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Old 01-04-2010, 06:24 AM   #16
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:48 AM   #17
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so I would be remiss if I didn't mention another part to our first full day- the arrival of the rest of the family. You thought I forgot them, didn't you? Well, i did!

Chase actually was coming in from Atlanta on Delta, arriving about 2pm or so. He was just going to use Magical Express since the rest of us were going to be busy at downtown disney. This ended up working just fine for him, although I think it took forever to get his bags. None of us had ever used ME before, but I had heard about the bag challenge before. Nancy was very excited to see her nephew and almost forgot about his arrival time- we were so busy shopping and having a great time. Auntie happened to mention it and so Nancy called right away and we ended up meeting up with Chase back at the hotel later during our break.

My sister, Nene also was arriving this evening. Due to being a teacher, she wanted to work that Friday and come after work. She already felt bad taking a week off. Originally, her hubby was going to come down with her Friday night, but plans changed and he ended up coming down a day early for business actually. So poor Nene was arriving all by her lonesome on Friday night. Her flight was supposed to get in at 10;30pm. Jeff had a rental car for work that he was going to return and then exchange for another car (prior booked by us on a separate reservation-under Nene's name). So he was going to meet her at the airport at least and drive with her to the lodge. They ended up not getting to the room until almost 1am if I remember right! They were not happy with their initial room- it had 2 queens and they really wanted a king. So the next day, they ended up switching.

So now the entire family is here and in tact. Yeah!!!
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:55 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by wdwgirl03 View Post
Great report so far! Christmas is such an awesome time to visit. And the WL is an amazing resort! We stayed there for the first time over the summer and loved it.
Yes, loved the WL, so gorgeous at Christmas- I will have a lot more pics of it shortly!

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Sounds like a good first day! Do you have a picture of the castle your mom bought for you? Would love to see it!

Alex is the same way at restaurants too. When we go back to WDW, I will definitely schedule fewer sit down meals and I don't think I would do the dining plan with him again unless it is free. Just too much time spent in restaurants trying to keep him calm and enjoy my meal, which isn't very enjoyable sometimes that way.
I do have a pic of the castle, I will have to upload to shutterfly tongiht though. i think it was like $85 for it. i love it- the led lights in it shine up like they do on the castle!

Yes, next time will be fewer sit down meals- especially if we aren't on the dining plan (which hopefully we will buy DVC and not be!!). I guess the free dining made us feel like we HAD to eat those meals.

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Old 01-04-2010, 01:18 PM   #19
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Hi Michelle!! I just found your TR and I'm excited to read it as we are planning a trip to WDW in December!! I cannot wait to go when the parks/resorts are decorated for Christmas!! How were the crowds while you were there? Would you recommend going the week you were there? Why or why not? I can't WAIT to read more!! (Oh--and BTW--my youngest DD is the same age as Pooh--she turned 2 on October 10th)
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:09 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by ladybugmom View Post
Hi Michelle!! I just found your TR and I'm excited to read it as we are planning a trip to WDW in December!! I cannot wait to go when the parks/resorts are decorated for Christmas!! How were the crowds while you were there? Would you recommend going the week you were there? Why or why not? I can't WAIT to read more!! (Oh--and BTW--my youngest DD is the same age as Pooh--she turned 2 on October 10th)
Welcome- i did the same thing- scoured for Dec TR to read to get excited about our trip!!! so welcome and thanks for reading.

We had been in 2005 during the first week of December (during pop warner and christmas parade taping weekend), also for 10 days. This time, we pushed back a week as BIL was in college and couldn't go until then. So we were not sure what to expect crowd wise. It wasn't too bad at all until the last couple of days. The first weekend was fine and we always got up early and used FP and used some EMH too. That worked out well for us to do all we wanted to do ride-wise. I think really getting there at park opening and wisely using FP is the best way to avoid the crowds. We would be done with all the top rides by 11am and heading to lunch while the crowds were just pouring in.

It really wasn't that much more crowded than when we went ni the first week of Dec years ago. So I would recommend either week. However, our last day, Saturday, Dec 20th- we took it easy- we had done most of the big rides and noticed the crowds were building. That night, we had dinner at the Poly and decided to head to the MK one last time to say good bye. BAD BAD BAD!! it was so crowded! it was crazy and insane. We literally went to get a dole whip (hadn't done it yet this trip) and then walked back out down main street. It was too crowded to barely walk, much less ride anything. Main Street was nuts. So I wouldn't recommend getting much done if you are still there that weekend before Christmas.

here are some sample crowd pics. This was Friday, 12/19- it was raining, so that must have kept the crowds away (or folks were leaving and their vacation was ending, not sure, but it was pretty dead!).

this is MK at like 11am- near Dumbo looking towards Pooh/Fantasyland. pretty slow!


here it is exiting Main St the next day- Saturday, 12/20, which is when I assume a lot of folks were starting their Christmas WDW vacation! and this wasn't super late- this was only about 8pm at night, before the fireworks!
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:33 PM   #21
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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12th

So after a well deserved night’s sleep, we were up and at ‘em early again. Our group was splitting up some again today. Wowo and her family had scheduled some extra meals, mostly breakfasts and they had one this morning. Everyone except us (Alan, Pooh and I) were taking part. They were doing breakfast at Trail’s End Buffet at Fort Wilderness. We had all heard great things about Trail’s End. I am not a big breakfast eater, so we passed on these extra meals- it is hard enough to get Pooh to sit through one sit down meal a day. The meals we did do were hard enough, so I am glad we passed on some of these extras.

The rest of the family raved about the meal though.

So we were up by 7ish and out the door to Epcot this am. Auntie and Chase actually came with us this am instead of doing breakfast. My plan was to hit Soarin or TT for fastpasses and maybe try and catch Turtle Talk with Crush. This is not what ended up happening, but remember, I was trying to be more flexible! Lol….actually it wasn’t too bad, flexing just a bit! So our little group did the usual parking, walking, security check dance and were through the gates. I have to say, Epcot is one of my favorites parks. I really love it here. We took a few minutes to enjoy the holiday topiaries and Pooh checked out the fountain- he loves water. Water, lights and trash. What more could a kid want?




So we were at Epcot just after opening of 9am. We headed over to Soarin immediately. We had missed the rope drop stampede, so it wasn’t too bad. We parked the stroller outside and headed in to grab fastpasses. Standby wait was only 15 minutes and FP return was for like in 45 minutes. So we grabbed fastpasses for all of us, including Pooh, even though he couldn’t ride. We knew we could use his for another family member. So now, who was to ride first, while someone sat out with Pooh? We went up and got a child swap pass too. So I figured maybe Auntie and Chase could go first, but he said I should go with her, so Auntie and I rode together and just got in the standby line. We had a short wait or so, it actually seemed a lot longer than it actually was. We finally made it down and boarded our flight over California. I had been listening to this soundtrack for over a year and now I was finally hearing it live on the attraction! We enjoyed our flight and next Chase and Alan rode together while Auntie and I sat out with Pooh- they used the child swap pass, so we still had all of our fastpasses intact. Pooh was getting pretty restless by now. I took him over to the Sunshine Season food court to get something to snack on. Of course he selected some ‘bips’ (chips) at 9:30 in the morning. Hey, it is vacation, why not. So we went back to sit down and entertain him with eating some bips. By this time, it was nearing 10:30 or so, and the rest of the family was arriving at Epcot finally. So we met up with everyone and handed off our leftover fastpasses, which totaled 5. So of course, 5 fastpasses were not enough for everyone. My parents, Nene, Jeff and Nancy ended up going. That left Mike, Wowo and the kids with no FP. Mike decided he wanted to go so he went ahead and got in the standby line with Princess. I think it was over 35 minute wait or so now.


So Wowo, Mikey, Auntie, Pooh and I headed to Living with the Land- the boat ride. Alan and Chase had gotten a drink (coffee) and decided to sit this one out to enjoy it. We enjoyed our boat ride through the gardens and took tons of pics. The huge 10lb lemons were so cool. We found a hidden mickey in the fish tank. And they had decorated some of the hydroponics with ornaments hanging from them etc. very cute!While this ride is nothing spectacular, it is always fun.

After our ride, we decided to head over to the Journey into Imagination pavilion to see if my old roommate who works there. I worked on the Walt Disney World College Program (WDWCP) back in the fall of 1996, during my senior year of college. I worked at the then Disney-MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) from August 96-Dec 96. It was one of the best times of my life. Don’t get me wrong, the work was hard (bussing tables, cashiering and even serving food cafeteria lady style), but it was a great time and awesome program. I had 5 roommates (6 per apartment) from all over the US- PA, AZ, NY, MI etc. We all still keep in touch, with the exception of one who was much younger and never clicked with the rest of us who were a bit older. So anyhow- I worked at Hollywood and Vine which at the time was a cafeteria serving only breakfast and lunch.

I lived in an apartment with all the other college program students (from all over the world- INTL ones worked in Epcot World Showcase). Then we attended classes each week to learn about how Disney operates, from finance, to HR, to Marketing, to engineering. It was a great experience. So while my job was not exactly fun, my actual roomie was ‘friends’ with the characters at the Studios and was in the parade each day (Toy Story at the time). Anyhow- my old roomie had worked in entertainment for years- she was in the Hunchback stage show, many parades and other venues. She had settled down in Orlando for good with her mom. Heather now worked at the Imagination pavilion in the Kodak area when you exit the ride. You know the big camera there with a mad scientist looking character that does a little camera spiel? Well she does that. She actually contracts out with Kodak, not directly with Disney (who doesn’t pay very well). She has worked for the mouse since 1995 now!

Heather and I in 2004.


I knew Heather was working that day- she had called and left me her work schedule so we could meet up. Heather belongs in entertainment! She is purely hysterical, everything is a show to her. When we lived together on the WDWCP, she was constantly playing ‘dress up’. She would come out of her room dressed as princess lea or a waitress wearing my apron from work. It was always entertaining around her. So I was hoping I would catch her working and not on break. So we boarded our ride through Imagination and had a good time. Of course it is nothing close to the original. But what can you do? Of course there was no line to speak of. Is there ever? Once we exited the ride, there she was!!!!! We gave each other a big old hug and caught up a for a bit. She had just finished a ‘show’ and was about to go on break. We took a few pictures and she got to meet Pooh- who she had not met yet. We spent some time chatting it up and then had to head out for a lunch reservation at Coral Reef. We said good bye to Heather with plans to meet up later in the week before she was off on vacation.

Upon exiting, it was time to change Pooh, so I rushed to do that. I missed one of our favorite things to do- take a photo with my sisters in front of the jumping fountains back near the 3D movie area. In rushing to change Pooh, I totally forgot and missed it. Darn it. We have pics of us there as kids and adults, almost every trip. It was not to be this trip I guess.

So apparently, as we were chatting with Heather, the rest of the family had come over and saw us through a little window before they boarded the ride. We didn’t see them though. So we all headed over to the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion to check in for lunch. Our lunch ressie was at noon. So we had managed to do Soarin, Living with the Land, Journey into Imagination and chat with Heather and play in the Imagination area for a bit in those 2.5 hours or so. Not too bad. We checked in at Coral Reef and sat outside to wait our turn. The kids ran around and burned off some energy. I listened to the gulls call “mine, mine, mine’ over and over. I love that. Coral Reef was a first time restaurant for all of us. I don’t eat seafood, but I knew they had a great menu with other selections. I wasn’t sure if we would be seated together due to our party size of 14. So after a 15 minute wait or so, we were called and headed back.





We were seated in a huge curved booth along the back wall which seated 10 of us. The other four were seated at a table just across from us. The view was great- we really enjoyed watching the sea turtle (huge!) and fish throughout our meal. There were even divers doing some cleaning down there on the coral too. While we were sitting far away from the aquarium, we could still see fairly well. Service was a little slow here, but overall good. We all ordered a drink and a few of us decided to have an adult beverage! The kids got a drink with a glow in the dark tinkerbell or car on it. And yes, a few of the adults thought it was so cool, they got one too (Wowo, Mama…….lol). The menu offered a good selection from fish to steak to chicken and vegetarian. I ordered this:
Seared Chicken Breast - served over spaetzle finished with Applewood smoked bacon - chicken broth $20.99
Alan had this:
Grilled Mahi Mahi - topped with a spicy pineapple chutney over cashew-jasmine rice finished with a coconut rum beurre blanc $20.99

We ordered Pooh the kids plate where he picks an appetizer, entrée and dessert- so he had the lobster chowder (which Alan ate and enjoyed!) and then the mahi mahi with broccoli and mashed potatoes. He had a sundae (build your own) for dessert. It was a lot of food! Pooh enjoyed his food too. He loves broccoli.

I know my mom had the wild mushroom lasagna and someone had the steak. I knew I would be eating steak later this trip, so while I am a huge steak fan, I went with the chicken. The chicken was very good- large portion, juicy and not dry. Overall, I was very pleased. Alan enjoyed his as well. It seemed everyone really enjoyed their food and the atmosphere.

For dessert- I had the butterscotch crème brulee, it didn’t have much of a butterscotch taste, but was very good. I shared a bit so I could have some of Nancy’s dessert- the infamous chocolate wave! Yum! Alan had Bailey’s and Jack Daniel’s chocolate mousse. I did not try it, but it looked good. He said there was a huge shot of Jack at the bottom. Our meal for the three of us (including child) probably would have come to about $75 for lunch. Pretty good deal considering it was all free to us with free dining! Overall, I would recommend Coral Reef for lunch. We enjoyed the atmosphere, theming, service and food. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve read both bad and good reviews here. Originally we were hoping to have the customized menus and the diver with a sign, but they stopped offering that earlier in 2009. Still a great meal and we will probably go back in the future.

Once again, we struggled when it came time to pay. Having five separate room accounts to deal with made it difficult for our servers it seems, every single mealtime. I had to walk Will out while Alan waited on the bill. I really feel for the CM’s now having to print out a check for the meal (to be paid with the KTTW card for free dining) but then also one for the tip, which most of paid with cash or charged back to our rooms. It meant a lot of paperwork and receipts every meal. Quite the hassle. Oh, to remember the days when tip was included on the dining plan.

So after our big lunch, we were pretty stuffed. Pooh was almost in meltdown mode. We had been going since about 7:30am that morning and it was now nearing 2pm. The rest of the family stayed to check out the Nemo pavilion, ride the ride and do Crush. We simply couldn’t- Pooh wouldn’t make it that long without a complete fit. And who can blame him. As much as I would have liked to stay and get more accomplished, I knew I had to bend to his schedule and Alan and I both knew it was time to take a break. So we headed back out of the park. I think Nancy and Chase came with us. Her foot usually would swell up and she needed to get it on ice for a bit before starting out again in the evening.

We headed back to the car, which was not a long walk since we had a pretty good parking space near the front from arriving so early. We were back in the room by 2:30 or so- stopping to fill our refillable mugs with something to drink. We had water and juice and milk in our fridge for Pooh that we had ordered through garden grocer.

We got back to the room and let Pooh nap. He was pretty good about going down for his nap. Alan headed off to the gym at the wilderness Lodge to work off some of his lunch! I stayed in the room with Pooh- straightening up the room a bit more and watching some tv. I didn’t ever nap the whole trip, but did rest a bit. We had planned to take a 2-3 hour break each day. I know this is a great debate among many, to take a break or not to take a break? Pooh usually naps at day care from 12pm-2pm each day, so we were pretty certain it was a must for us. Otherwise, he would be a complete monster in the evenings. So break it was. He won’t sleep in his stroller for long, so that wasn’t really an option for us to keep going and wait for him to fall asleep in the stroller. Even when we travel sans children, we almost always take a midday break- it just gets us out of the parks in the height of the rush and heat (if there in the spring/summer) and we can come back refreshed and stay until closing.
fireplace at WL
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Old 01-04-2010, 11:06 PM   #22
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Welcome- i did the same thing- scoured for Dec TR to read to get excited about our trip!!! so welcome and thanks for reading.

We had been in 2005 during the first week of December (during pop warner and christmas parade taping weekend), also for 10 days. This time, we pushed back a week as BIL was in college and couldn't go until then. So we were not sure what to expect crowd wise. It wasn't too bad at all until the last couple of days. The first weekend was fine and we always got up early and used FP and used some EMH too. That worked out well for us to do all we wanted to do ride-wise. I think really getting there at park opening and wisely using FP is the best way to avoid the crowds. We would be done with all the top rides by 11am and heading to lunch while the crowds were just pouring in.

It really wasn't that much more crowded than when we went ni the first week of Dec years ago. So I would recommend either week. However, our last day, Saturday, Dec 20th- we took it easy- we had done most of the big rides and noticed the crowds were building. That night, we had dinner at the Poly and decided to head to the MK one last time to say good bye. BAD BAD BAD!! it was so crowded! it was crazy and insane. We literally went to get a dole whip (hadn't done it yet this trip) and then walked back out down main street. It was too crowded to barely walk, much less ride anything. Main Street was nuts. So I wouldn't recommend getting much done if you are still there that weekend before Christmas.

here are some sample crowd pics. This was Friday, 12/19- it was raining, so that must have kept the crowds away (or folks were leaving and their vacation was ending, not sure, but it was pretty dead!).

this is MK at like 11am- near Dumbo looking towards Pooh/Fantasyland. pretty slow!


here it is exiting Main St the next day- Saturday, 12/20, which is when I assume a lot of folks were starting their Christmas WDW vacation! and this wasn't super late- this was only about 8pm at night, before the fireworks!
Thank you sooo much for taking the time to answer my questions!! I really appreciate it!! You are exactly right about scouring the boards for December trips!! I want as much info as I can find!

Love your Epcot update!! I love Epcot as well! The food at Coral Reef looks soooo yummy! That creme brulee especially!! And how neat that you used to work at WDW!! My DH's cousin worked there when she was in college as well. And your friend still works there--fun!! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-05-2010, 01:13 PM   #23
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Thank you sooo much for taking the time to answer my questions!! I really appreciate it!! You are exactly right about scouring the boards for December trips!! I want as much info as I can find!

Love your Epcot update!! I love Epcot as well! The food at Coral Reef looks soooo yummy! That creme brulee especially!! And how neat that you used to work at WDW!! My DH's cousin worked there when she was in college as well. And your friend still works there--fun!! Can't wait to read more!
no problem- glad to help. You will have a blast next December, it is such an amazing time to go!!! Where are you staying?
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:59 PM   #24
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Ack!! How did I miss the start of this TR?! I am soooo behind on things---the holidays really screwed me up.

So, I'm signing on for this one. Haven't had a chance to read all of the entries yet, but will be headed back to catch up after this comment. So far, looks like you guys are having a great time.

My TR is started, although it is nowhere near as complete as yours so far, I am only through part of our second day I believe. We ended up having to cut our trip short due to a death in the family, but I've still got 5 days of TR to write, so hopefully it'll be worth reading.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:26 PM   #25
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Ack!! How did I miss the start of this TR?! I am soooo behind on things---the holidays really screwed me up.

So, I'm signing on for this one. Haven't had a chance to read all of the entries yet, but will be headed back to catch up after this comment. So far, looks like you guys are having a great time.

My TR is started, although it is nowhere near as complete as yours so far, I am only through part of our second day I believe. We ended up having to cut our trip short due to a death in the family, but I've still got 5 days of TR to write, so hopefully it'll be worth reading.
So sorry to hear about the death in the family, that actually happened to my sister and I on a trip years ago.

Consider me signed on to yours too- can't wait to read!!!
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:36 PM   #26
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michelle---how did you use a ticket for will to get a fast pass?? Wasn't he free?? so how did he have a ticket??

We are going to have to take breaks in the middle of the day too...Caleb does not nap well in a stroller and my nephew still needs breaks or naps too!
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:40 PM   #27
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michelle---how did you use a ticket for will to get a fast pass?? Wasn't he free?? so how did he have a ticket??

We are going to have to take breaks in the middle of the day too...Caleb does not nap well in a stroller and my nephew still needs breaks or naps too!
duh, you caught me!! you are right, we didn't have a ticket for Will. i don't know what i was thinking, no we didn't have a FP for him. We were using Mikey's ticket (he did pay for one) for FPs even when he couldn't ride due to height, so i was thinking of him for some reason. it was only the child swap we were able to get for having Will with us. LOL

i so wish Will would nap in the stroller and he will for short breaks, but not for the longer break like he needs. Sorry to hear Caleb won't either. but a break isn't a bad thing, it is nice to enjoy the resort a bit too. Alan and I would take turns staying with Will- either alan would head to the gym while i stayed in the room or he would stay while i wandered the resort or just enjoyed a coke and snack sitting on the patio by the pool. And we did swim one day during our break which was fun.

okay, so Alan was looking through the DVC books and papers again tonight ............i am hoping it is a good sign, he's looked through it a few times now and our DVC guide we toured with already called once. here's hoping Alan decides to sign on! he already said BLT is his choice due to the monorail/MK proximity and lower maintenance fees. totally NOT our style at all (we like very traditional, old world style- not contemporary at all), but yet the BLT model was very nice. we'll see. i'll keep my fingers crossed that we might be DVC owners sometime this year!!
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:32 AM   #28
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no problem- glad to help. You will have a blast next December, it is such an amazing time to go!!! Where are you staying?
We'll probably stay at the Poly again. We stayed there last May and are staying there this May as well--we fell in LOVE with the Poly!!
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:26 AM   #29
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thats cool...keep on pressuring him! LOL! I would like to do a tour...but I know my husband will never do it since he is a closet disney fan. i he likes it but hates crowds and people in general and would like different vacation places than one spot. I know you could use it for other places but who really does that? LOL! Maybe I need to convince my parents to come on the tour...LOL!! If they want to keep bringing the whole family every couple of years it might be beneficial to them. WE seem to keep growing in size! LOL!
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:43 AM   #30
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We'll probably stay at the Poly again. We stayed there last May and are staying there this May as well--we fell in LOVE with the Poly!!
so jealous. have never stayed there, although visited many times and eaten there many times. we will have to try it out sometime- gotta love the monorail access!

Quote:
Originally Posted by k_reile View Post
thats cool...keep on pressuring him! LOL! I would like to do a tour...but I know my husband will never do it since he is a closet disney fan. i he likes it but hates crowds and people in general and would like different vacation places than one spot. I know you could use it for other places but who really does that? LOL! Maybe I need to convince my parents to come on the tour...LOL!! If they want to keep bringing the whole family every couple of years it might be beneficial to them. WE seem to keep growing in size! LOL!
would he be more willing in order to get the incentive (like for us it was a $100 gift card)? DH is the one that actually recommended we do it, to say i was shocked, is an understatement. so towards the end of the trip, walking back in from the MK for a break, we stopped by the DVC desk in the WL and asked how long it would take for the tour. They got us a van right then and we went. i figured it was now or never. DH asked lots of financial questions, since he works in real estate on the finance side. We probably would not use it for other places, maybe to hit DL, but that is probably it and we might go only every other year and bank points to do a longer stay in a bigger room. ONce we looked, he was more interested. if you can get him in there, you might be surprised! We would defintiely love to be able to bring family or friends too, his family really can't afford to go, so it would be a way for him to take them. that might also help swing his vote. We will see!
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