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Old 12-31-2009, 01:52 AM   #1
Dug
Earning My Ears
 
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Twin Cities suburbs, MN
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We Dug Disney: So We're Going Back in Jan, '10! (Updated 1/9: Park priorities!)

Who needs more than four weeks to plan a trip?

Not us!

First things first.

Cast of characters:
  • Marc (that's me! aka Dug)
  • Rita (that's my wonderful wife! aka Dugette)
Homebase: Twin Cities suburbs
Show dates:
  • January 15-16: Arriving late and staying at the Fairfield near the airport
  • January 16-17: After breakfast, taking the Magical Express to the Poly
  • January 17-18: To the Wilderness Lodge we go!
  • January 18-25: A relaxing week at Port Orleans Riverside

Why staying at all these different locations? Well, that's what a pre-trip report is for, isn't it?

To begin at the beginning, my first trip to WDW was this past September. My wife had been to WDW several times before, growing up and after college, but before we met (we have been married four years now). I had been to Disneyland once as a kid and once about three years ago with Rita.

I have had the great fortune to travel to Europe a number of times, and when I think of traveling somewhere for a week, I love to imagine finding a way to get in another trip to Italy without breaking the bank. I enjoy going to a city, staying there and exploring the vicinity for at least a few days, and then moving on to a new location, with lots of visits to museums and broken, old things, like castles and ruins.

We haven't had the chance to do that since our honeymoon to Italy: instead, Rita has "tricked" me into learning to love going on a cruise in the Caribbean, and now she has me addicted to Disney.

I was going to be going to a conference in Galveston, TX this past September that ran from a Tuesday to Friday. Rita and I had taken our cruise from Galveston, so I knew it was a great place. If I was going to go somewhere for nearly a week, it only made sense to get some fun travel out of the trip. I logically looked into doing something in Texas, visiting Rita's relatives in Austin. However, the car rental fees were insane: $700 for a week! With something that expensive, I might as well do something really crazy, like... hey, honey, we could go to Disney!

I'm not sure which of us came up with the idea first, but we ended up flying down on the prior Wednesday, staying at Pop Century for five nights, and then on Monday, she flew back to the Twin Cities, while I continued on to Texas. It was a fantastic, whirlwind, commando-style strip. We came armed with our touring plans from the Unofficial Guide (ding!) and hours of advice from the WDWToday Podcast (thank you, Matt, Mike, Mike, Len, and sometimes Annette!). We did one park per day and clocked 37,000 steps on our Epcot day. My feet were sore, but I confess: I was hooked.

It was tough to pack everything we wanted to do in four and a half touring days, and so of course we dreamed, "Wouldn't it be neat to come back?" Somewhere around October, we thought, "Hey! We hate January in Minnesota!" (I hate it with a particular passion), maybe we should book ADR's at WDW, just in case we decide to go?

So we did.

We booked the following ADR's:
  • Monday, Jan. 18: Teppan Edo, 12:20 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 19: Kona Cafe, 10:50 a.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20: Tusker House, 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 21: Le Cellier, 8:05 p.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 22: Ohana, 5:15 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 24: Raglan Road, 8:15 p.m.

Again, just in case.

This December, we finished paying off all our debt outside our mortgage. We have a healthy savings and retirement plan, good emergency funds, and very thankfully, good jobs. We feel very blessed. Our budget has been tight, but manageable, since we've been married, and now that we've had more money freed up in our budget, we wanted to do something fun and special. In addition, a project we'd been working on had to be put on hold for a number of months, freeing up room in our budget.

So while it seemed wild, and slightly irresponsible, we decided that indeed we would go to Disney again in January! And what's crazier, we decided, why not do a year of Disney?

Yes, that's the really crazy part. We looked at the costs for a 10-day pass and the difference between that and the Annual Pass. As we were trying to decide what special, fun thing we would do this year, I had thought about going on a trip to Greece. And somehow, my wonderful wife convinced me that for the same price, we could go to Disney several times.

So our plan was to take a weeklong trip in January, with the potential to go back for Star Wars Weekends, Food & Wine, and Disney in December. To be honest, I almost feel bad dreaming and planning for that. So many families are having such a tough time right now, and I feel very lucky that we're doing pretty decent. It feels very spontaneous and extravagant to do this. But we also think about coworkers that somehow manage to have a cabin "up north," as they say here in Minnesota, and we thought, why couldn't we keep an eye out for good airfares and instead go to Disney several times this year?

So early December, we started looking very closely at availability. We were lucky to have a PIN offer for 40% off Deluxe, 35% off Moderates and 30% off Value Resorts. In September, we had gone on the Free Dining Plan offer, so having the PIN offer was a big factor in our deciding to go. We looked at the Buy 4, Get 3 offer, too. Availability this close in was very tight, however.

We particularly wanted to stay at Port Orleans, ideally the French Quarter. Pop was great, don't get me wrong. The transportation was very efficient. I'm a bigger guy, and I really needed for us to have a king bed in order to be comfortable, so even though I had told them several times about that request and called and checked up on it up until the day of departure, it still wasn't confirmed. In fact, when we showed up, they didn't initially give us a king, but after asking very nicely, they were able to switch us. Because this was going to be a longer stay, I didn't really want to deal with that. And also, we thought there would be more likelihood of spending some time at the resort, so being able to reserve a king at Port Orleans was very appealing.

(As a sidenote, it's very frustrating that Disney doesn't let you pay extra to reserve a king at the value resorts. It feels like one more extra tax on bigger guys like me. Paying an extra $10 a night is one thing. Being forced to upgrade to a moderate in order to reserve a king is quite another.)

As it turned out, we couldn't find a room for the full time we wanted to go at either Port Orleans resort. We needed to go that week, as Rita would have to work late for "year end" accounting the last week of January. She would get that Monday off (since she can't work overtime), and I would get the previous Monday off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. So 10 days for the price of five vacation days for the both of us. Quite a deal!

I ended up calling WDW Reservations, in the hopes that they could find a better combo than what I could find on the site. The cheapest option was the first two nights at Saratoga Springs and then 7 nights at Riverside. Rita has always wanted to stay at the Poly. It wasn't that much more than Saratoga Springs, but it was only available the first night. (Well, Club level was available the second night, but that was too rich for our blood.) The best option the second night was Wilderness Lodge: again, only a bit more than Saratoga Springs, and a lot more appealing to us. And since we were staying at the Poly the first night, we decided to come in the night before, to take full advantage of our time at the Poly.

So that's how we got our crazy quilt of nights.

We've added on a few more ADR's:
  • Saturday, January 16: Kona Cafe for dinner
  • Sunday, January, 17: Trails End for dinner
  • Saturday, January 23: Biergarten for dinner

We ran the numbers back and forth between getting Disney Dining Plan or Tables in Wonderland. It came out very close. On the day that I booked with WDW Reservations, I ended up going with the Disney Dining Plan. And now, we can't really change that without paying a change fee.

There are a few snags we've run into with the split stays. The tickets and dining plan are tied to the Riverside reservation. So on our first day, we'll need to go to Guest Services to get our park tickets. We may convert them to annual passes at that time, too, and we may still add on Tables in Wonderland, since we will likely be going back later this year, and they can be used on drinks and appetizers and the meals outside of the dining plan.

Also, we had booked Teppan Edo for lunch on the day Riverside begins. We had been thinking of doing Epcot early magic hours that day, but now we understand we'd have to do early magic hours, go to Riverside to check in to get our dining credits, then go back to Epcot for Teppan Edo, which is slightly crazy. Or get up way early to go to Riverside first, then Epcot, which is somewhat crazier. So those dining reservations may need to change.

We can write up our day-by-day thoughts in future posts. This is already way too long. This is my first post, and I tend to write much more than necessary (the curse of being a double English major). Rita says nobody will read this if there are no pictures, but if you've gotten this far, obviously you did! So, ha!
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Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century (View PTR, "The Year of Disney is Over...But We're Going Back Anyway!")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! (View TR, "How the Other Half Lives") In Progress!
Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug

Last edited by Dug; 01-09-2010 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 12-31-2009, 01:07 PM   #2
Dug
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Our plans for day one: The Poly

We will be arriving quite late (around 11 p.m.) on Friday, Jan. 15, which is why we're staying at the Fairfield Inn near the airport . A place to get some rest before our big adventure begins.

Because we booked so late, it was tricky finding direct flights. The late flight out of the Twin Cities on the 15th was the best option. Otherwise, we would arrive in the early evening of the 16th, and we wanted to make sure we had time to enjoy the Poly on the 16th: a 5 p.m. arrival time wouldn’t give us much time to do that.

The morning of the 16th, we will have a hot breakfast at the Fairfield (complimentary, woohoo!), then take the shuttle back to the airport for the Magical Express to the Poly. Our guess is that we’ll arrive somewhere around mid-morning.

First things first: check-in. We’ll do online check-in, so hopefully it should go quickly. Our rooms probably won’t be available yet, but that’s fine.
We’ll probably walk around the grounds for a bit. If the weather’s nice, the pool might be a possibility, though I think we’d probably want to wait until we have our room and luggage. Our plan for lunch is to grab a Dole Whip and sandwich from Captain Cook’s.

Since our tickets are attached to our Riverside reservation, we will need to go to guest services in order to get into a park. We’ve heard our best bet is guest services at the Magic Kingdom. So either the monorail or ferry to MK, get our tickets, and potentially convert them to annual passes and buy a tables in wonderland card. We have the standard dining plan on the Riverside reservation, so I’m not sure if switching to annual passes will mess that up, but if it does, that’s ok: it was very close between what was a better deal, the DDP or the TIW.

After that, we’re going to head over to Epcot for a few hours. Test Track is down for repairs that day, so we will probably grab a fastpass for either Mission Space or Soarin’, depending on availability and return times. I’d like to spend some time exploring Innoventions, as we didn’t get a chance to do that last time. Potentially another Future World ride or two, if time allows. We’ll be taking it pretty easy.

In the late afternoon, we’ll head back. We have 6:05 p.m. reservations for Kona Café. After dinner, we’re going to head out to the beach to get a spot to watch Wishes. I understand there’s sometimes a tiki torch lighting ceremony around 6:30, but we’ll probably miss that unless we can move our dinner reservations back a bit. Wishes is at 8, and we’re going to stick around to watch the electric water pageant floats as they come by. There’s a Spectromagic at 9:30 p.m., and Magic Kingdom doesn’t close until 11, so we could swing over there, potentially, or we could hang out at the Poly some more. Maybe grab a late night swim.

No matter what, it should be a great first day!

It’s frickin’ freezin’ outside right now, so I just can’t wait to turn the outside thermostat up by 60 degrees or so… only 15 days to go!
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Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century (View PTR, "The Year of Disney is Over...But We're Going Back Anyway!")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! (View TR, "How the Other Half Lives") In Progress!
Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 12-31-2009, 05:55 PM   #3
Dug
Earning My Ears
 
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Day Two: Polynesia and the Wilderness

On day two, Sunday, January 17, we'll be moving from the Poly to the Wilderness Lodge. Our general plan is to have some relaxation at both the Poly and the Wilderness, mixed with some fun times at the Magic Kingdom.

MK opens at 9 a.m. and will be staying open till 1 a.m.! We don’t intend to be there the whole day. We may hang out at the Poly a bit in the morning, maybe go for a swim. Since we have several chances to go to MK during our trip, I don’t know that we need to be there for park open.

We do plan to be there in time for lunch, where we plan to eat at the Village Haus. Figaro fries and Mediterranean salad, here we come!

Some time around early to mid-afternoon we plan to take the ferry over to Wilderness Lodge to check in. Tour the grounds, take a nap, take a swim, etc. Then, we’ll walk over to Fort Wilderness to go to Trail’s End for dinner. I don’t think we’ve made reservations there yet, but there are still open slots.

We may take a peek around Fort Wilderness while there. Part of the goal of this trip is to serve as a scouting mission, so that in the future, when we have a larger family, we’ll have a better first-hand understanding of what the different places are like.

After a dinner, we’ll take a boat to the Magic Kingdom for evening magic hours. It’s open till 1 a.m. Will we stay there till the end? Probably not, if only to avoid the massive crowds on park close. We had some real doozies during our September trip. I don’t think quite as many people will be there till 1 a.m., but you never know. The crowd calendar at touringplans.com has that day pegged as an 8, so it’s sure to be a busy one.

Wishes is at 8, and Spectromagic is at 7 and 9. We haven’t watched Wishes or Spectromagic in their entirety, so maybe we’ll do so that night. (Last time we saw Wishes from the California Grill and Big Thunder Mountain and Spectromagic from Splash Mountain: a fun way to view those!).

When we’re done, we’ll take the ferry back to Wilderness Lodge for what is hopefully a very restful night, particularly since the following day may prove to be one of the most challenging logistically.
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Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century (View PTR, "The Year of Disney is Over...But We're Going Back Anyway!")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! (View TR, "How the Other Half Lives") In Progress!
Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-01-2010, 03:15 PM   #4
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Day 3: 1/18, WL to POR (need help!)

Day three, Monday, January 18, will probably be our trickiest day, logistically.

We will need to check out of Wilderness Lodge that day and check in to Riverside. Right now, we have an ADR for Teppan Edo at 12:20 p.m., and therein lies the challenge. We have the Disney Dining Plan for our last seven days of our trip, and we were hoping to use one of our table service credits for Teppan Edo. In order to do so, however, we need to first check in at Riverside. We had been thinking of doing early magic hours at Epcot that day, and thus the problem.

It would be nice if Guest Services at Epcot could activate our dining credits, without our having to go to Riverside first, but our understanding is that this is not possible. So if we wanted to do early magic hours at Epcot, and keep our ADR at Teppan Edo, we could only stay at Epcot for 2 hours or so, then head to Riverside to check in, then come back to Epcot for Teppan Edo. That seems really inefficient to me. The other option is to check out of Wilderness Lodge really, really early in the morning, go to Riverside to check in (probably with a taxi, for $15-20 or so), then head to Epcot in time for early magic hours. I don’t know that we want to get up that early, particularly if we end up staying late at Magic Kingdom that night, since it’s staying open till 1 a.m.

Before we discovered this dining plan hangup, we had planned to do Early Magic Hours to do Mission Space and Soarin’ (Test Track may still be down for maintenance that day) and other Future World attractions, then do Teppan Edo, then walk through Boardwalk to Hollywood Studios, where we would hang out in the afternoon, do some of the shows and attractions as time allows, catch some of the street shows, grab dinner at Studios Catering Company and then head out when Hollywood Studios closes at 7.

It seemed like a nice plan, but now I’m flummoxed. We could move Teppan Edo to a late afternoon seating (which are still available). That would throw out, to some extent, going to Hollywood Studios afterwards. I suppose we could go to Hollywood Studios in the morning, then go to Riverside, then go to Epcot for late afternoon Teppan Edo, then stick around at Epcot till it closes at 9.

Or we could skip early magic hours, have an easy morning at Wilderness Lodge, then go to Riverside to check in, then go to Epcot for Teppan Edo for lunch, and potentially still go to the Studios in the afternoon.

Or, we could stick to the original plan, use our annual pass discount (TIW doesn't work there) at Teppan Edo, and wait to check in to Riverside till after our visit to the Studios. That would cost us more, but we could use the table service credits later, maybe.

An easy morning at Wilderness Lodge sounds nice, but I’m not sure. Really torn on this one. Could use some advice or suggestions.
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Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century (View PTR, "The Year of Disney is Over...But We're Going Back Anyway!")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! (View TR, "How the Other Half Lives") In Progress!
Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-01-2010, 07:44 PM   #5
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Dugette's Thoughts

Hi, Dug. Dugette finally has time to check in on our trip report!

Just wanted to add some general thoughts. We just went to Disney World in September 2009, but it was a quick, whirlwind trip and there are so many things I’m excited to do this time around. Because we were armed with touring plans and went commando-style last time, we did all the attractions on our list, but there are so many other things we didn’t get to do in our 4 ½ Disney days. Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to doing on our upcoming trip:
  • Exploring some of the resorts. Last trip, we stayed at Pop Century and had looked forward to checking out the whimsical theming during the late evening or something. However, we were in the parks late every night and ready to crash when we returned. I think all we actually got a good look at was the giant Lady near our room. And we could see whatever pool is near there. So, this time we’re looking forward to exploring three different resorts. We’re actually planning some down time to explore, swim, etc. I’m excited to take things at a slightly more relaxed pace.

  • On that same note, we did minimal exploration of World Showcase and I’m really looking forward to taking in some of the atmosphere in the different countries this time.

  • We did not go to Downtown Disney previously and I’d like to take the boat over from Port Orleans and check out some of the cool things over there (World of Disney, Goofy’s Candy Company, etc.)

  • We also didn’t go to Innoventions last time (except to cut through it), so Marc is especially looking forward to checking that stuff out.

  • Last trip, parades and fireworks were not a priority to us. We saw Wishes from our window seat at the CA Grill once and from Big Thunder another time. We saw Spectro from Splash Mountain. We saw Illuminations while balancing on a pillar footing (hugging the pillar) in Italy. All those were cool, but we’re thinking we’d like to actually take some time to see some of these properly this time. One thing we have planned is to watch Wishes from the Poly Beach. Looking forward to that evening!

  • Because we were running from attraction to attraction last time, we didn’t have a chance to check out the little “Disney magic” touches. The sword in the stone, the details of Main Street, the Walt/Mickey statue, etc. We want to take that sort of thing in a bit more. We even received the Hidden Mickeys book and the Hidden Magic book for Christmas.

  • There were some attractions that were closed in September that we’re looking forward to now: Space Mountain, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth (went on it, but our pictures did not show up in the animation at the end), and the fort on Tom Sawyer Island (the fort was closed).

  • A big thing we’re looking forward to is the food! We were on free dining last time and definitely took advantage of it, but there are a lot more places/items that we are looking forward to. Thanks to all the yummy pictures on these boards! You may be able to tell that we’ve already planned out many of our exact orders from different locations. And our snacks. And, if course, we are looking forward to another Dole Whip or two. ☺
Well, that’s it for now. Two weeks and we leave work and go straight to the airport! Yea!
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Nov. 7-16, 2014: Aulani ("Happy in Hawaii") TR In Progress! | Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2014: Pop Century ("I Like Warm Hugs!") TR In Progress! | June 10-13, 2014: Offsite
Dec. 7-14, 2013: Polynesian ("Bear Hugs & Piggy Kisses - Baby's First Trip") TR Complete! | Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century ("Poor Unfortunate Souls: So Wet, So Full")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! ("How the Other Half Lives") | Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV ("100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu ("The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip") | June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL ("Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR ("The Magic and The Misery") | Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century ("The Prequel") | March 10-17, 1990: Offsite ("A Disney Walk Back in Time...on Four Paws")

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Old 01-01-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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I made it through the whole post without pics!!




I'm so jealous of all the resort hopping !!! I would love to do that but would never attempt it with two kiddos!!

My vote on the Teppan Edo dilemma is maybe for a mid afternoon 2-ish lunch ressie. It'll give you time to get over to Riverside, get checked in, still get some rides in before lunch and still have the option of hitting DHS in the evening.

I've been tweaking several ADR times lately and it gives me hope that maybe it won't be super crowded MLK weekend, with all the availabilty left.

I am in Austin, TX but don't think we're related ! I bet it's quite a bit different than the Twin Cities!! BRRRR!!! Our coldest temp we've hit this winter has been 31!

Florida's forecast for the days we're gonna be there is actually COOLER than Texas'. Bizarre.

Your plans look great so far! Can't wait to see what else you guys have in the works!

Oh, and Dug- I have a picture of my Doxle puppy in the Cone of Shame over on my PTR!
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:05 PM   #7
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Teppan Edo Musings

I checked, and a 2 p.m. reservation is available at Teppan Edo, so that is definitely a possibility. As you said, the availability of reservations this close in is a good sign that maybe we won't be too swamped.

Dugette was leaning towards maybe just having an easy morning at Wilderness Lodge in the morning, so we'll see. I think we'll have to look in terms of the big picture of how much time we are spending in each park, and make decisions based on that.

It was apparently -25 in Minnesota this morning. We're in Kansas right now, where it's in the single digits, not quite that bad. Either way, the high 60s they're predicting for the day we arrive sounds mighty nice.

Dugette's aunt and uncle live in Austin. Her aunt does Creative Memories, so I wonder if you've ever run into each other!
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Oct. 5-12, 2011: Pop Century (View PTR, "The Year of Disney is Over...But We're Going Back Anyway!")
Dec. 10-19, 2010: Poly Club! (View TR, "How the Other Half Lives") In Progress!
Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gellybean View Post
I made it through the whole post without pics!!




I'm so jealous of all the resort hopping !!! I would love to do that but would never attempt it with two kiddos!!

My vote on the Teppan Edo dilemma is maybe for a mid afternoon 2-ish lunch ressie. It'll give you time to get over to Riverside, get checked in, still get some rides in before lunch and still have the option of hitting DHS in the evening.

I've been tweaking several ADR times lately and it gives me hope that maybe it won't be super crowded MLK weekend, with all the availabilty left.

I am in Austin, TX but don't think we're related ! I bet it's quite a bit different than the Twin Cities!! BRRRR!!! Our coldest temp we've hit this winter has been 31!

Florida's forecast for the days we're gonna be there is actually COOLER than Texas'. Bizarre.

Your plans look great so far! Can't wait to see what else you guys have in the works!

Oh, and Dug- I have a picture of my Doxle puppy in the Cone of Shame over on my PTR!
Hi, Gellybean! Nice to hear from you...coincidentally, I'd actually been reading (and enjoying) your PTR over lunch at work last week. Hadn't finished it until last night, though, so I'll try to leave you some comments over there.

Yes, I can imagine resort-hopping with two little ones would be challenging! It's probably going to be a bit difficult just for the two of us, but we are excited about it. We have the three resorts due to lack of POR availability for our whole stay and were told (after booking) that they were able to make us a "special offer" to stay at POR the whole time in the same room. But we had gotten so excited about our impending visits to the Poly and WL that we declined. Don't know if we'll have a chance to stay at such nice places again, so might as well take advantage of a 40% off pin during a lower-rate season while we can!

I doubt we are related as my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Austin are transplants They lived in Iowa until about 17 years or so ago, I think. Now my aunt has a Texas accent. We've visited a few times...yummy BBQ down there!

Oh, and cute "cone of shame" on your pup!
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Old 01-03-2010, 09:55 AM   #9
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Day 4: 1/19 (4 parks, 1 day, NP!)

Day four, Tuesday, January 19, we’re going to try something a bit offbeat. We are big fans of the WDW Today podcast, and a couple of their episodes gave us an idea.

One of the things we’re eager to try is breakfast at Kona Café: particularly their famed Tonga Toast. Animal Kingdom has early magic hours that day, so our thought was to discover some early magic, such as Everest, Safari and Dinosaur, then head out a bit before 10 to our 10:50 a.m. ADR at Kona. I swore off caffeine a couple years ago (and I used to literally live in a coffee house, so that was a big deal), but I think I’m going to make an exception to have some of their Kona Coffee while there.

So we thought, what to do after Kona? Well, we’re right next to Magic Kingdom, why not take the monorail or ferry over there? And so we shall. But do we stay there the rest of the day? We’ll be going to MK a number of times on the trip. What are the other park hours that day? MK closes at 8, Epcot at 9, Hollywood Studios… has extra magic hours till 10.

Hmm. Sure we could take a bus over to the Studios from MK. But you can also walk there from the Boardwalk, and one of things on Dugette’s to-do list is a No Way Jose from Beaches and Cream. And to get to Boardwalk, one can pass through the International Gateway, from Epcot.

And thus began our idea for doing all four parks in one day.

I know, it sounds a bit crazy at first, but it sounded like it worked out pretty well on the podcast, and we have fourteen hours to accomplish this feat.

We already said what we’ll be doing in AK. In MK, we’ll be doing whatever’s not going to hold us up too much. PoC is usually a good bet for that. HM is usually not too bad. JC is usually not too bad with a fastpass. So there are definitely some good options of things to do within 2-3 hours.

As for Epcot, we will probably take a nice stroll through World Showcase, taking time to enjoy the details and watch some street shows, perhaps do Grand Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom and some movies. We will probably grab dinner there. I have a hankering for fish and chips. Dugette does not like seafood, so she may grab something else along the way.

Then at Hollywood Studios, it will depend on lines and crowds. Fastpasses may well be gone by that time of day, but some of the minor attractions may be fine. Really, whatever is not a long wait.

It will probably be a long day, but it actually sounds relaxing to us, as we are just going to go with the flow and not worry too much about a checklist.

Coming up: to sleep, perchance to Disney Studios. Plus, Tusker House and Nemo.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:12 PM   #10
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Day 5: 1/20 (Mostly Animal Kingdom)

Our fifth day, Wednesday, January 20, we will be spending the afternoon and evening at Animal Kingdom, as there are evening magic hours till 8 p.m.

We have lunch reservations at Tusker House, at 1:30 p.m., which gets us reservations to see Nemo at 3:15 p.m. I’m surprised that the Unofficial Guide rates Tusker House so poorly. The WDW Today Podcasters seem to have changed their opinion and now like it. The menu looks to sort of be Boma Lite.

In the evening magic hours, not all of the attractions are open. The thing we will probably for sure try to do are Dinosaur, Festival of the Lion King, Everest and Kali, as the last thing of the day (maybe, if the weather is nice). We had also had on our wish list to go out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and walk the Pangani and Maharajah Trails. I don’t know that there will be time to do those between Nemo and when evening magic hours start, though. I think those might shut down during the evening hours.

Why not do those before lunch? Well, we had thought of two other options for the morning. Either going to the Studios to do some of the headliners (we could probably only stay until 11-11:30 or so, and they open at nine), or we could just have an easy morning at Port Orleans Riverside.

Either way, we will head back to Riverside in the evening for dinner at the Riverside Mill to have the Create Your Own Pasta, which we’ve heard is good. I’ve been thinking it would be fun to do a carriage ride while we are at Riverside. Maybe this would be the night for it. Or head over to the lounge to listen to the musical stylings of Yeehaw Bob.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Critty witticisms?
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"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-03-2010, 02:39 PM   #11
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I'm in awe!

The four parks in one day plan is genius. I am so jealous. That would be a dream day for me! I think it's a great idea if you can pull it off and if not, meh what have you lost?

So kuddos on coming up with that day!!

We'll be flying home on the day y'all are attempting it! It'll be hard waiting to read the TR to see if y'all managed to make it to all 4 parks in one day! BUT I'll manage, somehow.

AK plans look great too. I haven't eaten at Tusker House either, but have read some great reviews and some less than favorable reviews. I've read that it was similar to Boma and nothing like Boma. So ya never know. For the priority seating at Nemo alone, it sounds worth it. We haven't done Nemo yet either. If we end up at AK this trip, it's on our goal list.

Plans are lookin' fab!! Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:45 PM   #12
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Day 6, 1/21: Early Magic MK and Epcot

Time for day six, Thursday, January 21!

We are on a long drive back from Kansas, so I am writing a new entry while Dugette drives. Then, when we get to an Iowa rest stop, this will get uploaded, thanks to free wifi at Iowa rest stops. (As much as we Minnesotans make fun of Iowa, they do a good job with their rest stops, that’s for sure.) I’m also reading about the Hidden Magic of Disney World. Really good book. We’re looking forward to having the time to look for these little Imagineering details. I just read a short little book about Imagineering in the Magic Kingdom, too. I might pick up the ones for the other parks before the trip. We’ll see!

So, Thursday’s magic will begin, appropriately, with early magic hours, at the Magic Kingdom, from 8-9. Now is a perfect moment to note that yes, we’re taking advantage of a lot of early magic hours and evening magic hours. Yes, we know many resources recommend against this, that the extra crowds outweigh the early hours. All we can say is that on our trip last September, we did extra magic hours and had a lot of success with them. The parks were not swamped during that time of year, even though there was free dining. We’re hoping we’ll have similar luck on this trip, even though there is Buy 4, Get 3, and we are starting on MLK weekend. Early Magic at MK was particularly successful. We walked on to Pooh, Peter Pan, Small World, Haunted Mansion and generally didn’t have to wait for more than five minutes on any ride. It was great.

We’re hoping to duplicate that success on this day. In general, as much as we’re going to enjoy soaking in the details, that probably won’t be true for our early hour arrivals, when we will still likely do some commando touring to beat the biggest bottlenecks, then settle back for some easier touring the rest of the day.

We’re also very aware that we have some serious advantages doing couple’s touring right now. We get to do what we want, when we want it, without many external constraints. When we have kids, we will of course bring them to Disney, and we know that on those trips, this won’t be the case. Our goals on those trips will be to create the most magical moments we can for our imaginary future children. That will be our magic: watching their eyes light up. But this is our chance to experience our magic, and do the things we won’t be able to do in the future.

</deep_thought>

After we get done with our early magic touring, we’ll hop onto the monorail and go to Epcot. The crowd calendar shows it should be a good day there: no extra magic hours there and Studios has a double dose of Fantasmic, which should draw away crowds.

We will have lunch at Sunshine Seasons. I don’t know what it is about that place, but the smell from there is absolutely intoxicating. On our Epcot day, we ended up eating counter service in Morocco, which was good, but I still have smell-visions of Sunshine Seasons dancing in my head. Really looking forward to that one.

We’ll have had several chances to explore Epcot before this, so this will be another good chance to take it easy and enjoy the details, probably spending most of our time in World Showcase. Perhaps we’ll do some Kim Possible adventures. We did the France Kim Possible on our last trip and found it pretty enjoyable. It’s a nice way to discover some details you wouldn’t otherwise find.

We may have a snack at the Boulangerie Patisserie, but we won’t eat too much, because our dinner that night is one that we are most looking forward to: Le Cellier.

We have heard so many awesome things about Le Cellier and are really geeked about eating there. We had booked our ADR’s in October before we actually booked our trip, and I secretly suspect that our getting Le Cellier reservations may have played a factor in why we actually ended up booking the trip.

Mmmmmm… cheese soup.

Mmmmmm… steak.

Mmmmmm… maple crème brulee.

Our ADR is at 8:05 p.m., so we probably won’t get done in time to get a good spot to watch Illuminations, but that’s fine. Epcot closes at 9, so the Post-Illuminations Exodus will probably be taking place when we finish dinner. A perfect chance for us to stroll around the World while everyone is heading for the doors.

Should be a long, but very enjoyable, day.
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"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:54 PM   #13
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Okay, so day seven, Friday, January 22.

Another two-park day. No early magic hours today. We’ll be headed over to Magic Kingdom. Probably some commando touring straight out of the gate, followed by a lot of relaxed looking-out for Disney magic.

For lunch, we are going to perhaps our favorite counter service, Pecos Bill’s. Who can turn down such a tasty fixin’s bar?

We will be having dinner at Ohana at 5:15 p.m. Dugette had written down that we might have a snack at Casey’s Corner, the corn dog nuggets. Not sure we’ll want to ruin our dinner with that, but maybe if we have an early lunch at Pecos Bill’s, we’ll be fine.

Afterwards, we’ll head over to Epcot for evening magic hours. Test Track at night is particularly fun. I think this will probably be our night to watch Illuminations. We should be able to get there just in time to get a good spot for Illuminations. Since we’re having a pretty early dinner, if we get hungry later, I’d love to grab a snack at the San Angel Inn. Maybe some nachos and a margarita or something like that.

We don’t really have any afternoon breaks scheduled right now, where we go back to the hotel for a nap. This could be a day for that, in theory.

We’ll be playing it by ear, by mouse ears, that is!
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Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
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"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:13 AM   #14
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Day 8: 1/23 (Studios and Biergarten)

Day Eight! Saturday, January 23.

Today is our biggest day to visit Hollywood Studios. They have early magic hours this day, and we had good success last fall in getting to do Toy Story Midway Mania twice due to early magic hours. The big push would be to do that as well Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror early.

Fantasmic is showing at the Studios that night, so my guess is it will probably be pretty busy. It’s probably not the wisest day for us to be at the Studios. And yet that’s what our plan is. We’ll see.

Other things we’ll want to see while there include the Walt Disney exhibit (which we only partially saw last time) and Indiana Jones (we missed the first few minutes). As time allows, the Great Movie Ride, Backlot Tour, Little Mermaid, Muppets, Animation Studio, American Idol and Star Tours. If Sounds Dangerous is open, we’d check it out. I’m really hoping to get to watch some of the street shows while we’re there, too.

The Studios close at 7, and we plan to head out of there a bit before then to get over to World Showcase for dinner at Biergarten.

Hope we’re not being crazy with doing these extra magic hours.
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Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
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"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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Old 01-05-2010, 07:24 AM   #15
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Day 9: 1/24 (Typhoon Lagoon & Downtown Disney)

Day Nine! Sunday, January 24.

This day is very weather-dependent. We thought it might be fun, as long as time and weather allows, to check out one of the water parks. It’s not our highest priority, as we live close to Wisconsin Dells, which has all the water parks you can dream of, but this is a Disney water park, so I’m sure it’s worth doing. Blizzard Beach is down for maintenance (bummer, as that would be funny to go to in the winter), but Typhoon Lagoon should be open. If the weather’s warm enough, that should be nice. We’re Minnesotans, so it doesn’t take much to make it feel warm. We thought it was hilarious when Florida was getting weather advisories last week to watch out for wind chills…. of 20! Ha! That feels warm to us. It was -25, before wind chill, last weekend. Thankfully we were in Kansas for the worst of that cold snap.

I haven’t read up much on Typhoon Lagoon yet to figure out what the top things to do are. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to share. I assume we will get wet. And maybe enjoy a lazy river. And some waterslides.

We’ll head back to the hotel to change and such afterwards, then take a boat to Downtown Disney, where we’ll grab a late lunch at Earl of Sandwich. Then we’ll explore the scattered remains of Downtown Disney. It sounds like a lot of things have closed there. Luckily, Goofy’s Candy Company has not. Our dinner is at Raglan Road, at 8:15 p.m. I have a wee bit of Irish in me, so I’m looking forward to that, particularly the entertainment.

If the weather is bad, I suppose we could go to Disney Quest instead. It’s not on the top of my priority list, but it might be worth checking out.
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Nov. 10-14, 2010: Pop/BCV (View TR, "100 Eats & Drinks in 3.5 Days!")
Aug. 20-22, 2010: ASMu (View TR, "The Last-Minute Super-Bargain Bonus Trip")
June 3-7, 2010: Pop/AKL (View TR, "Star Wars Nightastically Delicious!")
Jan. 16-25, 2010: Poly/WL/POR (View TR, "The Magic and The Misery")
Sept. 9-14, 2009: Pop Century (View TR, "The Prequel")

"Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, 'I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.' Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead."--Dug
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