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Old 09-04-2010, 02:33 PM   #1
emmysmommy
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August 2010 Magical Trip: Getting our “socks knocked off” WDW style!! 10/10 update

Hey there DisBoarders! The explanation for the title to my trip review will come on day 7 – please hang in there! It is really what defined this trip as so magical!

I will be doing a separate dining review but I wanted to get started with sharing our wonderful 11 day WDW trip. Overall, we had an amazing time. Crowds were light, the heat index was high, the food was good but not exciting (well, good enough to cause me to gain a few pounds), and our expectations were generally exceeded! We had some magical moments along the way that will forever frame this trip as unrivaled and a tough gig to beat!

Who: Me – Brenda (or “trouble” as my hubby calls me and no I’m not sharing my age!) and my 14 year old daughter Emily (Em, Emmy…)



When: August 18, 2010 – August 21, 2010

Where: Bay Lake Tower 8/18-8/21 followed by Beach Club Resort 8/21-8/28

Summary of Booking:
Bay Lake Tower 1 bedroom villa with a theme park view for 3 nights. Deluxe dining. 10 day park hopper tickets. I booked using the free dining offer although I kept checking the Disney website and couldn’t find a 40% room only discount which would have been far better. I did upgrade to the deluxe dining plan since we had so many table service restaurants that I wanted to try.

Beach Club Resort – Club Level Lagoon view x 7 nights booked with 40% room discount. 1 day base ticket (required for dining package) and deluxe dining (I know, I know, believe me I KNOW, why did I do this?)

I took a ton of photos so be prepared to see our smiling faces a LOT!

Please feel free to ask me any questions, I will do my best to draw from my vast knowledge to respond! (I'm kidding of course since I'm a newbie!) Seriously, I welcome any questions.

Leaving blank to insert links to review entries:

*Back story
*Some pre-trip stuff

* 1st Trip installment - 8/19 Travel day to Orlando
* Check-in at BLT and shedding a tear over the amazing view!
* Thurs. 8/19 1st full day at WDW
* Fri. 8/20 Part I - Exploring Epcot
* Fri. 8/20 part II - Epcot, naps, and EMH at Magic Kingdom
* Sat. 8/21 Checked out of Bay Lake Tower & Arrival at Beach Club Resort
* Sat. 8/21 Check-in at Beach Club Resort, CL Lounge, and dinner at Coral Reef
* Sun. 8/22 DHS Day Part I

Last edited by emmysmommy; 10-11-2010 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:50 PM   #2
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Can't wait to read more!
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IATink View Post
Can't wait to read more!
Thanks and welcome! [oh, I've wanted to use that emoticon!!]

I'm getting caught up in everyone elses TRs since I'm comparing experiences and wondering what I missed since I HAVE to book a return trip!
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:50 PM   #4
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My trip review will follow shortly but in the meantime, please indulge me in this little bit of background information…

This trip actually started as a “we don’t want to go on another cruise this summer” vacation. I think that I’m the only member of our family that wasn’t entirely excited about booking a WDW vacation. My husband and daughter refused to see one more dancing waiter event in the shipboard dining room. It was my daughter that suggested a return visit to WDW since we had not been since 2006. I know all of you Dis-aholics find that hard to believe!

We were at The World 4 years ago but stayed off property and only saw DHS, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom one day each. Can you believe that we didn't see the Magic Kingdom? My reasoning was that we live by Disneyland and can see a castle anytime - also, there's no Matterhorn at the MK so it can't be as good as Diz (I admit, I was a Diz snob! You will be glad to know that I've been cured of that now that I have a true comparison.)

So….in anticipation of planning this trip I found the Dis Boards. How was I to know that this community of people would revolutionize my appreciation and awe of how much there is to do and experience at this place affectionately referred to as The World? I learned what ADRs were (and yes, I awoke at 3am Pacific Time) to book mine online at 180 days. I learned about rope drops and photopasses, PINs and Fantasmic! Dining packages, and even Premier annual passes.

So with all of my information on hand, I booked a split stay because from the reviews of the resorts that I read, I couldn’t decide between Bay Lake Tower or Beach Club Resort. Why not do both?

In the end, my husband got a job offer that he had been pursuing for a year and could not take time off of his new position. However, the trip must go on! My daughter and I looked forward to a “girls getaway”. Although we missed my husband, it was actually a perfectly balanced trip since we have similar touring styles.

Here's a preview pic of us on our trip:




Next up: A few more pre-trip matters and then on to the actual review!! I know, you thought I was actually going to start the review.... hang in there it is coming shortly.
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Old 09-04-2010, 06:02 PM   #5
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Hi Brenda! I'm in! I'm looking forward to hearing all the details about your trip!
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natebenma View Post
Hi Brenda! I'm in! I'm looking forward to hearing all the details about your trip!
Hi there Dee. I know you from the Beach/Yacht club thread where you have done so much hard work to get great information shared with the Dis-masses!!! BTW: Thanks for all of that.

Thanks for joining in!
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:26 PM   #7
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I'm in!!

10 days with Deluxe Dining @ the Beach Club and BLT?!


This is gonna be gooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gellybean View Post
I'm in!!

10 days with Deluxe Dining @ the Beach Club and BLT?!


This is gonna be gooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!
Well, it will rather be like a train wreak - disgusting but you can't stop watching. Thanks for joining in!!

Flufferville? That is sooo cool!
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:23 AM   #9
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I'm so ready to get this thing started but....I have to attend a brunch for my daughter's HS church group this morning. Hmmm....I wonder if anyone will notice me typing on my phone??

Be back real soon!
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:28 PM   #10
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Trip Review to start momentarily.... but first I will be sharing my condition for which the only cure is a trip to WDW!!!

Pre-Trip Stuff:
In anticipation of going to WDW I HAD to create no less than a 12 page excel workbook. I had to organize our transportation and airfare, Disney Resort hotels, and packing lists. (You know how important those are!)

My favorite planning tool was this little beauty!



I "borrowed" the format from some other obsessive Disboarder who loves excel.

My husband can only shake his head, he doesn't get it. But seriously, the copy that I carried in my bag during our trip was well worn and kept us checked into the proper restaurant at the proper time.

So...even though it is WAY more information than anyone would want to know it worked for me!

Other notable mentions for pre-tip stuff.... I pre-purchased the photopass CD and in doing so I saved $50. I've already placed my order for the CD using the credit they place in your shopping cart for the pre-purchase. I only had to pay the $2.95 shipping fees.

And as far as prep for our days touring the parks...

My Top 3 must haves were:
1. Comfortable shoes
2. A roomy tote bag (I can only dream of using the "no bag" security line at the parks.)
3. Rain ponchos (at least in the summer when we went)

So are you ready for the actual review because I sure am... this stuff is not even that interesting to me anymore.

Next Up: An actual review!!!
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Old 09-06-2010, 02:04 PM   #11
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Count me in - I've just booked a LV CL room at the BC so eager for your view
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:13 PM   #12
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1st installment of Trip Report

Wed. Aug. 18, 2010 – Travel Day and Check in for Bay Lake Tower

I’m generally an early riser so getting up at 4:30 am to do our final packing was no problem – especially when there is the anticipation of seeing Cinderella’s castle at the end of the day!!

While my daughter was waking up (a process I’m told – who would have thought?) I continued a travel day tradition by going to a local bagel shop and getting some breakfast items to take with us to the airport. Besides my favorite raisin bagel I’ve fallen for these sinful little cherry cheesecake bagel danishes that they make – sooo delightful! Darn it! No cherry cheesecake bagel danishes this morning….scanning the case for an alternate – how about them muffins? My new favorite from this bagel shop is a pineapple coconut muffin. Mmmmm – so delish! That is way too much information on simply getting breakfast!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….my daughter was fully awake, bags are packed, and hubby is loading up the car.

See how light we packed? Only two bags each - not including the carry ons!


Our flight wasn’t until 7:30am so we had plenty of time for the short drive to the airport and to get through security.

After dropping us off at the airport and wiping his tears from having to say good-bye to us – ok that last part is only in my imagination but I think I heard a little sniffle – we were headed to the terminal.



I love how with United Airlines you can pre-pay your bag fees on-line (at a slightly reduced price). American Airlines can learn from them – and learn how to properly charge their customers for checked bags. I had ticketed my flights prior to their February 1st bag fee increases. I looked at my receipt for my checked bags and told the lady that she didn’t charge me the correct fee. I pointed out when I ticketed and then she saw that she had made a mistake. No problem right? It took about 10 minutes for her to figure out how to credit back and re-charge the correct fees. After about 5 minutes I said “never mind” it’s not worth saving $10 at this point. Well..she finally got it finalized and we were off!

Fast forward since this is really dragging….got on the plane, changed planes in Dallas, got on another plane, the pilot aborted take-off due to an idiot light warning (I’m sure that is not the technical term but the pilot did not take the time to explain the issue so I could share it with all of you!), after waiting in line another 45 minutes to get clearance for take off, we finally leave the ground, I eat my delicious pineapple coconut muffin from the bagel shop, we got off the plane and voila – we are HERE!!!

This little gem deserves honorable mention even though I'm the only one that could get excited over its coconut pineapple goodness.



We arrived in Orlando around 6:15pm which was about 45 minutes later than we anticipated. It was no problem finding the DME bus desk – there’s plenty of signs point the way.



The staff checked our DME voucher and asked how many checked bags we had then pointed us to another line, well, not exactly a line since we just walked through a maze of a queues since there were no other passengers in the DME area.



We were shown to our bus and departed after a short wait. There were only 5 of us on the bus. We went straight to the Contemporary with no stops at any other resorts – I’m not sure if that is the usual route of we only had Contemporary guests on the bus.

I couldn’t believe that I didn’t have to play musical chairs to get the front seat on the bus! I KNOW you all know why! I had to get the magical photo when passing through the WDW arched signage.

A sweet shot of The Magical Sign welcoming us to The World:


Next: Check in at BLT and a photo tour
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClareH37 View Post
Count me in - I've just booked a LV CL room at the BC so eager for your view
Thanks for joining! I have a lot of photos of the room, views, and the lounge so hang in there for that!

It looks like you were at the BWI this year - that is on my list of resorts to try one day. It was nice to see the Boardwalk all lit up at night from across the lagoon.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:34 PM   #14
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I completely, totally, without-a-doubt want one of those muffins! (I can't seem to find a little drooling emoticon, though! ) We had a grocery store that used to make them, but they stopped about 5 or 6 years ago. I finally gave up looking for them when I switched grocery stores last year.

Can't wait to hear more about your trip! I'm also interested -- a 40% off room code was better than free dining? Do you mind sharing your numbers? I love to figure those sorts of things out, even if I know there's no way I'm going to another couple of years!
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlake View Post
Can't wait to hear more about your trip! I'm also interested -- a 40% off room code was better than free dining? Do you mind sharing your numbers? I love to figure those sorts of things out, even if I know there's no way I'm going to another couple of years!
Thanks for joining in!

Here's my math to show the value of the various discounts. The FD appears to be more cost effective for a value or moderate level resort with a party of 3 or more. However, when you get to the deluxe level resorts the 40% offer is often more appealing.

Keep in mind that I'm showing 2 sets of numbers since I had a split stay.

Bay Lake Tower - 1 bedroom - theme park view x 3 nites:
Rack Rate (room only) = $1,384
Rate w/ 40% discount = $830.40
40% Net savings = $553.60

Free Dining x 3 days for 2 adults = $252 savings

In this example the 40% room discount beats FD by $301

Unfortunately, I was only able to get a 1 bedroom BLT theme park view using the FD offer. If I had been able to get a room with the 40% offer I would have saved an additional $301.60.

Beach Club Resort - Club Level Lagoon View x 7 nites:

Here is where I realized greater savings using the 40% discount compared to free dining. I actually "spent" some of my savings by upgrading to CL and still saved $ based on a rack rate. (Not that anyone really pays rack rates anymore ...)

Rack rate waterview room x 7 nites = $3,300
Rate with 40% discount = $1, 984
40% net savings = $1,316

Free Dining x 7 days for 2 adults = $588

In this example, my 40% room discount exceeds FD by $728

I only needed to save more than $84 per night (FD savings) in order for the 40% offer to be better.

I hope this all makes sense. It looks better in spreadsheet form. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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