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Old 10-15-2011, 08:43 AM   #1
ellajeansmom
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Sharing Disney magic with the grandparents...countdown to Nov 26!!

Welcome to my PTR!!! I'm so excited about this trip and can't wait to share our plans with you all

Here is a quick overview:

Who? me (Lara), DH (E), DD9 (Ella), DD6 (Jean), Nana (my mom), Gramps (my dad) and Grammy (E’s mom)
What? A 3-generation Disney adventure
When? Sat. Nov. 26 to Sun. Dec. 4
Where? WDW – Coronado Springs (all 7 of us) for 5 nights then we split up: 3night Dream cruise (Grammy and girls), Kennedy Space Center and back to WDW – Swan (E & Lara), beach condo (Nana & Gramps)
Why? We loved the 2009 trip so much that we talked the grandparents in to coming along this time!

So now in more detail, here is a better introduction to our crew:



My name is Lara, I became a WDW fan while planning our first family vacation in 2009. That is when I discovered the DIS and my DH will tell that all hope was lost from then on! I am an accountant and work for a life insurance company. My favourite Disney character as a kid was Maid Marian and my favourite attraction at WDW is Soarin’ with Star Tours a close 2nd.

E is my DH of 15 years and we’ve been together for 21 years (yes, we were high school sweethearts). He originally went to school for environmental engineering and then went back for IT. He works for a company that develops software for the healthcare industry as an implementation specialist – which basically means he helps customers prepare for and install new or upgraded computer systems. E loves sports, especially hockey. In the winter he plays hockey 3 times a week and helps to coach both Ella and Jean’s teams. E’s favourite Disney characters are the moose from Brother Bear. His favourite attraction at WDW from our last trip was Spaceship Earth and Space Mountain from when he was a kid (it was closed on our 2009 trip).

Ella is DD9, although she will be 10 by the time of our trip. She has loved Disney princesses since she was a toddler, still enjoys dressing up and is a daydreamer- we often feel that in her heart she believes herself to be a princess. She has taken ballet since she was 3 and is also playing hockey this year for the 2nd time. Her favourite Disney character is Toulousse from the Aristocats (which we just watched last night!) and her favourite attraction at WDW is BTMRR.

Jean is DD6. She is our realist and has told me several times recently that she knows the characters at WDW are just normal people dressed up. However she is still little girl enough to be excited to see them! Jean has made a couple of changes in her activities this year - from ballet to tap and from figure skating to hockey. Cinderella and Rapuznel top her list of character favourites and her favourite attraction at WDW is Tower of Terror! It will be interesting to see if this holds as she was much more of a daredevil at 4 than she is at 6.

These are my parents, taken at my brother's wedding last summer.


Nana is my mom. She was a teacher but while we were kids she was mostly at home and only did supply teaching when we needed extra money. She enjoys gardening, spending time with her grandkids and is very involved in her church’s activities such as visiting the older folks and book clubs/bible study groups. She also loves to travel but has found that difficult in recent years as health issues have really decreased her energy level. Fortunately she has found ways to manage this. Her favourite Disney character is Bambi, her favourite attraction at WDW is Cinderella’s carousel and her last visit to WDW was in the mid-1990’s.

Gramps is my dad. He worked in various marketing-type roles for Bell Canada for 25+ years, took an early retirement package and worked for a couple of start-up companies and a geo-thermal distributor before retiring for real a few years ago. He enjoys golf and fishing and is an avid reader. He had some difficulty coming up with a favourite character but his favourite attraction at WDW is Space Mountain and his last visit to WDW was in the mid-1990’s with my mom and youngest brother.


Grammy is E’s mom (this is from the girls' dance recital this past June). She was an elementary school principal and has been enjoying retirement for over 10 years now. Her primary hobby is sewing and she has recently taken up golf and playing bridge. She lives in the same town as us and provides us with lots of child care support when the kids are sick or when we have to work late. She also had trouble deciding on a favourite character but her favourite movie is Old Yellar. Her last visit to WDW was in 1982 so she really has no idea what her favourite ride is!

Next time…how this trip came to be!
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:05 PM   #2
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I'm here, I'm here

I am so excited that you started this!! I wouldn't miss this for the world!
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:15 PM   #3
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I'm here, I'm here

I am so excited that you started this!! I wouldn't miss this for the world!
I'm so glad you're here!
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:52 PM   #4
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I'm going to back track a little bit. I realized that there were two family members that I didn't mention in the first post as they will be staying at home. They are E's dad (known as Grampy) and our puppy Nala.

This is from back in March on the day Nala came home to us and also one of the few recent pics we have of Grampy.


Here is a more recent pic of Nala - this is from August and she has grown since then, and had a haircut!


Anyways, Nala is not coming for obvious reasons. Grampy was invited but wasn't up for it. Due to a pretty bad car accident several years ago, he has trouble dealing with new situations, crowds, noisy and busy environments. So it was probably the smart decision on his part, but we'll miss him!

So, how this trip came to be…

I think we probably need to go back to the end of our 2009 trip. To quote from that TR:
As we drove past the "Welcome to WDW" sign I told the girls to turn around and wave good-bye. Apparently Jean didn’t fully realize that we were actually leaving to go home because when we pulled up to return the car and E said everyone out Jean asked where we were and why. We replied that we were at the airport and we needed to get all our stuff out of the car so it could be returned. Jean burst into tears and kept saying over and over “I don’t want to leave!”. A porter helped us get all the luggage inside and we directed him to a quiet area so we could do the afore-mentioned re-arranging. Jean was still sobbing and Ella just quietly sat in a chair with tears streaming down her face I have to admit to feeling a bit teary myself but tried not to let it show as that would not have helped the girls at that point We got everything organized and Jean calmed down – she then started asking when we were coming back, this girl doesn't miss a beat! We replied that we didn’t really know when but we would most definitely be back – that seemed to help.

Over the next several months we had some discussions about vacation plans and decided that while we loved our time at WDW we wanted to see other places as well and felt that it was important for the girls to visit other places too. We thought a good plan would be to do WDW every other year and in the “off” years we would do something different. So that meant we were looking at 2011 for the next Disney trip. Jean strongly suggested that we go when it was not so hot which pretty much ruled out May-September I loved reading about all the Christmas decorations and events at WDW so we started thinking Nov/Dec. Ella’s birthday is mid-November so we thought about going before her birthday so she would still be 9 (and therefore priced as a child) but at the time, the room prices were lower at the end of Nov/early Dec and my Disney math showed that it was actually less expensive to go then, especially if free dining would be offered like in both 2009 and 2010. Plus I figured we would be in more of a Christmas frame of mind the closer we were to December, however we didn’t want to be too far into December and miss traditional events at home.

So, all of that led to coming up with the dates of Sat. Nov. 26 to Sun. Dec. 4. We knew the arrival weekend would be busy as its US Thanksgiving but historically the rest of the week has been good for crowds.

Next question…how did the grandparents get involved?

The story on my parents is fairly simple, I just kept repeating that they should come with us. We vacation with them every March in Hilton Head and we know that we work well together and enjoy our time together. My Mom was on board right away (she’s a kid at heart and couldn’t wait to experience the magic again) but it took a while to convince my Dad – he’s Scottish and doesn’t part with his money well Once I priced it out for him it was easier as it was much less (even before free dining) than he had anticipated. So, my parents were game for WDW but decided early on that they wouldn’t be on the cruise.

Grammy is always game to do anything with her grandkids (my girls are the only grandkids she has so they get a bit spoiled by her). Over the years she has mentioned wanting to take the girls on a Disney cruise. We were considering the cruise as part of this vacation originally, so we proposed to her to come along and we’d all do the cruise together. Well as time went on and we were still in the “what if” stage of planning, Jean suddenly got it in her head that Mommy & Daddy were barging in on their special cruise with Grammy. Not to indulge the whims of a then 5-yr old, but it got me thinking about some alternative plans. Seeing as 2011 was our 15th wedding anniversary maybe DH and I could spend some time alone while the girls cruised. I presented a scenario to E where his mom would take the girls on the 3 night cruise, and we could go and visit Kennedy Space Center (which we had planned to do in 2009 but didn’t quite make it) and have an adults only day at Epcot…I believe it was when I mentioned “drinking around the world” that he suddenly jumped on board with my plan!! We proposed our revised plan to Grammy and she thought it all sounded great. I left her to arrange the cruise on her own – well not really on her own, E’s aunt who is a travel agent worked with her – and I was set to plan to my heart’s content!

So we had a basic plan, now we needed to decide on details...next time the ups and downs of trip planning!
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:02 PM   #5
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Hi Lara! I'm here as well! I read your previous report and loved it! I'm excited to come along for your next one
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Old 10-22-2011, 08:22 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by TinkerbellLuvr7 View Post
Hi Lara! I'm here as well! I read your previous report and loved it! I'm excited to come along for your next one
Hi Megan , of course I remember you joining in my last report...how could I forget Ella's FGIT?! I have read bits of your current TR but must apologize for not commenting yet. I will get over there and get caught up, but how great that you were able to get a teaching job so close to Disney
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Old 10-22-2011, 08:52 AM   #7
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The Ups and Downs of Trip Planning...

So, we’ve been through whose coming, when we’re going and how that all came together. Now came the fun part of making resort decisions!

I created a lovely spreadsheet (I'm an accountant, I like spreadsheets )to price out values and moderates, at full price, in the event of a room discount and in the event of free dining. I also priced out renting DVC points. My spreadsheet said that if we were paying full price, or had a 25% room discount we were much further ahead staying at a value. Since a few of my DIS friends love Pop so much I decided that is where we would stay under those scenarios. BUT, if free dining was offered (as it had been the last 2 years on our dates) it would only cost slightly more to stay at a moderate once you factor in the cost of the fridge rental at Pop and the cost of upgrading to the regular dining plan. So I figured it was a no-brainer that if free dining was offered we’d go for a moderate, but which one?

In 2009 we stayed at POR, in the AB section and loved it! We had a great location with a corner room looking at the river – there were 2 buildings between ours and the food court in one direction and 2 buildings between ours and the bridge to the pool in the other direction.









As much as we loved it though I wanted to try something new. CB doesn’t do much for me, maybe I would change my mind if I was actually there and I’m sure the girls would love it but we get our beach/ocean vacation every March in Hilton Head, SC so I wanted something different than that. In planning our 2009 trip DH wasn’t keen on the looks of CSR, so that left me with POFQ. I was leaning towards it from the beginning because of its size and theming.

I sent out emails to the grandparents explaining we would stay at Pop unless there was a free dining offer then we would stay at POFQ and gave them links to the allears sites for those resorts. Having received their approval, I wanted to book the package sometime before May 30 which would be our ADR date. We finally had a quiet evening one night late in May and I called Disney to book the packages – I figured with 7 people in 2 rooms it was safer to do it on the phone instead of the website. So I got everything set, got the prices which were exactly what I was expecting and then the CM says “So, have you thought about staying at a moderate?” And I replied “Well we did 2 years ago and it was lovely but its just not in the budget this time.” And he replied “If you’re interested a code just popped up under your name for a discount at CSR.” I figured it would be the usual 25% off but told him to go ahead and price it out to see. He comes back with a price that was $50 more for our room and $100 more for the grandparents room, in total, for the whole package. I nearly fell out of my chair, he started to ask if we had planned to rent a fridge at Pop and I don’t even think he had finished when I said “Uh yeah, and that would be the difference in price for us and half of the difference in the second room…we’ll take it!”

I was literally bouncing when I got off the phone I was so excited! I explained the deal to E and he agreed it was great and no he didn’t mind staying at CSR, it wasn’t that he hated the southwest look he just liked the look of POR better. He however was no where near as giddy as I was and had fun laughing at me. The girls and I sat down right away and started looking at pictures and videos of CSR, which they thought were amazing. And I fired off emails to the grandparents to let them know we were booked but with a change in resorts. Nana and Grammy agreed that CSR looked lovely and Gramps was pleased that there was a “deal”

But wait, you’re saying, isn’t there free dining offered for your dates?

Well, yes…yes there is! Doing my daily scan of the main pages of both the Dis and Allears, I saw the rumour that an extended free dining deal was to be offered in early August. We were on holidays at the cottage that week, but luckily the 3G network was working for our phones that week (we had issues all summer). I checked every morning and saw when it was released. Yeah, more savings! I figured since everyone was now excited about staying at CSR that we should still stay there and not revert back to my original POFQ plan. The only issue was that free dining was blacked out for Thanksgiving, including the Sat., which was our arrival day. No problem though, I got on the phone with a lovely CM and she booked us room only for the Saturday and the free dining package starting the Sunday. We would have to pay OOP for dinner on Saturday and one other meal but we were obviously still further ahead. I also bought our tickets for MVMCP on this call – it was very exciting to get them in the mail a few days later

Then a couple of weeks later I see an update on the Dis that free dining dates have been adjusted and the Saturday is now covered! So back on the phone I get, cancel the one night room only reservations and extend the package one day earlier.

So there you have it...our final arrangements are 5 nights at CSR with free dining and 5-day park tickets.

Next time, where to eat?!
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Old 10-22-2011, 09:02 AM   #8
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It sure does pay off to check the sites and call and ask about a code doesn't it? I am so happy you booked CSR! I helped a co-worker plan a disney vacation 4 years ago (they bought DVC within 3 days of being there) and they were booked in at CSR and she raved about it! She continues to tell me that one of the trips that Jasmine and I go on along I should upgrade to a moderate and stay there!

Sounds like everyone is on board and I am so happy your tickets arrived...I loved MVMCP....but then again, I love everything Christmas!
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Old 10-22-2011, 09:11 AM   #9
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Hi Lara!

Joining in! I'm so happy to see that you started a PTR! How exciting to be able to go for the holidays. Yay for a new resort and free dining!!! Your plans sound great so far! Can't wait for more!
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Old 10-22-2011, 01:30 PM   #10
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Count me in!! We are going Nov.30-Dec.5. Cant wait to hear more..
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:32 AM   #11
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Great choice on resort!!! I've stayed there twice already this year and once last year. Our favorite building by far is 8A. It's steps away from the main pool and bus. You can take a bridge down the middle of the little lake to get to the main building/food. It is about a 5 min walk. I've had Standard rooms and Water View rooms in that building but I don't think that building is considered preferred since it's further away but it's a wonderful location. I've stayed in that building once without a car and twice with a car and the parking lot is steps away as well!

We enjoy the rooms with queen beds If you couldn't stay there, I would totally suggest POFQ as well so you made a great choice!!!!
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Old 10-23-2011, 09:05 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Queenofallthings View Post
It sure does pay off to check the sites and call and ask about a code doesn't it? I am so happy you booked CSR! I helped a co-worker plan a disney vacation 4 years ago (they bought DVC within 3 days of being there) and they were booked in at CSR and she raved about it! She continues to tell me that one of the trips that Jasmine and I go on along I should upgrade to a moderate and stay there!

Sounds like everyone is on board and I am so happy your tickets arrived...I loved MVMCP....but then again, I love everything Christmas!
I knew there was a chance that free dining would be extended since it had been in the last couple of years so I was obsessively checking every day

Too funny that your co-worker bought DVC right away! I keep telling DH that if we ever win the lottery that is one of the first purchases I'm making...of course it would help if we actually played the lottery

I've been catching up on the "official" CSR thread, and everything I read confirms that it will be great! We also had friends stay there a couple of years ago and it is their favourite of the 3 resorts they've stayed at.

I'm excited about MVMCP - I'm not sure the rest of the family really understands what it is other than we had to buy special tickets but I know we'll still have fun!


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Hi Lara!

Joining in! I'm so happy to see that you started a PTR! How exciting to be able to go for the holidays. Yay for a new resort and free dining!!! Your plans sound great so far! Can't wait for more!
Hi Angie!! I'm so glad you found me and joined in

I can't wait to see all the Christmas decorations! My mom loves Christmas too and always cries when Santa appears at the end of Christmas parades. I was just telling her yesterday that we will have to be sure to get a picture of her with Santa

You have a trip coming up in the spring, how are your plans? Are you going to do a PTR again?


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Count me in!! We are going Nov.30-Dec.5. Cant wait to hear more..
Thanks for joining in!

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Great choice on resort!!! I've stayed there twice already this year and once last year. Our favorite building by far is 8A. It's steps away from the main pool and bus. You can take a bridge down the middle of the little lake to get to the main building/food. It is about a 5 min walk. I've had Standard rooms and Water View rooms in that building but I don't think that building is considered preferred since it's further away but it's a wonderful location. I've stayed in that building once without a car and twice with a car and the parking lot is steps away as well!

We enjoy the rooms with queen beds If you couldn't stay there, I would totally suggest POFQ as well so you made a great choice!!!!
Good to know you liked CSR so much that you keep going back! I was debating whether to request a certain building but I figured we ended up in a great spot at POR and I would just leave it to chance again. From reading the CSR thread it sure sounds like all sections/buildings have pluses and minuses (except for upper floors of bldg 2 I think ) and the main priority is to have the two rooms be connecting so I decided to let the reservation gods focus on that
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:50 PM   #13
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Dining choices...

Last time I shared the rollercoaster that was my resort/package booking experience. After booking back in May I was ready to make ADRs!

We are only at CSR 5 nights, so on the one hand only 5 ADRs would be quick to book, on the other hand I had to choose only 5 out of all the amazing possibilities!

I started with asking E and the girls which restaurant they would like to do again, DH and Ella agreed on Crystal Palace. Here are the pictures from 2009 (the brown-haired girls are friends of us that we were dining with that night):






Jean wasn’t so sure about it since Tigger had stolen her doll last time (bad timing for her very first character interaction as she was hungry and tired). I reminded her that Tigger had returned her doll and had been very sorry for upsetting her and she agreed that a return visit now that she is older and wiser would be a good thing So we had one.

Next, I wanted a character meal with Minnie. Somehow we never met Minnie last time and the girls and I agreed that meeting her was a priority. I also thought that doing a breakfast on the morning we were leaving would be a good idea as depending on the lines for boarding it could be getting on in the afternoon before Grammy and the girls would be able to get lunch on the Dream. It was a toss up between Chef Mickey’s and Cape May. Ultimately I chose Chef Mickey’s because of easier access transportation wise. That was two.

Considering the time of year we were going, I really wanted to see the decorations at the GF. Booking a meal there would ensure that we went. We had a great interaction in MK with Lady T, Drizella and Anastacia last time:



and while I see differing opinions about the food at 1900 PF, the character interaction seems to be well done. So we had three.

For our DHS day I wanted something in the park for convenience sake. We ate at H&V last time, it was good but not good enough for a do-over. With there being 7 of us, I wasn’t sure it would work well to do SciFi. I debated a bit between Mama Melrose and 50s Primetime and finally decided the grandparents would probably get a kick out 50s. Now we had four.

Finally I needed something for our Epcot day. We ate at Tokyo Dining in 2009, and enjoyed it. In fact E asked several times if we were eating there again since he loved their sushi.




I kept telling him no, there’s too many other restaurants in Epcot to try; besides we can have sushi from CS or we will likely eat at Kimono’s at the Swan during the kid-free portion of the trip. We already had 3 character meals so I figured this meal should not be a character meal. I also wanted to try something a bit different, so even though I hear wonderful things I ruled out Chef de France and Le Cellier. I had narrowed it down to Coral Reef, Biergarten, and Restaurant Marakesh. I finally settled on Restaurant Marakesh. The menu is different from typical fare but with food that I know we will all enjoy and I’m fairly certain DH and Gramps will enjoy the entertainment!

In summary here is the detailed plan:
Sat. Nov. 26 – arrive at CSR, have dinner at Peppermarket
Sun. Nov. 27 – DHS, dinner at 50s
Mon. Nov 28 – AK, dinner at 1900 PF
Tues. Nov. 29 – Epcot, dinner at Restaurant Marakesh
Wed. Nov. 30 – MK, dinner at Crystan Palace, MVMCP
Thurs. Dec. 1 – breakfast at Chef Mickey's

We will eat breakfast in our room and do CS for lunch - likely whatever is closest to where we are at lunchtime

This is the joint first half of our trip. For the second half we are going in all different directions. As previously mentioned, Grammy is taking Ella and Jean on the Dream for the 3 night cruise. I’ve left that planning up to her – apart from the odd email here and there with a link to a thread or something I “happen” to have run across!

Nana & Gramps have booked a condo on the coast just south of Port Canaveral through VRBO for the 3 nights. They have used VRBO a number of times in the past and have always been pleased that the places are clean and have been as described on the website. They will likely do some sight seeing, particularly Kennedy Space Center, but will also spend a lot of time relaxing and recovering from our park days

E & I will be dropping Grammy and the girls off at Port Canaveral, then we are still somewhat undecided on how to spend that afternoon. I'm guessing we will explore Cocoa Beach but that could change. We will get a hotel somewhere in that area (still researching that part, any suggestions are welcome) and then we are spending the next day Kennedy Space Center.

After our touring KSC we will head back to WDW where we have reservations at the Swan for 2 nights. I am so excited about this part of the week We were able to book a room using our aeroplan points – although it was not straightforward. Originally I was trying to get us in the Swan for 3 nights but it kept coming back as “not available”. I finally thought to try it one night at a time and lo and behold the Thurs. was not available but Fri. and Sat. were. Yeah, we’ll take that and I realized it made more sense to stay somewhere near the coast on the Thurs. night anyways instead of driving back and forth.

After checking into the Swan we will have dinner (probably at Kimono’s so E can have his sushi fix) and then wander the Boardwalk. Saturday will be our adults-only Epcot day…which we can walk to!

Nana and Gramps will pick up Grammy and the girls from Port Canaveral on Sunday morning and we will meet them all at the airport for our flight home.

Next time...our countdown fun!
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Old 10-29-2011, 01:11 PM   #14
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great restaurant choices!!! Let me know about CSR..one of my best friends works at the front desk/conc and has always blocked my rooms there (even upgraded us a few times!) Let me know if you have your heart set on a certain building and I can talk to her

I went back to see your BBB section of your last report and I can't believe how much the girls have grown!!!!
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Old 10-30-2011, 11:19 AM   #15
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You have a trip coming up in the spring, how are your plans? Are you going to do a PTR again?
Plans are going good. Although they seem to change every week. Oh well... I'm not sure about a PTR yet but if I decide to it probably won't be until after the holidays.

You picked some really great places to eat! Chef Mickey's is a must for us and we really like Crystal Palace as well. We haven't tried the other 3 yet but I've heard good things from other TR's.

How exciting to be able to have an adults-only Epcot day! DH and I have been talking about doing that on a future trip. It sounds so relaxing.

Your girls must be so excited to go on the Dream. We had tossed around the idea of going on the Dream next April and we even had it booked but we ended up deciding to wait for a couple years. I can't wait to hear what they think of it!
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