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Old 08-20-2011, 03:53 PM   #1
dismagiclover
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The Darling Family June 2011: A Last Minute Budget Vacation

everyone! I know this report is a bit late, but I havenít been DISing much this summer. I figure it is better late than never. Before I begin, I have a confession to make. Iím not sure this is the best place to make the confession because I have noticed that you are a bunch of enablers. But Iím going to make my confession anyway. (Gotta start somewhere, right?) I maybe just might have a small addiction to Disney World. There I said it. In a public forum too. That is got to count for something right?

First let me introduce you to the Darling Family.



We have DH. At home he masquerades as a government attorney. Also pictured are Wendy, age 11; John, age 9; and Michael, age 6.

Here is the heroine of the story.



That is me, Jenny, proudly portraying my hard earned Mickey medal. I earned it last January and Iím still bragging about it.

My addiction this past year has been very well fed. If youíd like to read all about it check out the links in my siggie. This trip was a bit different. It wasnít planned months and months out. I didnít agonize and map out every little detail. (Though my DH might claim it was still over planned.) It just came about rather quickly and by accident.

Our Annual passes expired on Friday, June 17. The kidsí school was scheduled to end on Tuesday, June 14. Definitely not enough time to squeeze in a trip. Then rumors started flying about how school may end early to get a jump on some summer construction. This, of course, got me to thinking. (Always a scary thing.) If school ended on Friday, June 10 that would leave plenty of time to get a trip in. I anxiously awaited official word and mapped out a potential plan.

I presented my plan to DH. He rolled his eyes and told me I had to find a way to pay for the trip out of our planned summer vacation budget. We always spend a few weeks out west visiting family every summer. This year we were adding a jaunt to CA on to the end of our trip. The plan was to spend some time at Disneyland, the beach and Legoland. Whatever I could squeeze out of the planned budget for this trip I could spend in Florida. So I started squeezing. I eliminated several nights in hotels and we stayed a bit longer with family. I also determined a single marathon day in Disneyland would do the trick. Presto! I had $1000 for Florida. How could I possibly do a week trip to Florida for a family of 5 for $1000? A little bit of Disney magic. We would drive down; passes were already paid for; we could use DVC points for 3 nights, and we had enough Disney reward points to cover most of our food at the parks. I presented this to DH and by some still unexplained miracle he thought it sounded like a great idea!

Now the only suspense was the school schedule. We finally received word that the last day was Monday, June 13. Not what I was hoping for. However, 5th grade promotion was scheduled for Friday, June 10. So Wendy was in the clear. Michael was in kindergarten so I didnít feel bad about pulling him. John, the 3rd grader, is my greatest Disney lover and assured me that all they would do is watch movies on the last day. So the trip was on! Let the adventure begin!

The Post pre-trip report

Day 1: Travel Day

Day 2: Dabbling in Star Wars Weekend
Hilton Bonnet Creek

Day 3: An Epcot Rope Drop
Things Don't go as Planned
Duffy the Disney Bear
Just a Little More Epcot
An Epcot Evening

Day 4: A Hollywood Studios Morning
My Secret Spot at Hollywood Studios
Old Key West Check In and Dinner at Epcot
An Old Key West Evening

Day 5: Magic Kingdom at Last!
More Magic Kingdom
Even More Magic Kingdom
And Still More Magic Kingdom
Another Old Key West Evening

Day 6: Animal Kingdom Here We Come
More Animal Kingdom and More Photopass
The Backlot Tour, A Lovely Boat Ride and Downtown Disney
A Mother/Daughter Evening at the Magic Kingdom

Day 7: It is All About the Bear
Duffy Quest Completed
The End

Last edited by dismagiclover; 12-01-2011 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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I'm in! I've lurked on your reports for a year, now I'm subbing!
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:40 PM   #3
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I'm in too! And I too have lurked on your previous reports!! My sisters are the same ages as Wendy and Michael!
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:21 PM   #4
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That's what an Annual Pass is for - to plan another vacation before it expires. Right?????

I'm in. Great start!
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tink2Day View Post
I'm in! I've lurked on your reports for a year, now I'm subbing!
I'm glad you decided to come out of lurkdom! This report will probaby lack the details of my previous report because I've forgotten lots of the details.

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Originally Posted by ZFamily5 View Post
I'm in too! And I too have lurked on your previous reports!! My sisters are the same ages as Wendy and Michael!
I'm glad you are along for the ride. So do your little sisters drive you crazy? Wendy's little brothers sure drive her crazy

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Originally Posted by MEK View Post
That's what an Annual Pass is for - to plan another vacation before it expires. Right?????

I'm in. Great start!
Those squeeze in trips right before the AP expires are definitely one of the great perks!
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Old 08-21-2011, 08:49 AM   #6
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The post pre-trip report

So I didnít do a PTR because there wasnít time. We had less than a month from the time we decided this vacation was happening. And as all you DISers know, a month when it comes to Disney World is a truly last minute vacation. First challenge was where to stay. For me there was no question.



Last summer my kids and I stayed in an Old Key West studio and had a marvelous time. I really wanted to show DH how relaxing a vacation at Disney World could be. Add to that the low point values of OKW and my curiosity about the size of the 1 bedroom units. (Everyone always raves about them.) So I was just hoping we could get in last minute. Disney magic was with me because when I called there was a 1 bedroom available for the days we wanted. I was feeling lucky and asked for the Hospitality House (a separate DVC booking category.) It wasnít available, but I went on a waitlist for it thinking there was no way it would come through on such short notice. I was wrong though. About a week before our trip our waitlist came through.

Unfortunately we only had enough points available for 3 nights at OKW and we were planning on spending 5 nights at WDW. So I needed to find someplace to stay the other 2 nights. And it had to be within our budget (which was $100 a night.) I toyed with the idea of POR Riverside (the only moderate that will sleep 5), but even with my AP rate it was over budget. So I made a reservation at Buena Vista Suites. It is off property, but it had come very well recommended. Then one day I was cruising around over on the Orlando resorts board and found a great deal at the Hilton Bonnet Creek.



For those of you not familiar with the Bonnet Creek area, it is a piece of property not owned by Disney World, but surrounded by Disney on 3 sides. It fourth side is bordered by I-4. Thus the only way you can access it is by going through Disney property. It is right behind the CBR. Frankly it is closer to both Epcot and DHS than most of the Disney resorts. By booking through Last Minute Travel we could stay there and keep within budget. I looked at one picture of the pool and decided to go for it. I really think it was a steal to be at such a nice hotel in such an incredible location for so cheap. ($89 a night.) Then I found a couple inexpensive hotels for the drive down and back and we had places to sleep for 7 nights.

Next up was the food. We really werenít planning on many ADRs. First of all I didnít think much would be available and secondly table service at Disney would blowthe budget right out of the water. DH did mention one night how heíd missed eating at Garden Grill in January and I agreed. So we decided we would do one splurge and try for a Garden Grill ressie. Luckily after trying for a few days I finally snagged a 4:00 dinner reservation. Then Wendy saw a picture of the new refillable mugs and decided she just had to have one.



At $15 a pop I didnít think that fit in the budget either. But then I got to thinking. (Remember that is always a dangerous thing for me.) DVC had recently introduced the ability to split a reservation and only add the dining plan for part of your stay. So if we added the dining plan for just one day we would all get a mug good for the duration of the stay. Plus we could then use the dining plan to cover the Garden Grill. Only kink was the mug is not included in the regular dining plan. So what is a girl to do? Obviously, my only choice was to add the deluxe plan for the first night. And luckily we had enough Disney reward points to cover it. So really we got the plan free, right? So that left me with 2 more ADRs to make. Iíd always wanted to try lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern so I made one there. Then we just had to figure out one more dinner. Since we really wanted to spend some quality time at Old Key West we settled on Oliviaís. Then I noticed that DVC members get a 20% discount for lunch at Les Chefs de France. Well I have to take advantage of that when Iím on a budget. So our ADRs were set and all of them except Garden Grill were easy to get even though we were less than a month out.

Last thing to figure out was our park schedule. We had arrival day, four full days and departure day. So we decided to hit a rope drop in each park with an evening in Epcot for Illuminations and an evening in the Magic Kingdom for Wishes. So the plans were set and we wouldnít even have to wait too long to execute them.

Next up: The trip begins.
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:55 PM   #7
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Subscribing and off to check out some of your other reports.
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Old 08-22-2011, 06:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mimiloveswdw View Post
Hi! I've always followed your TRs but just started posting this year WOW your plans make my head spin! That's AWESOME that you could figure all of that out and that it all fit! OKW looks so amazing...and I've heard great things about Olivia's! I'll be here reading along!
I'm glad you made it out of lurkdom! It is pretty amazing the trip came together in such a short amount of time! Of course I'm always planning trips in my head so that helps out when I plan them for real life too

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Originally Posted by BookTrout View Post
It seems like luck was on your side and your eagle eye and excellent planning skills saved the day.....and the budget, too. This sounds like a fun trip without any of the excessive planning (that would be my borderline obsessive planning mode, ahem) that can make you feel like a rat in a maze sometimes. I can't wait to read more.
Sharon
Since we've visited so much lately it was easier to kind of let go of the details and just let the trip happen. There weren't any must dos. All of us knew this was just a bonus trip so everyone was pretty laid back. It made for a good trip.

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Can't wait to hear all about your trip. I love your reports.
Hi! It's nice to have some old readers back

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Originally Posted by MEK View Post
Looking forward to see pics of OKW and Bonnet Creek. I am staying at OKW in December and it will be my first stay there. Can't beat the points for a studio. Really looking forward to it.

Ah - yes - the dining dilemma. I am going through that now. I want to do two days of the DXDP and I am considering a third. What to do?
I hear you on those point costs at OKW! They can't be beat (except maybe by BWV standard views.) I love OKW. It has such a relaxed vibe. I love the Epcot resorts because of the walk into World Showcase, but I think I like the atmosphere of OKW best. It just feels like you are in Florida! I don't know if its a good or bad thing that DVC has given us this Dining plan flexibility. Too many choices!!!!

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Subscribing and off to check out some of your other reports.
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:10 PM   #9
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The resort choice was a huge decision as we are not DVC members......yet . We are going as a grand gathering so we had to find a place that everyone could afford . I did alot of "thinking" and figuring of Disney Math and it seemed like our best deal was a value resort. We are staying at Pop!! My husband loves my family but really likes his "privacy" also and loves that fact that he can close the door and we have our own room and bathroom . Since we are saving money by not staying in a moderate or deluxe- we are giving Christmas presents such as BBB, Pirates League, the Pirates Cruise, Pick a Pearl, the Sleigh Ride, Characters in Flight, and Horseback Riding at Fort Wilderness. We have free quick service dining, but we also made reservations at Chef Mickey's for Breakfast for our last meal before we leave and at Liberty Tree Tavern for Christmas Day for lunch. My mom, sister and I also have the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package booked for Le Cellulier! I am super excited about that! We also booked the Harmony Barber Shop for my dad. We have gone to Disney for years (my 13th trip) and he has always said he wanted to get his haircut there. So I am giving him that as a Christmas present. I have also booked the "Behind the Seeds Tour" for my parents as a present. So as you can see, we are having a true Disney Christmas. Santa will also bring a couple of toys for my younger kids and I can't wait see what they will be!! Their stockings will also have gift cards from "Disney" so they can buy a couple of souveniers from this trip because I know they will see things they just have to have !
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Old 08-23-2011, 06:21 AM   #10
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Woo-Hoo! Another trip report! I have lurked on your previous trip reports and LOVE them! I kept tell myself that I needed to come out of lurkdom. Your report from the 1/2 marathon and the marathon inspired me and I am going to run the Princess 1/2 in February. Can't wait! I've keep telling myself that I have to make sure that I leave enough time during the race to stop for character pictures.

Can't wait to read about the trip!

Christine
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Old 08-23-2011, 12:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emmakatbaby View Post
The resort choice was a huge decision as we are not DVC members......yet . We are going as a grand gathering so we had to find a place that everyone could afford . I did alot of "thinking" and figuring of Disney Math and it seemed like our best deal was a value resort. We are staying at Pop!! My husband loves my family but really likes his "privacy" also and loves that fact that he can close the door and we have our own room and bathroom . Since we are saving money by not staying in a moderate or deluxe- we are giving Christmas presents such as BBB, Pirates League, the Pirates Cruise, Pick a Pearl, the Sleigh Ride, Characters in Flight, and Horseback Riding at Fort Wilderness. We have free quick service dining, but we also made reservations at Chef Mickey's for Breakfast for our last meal before we leave and at Liberty Tree Tavern for Christmas Day for lunch. My mom, sister and I also have the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package booked for Le Cellulier! I am super excited about that! We also booked the Harmony Barber Shop for my dad. We have gone to Disney for years (my 13th trip) and he has always said he wanted to get his haircut there. So I am giving him that as a Christmas present. I have also booked the "Behind the Seeds Tour" for my parents as a present. So as you can see, we are having a true Disney Christmas. Santa will also bring a couple of toys for my younger kids and I can't wait see what they will be!! Their stockings will also have gift cards from "Disney" so they can buy a couple of souveniers from this trip because I know they will see things they just have to have !
That sounds like such an incredible trip! We've never stayed at the values because of the 5 people thing, but they look fun! You will have a great time! And all of those extras will be perfect for Christmas time. Do you think you'll do a trip report?

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Woo-Hoo! Another trip report! I have lurked on your previous trip reports and LOVE them! I kept tell myself that I needed to come out of lurkdom. Your report from the 1/2 marathon and the marathon inspired me and I am going to run the Princess 1/2 in February. Can't wait! I've keep telling myself that I have to make sure that I leave enough time during the race to stop for character pictures.

Can't wait to read about the trip!

Christine
I'm so glad you came out of lurkdom! And for the princess in February! That looks like such a fun race. And yes definitely factor into your plans enought time for a few pictures. That is what make the Disney races so much fun! This trip wasn't near as exciting as the marathon trip, so I hope the report doesn't get too boring.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:55 AM   #12
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Hello my friend I just found this but after my panic subsided on the whole "how could I have missed that she started this" I realized we were leaving the day you started Going back to read......
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:18 AM   #13
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Enjoying your trip report - shame about Wendy getting sick. Bonnet creek looks very nice and you are very lucky to have had so many WDW vacations in the last 18 months
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Hello my friend I just found this but after my panic subsided on the whole "how could I have missed that she started this" I realized we were leaving the day you started Going back to read......
Hello my old friend No reason to panic. You definitely had better things to do then sit around reading trip reports the past couple of weeks! I'm glad you are here now. I can't wait to hear about your trip! So get that report started

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Enjoying your trip report - shame about Wendy getting sick. Bonnet creek looks very nice and you are very lucky to have had so many WDW vacations in the last 18 months
I have been very lucky with all of our recent Disney vacations. And I've loved and appreciated every minute of them! (Well almost every minute.)
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:44 AM   #15
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Just a Little More Epcot

After some Duffy coloring the boys decided Innoventions was calling their name so we began the walk over there. We were waylaid by the site of a photo pass photographer. So we took some pictures with some fun topiarys.





I donít know why we only took pictures with Mater, but here is a shot of Lightning.



A few feet later we were waylaid by another Photopass guy. (I have a problem.) Here is what he took.





Finally we made it to Innoventions. What did the boys want to do? Be in their own video game.





Here is the final result. (You can see me in the reflection.)



Next they decided they should save up some money for our next vacation.



I guess they werenít liking this budget vacation thing. Usually they save for college. Here they are diversifying their savings.



If I remember right they reached their goal so I guess our next vacation will be extravagant. (Itís going to be an Alaskan cruise. Too bad that money isnít real.) It was about 1:45 so I figured we needed to skedaddle over to catch our hotel shuttle. On our way out we spotted one of Johnís favorite characters without a line. So of course we stopped to say hello.



Then we headed out to catch the shuttle. We didnít have to wait long and this bus was much more luxurious than Disney transportation. It was a charter bus with very comfy seats. We did have to make a stop at Hollywood Studios, but it didnít take long to get back to the hotel. What would we find there? Would Wendy be recovered?
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