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Old 09-06-2013, 10:11 PM   #1
Claire&TheBoys
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Turning 40 at Mickey's House! My first PTR!

Hi and welcome! I've never done a PTR before but I have been reading a few and thought it might be fun to give it a try!

I've been an obsessive Disney planner since I was a child. I remember preparing to go on trips with my church Youth group and plotting out bus routes (back in the day, every bus went through the TTC), which attractions I most wanted to see, and more. And this was way back in the Dark Ages before the internet - I used old guidebooks to help me. So finding the DIS was pretty much the best thing I ever found online. A whole community of people like me!

Our regular cast includes:

Me, Claire - mostly a stay-at-home mom, but I work a few hours a week for a CPA firm where I've been over 10 years. I've been married to my college sweetheart for 16 years.

My wonderful husband, Dale - he works as a civilian for the Navy and is also an officer in the Army Reserves. Thanks to him, we've been getting nice discounts at Disney World the last few years, and probably would not have gone so many times if it weren't for those. I took him to Epcot once while we were dating (he'd been to MK once with his family) and got him hooked. Later, he was the one who suggested honeymooning at Disney. I used to think I was the biggest Disney fan and he was just coddling me. Then I realized that he really wears his Disney t-shirts pretty often, and I catch him telling his family about the awesome vacations we have, so I'm pretty sure I'm onto him. He loves to pin-trade and ride the thrill rides.

We have two awesome sons, Brad and Drew. They are in 6th grade and 2nd grade, respectively, this year. They've been raised on Playhouse Disney and Disney movies, so we've raised them to be addicts, too. They each had their first trip as toddlers and many trips since. I am sometimes afraid they won’t think it’s special anymore, but then they tell me how they can’t wait till our next trip. And I say, “Me too!” It’s a frequent topic of conversation at our house!

Our upcoming trip is for my 40th birthday. A little over a year ago, I started thinking about my 40th approaching in early 2014 and the idea to spend it with Mickey. As I told my husband, “I want to wear the birthday button,” and being the good sport and indulgent husband he is, he said, “whatever you want, honey.” Love that man!

So join me as I while away the next 3+ months by obsessing over my ADRs (did I make the right ones? do I want more?), ticket options and how to pack as much Disney as possible into 5 nights, 6 days. I’m so excited!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!

Last edited by Claire&TheBoys; 09-15-2013 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:21 PM   #2
Claire&TheBoys
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What I've done so far... Resorts..

So my birthday is actually January 2. When Dale said we could go for my birthday, I looked at the calendar and the school calendar and found out that the boys don’t go back to school until the Monday following New Year’s, which is Jan 6. I have always wanted to spend New Year’s Eve at Disney World. I fireworks, specifically Disney fireworks, and I just can’t think of a better place to see NYE fireworks than Disney World. I know that week is going to be crazy. A zoo. Insane. And we probably won’t get to see everything we like and do everything we like. As I started thinking about making a resort reservation, I also knew it was not going to be cheap and likely, no discounts available. After our last stay at Pop (last Sept for the MNSSHP), Dale told me “no more Values.” The rooms really are small for 4 people and the beds are doubles. We really like CSR, so I figured we’d stay there. I was there in February with my sister and sister-in-law for a girls’ weekend (we did the Princess Half Marathon for my sister’s 50th birthday) and I fell in love with CSR all over again. So it was at the top of my list… until I priced it out and figured it would be somewhere around $1200 for 5 nights. Ouch.

After hearing for years here on the DIS about how easy and affordable it is to rent DVC points, I decided to look into it. In my typical obsessive Disney manner, I went through one of the sites that lists the points per night for each DVC resort for a studio and a 1-bedroom. Then, in my typical accounting manner, I made a spreadsheet of them and sorted them by points required, and figured out how much each reservation would cost at various per-point prices (yes, like I said, accounting and Excel are my thing). Then, I started stalking the DIS Rent/Trade board. We were already less than 11 months from check-in date, but more than 7 months, so I knew I’d have to rent points from an owner at the resort. I posted on a couple of different threads, sent some emails, and the first DIS-er that both had enough points for the reservation AND there was availability, was OKW. I had seen pictures of it and thought it looked lovely, and as a bonus, there are 2 actual beds in the OKW Studios instead of one bed and one pull-out. That makes it more like a hotel room and with 4 of us, it seemed like the best option. Plus, the DIS-er was only asking $11/point, so I was able to get it for a very reasonable price! I got the go-ahead from Dale and made the deal and am pretty excited about trying a DVC resort for the first time.

With a points rental, I feel like it's a done deal, no going back! I'm going to Mickey's House for my birthday!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!

Last edited by Claire&TheBoys; 09-15-2013 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:21 PM   #3
Claire&TheBoys
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Let's talk FOOD

Once I got the resort worked out, I started plotting about which days to spend in which parks. We usually start with MK to get us into the “magic” frame of mind and knowing that MK is the most popular park on NYE, I figured that rope-drop on New Year’s Day might not be too bad. The next day is my birthday and I decided to spend that day at Epcot. Studios was my pick for Friday and we’ll start Saturday at AK, and I figured we could hop to MK if we needed some more time in that park.

Once I had my parks figured out, I turned to restaurants. I started thinking back to our family’s favorite places we’ve eaten in the last several years and new ones I really wanted to try. Be Our Guest was near the top of my “want to try” list and I thought it would wonderful to get in there on my “birthday eve,” New Year’s Day. My back-up plan was for dinner on our last night, hoping that further along in my “+10” reservation period, I’d have a good shot at getting a good time. For my birthday dinner in Epcot, I wavered between Via Napoli, which we enjoyed on our last trip, and the fun of Garden Grill with Mickey, Pluto and Chip & Dale. Another thing I’ve always wanted to do is go to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue. In more than 25 visits to WDW, I’ve never been. I still remember how my grandparents got to go when my parents sent them to WDW for their 50th anniversary (I come from a long line of Disney fans!) and how my grandma thought it was one of the best nights of their trip. So I decided that was going to be one of my birthday presents to myself. I think our kids are old enough to enjoy the show and I think we’ll all have a good time. I decided we’d do that on our Studios day, since we’re not big fans of Fantasmic anyway.

My 180 day turned out to be July 4. I’m in Florida, but in the Panhandle, where we’re on Central time. I found out here on the DIS that online reservations open at 6:00 AM, which is 5:00 AM my time. On a holiday. Sigh. But I knew I had to try to get that BOG ADR or I’d kick myself. I set my alarm for 5 AM, and actually woke up about 4:45 and figured it was destiny, so I got up, got logged in and kept refreshing until I was able to search for times for 12/31 and on. The first one I tried was for BOG on 1/1. No luck. I think the only one available was very late, like 9:00, and we are used to eating much earlier, so I knew that wouldn’t work for us. So I went to my alternate day, Jan 4, and was able to get one at a great time! From there, I booked and paid for HDDR on Jan 3, and Via Napoli on my birthday. Since I was up and looking, I decided to book an arrival-night dinner at Olivia’s at OKW, so I did that. Then, I thought that if MK was really busy on New Year’s, it might be nice to have a lunch ADR, so I booked Liberty Tree Tavern. Everything makes sense at 5 AM! Happy with what I’d done, I went back to bed and back to sleep.

So, my first round looks like this:
12/31: Olivia's (new to us)
1/1: Liberty Tree Tavern lunch (fave)
1/2: Via Napoli dinner (fave)
1/3: Hoop Dee Doo Revue (new to us)
1/4: Be Our Guest (new to us)

Of course, as an obsessive planner, some of those may change!

Has anyone had anything really delicious at any of our "new to us" restaurants?
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:21 PM   #4
Claire&TheBoys
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To get the DDP or not??

Now that I’d made my ADRs, I wanted to run the numbers and see if getting the DDP made sense for us. With Brad now a “Disney adult,” I was doubtful that it would. I figured surely the 4 of us could eat for less than $185/day. Using the menus at AllEars.Net, I priced out the meals I’d booked and I think we’ll come out ahead by not using the DDP. That’s my decision and I’m sticking to it. It was worth it when the kids were both “children,” when we did a lot of character meals, but now that one has aged up and we don’t do character meals that much, I don’t think it’s as good a deal anymore.

And now, with ADRs made, the long wait begins. The second-guessing. The “what if I changed this or that” questions. I still am toying with a few different ideas, but I’ll get to that.

I’ve already made another ADR, and changed one. That early morning when I was making ADRs, I only clicked “lunch” for the day at Liberty Tree and got a 1:30-ish ADR, which is later than we like. At that time of morning, I assumed it would be a busy day at MK and was the earliest one available, so I took it. A few weeks later, I was looking for something else and happened to check lunch at 11:30 and LTT showed up much earlier. So I snagged that and cancelled the later one. We would rather eat early than late. Then, last month we were visiting Dale’s parents, and the kids started talking about our next vacation and Brad asked if we could eat at Sci-Fi this trip. He and Dale ate there during SWW a couple of years ago. Since none of the DHS CS options are all that fabulous, I told him we could probably squeeze it in. I whipped out my trusty iPhone and the My Disney Experience app, and 5 minutes later, I had an ADR for Sci-Fi on our Studios day. I figure that works out nicely – with doing HDDR that night, it might be good to have a little better lunch than Pizza Planet or Backlot Express, our two go-tos. And with the help of one of my trusty spreadsheets, I had already figured out that some of the less-expensive TS restaurants (like Sci-Fi, LTT and Via Napoli) are really only about $20 more than eating CS. For the break from the crowds, I think it’s well worth it.

So my updated ADR list looks like this:

12/31: Olivia's
1/1: Liberty Tree Tavern lunch
1/2: Via Napoli dinner
1/3: Sci-Fi lunch, Hoop Dee Doo dinner
1/4: Be Our Guest

So far:

Resort: Booked!
Dining: Booked!

Now, I need to weigh my ticket options.
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Following along!
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Old 09-10-2013, 06:41 PM   #6
Claire&TheBoys
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the real robp View Post
Following along!
Yay! Thanks!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-12-2013, 09:18 PM   #7
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We have been to WDW for NYE before... But we only went to DtD and resort. It. Is. Crazy! Like, insane crazy. As in - hold your kids hands for dear life - crazy. It was awesome, I am glad I did it once... But I don't think I would ever venture into the parks for NYE. Too much stress until my kids were old enough to fend for themselves.

I keep contemplating it... Because we have been there, and then I think back to that night... And my crazy fear of losing my kids in the boisterous crowds, and holding their hand for dear life and yelling "I will get you out safe I promise!!" ... And then spending NyE at a resort seems so much more relaxed! LOL!
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Old 09-12-2013, 09:21 PM   #8
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Ps. Osborne lights come on about 5:30 or so. They Are HANDS DOWN the most "not to be missed" thing of the holiday. Do not miss them, you will regret it :-)
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:06 PM   #9
Claire&TheBoys
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyfan2kids View Post
We have been to WDW for NYE before... But we only went to DtD and resort. It. Is. Crazy! Like, insane crazy. As in - hold your kids hands for dear life - crazy. It was awesome, I am glad I did it once... But I don't think I would ever venture into the parks for NYE. Too much stress until my kids were old enough to fend for themselves.

I keep contemplating it... Because we have been there, and then I think back to that night... And my crazy fear of losing my kids in the boisterous crowds, and holding their hand for dear life and yelling "I will get you out safe I promise!!" ... And then spending NyE at a resort seems so much more relaxed! LOL!
I know it'll be a zoo and I think I'm prepared for it. I just think that if I don't at least *try* to make it to a park to see some fireworks, I'll regret it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyfan2kids View Post
Ps. Osborne lights come on about 5:30 or so. They Are HANDS DOWN the most "not to be missed" thing of the holiday. Do not miss them, you will regret it :-)
Yes, I've seen them 3 times already - twice just Dale and me, and once all 4 of us. I love them! I wasn't sure if they might be on by 5:00 since it gets dark so early in the winter. Since we're going to HDDR at 6:15, I think we need to be heading out of DHS no later than 5:15 to make it to check in on time. That makes me lean towards going to DHS on NYE. That may be one of those decisions I put off for awhile. Of course, if I think I might want to get an ADR, I need to be on the hunt NOW.

Thanks for the input!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:24 PM   #10
Claire&TheBoys
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Welcome to the weekend!!!

Dale had to go to a Reserve meeting today/tomorrow so I don't have anything better to do on a Friday night than cruise the DIS. This time of year, right at the end of the govt fiscal year and beginning of the next is always busy for him and he'll be gone a lot over the next couple of months. I told him that's our Disney money!

My countdown on my phone shows that we're only 10 days from doing the Double Digit Dance. I have to keep myself from getting TOO excited too soon! I have all sorts of things I want to do in the meantime, like:

- I have my eye on a shirt on Zazzle that I want to order to wear on my birthday. I'm hoping for a discount code to show up on the Bargain Board between now and then.

- I need to buy some trading pins. For our last long trip in May 2011, I bought 100, I think, online, and they lasted us for that trip, our couples' trip in Nov 2011, and our weekend trip last Sept. It's so hard to buy pins online anymore. I try to use the list on the DIS of "good" sellers and avoid the ones selling scrappers, but it's hard to find a sizeable lot. Dale loves to pin-trade, and our boys are pretty into it, also. I like to wear my lanyard, but I'm really picky and don't trade for much.

I visited the trip report of another DIS-er that used to maintain the CSR thread over on the Resort thread. She's rented points to stay at OKW the last several years, so I asked her advice about what area would be good to request. She recommended Old Turtle Pond, and looking at it on the map, it looks like a pretty good location. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Have a great weekend and THINK DISNEY!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-15-2013, 10:00 PM   #11
Claire&TheBoys
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Another weekend down, another week closer to !!

About the only thing I did this weekend was to do a little searching and see what ADRs might be available at DHS on NYE. I love 50's Prime Time Café and right now I'm seeing one for about 4:15 and one for about 7:00. If I spot one for 5:30-6:00, I'll probably snag it and cancel the one I have for Olivia's. There are still several for Olivia's and I could replace that one more easily if I wanted to.

I'm also kind of thinking about finding something to do next month over Columbus Day weekend. We didn't take a vacation this summer because Dale was one of the lucky civil service employees who had to have 6 unpaid furlough days, resulting in a 20% salary decrease over the summer. We had promised Drew we'd try to get to Wild Adventures over the summer and never made it, so I considered taking a quick trip up there. Our kids have a 4-day weekend over Columbus Day, so we could take a couple of days to do that if we wanted. Dale has a lot of Army duty over the next month or so, though, and I'm not sure he would be enthused about spending yet another weekend away from home.

Everyone have a great week!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-20-2013, 02:54 PM   #12
Claire&TheBoys
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Another week down, another week off the countdown!

I've been pretty busy this weekend and haven't had much time for DIS planning. I have been checking the Disney website for an ADR at 50's Prime Time for NYE and right now, just the 4:15 one is left. I'm arguing with myself about whether I should snag it.

If we stick with our original plan of not leaving home until the morning of the 31st, we probably won't arrive on property until 4:00. I'm kind of planning to leave a day early, however Dale doesn't know that yet. My niece is actually starting college in Gainesville in January. Her parents, my brother and SIL, will be getting her set up in an apt over there sometime between Christmas and New Year's. My plan is to leave home on the 30th and drive as far as G'ville to spend the night - see my niece's apt, have dinner. Then, get up and drive the rest of the way to Disney on the 31st and be there by lunchtime. I am a little concerned that traffic might be pretty heavy on the 31st, so I'd like to get through it early. I don't think it'll be a hard sell.

I had thought we might try to get away next month for Columbus Day, but Dale came home yesterday and said that he needs to do some Army duty the first of October, so he'll be gone all that week. I know him well enough to know that he won't want to take any extra personal days off, so I doubt we'll go anywhere. On the bright side, though, I texted with my BFF yesterday and we may all meet up for our alma mater's homecoming in November, so I can look forward to that.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (12) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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