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Old 04-02-2011, 04:48 PM   #1
mphalens
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Christmas Comes Early PTR Nov 27 - Dec 3 2011 **What's YOUR Opinion?**

I need your opinions on a couple of things:
Clothes
Lodging

More opinions/suggestions needed:
Dining

WooHoo!!! Celebrate With Me!!!
ADRs Have Been Made!!!



Gotta Love Free Dining!
Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes!


I've been busy. . .
My Soapbox Update



We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled PTR
Who wants to look at fabrics???





Welcome to my PTR! This is my first PTR and I'm excited to get lots of imput as I try to plan a magical trip for my family! I've been roaming around the disboards for a little over a year now . . .

I was raised in Rhode Island by a complete Disney nut (as we lovingly refer to my mom -aka Mimi- ) and my Dad (-aka Papa- who tries his best for his grandsons) and first visited WDW at age 4. I returned at age 11 for a super quick trip on the way to visit my grandmother in Florida. I didn't get to go back to The World after that until I was 22 and married to DH (aka Dave). The trip ruined "Disney on the Cheap" for me ... my mom, who was a travel agent at the time, had won an all-expense paid 4 day, 3 night trip to WDW that she gave to DH & I to use. This was back in 2002 when Disney was trying out different Dining Plan ideas ... and the one they gave us was INSANE! EVERYTHING was INCLUDED... we stayed at the Yacht Club, we were given all kinds of extras . . . it just ruined us
Anyway! Even DH, a Florida-raised boy, was impressed. His parents are Disney-Haters so he had only really gotten to experience "The Magic" once or twice with extended family or friends.

Needless to say, we were shocked when his parents suggested a family trip to Orlando for DS1's 3rd birthday. DH told them we didn't really want to go to Orlando without going to Disney and we didn't want to take DS1 to Disney for the first time without my parents (the Disney lovers) along ... so all 7 of us ended up on that trip ... really, it was all 8 of us, because I was 4 months pregnant with DS2 by the time we were at WDW.
That trip was a lesson in how NOT to do Disney for DH & I. We were off property, which wasn't a huge deal, but with that many people, having to travel back & forth to our condo was a huge undertaking! We weren't on the dining plan (obviously) and the only reservations we made were for Chef Mickey's on a day we didn't go to the parks. Oh yeah! and those Disney-Haters we were traveling with? Yeah they sucked lots of the magic out of everything

So, imagine our surprise when they wanted to go BACK to Orlando for DS1's 5th birthday! WHY? They obviously DON'T like Disney, they even said they didn't want to go to Disney AT ALL for that trip! Yet their ONLY grandchildren LOVE Disney and wouldn't want to be in Orlando without going to WDW! So, we stayed off property again (but Bonnet Creek this time) and WE got park hoppers for 5 days while they only purchased 2 day tickets. I had joined the disboards by then and knew to make a couple of ADRs and about some other fun things but still, stressful trip.

So... why all that backstory? Well, you need to know where I'm coming from in the planning of THIS TRIP. My mom (I'll refer to her as Mimi from now on) and I have been talking about taking my kids to Disney for as long as I can remember. We'd agreed we wanted to wait until age 3 at the earliest. We knew we'd want to stay on site. After my 2002 trip, we decided we wanted the Dining Plan. From our two previous trips with kids, we had a few more ideas of what we wanted (and didn't want) this trip to be.

I started trying to get a pin code last fall. I tried all the tricks and suggestions I could find here on the boards. I sat down with a local Disney specialist and got some prices and more suggestions. Mimi got out of the travel business a couple of years ago, but still has friends that work for AAA Southern New England, so she had them run some numbers for her as well. We hoped to be able to stay in a DVC Villa and my first choice was the Boardwalk area.

I'll pause here and introduce our cast of characters...
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We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
Christmas Comes Early PTR Nov 27 - Dec 3 2011

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Old 04-02-2011, 05:42 PM   #2
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There I am! I'm Marianne. Almost 32, I cannot WAIT for this trip! I'm in charge of most of the planning. I have friends that are lucky enough to get to do Disney trips just about once a year, so between them and the help I hope to get from all of you, I know I can make this a very magical trip for the 6 of us. We homeschool our older son "because he asked to be" and our little guy goes to preschool 3 mornings a week. I also work for Soccer Shots of Charlotte teaching soccer to the preschool set. In my spare time I like to shop for bargains, take photographs, scrapbook, read . . . oh! who am I kidding? WHAT spare time? I LOVE Figment! In fact, that was the only disappointment of DH & my 2002 trip - it was during Figment's "exile" I'm not much of a "thrill ride" girl ... I'm more into getting to meet as many characters as I possibly can I'm still Daddy's Little and I love that having boys means I'm Queen of my Castle Hahaha! Yeah right, these boys rule the roost



Dave. AKA DH. AKA Daddy. He's a golf professional, and before you get all excited and ask me if he's on "The Tour", he's a COURSE professional, which means he works at a private country club and gives lessons, runs tournaments, etc. Right now he's an Assistant Golf Professional at his current place of employment, which pretty much equals not a lot of $$$ for a LOT of hours on the job. He likes to play golf (obviously), have a good time with his family, and ride a few thrill rides. He'll give his opinion when he absolutely must, but pretty much leaves the planning up to me.




DS1 is Mr Cool Attitude. He's your typical 6 year old. This will be his first trip that isn't during his birthday week. Not sure how he'll take NOT getting a Birthday Button. I love him, but lordy! do we push each other's buttons! Mostly because we're exactly alike (and just like Papa too ). He loves Jedi Training Academy, TSM, and is a HUGE Camp Rock fan.




DS2 is Sheriff Shortstuff. He'll be almost 3 1/2 on this trip. He talks about "When I go DisneyWord" all the time! His favorite thing to watch on Netflix is the WDW movie. In love with all things Mickey, Buzz, Woody . . . well, pretty much anything Disney.



Mimi. My mom. She's been dreaming of this trip ... well, for a LONG time. She used to be a travel agent and is in love with all things Disney. She's short, she flat out refuses to admit her age, and she's great to travel with. She loves Mickey, will beebop her way around The World singing (out of key) It's a Small World and other assorted Disney tunes, and can't wait for all the pixie dust she just KNOWS will make this trip magical.


Papa. My dad. He wanted to take his grandsons to Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone. Mom & I told him that vacation had to wait - Disney needed to happen first! He's a general contractor by trade and shows no signs of slowing down as he hits his mid-60s. He pretty much goes with the flow as long as he can sneak in some golf and some beers and a few thrill rides along the way. He can be a Cranky sometimes though . . . so we try to keep him happy. Lucky for me, I'm still Daddy's and I've learned how NOT to butt heads with him over the past 30 or so years.
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We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
Christmas Comes Early PTR Nov 27 - Dec 3 2011
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Old 04-02-2011, 05:45 PM   #3
mphalens
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Please excuse the mis-matched pictures! I'm not sure why photobucket doesn't seem to want to display them the way I want

Of course, now that I've left it alone for a while it all seems to have fixed itself! Don't mind me, just talking to myself !!!
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Marianne
On the Go Mommy to Phalen (2/05) & Finn (6/08) - my two little Disney Maniacs! Happily married to DH since 7/02!
We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
Christmas Comes Early PTR Nov 27 - Dec 3 2011

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Old 04-02-2011, 06:13 PM   #4
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Travel Plans

So, now that we've been properly introduced ... on with the show!

We currently live in Charlotte, NC. If we're still here in November, we'll drive to Orlando while Mimi & Papa fly from Rhode Island. We have family in Miami and haven't decided yet if we'll head down early to spend Thanksgiving with them or not. No matter what, Mimi & Papa plan to fly in on the 27th and take the ME to our resort, Saratoga Springs!

Currently our plan is to be at our resort in the early morning so we can get our tickets and head to the Magic Kingdom while we wait for our 2 bedroom villa to be ready and for the G'rents to arrive.

Assuming M&P fly in sometime in the morning, we're hoping to have plans to meet for lunch if the timing works out. I can't decide if I want this to be a TS meal or not. Any suggestions for this are greatly appreciated! We'll probably end our first day at the MK a little earlier than usual so we can make a trip to the store after M&P arrive and so we can have a nice family dinner at O'Hana on our first night. My dear friend, Amber (ambergreenawalt on the dis), says O'Hana is on their "can't miss list" of places, so I'm really looking forward to this!

We'll be staying until December 2nd (Mimi & Papa will fly home that day and we will probably spend as close to a full day at the park as we can before driving home).

Let's see . . . what else do I need to tell you? Oh! I booked our room using a 40% off pin code. We have a 2 bedroom villa at Saratoga Springs. I REALLY wanted the Boardwalk Villas or the Wilderness Lodge but they didn't have any rooms left with that code when I called. Right now we have the DDP and 7 day park hopper tickets. I'm trying to decide if it would be better to upgrade to the DDxP or to pay out of pocket for the extras we'll probably want at meal times. I'm also trying to decide if we really want to spend $300+ on MVMCP or if all of the other holiday happenings will be enough to get us in the Holiday Spirit.

As a family the 6 of us enjoy having a nice meal together, we tend to stick together as a group or let the menfolk go off on a thrill ride while Mimi & I take the kids to do something else. Oh! And my boys LOVE to shop :cloud9 It's actually part of the reason I chose Saratoga Springs when given my options -because it's right across the water from DTD. Disney isn't Disney unless they get to browse in as many shops as they wish. We plan to load gift cards for them with their spending money and ask friends and family to do the same for birthdays, etc. between now and then.
On our last trip they fell in LOVE with the penny presses thanks to the great tips I learned here about m&m tubes and the like. We plan to add to their collection on this trip as well.
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We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:23 PM   #5
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Sounds like the early stages of a wonderful trip
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:25 PM   #6
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Sounds like a wonderful trip in the making
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:34 PM   #7
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I didn't mean to post twice, but when I posted the first time an error came up and it didn't go through (or so I thought), so I commented again only to find the first comment went through! Being fairly new to these boards I have no idea how to delete one!!
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:36 PM   #8
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LOL I'm pretty new myself!

Thanks for reading along!!!
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Marianne
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We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
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Old 04-02-2011, 06:42 PM   #9
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Sounds like super fun! And your boys are completely adorable.

You mentioned having a TS for lunch on the day you arrive... the only qualm I see about this is what if your parent's flight is delayed? Maybe if their flight is for early in the morning and there would be no trouble for them to get there in time to meet the rest of you for lunch. I, personally, don't know if that's a risk I'd want to take. Unless you were thinking about a TS meal for just you, DH, and the boys?
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PixieMama View Post
Sounds like super fun! And your boys are completely adorable.

You mentioned having a TS for lunch on the day you arrive... the only qualm I see about this is what if your parent's flight is delayed? Maybe if their flight is for early in the morning and there would be no trouble for them to get there in time to meet the rest of you for lunch. I, personally, don't know if that's a risk I'd want to take. Unless you were thinking about a TS meal for just you, DH, and the boys?

Aw! Thanks! I think they're prettydarncute, but I'm a little biased

That IS my concern ... if they're delayed. My other concern is that we will most likely make our ADRs BEFORE they book their tickets due to a little cash flow issue ... so I'm leaning more and more towards either a CS meal or a TS for just DH, the boys & I. Maybe a late breakfast at the Crystal Palace?
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On the Go Mommy to Phalen (2/05) & Finn (6/08) - my two little Disney Maniacs! Happily married to DH since 7/02!
We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mphalens View Post
That IS my concern ... if they're delayed. My other concern is that we will most likely make our ADRs BEFORE they book their tickets due to a little cash flow issue ... so I'm leaning more and more towards either a CS meal or a TS for just DH, the boys & I. Maybe a late breakfast at the Crystal Palace?
I think a late breakfast at CP is a great idea! When your parents arrive, if they need to grab a QS lunch, the rest of you could take a break and grab a quick snack, if needed.

If they happen to book a flight that does arrive early in the morning (and you've already made your ADR for a late CP breakfast)... I wouldn't sweat it. If it were me, I'd tell my parents to just take their time getting to the park. I wouldn't plan on meeting up until after your breakfast is through.

I'm going to WDW in September... our ADR for breakfast at CP is made! It's one of my favorite places.
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Old 04-02-2011, 07:25 PM   #12
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I agree, I would do a TS without your parents just in case there's a conflict with their flight time or a delay that would cause them to miss.
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:30 AM   #13
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The kids are asleep and I'm up late watching SNL ... thought I'd take a minute to give y'all our tentative schedule so far . . . I've checked out the TouringPlans site to see about which days seem to be our best bets as far as which park(s) to go to ... Does anyone have experience using that site that can give me some pointers? Is it fairly reliable in its "Crowd Levels" ???

Sunday, Nov 27 - Arrival Day! Grab our tickets from SSR and head for MK. Possibly grab a late breakfast at CP. Mr CA wants to do the teacups and Sheriff Shortstuff has only requested a "Mickey Mouse Ride" Not sure what he means by that, but since he's addicted to watching the WDW movie on Netflix, perhaps he'll point it out one day before we leave!

Meet up with Mimi & Papa ... get in a quick shopping trip ... head to dinner at Ohana for a great family dinner.

Monday, Nov 28 - Magic Kingdom or Epcot ... I'd been thinking about CP or CM for our TS meal this day ... so I might just do a QS meal at MK the day before?

Tuesday, Nov 29 - AK! I hope to get an early morning reservation at Tusker House! We love it!

Wednesday, Nov 30 - HS! Even though the food seems to have gone downhill, I'm hoping to get a lunch ADR at HVPD because Sheriff Shortstuff LOVES Oso and Papa LOVES Manny! Plus, I figure any place I was able to find myself FULL after lunch while I was preggers with SS, it couldn't have been THAT bad ... (It was one of those pregnancies where NOTHING seemed good and I was sick right up until delivery day)

Thursday, Dec 1 - Probably a MK morning and an EP afternoon/evening. I'm hoping this is a day that they'll be doing the special Candlelight Processional dinner package. We want to get a ADR for Garden Grill.

Friday, Dec 2 - Breakfast at 1900 Park Faire. Sheriff Shortstuff has seen pictures of Mary Poppins and wants to meet her After breakfast I think the "menfolk" are going to go play golf while Mimi & I take the boys back to HS.

Saturday, Dec 3 - I don't have anything planned!!! I know at least the 4 of us will go to MK before we leave ... not sure what M&P's flights will be like, if they'll be able to join us or not.



So ... am I crazy? I need opinions!!! This is the first time I'm able to actually PLAN our time at WDW ... the last two trips I've been at the ILs mercy for everything and it drove me nuts!!! I don't want to OVERPLAN, but I want/need to have a plan, kwim?

Also, looking at the ADRs I'm hoping to get ... you'll notice I only have two dinners mentioned. Right now we're on the DDP ... but most of our TS meals are being used for Character Meals earlier in the day ... DH & I are tossing around the idea of upgrading to the DDxP ... but aren't sure if the added cost is worth it ... it would mean we could add in some 2 credit places like Le Cellier or Yachtsman and CRT ... and maybe HDDMR or MBYBBQ (are those the right shorthand?) ...
As a family of 6 we enjoy eating out and having nice meals together ... we're not big on "fast food" when we're together ... but I think it'd be about $900 to upgrade so I don't know... we will have a villa and could cook in the room some ... but who wants to cook on vacation?

So ... here's where I need opinions! advice! suggestions! Pretty pretty please???
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On the Go Mommy to Phalen (2/05) & Finn (6/08) - my two little Disney Maniacs! Happily married to DH since 7/02!
We can NEVER get enough of the Mouse!

You Want Me to Sew WHAT? A Photo-Journal Trip Report
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:11 AM   #14
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I'm not sure what the Deluxe DDP entails and how much extra it is, but I think I would sit down and figure out where I would use up that extra and check out the cost to see if it would be worth it to pay for the added credits, or if it might be better to just pay OOP for what I would want that is over and above the DDP. You could do OOP for the cheaper meals and use the DDP for the meals that would be more, like CRT.
For us 1TS, 1CS, and 1snack is plenty and we mix it up with some character meals some non character meals. If you want to try Le Cellier you could always try lunch and it's only 1 credit, that's what we're doing. Of course, you know your family best and if you feel it would be worth it, by all means add it on. If not, then you might be able to put the extra $$ from not adding it on towards MVMCP or something else
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mphalens View Post
The kids are asleep and I'm up late watching SNL ... thought I'd take a minute to give y'all our tentative schedule so far . . . I've checked out the TouringPlans site to see about which days seem to be our best bets as far as which park(s) to go to ... Does anyone have experience using that site that can give me some pointers? Is it fairly reliable in its "Crowd Levels" ???

So ... am I crazy? I need opinions!!! This is the first time I'm able to actually PLAN our time at WDW ... the last two trips I've been at the ILs mercy for everything and it drove me nuts!!! I don't want to OVERPLAN, but I want/need to have a plan, kwim?

Also, looking at the ADRs I'm hoping to get ... you'll notice I only have two dinners mentioned. Right now we're on the DDP ... but most of our TS meals are being used for Character Meals earlier in the day ... DH & I are tossing around the idea of upgrading to the DDxP ... but aren't sure if the added cost is worth it ... it would mean we could add in some 2 credit places like Le Cellier or Yachtsman and CRT ... and maybe HDDMR or MBYBBQ (are those the right shorthand?) ...
As a family of 6 we enjoy eating out and having nice meals together ... we're not big on "fast food" when we're together ... but I think it'd be about $900 to upgrade so I don't know... we will have a villa and could cook in the room some ... but who wants to cook on vacation?

So ... here's where I need opinions! advice! suggestions! Pretty pretty please???
In my previous trips (2007 and 2010), I'd never looked at crowd calendars. In fact, it was only last year that I knew the Touring Plans website existed, LOL! A friend had purchased the guide book that comes with a year's membership to the Touring Plans website and she gave me her log-in info when we went on our trip last Oct. The only thing I used it for was to look at the attraction wait times. I think I based what park to visit on what day by the ones that had EMH.

For my upcoming trip, I first looked at the crowd predictions on another site, Easy WDW. Based on that site's info, I determined what parks we'll visit each day. I did look at the calendars on Touring Plans... and they're a little different! So, now I'm not sure which one to go by...

Personally, I don't see how someone can go to WDW and just "wing it"! I get grief from my family about being a planner, but that's the way I roll! I plan what parks we'll visit, where we'll eat (definitely the TS meals, and for QS I look for 2 or 3 that I think everyone would like so we have options), and even what order attractions to go on. It may sound excessive but the thing is, it's also flexible. It's not like my itinerary is written in stone or is down to the exact second. If we're on our way to an attraction and pass another one that has just a 5 minute wait time, by all means we can veer off the "schedule" to do the other one. Or if there's a character my girls want to meet, I have no problem stopping and letting them get in line.

So what I'm trying to say is... no, I don't think you're crazy for planning!

We've been on the DDP twice.... 1 QS, 1 TS, and 1 snack per day was enough for my family. If I had the extra money to either upgrade the dining plan or do something else (like MVMCP or a fireworks cruise... or most likely, we'd upgrade from a value resort to a DELUXE!). But if your family enjoys eating sit-down meals together, it sounds like the DDxP would be a good idea for you.
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