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Old 09-06-2013, 10:11 PM   #1
Claire&TheBoys
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Turning 40 at Mickey's House! My first PTR!

Hi and welcome! I've never done a PTR before but I have been reading a few and thought it might be fun to give it a try!

I've been an obsessive Disney planner since I was a child. I remember preparing to go on trips with my church Youth group and plotting out bus routes (back in the day, every bus went through the TTC), which attractions I most wanted to see, and more. And this was way back in the Dark Ages before the internet - I used old guidebooks to help me. So finding the DIS was pretty much the best thing I ever found online. A whole community of people like me!

Our regular cast includes:

Me, Claire - mostly a stay-at-home mom, but I work a few hours a week for a CPA firm where I've been over 10 years. I've been married to my college sweetheart for 16 years.

My wonderful husband, Dale - he works as a civilian for the Navy and is also an officer in the Army Reserves. Thanks to him, we've been getting nice discounts at Disney World the last few years, and probably would not have gone so many times if it weren't for those. I took him to Epcot once while we were dating (he'd been to MK once with his family) and got him hooked. Later, he was the one who suggested honeymooning at Disney. I used to think I was the biggest Disney fan and he was just coddling me. Then I realized that he really wears his Disney t-shirts pretty often, and I catch him telling his family about the awesome vacations we have, so I'm pretty sure I'm onto him. He loves to pin-trade and ride the thrill rides.

We have two awesome sons, Brad and Drew. They are in 6th grade and 2nd grade, respectively, this year. They've been raised on Playhouse Disney and Disney movies, so we've raised them to be addicts, too. They each had their first trip as toddlers and many trips since. I am sometimes afraid they won’t think it’s special anymore, but then they tell me how they can’t wait till our next trip. And I say, “Me too!” It’s a frequent topic of conversation at our house!

Our upcoming trip is for my 40th birthday. A little over a year ago, I started thinking about my 40th approaching in early 2014 and the idea to spend it with Mickey. As I told my husband, “I want to wear the birthday button,” and being the good sport and indulgent husband he is, he said, “whatever you want, honey.” Love that man!

So join me as I while away the next 3+ months by obsessing over my ADRs (did I make the right ones? do I want more?), ticket options and how to pack as much Disney as possible into 5 nights, 6 days. I’m so excited!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!

Last edited by Claire&TheBoys; 09-15-2013 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:21 PM   #2
Claire&TheBoys
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What I've done so far... Resorts..

So my birthday is actually January 2. When Dale said we could go for my birthday, I looked at the calendar and the school calendar and found out that the boys don’t go back to school until the Monday following New Year’s, which is Jan 6. I have always wanted to spend New Year’s Eve at Disney World. I fireworks, specifically Disney fireworks, and I just can’t think of a better place to see NYE fireworks than Disney World. I know that week is going to be crazy. A zoo. Insane. And we probably won’t get to see everything we like and do everything we like. As I started thinking about making a resort reservation, I also knew it was not going to be cheap and likely, no discounts available. After our last stay at Pop (last Sept for the MNSSHP), Dale told me “no more Values.” The rooms really are small for 4 people and the beds are doubles. We really like CSR, so I figured we’d stay there. I was there in February with my sister and sister-in-law for a girls’ weekend (we did the Princess Half Marathon for my sister’s 50th birthday) and I fell in love with CSR all over again. So it was at the top of my list… until I priced it out and figured it would be somewhere around $1200 for 5 nights. Ouch.

After hearing for years here on the DIS about how easy and affordable it is to rent DVC points, I decided to look into it. In my typical obsessive Disney manner, I went through one of the sites that lists the points per night for each DVC resort for a studio and a 1-bedroom. Then, in my typical accounting manner, I made a spreadsheet of them and sorted them by points required, and figured out how much each reservation would cost at various per-point prices (yes, like I said, accounting and Excel are my thing). Then, I started stalking the DIS Rent/Trade board. We were already less than 11 months from check-in date, but more than 7 months, so I knew I’d have to rent points from an owner at the resort. I posted on a couple of different threads, sent some emails, and the first DIS-er that both had enough points for the reservation AND there was availability, was OKW. I had seen pictures of it and thought it looked lovely, and as a bonus, there are 2 actual beds in the OKW Studios instead of one bed and one pull-out. That makes it more like a hotel room and with 4 of us, it seemed like the best option. Plus, the DIS-er was only asking $11/point, so I was able to get it for a very reasonable price! I got the go-ahead from Dale and made the deal and am pretty excited about trying a DVC resort for the first time.

With a points rental, I feel like it's a done deal, no going back! I'm going to Mickey's House for my birthday!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!

Last edited by Claire&TheBoys; 09-15-2013 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:21 PM   #3
Claire&TheBoys
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Let's talk FOOD

Once I got the resort worked out, I started plotting about which days to spend in which parks. We usually start with MK to get us into the “magic” frame of mind and knowing that MK is the most popular park on NYE, I figured that rope-drop on New Year’s Day might not be too bad. The next day is my birthday and I decided to spend that day at Epcot. Studios was my pick for Friday and we’ll start Saturday at AK, and I figured we could hop to MK if we needed some more time in that park.

Once I had my parks figured out, I turned to restaurants. I started thinking back to our family’s favorite places we’ve eaten in the last several years and new ones I really wanted to try. Be Our Guest was near the top of my “want to try” list and I thought it would wonderful to get in there on my “birthday eve,” New Year’s Day. My back-up plan was for dinner on our last night, hoping that further along in my “+10” reservation period, I’d have a good shot at getting a good time. For my birthday dinner in Epcot, I wavered between Via Napoli, which we enjoyed on our last trip, and the fun of Garden Grill with Mickey, Pluto and Chip & Dale. Another thing I’ve always wanted to do is go to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue. In more than 25 visits to WDW, I’ve never been. I still remember how my grandparents got to go when my parents sent them to WDW for their 50th anniversary (I come from a long line of Disney fans!) and how my grandma thought it was one of the best nights of their trip. So I decided that was going to be one of my birthday presents to myself. I think our kids are old enough to enjoy the show and I think we’ll all have a good time. I decided we’d do that on our Studios day, since we’re not big fans of Fantasmic anyway.

My 180 day turned out to be July 4. I’m in Florida, but in the Panhandle, where we’re on Central time. I found out here on the DIS that online reservations open at 6:00 AM, which is 5:00 AM my time. On a holiday. Sigh. But I knew I had to try to get that BOG ADR or I’d kick myself. I set my alarm for 5 AM, and actually woke up about 4:45 and figured it was destiny, so I got up, got logged in and kept refreshing until I was able to search for times for 12/31 and on. The first one I tried was for BOG on 1/1. No luck. I think the only one available was very late, like 9:00, and we are used to eating much earlier, so I knew that wouldn’t work for us. So I went to my alternate day, Jan 4, and was able to get one at a great time! From there, I booked and paid for HDDR on Jan 3, and Via Napoli on my birthday. Since I was up and looking, I decided to book an arrival-night dinner at Olivia’s at OKW, so I did that. Then, I thought that if MK was really busy on New Year’s, it might be nice to have a lunch ADR, so I booked Liberty Tree Tavern. Everything makes sense at 5 AM! Happy with what I’d done, I went back to bed and back to sleep.

So, my first round looks like this:
12/31: Olivia's (new to us)
1/1: Liberty Tree Tavern lunch (fave)
1/2: Via Napoli dinner (fave)
1/3: Hoop Dee Doo Revue (new to us)
1/4: Be Our Guest (new to us)

Of course, as an obsessive planner, some of those may change!

Has anyone had anything really delicious at any of our "new to us" restaurants?
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:21 PM   #4
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To get the DDP or not??

Now that I’d made my ADRs, I wanted to run the numbers and see if getting the DDP made sense for us. With Brad now a “Disney adult,” I was doubtful that it would. I figured surely the 4 of us could eat for less than $185/day. Using the menus at AllEars.Net, I priced out the meals I’d booked and I think we’ll come out ahead by not using the DDP. That’s my decision and I’m sticking to it. It was worth it when the kids were both “children,” when we did a lot of character meals, but now that one has aged up and we don’t do character meals that much, I don’t think it’s as good a deal anymore.

And now, with ADRs made, the long wait begins. The second-guessing. The “what if I changed this or that” questions. I still am toying with a few different ideas, but I’ll get to that.

I’ve already made another ADR, and changed one. That early morning when I was making ADRs, I only clicked “lunch” for the day at Liberty Tree and got a 1:30-ish ADR, which is later than we like. At that time of morning, I assumed it would be a busy day at MK and was the earliest one available, so I took it. A few weeks later, I was looking for something else and happened to check lunch at 11:30 and LTT showed up much earlier. So I snagged that and cancelled the later one. We would rather eat early than late. Then, last month we were visiting Dale’s parents, and the kids started talking about our next vacation and Brad asked if we could eat at Sci-Fi this trip. He and Dale ate there during SWW a couple of years ago. Since none of the DHS CS options are all that fabulous, I told him we could probably squeeze it in. I whipped out my trusty iPhone and the My Disney Experience app, and 5 minutes later, I had an ADR for Sci-Fi on our Studios day. I figure that works out nicely – with doing HDDR that night, it might be good to have a little better lunch than Pizza Planet or Backlot Express, our two go-tos. And with the help of one of my trusty spreadsheets, I had already figured out that some of the less-expensive TS restaurants (like Sci-Fi, LTT and Via Napoli) are really only about $20 more than eating CS. For the break from the crowds, I think it’s well worth it.

So my updated ADR list looks like this:

12/31: Olivia's
1/1: Liberty Tree Tavern lunch
1/2: Via Napoli dinner
1/3: Sci-Fi lunch, Hoop Dee Doo dinner
1/4: Be Our Guest

So far:

Resort: Booked!
Dining: Booked!

Now, I need to weigh my ticket options.
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:45 PM   #5
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Old 09-10-2013, 06:41 PM   #6
Claire&TheBoys
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Following along!
Yay! Thanks!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:52 AM   #7
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I could've written your post!

Hi! We're heading to WDW 12/31 thru 01/06 as well! We have 2 boys (6th grade and 2nd grade!) AND have ALOT of the same ADR's as you! AND the same park plans! We're also DVC and staying same time period as you...So weird!

We're:
12/31 - HDDR for NYE (can't wait..its a great show for the kids, looking forward to it being their NYE "party"!)
01/01 - LTT for Lunch!
01/01 - Ohana for dinner
01/02 - Via Napoli for dinner
01/03 - Sci Fi for dinner!

So, looking forward to your PTR! We will most certainly be in the same places at the same time...LOL.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:55 AM   #8
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:09 PM   #9
Claire&TheBoys
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyfan2kids View Post
Hi! We're heading to WDW 12/31 thru 01/06 as well! We have 2 boys (6th grade and 2nd grade!) AND have ALOT of the same ADR's as you! AND the same park plans! We're also DVC and staying same time period as you...So weird!

We're:
12/31 - HDDR for NYE (can't wait..its a great show for the kids, looking forward to it being their NYE "party"!)
01/01 - LTT for Lunch!
01/01 - Ohana for dinner
01/02 - Via Napoli for dinner
01/03 - Sci Fi for dinner!

So, looking forward to your PTR! We will most certainly be in the same places at the same time...LOL.
NO WAY!!!! That is just TOO wild that we have so many of the same ADRs and plans! We're definitely going to have to meet up somewhere! Thanks for joining in!

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Thanks!
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:36 PM   #10
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Ticket options!

OK, so here's where I'm still weighing options -- tickets. I am leaning one way, but guilt is making it hard for me to do what I really want to do. So y'all tell me that I'm making the right decision, OK??

Like I said in the first post, Dale is military. We've used the special Military Salute tickets the last several years and I waited anxiously to see if the promotion would be renewed for 2013-14. It has been, so that's a good thing. We can get 4-day park-hoppers for $169. Awesome deal, right? However, that means that our only park days are the 4 full days we're there, not our arrival day or departure day. I know that NYE is CRAZY busy and but I just fireworks so much, I want to see Disney's NYE show. It's completely and irrationally selfish. I am pretty sure that we'll never be at WDW for NYE again since we generally avoid the busy times. And I know we could probably go to the Poly and find a couple of square feet of beach to sit on with our new closest 5000 friends and see them, but there's just something about BEING there, you know? Am I the only one who thinks that?

Anyway, in nosing around the DIS a few months back, I came across a thread on the Budget Board about buying tickets from Orbitz through Ebates and getting 10% back. This was before the new Military Salute was announced, so I was looking for ticket deals. According to Orbitz, I can get adult 5-day base tix for $280.09, then you get 10% cash back from Ebates, bringing the net to $252.08 (slightly less for the one child ticket we need). That would mean we could go to a park on NYE, but I argue with myself that it's not worth an extra $100 per person, and I'd need to add park-hopper onto the base tickets so we can make our BOG ADR on Saturday night, another $60 per person.

However....

Being Florida residents, we've gotten the Seasonal Annual Pass several times. I checked the black-out dates and the last day is 1/3 and the first day we need to park-hop is 1/4. The cost of a SAP is $309. The value of the 5-day base ticket is $289. So, it's cheaper to upgrade to the SAP than to add park-hopper. I've been around the DIS long enough to know most of the ins and outs of tickets, thanks to the wisdom of the resident ticket guru, Cheshire Figment, and I know this upgrade is possible, as long as I do it on a day when a SAP is valid.

This opens up all kinds of options! We could go to a park on Sunday before we leave for home. We can make a quick weekend trip for SWW and make Brad ecstatic. We could go the week of T-giving (we usually have off the whole week). I looked it up and our Spring Break is fairly early in 2014, the 3rd week of March, when Easter isn't until mid-April, so our passes would be good for Spring Break. And if we don't use our Military Salute tix for my birthday trip, we can buy them for my sister's family to come at Spring Break, too.

So right now, I'm leaning towards getting the Orbitz tickets and upgrading them to SAP. It's ~$450 more to do that, but if we go back one more time in the year, it was worth it. And once we have those SAP, we do tend to go back. Another reason I'm leaning towards it is that I'm kind of afraid that the parks will be so busy for my birthday that we won't get to do everything that we want to do. Having the SAP is a way of hedging my bets and being able to say, "we'll be able to come back in a few months, it's OK if we don't get to ride EVERYTHING."

So what would you do?
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:48 PM   #11
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:09 PM   #12
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PS. My 2nd grader is ALSO Drew! LOL, just had to add that! :-)
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:51 PM   #13
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Following along!
Awesome! Thanks and welcome!

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Originally Posted by disneyfan2kids View Post
PS. My 2nd grader is ALSO Drew! LOL, just had to add that! :-)
That is pretty amazing, but I do have to admit that "Drew" is not the actual name we call him - I picked parts of my hubby's and kids' first/middle names to use as online "pseudonyms." My real name is Claire but the rest of them go by different names IRL.

What time is your LTT ADR? Ours is around 11:30. Maybe we can meet up in the lobby. Our Via Napoli is 6:00-6:30.
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Claire Married 17 years to With (11) and (8)


"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Awesome! Thanks and welcome!



That is pretty amazing, but I do have to admit that "Drew" is not the actual name we call him - I picked parts of my hubby's and kids' first/middle names to use as online "pseudonyms." My real name is Claire but the rest of them go by different names IRL.

What time is your LTT ADR? Ours is around 11:30. Maybe we can meet up in the lobby. Our Via Napoli is 6:00-6:30.
Our guy is Andrew...but we call him Drew at times :-)

LTT is 1:20pm
Via Napoli is 7pm
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Old 09-12-2013, 03:08 PM   #15
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More second-guessing!

So, I'm still hung up on ADRs. I booked what I wanted, but I can't keep myself from checking for new ones or different ones!

I keep thinking about New Year's Eve. I was thinking about going to Epcot. Like I said before, I know it'll be but I want to! The DW calendar says Illuminations will be at 6:30. I asked over on the Theme Parks board about NYE and found out that Epcot has two sets of fireworks, "early" and "late." I'm not sure of the times, though. I'm thinking that we could stay for the early ones and then head back to OKW. I do want to make rope-drop Wednesday morning, so we need to head in by 9:00 or so to make that happen.

If we go to Epcot (or any other park) on NYE, I'll have to cancel our Olivia's ADR. That's not a big deal - I had only scheduled it because I knew we'd be arriving that afternoon and thought that if we didn't go to a park, we'd want somewhere to eat.

I've also thought about going to Studios on NYE. Since we're doing HDDR (6:15 show) on our Studios day, I am not sure if we'll leave before they turn on the Osbourne Lights. Does anyone know when they turn them on? So, it might be our only chance to see them. I've heard Studios isn't as crazy as Epcot, but there's just not much to do there, either.

Have you been to WDW for NYE before? What did you do? Looking for advice and input!
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"You see, it's just like I told you. Wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you'll never run out of wishes. They're shining deep down inside you... because that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

More than 25 trips to Disney World since age 4, including:
Jan 2014: OKW - Feb 2013 (DPHM): CSR - Sept 2012: Pop - Nov 2011: Pop - May 2011: CSR - Jan 2011: All-Star Sports - May 2010: Pop Century - Nov 2009: Wilderness Lodge - May 2009: Shades of Green -
Aug/Sept 2008: CSR - Jan 2008: POFQ - Sept 2007: CSR - Sept 2004: FWCabins - Sept 2003: CSR - Jan 1997: Honeymoon at Westgate - Plus many trips as a child at FW!
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