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Old 01-06-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
Chaitali
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May the Force be With Us (a May 2011 Anniversary trip - PTR)

Well, I just joined the Board recently to research our Disney World trip coming up in May. I'm super excited, so I thought I'd try my hand at a pre-trip report. Hopefully that will help channel some of my anticipation into something useful!

First, a quick introduction. The travelers on this trip will just be my and my husband, Mike. I've been to Disney World several times, mostly as a child. The last time I went to Disney World was while I was in college and it has been more than 10 years. I recently found out Mike has never been there!


024_24 by Chaita_1, on Flickr
(My brother and I during a childhood Disney World trip)

We were at his parents house for Christmas and they mentioned that they would be going to Orlando as his dad had a meeting there this year. Mike commented that he had never been to Disney World. How have we know each other for six years and I didn't know he'd never been to Disney World! We were at the airport the day after Christmas and I suggested that instead of the one big vacation we had planned for 2011, we split it up into 2 smaller vacations so we could also go to Disney World. He loves Disney and Pixar and is often a child at heart, so he quickly agreed Therefore our 2011 plan became 5 nights in Disney World and 10 nights in the Fall for the U.K.


IMG_0071_edited-1 by Chaita_1, on Flickr
(Mike and I on our last trip - India)

Well, things moved pretty quickly after that. We talked over dates and decided that May would probably work best for us. I did some research and learned that May seems to be a good time to go to Disney World, not value season but not peak time either. It was also around our anniversary. And to Mike's delight, Star War's Weekend was in May too. We settled on May 17th to May 22nd to avoid the Memorial Day Crowds but also be able to catch Stars War weekend. We had our room booked by New Year's Eve. Disney World, here we come!

Last edited by Chaitali; 01-06-2011 at 08:51 PM. Reason: Edited to add photos
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:32 PM   #2
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Oops, it turns out I can't post photos or links yet. I guess I might have started too soon Oh well, I'm one post away so hopefully I will have photos up soon.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:57 PM   #3
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Hey there!

We'll be there at the same time. You will have a blast showing him around WDW for the first time.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:14 PM   #4
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Hi, yours was on of the first pre-trip reports I read I saw that you'll be having a nice long time in Disney World. You must be excited! I'm not sure how much showing around I'll be able to do since so much has changed at Disney World. Animal Kingdom wasn't even there the last time I went and it was still Disney-MGM studios. But I'm sure we'll have blast discovering/re-discovering it!
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:15 PM   #5
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Hi! We'll be in Disney the same time (May 14 - 21) at AKV-Kidani! I'll be starting a PTR soon...I've done one for each trip and they are fun to do and great for family, too.

BTW, I'm your neighbor over by Dulles Airport!

Can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:46 AM   #6
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Welcome and hello I work out toward the Dulles Area. It's so funny that we'll be in Disney World at the same time and we live in the same area. Well, given the number of people that live in this area and the number of people that go to Disney World, I guess it's not too surprising!
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Old 01-09-2011, 11:34 AM   #7
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Where to stay?

Once we decided to go to Disney World, the first decision we faced was where to stay. We quickly decided that we wanted to stay at a Disney resort. We never stayed at a Disney resort on any of my family trips when I was younger. It always seemed like it would be magical. In addition, driving stresses me out so I like to avoid renting a car on vacation if possible.

So a Disney resort it is. Now we just had to choose one! I started out by pricing various resorts on the Disney website and doing some online research. It's just me and Mike, so I wanted to choose a resort which was somewhat romantic. Based on the research, I was leaning toward the Port Orleans Riverside resort. I liked the idea of staying in one of the mansion rooms. I talked to my cousin who goes to Disney World every couple years and she said that they had stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and liked it.

She did indicate that if we could afford it, she strongly recommended the Wilderness Lodge. I looked into it, and it also sounded wonderful and romantic. Though it was the most affordable of the deluxe resorts, it would still be several hundred dollars more than staying at the Port Orleans. The main advantage over a moderate resort seemed to be the boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom.

However, we're quite used to using public transportation and I don't think we'll have a problem with the bus system at Port Orleans. We're also used to walks from the metro or bus stop to get where we're going, so I think the spread out nature of the resort shouldn't be too much of a problem. We've requested one of the 2 closer mansions, but the walk should be ok even if we're at one of the further mansions. We should get one of the mansion rooms as we have paid to upgrade to a king bed. (Double beds are not very romantic!)

In addition, we'll spring for taxis when we have dinners booked at another resort. The occasional taxi will still be cheaper than upgrading to a deluxe room. Port Orleans - Riverside seems like it will be a good middle ground for us, and it will allow us to have extra spending money while we're there. Which is good, as I love fancy dinners and Mike is already planning the souvenirs he wants to buy!
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Old 01-20-2011, 01:23 PM   #8
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Mmm... food

Have I mentioned that I'm a little obsessed with food? I even booked our dinner reservations for this trip before I booked our room or plane tickets! My husband thankfully humors me but he's one of those people that's happy with pretty much any food you put in front of him, as long as it's plentiful and doesn't contain brussel sprouts

I'm a vegetarian so I have to be relatively aware of my food choices. I am excited that Disney World seems to have so many options for me! We've decided that we'll probably splurge on one meal a day, grab a quick sandwich or something for the other meal, and probably just eat breakfast in our room.

I did restrain myself from making a dinner reservation for the Tuesday we arrive. Given all the possible travel glitches, I feel more comfortable knowing that there's no specific time we need to be anywhere on that date. Our flight is supposed to land at 10:30am, but you never know. If all goes well, we'll probably spend the afternoon at the Magic Kingdom and then head to Downtown Disney for dinner. I keep hearing about the Earl of Sandwich so it might be the perfect time to try it out.

I'm most excited for our Wednesday night dinner at Victoria & Albert's. We've decided to celebrate our anniversary at Disney World so this will be our anniversary dinner. We usually go to a fancy meal for our anniversary anyway, so the money for this meal will come from our anniversary budget instead of the general trip budget. I even considered the Chef's Table, but it was booked for every day that week even though I called five months in advance! I called the restaurant and they assured me that it would be no problem to have a vegetarian tasting menu for me. I've read great things about their food so I'm sure anything they offer will be tasty. So now the only decision I have to make is wine pairing or not

Thursday I've booked a reservation at the California Grill (hopefully with good timing to see the fireworks) and Friday at La Hacienda de San Angel (hopefully with a view of Illuminations). Saturday is Jiko, which I am also super excited about. The Animal Kingdom didn't even exist the last time I went to Disney World so that whole area will be new to me.
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:34 PM   #9
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Disney Dining Plan?

So continuing with the theme of food... I keep reading about the Disney Dining Plan and I have managed to confuse myself completely. When the agent at AAA initially told me about it, I was pretty sure we didn't want it. I was pretty sure that we could get by with spending less on our own. After all, we didn't need dessert twice a day. And I would probably prefer an appetizer or salad at times instead of dessert. Our general plan is to have breakfast in the room, a counter service lunch in the park, and as explained above, some fancy dinners.

But in reading about the dining plan more, it seems like it might make sense with that scheme. A lot of the reasons it doesn't work for some people don't seem to apply to us.

1. A lot of people would save money be sharing entrees. However, I'm a vegetarian and my husband is not. He will pretty much never want to share my entree.

2. Some people don't want to take the time for table service meals or lock themselves into a reservation, but we'll be doing that anyway. And I do like the idea of having a leisurely dinner each evening.

3. We don't have kids so we don't have to worry too much about keeping our plans flexible. We also are planning to get the park hopper with our tickets so we will be able to go to a dinner reservation even if we're not in the park that day. And in fact, only one of our dinners is at a park. The rest are at resorts.

4. We certainly don't need 2 desserts a day. But my husband does like his sweets. So he probably would like to have a sweet with his meals while on vacation. And we'll be doing plenty of walking. It seems that I should be able to get fruit as my "dessert" at the counter service lunches and have it as an afternoon snack or as breakfast the next day.

I tried to crunch the numbers by looking at the menus on allears.net and choosing what we would likely order. I didn't include dessert with lunch and I didn't include any snacks. Now my entrees will probably be among the less expensive entrees as they will be vegetarian. If my husband chooses among the moderate price entrees, we'll pay less out of pocket than if we went with the plan. But if my husband chooses the most expensive entrees, we will come out ahead with the dining plan. It basically seems as if the dining plan will result in one "free" dessert and one "free" snack per day. This is true even with using the 2 dining credits for the dinner at California Grill and the dinner at Jiko. And we won't have to deal with me being annoyed if he chooses an expensive entree.

These calculations are based on the assumption that the dining plan includes tax but that the menu prices listed on allears.net do not include tax. Does anyone know if that's true? Of course, it also assumes that the listed menu prices are accurate. They seem to be the 2010 prices, so if they've gone up this year that means that the dining plan probably would be a good value for us. If anyone knows if the prices have gone up and whether they include tax, I would love that information

All the numbers may have confused me, but I think the dining plan might actually work for us. I can pack snacks for us to eat in the park, but I know I'm going to be tempted to buy snacks at least a couple times instead of just eating my granola bar! Sigh, sometimes too much information is not a good thing. I used to be convinced that we didn't want the dining plan but now I might have convinced myself the other way.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:41 PM   #10
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I should have paid more attention to math!

Well, the Disney Dining Plan decision became a lot easier today I took time during my lunch break and opened up menus on allears.net. I typed up each meal, the items we'd be likely to buy and the prices. Even including desserts with each dinner, and a snack for each of us per day, the dining plan will be more expensive for us than paying out of pocket. This takes into account tax, sodas, etc, So I am pretty confident with this decision to go without the plan.

It's actually a relief because I would have felt compelled to get the plan if it would have saved us some money. But I like the flexibility of not being on the plan and being able to order whatever I want. And I now feel like I have a pretty good idea of how much we will be spending on food while at Disney World. We've already budgeted and set aside more than enough money to cover it, so that's a relief too!

Next I should really go beyond food and talk about what else we'll be doing with our time. After all, we can't spend all day eating!
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Old 01-25-2011, 09:19 PM   #11
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That is how I feel about the dining plan. Unless every person orders the most expensive thing on the menu it is not really worth it other than it is more convenient as you don't have to carry cash around with you.
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:11 PM   #12
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Your plans sound WONDERFUL! Looking forward to following your journey of discovery/rediscovery!
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:50 PM   #13
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Lifelong Dreamer, thanks for the confirmation I guess you just have to sit down and do the math to be sure. But I definitely have no doubts any more, so it was worth it!

Blessed mom, hello and welcome! I just read a little bit of your pre-trip report following the link in your signature. You and your family are so inspiring. I hope your daughters are doing better today.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:06 PM   #14
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Maybe there is such a thing as too much planning

I actually had Disney nightmares last night! I starting working on some touring plans yesterday evening before going to sleep. So I had a dream about forgetting to get a fast pass for space mountain and we weren't able to ride it. Of course, that's not a big deal in reality. We're going to Disney World just to spend time with each other and to have fun. If we don't get on a certain ride, it's not a big deal. But in the dream world, it seemed like it was the end of the world!

I had a second dream about trying to get to Fantasy Land and repeatedly getting lost. At one point, I was walking around the perimeter of the park, outside it, trying to find a way to get to Fantasy Land.

I'm glad I started this PTR so I have somewhere to confess to this. If I told my husband, he might take away the Unofficial Guide and find some way to block disney related sites from my computer.

But definitely time to reintroduce some perspective into my planning! It won't be a perfect vacation because there's no such thing. But we can certainly enjoy it for whatever it ends up being. After all, we'll be together and in "the happiest place on Earth."
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:12 PM   #15
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I have had the odd Disney nightmare, totally normal.
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