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Old 08-29-2010, 01:37 PM   #76
eandesmom
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Originally Posted by tinacaplan View Post
Joining in! I read a little bit of your PTR and you have an incredibly engaging writing style. Can't wait to hear more about your big trip.
Hi Tina and ! That is so sweet, thank you so much! I see you have a Feb trip coming up, I'll have to go check it out!
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Old 08-29-2010, 02:21 PM   #77
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How the big fat plan came to be.

While many of you were along for the roller coaster ride that was my PTR, there are a lot of new readers (so exciting!) and so I thought I’d take Amanda up on an idea she had a while back, that it might be fun to see what the original BFP was (Big Fat Plan) and the various iterations over the 11 months of planning and coordinating. We had a few constraints we had to work around when planning the trip initially, and actually, more than I first realized. Isn’t that always the case?

----------------------------- v.0 -----------------------------
10 nights in Orlando, tentative dates 8/22 (arrival 8/23)-9/2/2010
4 nights at the Nick Family Suites
6 nights at Disney (6 nights, free dining) HOPEFULLY in a treehouse!

I really wanted a Treehouse, for a long long time. It would have been sleeping heaven, included a bigger coffee maker, fridge and importantly, a washer dryer! The dates were based on 1) free dining, 2) what we hoped would be a break in Kendall’s select soccer tournament schedule and 3) an assumption that no one would be starting school before labor day. A quick explanation on Nick. It was CHEAP and the E’s were dying to stay there. It was an easy way for me to get Jeff to agree to a much longer trip that didn’t up the cost.

----------------------------- v.01 -----------------------------
This version swapped out the treehouse for BLT, recognizing that if I wanted to not feel held hostage by sleeping teens, we needed to be somewhere that we could leave them sleep but they could easily find us once they got moving. At this point I was pretty dead set on a villa. For the reasons above. In retrospect, much as I (still) want to stay in a treehouse, those mid day pool breaks would have been a lot more difficult. Things happen for a reason.

----------------------------- v.02 -----------------------------
It was booking time, 11 months and 7 days and we were going to book room only to at least lock up our choice at Disney. I was also booking Nick, worried that prices would go up as WWOHP got closer. So we went to book, either BLT or 2 rooms at the Contemporary.

But.
They were GONE!
No rooms available.
None.


----------------------------- v.03 -----------------------------
Well. We hadn’t seen that coming at all, of course so a major regroup with Sandie ensued. I also found out the kids would in fact be starting school before labor day. At least 2 of them, so we ended up booking
Nick Hotel, 2 bedroom suite 8/23-27
Yacht Club 8/27-9/2

When booking, CRO was saying they’d never seen anything like it, rooms were going like hotcakes. A bounceback for FD was out and the theory was that between WWOHP and the anticipation of FD that the rooms were being snatched up by people like me, hoping to add codes on later. It was crazy!

Except I missed something. Something big.

High School. In all our planning, trying to work around Kendall’s soccer schedule we didn’t even THINK about HS tryouts as she would be a freshman. Those started 2 weeks prior to school starting (and according to her mom, she “really” needed to be there all of August for “unofficial” training). Can you say…REGROUP?
----------------------------- v0.4 -----------------------------
Nick Hotel 8/12-8/16, YC 8/16-8/22
This still kept us in free dining, whew! But…lost us a night on the trip, bringing it down to 9 nights. We had to come back NLT than the 22nd for tryouts starting on the 23rd.
----------------------------- v0.5 -----------------------------

8/13-15 ??? (I was currently holding onto the room at Nick)
8/15-8/22 Yacht Club


We really wanted 7 nights with Sandie and she had NO interest in staying at Nick.

----------------------------- v0.6 -----------------------------
With this one we were back to a full 10 nights in Orlando! Between the MAJOR resistance I was getting all around on the Nick idea and learning about the express line pass over at Universal we decided to stay on site all the way. We just didn’t know where. So this plan was
3 of those nights would be at a Loews Universal Resort; with 7 day unlimited 2 park tickets and express line benefits.
7 of those nights will be at the Yacht Club
----------------------------- v0.7 -----------------------------
8/12-15 Hard Rock Hotel (we let Kendall and Taylor pick out of the 3 Loews Universal options, kind of a no-brainer and really, we did the HRH for Tay)
8/15-8/22 Yacht Club

Now here’s a funny note. ALL of this happened between 9/18/2009 and 10/10/09.

Fast forward to February of 2010. We had a rather major tax fiasco and funds we thought we’d have for the trip, we did not. So it entailed a very deep dive into what we were spending. We’d upped the price quite a bit by giving up Nick in favor of the Hard Rock and I was desparate to find any way to bring down the overall cost, which was a bit staggering. So I looked at options.

The options were:
1. Switch to the less expensive on-site hotel at Universal. Savings $255
2. Switch to a Treehouse! Savings $345-438
3. Switch to an offsite condo with a Universal Harry Potter package. Savings $383, $491 if you count the value of the breakfast
4. Switch to 2 rooms at Disney and use our PIN. Savings range from $497-906 depending on deluxe/mod/value.

Jeff had his own fuzzy Disney Math. Or I guess in his case it was fuzzy Hard Rock math!

His big fat plan was to con his Mom and Paul into joining us at Universal so we don't have to give up the Hard Rock rooms and killer tickets. His proposal is they pay the difference between our current package and our "second" choice which for him would be 2 rooms at Wilderness Lodge and then the add on for having an extra adult and a rollaway. So for the bargain price of $647 they could join us for 3 nights at the Hard Rock and get tickets & transportation on their own (or not).

But would they go for it?????

Here‘s where we were at at the time, mentally on the Universal side.

Pro's for staying onsite are pretty huge. But were they worth the price difference if we couldn't get Paul and Sandie to chip in?
1. Mid day pool breaks. On-site is walkable from the parks. In the August heat this was a pretty big deal to me, just being able to walk back and cool off relatively quickly.
2. Express line pass. By staying onsite you get the express line pass. It is basically an unlimited fast pass, except for the Harry Potter rides, for which you can only use it once per day. You can buy these passes ($25-40 each depending on the day but they are only good one time per ride. With HP the parks will be nuts so this is a pretty huge deal too.
3. Early morning park access. We would get 1 hour early access to IOA for Harry Potter. Only onsite guests and people who bought the HP package for offsite locations will get this. Will the teens get up for it? Maybe not but the E's and I would! It will make a big difference in crowds.
4. Margaritaville and the Lone Palm Airport a huge huge deal for Jeff
----------------------------- v1 -----------------------------
On 2/15 the day I’d been waiting for arrived, ADR day! which moved us into the BFP v1. No longer in the “0” stage, we had rooms booked and ADR’s! I figured that made a pretty official plan. Right?

Of course not!

In my effort to bring the cost down, while we waited to see if Sandie and Paul would take the bait and join us at Universal I uncovered something. All along, while we’d been planning around free dining, we had booked the YC rooms with a 40% PIN knowing that we could just stick with that if FD didn’t come out for some reason. I had honestly never looked at what it would mean to arrive before FD would start but as I looked at things I found that the rates for Hard Rock (and all Loews Universal hotels) dropped substantially after the 15th. I had wanted Disney last, for obvious reasons but I found we could save $500 simply by swapping our dates, having YC first and HRH second. This swap, which did lose us some killer park tickets on the universal side, saved us $548. I would have liked to have kept those tickets and should have just bought them outright back in Oct but….it all worked out fine.
8/12-8/19 Yacht Club
8/19-22 Hard Rock Hotel

This of course meant a bunch of ADR rebooking but it was pretty easy at that point, love that 6 month window.

----------------------------- v1.1-----------------------------
This brought us to March, and airfare roulette! I’d planned to buy sometime in march-may, just depending on when the good rates were released. They were released a LOT earlier than I’d expected and I was really glad I’d been paying attention. When you are traveling with 6, those tickets add up fast! Before the good rates came out, the best deals were mid $300’s and those were non direct, horrible times. There are only a few direct flights from SEA to MCO and it was a REQUIREMENT for us. We also really wanted the red eye as it would help with getting everyone on the right time zone.

Much to my surprise, on 3/10, the rates came out, $208 for that wonderful non stop if I booked it through Delta. I don’t know why but that flight is ALWAYS cheaper booked through delta than direct through Alaska. Go figure. However the good rates did not match up with our days. To get the rates we’d have to leave a day earlier and come back a day later, making it a 12 night trip. What to do, what to do?

MUCH to my even greater surprise, for Jeff it was a no brainer. Add the nights and take the cheap flights. His rationale? We’d spend the $$ either way, better to spend it on room nights than airfare! We’d have Jeff and Kendall come back the 22nd on the more expensive flights, everone else ont eh 23rd. But we decided to go cheap on night one. Sandie and Paul wouldn’t be arriving until the following day anyway. This also brought the HRH rates down a little as it was a buy more save more promo.
8/11 POP!
8/12-8/19 Yacht Club
8/19-23 Hard Rock Hotel

Seems like things were pretty well set, right? We had airline tickets, all our reservations were booked and we were gearing up for those big, nasty final payments.

----------------------------- v1.2-----------------------------
6/13/2010. I find out Paul has a major work conflict and now can’t come until the 15th. Sandie’s idea is she will come on the 12th, Paul comes on the 15th and they still go home on the 19th. She also wanted to know if just she and Paul could go to Harry Potter for one day while we were at Disney even though they realized we were going later in the trip. So basically ditching us for one day of the 4 he’d be there. He really wanted to see Harry Potter.

We didn’t like that idea AT ALL.

Instead, we proposed they come on the 15th, be at Disney with us 15th-19th, come to Universal the 19th-21st and their cost would stay close to the same as they’d give up 2 YC nights and gain 2 HRH nights. Paul would be able to do his thing on the 14th, they could travel together and still be back for church on Sunday.

They liked that idea. It took them a good 2 weeks to understand and decide, during which both Jeff and I stressed about it. It would entail some ADR and other special bookings to be re-booked so I really wanted to get that part done.

However it left us with a bit of a problem. We couldn’t really afford 2 rooms at the YC for the 2 nights they’d be giving up. Plus from a booking standpoint it would get REALLY messy, they had tickets on their room, our tickets started on our pop night, there were DDP package problems and all that. It was much much cleaner if our dates just matched and sadly you can’t sleep 6 at the YC. Not to mention the fact that there was no availability with the PIN code anyway. My initial thought was to just add on 2 more nights at POP. 3 nights at POP really wasn’t ideal, one or 2 would be fine but 3 didn’t sit well with Jeff. Or me for that matter.

Two words.

Double beds.

Jeff’s thought was that now that Sandie was helping out on the universal portion, we could stay elsewhere those 3 nights, upgrade but not to the cost of 2 rooms at the YC and it would be a wash.

Well yes. But that didn’t exactly SAVE us any $$!

----------------------------- v1.3 -----------------------------
If we were going to upgrade from POP, to have some really opposite experiences, I really wanted AKL. No availability with our PIN. So instead it became, as of 6/14/2010
8/11-8/14 WL
8/14-8/19 Yacht Club
8/19-23 Hard Rock Hotel

We decided it would be a LOT more fun if we just didn't tell anyone about the WL part.

Dizzy yet? Now to me, really, once it's all down like this, it's not THAT bad.

Believe it or not, there were no more resort and date changes after this. There were rounds of ADR drama while I tried to redo my touring plan. It had been a fairly lazy plan that instead morphed into a fairly scheduled plan. With Sandie and Paul only being at Disney for 4 days, us having 4 days before they arrived, it became a bit schizophrenic and my fears of not seeing everything I wanted to went up proportionately!

In my rebooking frenzy I did end up with a few extra ADR’s that I confess, I held onto for the trip. 3 in total, for peace of mind if nothing else.
At the end of all of it, here’s what the BFP looked like, touring plan, ADR’s and all.
----------------------------- The BFP v2 -----------------------------

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Red Eye, SEA to MCO

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 Resort WL
Land @ 7:25. DME to resort
Breakfast at WCC@ 9:25 AM
MK 11-2 Hit Main Street Barber
Lunch at CHH or Caseys CS (if needed)
WL Pool and room Check in
AK 4-10 (EMH)
Dawa Bar or Tamu Tamu for drinks
Sanaa for dinner at 8:55 (back up ADR, 7:35 @ Tusker House)
AK EMH till 10
Back to WL

Thursday, August 12, 2010 Resort WL
Roaring Forks CS for Breakfast
Typhoon Lagoon 10-3 Kids could override and choose BB but I hope not.
Typhoon Tilly’s or Lowtide Lou’s Lagoon CS for lunch
DTD/DQ 5-8:30
Raglan Road for dinner @ 7:00 PM
Electric Boat Parade from WL Beach @9:25, Watch Nightastic from beach @10
Bed!

Friday, August 13, 2010 Resort WL
DHS@ 8-11(EMH) for Rope Drop and TSM dash. TSM goes down on the 16th so this is a priority! OMD as well.
WL Pool 1-4
MK 5-?
1900 Park Fare for dinner @8:25
MK for evening EMH 10-? (open till 2)
Back to WL

Saturday, August 14, 2010 move from WL to YC!
CS Breakfast at Roaring Forks
WL Roof Tour with ranger 9am
WL Photo Session @ 10:30 am
C head to YC to check in, free choice for group
Hurricane Hannahs or wherever for lunch CS @2
SAB 1-3
Paul and Sandie arrive at some point
Epcot 4-9:30
Tutto Italia for Dinner @ 7:10 PM
Illuminations @9? (could be 10, seems to be a debate)
Back to YC

Sunday, August 15, 2010 Resort Yacht Club
Breakfast in Room
Animal Kingdom for rope drop @ 9-2
Picnic in the Park CS for lunch
Back to Yacht Club, Pool Time 2-5
6pm Head to Polynesian Resort by bus via MK.
Tambu Tambu Lounge for Drinks
Ohana for Dinner @7:20
Magic Kingdom for Wishes fireworks at 10 & evening EMH
(open till 1)
Back To YC

Monday, August 16, 2010 Resort Yacht Club
Breakfast in room
DHS AM EMH @ 8-12 rope drop
Back to Yacht Club, Pool Time 1-3
AK 4-9 for evening EMH
Dinner at Tusker House 7:20 (backup, Captain’s Grille @8:15)
Drinks at Dawa Bar or Tamu Tamu

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 Resort Yacht Club
Breakfast in Room/snacks at Main Street Bakery
MK 8-12 for AM EMH and rope drop
Pool time 1-3
DHS 4-Dinner
Kouzzina 5:10
Illumninations cruise at 8
Back to Epcot for evening EMH till 12

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 Resort Yacht Club
Ale & Compass or BCM for CS Breakfast (at resort)
Wherever we want based on what we think we’ve missed.
Back to Yacht Club for pool time 12-2
Girls Tea @ the GF 3:20 (boys do whatever they want lol!)
Epcot 4-9:30
Teppan Edo for dinner @ 8:15 PM (backup, Sanaa @8:15)

How close did we come to sticking to it?
Stay tuned!

Up next. Departure Day!

Last edited by eandesmom; 09-01-2010 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:28 PM   #78
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Hi Alison!!! Thank you so much.

Running start is a program for HS Juniors and Seniors. You "test" in and can take your classes at the community college, earning college credit (and ideally a Associates degree) while completing your HS degree. My issues with it are that in choosing it, you are choosing to check out of the high school experience. Which bums me out. You can't get that back. However, that's not for everyone and I recognize that.

Tay had one class at the HS for all of last year, math (as he never tested in to take it at the CC) and the rest at the CC. This year it's in reverse, he basically has his senior project at the CC and everything else at the HS. He did it more for some of the music and photography electives I think than any grand associates degree goal, he will not be getting his associates. We hope that being at the HS more will motivate better performance in the math area. He pulled through at the end enough to get a car for fall (gpa for insurance) but it was a pretty brutal rollercoaster kind of year on the grades.

TMI lol! You have a LONG time before you'll have to think about that!
Well, I work at a high school, that is why I was curious. We have something similar called College Connections, but it is only open to Seniors. I agree with you. It makes me sad that kids really do miss out on their senior year of high school. But you are right...there are some kids that are just ready to move on. And you can't count out the fact that they are getting part of college for free.

I wonder how he will react to being back in more of a high school setting after distancing himself last year. Maybe it will be a lot better, considering he will have experienced what else is "out there" and he will be able to handle it better.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:42 PM   #79
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You are right. When you have your whole planning journey listed out the way that you did, it's not as hard to follow. In the middle of watching you plan it though, my head was spinning. It's all that fuzzy Disney math. By the end of it, you are always going "Did I do that right? Did I totally screw it up?"

You did a great job planning it!! I can't wait to hear the details.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:46 PM   #80
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WOOT! I'm here! Can't wait to read all about this trip! I'm off to catch up!
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:00 PM   #81
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Now I finally understand the title of your PTR! Thanks for posting the overview, I only was part of the last changes - but remember the drame well! I am all dizzy now...
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:10 PM   #82
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Cynthia, my head is spinning from reading how your plans came to be. Anxious for the next update.
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Old 08-29-2010, 04:32 PM   #83
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Great recap of the BFP!!! Wonder how close you stayed to it??
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:32 PM   #84
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OMG, that was to funny reading it!

I swear, I was getting dizzy reading all of the changes and it was completely entertaining! Thanks so much for that--it's by far one of the best posts ever!
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Old 08-29-2010, 05:44 PM   #85
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Wowza... a lot of planning went into that Big Fat Plan! I'm exhausted just reading it. I'm sure that it all worked out for the best other than your BIL not able to join the crew. I am so very anxious to hear about all of it but especially interested in hearing about the Wizarding World whenever we get to that point.

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Old 08-29-2010, 05:44 PM   #86
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I'm very dizzy now but very interested to see how things played out.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:10 PM   #87
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Well, thanks for that because now I finally understand all your revisions and how they came to be. NOW it all makes sense, but wooooooooh.....that's a lot of changes. I was never quite sure how you ended up staying at WL, but now I finally understand.

So I'm curious. How did everything go with your departure flight? I'll tell you why I ask, but later. Now who's keeping who in suspense?
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:17 PM   #88
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Oh, Cynthia! I missed a few (ok, maybe more then a few) of your changes on my dis hiatus! WOW!

We really are long lost planning sisters

I'm sure everything worked out wonderfully and it was all worth it in the end!
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:23 PM   #89
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I have notebooks with all my different trip planning options that look similar to your v. series. Wait until I post the different point options for the various DVC options. It'll make ya dizzy.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:27 PM   #90
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WOW! But, believe me, I totally appreciate how much plans can change. I also like your husband's thinking about plane fare...I'd much rather spend the money on another night at Disney than on plan fare, which is how we ended up adding an extra night to our trip. Can't wait to hear more, especially since I got in on this close to the beginning.
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