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Old 10-23-2012, 01:54 PM   #1
Colleen27
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A Year of Disney Magic - New ToC, March TR updates, Dec ADR countdown

I think the best place to start this PTR is with a quick lesson on the importance of precise language for effective communication. This is especially important when dealing with a Disney addict and seasoned planner.

Why, you ask?

Because when my husband and I planned our January '12 trip, we agreed that it would be our last family vacation to Disney World for a few years. The kids are getting older, my husband's options for vacation time recently got much more flexible, and there are many other places we'd like to go. So reluctantly I agreed. Our next big Disney adventure will be southern California with a few days at Disneyland in 2014, and we wont go back to WDW as a family until 2016 at the earliest.

But that stipulation was about our big, annual, whole family vacation. No one said anything about weekend getaways or winter escapes, right?

We have a long standing precedent of mini-trips with just part of the family. My mother & I took the kids to the Beach Club for a birthday while DH stayed home to work, I took my girls to Flower & Garden in 2011 and then back again for a Girl Scout event over Memorial Day weekend this year, DH takes DS hunting every fall and canoeing in the summer, DH & I go away for a night or two every year around our anniversary. So I got to thinking... What if this year we make Disney World the theme of those short trips?

Brilliant, right?!?

I wasn't so sure DH would appreciate my genius and I prepared myself to do some serious persuasion. It was a bit of a letdown really... I approached him with budgets and dates, geared up to plead my case, and he actually liked the idea. He didn't raise a single objection! It totally took the wind out of my sails!

But with that hurdle cleared a plan began to take shape.

Ive taken my girls before but always as a unit. Between sports, school, and DS's generally less enthusiastic view of Disney Ive never had a chance to do a mother-son Disney trip. And DH and I have been talking about a child-free trip since our very first Disney vacation back in '05 when we got just a taste of the Food & Wine Festival and decided we had to try it again without little ones in tow.

So the planning is on, and boy is there a lot of it!

Right now, there are 3 fairly well defined trips in the making:

1) April 12 to 15. Just me. Solo, during the Flower & Garden Festival. Truly a dream come true. This one started as a what-if conversation with a group of ladies I connected with on another Disney travel forum years and years ago. We've long since taken our conversation to a private e-mail loop and Disney is only a small part of what we talk about these days, but we've never met in person. So were planning an April meet. Because of the meet, these dates are more or less carved in stone.

Solo in the Garden:
The Itinerary
The Trip Report:


Cancelled - 2) May 24 to 27. My son and I. Hes 14 and way too cool for Disney, of course, but while I was planning the Girl Scout trip with my girls he caught sight of some of the Star Wars Weekend info and expressed an interest. That in itself is such an unusual thing that I wanted to make a mother-son trip happen. These dates are pretty well set too, since Memorial Day is the closest thing we have to a school break during SWW and we prefer to minimize missed days. A nice bonus is that my birthday is also that weekend and as I learned this year, there's no better place to celebrate.

3) Sept 26 to 30? A romantic weekend for DH & I at the start of the Food & Wine Festival. Our anniversary is in early September, a date chosen for beautiful weather without giving much thought to how hard it is to fit a celebration into the back-to-school madness, and we're used to celebrating late. The dates of this one might shift a bit, but for right now I chose them to line up with the Tower of Terror 10 miler because I've been wanting to run a Disney race.

And 2 more that are a little fuzzier:

4) We have dates! Nov 30 to Dec 4!. This could be the kick off to my Disney year or the finale, but I would like to take my youngest to see the holiday festivities at Disney World. Her very first trip was just before Christmas in 09 and we had a blast, and I know she'd love it even more now. And because the girls have more or less been a unit all their lives I'd like to plan a trip just for her, to take it all in at 4yo pace rather than fitting in our special moments around the older kids' commando habits.


5) Sometime in August... March 1 to 9 This is the long shot of the bunch because it hinges on factors outside my control. I'd actually hoped to do this for my older daughter's 13th birthday, but since I'll have an annual pass when she turns 12 it makes more sense to push it up a year. I would like to take DD11 and her BFF, who is basically part of the family and has been since they were in preschool together, to WDW together.

Maybe August becomes Early March:
The Itinerary
The Trip Report:
Day 1 & 2 - Miles & Miles
Day 3 - From Manatees to Mammoths
Day 4 - Hollywood Thrills and <brrr> Chills



So that's the outline for my year of Disney.

I have no idea how I'm going to keep the planning straight with several trips in the works at the same time. I've never done that before! I didn't even start thinking about our May trip until we were home in January. And that's where this PTR comes in - as a rolling planning journal for what promises to be a very magical year of adventures, to help me keep it all straight if not in my mind than in black-and-white to look back on when I just know I'm forgetting something vital.
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~~**Colleen & Crew**~~
POR 10/05 ~ BC 08/07 ~ WL 01/08 ~ CBR 12/09 ~ POP 03/11 TR/ DR
POP 1/12 TR ~ ASSp 5/12 ~ CSR 3/13 ~ POP 4/13 ~ ASMu 12/13

Tickerless once more...Kid-free trip on hold until fall 2014
How a Year Off Became a Year of Disney Magic! PTR
My Training Blog - From Fluffy to Fit: A Pooh Sized Runner's Quest to Run Disney

Last edited by Colleen27; 05-13-2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
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You really are a genius! What an amazing year you're going to have! I'm really excited to follow along and hear how your planning progresses!
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:00 PM   #3
Colleen27
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So, I go to start work on an introduction and I discover something unfortunate... My usual photo host, Webshots, is changing over to a new paid service and they seem to have disabled the resizing feature already.

Usually my trip reports are more picture than text so right now I'm migrating some of the pictures I know I'll use.

In the meantime, I may as well start with the intro that will have the least photos attached... Mine.

Not only am I the master planner and Disney nut of the family, I'm also the keeper of the camera. As such there aren't many photos of me from our adventures and truth be told I kind of like it that way. The camera adds 10 lbs that I just can't afford, if you know what I mean. I'm working to remedy that, though. I'm down 24lbs since our May trip and hoping to make that a nice round 50 by my solo trip in April.

Still, I'm sure I can find one or two to dust off, just to put a face to the name.

This is an oldie, my now 14yo son and I on the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour on his 10th birthday in January of 2008.



This one is more recent, the whole family together at Animal Kingdom in January 2012.



I'm a stay at home mom to three great kids, ages 14, 11, and 4, and I plan to stay that way forever. Someone needs to hold down the fort and with the crazy, unpredictable hours DH works it sure isn't going to be him. I work as a freelance writer from time to time and do a couple of craft shows each fall to pad the holiday budget, and that along with the kids' activities and volunteering keeps me busy enough.

My hobbies tend to the creative, and you'll see one showcased as the trips with the girls get rolling because I make them custom outfits for all our trips. I learned to sew when my youngest came along because it is all but impossible to buy matching clothes with the size/age difference between the girls, and it kind of snowballed from there.

Photography is a bit of a fascination too, and one of the things I'm most looking forward to about traveling solo is no one rushing me when I wander off after a shot that I just have to get. I have a tendency to take pictures of random details, because to me it is the details that really set Disney apart from anywhere else I've ever been. Like this:



Or this:



Because of that tendency, Epcot is my favorite park but Animal Kingdom is a very close second. The themeing at AK is top notch and there are so many wonderful little details to discover.

While we're talking favorites, it seems like a good time to share a few of mine...

Favorite Disney restaurant: California Grill. Great sushi, great view. What more could I ask?



Favorite Attraction: Tower of Terror. Perhaps the single most impressive testament to Disney's attention to detail, the ride is so much more than the mechanics alone.



Favorite Resort: The Beach Club. A beautiful resort with a fabulous pool, I look forward to getting back there soon but can't justify the expense for winter or commando trips.



So there you have it... The entire cast of my April Disney adventure. I'll have intros to the rest of the crew once I get the photo situation settled. In the meantime, apologies for the massive photos... Photobucket doesn't seem to offer the resizing options that Webshots did. I'm off to check out Flikr next.
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~~**Colleen & Crew**~~
POR 10/05 ~ BC 08/07 ~ WL 01/08 ~ CBR 12/09 ~ POP 03/11 TR/ DR
POP 1/12 TR ~ ASSp 5/12 ~ CSR 3/13 ~ POP 4/13 ~ ASMu 12/13

Tickerless once more...Kid-free trip on hold until fall 2014
How a Year Off Became a Year of Disney Magic! PTR
My Training Blog - From Fluffy to Fit: A Pooh Sized Runner's Quest to Run Disney
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:12 PM   #4
Colleen27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeccaariel View Post
You really are a genius! What an amazing year you're going to have! I'm really excited to follow along and hear how your planning progresses!
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~~**Colleen & Crew**~~
POR 10/05 ~ BC 08/07 ~ WL 01/08 ~ CBR 12/09 ~ POP 03/11 TR/ DR
POP 1/12 TR ~ ASSp 5/12 ~ CSR 3/13 ~ POP 4/13 ~ ASMu 12/13

Tickerless once more...Kid-free trip on hold until fall 2014
How a Year Off Became a Year of Disney Magic! PTR
My Training Blog - From Fluffy to Fit: A Pooh Sized Runner's Quest to Run Disney
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Old 11-11-2012, 10:15 PM   #5
Colleen27
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Sorry to go MIA just as I was getting rolling but things have been pretty busy around here. Halloween, the end of football season, and the start of cheerleading all sort of piled on this year! This week is actually looking a bit calmer, even though I'm a single mom for the week while DH is away on business, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of late-night planning and updates because I always have a hard time sleeping when he's gone.

I've been doing some resort homework and have started narrowing down my options. It is really fun to pick just the right resort for each trip, and I suspect it'll end up being 5 different resorts for 5 different trips.

April :
I'll be solo and won't spend much time in the room. I'm a rope drop to EMH close park commando and don't plan on slowing down enough to enjoy resort amenities. So for my solo trip, price is the main consideration. I'm still playing the AP rate waiting game but my top choice is...



Pop Century!

Actually, I'd prefer Art of Animation but so far the Little Mermaid rooms have been excluded from all discount offers and were so overbooked for next month that they're offering free upgrades to lure people into switching to a suite or to another resort. And I'm not willing to pay rack rate to stay there by myself. But Pop is the next best thing. We've stayed there twice and enjoyed it, and I can take a stroll across the bridge to look around and grab a bite at the AoA food court.

May :
This one is probably a long shot because cost will be a factor and I'm not quite ready to book yet even though that would give me the best shot at a price I'm willing to pay. But DS has a clear favorite Disney resort that is in the perfect location for a Star Wars Weekend trip so I'm going to do what I can to get....



The Beach Club. Ideally I'll rent points for a studio at the Beach Club Villas, but a room-only booking is possible too if a discount is offered and there's no DVC availability. It is a holiday weekend so the rates are higher than I'd like but we're only going for 3 nights so I think I can swing it.

August:
A trip that is looking more and more possible by the day. This is the most exciting of all the trips I have in the works for my AP year because we all want so much to take DD's BFF to our "happy place", but we do need to keep the budget in mind. To that end, we're actually considering our very first off-site stay at...

(photo from Wyndham's site)

Wyndham Bonnet Creek. I haven't stayed here yet but hear very good things about it, and where else could we get a 1 bedroom suite for around $100/night? We really want a suite for this trip so the girls can have their space and DH & I can have ours. Free dining is the wild card for this plan, though, because if it is offered a suite at All Star Music or Art of Animation becomes cost-competitive.

September:

Now this is the trip that is up in the air, because taking DD's BFF is something DH really wants to be in on and he might not be able to get away from work twice in such a short time. But that'll likely mean pushing back to the end of Food & Wine rather than the beginning, not cancelling altogether. But whenever it happens resort choice is a no-brainer.

(photo from Allears)

DH and I both loved the quiet, romantic atmosphere of Port Orleans on our first trip, so what better place to spend our anniversary getaway?

December:

Another easy choice, because there's one resort I think my 4yo would love more than any other and with her a value resort is just perfect.

(photo from Allears)

I'm hoping by December the standard rooms will be available with discounts, but if not I'm willing to pay rack rate or, if my mother ends up joining us, bump up to a suite. I'm that sure that DD4 will love it. She absolutely adores Pop Century but generally prefers zero-entry pools and loves splash pads so Art of Animation is perfect for her - all the colorful, lively theme of a value resort with a more fully featured pool area and better variety at the food court.

So that's the resort wrap up as it stands right now. Be warned, I tend to change vacation plans like I change clothes so any and all are subject to change based on availability, discounts, my mood, and the phase of the moon, but at this precise moment these are the resorts I have in mind.
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~~**Colleen & Crew**~~
POR 10/05 ~ BC 08/07 ~ WL 01/08 ~ CBR 12/09 ~ POP 03/11 TR/ DR
POP 1/12 TR ~ ASSp 5/12 ~ CSR 3/13 ~ POP 4/13 ~ ASMu 12/13

Tickerless once more...Kid-free trip on hold until fall 2014
How a Year Off Became a Year of Disney Magic! PTR
My Training Blog - From Fluffy to Fit: A Pooh Sized Runner's Quest to Run Disney
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:00 AM   #6
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I asked a CM on the phone when LM rooms would be available for discounts and she said June 2013. But you never know it could be sooner. I would love to stay there in Feb but my kids voted me down
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:50 PM   #7
Colleen27
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Boy have I been neglecting this pre-trippie. In my defense, I started college full time this term and seriously underestimated the workload, and life has gone topsy-turvy again which has had me a bit down on my Disney planning.

But I'm back because I'm working the lemons-to-lemonade angle for all it is worth! DH's company is in some trouble, and he's looking at what should be a temporary layoff while they renegotiate the contract that they hired him to work on. The dark cloud - unemployment is less than half his working take home, and he might very well end up job hunting in the near future. Silver lining - we've got enough savings that the financial hit isn't a big deal, and we've decided to make the most of his time off.

So, DD11's BFF trip is no longer an August "maybe". It is a March reality! Time to introduce the cast...


DSC05044 by Cam5279, on Flickr

Shanna and Kaylee. Shanna, in blue, is my actual daughter but Kaylee is my "bonus" daughter and is practically part of the family. They've been best friends since preschool and Shanna has been bugging me for years to take Kaylee with us to Disney. Kaylee and her mom recently moved in with her grandmother, after her grandmother had a stroke, and she's had a hard time adjusting so DH & I got to talking and decided this would be the perfect time to do something extra-special with the girls.


DSC02802 by Cam5279, on Flickr

Also coming along on this trip is DH, Ken. He's a big kid himself and both girls (actually all four girls - DD4 and her BFF too) are total "daddy's girls" so leaving him behind on this trip was out of the question. That's the biggest reason behind the change of dates; if he does end up changing jobs he likely won't have much if any vacation time to take in August, and even though we've traveled without him before Shanna was adamant that for this trip he had to come.

There was some epic waffling about dates, as first academic olympiad and then science fair and finally a milestone birthday party got in the way, but at long last we found a week that works for both of our super-busy middle schoolers and the real planning is underway.
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~~**Colleen & Crew**~~
POR 10/05 ~ BC 08/07 ~ WL 01/08 ~ CBR 12/09 ~ POP 03/11 TR/ DR
POP 1/12 TR ~ ASSp 5/12 ~ CSR 3/13 ~ POP 4/13 ~ ASMu 12/13

Tickerless once more...Kid-free trip on hold until fall 2014
How a Year Off Became a Year of Disney Magic! PTR
My Training Blog - From Fluffy to Fit: A Pooh Sized Runner's Quest to Run Disney
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