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Old 09-23-2010, 06:21 PM   #1
jerseygirl16
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Shhhhh...Can you keep a secret? A New Year's PTR

Hey everybody!

Well, I’ve been a lurker on these boards for quite some time now and have finally given in to the temptation to register and start my own PTR/TR. This trip will make #13 for me and I am beyond excited since it will be my first time in Disney after nearly 4 years.

To start things off I’d like to provide a little background info on myself and the rest of the gang. However, like some other posters I won’t be including any pictures of us for privacy reasons. Hope this isn’t a big disappointment – but I will make sure to include lots of scenery pictures where applicable. So, back to the introductions, there are 8 of us:

Dad (46)
Mom (46)
Lizzie (22) – me
Nicole (20) – DS1
Sam (20) – DS2
Alexis (18) DS3
Sean (21) DBF1 (Nicole’s BF)
Ryan (22) DBF2 (Sam’s BF)

As you probably guessed from my username, we all hail from the marvelous state of New Jersey (yup, that’s right – you know you’re jealous). We are also a family of Disney fanatics. Aside from my mom, who visited frequently as a child, everyone in my family has been to Disney World 12/13 times. We’ve been DVC members since 2001and our home resorts are the Wilderness Lodge and the Boardwalk. Now the boyfriends have each been to Disney once with their respective families, but back when they were 7 or 8 years old. As everyone knows, A LOT has changed since then. Therefore, for the purposes of this trip I’m treating them as functional first timers. We’re hoping to convert them to Disney lovers, just like us.

As I mentioned above, it’s been over three years our last trip and we’ve all been feeling the void. I’m telling you every time I see a commercial, or a billboard, or watch a Disney movie I feel an incredible longing to be back at my favorite place. Our first family trip was in June 1999 and by June 2007 we’d gone 10 times! We were averaging a trip every 9 months or so. Now you can understand why 3 years is such a deficit for me (I know, I know, I’m really really spoiled ).

I’ve been reading trip reports like crazy lately to try and experience Disney vicariously, but now I finally have a trip to plan. Hopefully this PTR will serve the dual purposes of entertaining everyone missing and dreaming of Disney and informing newbies about the ins and outs of planning a trip to the greatest place on earth (though these boards do do a great job of covering that information).

So thanks and stay tuned for my next installment.
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Old 09-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #2
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"Functional first timers" I love how you put it!

Can't wait for you updates. I need to learn from an experienced Disney goer & will be checking your pre-trip report often. Don't let me down!!
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Old 09-24-2010, 06:48 PM   #3
jerseygirl16
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The challenges of choosing dates and a resort

So I’m sitting here watching A Goofy Movie (one of my all time favorites), and I’ve been inspired to procrastinate on my work and do something Disney related – namely working on this PTR.

Planning this trip hasn’t been easy for one big reason: we kids are growing up. I’m currently in grad school pursuing my PhD and my sisters are in college, so with school schedules, jobs, and internships it’s been nearly impossible to find a time that works for the entire family. My parent’s did toy with the idea of leaving me behind () or just vacationing by themselves, but thankfully they just couldn’t do it. They decided Disney wouldn’t be the same without the whole family together. Luckily, we managed to find a time that works for everyone – the week of Jan. 1st – and immediately called to find out what was available. Unfortunately, it being mid-September, a lot of resorts were already booked. Throw in the fact that our dates are sandwiched by New Year’s Eve and Disney’s Marathon Weekend, and there was very limited availability.

Now as a rule we never use our DVC points on non-DVC rooms. It’s just not worth it for a family our size, and we really miss the shared living space. Therefore, we only had 2 options: Wilderness Lodge from the 1st – 6th or Saratoga Springs from the 1st – 7th. After 6 phone calls back forth between my parents and I, and A LOT of hemming and hawing we chose Saratoga Springs. Most of the difficulties making this decision came from my dad. To me it was an obvious one; stay at the resort with more nights, but my dad’s favorite is the WL. Additionally, he wasn’t too keen on staying at SS (not sure why seeing as we’ve never stayed there before). Fortunately he came to his senses and we’ll be in Disney for 6 nights!!!!

Now I admit that the WL would have been really nice in early January since the weather will be cooler and there’s that gorgeous fireplace in the lobby, but I’d much rather have the extra night. Anyway, it’s a goal of mine to stay in every Disney World resort at least once so SS can now be checked off that list.

Up next: Why is this trip a secret?
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:12 PM   #4
jerseygirl16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIS_Indoctrination View Post
"Functional first timers" I love how you put it!

Can't wait for you updates. I need to learn from an experienced Disney goer & will be checking your pre-trip report often. Don't let me down!!
Thanks for the support. Hopefully you'll be able to find what you need here.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
jerseygirl16
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Letting you in on the secret

Hey Everybody!

I’m back with another update that hopefully explains the title of my PTR.

My main motivation for writing this PTR comes from the fact that less than 10 people know about this trip. Of course my mom’s coworkers know since the first hurdle was trading vacation weeks, my grandmother (we could never leave her in the dark), and the boyfriends. However, the only people that know I know are my parents. I’m not allowed to tell ANYBODY about this trip in case they accidently let slip to my sisters. Our trip is going to be a Christmas surprise for my younger sisters and will be our only Christmas present so my parents want them to be blown away. Unfortunately, my schedule was an integral part of the planning so I’m in on the secret, but I prefer it this way. Otherwise I wouldn’t get the months of planning and anticipation. And that my friends, is why I am on these boards – I was going to burst if I couldn’t share my excitement with someone.



So, can you keep a secret?????



Now this isn’t the first vacation Christmas surprise my parent’s have planned. In 2008 we were surprised with a trip on the Disney Magic the following March. Apparently my parents had planned for weeks as to how to surprise us and were so disappointed when it failed miserably. This was our second cruise and we had been sent a CD of cruise music after the first one. This was how they surprised us: instead of us walking down the stairs to the Christmas Song on Christmas morning like we always had, they played the cruise CD whose first track is the ship’s horn (when you wish upon a star). Well instead of running down the stairs and screaming and jumping in excitement we just looked confused and even a little angry. There were even some mutters of “so much for tradition” to be heard. In our defense we’d had two hours of sleep and had gotten yelled at the day before for being ungrateful in relation to pajamas (another tradition). I think we were really afraid of sounding spoiled and getting yelled at again by thinking we’d gotten a cruise as our present.

Well it all worked out in the end and now we are trying to come up with a new (and better) way to surprise them on Christmas morning for this trip.

Any ideas??????
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:43 AM   #6
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You said pajamas are also a tradition. What about Disney pajamas the night before?

Yeah, it's weak, but it's the best thing I could think of...
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:14 AM   #7
jerseygirl16
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Thanks for the suggestion. We actually though about doing disney pajamas, but dismissed the idea because my parents really want everyone to be surprised on Christmas morning. So not a weak idea at all.
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Old 10-11-2010, 01:28 PM   #8
jerseygirl16
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Trip Plans

So we’ve finalized our parks plans and without further ado:

Saturday Jan. 1st – Arrive late afternoon, check in, straight to HS
Sunday Jan. 2nd – MK
Monday Jan. 3rd – HS
Tuesday Jan. 4th – EP
Wednesday Jan. 5th – AK
Thursday Jan. 6th – EP
Friday Jan. 7th – MK, leave late afternoon

We’ve coordinated our park days with EEMH since we decided to pass on park hoppers this time around. Typically we’d go to whatever park we felt like, swim in the afternoon, and hit the EEMH park at night. However, since this trip is in the winter and park hours are reduced this was the best plan for us. Anyway, we can handle the extra crowds (we’ve gone for July 4th).

Up next: To dining plan or not to dining plan?
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:17 AM   #9
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Thumbs up

I think taking advantage of the Evening Magic hours for your group is a great idea! The parks do look like they are closing really early that week. That's not a bad thing for us with a 3 year old, but for anyone else I think it could almost ruin the trip. Be sure to pack a jacket. I have a feeling it'll be colder at night when the sun goes down.

I can't wait to see what your group decided on dining.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:00 PM   #10
jerseygirl16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIS_Indoctrination View Post
I think taking advantage of the Evening Magic hours for your group is a great idea! The parks do look like they are closing really early that week. That's not a bad thing for us with a 3 year old, but for anyone else I think it could almost ruin the trip. Be sure to pack a jacket. I have a feeling it'll be colder at night when the sun goes down.

I can't wait to see what your group decided on dining.
I'm planning on packing a jacket, a scarf, gloves, and a hat. If the weather is anything like last year it could be down right cold! Hopefully it will be more like the trip we took in 2003. It was late January and the highs hit the 60's almost every day. At night it was cold, but not unbearable. We even went to the waterpark one day and swam in the pool one night (which was actually really really cold - but the water was super warm by comparison) so here's keeping my fingers crossed.
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:25 PM   #11
jerseygirl16
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As many of you know, there is a lot of debate on these boards as to whether or not the dining plan is a good value. I remember the first time we used it back when an appetizer, meal, dessert, AND gratuity was included. We saved a TON of money that trip. Unfortunately Disney got wise and the appetizer and gratuity have been removed from the dining plan. Back then the dining plan was completely worth it. Now however, it could go either way. Depending on the restaurants you choose to eat at and your eating habits you might only break even, or spend more money. For our family however, the dining plan remains a more convenient and slightly cheaper way to enjoy eating at Disney World. Therefore, we have chosen to use the DDP for this trip.

Here’s the rundown on where we’re eating:

Saturday Jan. 1st – Sci-fi
Sunday Jan. 2nd – Ohana
Monday Jan. 3rd – Cape May Café
Tuesday Jan. 4th – Biergarten
Wednesday Jan. 5th – Boma
Thursday Jan. 6th – Chefs de France

As you can see, 4 of our 6 ADR’s are buffet style restaurants with a pre-fixed price. In that way, the DDP works for us (unfortunately DVC members don’t get free dining) and will probably save us some money in the end.

We did have some trouble getting these ADR’s though. Luckily, all these restaurants were our first choices and the times we got worked well. Hopefully this is a sign that the parks won’t be super crowded since we only made these reservations 3 weeks ago.
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:49 AM   #12
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We had an easy time making all our first choice reservations too on that week. I did take it as a good sign that it wouldn't be too busy, but now that I'm thinking about shuffling things around a little, I'm finding the times are a little more limited.

Have you eaten at Cape May Cafe before? Are you doing the character breakfast or the clam bake dinner?
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:25 AM   #13
jerseygirl16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIS_Indoctrination View Post
We had an easy time making all our first choice reservations too on that week. I did take it as a good sign that it wouldn't be too busy, but now that I'm thinking about shuffling things around a little, I'm finding the times are a little more limited.

Have you eaten at Cape May Cafe before? Are you doing the character breakfast or the clam bake dinner?
Actually of all those restuarants Cape May Cafe was kind of our whatever dinner. Since we'll be in MGM that day we didn't want to travel too far away for dinner and we find that with the exception of the world showcase, meals tend to be better at the resort restaurants than the park ones. Spoodles was our favorite but has now been replaced with Kouzzina and the menu didn't really jump out at us - so the Cape May Cafe it is.

I haven't eaten there in years but the times we have gone for dinner it was good. I don't eat seafood or fish so I can't comment on that, but I remember the rest of the options being typical american fare and it tasted great. It's funny because my dad doesn't really like buffets yet we have three planned for this trip.

I can't remember, are you going for breakfast or dinner?
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:42 PM   #14
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Actually of all those restuarants Cape May Cafe was kind of our whatever dinner. Since we'll be in MGM that day we didn't want to travel too far away for dinner and we find that with the exception of the world showcase, meals tend to be better at the resort restaurants than the park ones. Spoodles was our favorite but has now been replaced with Kouzzina and the menu didn't really jump out at us - so the Cape May Cafe it is.

I haven't eaten there in years but the times we have gone for dinner it was good. I don't eat seafood or fish so I can't comment on that, but I remember the rest of the options being typical american fare and it tasted great. It's funny because my dad doesn't really like buffets yet we have three planned for this trip.

I can't remember, are you going for breakfast or dinner?
The plan was breakfast, but now we're thinking about having dinner at Cape May. We all love seafood & since we're picking up an extra day, we are going to do Chef Mickey's for breakfast on the new departure day. We may do a World Showcase restaurant for dinner instead of Cape May Cafe for dinner. Just not sure yet.

Last edited by DIS_Indoctrination; 10-26-2010 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 10-20-2010, 06:45 PM   #15
jerseygirl16
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The plan was breakfast, but now we're thinking about having dinner at Cape May. We all love seafood & since we're picing up an extra day, we are going to do Chef Mickey's for breakfast on the new departure day. We may do a World Showcase restaurant for dinner instead of Cape May Cafe for dinner. Just not sure yet.
Like I said, I love the world showcase restaurants. However, one of the really nice things about going to a resort to eat is the chance to explore a hotel you're not staying at. That's one of my favorite things about Ohana - walking around the Poly after. Either way you can't go wrong, though others may have different opinions.
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