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Old 09-04-2011, 08:40 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2009
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The best laid plans of men to see mice oft go awry. Aug-Sep '11 -10/16 - Day 4

We just got back last night (9/3) from 8 days at the beautiful Walt Disney World Resort. Before I get into anything else, though, I should introduce the players (pun intended, as you'll see at some point down the road).

The pic is from our November trip. My wife's the only one that looks any different.

I'm Matt, 37, lifelong Yankees fan and Michigan alum. I'm a pension actuary at a small firm on Long Island. I call my white Yankee hat my vacation hat, as I would usually only wear the regular blue hat, but it's too hot in Florida, and I'm too bald to go without one. This was my 7th trip down to Disney World.

My wife is Andrea, also 37. If you have ever heard the term "transmedia", you've likely heard of her. As you'll see in the upcoming pics from this trip, she's changed her hair a bit. We met in college through some mutual friends, and have been together since 5 weeks after I turned 20. It was her 5th trip down.

Our older daughter is Sasha, 9. She's a bit too old for the princesses now, but still likes the fairies a bit. She already thinks she's a teenager, which has caused some grey hair to grow into my goatee. It was her 4th trip down.

Our little one is Maya, 4, turning 5 at the end of the month. Maya is heavy into the princesses and fairies, and tries to get us to go to the Disney store every time we're in the mall so she can watch the videos. Maya's been down there 3 times.

Maya hit a big milestone this trip, and she JUST passed 40". She hit her head on the measuring stick quite a bit! We'd actually been measuring her at any time that we could, whether at doctors' offices, or at my parents' house with lines on the wall.

A few other things you should know:
1) We all love Phineas and Ferb. Andrea and I will watch it after the kids are in bed, and Maya has seen the movie at least 8 times. It's a show that we stop changing channels for when we see it. I was making it a point to do the M&G.

2) This trip was a COMPLETE SURPRISE to the kids. We are planning on going down for our 15th anniversary in October, 2013, and have told them repeatedly that that's when we'd be going back.

3) We figured out that we were going about 7 weeks before we did, so I booked the flights and the trip in the middle of July. I was tempted to write a PTR, but I think I'll cover that whole thing in a post or two here.

4) Andrea's least favorite thing about going on vacation is coming home to a messy house. This leads to...

Next... how we got the house clean in 7 short easy weeks!

2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ

Last edited by Pills; 10-15-2011 at 11:32 PM.
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:04 PM   #2
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subbing! sounds great so far! i will admit, i'm lurking on trip report boards to get last minute tips for my trip thats in 12 days!
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:50 AM   #3
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Count me in...we will be going to Orlando next August and I am hoping the heat will not be completely unbearable! Looking forward to reading your TR!
Rachel in NJ DH DS12 DD6

1 (RIP beloved Bridget), 4 (RIP gorgeous Guthrie),

Hoping/Wishing/Planning for: AUGUST 2016:Two weeks, 9 parks + Kennedy...Windsor Hills perhaps?

: FINALLY...a !!!
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:21 AM   #4
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Count me in. I am another one who can't stand coming home to messy house. I drive my DH and kids crazy the week before we leave.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:53 AM   #5
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We leave in 8 days ....Cant wait to hear all about your trip!!!!
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:15 PM   #6
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How to get the house clean in 7 easy weeks! (The PTR post)

I'm going to break this PTR post up into two parts... and it'll be a wall of text mostly. Sorry!

Part A - The Summer Clean-Up Challenge

So, where were we?

Ah, yes. My wife's evil, evil plan.

You see, we're not the neatest of people. Far from it. I was constantly yelled at as a kid to clean up my room because the cleaning lady was coming (wasn't that the point of having a cleaning lady?).

However, our house was getting to the point of being too messy, and that's where the evil plan came in.

We booked our trip on July 11 to go down on August 28, staying at Coronado Springs until September 3. We'd planned on taking a vacation sometime during the last two weeks of August, and with free dining starting on August 28, it worked out well. We'd decided immediately not to tell the kids. We'd wanted to surprise them two years ago, and misled them saying that we were going to DC, which actually had been the original plan. However, Sasha got too excited for a trip to DC with all she'd learned, and we had to tell them early so she wouldn't be disappointed with a Disney trip!

So... we figured we wanted some way for the kids to earn a reward. My wife, a game designer by trade, came up with this:

This is the clean the house game board.

Essentially, every room was given a certain amount of stars based on the level of the mess at the beginning of the game. Every Sunday, we did a tally at noon to see what was clean and what wasn't. If you can't read what's there, it includes every room in the house... and our cars! Bonus starts were given for the garage - we moved into the house 10 years ago, and we still had boxes in there (all unpacked, but still).

Every week had a star total to go for. If we hit the total, we went to Red Mango for frozen yogurt, or the kids got a trip to the toy store. If we hit 175 stars at the end, we'd get a prize worth "a hundred dollars". If we hit 200, that would double. Of course, our trip cost a *little* more than that.

The picture above shows the final board. We hit our goal every week, and, in the last, had to clean out the garage to get all of our outdoor furniture inside of it. The only room that didn't get clean was the master bedroom!

I have to say - the kids really took to this. Our house never looked better than on the day we left.

Part B - Come on, Irene!

So, you may note that the last Sunday was August 28, as we'd lined that up with our flight down to Orlando. We live on Long Island, and we were flying down from JFK on that Sunday evening - the extra night at WDW with free dining was worth the difference in airfare between Sunday night and Monday morning.

We started watching Irene when it was in the Caribbean. Our phones and web browsers were glued to weather sites all week. At one point, it had projected to go about 100-150 miles east of Long Island, which we figured may be OK.

The next day, the projection was over Manhattan at the exact time we were planning on leaving. Something had to be done.

Andrea and I both started calling American, and we kept getting the same story - $150 change fee PLUS the difference in airfare - about $1k!. We were considering driving down; we were going to go on a more westerly route, barely touch North Carolina and instead go towards Tennessee, and then to Atlanta. If we did that, American wouldn't refund our tickets down UNLESS the flight was cancelled... AND charge us $40/ticket to make the return flights one-way. We were OK with this, instead of the alternative of losing at least 2 days of vacation. We figured that there was no way our flight wouldn't be cancelled; we were right.

Then, finally, around 1:00 PM on Thursday, American changed their story and offered to change any flights from Friday on TO Friday on. We'd already discussed going down early. I checked WDW's website, and they had availability on Friday and Saturday night, so I changed the tickets to Friday morning, and THEN called WDW, as I couldn't book online. No problem to extend the reservation two days, but they couldn't extend the free dining, as it started on the 28th.

We had to get the girls to clean up early! Originally, Andrea had planned on taking them for manicures on Friday, so we told them that they wouldn't want to mess up their nails cleaning up. Then, we changed our story with Irene coming, saying that we were going to take a road trip. We didn't know where we were going, but we figured we'd be gone for a little over a week. We had them pack up 8-9 days worth of clothes, along with everything they'd need - books, games, bedtime things, etc.

We also told them that we'd have to leave VERY early in the morning to avoid rush hour... so we were going around 6.

This gets us to Friday... and our long awaited surprise!

Next... not exactly how we wanted our surprise revealed, and our first day of vacation is spent where?

2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ

Last edited by Pills; 09-11-2011 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 09-06-2011, 09:11 PM   #7
Let me rephrase the dog stew remark
I broke more than I used
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signing on, sounds like a fun trip
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:14 PM   #8
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Before I go into the next day (which, again, will be mostly text, sorry!), I want to welcome everyone who's posted and/or reading the thread. I apologize that the beginning is, well, not really WDW-centric, as the next post won't be, either!

As the title says, the best laid plans...
2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Vacation Day 1, Part 1

Finally, it's the day we fly down!

Andrea and I were up at 5 to get the remainder of the packing done. We got the girls up about a half hour later, and were out around 6:10, which was a little later than I wanted to go. In preparation for Irene, I pulled my car from the street to the top of our long driveway, and secured the chain link gate behind it. We usually take Andrea's car when we go out as a family.

In that 5 minutes I was outside, I swear, I was a mosquito buffet. My legs started itching like crazy about 5 minutes into the ride.

Now, again, we told the girls that we were going on a road trip. Normally, if I'm driving to JFK long term parking, I get off at the exit for JFK and meander through the back roads of the airport to the long term parking lot. This time, I went a slightly different way not to tip the kids off. I actually got into the lot before Maya piped up with "why are we at the airport?"

For those that don't know, JFK's long term parking is FAR away from the terminals. They used to run buses, but then a few years back they built, essentially, a monorail from the lot to the terminals. It takes about 5 minutes to get to the beginning of the terminals. There's also a branch that goes to the Long Island Rail Road station at Jamaica, Queens, which is the main LIRR hub outside of Penn Station in Manhattan.

I parked relatively close to the Air Train, and we went to the platform, while being peppered by the girls asking "Where are we going?!". It was then that I realized my camera had fallen out of my pocket and was in the car. Now, our flight was at 7:45, and I was fairly sure that we had to check in 45 minutes in advance at the latest. It was 6:40, and the walk from the Air Train stop to the counter can be long. I told Andrea to just go and check our one bag if the train came, and Sasha and I ran to get the camera. Andrea has a bum wrist from a fall, so she couldn't take everything.

There had been a bunch of people at the platform when we go there, but no train came while Sasha and I got the camera and came back. And we waited. And waited. Finally, around 6:55, it came, and I'm panicking. It'd been at least 20 minutes since we'd pulled into the parking lot, and no train, when they're supposed to come every 10 minutes.

We get to the terminal, and I just booked it with the bag we're checking and the stroller. I had been told on the phone that we MUST do self check-in at the airport, so I did... and got the message that we were too late and had to speak to a counter agent.

There was a line, but I found someone and told her my flight was at 7:45. We were ushered to an agent, and I was then told that, no way, no how, were we making this flight. Again, it was 40 minutes out. THIS is how the girls found out. Andrea had caught up at this point, and stepped into my discussion with the ticket agent. Between us, we'd said "we're going to Orlando" a slew of times. They were very excited, but not exactly what we had in mind!

We ended up switching to the night flight (for $50/ticket), which was scheduled to come in around 10:30. I asked them to put the bag down on the earlier flight, and was told no; I wanted ME to take it, but we figured we'd have to now go to baggage claim. They did take the bag to check onto our flight, though.

We didn't want to stay in the airport all day, so we started going back to the Air Train. On our way there, we heard them calling 4 people on standby for our flight.

After a little debate, we decided to put the bags back in the car, and go into Manhattan!

This is getting a little long, so...

Next: Our day in Manhattan, and something Disney related, I promise!

2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ

Last edited by Pills; 09-14-2011 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:52 PM   #10
Let me rephrase the dog stew remark
I broke more than I used
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Wow, that sounds very stressful. Hope you at least had a good day in Manhattan
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:27 PM   #11
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We got a lot more relaxed after we had a plan for the day. We were originally going to go to Terminal 4, which had a lot of food before security, for breakfast. We were then debating taking the car out and going to a local mall that was about 10 minutes away, but it's rare that we actually go into the city.

It's like that with a lot of LIers, in my experience. You don't go into the city a lot unless you work there. It's just something that's there. With the ceremonies today, I was thinking about the one time I went into the WTC. It was when my wife's family visited in the summer of '95, which was between she and I graduating college. We didn't go to the top.

We're not tourists, but we don't live there.
2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:02 PM   #12
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End of Day 1

When we last left off, our little family was on the way into Manhattan.

We hadn't eaten at all. We decided to expose the kids to something new - Egg McMuffins! And well, while some of you may be upset, I did not take any food pics (with one exception, which you'll see a bit later).

Andrea's actually developed a gluten intolerance in the last couple of years, so she went over to Starbucks in Penn Station while I took the kids to McDs. I ordered two sausage McMuffins and one regular. It worked out well, as Sasha only wanted the sausage, Maya only wanted the eggs, and I ate the regular one.

And, yes we eat plenty of McDs (too much, probably), but they've never had breakfast there before.

We had plenty of time, and knew some places we wanted to hit, so we walked down 34th past Macy's to Broadway. We walked down Broadway to Times Square... and Toys R Us.

We were looking for a specific game for Sasha's Nintendo DS. She'd been wanting to play Style Savvy, which she had at some point. We think she traded it in ages ago, but we haven't been able to find it in the stores at all. They didn't have the game, but suggested we go to the Nintendo store on 48th.

A block away from TRU... is the Disney Store!

We actually spoke to the store CM for a while, telling him that we were actually going down to WDW that night. Then, we did something that would affect all of our future trips to WDW, and would have a great effect even on this trip.


We bought them both these sets. If you got one of these pins over the last few weeks, you're welcome. They're NYC Disney Store exclusive pins, but the set is only $20. We figured that we could always get another set if need be, and that the CMs (and other guests) would like the pins that probably rarely show up at WDW.

We scouted out a few other things at the store, and proceeded to the Nintendo Store on 48th. On the way, we saw Geraldo Rivera going into a car garage. For the rest of the day, I couldn't get a Simpsons song out of my head (There was nothing in Al Capone's vault/But it wasn't Geraldo's fault!).

We didn't do much at the Nintendo store (they didn't have the game), but sat there for a while while the girls played on the multitude of Nintendo DSs of every variety that they have. Ironically, one of them had Style Savvy on it.

We then walked over to the Barnes and Noble on 5th and bought some books for the girls (I already had A Dance with Dragons for the trip). By the time we left, the sky started to look a little foreboding, so we walked back to Penn, had a snack, and took the train and Air Train back to JFK. We went to long term parking, got the carry-on bags, and went to the terminal with plenty of time to spare.

We went through security and to the gate, and wandered off for food. I picked up sandwiches for me and Maya at a deli, and Andrea went to Cebo and got food for her and Sasha. Maya ended up developing some kind of allergic reaction to something she ate. We still have no idea what brought it about.

Sasha has a peanut allergy, so we carry Benedryl on us. We gave her one and called the doctor, who said it was the right thing to do, and just to watch her. It ended up going away a couple of days later.

We finally got on our flight (after a gate change), and made our way to Orlando!

We landed a little before 11, and went down to wait for the bag. And waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, when it became obvious that our bag wasn't there, I went to the baggage help and confirmed that ME would've taken our bag with the yellow tag on it if it came down early. So, we headed to ME (which was across the airport), and discovered that, yes, ME had taken our bag. Our bag apparently made the early flight that we were told it couldn't. I think American's going to be getting a letter about that.

We made our way to the bus. We got on, and left about 5 minutes later.

Next... We're finally at WDW!
2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ

Last edited by Pills; 09-16-2011 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:54 AM   #13
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seem like interesting trip. waiting new update
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Old 09-15-2011, 03:24 PM   #14
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:35 PM   #15
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Finally at WDW!

We got to Coronado Springs around 12:40 and went to check in. We were all exhausted from being up so early, and no one slept on the plane. I had put in a room request for Building 9, first floor.

We got room 5243. 5th building, 2nd floor, and about as long a walk from the lobby as you can get. Unfortunately, they had no other rooms, but they said to check back in the morning to see if anyone was checking out. We had a sneaking suspicion that people were staying to avoid Irene, and that check outs may be rarer than normal.

We went to get the bag. When we asked about it, we were told "oh, yeah, we know about that bag". I guess not having us show up for 12 hours after the bag got there was a little weird for them! They then gave us a ride to the building. We went up to the room (which, really, was nicer and a little bigger than I was expecting), and promptly all conked out.

In the morning, Andrea took Maya to the lobby to see if we could change rooms, as they told us to come back in the morning. No dice, but they said we could check back AGAIN on Sunday. (SPOILER: We decided not to move on Sunday and didn't check back again).

Eventually, Sasha and I got up, and we gave Maya her first surprise - a restaurant named for her!

We had a nice breakfast. Now, I had shipped down sunscreen; Maya has reacted to some of the ones they sell there. I got the runaround from the front desk to the business office back to the front desk, but I finally got it.

And then, finally, off to MK!

First things first - autograph books. Even though we weren't planning on waiting on a lot of lines this time (they each have more than 3 full autograph books from previous trips), we did have some things lined up that they'd need the books for.

Then, the obligatory Main Street picture!

You'll notice they're not wearing the pins. We actually forgot them in the room for a couple of days. They got lanyards on Monday, and EVERY time after that that they saw a CM with pins, Maya, at least, went up and tried to trade.

So, we weren't supposed to be here this day. We had no plan. Sasha wanted to ride BTMRR, and Maya wanted to just walk up to the castle. We walked up to the hub and told Sasha that we'd eventually get to BTMRR, but we were going to stay around there for a little while.

We were on the spoke going to Liberty Square... and there was Tiana.

You'll notice that Maya doesn't look at the camera a lot. I have no idea why this is, but she always gets upset that she wasn't looking at the camera later. We even remind her of this; doesn't help.

Anyway, we through the underpass by HM and into Fantasyland. We decided that our first ride should be Dumbo.

I decided to take some construction pics. At this point I was thinking about writing the report, so I figured you all would appreciate it.

You can see that there's not much in the way of shadows in these pictures, and the one dark cloud in the last one. This comes into play soon...

After Dumbo, the girls went on the Mad Tea cups while I got a soda and saw the HUGE line for Rapunzel. We were then going to go on the carousel, Peter Pan and Snow White. Andrea and Maya lined up for the carousel while Sasha and I checked out the other two to see which had the longer line; Peter Pan did, so we got FPs and went back to the carousel. Unbeknownst to us, Andrea and Maya were already on, so we got in line and rode on the next one.

We went on Snow White after that. It started raining when we were on line, but nothing bad. I moved the stroller under an overhang.

Neither girl liked the ride. It was too scary for Maya, and Sasha got a bit creeped out by it as well. It wasn't yet time for our FPs, so, against Sasha's protests, we went on Small World.

I have to say, I had to amuse myself, so I took a pic of the CM at the controls.

When we came out, there were a LOT of people crowded in the exit. We soon found out why.

A band of Irene came over Orlando. Well, at least we were down here getting hit by it, and not at home!

We were told we had to leave the exit area, so we were herded into an area next to it, and kept getting told to move down... and, essentially on the line again. So, we went through again, against Sasha's vehement "NOOOOO!!!!!".

This time, I made a game of trying to spot the speakers. Most of them are very well hidden, but there are some obvious ones, especially in the last room.

By the time we got out, the rain had slackened to a drizzle, and the stroller was soaked.

Getting a bit long, so...

Next... the rest of our first day at MK!

2/78 - Offsite * 2/82 - CR * 7/89 - DL offsite * 2/90 - Offsite * 11/03 - DL offsite * 6/06 - CBR * 8/09 - WL * 11/10 - WL * 8/11 - CSR

11/13 - POFQ

Last edited by Pills; 09-23-2011 at 04:53 PM.
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