoted me at $xxxx.xx, so I called AAA and asked how much they would charge. I met a nice lady named Celeste, who said she would get back to me, and she did and she is saving us almost $500! And she told me about this option with meals and we can eat with the princesses, and Mickey and the gang, and Pooh too and we can go to a luau dinner if we want for 2 credits....and that would be twenty something dollars a day for each of us and we get lunch and snacks too!!! Can you believe that! Imagine that, I never dreamed we would eat with the characters! So what do you say??"

All Prince D said was "OK give me numbers".

So I did, and he said "Sounds like a great deal, Book it!"

OMG!!! We are going to Disney! And we are staying in the WORLD!!!! And we are going to eat with the characters! I was on cloud 9!

Next Up: All booked, Now what?
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Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:

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Old 06-14-2007, 06:30 PM   #3
ChrisLei
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So I called my new best friend, Celeste, and told her "We'll Take It!!!" She was really excited for us and knew we would have a blast.

Now we were all set up, and my obessive compulsive planning was taking over me! I looked through AOL Message Boards looking for any information I can get. Unfortunately the pickings are slim on those boards. No problem, I decided that since I knew I was going to Disney I had to plan a scrapbook swap for it. Lucky thing I did! Posting that swap on the AOL board led me to meeting my now dear online buddy, Nutz4Dizney. And she really is nutz for Disney! She goes to Disney religiously every year and is a fountain of information regarding the happiest place on Earth. She was the one I have to thank for introducing me to the DIS boards. (Thanks Tra!) Once I came here once, I was thoroughly addicted!!!

I had no clue that in a few short weeks I needed to make dining reservations for the character dining experiences we wanted to do. I obtained awesome ideas on how to save money for Disney (#1 awesome idea! Starting a Disney change bank. We ended up saving $500+ of fun money just collecting change at the end of the day). The boards became my daily addiction! Soon enough I was talking DIS boards daily to Prince Donald and although he thought I was crazy, he appreciated all the information I was obtaining.

I ended up making a whole iteniary for the trip. It started with the dining reservations:

11/20- Chef Mickey's
11/21- Pizza Planet (saving TS for Luau)
11/22- Crystal Palace
11/23- Spirit of Aloha
11/24- Bomas
11/25- Lunch at Cinderella Castle

Now all I had to do was wait.......

Up Next:
Countdown to Disney!
__________________
Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:

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Old 06-15-2007, 12:42 PM   #4
ChrisLei
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Why is it that everytime you are super excited about going somewhere the days seem to feel like an eternity?

Now Ms. Uber Plannerholic was set. I had all our dining reservations set, and had a list of what we would be doing each day. We were ready. Since we were driving down, I had a cooler set the day before with all the snacks and essentials. The kids each had a backpack with activities, and Prince Donald made a trip to Target and purchased the DVD players for the car. (This ended up being a Godsend! It didn't quench the "Are we there yet?" but it did manage to entertain them and keep them quiet for a few hours at a time.) At the last minute, my brother, who was going through a rough patch with his girlfriend, decided to drive down with us. I was super excited since this meant Prince Donald didn't have to do the majority of the driving on his own.

11/15/05
We had planned to get up and be ready to go at 4am, we ended up actually leaving at 6am. With all the excitement and last minute preparation we didnt get to bed till 12am. So we figured a couple of hours later would not make much of a difference.

11/16-11/20/05 The drive down was uneventful. We arrived safely in Miami the following afternoon, and the next few days was spent with Mom and my sisters in Miami.

Up NEXT: The Magic Begins!
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Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:

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Old 06-15-2007, 02:27 PM   #5
ChrisLei
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The Magic Begins!

Sleeping arrangements were rather...crowded at Mom's house. My sister conveniently let go of her apartment and decided to take up residence in my mom's tiny apartment with my dear nephew. To make matters even more complicated, my sis invited our cousin to visit , THE SAME WEEK OUR FAMILY OF 4 PLUS MY Brother were arriving! Did I mention my mom's place is a one bedroom??? Yeah....well although it was very cramped, we did have a wonderful time. And the mere fact that we were counting down the days till we drove down to Orlando made it all worthwhile.

We had lunch with mom, packed up the van, and kissed them all goodbye at around 1pm. We were estimating that the drive would take us a little over 3 hours and we had 6:30 ressies for Chef Mickey's. The whole ride up to Orlando Stitch kept asking "I don't have to take a picture with Mickey do I? I'm scary of him." The months leading up to the trip we told Stitch that it would be nice to take a pic with the characters. As a preperation we took him to World of Disney store in NYC over the summer so he can attend the meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie. Well...that didn't go over well! Anyone who saw him that day, would've thought he was being tortured! Of course Ariel was all smiles! So I suppose he was relivng those moments as we were heading to Orlando. Again I gave him my same response "You don't have to, but it would be nice."

Everything was going as planned till we were an hour from The DIsney World Resort. SCHHHRRRREEEECHHHHH! Traffic had come to a halt. Not a crawl....a halt. There was no moving from this baby! I watched as the minutes ticked by and we inched forward. Then I started stressing.....What happens if we can't make the Chef Mickey's ressies? Ariel would be devastated! She was admiring the autograph book I made her and kept showing Stitch where she wanted each character to sign at. I was about to cry. Maybe we should have left after breakfast. But I wanted to spend a few more hours with Mom. Finally we inched past the hold up. A 3 car pileup! Once we drove around it we were in the clear! Thank Goodness!

One of our fondest memories of the car ride were seeing all the signs telling you you were approaching the Lake Buena Vista area. And the SIGN. Walt Disney World Resort! WOW, I had seen it millions of times but to see it and know that we were going to spend the next few days here. There was nothing like it. We made our way to the Carribean Beach Resort, and I just about cried. It was exactly like I remembered it. We were transported to the carribean islands! We went to the check in building and just as we were getting out of the car, a Disney Magical Express bus was arriving. I gave Prince Donald one look and said "Run! Get inside before they start deboarding the bus we have exactly 30 minutes to get checked in and get to the Contemporary resort!" So he did as I asked. Meanwhile I grabbed Ariel and Stitches hand and walked at a brisk pace after him.

Lucky thing I told him to run, just as I was getting to the doors, a whole slew of people were heading in right behind Prince Donald. He fortunately was first! The check in process was quick and painless. We were directed to the concierge to pick up our iteniaries and tickets for the Spirit of Aloha and we asked what was the Easiest way to get to the Contemporary. That is when we realized, we would have to take one bus to the Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail back to the Contemporary. Hmmm, we looked at the watch and we had exactly 20 minutes to get there. Guess we will be driving there. We got the map and jet set it out of there. We decided to go to the room to freshen up really quick and run a brush through Ariel and my hair. Then we were off.

Again we were doing good for time until......a hold up getting to the contemporary. Seems that there was a business convention starting that evening and there were loads of cars arriving. We had no luck finding parking and here we are 6:40pm and all the way at the end of the parking lot! Prince D grabbed Stitch and carried him all the way to Chef Mickey's. We take the elevators to the restaurant floor and make it to the check in area at 6:45pm. We are extremely apologetic to the CM and told her about the traffic. She greeted us with a smile, and told us not to worry. Seems alot of guests were late because of it too. She also told us it would be a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, Stitch was looking around warrily. He didn't want any characters to pounce on him. LOL We waited about 10 minutes and were called over to take our picture with the big plate and utensils. I can't tell you how I felt taking that pic! This just made it all real! Our dream vacation was actually starting! We were then escorted over to Donald who came over to shake Ariel's hand. Stitch of course was hiding behind Prince D's legs and said "I DONT" WANT A PICTURE!" THe CM hostess laughed and walked us to our table. She warned us that characters were heading to our section so we may want to wait before going up to the buffet. Sure enough, Mickey, Chip, Minnie, and Goofy came in steady succession. And Mickey went right over to an unaware Stitch. I braced myself for the scream, but it never came. He actually smiled! And shook his hand! I was shocked...and relieved! We got our first pic of Stitch with the characters! We finished taking pics and made our way to the buffet. We were starving!

The meal was your traditional fare. Since we were hungry everything was delicious! And as we were eating our desserts the Chipmunks came back. Ariel says "Mom take the camera out, and take our pic." I looked at her and said "Honey, we took your pic with him already". She gave me a look and said in a whisper "MOM, we didn't take a picture with him yet....this is Dale!" OOPS! I had no clue! My dear Ariel schooled me on how to tell the difference after that. Who knew thier noses were different colors! LOL

When we were done, Stitch told me that he didnt get a picture with Donald. So we made it a point to go find him and get his picture taken. Who knows with 3 year olds, today could be my only day I can take pics of him with them. Tomorrow he may be back to his unpredictable 3 year old self and be camera shy again! Stuffed and exhausted, we made our way back to the car and back to our "home' for the next few days. We took our showers got into our jammies and were out before our head hit the pillow!

Up Next- MGM STUDIOS- Houston We Have a Problem!
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Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:


Last edited by ChrisLei; 06-16-2007 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 06-15-2007, 10:24 PM   #6
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Your TR is really fun. And it looks like you have an awesome trip planned for this year!
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:30 PM   #7
ChrisLei
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11/25-11/26/2005-

When we went back to the room, all we wanted to do was rest. So we all ended up taking a nap. We woke up with a start! Dinner at Uncle Disney's house! We scrambled about to get bathed and dressed and ready to go. Dinner was wonderful. It meant so much to spend time with Uncle & Mrs. Disney. We left at about 9:30pm promising that we would come visit again when we were in Florida and having him promise to come see us soon.

We arrived back to the Carribean Beach Resort to the somber task of packing our suit cases. This was something we didn't want to do because it meant it was over. We tackled the task and left out our traveling clothes for the next morning.

Our wake up call was for 6am. We wanted to hit the road early since we knew that this is the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Check out was painless. And we all waved goodbye to Disney with a bittersweet smile!

THE END!!!!


Final Thoughts:

- Time of the Year- The days prior to Thanksgiving are very light on visitors. We never had to wait more than 15 minutes to get on a ride!

- Extra Magic Hours- DEFINITELY worthwhile! It makes so much of a difference especially if you stick to a particular area.

- Disney Magic Your Way Plus Dining- I can not say enough positive things about this! It is definitely cost effective. It is a wonderful way to enjoy many table service restaurants that you normally may not have set money aside for.

- Dining Reservations- If you don't mind scheduling where you want to eat months in advance it definitely pays off to do this. I can not tell you how many people were turned away from the restaurants we had ressies for. Prince Donald was a definite convert. He originally thought I was nuts for making the ressies and when he saw those without them fretting as to where they were going to use their Dining Plan at, he looked over at me and said Great idea!

Fold Up Hamper- This was a great idea I got from the DIS boards. It was great to contain all the dirty clothes to one area and waiting till packing day to put them away. This way the sweaty clothes had a chance to air out instead of smelling up the suitcase.

If Something Peaks Your Interest...- Go for it. We almost took the majority's vote that Spirit of Aloha was not worthwhile.....ALMOST! We are so happy we ended up going. We had a wonderful time. Remember, what floats someones boat may not necessary float anothers.

Be Prepared- For anything! Take an emergency medicine kit and include a sleeve of saltine crackers in it. I can't stress how much this helped us out on Day 2!

Somethings We Wish We Did In Hindsight:

- Wait till the end of the trip to purchase photos.- We unfortunately purchased pics each day. By the end of the trip, we bought the equivilent of the photopass CD. We could have had ALL our photos instead of just 8.

Speaking of PhotoPass- Keep the card handy. This way instead of having 5 separate cards that can get lost, you have all your pics on one pass.
We ended up losing the card of pics we took at Toontown

Well, that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed my report. Better late than never! Hopefully you will join me as I start my pre-trippie for our next WONDERful vacation to the World!
__________________
Me, 35 DH, 35 DD, 9 DS, 5

October 31st- November 8th, 2007 - Our 10th Wedding Anniversary/Birthday Celebration Disney Land & Sea!

Trip Report In Progress:

Magical Thanksgiving Vacation : Carribean Beach Resort- November 20th-November 26th, 2005
Past Trip Reports:

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