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Old 01-11-2008, 10:08 PM   #1
AllyGirl_79
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Keeping Secrets: A Disney Comedy of Errors (Dec 31, 2007 - Jan 7, 2008)

I love reading trip reports. However, I have never attempted to write a trip report of my very own. Due to a rather funny sequence of events, though, I had a really, really, really long time to think about and plan the family vacation that we just took December 31, 2007 – January 7, 2008. And after all that planning, I’m a little sad that it’s over. And, while I could start planning a return trip for next year, I’m not quite done with this one yet, you know? So, I have decided to try my hand at writing it all down both for the family scrapbook and, in some small way, as a contribution to this board of great storytellers. There will be pictures, as soon as I figure out how to do that. (Also don't know how to change/update the thread title. It's on the list of things to learn. See? This trip report will be good for me. )


Keeping Secrets: A Disney Comedy of Errors


Part 1 – Code Words and Surprises

As Stitch would say, my family is little but good. I have one younger brother, age 18 at the start of our tale (21 now – I told you it was a long story), and two wonderful parents. I made my first trip to Walt Disney World at the age of 10 in 1990. We stayed at the Polynesian, and I was in love. So in love, in fact, that my parents consented to bring me back every year right through the end of my college career in 2001. We camped at Fort Wilderness on subsequent trips so that the expense was bearable, and we went in February. There were two main reasons for timing. First, we took advantage of lower crowds. Second, I was an obsessive academic, and my parents wanted to be sure I got a break from school work. Looking back, though, I can now assure you that my parents love Disney as much as I do. Perhaps, in retrospect, those trips weren’t entirely about me. Perish the thought.

In January of 2005, I found myself starting my last semester of graduate school. Suddenly, I faced the same question as every other student who was slowly coming to realize the magnitude of the loans they had taken out to pursue an advanced degree: who on earth was going to hire me? By February, however, that question had been answered. And, with my graduation looming on the horizon, I had a job offer in hand. An offer for a job I actually wanted. All of my fears about becoming a burden on society were dissipating, and I discovered one of the joys of employment post-MBA: the starting bonus. Yes, this company that wanted me was actually giving me something for consenting to work for them. Is that great or what? I felt rich, I felt free, and I felt as though I should do something celebratory! Clearly, it was time for a trip to Disney, as it had been four years since our last trip in 2001.

I called my little brother, a senior in high school at home in Chicago and pitched an idea: let’s surprise Mom and Dad. For a split second I thought he hesitated, but then I could hear his glee through the phone. (Note: I’m told that my family is not normal in the sense that your average 18 and 25 year olds don’t get overly giddy at the thought of a family vacation – humor me. We’re Disney kids; it’s what we do.) The wheels of planning were put in motion.

I’d call home, cloaking conversations with code words like “college majors” that ensured my parents wouldn’t interrupt our plotting. We discussed at great length where to stay, and then settled on the very first draft of the plan: three nights at the Polynesian in a nod to nostalgia and that very first trip for Dad and three nights at the Beach Club for Mom, who has always wanted to use the “back door” to Epcot. I made the reservations for March 2006 to coincide with younger brother’s spring break on the same day he sent in his college deposit. I had the confirmations in hand. It was perfect in my head -- On the day of my graduation, a Monday at the end of May, I would get my diploma, we’d go to dinner, and my dad would make some sappy speech about my accomplishments. At which time I would pull out the confirmations and finally surprise my parents. It would be my day of jubilee – I would stun them into silence. I could see it, I tell you! And, I’d get to go to Disney, too. What could be better?

But I hadn’t realized something … I was secure in the knowledge that my family, including the extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins, can’t make plans without me. I am the planner. In fact, I am the only planner. From weddings to Mother’s Day brunch, I make the lists and make sure everyone adheres to them. Further, my family can’t keep secrets. There are skeletons, sure, but they’re not in the closets. No, no. Any skeletons only get to stay in the closet for a few minutes. Then they join us for dinner at the dining room table. The family is too small, and we talk too often, for secrets.

You might be wondering why I thought my little secret might work. Simply, I was countering tradition by only letting my little brother, henceforth known as The Sneaky One, in on the plans. How could Aunt Sue spill the beans if she didn’t know about the beans? It seemed reasonable.

As it turns out, however, I may not have given my family enough credit.

Apparently, we all associate Disney with celebrations. And, as I was planning a trip to surprise my parents, my parents were planning a trip to surprise me. The Sneaky One was in on both schemes, but, seeing two trips to Florida in his future, kept silent about everything.

I didn’t think he had it in him.

Graduation rolled around, we went to dinner, and then … my parents told me they had planned a celebratory trip to Disney for July 2005. And we’d be staying at the Wilderness Lodge, where I had always wanted to stay. *Sigh* What’s a girl to do? Well, this girl shoved the hotel confirmations in her pocket, jumped up and down, hugged her parents, and hit her younger brother in the arm repeatedly for about a week. And then we went to Walt Disney World in July and stayed at the WL. It was a great trip – rainy, but great.

However, that is a story for another time. Somewhere in the back of my head, I still wanted to take my parents to Disney. I was determined to knock their socks off, plan a fabulous trip, and somehow make good on the “surprise the parents” plan. So, I bided my time. I plotted. I read the boards and learned about hidden delights at Disney, discounts, and every obscure hotel room category. In April 2006, I called The Sneaky One at school, and said, “I’m trying again.” He was very supportive this time, too.

I made the reservations for January 1 – January 7, 2008 as The Sneaky One had a long Christmas break this year, and began plotting ideas with the precision of a military operation. I planned and took a trip in November 2006 with my best friend – both because it was fun and because it kept my parents from suspecting anything. (Slightly paranoid, yes. I’m seeking help.) And on Christmas morning 2006, a year and a week before the trip, thereby ensuring that everyone could coordinate their schedules, my parents opened a box full of Disney napkins, possibly our favorite thing to bring home from the World to keep the magic going a little longer, and this note:

Four tickets to Cirque de Soleil and a really good piece of prime rib at Le Cellier for Dad…
… a few dollars

Tea at the Grand Floridian and two nights at the Boardwalk Inn so Mom can finally
use the back-door to Epcot…
… a few more dollars

Taking our parents to Disney World (instead of the other way around) for a four night stay at the Polynesian Resort where they can collect their own napkins…
… priceless

They were stunned. I was happy. And we were going to Disney World again. I love Christmas.


Next up … Part 2 – Another Year of Planning (or Four Family Members, Three Disney Hotels, Two Weeks in Florida, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree)
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Ally

Eli ~ Hockey Nut ~ Stitch Fan

Going to Imagineering with ABD & the Podcast Crew in July/Aug 2011!

Podcast Cruise 2.0 Dec 2010 -- POFQ/CR CL Oct 2010 -- BWI CL Dec 2009 -- Poly Oct 2009 -- FW Cabins Jan 2009 -- WL June 2008 -- DL Hotel April 2008 -- WL/BWI CL/Poly Dec 2007 to Jan 2008 -- CSR Oct 2007 -- GCH Aug 2007 -- Poly/POFQ Nov 2006 -- WL July 2005 -- BC May 2003 -- FW Cabins Feb 2001 -- Disneyland Hotel (Paris) Aug 1999 -- FW Feb 99, May 98, Feb 97, Feb 96, Feb 95, Jan 94, Feb 93, Feb 92, Feb 91 -- Poly March 1990


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Old 01-12-2008, 01:20 PM   #2
ChelleinNC
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Ok, I'm hooked! I've surprised my kids with a trip, but never heard of it going the other way
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Next Trip-???? December 2012 Planning is half the fun! That's why I do it for a living
SSR June 2010, Sweet 16 @ HHI Nov 09,July 09-BCV & DCL,Nov/Dec 08-OKW,Oct O8-HHI June 08-SSR, Dec 07- BWV, June, 07- SSR, Aug, 06- Beach Club, April 04-HHI, Oct 03- Swan/Wilderness Lodge, Dec, 02- Beach Club/Poly, June, 02- Beach Club, Dec, 01- Beach Club,-- Time Warp (Day trips only) --, Oct, 1991- Disney Cruise (Big Red Boat)/Polynesian [Honeymoon!], Summer 1990- MKCP!, 1987- Off Site, 1983- Off Site
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