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Old 11-07-2010, 06:47 PM   #1
ardenandjacksmom
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Disney-Deprived 'Party of Three' road trippin' to DLR--PTR

Hi all--

So I'm a relative newbie on the DISboards, came in looking for info to help choose a hotel for our upcoming Thanksgiving Trip to DLR (would you be surprised to learn that I booked the HoJo??) and now I am totally hooked, and especially loving reading everyone's trip reports--it's really helping me get the 'feel' of DLR before we get there!

Anyhoo--thought instead of just being a lurking free-loader, perhaps I ought to 'pay it forward' by sharing our experiences LOL.

So here's hoping that you enjoy our kind of 'krazy'

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

1. Me! 37 and recently liberated from a rotten (now ex) DH LOL!!

Based on the preceding sentence, I'm sure you can imagine that we've had a pretty rough past year--including the fact that we had to cancel a very special trip to WDW that was planned last October for my DD's 9th (and DM's 59th) birthdays, which fall five days apart. We were going to stay a week at POFQ, dine at Cinderella's Castle, as well as LeCellier, SciFi Dine In, Ohana, California Grill--basically it was going to be a dream trip, well almost a dream trip, my TRUE dream trip involves the Concierge Level of the Grand Floridian LOL. Ever since cancelling that trip, I've been hoping for a chance to get the kids back to Disney under our own steam as we establish our 'new normal.'

Having our house on the market, preparing to move back to the East Coast (where we're from, we've lived outside of Seattle for the past four years) I wasn't sure when it was going to happen. But having never been to DLR (realizing that once we move back East it would be even harder financially to swing it) I became even more determined to make it happen before we leave the left coast. So a few weeks ago I thought, Thanksgiving may be the ONLY opportunity we have to get there (we are closing on the sale our house mid-December and heading back East in time for Christmas) So I started planning a hypothetical Thanksgiving Trip--shhh, the kids don't even know about it yet! I am a krazy coupon lady, so I have turned my mad money-stretching skills towards budgeting for this trip. Since we're planning to drive, the weather/snow in the mountains could foil my plans, so I won't tell the kids until Tuesday when I pick them up from school with the car loaded just in case...

Which brings me to the remaining members of the crew:

2. DD She is the most amazing kiddo ever! She just turned ten, so all the tween issues are in effect (as in, no longer interested in princesses unless you count Princess Leia), but she still manages to be an awesome big sis and tolerates her Mom.

3. DS He is five, and a special needs kiddo (on the autism spectrum, with a seizure disorder and food allergies) His needs up the ante on the level of planning (especially meals, crowds and loud noises/flashing lights--our park days require more of an itinerary then just showing up and heading for the shortest line LOL) but he loves Mickey, shows, and riding the train and as long as I keep a watch on how stressed he is by the crowds we do OK.

So that's us in a nut(ty) shell--in the next installment I'll discuss the road trip plan (two days down and two days back for three days there--yikes!)

Thanks for reading! Now I have to catch up on this weekend's
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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Old 11-08-2010, 11:25 AM   #2
DizNee Luver
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I think you have an amazing attitude, considering the year you've had.....isn't it funny how Disney planning can totally change our moods?? I love that you're surprising the kids.....we did that a couple years ago & it was awesome to see them react!!!

I have a set of 3 yr old girls that are on the spectrum, egg allergies, medical stuff as well.....so I know what you mean in extra planning. Make sure you take advantage of getting a Guest Assistance Card from City Hall first thing. Just let the CM's know your son's condition & they will tailor the card to fit his needs. We needed to be able to keep the girls in their strollers for as much time as possible so our card allowed them to use the strollers as wheelchairs. If your son isn't able to stand for long periods of time in lines.....let them know that!!
The other thing to do is call Disney Dining & tell them you have a child with food allergies & would like to speak with one of the head chefs. They will call you back (usually with in a week) to discuss his needs & give you tips on what to do at each restaurant......never, ever let the waiter/waitress tell you it's safe.......always see the labels or the mgr. The staff is trying to be helpful but the chef I spoke to, said there has been a few incidents where the waitress told them it was ok.....and it wasn't!!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate.......I live in Salem, OR & we keep hearing that it's going to be a very wet winter.....so I've got my fingers crossed that you will only have the Pacific NW rain to deal with!!!

I'm looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds!!
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WDW Dec 12 PTR~Cancelled: HERE 2011 Holiday Trip: HEREDivas, Take 2~2012: HEREDiva's TR~2011: HERE
10 of Us Summer Trip~2010: HERE 25th Anniv.TR~2009: HERE

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Old 11-08-2010, 11:46 AM   #3
reyasmommy
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Look forward to reading more, and I can't wait to hear about how your kids react to such a wonderful surprise. I'm keeping this trip a surprise from my DD as well. My DS is only 10 months so EVERYTHING is a surprise for him.

DISNEE LUVER is always packed with lots of great advice. Listen to whatever she has to say.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:07 PM   #4
Goofy_Mom
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I'll read along, too.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:33 PM   #5
DizNee Luver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reyasmommy View Post

DISNEE LUVER is always packed with lots of great advice. Listen to whatever she has to say.
Awww shucks, thanx!
__________________
Road Trip 2014HEREClub 33HEREWDW TRHEREOct PTRHERE 2013 Divas #3HERE2012 Holiday Trip HERE
WDW Dec 12 PTR~Cancelled: HERE 2011 Holiday Trip: HEREDivas, Take 2~2012: HEREDiva's TR~2011: HERE
10 of Us Summer Trip~2010: HERE 25th Anniv.TR~2009: HERE

DLR: 1967, 1972, 1984, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2011, 2012, 2012, 2013, 2013 WDW: 2013


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Old 11-08-2010, 11:17 PM   #6
ardenandjacksmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DizNee Luver View Post

I have a set of 3 yr old girls that are on the spectrum, egg allergies, medical stuff as well.....so I know what you mean in extra planning. Make sure you take advantage of getting a Guest Assistance Card from City Hall first thing. Just let the CM's know your son's condition & they will tailor the card to fit his needs. We needed to be able to keep the girls in their strollers for as much time as possible so our card allowed them to use the strollers as wheelchairs. If your son isn't able to stand for long periods of time in lines.....let them know that!!
The other thing to do is call Disney Dining & tell them you have a child with food allergies & would like to speak with one of the head chefs. They will call you back (usually with in a week) to discuss his needs & give you tips on what to do at each restaurant......never, ever let the waiter/waitress tell you it's safe.......always see the labels or the mgr. The staff is trying to be helpful but the chef I spoke to, said there has been a few incidents where the waitress told them it was ok.....and it wasn't!!

Hopefully the weather will cooperate.......I live in Salem, OR & we keep hearing that it's going to be a very wet winter.....so I've got my fingers crossed that you will only have the Pacific NW rain to deal with!!!
Thanks for all the special needs info During our last WDW trip, DS had just been diagnosed with ASD (we'd known about his allergies a year before that) so we had a crash course in touring 'the World' with special needs LOL. When we got there, I had vaguely heard of the 'special needs card' (didn't even know the official term for it, GAC)--just knew that I had to go in the park the first day and request it at Guest Services. Thank goodness the CM knew to ask me questions about what would help DS! If it hadn't been for her suggestion, we wouldn't have known about the 'red tag' for DS's stroller--and that was the lifesaver of the trip, I have no clue how he would've made it otherwise. It is such a blessing for him to have his 'safe place' in managing the crowds and parades!

I totally agree with you about speaking with the chef for each meal too--it's not that I don't trust waitstaff, but honestly it isn't fair to expect them to know every ingredient (and every step of preparation) of every dish on the menu, always better to be safe than sorry--especially as one mistaken bite could be a trip-ender for us!!

Thanks for the good vibes for the weather--I will be soooooo seriously bummed if we have to cancel last minute on account of the weather. (Although my snowbaby DD would be thrilled to be sledding for her Thanksgiving Break, she was trying on her snow boots today to see if they still fit--we're lemons to lemonade all the way LOL)
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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Old 11-09-2010, 12:07 AM   #7
ardenandjacksmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reyasmommy View Post
Look forward to reading more, and I can't wait to hear about how your kids react to such a wonderful surprise. I'm keeping this trip a surprise from my DD as well. My DS is only 10 months so EVERYTHING is a surprise for him.
I'm really hopeful that this trip will be a way for us to 'reclaim' Thanksgiving--the kids have had so many changes forced on them and are really needing a surprise that is a GOOD surprise. Last Thanksgiving was our first holiday as a threesome and with no family here (all our relatives are on the East Coast) it was depressingly quiet and somber. My parents would come out, but they are helping to care for my grandmother, who is nearly 90. Just getting away to a 'happy place' will be such a needed break! Since we've never been to DLR before, it will be a nice clean slate for us to make new memories

As for the surprise aspect, I am actually a repeat offender LOL. I surprised them on our third trip to WDW--it was so funny because we flew to Orlando for their Dad's work conference, but we told the kids that we couldn't go to the parks since Daddy had to work (of course they had no clue that we were extending the trip by five days AND that her grandparents and aunt were flying in too!) I told the kids we'd make the best of all the rest of Orlando--we went to a funny McDonald's with the big playplace, spent a beautiful afternoon at the hotel pool (with water slides and lazy river, it was like a water park!), and did a little shopping. We had a nice few days exploring the Orlando we'd never seen (all of our prior trips had been spent entirely within WDW in total immersion mode LOL).

So on the 'last' day, we loaded into a town car with all our stuff ('to go to the airport') but the driver knew that we were really going to Pop Century. The driver had all these Disney brochures in the back seat and DD was asking if we could take her to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique next time (little did she know she had an appointment THAT afternoon LOL) We drove through the gates into WDW and DD was like 'are we going in?'--I told her it must be a shortcut to the airport (yes I am a BAD mommy!) It didn't really hit them until we pulled up at POP and as we got out, who pulled up in the van behind us but her grandparents and auntie!! I could not have timed it any better They were both completely stunned and DS just kept saying 'Papa, Papa' I was really impressed with myself for pulling it off--of course now that the kids are older I have to be WAY sneakier
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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Old 11-09-2010, 12:10 AM   #8
ardenandjacksmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goofy_Mom View Post
I'll read along, too.
One of these days I'll figure out how to quote multiple PPs in one reply LOL!

Thanks for joining up Goofy Mom--we're going to be there the same days, I've been reading your PTR too
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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Old 11-09-2010, 01:08 AM   #9
ardenandjacksmom
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Which brings me to installment #2...

For me, the first question was, how are we going to make it to the magic? With this trip being the tightest budget-wise I've ever done (even more so given the short timeline for planning which doesn't allow for some of my usual saving strategies), I need to be super conscientious of how much $$ we're spending. Part of our new reality is that I've become a frugalista, so hunting down deals has become a new sport in our house

But as hard as I crunched the numbers, flying just wasn't going to be an option for us. (There is almost always a sale from Seattle to LA--but of course the operative word being 'almost'--Thanksgiving weekend is the exception to that rule so Mommy is going to ) Since we've done a road trip to San Francisco over Memorial Weekend (we even drove all the way back in one day!), I feel confident that we can do it.

So the road trip plan is:

DAY 1: Leave town by 1pm on Tuesday (DS is done at noon, then pick up DD a little early from school--surprise!!), drive 9 hours (I think we can make the halfway point, IF we don't get stuck too long in Portland's rush hour). My ambition is to make it to Redding--anyone know a good place to stay there? As clean/cheap as possible--just a place to lay our heads so it doesn't need to be fancy (although I am somewhat OCD, so clean is non-negotiable LOL)


DAY 2: Wednesday, we'll get up 'early' (be on the road by 8:00ish) and pray we make the hotel before dinner (if traffic gets bad, we'll stop for dinner early and let the traffic go by, and then arrive at the hotel for bedtime) If we make good time, we'll check out the HoJo pool, if it's chilly, maybe spend a little time at Downtown Disney, but the main priority is just getting there and getting settled so we can be up early for our first day in the parks


My biggest fear about road tripping is the traffic--I can drive long stretches and my kiddos are great as long as the backseat DVDs are operational BUT the only SoCal driving I've done has been around San Diego (Coronado Island to Legoland) so I don't think that really counts LOL! Especially with a holiday weekend I can just imagine the 5 becoming a total parking lot Hoping for lots of pixie dust for a safe trip!

Would love to hear from others who've done this trip on I-5 as far as good exits to stop for food/gas/clean restrooms/places for the kids to run off a little steam/spend the night...

To be continued...next up--DAYS 3 and 4--the park days!!
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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Old 11-09-2010, 01:12 PM   #10
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I have family near Redding, I go there at least 3 times a year. Once we stayed at a hotel in Anderson, it was a best western and very clean. All the Holiday Inn that were off the freeway we're clean that I've stayed in. As far as the stops along 5 for food/gas there is a thread in the community board called favorite stops on I-5, give it a look.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:11 PM   #11
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My Dad lives in Sacramento. So between the times we've driven to SanDiego, Anaheim, and Sacramento we have MANY trips under our belt. In my opinion it's pretty scary driving anywhere in California. Especially once you get into the LA area. I wish you lots and lots of luck. I usually drive white knuckled whenever I'm there. I wish I could give you some adivce on nice hotels and rest stops, but they're all a blur to me right now. Usually when see one rest stop you see another. I actually found a book once that listed all the rest stops in the united states and reviews on them. I'll see if I can find it for you.

Kudos on surprising you're children the way you did. I hope I can be as successful as you were.
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Old 11-09-2010, 02:17 PM   #12
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Maybe this will be a "little" helpful. Especially when you're wondering how close you are to the next Rest Area.

http://www.californiarestareas.com/r..._locations.htm
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Old 11-10-2010, 03:10 PM   #13
ardenandjacksmom
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Goofy_Mom: Thanks for the referral for the hotels near Redding--I hope I can make it that far, it would be awesome to have that much of the drive under our belt the first day....

reyasmommy: Thanks for the link--I did find the thread about I-5 stops too

Y'all are awesome!!!
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Christy, Mom to DD (10) and DS (5)

We can't wait for our FIRST Disneyland Trip! November 2010 at HoJo's

July 2009--DLRP/Marriott Village d'Ile de France
December 2008/January 2009 New Year's WDW Trip Marriott World Center and Marriott Grande Vista
November/December 2007 Thanksgiving WDW Trip JW Marriott Grande Lakes/POP Century
October 2004 Halloween/MNSSHP WDW Trip POP Century
April 2004 Easter Week at WDW Old Key West/Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
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