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Old 06-10-2011, 10:25 PM   #1
taaren
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Help! DL Vets attempt WDW trip December 2012! PTR & TR.

In case you came here for the Trip Report, I'm going to post links to each day here

Day 0 -November 29-30, Travel days from Maui to Orlando (inc 1 night at OKW)
Day 1 -December 1, AK, Garden Grill, and Bay Lake Tower room pics
Day 2 -December 2, Magic Kingdom, Pirate's League, and DHS Evening EMH
Day 3 -December 3, Epcot, Chefs de France, and MK Evening EMH
Day 4 -December 4, DHS, Jedi Training Academy and Sci-Fi Dine In
Day 5 -December 5th, Tusker House, Gatorland, GF Garden Room Tea, and an IllumiNations cruise. Part 1, Part 2.
Days 6-8- The Dream Cruise
Day 9 - December 9, Epcot, Kouzzina, DHS Evening EMH, BWV
Day 10 -December 10, a Pixie Dust (Spell?) Surpise
Day 11 -December 11, Spirit of the Swamp airboat ride, Celebration town, and too many meals! (Inc California Grill)
Day 12 -December 12, AK again, DisneyQuest, WPE and the EWP
Day 13 -December 13, Epcot again and shopping
Day 14 -December 15, DHS/Epcot (Le Cellier)/DHS

Or if you just want to start at the beginning and work your way through, it starts on Page 6 of this thread.


Pre-Trip Report:
Okay, WDW DISsers, I need your help! We are a group of Disney fans, DVC owners, but from the West Coast so while we know the lay of the Land, we have not been to WDW since the 90's when we were kids ourselves, and could use a lot of input from experienced folk like yourselves.
And, to add some pressure, we probably won't make it back to Florida until at least 2015 for a lot of reasons, possibly longer ... the airfare and time involved in going to the World instead of the Land makes it just too much to do very often.

Schedule:
Nov 30 at ?? (currently Marriott Res Inn MCO, hoping to switch to on-site)
Dec 1-6 at BLT
Dec 6-9 on the Disney Dream!
Dec 9-15 at BWV

The Cast

Me - Hi, I'm taaren, and will be turning 32 in the middle of this trip, on Castaway Cay! The planner extraordinare, lives in Maui currently but when I finish my Master's in 6 months will be looking for jobs in the SF Bay where I spent my 20's, bought our home, and met the rest of the cast. Water rides are my fav, closely followed by the thrill rides.

DBF (best friend) - Michael will be hitting an age that ends in -0 on the third day of this trip! We're used to celebrating our b-days together for the last several years, then I went to the DVC presentation in 2009 and was trying to figure out how many points we needed, Michael was playing with the calendar and said "Look - just plan around going every year for our birthdday week" and the idea was born ... still haven't made it to the Land in Dec, but couldn't imagine doing the World in the summer when its so hot so winter birthday trip it is! DBF lives in the Bay, loves thrill rides mainly but is a very patient and wonderful uncle to the munchkins. He was also a coworker many moons ago who introduced me to my ...

DH - Alex is slightly younger than me, loves all the rides, and is generally lovable and more easy-going than I am, but also more okay with going off and doing his own thing in the parks wheras I always need company, so its good that we travel in large groups. He is not as Disney crazed as I am, but since he invited me on the first trip to the Land several years ago and talked it up so much, I still blame him.

DBFB - Brian is Michael's younger brother, who is birthday is one day after Michael's, four days before mine, and age is halfway in the middle. Lives in the Central California Coastal area; generally awesome, laid back and fun, probably not as into Disney as his wife, but enjoys food and drink and the man can cook and mix a drink like nobody's business!

DBFB'sW - Katie, Brian's wife, is sweet, and probably the only one who loves the Disney vacation as much as I do, and loves seeing the parks through the kids' eyes where I'm more likely to hand mine off to his grandparents and go on Space Mtn over and over. Also loves the food/dining of Disney like I do, so if the boys don't want to go to a restaurant she's my date! Her b-day is a week after this trip ... if we could have stayed the whole month we would have!

DS - Sam is our son who will be turning 6 a few weeks before this trip. Hoping he'll be able to ride everything height-wise, loves all the rides except the ones that go through the dark at the moment (will do Space/Splash once, then says "That was fun but scary mom!"). May be willing to ride even more in another year!

DBFB'sD - Liana is Katie & Brian's eldest, one year older than Sam, and takes her job as the oldest child very seriously; the kids play very well together but there's no doubt who the director of activities is with these kids! Loves princesses, but can play ninja/pirates with the boys too!

DBFB'sS - Conor is K & B's younger, one year younger than Sam, and loves the rough and tumble play with him, but follows Liana's lead along with Sam when they're together.

This will be the crew for the first week, then the DBFB's family will be heading to Universal/Harry Potterland while we continue the Disney fun by going on a 3 day cruise on the Dream, then back to BWV for 6 nights in a 1 bedroom standard view.
Too long yet? More to come ... sorry will try to be less loquacious ...
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Last edited by taaren; 01-12-2013 at 03:10 PM. Reason: Added link to TR
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:31 PM   #2
taaren
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Should I pick 1st week AKL/2nd BLT or 1st week BLT/2nd BCV?

So we definitely need the 2 bedroom Villas for the entire trip, and this is where I can use your help first. I know I want at least one week at Bay Lake Towers, Lake View because one of the only things I remember about my trip back in '91 as a kid was seeing the lights of the Water Parade on the Lake and how awesome that is. Also keep hearing everybody on the DIS tell us how convenient the monorails are to get to the parks, so at least 1 week will be there. Having a really hard time deciding the other week.

Since we own at the Grand Californian, and the two weeks we're going are the most popular of the DVC year, I'm going to have to rent somebody else's points to get that week, and have a lead on transferring the BLT points already. But since I have 2 contracts/memberships with 2 UY's I can have 2 transfers in, which I *probably* won't need to use if we stay the second week at AKL-Kidani, which was another thing Michael and I loved about DVC when we went to the presentation - the idea of giraffes outside our window is just enchanting. If we go with AKL-K I probably will just try for the 7 month window, Savannah view, if not wait list, and hopefully be successful.
AK Pros: rooms like we are accustomed to at VGC with 3 bathrooms, lots of space, delightful theming that the DH loves. Fantastic views, and the kids would the animals almost as much as Michael, Katie and I. Not having to rent or trade points since availability at 7 month window generally better.
Cons: Far from the parks, and we are parks people. If we can't get it at 7 months I'd be okay with SSR or OKW but probably a bit disappointed. We're so spoiled at VGC being able to walk into Cali Adventure I'm stil trying to wrap my head around how far everything is at the World. The 20 minute bus rides scare me since that's a significant chunk of a park day when we'll have 3 little ones in tow.
The other choice is BCV, since from the pictures the decor looks good to me (BW's style did not suit at all), and its next to Epcot. Plus since we have our own version of the MK at Disneyland, I have a feeling we'll be focusing mostly on the other 3 parks, particularly on Epcot since its so foreign to the DL experience and it sounds like DHS & AK are cover-able in a shorter time.
BCV Pros: Walk to Epcot (and DHS? for Osborne lights?), has many walkable restaurant options, awesome pool from the sounds of it (though it may or may not be too cold in Dec). Will not be on pins & needles until 7 month mark.
Cons: 2 bathrooms, awkward room set-up compared to newer resorts, no view? Having to find someone to trade my VGC points with because it will book up at the 11 month mark or rent someone's BCV then rent out a roughly equivalent amount of my own to cover the amount.

So, what do you guys think? Please, opinions are very welcome, especially if there are pros and cons I haven't considered. I think it comes down to wanting the room that's best for us vs the location that's best and I'm just torn!


Tickets: 10-day MYW Hoppers for the main crew who will be there the entire 2 weeks; may add the Water Parks & more when we get there if we aren't too tired for Disney Quest which sounds cool or if its warm enough for the water parks, because one never knows what Florida winter will be like.
Cruise was booked from opening day, decided a cruise in the middle would be a nice way to relax/regroup and figure out which parks/restaurants we'd like to do a second/third time on the second week after reviewing our first week. Will be DH's, DS's and my second cruise since we're doing the first this fall on the Pacific Coast, but what kind of Disney fans would we be if we flew all the way to Florida and didn't see Castaway Cay! DBF's, DHBF & DHBFG's first cruise. May rebook with on-board rebooking benefits this fall if price hasn't gone up too much.

Suggestions on tickets also welcome - I know there's a discounted DVC Member AP, but since 10 park days is all we have planned I'm not sure about spending the extra $$ for a discount we may or may not use ...
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Old 07-27-2011, 05:47 PM   #3
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Hi! I am not a DVC member so I have not stayed in any of the villas but have stayed at AK and was a CM at BC. Convenience-wise I would choose BCV, you can walk to Epcot, take a boat to DHS, incredible pool, good restaurants on site and walking distance to the Boardwalk with all of its restaurants and entertainment.

For me AKL is a beautiful resort but seems sooo far away! I am sure it is just a skip and a hop (or bus ) away from everything but it felt like we spent a long time going to/from the resort. BUT if the villas are bigger then I would stil have it in the "maybe" list - you do have an awful lot of adults that might need some personal space
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Old 07-27-2011, 06:20 PM   #4
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Hi! I am not a DVC member so I have not stayed in any of the villas but have stayed at AK and was a CM at BC. Convenience-wise I would choose BCV, you can walk to Epcot, take a boat to DHS, incredible pool, good restaurants on site and walking distance to the Boardwalk with all of its restaurants and entertainment.

For me AKL is a beautiful resort but seems sooo far away! I am sure it is just a skip and a hop (or bus ) away from everything but it felt like we spent a long time going to/from the resort. BUT if the villas are bigger then I would stil have it in the "maybe" list - you do have an awful loot of adults that might need some personal space
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:52 PM   #5
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Yay! I'm not just thinking out loud on this forum!

Thank you for the input!

Katie (DBF'sB'sW) and I talked it over, and we are strongly leaning towards BLT/BCV for the convenience of walking factor. We truly are spoiled by being able to stay at the Grand Californian and walking into the park every year and I think being farther away will be a hardship for us already. I have some tentative arrangements for a transfer of BLT points and a swap of points for BCV points so *crossing my fingers* that all will go smoothly.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:12 PM   #6
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Dining recommendations wanted ...

The next thing that seems to be very important for WDW goers is the dining, especially the ADR's. Have been lurking around the Restaurants board for a bit but its all so overwhelming and confusing compared to DLR. At our home park we usually make a reservation for one character meal and a lunch at Cafe Orleans, maybe a dinner at Blue Bayou, usually about 1 month in advance though we can up to 60 days.
Definitely leaning against the Dining Plan, though thinking about the TIW card (hence considering the DVC AP). DH & I always share meals since we have small appetites, sometimes we add alcohol but not very often, and I generally try to avoid soda for the sake of the calories so I can have more dessert!
With three birthdays, that's at least 3 nice meals though so we might do a few nights of segmented DxDP's (esp since DBF's and DBF'sB's b-days are consecutive nights) and that way we can prepay the celebration for everybody.
At the moment I'm thinking I'd like one of those meals to be Coral Reef for the atmosphere, though about half of us aren't into seafood the experience might be good. Also Le Cellier and Chefs de France sound amazing. The (grown-up) boys will definitely want some really good steaks for at least one of their meals. Does Yachtsman have the best steaks? Is it worth it since it seems to be one of the priciest other than V&A?
Another meal I'd like to try for the (kid) boys sake is the T-Rex Cafe, even if only for dessert for the atmosphere. Does one need to make a reservation for T-Rex? If so, how far in advance?
Are there others that should be in contention for large groups celebrating special events? (I'm a little mistrusting of how Asian cuisine from East of the Rockies might end up looking to us Californian/Pacific Islanders ... )

It looks like most of the really awesome restaurants are in or near Epcot, so this is probably another good vote for staying at Beach Club.

We're doing our first character meals this year at DLR, trying out Goofy's Kitchen and Storytellers. In fact I'll be making my reservations for those tomorrow. What is the best character meal for having a 4, 5, and 6 year old, two boys and a girl? Chef Mickey?
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:05 AM   #7
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Just saw this review of Whispering Canyons and now its going to be on my must-eat list. Sounds like a kid-friendly Ed Debevics.
Not terribly thrilled about Hoop de Do, Prime Time, or Chef Mickey's so I think we'll skip those this trip. Coral Reef maybe will be girls with the kids since the boys don't sound thrilled about it, but T-Rex sounds great to all of us. As does Beaches and Cream. Somebody on the DLR boards mentioned that PPH's restaurant has something similar to the kitchen sink. We might have to try that this year so we can compare!
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:23 AM   #8
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I saw your link on my THV vs BLT thread and thought I'd sign on to yours to see what info you get. As you can see from signature I have been to Disney many times and if you have any questions let me know.

We will be at Disney Dec 2-8 and US for one night Dec 1st. Love staying there for a day or two for the front of line pass. Not more then 2 because we are so used to a 2BR at Disney and a reg. hotel room doesn't work good for us more then that. There suites are sooooo expensive that is not an option.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melissac View Post
I saw your link on my THV vs BLT thread and thought I'd sign on to yours to see what info you get. As you can see from signature I have been to Disney many times and if you have any questions let me know.

We will be at Disney Dec 2-8 and US for one night Dec 1st. Love staying there for a day or two for the front of line pass. Not more then 2 because we are so used to a 2BR at Disney and a reg. hotel room doesn't work good for us more then that. There suites are sooooo expensive that is not an option.
Thanks! I'll probably be picking your brain soonish. DH, DBF, DS4 and I won't make it to Universal this trip, but our friends will. (Assuming that's what US means? ) I'll pass it on to Katie about the front-of-the-line pass ... they may want to stay one night there then move to someplace cheaper as well since they have three nights set aside for the Universal part of their trip, or since there's 2A 2C for them they might be okay with the hotel room.
Looks like you've been for a few Januarys and Decembers already. Have you gotten good weather? I know last winter was ridiculously cold, and the previous one it sounds like people were still able to swim. If its every other years is cold we'll be in turtlenecks and ski gear for the whole trip! Guess I should find out if the water parks close for the winter since if its warm enough I'd love to go to one ...
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:42 PM   #10
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I can tell you we have had the best/worst of both. Last Jan. was terrible. Cold even for us Northern WI people. That was the only really bad one. all the other times nice 70-80's day and chilly at night 50-60 sometimes warmer. After this last trip my husband said he would never go during Winter months again but I love Christmas decorations and it is my B-Day Dec. 7th so that is my favorite time.

As for US if you book 1 night that givens you 2 days of FOL(front of line passes) for those staying in your room. You can check in prior to going to parks and then you have your room key which is your FOL pass. I love it and it is worth the extra money. We usually pay aroung $250 a night for Hard Rock(HRH) or Royal Pacfic(RPH). Both are when in walking distance of parks like 5-10 min walk. Those are 2 of US best features(FOL and Walk to park). But, Disney is still my favorite.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taaren View Post
Just saw this review of Whispering Canyons and now its going to be on my must-eat list. Sounds like a kid-friendly Ed Debevics.
Not terribly thrilled about Hoop de Do, Prime Time, or Chef Mickey's so I think we'll skip those this trip. Coral Reef maybe will be girls with the kids since the boys don't sound thrilled about it, but T-Rex sounds great to all of us. As does Beaches and Cream. Somebody on the DLR boards mentioned that PPH's restaurant has something similar to the kitchen sink. We might have to try that this year so we can compare!
Whispering Canyon and T-Rex are VERY loud. My husband was driven nuts by the girls clinking thier trays(thing you set-up to put plates on when serving) at Whispering canyon. He actually skip desert. I went to Hoop de Do for my B-day and had a blast but we where up front and My Dad(60ish) got picked on and kissed on his bald head and it was so funny and fun we still laugh at it. I can tell you when kids where little and into characters we always did 2-3 character meals(on DDP) because there was no way I was waiting in line for autographs and pictures and we always had good food and Kids got to see characters up close and get pictures. Not sure how old your kids are but this is perfect for littler ones.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:15 PM   #12
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I haven't updated in awhile, but some things have been falling into place. After our first cruise and trip to Disneyland last month, we did make some progress. We re-booked our Dec 6 cruise for only about $40 less with the 10% off the current category rate, but with an extra $100 OBC!

Loved Goofy's Kitchen, so now we're going to need a character meal, so must scope out if WDW has a late lunch or dinner character meal option since I can't see wasting morning park time on that.

I found someone to trade points with, a DISser who is also from Hawaii coincidentally enough, he wanted to go to the Grand Californian next October, and owns at Boardwalk Villas. I had wanted Beach Club Villas, but the standard view points at Boardwalk are soooo nice in comparison that I couldn't resist, and doing a reservation trade was much easier than renting out my points and buying somebody elses. So he will be up at 4a on January 9 making our BWV reservation right at the 11 month mark. Also spoke to a very nice person who will rent me the BLT points, so that's all set up.

Getting a little worried watching all the cruises that aren't able to dock at Castaway Cay this month on the three days and if it will be similar weather next year, but being on the Wonder last month was such a phenomenal experience and the 2 sea days were the best (we even skipped Ensenada to have more pool/ship time), so will be mentally preparing myself for a potential day of having more time to explore the Dream and enjoy the AquaDuck. We'd briefly flirted with the idea of going to only one WDW week and going on the Fantasy instead, right after debarking this cruise and realizing 5 days and nights was barely enough, but then we realized we'll take a week long cruise in 2013 on the West Coast again so we should really maximize our park time this trip.

One of the other DISsers at our table on the Wonder recommended that I stick with just basic 10-day tickets non-hopper and add the hopper option if we need it when we get there since WDW doesn't force one to "bridge" the price the way DLR does if you add something, so that's definitely on the table now for our tickets though I really do want the option to hop to another park even if its only for a show or a meal after a break.
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Last edited by taaren; 11-09-2011 at 04:36 PM.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melissac View Post
I can tell you we have had the best/worst of both. Last Jan. was terrible. Cold even for us Northern WI people. That was the only really bad one. all the other times nice 70-80's day and chilly at night 50-60 sometimes warmer. After this last trip my husband said he would never go during Winter months again but I love Christmas decorations and it is my B-Day Dec. 7th so that is my favorite time.

Whispering Canyon and T-Rex are VERY loud. My husband was driven nuts by the girls clinking thier trays(thing you set-up to put plates on when serving) at Whispering canyon. He actually skip desert. I went to Hoop de Do for my B-day and had a blast but we where up front and My Dad(60ish) got picked on and kissed on his bald head and it was so funny and fun we still laugh at it. I can tell you when kids where little and into characters we always did 2-3 character meals(on DDP) because there was no way I was waiting in line for autographs and pictures and we always had good food and Kids got to see characters up close and get pictures. Not sure how old your kids are but this is perfect for littler ones.
The kids (not all mine!) will be 5, 6, and 7 when we go. I think we'll be okay with the noise as our boys are not unlikely to be some of the loudest ones there. Will take another look at Hoop de Do.
Really hoping its not that cold as 50's will put us thin-skinned Californians & islanders into turtlenecks and winter coats at night.

They've discontinued the option of segmented dining plans for DVC members, which I'd been toying with the idea of getting the DP just for the birthdays (particularly since DBF & DBFB's are consecutive days), but now we'll be going solely cash for meals (TIW won't work for us since we'll be eating breakfasts in the villas and at least 1 CS meal per day) ... well with some Disney Reward Dollars since we've got about $300 right now, hopefully will have $500 or so to convert into gift cards by the time we go!
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:20 PM   #14
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Hello! Just followed you over from the Dec 2012 thread. We are booked at BW for Dec 20-27, 2012. We have never stayed there, but the Boardwalk area. Really looking forward to this trip!

You were asking about suggestions for restraunts. Ohana at Poly is great! Cape May (bkfst) at BC is a really fun character dining meal. Its just a typical bkfst buffet, but the characters are great.

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:00 PM   #15
taaren
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debrapagliasotti View Post
Hello! Just followed you over from the Dec 2012 thread. We are booked at BW for Dec 20-27, 2012. We have never stayed there, but the Boardwalk area. Really looking forward to this trip!
You were asking about suggestions for restraunts. Ohana at Poly is great! Cape May (bkfst) at BC is a really fun character dining meal. Its just a typical bkfst buffet, but the characters are great.
Hi! Cape May is on my short list ... really wish they did a character dinner as DS5 d the character meal over at Goofy's Kitchen but we really like our mornings in the park ... we may give one morning up for Cape May though, particularly since its so close to BWV!
Thanks for the recommendation! I've heard great things about the Boardwalk area, and the walk times to both Epcot and DHS seems unbeatable, so even though I wanted Beach Club, I think Boardwalk might work out even better for us since we'll be such a short distance from the Osborne Lights and lights are kind of my thing since I was a lighting designer years ago ...
Yay more December trippers!
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