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Old 06-10-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
taaren
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Help! DL Vets attempt WDW trip December 2012! PTR & TR.

In case you came here for the Trip Report, I'm going to post links to each day here

Day 0 -November 29-30, Travel days from Maui to Orlando (inc 1 night at OKW)
Day 1 -December 1, AK, Garden Grill, and Bay Lake Tower room pics
Day 2 -December 2, Magic Kingdom, Pirate's League, and DHS Evening EMH
Day 3 -December 3, Epcot, Chefs de France, and MK Evening EMH
Day 4 -December 4, DHS, Jedi Training Academy and Sci-Fi Dine In
Day 5 -December 5th, Tusker House, Gatorland, GF Garden Room Tea, and an IllumiNations cruise. Part 1, Part 2.
Days 6-8- The Dream Cruise
Day 9 - December 9, Epcot, Kouzzina, DHS Evening EMH, BWV
Day 10 -December 10, a Pixie Dust (Spell?) Surpise
Day 11 -December 11, Spirit of the Swamp airboat ride, Celebration town, and too many meals! (Inc California Grill)
Day 12 -December 12, AK again, DisneyQuest, WPE and the EWP
Day 13 -December 13, Epcot again and shopping
Day 14 -December 15, DHS/Epcot (Le Cellier)/DHS

Or if you just want to start at the beginning and work your way through, it starts on Page 6 of this thread.


Pre-Trip Report:
Okay, WDW DISsers, I need your help! We are a group of Disney fans, DVC owners, but from the West Coast so while we know the lay of the Land, we have not been to WDW since the 90's when we were kids ourselves, and could use a lot of input from experienced folk like yourselves.
And, to add some pressure, we probably won't make it back to Florida until at least 2015 for a lot of reasons, possibly longer ... the airfare and time involved in going to the World instead of the Land makes it just too much to do very often.

Schedule:
Nov 30 at ?? (currently Marriott Res Inn MCO, hoping to switch to on-site)
Dec 1-6 at BLT
Dec 6-9 on the Disney Dream!
Dec 9-15 at BWV

The Cast

Me - Hi, I'm taaren, and will be turning 32 in the middle of this trip, on Castaway Cay! The planner extraordinare, lives in Maui currently but when I finish my Master's in 6 months will be looking for jobs in the SF Bay where I spent my 20's, bought our home, and met the rest of the cast. Water rides are my fav, closely followed by the thrill rides.

DBF (best friend) - Michael will be hitting an age that ends in -0 on the third day of this trip! We're used to celebrating our b-days together for the last several years, then I went to the DVC presentation in 2009 and was trying to figure out how many points we needed, Michael was playing with the calendar and said "Look - just plan around going every year for our birthdday week" and the idea was born ... still haven't made it to the Land in Dec, but couldn't imagine doing the World in the summer when its so hot so winter birthday trip it is! DBF lives in the Bay, loves thrill rides mainly but is a very patient and wonderful uncle to the munchkins. He was also a coworker many moons ago who introduced me to my ...

DH - Alex is slightly younger than me, loves all the rides, and is generally lovable and more easy-going than I am, but also more okay with going off and doing his own thing in the parks wheras I always need company, so its good that we travel in large groups. He is not as Disney crazed as I am, but since he invited me on the first trip to the Land several years ago and talked it up so much, I still blame him.

DBFB - Brian is Michael's younger brother, who is birthday is one day after Michael's, four days before mine, and age is halfway in the middle. Lives in the Central California Coastal area; generally awesome, laid back and fun, probably not as into Disney as his wife, but enjoys food and drink and the man can cook and mix a drink like nobody's business!

DBFB'sW - Katie, Brian's wife, is sweet, and probably the only one who loves the Disney vacation as much as I do, and loves seeing the parks through the kids' eyes where I'm more likely to hand mine off to his grandparents and go on Space Mtn over and over. Also loves the food/dining of Disney like I do, so if the boys don't want to go to a restaurant she's my date! Her b-day is a week after this trip ... if we could have stayed the whole month we would have!

DS - Sam is our son who will be turning 6 a few weeks before this trip. Hoping he'll be able to ride everything height-wise, loves all the rides except the ones that go through the dark at the moment (will do Space/Splash once, then says "That was fun but scary mom!"). May be willing to ride even more in another year!

DBFB'sD - Liana is Katie & Brian's eldest, one year older than Sam, and takes her job as the oldest child very seriously; the kids play very well together but there's no doubt who the director of activities is with these kids! Loves princesses, but can play ninja/pirates with the boys too!

DBFB'sS - Conor is K & B's younger, one year younger than Sam, and loves the rough and tumble play with him, but follows Liana's lead along with Sam when they're together.

This will be the crew for the first week, then the DBFB's family will be heading to Universal/Harry Potterland while we continue the Disney fun by going on a 3 day cruise on the Dream, then back to BWV for 6 nights in a 1 bedroom standard view.
Too long yet? More to come ... sorry will try to be less loquacious ...
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Last edited by taaren; 01-12-2013 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Added link to TR
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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Should I pick 1st week AKL/2nd BLT or 1st week BLT/2nd BCV?

So we definitely need the 2 bedroom Villas for the entire trip, and this is where I can use your help first. I know I want at least one week at Bay Lake Towers, Lake View because one of the only things I remember about my trip back in '91 as a kid was seeing the lights of the Water Parade on the Lake and how awesome that is. Also keep hearing everybody on the DIS tell us how convenient the monorails are to get to the parks, so at least 1 week will be there. Having a really hard time deciding the other week.

Since we own at the Grand Californian, and the two weeks we're going are the most popular of the DVC year, I'm going to have to rent somebody else's points to get that week, and have a lead on transferring the BLT points already. But since I have 2 contracts/memberships with 2 UY's I can have 2 transfers in, which I *probably* won't need to use if we stay the second week at AKL-Kidani, which was another thing Michael and I loved about DVC when we went to the presentation - the idea of giraffes outside our window is just enchanting. If we go with AKL-K I probably will just try for the 7 month window, Savannah view, if not wait list, and hopefully be successful.
AK Pros: rooms like we are accustomed to at VGC with 3 bathrooms, lots of space, delightful theming that the DH loves. Fantastic views, and the kids would the animals almost as much as Michael, Katie and I. Not having to rent or trade points since availability at 7 month window generally better.
Cons: Far from the parks, and we are parks people. If we can't get it at 7 months I'd be okay with SSR or OKW but probably a bit disappointed. We're so spoiled at VGC being able to walk into Cali Adventure I'm stil trying to wrap my head around how far everything is at the World. The 20 minute bus rides scare me since that's a significant chunk of a park day when we'll have 3 little ones in tow.
The other choice is BCV, since from the pictures the decor looks good to me (BW's style did not suit at all), and its next to Epcot. Plus since we have our own version of the MK at Disneyland, I have a feeling we'll be focusing mostly on the other 3 parks, particularly on Epcot since its so foreign to the DL experience and it sounds like DHS & AK are cover-able in a shorter time.
BCV Pros: Walk to Epcot (and DHS? for Osborne lights?), has many walkable restaurant options, awesome pool from the sounds of it (though it may or may not be too cold in Dec). Will not be on pins & needles until 7 month mark.
Cons: 2 bathrooms, awkward room set-up compared to newer resorts, no view? Having to find someone to trade my VGC points with because it will book up at the 11 month mark or rent someone's BCV then rent out a roughly equivalent amount of my own to cover the amount.

So, what do you guys think? Please, opinions are very welcome, especially if there are pros and cons I haven't considered. I think it comes down to wanting the room that's best for us vs the location that's best and I'm just torn!


Tickets: 10-day MYW Hoppers for the main crew who will be there the entire 2 weeks; may add the Water Parks & more when we get there if we aren't too tired for Disney Quest which sounds cool or if its warm enough for the water parks, because one never knows what Florida winter will be like.
Cruise was booked from opening day, decided a cruise in the middle would be a nice way to relax/regroup and figure out which parks/restaurants we'd like to do a second/third time on the second week after reviewing our first week. Will be DH's, DS's and my second cruise since we're doing the first this fall on the Pacific Coast, but what kind of Disney fans would we be if we flew all the way to Florida and didn't see Castaway Cay! DBF's, DHBF & DHBFG's first cruise. May rebook with on-board rebooking benefits this fall if price hasn't gone up too much.

Suggestions on tickets also welcome - I know there's a discounted DVC Member AP, but since 10 park days is all we have planned I'm not sure about spending the extra $$ for a discount we may or may not use ...
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:47 PM   #3
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Hi! I am not a DVC member so I have not stayed in any of the villas but have stayed at AK and was a CM at BC. Convenience-wise I would choose BCV, you can walk to Epcot, take a boat to DHS, incredible pool, good restaurants on site and walking distance to the Boardwalk with all of its restaurants and entertainment.

For me AKL is a beautiful resort but seems sooo far away! I am sure it is just a skip and a hop (or bus ) away from everything but it felt like we spent a long time going to/from the resort. BUT if the villas are bigger then I would stil have it in the "maybe" list - you do have an awful lot of adults that might need some personal space
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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Hi! I am not a DVC member so I have not stayed in any of the villas but have stayed at AK and was a CM at BC. Convenience-wise I would choose BCV, you can walk to Epcot, take a boat to DHS, incredible pool, good restaurants on site and walking distance to the Boardwalk with all of its restaurants and entertainment.

For me AKL is a beautiful resort but seems sooo far away! I am sure it is just a skip and a hop (or bus ) away from everything but it felt like we spent a long time going to/from the resort. BUT if the villas are bigger then I would stil have it in the "maybe" list - you do have an awful loot of adults that might need some personal space
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:52 PM   #5
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Yay! I'm not just thinking out loud on this forum!

Thank you for the input!

Katie (DBF'sB'sW) and I talked it over, and we are strongly leaning towards BLT/BCV for the convenience of walking factor. We truly are spoiled by being able to stay at the Grand Californian and walking into the park every year and I think being farther away will be a hardship for us already. I have some tentative arrangements for a transfer of BLT points and a swap of points for BCV points so *crossing my fingers* that all will go smoothly.
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:12 PM   #6
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Dining recommendations wanted ...

The next thing that seems to be very important for WDW goers is the dining, especially the ADR's. Have been lurking around the Restaurants board for a bit but its all so overwhelming and confusing compared to DLR. At our home park we usually make a reservation for one character meal and a lunch at Cafe Orleans, maybe a dinner at Blue Bayou, usually about 1 month in advance though we can up to 60 days.
Definitely leaning against the Dining Plan, though thinking about the TIW card (hence considering the DVC AP). DH & I always share meals since we have small appetites, sometimes we add alcohol but not very often, and I generally try to avoid soda for the sake of the calories so I can have more dessert!
With three birthdays, that's at least 3 nice meals though so we might do a few nights of segmented DxDP's (esp since DBF's and DBF'sB's b-days are consecutive nights) and that way we can prepay the celebration for everybody.
At the moment I'm thinking I'd like one of those meals to be Coral Reef for the atmosphere, though about half of us aren't into seafood the experience might be good. Also Le Cellier and Chefs de France sound amazing. The (grown-up) boys will definitely want some really good steaks for at least one of their meals. Does Yachtsman have the best steaks? Is it worth it since it seems to be one of the priciest other than V&A?
Another meal I'd like to try for the (kid) boys sake is the T-Rex Cafe, even if only for dessert for the atmosphere. Does one need to make a reservation for T-Rex? If so, how far in advance?
Are there others that should be in contention for large groups celebrating special events? (I'm a little mistrusting of how Asian cuisine from East of the Rockies might end up looking to us Californian/Pacific Islanders ... )

It looks like most of the really awesome restaurants are in or near Epcot, so this is probably another good vote for staying at Beach Club.

We're doing our first character meals this year at DLR, trying out Goofy's Kitchen and Storytellers. In fact I'll be making my reservations for those tomorrow. What is the best character meal for having a 4, 5, and 6 year old, two boys and a girl? Chef Mickey?
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:05 AM   #7
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Just saw this review of Whispering Canyons and now its going to be on my must-eat list. Sounds like a kid-friendly Ed Debevics.
Not terribly thrilled about Hoop de Do, Prime Time, or Chef Mickey's so I think we'll skip those this trip. Coral Reef maybe will be girls with the kids since the boys don't sound thrilled about it, but T-Rex sounds great to all of us. As does Beaches and Cream. Somebody on the DLR boards mentioned that PPH's restaurant has something similar to the kitchen sink. We might have to try that this year so we can compare!
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Old 07-26-2012, 06:23 PM   #8
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I can see that. Part of the reason we moved from NJ to NH was cost of living.... It was great 5 years ago but now with 2 kids, poor school systems and just a lack of civilization it's worn on us. That and the 6 month winter. Hoping for North Carolina within the next 18 months.

Northern Cali looks beautiful. My BIL lives in Forestville which I think is an hour away from SF. I see the pictures and I am in awe- the landscape is nothing I have ever experienced... Hopefully we can fly out there when our sanity can take the cross country flight!

Well good luck on getting to the mainland
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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Well good luck on getting to the mainland
Thanks I actually have part 2 of a 3 part hiring process coming up on Monday, part one was yesterday, so I'm pretty stoked about the possibility.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:11 PM   #10
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Okay, more changes afoot. Didn't think I'd be one of those people that changed our plans a lot once we made 'em, I'm kind of a make one schedule and stick to it kind of person but ....

We got an extra night in 2 studios at OKW the first night we land! We're super excited we can just take ME down that night and not have to haul the luggage to the Marriott by the airport and back in the morning. Now we can just send everything to the hotel, live out of carry-ons when we land, and then send it all to BLT on the first. And it was someone who was thinking about just letting his last few points expire, so we got them at a price that was not too much more than the Marriott would have cost.

Once we got that, I started thinking of what we could do with one night of a dining plan. We'd really wanted to eat at Garden Grill, because who can resist a spinning restaurant with chipmunks, but had ruled it out for the cost previously. Sooo, we looked at it again and with 1 night of dining plan, its actually cheaper to buy the dining plan for the kids, then they get a free CS and snack, and for the adults we'll save a few bucks if we go to Garden Grill, plus use the CS credits and snack credits at Flame Tree and Kusafiri Bakery (whose amazing cupcakes I saw on a dining report and now MUST have). And we began the hunt for a GG ADR, which last night we found, not a table of 8 but two tables of 4 for the exact same time that we can hopefully sit near each other. Its at 7:50p, which seems late, but we're going to keep hunting to find something closer to 5ish. In the meantime Tusker breakfast got moved to 12/5, which only has an 11a available, not a 10:30a like we wanted, but 11 is close enough and we'll keep hunting.

So now the schedule for that week is:

11/30 - Fly in, take ME to OKW, 2 studios, get dining plan keys
12/1 - AK, use CS and snack credits, then to Epcot for dinner ADR at Garden Grill, check into BLT somewhere in there.
12/2 - MK, Pirates league mid-morning, DHS for EMHs in the evening/Osborne lights
12/3 - Epcot, Les Chefs 2p, MK in the evening hopefully catching the ELP
12/4 - DHS with Sci-Fi followed by T-Rex dinner
12/5 - AK Tusker late brunch, GF Garden Tea room for the girls mid afternoon, then Illuminations cruise in the evening.
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Old 08-14-2012, 05:34 PM   #11
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Another change is that our head count is shifting. Last month Katie's sister-in-law, whose home I'm staying at while I'm doing my job hunting here in California got an awesome job, which means their finances are much healthier than they'd expected. Since its highly unlikely that Michael will be able to go due to his lack employment and need to catch up with his finances, we've been working on getting his brother and sister-in-law whom we adore to come with us instead. Now she's calculated the time off she'll have by then and has given us a definite maybe. So it looks like we might end up with a party of 9 instead of 8, which works great for the 2 bedroom. I went ahead and changed the ADRs just in case, and mostly found ADRs for 9 within an hour or so of the times we'd originally planned. Though we'd be perfectly happy as a party of 7, having 3 couples and three kids would be a ton of fun. Plus then the party will be almost half girls and we won't feel so outnumbered!
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:44 PM   #12
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Another change is that our head count is shifting. Last month Katie's sister-in-law, whose home I'm staying at while I'm doing my job hunting here in California got an awesome job, which means their finances are much healthier than they'd expected. Since its highly unlikely that Michael will be able to go due to his lack employment and need to catch up with his finances, we've been working on getting his brother and sister-in-law whom we adore to come with us instead. Now she's calculated the time off she'll have by then and has given us a definite maybe. So it looks like we might end up with a party of 9 instead of 8, which works great for the 2 bedroom. I went ahead and changed the ADRs just in case, and mostly found ADRs for 9 within an hour or so of the times we'd originally planned. Though we'd be perfectly happy as a party of 7, having 3 couples and three kids would be a ton of fun. Plus then the party will be almost half girls and we won't feel so outnumbered!
I love definite maybes! That's where I am right now and I am excited to have my husbands sister and husband with us. I didn't luck out on two ADR's ('Ohana and CRT) Hoping BOG helps me with that though Maybe everyone will switch to there and I can get what I want!!
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:39 PM   #13
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Thanks I actually have part 2 of a 3 part hiring process coming up on Monday, part one was yesterday, so I'm pretty stoked about the possibility.
Well good luck!

Fingers crossed the whole job thing can be nerve wracking- hoping NC has a place for us when we open our availability (well mostly for my husband I am PT which makes me an easy transfer)
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Old 09-11-2012, 04:43 PM   #14
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Hey followed you back to your thread lol. You began your ptr early.everything seems great so far. Wish we could go in a big group. I need to start doing that with my trips as they tend to be last minute. Thanks for the advice on DL GCV. I am gonna start on that GCV rental ASAP, I also wanted to ask you if I am planning on doing the southern city pass or a LA tour do you recommend splitting up the trip, like I was gonna do 3 days at GCV and then move to a hotel near Burbank so I can do universal as well as studio tours and etc. or should I spend the whole time at GCV and commute. P.s honestly how bad is the traffic, I am originally from NY
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Old 09-12-2012, 12:26 AM   #15
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Hey followed you back to your thread lol. You began your ptr early.everything seems great so far. Wish we could go in a big group. I need to start doing that with my trips as they tend to be last minute. Thanks for the advice on DL GCV. I am gonna start on that GCV rental ASAP, I also wanted to ask you if I am planning on doing the southern city pass or a LA tour do you recommend splitting up the trip, like I was gonna do 3 days at GCV and then move to a hotel near Burbank so I can do universal as well as studio tours and etc. or should I spend the whole time at GCV and commute. P.s honestly how bad is the traffic, I am originally from NY
The SoCal Citypass is great. If we do Knotts and/or Universal we usually stay in Anaheim and just drive up that day, since its only 15 minutes to Knotts, about half an hour to Universal, and 40 minutes to Hollywood (we like to go see musicals in the theatres up there sometimes). If you avoid commuter hours, the traffic is okay ... just don't try to drive between 6a and 9a, and 3p to 6:30p, and you'll be fine. Universal is really just a half-day attraction on the West Coast.
However, for the San Diego attractions in the Citypass you really want to be based out of San Diego. I recommend Old Town part of SD as a good base, a lot of the hotels in that area have free shuttles to the Zoo, SeaWorld, and other area attractions and the Mexican restaurants are wonderful there, most are walking distance from the hotels.
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