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Old 06-24-2010, 11:36 AM   #1
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9 Days of Princess Hair - a June 2010 trip report - update 9/24 the drive home

I am excited to be writing my trip report!! We just returned from WDW on Monday night and had a GREAT time! So, here is the cast (be prepared, it is long.)

Me, Karen, 36: This was my 11th trip to WDW. However, it was my first trip being the planner. If you want to read about all of my planning for this trip, there is a link to my PTR in my signature. My riding philosophy is “I only ride things that go slower than I can walk”. Luckily, that means there are lots of things at WDW for me! By profession, I am a scientist which means that my writing style is matter-of-fact and I include every imaginable detail.

DH, 38: Has been to WDW more times than he can count. He loves the Space Mountain and will generally ride anything but the teacups. He rolls his eyes at my obsessive need to plan things, but by the end of the trip was sold on the value of a good touring plan.

DD, 6: This was her 5th trip to WDW. She has unbounded energy. She walked our entire trip and never once complained or asked for a stroller (and on a couple of days we logged 7 miles!) She was excited to ride Splash and Thunder Mountain for the first time this trip. She loves Sleeping Beauty and everything pink, but would rather climb a tree than play with a doll.

DD, 4: This was her 4th trip to WDW. She is the consummate princess. She could care less about riding anything and was totally focused on getting her "princess hair" at BBB. She loves Snow White and everything purple and is the ultimate little princess.

DS, 1: This was his 2nd trip to WDW. He is a sweet little guy who will generally go along with anything. He likes Mickey, Buzz, and Mulan and balls and sticks.

MIL: Is usually our trip planner. I think it was a little tough for her to let me take the lead. Especially since my style was so different. She did all of our running for fastpasses and did a REALLY great job!

FIL: Pretty much does his own thing and is great to have around because he is always willing to entertain DS if we are riding things he can't.

DN1, 12: Also along on this trip were our two nephews. They are the sons of my DH's only brother. They were excited to ride all of the thrill rides, but happy to join us on other things as well. DN1 became DD6's buddy on this trip. She tends to pick one person to latch onto at all times and he was the lucky one. He was a really good sport about it and they had a great time together.

DN2, 10: The other nephew who is higher energy. He wanted to be DD4's buddy, but she is a loner. He can be really silly and was great fun to have along.

DC and 3 kiddos: Also joining us for a few days were DH's cousin and her 3 kids - a boy age 11, a girl age 9, and a boy age 5. They are FL residents with APs and go to WDW at least 5 times a year. Given that, I was really happy with their flexibility to go along with our plans.

Here is a photo of most of us: (DC and her kids hadn't joined us yet and FIL was taking the picture)

Last edited by ksl5f123; 09-24-2010 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 06-24-2010, 11:48 AM   #2
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subbing! Can't wait to hear all about it!
So far...2 trips to Disneyland, 12 trips to WDW!

Hoping to take a trip this year, but also contemplating buying DVC, which would involve skipping this year and using that money for the downpayment. We'll see where the year takes us.

Me- DH- DS (5)- DD (2.5)
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:43 PM   #4
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I'm excited to hear about the rest of the trip. We are going in December for the very first time and one daughter is turning 5 while we are there and the other will be one right before hand so I'm very interested in your report!!
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Old 06-25-2010, 12:12 PM   #5
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Lexmax, TinksThree, and Annegirl!!! It is wonderful to have you reading along!!!
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Old 06-25-2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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Driving Day 1

When I left off in my PTR, it was the night before our departure. We had just learned via facebook that DC and her kids would be joining us “some of the time”. At this point, we had no idea which or how many days. I was pretty stressed out, because I had worked really hard getting our ADRs and I just couldn't imagine it being easy to go from tables for 9 to 13. I also couldn't imagine herding (herding really was the image in my head – like circling the group prodding them onward) 13 people through a park in any reasonable manner.

I was glad that DH already had the car packed as I was to stressed/excited to get more than about 3 hours of sleep. When we did wake up, we packed the cooler, turned off the water, and left at 7:16 AM (only 16 minutes after our target time)! Of course, we did forget one thing on our way out – I meant to turn off the air conditioner. Oh well.

At about 8:30, DH got a call from MIL letting us know that DC would be joining us (she didn't know we had already learned this from facebook). She informed us that she would be with us from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning. Would this be OK? We said – give us a couple of minutes and we would call you back. Here were our plans for those days:
Thursday: DTD in the AM and AK in the PM with 1900 Park Faire at 7:25 PM
Friday: Seaworld
Saturday: MK all day with Crystal Palace at 11:35.

Obviously, this would not work. We knew that DC would not want to go to Seaworld so we would have to scrap that plan. In a prior incarnation of our plan, we were going to do Epcot FW that morning and save Seaworld for after we left WDW. We agreed that we would go back to that plan. With a little , I had never actually cancelled our Epcot ADRs for Friday which had the girls going to Biergarten and the boys to Marrakesh. I knew that DC would have no problems joining us for either of those ADRs (those restaurants often have availablitily, especially in the afternoon). We also had a backup ADR at Park Fare for the next Tuesday in case we didn't want to stay out that late Thursday night. So, we called MIL back and told her everything would be fine.

We made it to Memphis, TN before we needed our first break. We stopped there at 9:38 AM for gas and a potty stop. Our next stop was at a Chick-fil-a in Tupelo, MS for lunch at 12:24 PM. I have to say that I am not quite sure why we ate at a Chick-fil-a. The girls and I love their food, but DH is a pescatarian (mostly vegetarian who occasionally eats fish) – and he picked the restaurant!

When we do big driving trips, we like to be on the road for 10 hours a day. We find that after that our kids start to go completely bonkers! We planned to stop in either Birmingham or Montgomery, AL depending on how well we were doing. However, our last big driving trip had been when DD4 was still potty training and we needed a LOT more stops than we do now. So, we didn't figure on making as quick of progress as we did. We were in Birmingham by 2:30 PM and Montgomery by 4 PM. We decided this was too early to stop and we pushed on to Dothan, AL.

We arrived in Dothan at about 6 PM which meant we were on the road for 11 hours – one hour too long – the kids were crazy that last hour! Anyway, we stayed at a beautiful Hilton Garden Inn for $99. It was more than I was planning to pay, but any amount to get out of the car sounded good at this point! We had supper at a local Chili's and went straight to bed at about 9 PM.

Those who read my PTR know we are the type who allow our kids to watch movies in the car on big trips. We had been struggling to figure out how to deal with 3 kids and 2 tv screens. About 2 weeks before our trip I found a sale at JCPenney for a 7” satellite TV. It said that it could not be used in motion, but I think that just means it can't get a signal while in motion, because it worked fine with the AV inputs. Of course, our minivan looked like a tangle of cords. We had DD6 in the 3rd row with the screen that had the DVD player in it which was connected to it's original 2nd screen which we put on the chair behind the driver for our rear-facing DS1. From there we bought 3 AV splitter cables to run to the new screen which was held to the passenger headrest by rubber bands for DD4. This worked great except that occasionally DS1 would kick or pull on the cables and unplug the entire system!

Up next, where will we end up on Day 2?
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:30 PM   #7
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Driving Day 2

We started out Day 2 by having breakfast in the hotel. It was not included, but it wasn't expensive either. We spent $18.74 for the 5 of us to eat. We were checked out and on the road at 8:16 AM.

Now, there was one more big disadvantage to driving farther than we had planned. We are a Catholic family and I had lists of and directions to all the churches in Birmingham and Montgomery, but nothing for Dothan. When we checked in to the hotel, they gave us directions to the one Catholic church in Dothan, but it only had ONE Mass and that was at 10 AM. This would mean a significant delay to our departure.

Luckily, the hotel had internet access available in the business center so we were able to do to one of our favorite websites (masstimes.org) which gives the location and time for every Catholic church in the country (and many other countries). We found a church in Marianna, FL that had a 9 AM Mass. Marianna is only about 30 miles from Dothan so we thought our 8:16 departure would get us there in plenty of time.

Little did we know that driving through Dothan on 231 would require stopping at dozens of stoplights. No offense to anyone from Dothan, but all those lights are really unnecessary at 8 AM on a Sunday morning. Anyway, we made it to the Florida state line by 8:41 AM and after a wrong turn or two arrived at the church at 8:58 AM.

The Catholic Church in Marianna is a really cute little traditional white church. I think the entire thing might have fit in our living room. Unfortunately, DS1 was not in the mood to be quiet this day and every little sound he made could be heard by the entire church. So, DH and I took turns standing outside with him trying to listen through the church doors. We really enjoyed going to church here. The priest was wonderful and gave one of the most inspiring homilies I have heard in a while. Highly recommended if you need a place to stop.

We left the church at about 10:25 AM and entered the Eastern time zone at 11:03 (making it suddenly 12:03). At 12:40, we stopped for lunch at a McDonalds in Tallahassee. We had planned to stop this night in Gainesville, but we were there by 3 PM. So we got some gas and continuted on to Orlando. The directions I had from googlemaps had us take the FL turnpike to FL-429 to CR-535. If you follow 535, it becomes Apopka Vineland Rd. When we turned on this road, we saw the Country Inn and Suites quickly on our right. We stopped there at 5 PM and learned they had availablitily. We paid $80 including tax. We enjoyed the pool and had supper across the street at the Macaroni Grill. We were in bed by 8 PM.

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Old 06-27-2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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budget items

OK, this installment is pretty much for my own amusement. I had mentioned in our PTR that our budget for this trip was $4000. I want to show you how we did. First, the cost of our package was $3465 which included our room (with a 35% off pin code), our park tickets (with hoppers and the waterparks), and the regular dining plan. Since MIL and FIL were paying for the nephews' trip, they gave us $800 to pay for our kids (equity is REALLY important to them). So, our OOP cost for the package was $2665. The money we had available to spend while on the trip then was $1335. Here were our expenses for the first day:
Gas = $65
Meals = $62
Hotel = $108
And the 2nd Day:
Gas = $39
Meals = $84
Hotel = $80
Tolls = $3
Money available after 2 travel days = $892. Alright, back to the interesting stuff.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:33 PM   #9
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Arrival Day - Part 1

If you recall, our original plan had us staying Sunday night in Gainesville. We would then have had a 2 hour drive Monday morning into Orlando. Instead, we had about a 2 minute drive across the street!

DD6 and I woke up first at about 7 AM. We quickly got dressed and went downstairs to scope out the breakfast offerings. I was planning to eat right then, but DD6 wanted to wait for the rest of the family. So, we went over and she made a nice collection from all of the travel pamphlets and we chatted about those for a little while. It is always a surprise to me what can amuse my kids.

When we went back upstairs, DH and DS1 were awake so we woke up DD4 (she is the best sleeper by far amoungst our children). Everyone got ready and we went down for breakfast which was really good (and free). After we loaded up the car, we made the incredibly short drive and arrived at POR at 9 AM!

I had done online check-in a couple of days before we left. I went into that line and was immediately called up to the desk. Our check-in CM was a nice older lady. She quickly got our packet together and handed it to me. I was completely prepared to need to entertain the family while we waited for our room, but it slowly dawned on me she had just told me a room number and how to get to it. I asked what was probably obvious at this point, “Does this mean our room is ready?”. The nice CM just nodded and I thanked her profusely!

I had made surprise welcome baskets for the kids, so I told DH to take the kids on a tour of the resort while I went to the room to get it ready. We were assigned room 9569 in Panterre Place. I had requested a ground floor, connected (to MIL & FIL's) room in the mansions. At this point, I knew that my request to be in the mansions had been granted, but how about the others? My first thought was to be a little disappointed. I had remembered comments on the board that Oak Manor and Magnolia Terrace had the best locations, and, in all honesty, I couldn't even remember which one was Parterre Place!

On this day (and for several after it) they were doing road work on the loop around POR. So, instead of a very short drive from the lobby directly to Parterre Place, I had to drive all the way around the resort to reach our parking lot. I had never seen the Alligator Bayou buildings before and I have to say they were kind of cute! Once I arrived and parked the car, I opened my packet to get out the parking permit – only to discover our check-in CM had given us MIL & FIL's packet!

I put their parking permit in our window and called DH on the cell. He said he already knew. DH's cell number was on the reservation and when they discovered the mistake they had called him. I decided that getting back in the car would be silly, so I walked back to the lobby (it took about 3 minutes for me walking alone and wanting my own room keys BADLY). I met DH in the lobby (the kids were happily watching the little cartoons they have in there ) and he already had our KTTW cards. I gave him MIL&FIL's packet (minus the parking pass) and quickly returned to our room.

In my earlier rush, I hadn't even stopped to find our room! So, what would I discover when I returned?
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Old 06-28-2010, 06:34 PM   #10
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Arrival Day - part 2 - our room

After getting my own KTTW card , I was feeling much more relaxed and enjoyed the walk back to Parterre Place (it probably took me 5 minutes this time!) Here is what I saw as I approached our room:

Our room was just under that 3rd archway from the right side of the picture.
Here is a map of Parterre Place that shows our room location (circled on the center left).

As you can see, it is kind of a corner room which had two windows!!! Here were our two views:

And here are the requisite pictures of the inside of the room:

Finally, some additional pictures from around Paterre Place:

So, what was the verdict? WE HAD AN AWESOME ROOM!!!!! To the room-assigner CM at POR, all I have to say is It was ground floor! It was connected to MIL and FIL's room (they had 9570). And despite my initial misgivings, Parterre Place was wonderfully located and I have NO complaints about being in that building. Even when we were walking with the kids, it was no more than a 5 minute walk to the Riverside Mill, the quiet pool, or the South Depot bus stop. It might have been about an 8 minute walk over to Old Man Island and about a 10 minute walk to POFQ (but more on that later!)

Up next, the kids arrive in the room!

Last edited by ksl5f123; 06-29-2010 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 06-29-2010, 12:14 PM   #11
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arrival day - part 3 - lunch

I had gone by myself to our room to put out the welcome baskets that I made for the kids. Here is a picture (sorry about the big rectangles – they hide the kid's names):

After I finished setting these out, I called DH and told him to head over. By this time, MIL, FIL and the nephews had arrived and were checking in!!! So, they all came over together. Here are the kids reactions to their welcome baskets:

DS quickly found his favorite thing!

As did the girls:

DS also enjoyed saying hello to DN12:

In the back of this photo, you can see that MIL and FIL's room had a towel creation of a Mickey when they arrived. Let's just say they were underwhelmed and it was partially disassembled before I even saw it. They obviously don't read the DIS to know how much towel creations are coveted!

It was now about 10 AM and I wanted to unpack and settle in. Everyone else wanted to rush to a park. By about 11:30, however, we all decided we were hungry and went to Riverside Mill to use our very first ever dining credits.

I don't have enough pictures to justify a dining report, so I am just going to stick the ones I have in here. I had a turkey sandwich (plenty huge to feed both me and DS1), a Diet Coke and a magic cookie bar (saved and eaten for breakfast later in the week):

DH had the create your own pasta, an orange juice, and a create your own yogurt parfait:

DD6 had the kids chicken nuggets with applesauce, french fries, and a chocolate milk and DD4 had the kids turkey pinwheel with grapes, a cookie, and apple juice.

QS credits used: 4
Total paid for dining plan = $975.68
Price for this meal if paying oop = $40.92

Up next, will we ever go to a park?
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:21 PM   #13
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I'm in on this TR!! I can't wait to see your BBB pics, since we will be doing it for the first time this fall. Love your TR so far. I like all the cost analysis, and all the pics of your resort are gorgeous. I also LOVE food pics!! That sandwich looks delicious! What all did you put in your gift baskets? That is such a cute idea.
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:58 PM   #14
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I'm loving your report and looking forward to more
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Old 06-29-2010, 08:09 PM   #15
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Sounds like your 1st official day is off to a great start! I was happily surprised about getting Acadian House since I kept reading about far walks, but ours was always within 5 minutes to the main building!!

We never got a towel creation...
Welcome back. Weren't you on a trip this weekend? Hope it was a good one (I know it was hot).

I really don't think any of the mansions are that far from the lobby. Glad you liked Acadian House.

I am so sorry you never got a towel creation. Obviously, you are not from Cuba (foreshadowing a future event)!
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