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Old 11-04-2011, 09:58 AM   #1
Chelley00
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A little of this, a little of that, WDW US IOA SeaWorld Legoland Oct 12 PTR

Yep.

I'm that lucky person who gets to plan this huge trip for my family. I'm okay with it, because I might be a little OCD and will get to do things my way I know it's really early. We're just barely less than a year away, but there is a lot to decide and plan and a lot of ideas and I could use all the opinions I can get!

Chapter Links Below!


Our cast members:

Me first! I'm a 30something accountant, mom to 4, wife to 1. I enjoy scrapbooking, trip planning and coaching soccer. Most often you can find me taxi driving kids here and there. This will be my 5th trip to Disney. My favorite rides are Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion, and the Evil Queen is my favorite character

So not only am I the trip planner, but I'm also the photographer, so there are rarely any pictures of me...and definately none by myself. Here's a picture of Mom and I before Wishes on the Poly beach


DH. Fourty something warehouse worker. He has been left behind on my last 2 trips (bad wife!) but I say it's because he got to go twice as a kid and it was time for me to catch up! This will be his 5th trip. He's a thrill ride junkie and loves Donald Duck.
DH with our DD on our cruise this summer



DS18. He graduated last year and deferred his college enrollment/scholarships one year to work and save money so he won't have to work during college. He's working for a commercial painting company and is working like crazy. I wasn't happy about the year off but it's been a great learning experience for him and solidifies the fact he wants to go to law school and have a desk job. He's our "possible attender". It will depend on his class schedule, but we're hoping to fly him in for a weekend. It will be his third trip if he goes. Picture below

DS15 sophomore in high school and soccer player. This will be his fourth trip to Disney. He's also a thrill ride junkie and really won't claim any favorite character because he's too cool He's looking forward to possibly going to Universal to see Harry Potter though.

Both boys on our cruise this summer


DD9 (although she'll be 10 this month). She's our fourth grade Disney maniac. This will be her 5th trip. She loves RNR like crazy and her favorite characters are Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Figment. She's a tomboy so princesses are a no-go.



DS6 (he'll be 7 this month) He's in first grade this year and so happy to be able to ride the bus He LOVES dinosaurs. His first 2 trips he was very young so last year was the first time he really got to *experience* Disney. He used to say Splash Mountain was his favorite, but last year he got to ride Space Mountain, so now it's a tie He loves to get autographs, but hates to poe for pictures with characters


Granny. Last year was my mom's first trip to Disney, and I'm afraid we've created a monster. When we asked about going next year, she jumped at the chance. My last trip was so much more fun because I got to experience Disney through my mom's eyes, who honestly became this excited little girl. She's afraid of heights and has neck issues, but yet she still braved quite a few rides (including her first ever roller coasters) She loved getting character autographs. Her favorite ride was probably Test Track, but I think her most favorite part of Disney was eating at different themed restaurants.


My "baby" brother. He and his family live 900 miles from me so it's a rare treat to get to see them. We've decided that meeting at Disney is a great way to spend family time! He's a music teacher and he and his wife own a tae kwon do school. He's also been known to part time youth pastor. He's a roller coaster fan and happily rode Mission Space with DD last year since I hate it. Picture below

SIL I'm so blessed to have a great SIL! She's also a music teacher, but gave up her job to my brother so she could stay at home with my nephew and work at the tae kwon do school more. She's also a piano teacher/player so she stays very busy. She didn't get to spend too much time with us on our last trip because she was competing at tae kwon do championships. She is a huge Harry Potter fan (as is my brother) so last year we took a day to babysit my nephew so they could go to Universal alone



Nephew age 4. Ugh, how I hate that we are so far apart and I don't get to see him more often. He's adorable and we were lucky to go last year for his first trip. He's a Toy Story fiend and I'm excited that he'll probably get to ride more this trip.




CHAPTER LINKS

The steps to Disney Addiction

When Ya Gotta Go

Onsite Offsite Split Stay Cha Cha Cha


Onsite Offsite Split Stay Where to Go Argh

Snoring husband = definite offsite stay!!

Back and Forth. Someone just decide already


Seriously, you pick

Offsite it is. Promise this time!


Scratch that off the list

Is the entire trip off?

Disney for me, a cruise for you, soccer for you, and booking Wyndham Bonnet Creek

Y.E.S!

Where do you wanna eat? I don't know, where do YOU wanna eat?

Planning: On the road Oct 12 & 13

Planning Oct 14 Breakfast, shopping and MNSSHP

Leggo my Legos.

Planning Oct 15. DHS Day #1. How many times can DD make me go upside down?

Planning Oct 16. AK Day #1 Yetis and Dinosaurs and Naked Mole Rats Oh My

Planning Oct 17. Epcot Day #1 YES and snacking around the world

Planning Oct 18 DHS Day #2 A little something for everyone

Planning Oct 19. MK Day #1. To the right, to the right, now kick, now kick

Planning Oct 20. Epcot Day #2 You take her on Mission Space, and then dinner with the fishes and light up drinks
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:59 AM   #2
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Past trips:

Our first family trip was in Oct 2006. It was supposed to be that "once in a lifetime" trip so we could say we had been. We were hooked. We were spoiled with great weather, low crowds, MNNSHP and tons of Mickey magic (dream fastpasses twice, family of the day on the monorail and got to ride up front, the kids picked to be in shows etc) We stayed offsite and just had an amazing trip
This picture cracks me up as both of my older DSs are now 6 foot 4 and WAY taller than me!


Second trip was in Oct 2008. We didn't get as lucky this time. Freezing cold, rain, crowds and lots of puking. We like to call it the Worst Trip Ever. We still had fun though, but some of the magic was lost. We did venture out to Universal and Cocoa Beach, went to MNSSHP twice and got a Photopass shoot at Grand Floridian. We stayed in the same villa we had the last trip, which worked out well having extra bathrooms and laundry room with all the flu we passed around


Nov 2009. DD and I were lucky enough to get to travel to Disney for a mother/daughter only trip for her birthday. All the reasons why we loved Disney came back. She was spoiled rotten for her birthday, the crowds were so low it was like we were alone in the parks and we got to experience MVMCP and she did Pirates League. We were supposed to stay at Caribbean Beach but Disney released some great pins and I upgraded my future vet to AKL savannah view.



Oct 2010. My brother mentioned they were going to Orlando for tae kwon do championships and might need a sitter. We knew we couldn't pull our older DSs out of school, so DH told me to go and take my mom. What a great idea. Mom was so excited to not just get to go to Disney, but to see her far away grandson and son, AND her best friend from high school who lives 45 minutes from the World! We didn't tell my kids we were going and my mom showed up on our doorstep, handed them a note from Mickey saying they were going to Disney RIGHT THEN. We stayed at the Poly (brother at Pop) went to MNSSHP dressed as the 7 dwarfs and just had a great family bonding time.



And now the upcoming trip: We knew that brother and SIL would have to go back to Orlando in 2012, but we weren't sure what to do. I wasn't sure I wanted to leave DH and DSs behind yet again. This is when our school system threw us for a loop, voting in a "balanced schedule" which gave us 2 weeks for Fall Break instead of 2 days! This means we could take DH and DS15 with us, called my mom who is a nurse to make sure she felt like she could take a long break and she said "You tell me how many vacation days to save and if you can put up with me that long, I'll go".


So, I went from planning a trip for 7 for 7 days to planning a trip for 10 for 14 days
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:15 PM   #3
Chelley00
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The first big decision was easily made:

When to go?

We are stuck with our dates based on brother and SILs schedule for competition and our Fall Break. My family and my mom will leave here on October 12th or 13th, driving 17 hours. Since we have 3 drivers we may drive straight through on the way there. We will have to be home by October 28th. Brother and SIL will probably only come for competitions since they don't get Fall Break and my brother is a teacher and will have to take a minimal amount of time off of school. They will also drive in.
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:46 PM   #4
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Now, the second big decision is where I'm stuck.

Where to stay?


I have lots of ideas. Unfortunately I have lots of pros and cons for every idea. Anytime I ask anyone I get "I don't care....you pick." I'm so lucky that my family is so laid back, but geez.

This is entirely just for my family and my mom (so 7-8 of us) My brother, SIL and nephew will most likely stay at Pop again for the ease of transportation to the competitions at Wide World of Sports. They did this last time and it worked out very well for them

Options #1 - Stay offsite for the entire trip

We've done the offsite thing twice and we were very happy with it. I read all the time about people saying it's less magical or more of a hassle or whatever. We never felt that way. We've always stayed in Sunset Lakes in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house, but what sold us on this particular house is the pool, separate hot tub, overlooking a conservation area, and no neighbors to one side. We've always been very comfortable there and I like the quiet downtime you get with your own pool and deck area.

But, if we stay offsite this time, we might upgrade to something with more space. We'd like for my mom to have a master of her own, and let each of the kids have their own room if we are offsite. I've found a few houses at Windsor Hills that I'd be very happy with, and in line with budget.

We are also planning quite a few other things outside of the Disney parks, so being onsite is not a necessity

Pros:
1 Extra bedrooms
2 extra bathrooms
3 laundry. We start wash before we leave for the park, dry when we get home)
4 Kitchen. DD and I have food allergies and sometimes its just convenient to cook/pack a lunch/eat breakfast at the house.
5 Private pool. We like coming back after the park and swimming and it's so quiet.
6 We can unpack once and settle in and stay


Cons:
1 no transportation other than 1 car. Last trip, my mom sometimes left the room very early to meet my brother at rope drop. She's a nurse who is used to getting up at 4am. My kids and I are not morning people and we like our sleep
2 No dining plan. We like our daily table service meals, and I know we can still eat there, but the dining plan is so convenient!


Option 2 - Split a stay between a 2 bedroom DVC villa and then offsite after

We've talked about renting DVC points for a 2 bedroom villa. We are planning Disney the first part of the trip while my brother's family is with us, then thinking of doing other Orlando area things after they leave, so once again, staying onsite the entire time is not a necessity.

I would LOVE to stay at AKL again. DD and I spent hours sitting on the balcony in the mornings watching the animals, we loved the pool area and all the childrens activites. We never made it to Kidani to see the pool there. We loved Mara too. DH has always wanted to stay at WL.

Pros:
1 Transportation. If we wanted to split up, we'd have bus transportation
2 Dining plan for the first half of the trip
3 Having a theme and activities for the kids outside of the parks
4 A chance to spread out and relax at the end of the vacation
5 kitchen at both places

Cons:
1 Our boys would have to share the sofa bed and my mom would have to share a room with DD
2 We'd have to pack, move and unpack
3 no laundry

2 rooms at any resort on property (offsite after?)
We have a list of places we've never stayed we'd like to try. We'd put DH, DS6 and DS15 in one room (and possibly add DS18 if he comes for a weekend) and then Mom, DD9 and me in another room. We were thinking someplace with a daybed so no one had to share a bed (We loved the daybeds at the Poly)

Pros:
1 transportation if we want to come and go at different times
2 dining plan
3 get to try a new resort
4 if Disney comes out with a good discount code, it could be cheap-ish
5 no packing and moving mid trip
6 mousekeeping

Cons:
1 lack of space
2 lack of kitchen (it's not a deal breaker, but would be convenient)



Any ideas? Any pros and cons I'm not thinking about?
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:08 PM   #5
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Hey Chelley!

I'm subscribing! I planned a family trip for July 2012...we started with 13 people...now we're down to 8. It was really stressful at the beginning but now that everything is pretty much done, and all I have left to do is book ADRs (Jan 10th!), I'm much more excited for the trip! It so much easier when everyone just lets you do your thing, and you don't have 15 people who all want to put in their 2 cents.

I'm hoping to be able to go AGAIN in October 2012, as well, but finances come into play (as they always do) so we'll see what happens after the New Year!
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Old 11-04-2011, 05:38 PM   #6
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us too!

We are also going Oct/Nov 2012 and we are up to 8 people. We have been twice before and stay off-site. My only real issue is the rental car. Not sure what it will cost for something that will fit 8 people.
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Old 11-05-2011, 09:50 PM   #7
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Love to hear about your plans. We're planning on going Oct 2012, too, but have no details, yet. I need to make sure my job is secure for next year, first. I work in a school system with a balanced calendar and our kids will be on one, too, next year.

I wonder if we happen to live in the same area?? Our school board just voted for this, also. The only problem I have is that my 2 week fall break and my girls 2 week fall break overlap by only one week. Looks like we'll only be going for a week...but that's still pretty good.

You've gone several times in Oct. Can you tell me about the crowds?? I'm hoping it's worth it going during that time of the year. We've never been to MNSSHP. If we go, we'll be celebrating both of their birthdays that month plus our 15th wedding anniversary.

Have fun planning
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simba22 View Post
I'm subscribing! I planned a family trip for July 2012...we started with 13 people...now we're down to 8. It was really stressful at the beginning but now that everything is pretty much done, and all I have left to do is book ADRs (Jan 10th!), I'm much more excited for the trip!
I understand that stressful beginning. This is where I am. The place to stay is going to be my hardest decision because I keep going back and forth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by weezy26nm View Post
My only real issue is the rental car. Not sure what it will cost for something that will fit 8 people.
We've rented a van to drive to Texas before. It sat 8 (Toyota Sienna) and had a lot of trunk space and it really wasn't horribly expensive. It might be cheaper to rent 2 cars though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommapea View Post
You've gone several times in Oct. Can you tell me about the crowds?? I'm hoping it's worth it going during that time of the year. We've never been to MNSSHP. If we go, we'll be celebrating both of their birthdays that month plus our 15th wedding anniversary.
We love October. It seems to be getting steadily busier I think though. Maybe the secret is out Its still not as busy as summer or Thanksgiving or Christmas. The weather is usually GREAT, still warm enough for shorts and to swim, but we aren't sweaty all day. We love MNSSHP. I've been 5 times and we'll go next year at least once. Some trips we go twice to make sure we see everything we want!



Nothing new on the trip planning front. I wanted to sit down and price out our options and make a final decision at least about which resort we'd stay at if we chose DVC villas or just 2 resort rooms, but I'm scrambling to finish the scrapbook from the cruise we took for oldest DS's graduation this summer before my groupon to print it expires! DD also have a temp so she's been clingy today.
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Old 11-07-2011, 01:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chelley00 View Post
I understand that stressful beginning. This is where I am. The place to stay is going to be my hardest decision because I keep going back and forth!

We love October. It seems to be getting steadily busier I think though. Maybe the secret is out Its still not as busy as summer or Thanksgiving or Christmas. The weather is usually GREAT, still warm enough for shorts and to swim, but we aren't sweaty all day. We love MNSSHP. I've been 5 times and we'll go next year at least once. Some trips we go twice to make sure we see everything we want!

Nothing new on the trip planning front. I wanted to sit down and price out our options and make a final decision at least about which resort we'd stay at if we chose DVC villas or just 2 resort rooms, but I'm scrambling to finish the scrapbook from the cruise we took for oldest DS's graduation this summer before my groupon to print it expires! DD also have a temp so she's been clingy today.
Aww hope your DD feels better!

We were originally going to book rooms at CSR because it's our favorite resort, but then a friend of mine suggested DVC. Of course, half of our group wanted the BWV (obviously for the Boardwalk) and the other half wanted OKW (because of the price). We ended up going with OKW which is fine with me - it looks beautiful. If we end up going back in October 2012 though it will just be the two of us, and we're leaning towards BWV or BCV. It's a price difference of $253 for the week though (with BWV being the cheaper option), so we'll have to see. I LOVE the BCV but I think saving the money might win out.

We went to MNSSHP once in 2007 and everyone told me AFTER we left that they wished we went again during our stay. So in 2009 we went twice, and then last year we went three times (we normally stay for 10 days). It's just so much fun! If the opportunity to go presents itself, I can't say no! I think you're right about October travel though...the cat's out of the bag, it would seem! It used to be that MNSSHP would sell out the week of Halloween but other than that, it was OK. A friend of mine went like on October 3rd or something this year and she said it was sold out!
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:46 PM   #10
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Love the title here as it relates to my up coming trip too.

23 of us ranging in age 1yr through to 60some.

We are leving Nove 25 - Dec 9th.

I too get to do all the planning for us all.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simba22 View Post
Aww hope your DD feels better! !
Thank you. She's home again today, but her fever is lower. Now she's just whiney

Quote:
Originally Posted by tpettie View Post
23 of us ranging in age 1yr through to 60some.
You are way braver than I! I am stressing about 10!




Okay, so I'm no closer to deciding where to stay. Since I'm home with DD again, and about out of work to do from here and not in my office, I'm going to send my pro and con list to my mom along with some pictures and let her help me pick. As much as I love control, sometimes it's nice if someone else makes a decision once in awhile!

I lean heavily toward staying onsite for the first part of the trip and then offsite after my brother leaves and we no longer need onsite transportation, but then I think about how nice it will be to just unpack once and have a homebase and extra space. Gah.



So, our next decisions revolve around how many days and where! I'm basing stuff right now as we are staying onsite for the first half of the trip and we keep our schedules loosely on what we did last year since I think the competition schedules will be about the same. The Wed-Sun that my brother is there is what my SIL asked to do last year

Friday - leave after work, drive about 6 hours?
Saturday - finish driving, or leave really early this morning and drive straight
Sunday - MK?
Monday - EP
Tuesday - DHS
Wednesday - MK, brother arrives
Thursday - AK half day, MNSSHP
Friday - DHS
Saturday - Epcot
Sunday - Universal - brother leaves late
Monday - Universal again?
Tuesday - Disney? (possibly more AK)
Wednesday - Disney? (MK?)
Thursday - Seaworld (DD's request)
Friday - Legoland (DS6)
Saturday, Sunday - drive home


I'm debating about dropping one of the second week Disney days and maybe going to the beach since we live in Indiana and beaches aren't readily accessible here We are not people who could take an entire day to do nothing, unless we do it earlier in the week if we are at a resort that has activities.
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:39 PM   #12
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I think I like the idea of the split stay, myself.

You can rent DVC points for the first part of your trip (and as far as I know, all DVC resort rooms have a "kitchenette" so it's not a full on kitchen with a stove, but you'd at least have a fridge, a sink, and a microwave).

I think you could all survive in a 2 BR Villa (or maybe rent a few studios instead?) for a few days. Then when the rest of your family leaves, you could move into the off-site property where you can spread out a little more.

And I think your tentative itinerary looks great! I like that the day your brother arrives, you don't have a park day. It will be nice to just hang by the pool that day maybe....
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:23 PM   #13
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Finally got DD back to school. In good time too, as tomorrow she gets to lead the Pledge of Allergiance at her school's Veteran's Day Program. She was picked out of all the 4th graders there (it's just a K-4 school) This is a big stretch for her as she can be a little shy! Thankfully I'm off work on Fridays and will get to go watch.

Saturday is her birthday party. Ten 10 year old giggling girls getting manicures, pedicures and fun "hair dos" at a local kids haircut salon. This is her first birthday with friends and she's beside herself with excitement. I was smart and hired 2 teenage girls (one is DS15's girlfriend, the other his best friend) to come help

On the trip planning front:

As I was laying on the couch at 2am this morning to escape DH's snoring (he used to work thirds and now is on firsts and I'm so not used to sleeping with anyone, especially someone noisy!!!) I thought about not having a place to escape if we were crammed into a 2 bedroom villa onsite. 8 nights of no sleep could be not good for the others in my travel party. As much as I would love to be onsite, I'm thinking that staying offsite the entire trip is just a really good idea for us this time. If my mom wasn't with us, I'd not even think twice about a 2 bedroom.

Even figuring in parking and gas, it's much cheaper to stay offsite, and if we run into transportation problems, we could rent a compact car for the week of our Disney plans if one car isn't going to work and still be way ahead money wise. When I talked with Mom today, she even said she thought staying offsite would be nice with the extra space and other things to do and eating at the house etc. Apparently being stuck in a tiny little apartment style place with my brood isn't the best idea for anyone!!!

One other thing is that she usually takes off a couple of days with her best friend who lives outside of Orlando, and last time we wasted some of her dining plan credits since she wasn't around for 2 meals, so I felt like we overpaid for the dining plan. And the day my brother arrives, we can have a cookout or something at the house and let the kids swim.

So, I'm okay with it. Part of me gets bummed when we stay offsite because there are so many places I want to try onsite, but with a family our size, it just makes sense to have more space for less money.

Now, to pick a house!
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chelley00 View Post
The first big decision was easily made:

When to go?

We are stuck with our dates based on brother and SILs schedule for competition and our Fall Break. My family and my mom will leave here on October 12th or 13th, driving 17 hours. Since we have 3 drivers we may drive straight through on the way there. We will have to be home by October 28th. Brother and SIL will probably only come for competitions since they don't get Fall Break and my brother is a teacher and will have to take a minimal amount of time off of school. They will also drive in.
Looks like you will be there the same time as me, with the same size group, AND I get to plan it all too! I am subscribing, and will let you know when I get my pre-trip report up and running if you are interested!
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:06 PM   #15
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Looks like you will be there the same time as me, with the same size group, AND I get to plan it all too! I am subscribing, and will let you know when I get my pre-trip report up and running if you are interested!
Yay! I posted over there earlier!


This weekend was really busy. Survived 8 giggling girls getting manicures and pedicures. The girls had a great time and DD was in heaven. She's normally pretty shy and awkward and seeing her act like a normal tweenage girl was fun for me

Her "fun hair-do"


And a manicure picture (since all the other girls faces are hidden)


Now have to get through DS6's party on Saturday. We never do big parties with friends except for special years, and for some reason, it's all this year!




So, on the trip planning front:

I don't know where to stay.


I know I know. I said we were staying offsite the whole trip. And I spent most of Sunday afternoon looking at villas. But for some reason I really keep going back and forth about what to do. I really wish someone would just make the decision for me and make me stick with it

I know staying offsite makes more sense space/money wise, but I've read some bad reports lately of dirty villas and foreclosures and it makes me nervous. I don't want to ruin everyone's vacation!
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