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Old 12-02-2010, 09:39 PM   #1
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A Cheapo Depotís Journey: First Anniversary in the World! Updated 2/6/11!

Welcome to the world of the cheap and fabulous! Ok, I admit it, Iím a tightwad, but like to live large, especially at Disney! This TR will be all about our first anniversary and putting the dollar bills in solitary confinement!

On with the show! Who are we? Weíre Shannon and Rich who one year ago got hitched on Castaway Cay. The best 10ish days of our lives are chronicled here.




What did we do? Hereís the generalized list:

Spent four nights at Saratoga Springs Resort, and one night at the Radisson Lake Buena Vista. Ate at Raglan Road, Via Napoli, Sci-Fi Dine-In, and more. We also had an early Turkey-Day with our Orlando famsters.

There were however some bumps in the roadÖ


Iím also going to be blogging about this trip simultaneously here, hopefully with some slightly different content to keep things interesting.


Up Next: Freezing Rain, Snow, and Disney! Will we get there?
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:47 PM   #2
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Before I get too far into the actual trip report, let me share some of the wheeling and dealing I had done before leaving home that helped make this trip possible, and put a little extra coin in our pocket.

Flights:
I setup a fare alert on BookingBuddy.com, so anytime airfare fell below a certain threshold I got an e-mail. In our case I set it to anything less than $200/roundtrip from MSP to MCO. I actually got e-mails quite frequently, which was really surprising! We ultimately chose a direct flight for $189/per person including taxes.

Car Rental:
I first went to my old standby, Hotwire.com. However, the deals didn't seem to be rolling on our dates. I then tried bidding on Priceline.com. Again, not much of a discount was to be had after multiple attempts. A new website to me (maybe not to others!) was CarRentals.com. I checked our dates a few times over the course of a week, and found an unbelievable deal, $137 (including taxes and fees) for 6 days in a midsize. Sold!

Hotel:
We're a big fan of the DVC resorts. I'm also a subscriber to David's Vacation Club Rental "Last Minute Special" newsletter. He had a last minute deal for Saratoga Springs at a rate that one could not refuse. So we jumped on it! It covered 4 of our 5 nights. I believe the total amount paid was $339. His regular rates are also a fantastic deal over what Disney charges. The only thing to note is that daily housekeeping is not included. However it is available for an additional charge.

So we had one extra night... what to do? Well, we found that through our credit card rewards points we could get one night free at The Celebration Hotel. However, something happened with our points and we were not able to redeem. So, I went to Priceline. My hope was to get Gaylord Palms, or a Downtown Disney hotel. This didnít happen. I did however get Radisson Lake Buena Vista. The bid was $53, total $67.42.

Tickets:
We didnít really know what our fam would be up to during the week, so tickets were an unknown. We chose to purchase at the concierge desk at Saratoga Springs which is much more convenient than at the gate. Had we been able to purchase ahead of time, I would have used UndercoverTourist.com to save a few bucks.

We also chose to skip Mickeyís Very Merry Christmas Party this year, as we had done it the year before, and it seemed to be an extra added expense.

The tickets we purchased were base tickets, one park per day. This is really all we needed.

Let the TR continue!
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:22 PM   #3
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Day 1

Day one started out on a very cold and early Minnesota morning. We left our home at about 4:45am on foot, in search of the light rail train. For us this is a great option, $2 per person, with direct service to the airport. So much cheaper than parking anywhere near the airport, or a taxi. Of course, we didnít want to bring our coats with us, so we chose to put our game faces on and brave the cold freezing rain. My hubby immediately rolled his ankle into a huge frigid puddle. Not a good start. The light rail seemed to take forever to come to our stop, and as we were waiting the freezing rain turned to snow, and our faces from red to blue!

Once aboard, the train was warm and bright. There were a surprising number of people starting this adventure with us on a Saturday morning.

At the airport, it became clear that hubbyís rolled ankle was going to be an issue. We talked about getting his sandals out of our bag and replacing his shoes, but he chose to tough it out. Security, was well security. Once at the gate, we could see the snow starting to pile up. Unbelievably, it looked like about 2 inches had already fallen, right on top of our plane. It was coming down with ferocity.

Everyone boarded the plane, and it left the gate right on time for a 7am departure. The captain came over the loudspeaker and announced a 10 minute delay due to de-icing. No problem, we would soon be in the comparable tropics of Orlando in just a few hours.

The de-icing started, and 10 minutes went by, then 20. We could see the hoses start on the wing closest to us. The snow was not budging despite the repeated attempts to remove it with the fire hoses spewing with Pepto Bismol. The rain from earlier had frozen everything on the plane, including the snow. 30 minutes go by, then 40. An announcement was made that the captain was shutting down the engines for fear that we would not have enough fuel to make it to Orlando, and we might have to return to the gate for more fuel. At about 50 minutes, the captain announced that the trucks had run out of fluid. By the time the hoses reached the back of the plane, the front needed to be de-iced again. We would be going into an extended delay, and we would be free to make calls, head to the restroom, etc. Additional trucks would be on their way, however more delays could not be ruled out, as the runways might not stay open, and the previously mentioned fuel issues. Perfect. We had a whole day planned checking out Festival of the Masters, then heading to Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival. The thought of not getting out of Minneapolis that day was a thought I could not bear to think! If I put it out of mind long enough, then it was a non-possibility, right?

Here's the view from our window during the delay:



Finally, new trucks arrived cleared the ice and snow. After what seems like an eternity we heard these magical words: Flight attendants prepare for take-off!

The flight was uneventful, and we landed at about 1:30, roughly two and a half hours after we were scheduled.

Our bag seemed to take forever, as I was itching to get myself to Disney! We found it, and headed down to the rental car counters. Even though itís more expensive we do personally like to have a car. We were staying off-site for the first night, and needed to head to the coast later in our trip

The line at the rental counter seemed to be bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour! More and more time was going by. Finally, we were given instructions on where to find our car. We were assigned a Toyota Corolla. As soon as we opened the passengerís side door, the smell of cigarette smoke billowed out. I imagined a grandma chain-smoking in her floral bucket hat, sunglasses and scarf living large the week before us!

I asked for a new car, as I didnít want our everything to smell like smoke for a week. It took a little while for the agency to find a replacement. For the inconvenience they upgraded us to a Nissan Altima. Woo Hoo! Let the vacation begin!



Budget Watch:
$2/person light rail fare
$189/roundtrip per person in airfare
$23 checked bag fee
$137/6 day car rental
$2 bottle of water at the airport

Up Next: Radisson Lake Buena Vista
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:50 PM   #4
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Great Start!!!
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February 1982 - Off Site; June 1995 - Offsite; February 1998 - AllStar Music; February 2000 - Disney Magic; January 2002 - Carribean Beach Resort & Disney Wonder; January 2004 - Port Orleans Riverside & Disney Wonder; January 2006 - Pop Century; February 2007 - Pop Century; November 2008 - Disney Wonder Wedding & Animal Kingdom Lodge; November 2009 - All Star Movies, Treehouse Villas & Disney Wonder; December 2009 - All Star Music ; January 2011 - POFQ, BLT & Disney Magic Cruise;
September 2011, AKL & B2B - Disney Dream & Wilderness Lodge; January 2012 - Boardwalk; October 2012 - Grand Californian at Disneyland; October 2012 - Disney Wonder to Hawaii; October 2012 - Candy Cane Inn at Disneyland; February 2013 - BLT & Disney Dream & Beach Club Resort; May 2013 - Animal Kingdom Lodge; September 2013 - Polynesian & Fantasy; October 2013 - Art of Animation; December 2013 - Old Key West
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:54 AM   #5
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I'm in! I love budgeted trips.

Sorry to hear about the bad start (turned ankle, 2 hr delay) but at least you made it safely to FL!

Happy First Anniversary!
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:09 PM   #6
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I just found your trip report and already I love it. What a great picture of you two!

I can't wait to hear all about the trip.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldeelox9 View Post
Great Start!!!
Thanks Lisa! Glad you are following!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer48 View Post
I'm in! I love budgeted trips.

Sorry to hear about the bad start (turned ankle, 2 hr delay) but at least you made it safely to FL!

Happy First Anniversary!
Thank you! Yes, we made it safely which is by far the most important thing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkxray View Post
I just found your trip report and already I love it. What a great picture of you two!

I can't wait to hear all about the trip.
Thanks so much! More to come shortly!
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:34 PM   #8
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Hello....just finished reading your wedding TR, so thought I would pop over to read some more!! Happy Anniversary!! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!!
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flurbee View Post
Hello....just finished reading your wedding TR, so thought I would pop over to read some more!! Happy Anniversary!! Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip!!
Thanks so much!!


Ok, this TR has not been forgotten, a new installment will be up shortly!
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:27 PM   #10
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We were off to Radisson Lake Buena Vista!

Upon leaving the airport I fired up my Mapquest for iPhone, and for a free app, this one is great! It has voice guided directions, and even recalculates like a regular GPS system! And did I mention itís free?

The ride was fairly straightforward, the Radisson is right off of I-4, and one stop-light away from the Downtown Disney entrance. The first thing you see is a Waffle House and a sky-blue souvenir shop with ultra neon and sun-bleached graphics, peddling 10 t-shirts for a dollar. Or something like that! Both of these share a parking lot with the Radisson along with some kind of Orlando welcome center.

We checked right in. The lobby was smaller, but there were lots of modern details and marble floors. The elevators were stylish and sleek. It appeared everything was renovated recently. The Radisson is a Disney Good Neighbor hotel, and does sell tickets at the front desk. There is also a daily shuttle to the parks, however pickup and drop off times seemed limited. Our check-in agent, who I believe was Brittany, was courteous and professional.

The room was surprisingly large, and very clean. Hereís what we saw upon check-in:

























The sleep number bed was very comfortable. The room was a lot more than I would have expected for the $67 I had paid on Priceline. We did not have a chance to check out the pool area. However, the glimpses that we had seemed like a fairly standard outside hotel pool. I would say the only drawback to the Radisson is its surroundings. Its neighbors make the first impression skewed. Disney however is a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Would I take the Radisson over a Disney-owned hotel, even considering the price? The short answer, no. Disney does such a great job at themeing and putting you into a magical bubble filled with laughter and pixie dust. The Radisson is more like real life. Would I stay in the Radisson Lake Buena Vista, in say Cleveland? Absolutely!

Overall, our stay was uneventful, and exceeded any expectations that I had. It was clean, comfortable, and a great deal.


Both of us crashed for a nap. I grabbed a snack from the vending machines, and we were down for the count. After our nap, we decided to hit Downtown Disney in hopes that we might salvage a bit of Festival of the Masters. I quickly made a reservation at Raglan Road (on the Disney Dining mobile website), a restaurant I had really wanted experience, but missed on our last few trips.


Up Next Raglan Road and Downtown Disney!
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