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Old 11-01-2008, 03:58 PM   #1
michellem1118
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9 Months, 3 Trips, 1 Grand Gathering?!?! ~ A PTR

If you’ve clicked on my pre-trip report, you’re probably curious about how we came to be planning three trips in 9 months. Let me take you back to our honeymoon to explain…

You see, on our honeymoon, we spent 3 days in WDW, and then 4 on a Disney Cruise Line vacation. While on board the cruise ship, we attended the DVC member celebration, and they had great offers for adding on to your contract. By the end of the cruise, we’d been “suckered” in and added to our contract. As a thank-you, we were given a free 100 developer points, which expire one year after issue – in July 2009.

Oh, wait… I need to back up even further… to the week before the wedding! While my MIL was in town for the wedding (DH’s whole family is in the NYC area, DH & I, plus my whole family, are in the Dallas area), we got to talking about the difficulties in dividing holidays between families who are so far apart and the expenses related to holiday travel. I made the suggestion that we should plan Christmases in new places, where everyone would have to travel, and everyone in both families would have the option of coming along. MIL loved the idea, and DH & I both immediately suggested Disney for Christmas 2009, and thus, trip #1 (uh, or #3 chronologically) was born.

OK, now, back to the developer points… at first, we thought we’d be able to use them for the Christmas trip, but quickly realized they expire too soon, so that wasn’t an option. Well, that’s not a big deal… we missed out on a lot of things we wanted to do on the honeymoon since we were only in WDW for 3 days, so we’ll just plan a weekend trip in there somewhere, no worries. I started looking at the calendar to try to pick a weekend (a difficult challenge b/c I’m a teacher, and it’s very difficult to get random Friday’s & Monday’s off). One day, soon after the return from the honeymoon, I was chatting with a good friend, and he mentioned that he & his wife were planning a trip to Disney in May 2009, to take their two-year-old son for the first time. It took me less than 30 seconds to decide we’d go that same weekend so we could see them for at least part of the trip, and I was on the phone with DVC member services to book a room at the first opportunity. I asked them to book the room using developer points, the CM repeated that request, put me on hold, and came back with a confirmation number. I assumed all was well, and thus, we had a 2nd trip planned in 2009.

As is often the case with assumptions, it turned out I was wrong. About a month or so after booking the room for May, I realized that the points were taken out of our regular DVC allotment, not our developer points, and began the multiple phone calls needed to get this straightened out. After weeks of calling and reaching CMs who had no idea what was going on, I finally, just yesterday, reached a CM who could explain what was going on & why I couldn’t use the developer points in May… unless I changed our resort reservation! So now what? Well, on a whim, I asked her to check about resort availability at the ONE DVC resort where I was allowed to use the developer points, for the week I’m off for spring break in March. Imagine my surprise when she came back to the phone and told me that both studios and one-bedroom accommodations were available that week, just 4.5 months out! I went ahead and booked the 1-bedroom villa, and as of yesterday evening, we suddenly have three trips in a 9 month span!

Details, details…

Trip #1 – March 16-20, 2009
(Actually, we’ll be leaving Dallas early in the morning of March 15, and driving on this trip. Airfare for spring break week is WAY too high to justify flying. We might even leave late on Saturday March 14, and spend one night off property to take advantage of our first full day of Disney magic)
Cast: Right now, just me & DH, although my co-worker & her husband have expressed an interest in going along
Resort: Saratoga Springs, 1-bedroom Villa
Plans & ADRs: none yet… and I need to get on this quick, since I’m well within the 180-day ADR window… we’d like to try a character meal for lunch or dinner, and we’ll probably try for Le Cellier, but we’re not really sure what else we’re going to try to get. Suggestions???

Trip #2 – May 14-18, 2009
Cast: me & DH, plus we’ll be joining my friends Josh & Melissa, and their son Joey for part of the weekend
Resort: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village – savanna view studio
Plans & ADRs: none yet here, either… I’m starting to feel behind!

Trip #3, our Grand Gathering experience – December 22-29, 2009
Cast: me & DH, MIL, BIL, & my parents for sure, which is a bit short of Grand Gathering size… we’ll probably also be joined by DH’s aunt, uncle, & 3 cousins, and DH’s other uncle & his fiancée will probably drive in from Tampa for at least part of the week.
Resorts: Saratoga Springs & Animal Kingdom Lodge, the two resorts we have DVC points at – we’ll be trying to book the rooms in January at the 11-month mark, so our dates might need to change a bit…

So, those are our three trips. We’re now debating the benefits of purchasing Annual Passes – when we were only planning two trips, we were just going to go with no-expiration park hoppers – but now that seems to be unreasonably expensive. And, we’re debating the DDP… our last three trips, we’ve used DDP, but we’re just not sure it’ll be worth it on at least trip #2, and maybe not on the other trips, either… Does anyone have a spreadsheet to calculate meal costs vs. DDP costs that I could steal???

I’ll introduce our cast in more details in a later post… I need to get some cleaning done before DH gets home from work, and maybe finish up my TR from the honeymoon (link in siggy if you’re interested in reading)…

Hopefully, I’ll have some readers when I return!
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 11-02-2008, 08:12 PM   #2
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Well, I have no idea if anyone is reading, but let me properly introduce the cast anyway....

Me - Michelle . I'll be 30 in just over 2 weeks, and I'm not exactly thrilled about it. I'm a huge Disney fan, and have an extensive Disney movie collection. I only went to Disney once as a child, and it wasn't the best experience, but when I went back in college, I fell in love with the place. I've been back 3 times since then, all with DH, and we're even DVC members! My favorite characters are from the Lion King or Ratatouille.

DH - John . He's 26 (yep, I robbed the cradle! ) and also a huge Disney fan. In fact, his Disney movie collection rivaled mine, and we had very few overlapping titles... I took it as a sign that we were meant to be together! If only he knew I married him for his Disney movies.... DH had been to Disney once or twice before we went together. His favorite characters are the fab 5, I think.

This is us at our wedding in July...


We'll be the "stars" of each trip... I'll introduce co-stars as the trips approach.

Next up: Preliminary details for our March trip, aka Trip #1!

More to come on our preliminary plans for the March trip in the next post.
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:12 PM   #3
michellem1118
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Plans and changes?!

Ah, the joys of trying to plan trips with other people involved... so you may remember that for our May trip, trip #2, we intended to accompany some friends as they took their son on his first-ever WDW vacation... well, the plan has apparently changed! When talking to our friend today, I learned that they've decided to postpone their WDW trip for another year due to finances/the economy... so now DH & I need to decide whether to take the trip at all. Of course, I'm leaning towards yes (especially since my days off from work were already approved ) but we'll have to wait and see.

On the upside, I called today and was able to get EVERY SINGLE ADR I wanted for the March trip at 4.5 months out... even the CM seemed surprised! We're trying all new restaurants on this trip, so opinions are welcome! Our early rough-draft of a schedule is as follows:

Sunday, March 15 - begin the drive to WDW. Goal is to make it 12ish hours and end up 3-4 hours from WDW before we stop for the night.

Monday, March 16 - arrive at Saratoga Springs & check in, hopefully by 11:00am. Head to DTD for lunch @ Earl of Sandwich & to kill some time before the room is ready. Return to SSR, unload the car, and then head over to DHS for the afternoon & evening EMH. Dinner reservations at Mama Melrose's, the only TS meal of the week at a restaurant we've tried before.

Tuesday, March 17 - Epcot day. We'll hit morning EMH, then lunch at Teppan Edo @ noon. Dinner will be our first-ever character meal, at Garden Grill @ 7:50PM.

Wednesday, March 18 - Animal Kingdom day. We've never seen the park in the dark, so we want to be sure to stay for the evening EMH hours. Dinner at Tusker House @ 7:30. (We'll most likely do lunch at Flame Tree, or possibly Pizzafari.)

Thursday, March 19 - Magic Kingdom day. We almost always skip MK - in fact, we haven't been on our last 2 trips - so we're planning a full day there this time around. Lunch will be at Liberty Tree Tavern @ 12:00. We'll do CS for dinner, possibly at El Pirata y El Perico.

Friday, March 20 - departure day We'll probably hit one of the parks in the morning - whichever one we feel like we need more time in - and then head to DTD for some last-minute souvenir shopping before we head home. We'll probably have lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express, and then start the drive back to Dallas.

Any suggestions? Feedback? Should I pick different restaurants?

Is anyone even reading this thing?!?!?!
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:21 PM   #4
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Lurkers... I know you're out there... this PTR has over 40 views, and I'm only 3 or 4 of them... so why isn't anyone talking, huh???? I KNOW YOU'RE THERE!

We've decided to keep the May ressie, and make the trip DH's birthday present. We invited two friends to tag along as well, but they're not sure they can get the time off from work yet, so it may just be us.

We've also decided to go ahead & purchase APs, and the DDE (uh, Tables in Wonderland?) card. It works out cheaper that way, with three trips planned, than doing individual trip tickets (or no-expiration tickets) and the DDP. The best part is, it'll force us to NOT overeat just because things are included in the DDP.

Hmm... what else was I gonna tell you guys (I still know you're reading!!!)... oh yeah, DH & I are going to buy a good camera - a Canon DSLR - in the next few weeks (I hope) so I can practice with it before Disney. I hope to come back with some really GREAT pictures this time around.

I've been bit by the DISign bug, too. I've been making t-shirt designs for the Christmas grand gathering... it'll be fun trying to make DBIL wear a matching t-shirt!

Yes, I know this entry is pretty disjointed, but at least its an update, for my silent readership. Can't have the silent readers getting left behind.
(but please start commenting. I promise I don't bite!)
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 01-02-2009, 06:19 PM   #5
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Hmm, I guess I lost track of this for a while... but I'm back now, and I need HELP from you lurkers!!!

We're currently planning 3 trips...
one in mid-March, over my spring break (3/16-20 @ SSR)
one that was to be in May, but we've moved to July over our 1st anniversary (7/26-30 @ AKV, Savanna view)
one in December with lots of family (dates now tentatively set - 12/27/09-1/1/10!)

I'm trying to put together planning folders for the 3 sets of extended family that may or may not be coming along in December... my parents (definitely coming), DH's mom & brother (almost definitely coming), and DH's aunt, uncle, & 3 cousins (may or may not come). We're covering the hotel rooms for everyone - studios at SSR w/ our DVC points - for 5 nights just after Christmas. In my folders, I'm thinking I need sections for the following things:
- resort --> general info about SSR, and the dates that we'll cover. I'll also include the DVC member cash rate for add'l nights in case they're interested, along with the rules for having us book those dates
- transportation --> general info about the ME service & Disney transportation; info about MCO
- Dining --> detailed info on the three 2009 dining plan options, as well as any special dinners we might want to plan, or our favorite restaurants
- Park admission --> details about the various types of ticket options
- Budget planning --> excel spreadsheet I've already put together that has specific pricing for all of the above customizable options, like dining & park tickets

What else should I include? I was thinking of maybe info about MVMCCP, but not sure if anyone other than DH would want to go to that with me, or if it'll even be happening during our dates next year. Should I also add something about some of the tours that can be done?

We're also probably going to schedule one of the resort photo shoot things, but I want to surprise people with that info closer to the date, so I don't really want to add that to the folder. Do you think I should include general photopass info? No one going, other than DH & me, has been to WDW in at least 10 years... and in the case of my parents, they haven't been since the time that MK was the ONLY park!
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:25 PM   #6
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Hi Michelle!

I followed you over from my TR, great report! I read your honeymoon one first and wanted to respond but for some reason there was no way to reply? Weird. Anyways, great report and you made a beautiful bride! Congrats on your wedding and your honeymoon looked wonderful!

I would definately put some info in your folders about MVMCP for your family for your December trip. We loved it, we did it this last trip (and you'll read about it in my TR) but I highly recommend it, if you haven't done it, already? It's worth the money and you don't have to use a park ticket that day...works out well and it's fun and magical!!

Looking forward to some more.....I'm subbing!
Kristen
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Old 01-03-2009, 07:26 PM   #7
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not sure if i really subbed...just making sure.sorry!!
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:36 PM   #8
michellem1118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by princess&her4princes View Post
Hi Michelle!

I followed you over from my TR, great report! I read your honeymoon one first and wanted to respond but for some reason there was no way to reply? Weird. Anyways, great report and you made a beautiful bride! Congrats on your wedding and your honeymoon looked wonderful!

I would definately put some info in your folders about MVMCP for your family for your December trip. We loved it, we did it this last trip (and you'll read about it in my TR) but I highly recommend it, if you haven't done it, already? It's worth the money and you don't have to use a park ticket that day...works out well and it's fun and magical!!

Looking forward to some more.....I'm subbing!
Kristen
Yay, I finally have a reader! I've added some info about MVMCP, but if the 2008 dates are anything to go by, we'll probably get there too late. I'm on a mission to finish the info folders tonight or tomorrow, because (unfortunately) we're heading to NY this week - DH's grandfather passed away late last night, so we're going to the funeral. I should also figure out a way to pack the wedding album in carry-on so DMIL can see it, as well as DFIL & DGMIL if they're feeling up to it.

My honeymoon trip report may have been locked by the mods since I haven't posted in so long... I'll have to check with them about it since I've almost got the last update done.
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:44 PM   #9
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Oh no!! You'll miss MVMCP?! That's a shame, it was SO worth every penny for us and we lucked out, we had NO crowds AT ALL the night we went, it was wonderful and magical! Your folders are a great idea and I think the info you're including is perfect, it may not be a bad idea to include some photopass info since it's fairly new and something worth taking advantage of, you know? Good luck getting them done!!

I'm SO sorry to hear about DH grandfather. I hope your trip to NY goes smoothly enough and that your DH is doing okay.

Looking forward to your next update.....
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:21 PM   #10
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Just a quick update... we're back from NY, the funeral went as well as possible. DH's grandfather was a WWII vet, and there were members of the Army at the funeral to do the traditional military things, which was a nice touch.

While we were in NY, we got confirmation that DMIL & DBIL will be joining us in December for sure, so that has us up to 6 guaranteed... still hoping that DH's aunt, uncle, and cousins sign on so we can try for some grand gathering experiences.

I've got the info folders almost completed for everyone, just need to make the font smaller because 25 pages seems a bit excessive... and then I can print and mail (or hand-deliver to my parents).

Ooohh... on another note, I'm pretty sure DH will have an interview sometime this week for a teaching job that would start next week... it's taken him a few months to get all of his Texas certification stuff in order, so he's been out of the classroom for a semester... he's so anxious to get back into a classroom, so I really hope he gets this interview & the position.... keep your fingers crossed for him, please.

Well, since DH will be home shortly, I should probably at least start dinner... and laundry from the trip... I'll try to get some pictures of my info folder up in the next day or two.
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Dec. 2000-Jan. 2001 ~ AS-Sports ... April 2007 ~ CSR (joined DVC) ... Oct. 2007 ~ SSR ... July-Aug. 2008 ~ OKW & DCL ~ HONEYMOON! ... March 2009 ~ SSR ... July 2009 ~ 1st anniversary @ AKV ... Christmas 2009 ~ Family Trip @ SSR ... March 2010 ~ BCV ... June 2010 ~ John's (late) birthday celebration @ VWL ... July-August 2010 ~ 2nd anniversary @ BLT/VWL ... Upcoming: June 9-16, 2011 ~ Club Level! at AKV & BWV



The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:52 PM   #11
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Glad to hear that everything went as smoothly as it could have in NY. I was thinking of your family.

I'll keep my fingers crossed on your DH new possible job, that's wonderful!! Good luck to him!!

And that's great news you have more people joining you in December!! Can't wait to see what your folders look like, they sound really nice. It will be such a wealth of knowledge to those joining you and fun for them to look through, too!!!

Have a nice dinner tonight! And welcome home!!
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Old 01-15-2009, 08:11 PM   #12
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just checking in....will check again tomorrow!!
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:06 PM   #13
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Just a quick note... DH got a job offer today! DH is a math teacher, but when we moved to Texas 6 months or so ago, he had issues getting the paperwork together to teach in the fall, and as a result, lost a job in a great school that had been offered to him... he took a non-teaching job, but he's been miserable for the last few months... about a month ago, he finally got all the paperwork taken care of, and interviewed in 3 districts yesterday for spring semester teaching jobs that would start on Monday or Tuesday next week. And one principal called him today and offered him the job!!! This offer was from his 2nd-choice school, and the top choice told him they'd get back to him by tomorrow, so now all that's left to do is resign from the crappy job with no notice which has him very stressed out at the moment. I have faith that it will all work out though! And I'm very excited that now he'll be off work for our March trip, instead of having to take vacation time!!!

I heart the dancing banana.

I'll be updating again tomorrow with pictures of the t-shirt I designed that we'll be able to wear on all 3 trips this year, since it's pretty generic, along with some pictures of the planning folders that are thisclose to being ready to send out for the December trip... that I can't reserve until Jan. 27....
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The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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Old 01-16-2009, 01:52 PM   #14
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Yay DH!! Congrats on the new job!!!

Looking forward to your newest posting!! And can't wait to see your tshirt design, I did one for the boys on our trip (coming soon!) and now that I'm going again...need to figure one out for my girl trip for my Mom's birthday...not sure she'd love to wear one, but think it would be fun for us. We'll see.....
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Old 01-17-2009, 09:42 AM   #15
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Ok, here we go... some real updates today! Since DH is at work, I was actually able to take pictures of stuff without him making fun of me... I'm sure you know how it is!

Up first... our generic t-shirt design for all 3 trips... there will also, later, be specific trip design t-shirts as well. I'm so glad DH humors me...
full t-shirt:


close-up of the design:


Next up... my planning binder for all three 2009 trips...


Now, the planning folder I'm sending out to everyone for the December trip...
cover:


table of contents:


the inside sections:














I'm also printing the dining plan guides from the DVC website and including those as well, just so everyone has all the details - and not just my brief summary. It also includes the list of restaurants, and since we're going to ask everyone going to pick their top three choices for TS meals before it's time to make ADRs, I think the restaurant list will be useful...

I think I'm about as done as I can be on the December trip right now...

On the bright side... 8 weeks from today, we'll be heading out for the March trip! We'll probably leave midday and try to make it most of the way through Louisiana before we stop for the night. Then on that Sunday, March 15, we'll aim to get within an hour or so of Disney, so that we don't have much driving on our check-in day. This is a new schedule, based on the fact that DH now will not be working on Saturdays thanks to the new job!

I think I'm running out of room in this post due to my intense love of smilies, so I'll continue with the March plans in the next post...
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The Summer of Disney - June 2010 & July/August 2010 Trip Report
Bringin' the HAPPY Back! Spring Break 2010 Trip Report
Never Again! Our Holiday Family Trip
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