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Old 07-15-2011, 01:49 PM   #1
kdka421
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Celebrating a combined 34 years of marriage! *Trip Over! TR to come...*

Hello all!

I'm pretty new to Disboards...but not to Disney World. Since we're about at the point in our trip where everything is planned, but there is so much anticipation all I want to do is think about Disney World, I thought it would be the perfect thing to do to start and share a pre-trip report with you all! Hope you enjoy.


The basic details: Port Orleans French Quarter, August 29-September 4, party of 4.

Introduction to Us:
This trip is comprised of myself, my hubby, and my parents!

Myself and my husband:




Kate - 25 years old, Aaron - 26 years old. No children yet, just the two of us still. Happily married for 4 years in June, our wedding was 6 days after our college graduation! Why wait, right?!

Our first trip to Disney together was exactly 2 years ago, July 2009. Prior to that, Aaron had spent a grand total of ONE day in Disney World, a brief visit to the Magic Kingdom as a kid as part of a family trip to Florida. I had taken 6 trips with my family between 1996 and 2004. As a teenager I was fond of saying that I did NOT want to go back to Disney World (*gasp!*)...it wasn't that I didn't like it, I just was frustrated at the time that Disney was the only vacation we ever took. Well thank goodness my mindset changed, and hubby and I loved our trip together in 2009, and obviously are more than excited to be going back again.

My parents:


Mike and Peg. Will be happily married for 30 years this coming March!

As mentioned above, they were of course along on the 6 family trips we took over the years, but they have not been back since 2004. It's fair to say, that even when my brother and I were kids, my parents loved Disney World even more than we did.


So that's the introduction...stay tuned for many more details!


TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction
Part 1: The first spark
Part 2: The big surprise
Part 3: When, where, & how...
Part 4: Our day-by-day schedule
Part 4: Food, glorious food!
Part 5: Dining continued...
Part 6: Rope drop
Part 7: Matching shirts
Part 8: Misc. planning
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Old 07-16-2011, 12:13 PM   #2
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The first spark:

What really started the ball rolling was back in the beginning of March, my mother received a pin code for Free Dining between late April - mid August. Every year when Free Dining comes around, my mom dreams about planning a trip. So naturally when she received this email, we both started dreaming. It started out completely as a dream - my mother knew that she and my dad realistically couldn't afford another trip at least until my younger brother graduates college (next year). And Aaron and I, we had just taken our last trip in 2009, and weren't planning on going back to the World so soon, plus we had just taken a vacation in December.

So for a while, my mom and I just let ourselves dream. We hypothetically talked about the whole family going, or sometimes just the two of them or the two of us. And as we all know, the more you talk about it, the more you want to go! However, when it came down to it, the timeframe of this offer didn't really work out for any of us.

A little while later (I think it was the end of April or beginning of May), the official Free Dining promotion was announced. This got the ball rolling again, and we continued with our daydreaming....but this time, I came at our conversations from a slightly different angle....

When I started looking at the prices, I realized that it wasn't much more expensive to take 4 adults instead of 2, especially since all the food was 'free'. I'd always wanted to be able to take my parents to Disney World, but never really discussed it with my husband...not knowing how thrilled he'd be about the idea of vacationing with the in-laws. So one day, I mentioned to Aaron my idea...and he was on board! When I realized that we both were on the same page (at times my husband seemed more excited than I did!), I realized that we were going to make this happen.


Coming up next....how we revealed the surprise to my parents!
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:13 PM   #3
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The big surprise:

Once we decided to move ahead with our plans, things all happened very quickly. I casually got a feel of what dates would work for my parents, and tried to coordinate schedules. The biggest concern was if my husband would be able to get the vacation time - my job is very accommodating with vacation requests, but his job has more difficult restrictions to work around. For example, he can't take 2 Saturdays off in a row, and often if one or two other coworkers have a day off, he wouldn't be able to have it off as well. So we picked out two date ranges that worked for us, and he submitted them to his work for approval.

At this point, we were both dying to spill the news to my parents, but knew there was still a chance that his vacation request could get denied, and maybe the trip would fall through! Obviously we didn't want to get their hopes up. So it took a few days, but Aaron's vacation request was finally approved. He works evenings, so when he got home from work around 1am, we both wanted to finally make the announcement to my parents! Now, if you knew my parents, you would know that they are typically extreme night owls...I don't make a habit of calling them at 1am, but I'd say that if I needed to, there's probably a 90% chance (or better) that they'd still be awake, any day of the week. So, I didn't think twice about picking up the phone and calling them...

...And wouldn't you know it, the one time I do call at 1am, they were already in bed. OOPS! They were a little groggy, but probably hadn't been asleep too long. Not exactly the circumstances I was hoping for, but now that we had woken them up, I figured we better give them the good news so we didn't wake them up for nothing!

I had my mom put the phone on speakerphone, and we both quickly announced that we were taking them to Disney as an early 30th anniversary gift! They were a little speechless (partly due to them still recovering from their grogginess), but were so blown away and excited! We told them we had tentative plans/dates/etc, but hadn't booked anything yet to make sure it all worked on their end...but that we planned on figuring out the details in the next few days and making the reservations then. I told my mom I'd talk to her the next day, and we hung up and let them dream of Disney for the rest of the night.


Coming up next...the details of our vacation. When, where, & how...
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:58 AM   #4
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(Hello to any readers, please stop by and say hi! I'll continue writing even if it's just for myself, but would love to chat with anyone as well!)

When, where, & how...

We wanted to pin down the basic details and get the reservation made asap. The first question was making sure the dates that Aaron and I had approved would also work for my parents (they did!). Picking a resort was easy. But the biggest question was transportation....how would we get there?!

What we decided:

WHEN - August 29th through September 4th. 7 days and 6 nights.

WHERE - Port Orleans French Quarter. All 4 of us have stayed in Port Orleans Riverside before (my husband and I on our last trip 2 years ago, and myself and my parents on one of our family trips, back when it was Dixie Landings). We all loved Port Orleans, and are excited to stay on the smaller side of the resort. We actually didn't even know until after we booked at the POFQ rooms have all been recently renovated, so that made us even more thrilled with our decision!

HOW - We're going to be taking Amtrak's AutoTrain! The day before, my parents will drive down from Upstate NY to our place in Northern VA. Then, August 28th we'll get on the Auto Train, which drives through the night, and arrive in Florida early morning of the 29th. Our departure back to VA is the afternoon of the 4th, so we should have a few hours in the parks that morning before leaving.

The reasons we decided on the AutoTrain...first, my mom doesn't fly, so that wasn't an option. The other main alternative would be driving, which we've all done before...many of our family trips were 24+ hour drives from NY to FL, and last year my husband and I did the roughly 14-15 hour drive from VA to FL. We decided against driving because my parents didn't think they were up to doing all that traveling in one day anymore, and taking the train allows the trip to go a lot quicker, since you get to sleep while the train is still moving towards Florida. Also, taking the train will be more enjoyable, and we're looking at that as part of our vacation as well!

We've done the regular Amtrak twice before, but never the AutoTrain, so that will be a new interesting experience for us. If you've done the AutoTrain before, let me know your likes/dislikes!

Coming up next...our day by day schedule.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:57 AM   #5
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Wow! The AutoTrain sounds cool! I've never done Florida by train, although I've driven. We're in Montreal, though, and DH hates road trips, so flying it is for us.

Your parents must have been super surprised!
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:41 AM   #6
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Wow! The AutoTrain sounds cool! I've never done Florida by train, although I've driven. We're in Montreal, though, and DH hates road trips, so flying it is for us.

Your parents must have been super surprised!
Thanks for visiting my PTR

We are pretty excited about the AutoTrain! I think it's funny that we're taking our car (you have to bring a car to get tickets on the AutoTrain) but we probably will not use it once while we're in FL! The only thing I'm worried about with the AutoTrain is sleeping...we didn't get a sleeper car, so I'm not sure how well we're going to be able to sleep in our seats. Supposedly they are relatively comfortable, so hopefully it'll be okay!

Montreal seems like a nice place - I've visited twice, my grandmother lives just outside of Montreal. That'd be quite a drive to FL if you were to do it...I know the drives from NY to FL were so long! It's definitely nice to be letting someone else be in charge of the transportation.
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:40 AM   #7
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First, I want to start by saying......40 Days left until we arrive!!!


Okay everyone, here's our day-by-day schedule! I've left off our ADRs, I'll include them in my next post!

Monday 8/29 - MAGIC KINGDOM. We arrive this morning on the train, around 9am or so. We'll drive to POFQ, check in, and head to the parks. I'm hoping that we should be there by noon, leaving us a good chunk of the day still in the MK.

Tuesday 8/30 - EPCOT. Extra magic hours in the morning, so we'll get an early start, hit a bunch of the main attractions in the morning, and maybe take a break back at the hotel after lunch.

Wednesday 8/31 - ANIMAL KINGDOM. Extra magic hours in the morning again. We'll spend all day there, probably without a break, since the park closes at 5pm.

Thursday 9/1 - HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS. Had planned this as our HS day since Fantasmic was showing, although now they've changed it to every night, but by the time that happened we weren't going to shuffle around our ADRs. We'll probably break again in the late afternoon and have dinner back at POFQ, then return for Fantasmic.

Friday 9/2 - EPCOT. Evening extra magic hours this day, although my mom has already warned me they may not have enough energy to stay out til midnight (again, they are typically night owls, but all these early mornings might wear us all down). May or may not stay all the way through EMHs (park is open until midnight).

Saturday 9/3 - MAGIC KINGDOM. We love to start and end our visits here. We have a little something special planned for this day....stay tuned to see what this is!

Sunday 9/4 - MAGIC KINGDOM / head home. Our train leaves around 4pm, so we have a few hours in the morning before we have to head to the station. We're tentatively thinking of spending a few relaxing hours at MK, nothing much planned. Or, if there is anything we miss and want to get back to before we leave, we'll do it then. Leave around noon-1pm and board the train and head home.

So, 2 days in MK and Epcot, those are all of our favorite parks so it was an easy decision. We all love the shows and fireworks and all that, so most nights we'll end the night with the shows/fireworks. We have at least three pretty early mornings, but we all know that Disney is not a relaxing vacation! Good thing is that the parks aren't open ridiculously late, so hopefully we'll be able to get ourselves to bed at a reasonable hour.

So that's our plan! Coming up next...our ADRs (from casual to fancy!), and what do you think we have planned for Saturday? Find out next time!
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:56 AM   #8
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Food, glorious food!

Hubby and I are both foodies, without a doubt. My parents aren't quite as adventurous as we are, but still, we all love to eat!! So we had a great time planning out our ADRs. It's a nice mix of new ones and some old favorites.

Monday - dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. Haven't done this one since our first trip when it was still a character dinner.

Tuesday - lunch at Les Chefs de France, dinner at Rose & Crown. Hubby and I tried both on our last trip, my parents haven't been to either.

Wednesday - My parents are eating dinner at Rainforest Cafe, while my husband and I enjoy a celebratory dinner at...Victoria & Albert's! My husband works for another 5-star restaurant, so we're eagerly awaiting our first experience here!

Thursday - no ADRs planned, we're not big fans of any of the table service restaurants at HS.

Friday - Rose & Crown was original scheduled for this day...but I moved that to Tuesday, when I snagged a lunch reservation for Le Cellier. We've all been anxious to try this one, so I was so glad to get a reservation!

Saturday - Splitting up from my parents again, they're having dinner at Tony's Town Square, while Aaron and I head over to California Grill. We ate there for the first time on our last visit, and are looking forward to going back.

Sunday - Our plans for this morning are up in the air, although I've tentatively booked us a brunch at Crystal Palace if we do end up in the Magic Kingdom.


And our other news - Saturday morning, we're all getting to MK early to take the Keys to the Kingdom tour!! We've never done anything like this before, and we're all so excited about it! I love all the backstage stuff, so I can't wait to see what the tour is like.

Let me know what you think about our ADRs or any of our plans so far! Later on I'll share our tentative thoughts for our non-reservation dining plans!
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:04 PM   #9
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Just wanted to drop in quickly to say that we received our Mickey Mail today!! It's getting so close.

Hubby and I just got back from a quick trip up to NY to see my parents, and it's hard to believe that just 32 days from today, the 4 of us will all be arriving together in WDW!!

I'll try to post with another update on our plans tomorrow afternoon!
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:58 AM   #10
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Wow, my ticker says "ONE MONTH!"

As promised, here are the non-ADR tentative plans for our quick service dining meals:

Monday - lunch at Pecos Bill, we should be arriving at MK somewhere around lunchtime.

Tuesday - no QS, it's all table service this day! Epcot has such awesome food options.

Wednesday - lunch at Flame Tree BBQ, hubby and I discovered this our last trip, and I know my parents are going to love it too.

Thursday - lunch at Studio Catering Company at HS, dinner at the POFQ food court.

Friday - tentative breakfast at POFQ food court, late dinner while waiting for Illuminations either at China or Mexico pavilions.

Saturday - Lunch at Columbia Harbor House (included as part of Keys to the Kingdom tour)

Sunday - none


Does anyone have any feedback on the POFQ food court? We liked the one at POR, but I think I've heard that the POFQ doesn't have as many options? Maybe we'll go over to Riverside for that one dinner on Thursday, depending upon what we're in the mood for.


Still coming up...I'll discuss some of our rope drop plans. Drop me a line if you have any comments on any of our plans so far, I'd love to hear from you!
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Old 07-29-2011, 04:16 PM   #11
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Hi! I love your PTR so far!! I loved the surprise for your parents!! We will be in WDW the same time as you guys! Can't wait to hear more of your plans!
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:27 AM   #12
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Hi! I love your PTR so far!! I loved the surprise for your parents!! We will be in WDW the same time as you guys! Can't wait to hear more of your plans!
Thanks so much for stopping by my PRT! Glad you're enjoying it so far!!
I see you'll be staying at the All Stars, cool, we did a few trips there as well.
Did you notice if any of our park days overlapped?? That'd be cool too!

I'll certainly be adding more to my PTR soon.

I dreamed about Disney last night When I woke up this morning, I had just been dreaming about our first day at WDW, somehow we got to MK before it opened, and accidentally got in the park before rope drop even though we didn't have an ADR or anything like that, and we wandered over to Crystal Palace and I think my Dad stole someone's ADR! Haha.
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:49 PM   #13
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4 weeks from today, just about this time, we'll be boarding the Autotrain and making our way down to Florida! How exciting!


Since we're all pretty experienced with Disney, and since we're going at a relatively slow time of year, we're not going to plan our days out in nearly as many details as we've done for past trips. What we will try to do, though, is develop a basic plan of attack for most mornings, and then go a little more leisurely from there. So here are a few of our rope drop plans:

Day 2, Epcot - has EMH starting at 8am. Plan to get their for rope drop, go straight to Soarin, then head over to Mission Space/Test Track. Do at least one (or both depending on lines) and get FPs for one.

Day 3, AK - has EMH starting at 8am. We'll go straight to the safari, since everyone loves it and it's always best to see the animals early in the day. Then we'll probably head over to Everest, ride that and also get FPs for later on.

Day 4, HS - open at 9am. Arrive for rope drop, and we'll send my Mom to get FPs for Toy Story (my Mom doesn't ride any of the thrill rides) while we hit Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror.

Those will probably be the only days we are able to do rope drop (Day 1 we won't arrive at MK until about 11am-noon, Day 5 we might take a little more leisurely, and Day 6 will be a PRE-rope drop day because our Keys to the Kingdom tour starts at 8:30am.), except maybe our partial Day 7, depending upon what we end up planning for that day.

Much of our plans will revolve around shows - both the stage shows which we all love, and also the musical groups which my dad in particular is a huge fan of. Hopefully the week or so before we leave, I can get a basic estimation of what the show times will be, so we can fit those timings into our plans as well.


Hmmm, my next segment will probably be about something non-planning related...perhaps a peek at our pin collection, or maybe a preview of the matching shirts we're working on. Check back to find out!
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:40 PM   #14
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What a wonderful thing to do!!!

We stayed at POFQ twice. The 1st time we stayed with my mom and we all really enjoyed it. It was a lovely resort and I loved how close everything was.

When I was younger we took the Autotrain down to FLA numerous times. My DH has a "thing" against Amtrak and thinks it would be horrible to train down, so for now we are driving. However if I end up doing a girl trip next year I may take the train down.
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Old 08-01-2011, 08:41 AM   #15
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What a wonderful thing to do!!!

We stayed at POFQ twice. The 1st time we stayed with my mom and we all really enjoyed it. It was a lovely resort and I loved how close everything was.

When I was younger we took the Autotrain down to FLA numerous times. My DH has a "thing" against Amtrak and thinks it would be horrible to train down, so for now we are driving. However if I end up doing a girl trip next year I may take the train down.
Thanks hon!! We are very excited about POFQ, we all loved Riverside and I do think we'll love POFQ as well.

Neat that you've taken the Autotrain before! Do you have any tips? Advice about anything it was helpful to bring? I'd appreciate any advice! Packing will be one of the next things to tackle...

I see you're from the greater DC area as well - hi neighbor
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