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Old 06-08-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
Wiloughby1
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Wanna look in my bags? More packing tips! 4 weeks left!

New Updates Pg 3

Why so early? Because Amtrak has it's best prices 11mos out, and we have a timeshare anyway.

Clearly I am not insane. I just got the. best. deal.

But first, a little background, and I'll add some pics later...

My name is Autumn and I fell in love with WDW at the tender age of 8. My parents took us and another family on the original DCL incarnation, The Big Red Boat and then for a stay at CBR. By the time I was in high school, they had already bought an alternating year timeshare in Kissimmee for the future grandkids. We took DS for the first time last year while I was pregnant with DD, and now it's time to plan for 2011.

Cast-

Me- Autumn (on left, with my friend who's off to grad school at Stanford)

DH- 32

he's an awesome snowboarder...and he's cute...

DS- will be nearly 4 when we arrive

(3rd birthday party this weekend!)
DD- will be 18 mos when we arrive

My dad- 53- this was his birthday too

My mom- 51

this is the best (old old old) pic that I have of my mom, and she was in the hospital for DS's party, so no new ones just yet...

What I know so far...
We stay at an off-site resort that has a great split layout, so even though our room joins my parents, we have our own complete condo. It's pretty sweet, but not Disney, which having stayed in the park on all my other visits was a bit of a let down. This significantly influenced my planning for this year.

Our dates are Apr 30- May 7 so I wanted to add a couple days at AKL for a little extra magic. And I'm turning 30 this year and DH and I will have just passed our 5th anni, so I totally deserve it. We pre-booked it with the hopes that 40% room only will come around for that week as it has the past 2 years. Otherwise, well, less spending money for sure.

We were going to add to the beginning or end of our trip, 2 whole days, until DH started complaining about flying. He HATES flying. It puts a damper onthe fact that I love to travel, especially since this was not disclosed until the day of our wedding, when he hyperventilated in anticipation of the flight to St. Lucia in the morning, but alas, I kept him anyway.

So I mentioned the Auto Train. We live in Baltimore, so it's an easy drive and DS LOVES trains. Plus we don't have to deal with schlepping car seats and strollers through airports, etc. Why not, right?

So since we are traveling in May, it's cheap to head down on the train, but return tickets are expensive. I learned on here about the process through which
Amtrak sells tickets- cheapest first starting 11 mos out.

I set my Outlook calendar to remind me. This morning, it popped up. Today was our return trip 11 month date. I went on to Amtrak's website and entered the details. I had decided before I logged on that we would save money by riding coach, but add a seat for DD, since I didn't want to sleep with her on me for all that time, but something told me to check the room prices-

The Family room, which had been $653 the day before was $231. Hmm. I checked it off just to get a total.

Then something crazy happened-

Our return fare, which was going to be $570 without the room went to $285!!!! The room made our return tickets 50% off! (** later learned that the room ALWAYS makes your fare cheaper, but the $231 room was the ONLY one. They went up to $685 after that,I skipped back a screen, dropped the extra kid ticket and made DD an infant ticket since the family room has 4 beds.

I had in my cart round trip for all of us and our car with the family room for $1230 with our AAA discount on top! I panicked! What if it was an error and I hit back and lost the deal. Where was my AAA card? Why had I not activated my Disney Rewards card from my home phone and taken it to work?

Gasp and horror. I call AAA, get my number. I call Chase and activate my card with an agent. Then I call DH and explain why we simply can't think and must decide.

He went for it.

Then I went back to book my parents.

Disaster. Apparently, we got the only 50% deal! Amazing for us, but it was going to cost more for my parents than my whole family of 4.

So I called Amtrak and told her the deal. As she was going through things, I stressed that my mom needed to be on the lower level because she has some orthopedic issues that affect her ability to do stairs (even on steady steps that aren't swaying with the train) and some other medical conditions that require her to have quick access to a bathroom. The nice agent said, and I quote, "Honey, that woman should be in the accessible suite." My mom usually doesn't go for that. She is constantly saying how other people are far more in need than her. She wouldn't get a handicapped hang tag when she was in a full leg cast. I had to sell it to her- I explained to my mom that
1. The Agent suggested it, not me
2. Most people in the accessible suite have only 1 condition that makes it preferable. My mom has 2!
3. She deserves to enjoy her vacation, and if this would reduce her frustration, discomfort, and feeling of embarrassment while traveling, she deserved it, and her doctor had offered her notes before that she turned down.
She finally agreed, it came with a reasonable price, and we all are on the same train car on the same floor.

So the compromise I forgot to mention was that the train added 2 days of travel to the trip in terms of days off of work. Instead of adding 2 days at the end of our trip to stay at AKL, we'll leave the condo one day early to spend 2 nights at AKL. That means we'll leave home April 29, arrive in FL for the condo April 30, stay there until May 6 when we head to AKL for 2 nights, then head home on the afternoon of May 8, arrive home on the 9th, needing 7 days off of work for an 11 day vacation. (well really 9, but still)

So that's my start. I have a few more things up my sleeve, but I needed to celebrate the deal.

More in the future, and less than 11 months to go! Yay and Double Yay!!
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Autumn DH Jack DS Noah 7 DD Lila 4
First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014

Last edited by Wiloughby1; 04-01-2011 at 11:00 AM. Reason: new long update
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:56 PM   #2
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Things are always complicated...

So as I mentioned (to the 39 people to have read my original post, teehee) My mom has some medical conditions. I'm at little upset about that now, as she is stuck with a 2nd week in the hospital. Planning our vacation for next year is helping her feel a little better about the ones she is canceling this year. She even spent her birthday, my dad's birthday, and DS's 3rd birthday party in the hospital. it's pretty bad. *sigh*

Anyway, she and I have come up with some ideas. Details about trips are great distractions for us.

So we checked out Touring Plans' Crowd Calendar to pick out days for parks and ADRs'

So far we know we want Crystal Palace and Tusker House for breakfast. Maybe a night out for and DH at Jiko?

We'll see.

I thought writing this would cheer me up. Now I'm just worried she won't be able to go...
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Old 06-16-2010, 11:04 AM   #3
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Purchases so far...

mom is doing better...

And we've found a few deals! I like to make my purchases for Disney over a period of a year so I can a) get summer clothes out of season, b) not spend all at once, and c) pay as I go using my credit card and cash in the Disney Reward $$.

So we have bought...

Disneystore has 4 different ones, so I got all of them for DD

This for DD on the train down


DS got several shirts and a sweatshirt, including...


And I did something DH might kill me over...
matching DH/DS

and me/DD


I also got DS a backpack, the Toy Story plushes from Kohl's, and a Baggalini for myself...
I thought the giraffe print was so AKL!

I'd like to have 6 Disney outfits for each kid, since we can do laundry at the condo. DD has 5, plus a few t-shirt hand-me-downs. DS now has at least 5 shirts. We might be close to set on clothes!

Now I'll keep my eye out for travel activities. More to come! I hope someone subscribes!!!
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First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:07 PM   #4
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Enjoying the report so far! Keep it coming! Can't wait for May 21st
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Old 06-17-2010, 07:36 PM   #5
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i'm here too!! i started a ptr but have no idea how to link it to my siggie..

woohoo... cant wait till may!!!!!!
and btw... you are way organized!!!
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Old 06-17-2010, 11:50 PM   #6
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I'm in. Followed you from May 2011 forum.
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GEAUX TIGERS!!!
Greatest Surprise Trip Ever.....Thanks Honey TR: http://www.disboards.com/showthread....6#post36812876
Am I nuts...Bringing in-laws for their 1st time! May 2011 PTR http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2559291
I am nuts....for bringing the in-laws-a May/June 2011 TR. http://www.disboards.com/showthread....7#post41825167
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Old 06-18-2010, 09:25 AM   #7
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BelleTink, Amy, and Mom2, so glad you're here! I was worried I wouldn't have anyone with whom I could share my ideas!

Amy- I am a bit of an organizing nut. My house is chaotic since DH was raised by wolves, so I take my control where I can get it! Vacation planning is one of those opportunities!

More later today!
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First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014
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Old 06-18-2010, 02:04 PM   #8
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A tentative itinerary forecast, based on current Touring Plans Crowd Calendar...and to pick ADRs- only about 3 mos until I call the dining line!

Some thoughts, first...I read somewhere that MK should be the first stop for kids, bc they will be underwhelmed by the other parks. Epcot is suggested as first, the HS then AK then MK. I used this in organizing my POA.

Also MK is my favorite park, I based the whole itinerary around it- plus AK while we're staying at AKL. I wanted to visit MK while WDW was at it's slowest. We need AT LEAST 2 days there during our stay.

I allocated
1 AK
2 MK
1.5 Ep
2 US
.5 HS (and that's still a maybe. I left in tears last year, it was so crazy there on a non-peak day)
2 flex- do what we want days

Looking like this so far...
Arrive Sat AM, can't check into condo until 3
Sat 4/30- EP (short stay)
Sun 5/1 US IOA
Mon 5/2 US
Tues 5/3 MK- Crystal Palace- earliest breakfast possible
Weds 5/4 MK
Thurs 5/5 EP Cinco De Mayo? What will they do in Mexico?
Fri 5/4 (move to AKL from condo) Maybe HS in the AM
Sat 5/5 AK- Tusker House earliest breakfast possible, dinner for me and DH at Jiko
Sun 5/6 (Mother's Day) Maybe nice breakfast, stay at AKL and relax until we leave

So here's my ???s for everyone else...what are you making for your trip? And how are you surprising your kids? Any suggestions for DS who will be nearly 4?

I know I'm making him an autograph book and invites to character breakfasts. Probably some welcome letters. He's starting to read now (not as good a thing as you would think) so Mickey may start writing before we leave. I downloaded the font.

He'll have a bag of goodies for the train. I can't decide if we'll tell him we're taking the train to Disney, or let the train be an adventure on it's own. He LOVES trains. His favorite show is Dinosaur Train on PBS.

Note that I haven't mentioned DD. She won't really get the whole surprise thing. Every corner will be a surprise for her like it was when DS went last year.

All this and more during next week's installment...See ya Monday!
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Autumn DH Jack DS Noah 7 DD Lila 4
First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:08 PM   #9
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I am so excited to see people are planning well in advance as I am! It will be exciting to count down together. We are going from May 3-13, staying at Beach Club Villas. Here is our tentative plan. We have DS 6 and DD 4.

Tues-arrive, unpack, grocery shopping, pool
Wed-Chef Mickey's for breakfast and MK
Thurs-Epcot, Dinner at Teppan Edo
Friday-AK, dinner at Rainforest
Sat-pool day
Sun-HS, dinner 50's prime time
Mon-MK we would like to try for breakfast with the princesses
Tue-downtown disney, pool
Wed-MK again
Thurs-Epcot, dinner either Tutto Italia or Le Celier (we've never tried this one)
Fri-departure

I hope the dates I picked are good for each park, it's hard to plan without the park hours, crowd levels, etc.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:00 PM   #10
Wiloughby1
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Welcome Sabina! Have you joined Touringplans? That's where I get teh crowd level info. I love it!
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Autumn DH Jack DS Noah 7 DD Lila 4
First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:19 PM   #11
momtoBrandon&Jacob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiloughby1 View Post
A tentative itinerary forecast, based on current Touring Plans Crowd Calendar...and to pick ADRs- only about 3 mos until I call the dining line!

Some thoughts, first...I read somewhere that MK should be the first stop for kids, bc they will be underwhelmed by the other parks. Epcot is suggested as first, the HS then AK then MK. I used this in organizing my POA.

Also MK is my favorite park, I based the whole itinerary around it- plus AK while we're staying at AKL. I wanted to visit MK while WDW was at it's slowest. We need AT LEAST 2 days there during our stay.

I allocated
1 AK
2 MK
1.5 Ep
2 US
.5 HS (and that's still a maybe. I left in tears last year, it was so crazy there on a non-peak day)
2 flex- do what we want days

Looking like this so far...
Arrive Sat AM, can't check into condo until 3
Sat 4/30- EP (short stay)
Sun 5/1 US IOA
Mon 5/2 US
Tues 5/3 MK- Crystal Palace- earliest breakfast possible
Weds 5/4 MK
Thurs 5/5 EP Cinco De Mayo? What will they do in Mexico?
Fri 5/4 (move to AKL from condo) Maybe HS in the AM
Sat 5/5 AK- Tusker House earliest breakfast possible, dinner for me and DH at Jiko
Sun 5/6 (Mother's Day) Maybe nice breakfast, stay at AKL and relax until we leave

So here's my ???s for everyone else...what are you making for your trip? And how are you surprising your kids? Any suggestions for DS who will be nearly 4?

I know I'm making him an autograph book and invites to character breakfasts. Probably some welcome letters. He's starting to read now (not as good a thing as you would think) so Mickey may start writing before we leave. I downloaded the font.

He'll have a bag of goodies for the train. I can't decide if we'll tell him we're taking the train to Disney, or let the train be an adventure on it's own. He LOVES trains. His favorite show is Dinosaur Train on PBS.

Note that I haven't mentioned DD. She won't really get the whole surprise thing. Every corner will be a surprise for her like it was when DS went last year.

All this and more during next week's installment...See ya Monday!
We are planning on the same dates as you! Quick question though, how do you figure you have only 3 months till you make ADRs? According to my calculations we can't make ADRs till November which is 5 mos away.
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Old 06-25-2010, 01:03 PM   #12
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Allie- We can make them Nov1, which 4 mos. I just get ahead of myself sometimes! I just looked at your kids' ages- when your YDS was 4, what did he like the best? Anything you had to avoid?
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Old 06-25-2010, 04:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiloughby1 View Post
Allie- We can make them Nov1, which 4 mos. I just get ahead of myself sometimes! I just looked at your kids' ages- when your YDS was 4, what did he like the best? Anything you had to avoid?
Hmmm well he is a little guy but a daredevil. He liked pretty much all the rides, but he was a bit scared of the fireworks, he didn't like the Lights Motors Stunt show, and he didn't like the villains in the afternoon castle show (this was in 2007 so I think they had a show at about 5:00ish??). I think he was going through the "scared of loud noises" stage. I would say that his favorite part was the characters.

On our last trip he was a little over 7 and did fine with fireworks and all that stuff. Plus he was finally over 44" so he was able to ride EE which we did over and over... LOL.

PM me if you have any more questions. Where are you staying?
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiloughby1 View Post
Welcome Sabina! Have you joined Touringplans? That's where I get teh crowd level info. I love it!
I haven't yet, do you find it is accurate? Have you used it before?
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:52 PM   #15
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Sabina- we LOVED Touring Plans last year. The crowds were spot on and the plans meant we NEVER waited more than 15 min in a line, even on days that we 8s and 9s. Best thing I ever did in my planning.

MomtoB&J- My parents have a timeshare at Star Island, so we'll be splitting the time between there and AKL, depending on how low the prices get. We're prebooked for the week, and are hoping for 40% room only. If it gets that low, we can do a week there and a few days at the condo, otherwise the balance will shift to the condo.
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First Trip Big Red Boat/ Caribbean Beach 1989-Caribbean Beach 1990- Caribbean Beach 1992- Disney Institute 1995- Off site 1999-All-Star Movies (First Grown-Up trip) 2000-With my own little boy Off site 2009- POFQ/Off site 2011-Disneyland Portofino June 2012- Offsite/POR Sept/Oct 2012- Disney Dream/FW Oct 2014
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