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Old 03-24-2011, 07:50 PM   #1
Colleen27
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*~Trading Snow & Slush For Pixie Dust~* Jan PTR - 1/17 - Photo Challenge Complete!

And here we go again with more changes... The planning for the current and absolutely, without a doubt FINAL, carved-in-stone dates begins on page 7, post 105!





Table of Contents:

Meet the Cast
Summer Fun
Shh... Don't Tell Mickey. An Elmo Birthday for Boo
After Many False Starts, We Are Booked!
The Itinerary, v1.0
My Shameless Brag, DisBoutique Project Runway Week One Winner!
Detroit Daytrip TR, part one
Detroit TR part two, the Kid Rock Concert
Double Digits and Disney "Adulthood" for Pocahontas
Day One Plans, 11/5 - Check-in and a Magic Start
Day Two Plans, 11/6 - Welcome to The World of Tomorrow
Day Three Plans, 11/7 - Rope Drop to EMH Close. Crazy? Maybe. Fun? For Sure!
A Wild Detour
Day Four Plans, 11/8 - Lions and Tigers and Chipmunks and Mice!?!
Day Five Plans, 11/9 - Food, food, and then we stop for lunch.
Back to the Drawing Board!
An Addition to the Cast and Arrival Day Plans, 1/21
A Magic (Kingdom) Start - Day One Plans, 1/22
Happy Dancing and Day Two Plans, 1/23
The Educational Side of Disney World - Day Three Plans, 1/24
Fall Fun at the Apple Orchard
Traveling the World - Day Four Plans, 1/25
Traveling the Galaxy - Day Five plans, 1/26
Sleeping In and Staying Out Late - Day Six plans, 1/27
Tricks & Treats
Saying Goodbye to the Magic - Day Seven plans, 1/28
The Ever-Changing To-Do List
Friday Night Lights, Michigan style
30 Days of Disney Photo Challenge - Day One and Challenge Index
A Small Town Christmas
Oh Christmas Tree
A Very Merry Christmas
Autograph Purse


The adventure begins...


Do you ever have that feeling like there is some magical force in the universe pushing you back to Disney World? The ads stalk your every web click. The Travel Channel taunts you. Even ESPN isn't safe, with Disney Memories commercials tugging at your heartstrings in the middle of March Madness.

I just got back from a fabulous girls' only trip not quite three weeks ago. I hadn't even finished editing my vacation pics when the topic of the next trip started coming up at the dinner table. DH & DS decided that they did mind missing out, after months of insisting otherwise, and the idea came up that we really should go back before our original plan of Fall 2012.

The downer is that our vacation budget for this year is already accounted for, and we're not willing to cancel the other travels. Still, we started talking about ways we could squeeze in a "bonus" trip this year. And I started working on a few ideas to help put together the money for a different sort of Disney trip - Disney on a budget.

One sticking point was the fact that discounts for our ideal dates have already been released and will expire on Sunday. Since the deal for this trip is that we won't touch our other savings to make it happen, putting down a deposit before the 30% code expires was not looking good. And who knows what sort of offer might or might not come along next?

Then today we came into a small bit of "found" money. And we agreed that found money would go into the trip fund. Coincidentally, this bit of found money was just about enough to cover the one-night deposit for a room-only booking.

The trip is still very much a maybe, contingent on pulling the rest of the money together before the cancellation date, but that stroke of luck sure did make it feel like it is meant to be. And I think it is as good an excuse as any for starting a potentially premature pre-trip report.

Up next, meet the cast and a quick run-down of the plan so far.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:39 PM   #2
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Just finished your TR and really enjoyed it. Your girls are beautiful and I think it's wonderful that you are creating such wonderful memories with them and your mom. I'm so happy about your "found money". I hope everything goes as planned. So I'll be anxiously waiting to hear all about them.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:45 PM   #3
Colleen27
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And now, on to the cast of this adventure.

First and always center of attention is DD2, aka Boo. She is without a doubt the happiest, most agreeable toddler I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. She naps during movies, loves on all the characters, and just goes with the flow of whatever we have planned, even when that plan is Dumbo in the wee hours of the morning. Her nickname comes from her favorite game of the moment; ever since she saw Monsters Inc she has been jumping out from under, behind, and around anything that can hide her and yelling "Boo" at passers-by.



Next up is DD9, aka Pocahontas, my tomboy princess. She's a "young" 9 compared to her peers and for that I am thankful every day. Her favorite characters are the modern Disney princesses, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tiana especially, but she still wants to see the classics too... "for the baby" of course. She's also the world's best big sister and is always ready and willing to help Boo.



And last but certainly not least, there is DS13, aka Stitch. He's a fun, quirky kid when he's not giving us teenage attitude, very into music and offbeat comedy. He is way too cool for Disney... until we actually went without him. Then he decided he wants to go back. "For the baby", of course. If you ask him he just wants to be there to see Boo's face with the characters, but once we get there he's all about the food and the thrill rides. You won't see as many pics of him because he hates having them taken; case in point, the most recent pic I have of him online seems to be from Halloween.



Running the show is yours truly, 30-something SAHM, part time freelancer, and dabbler in all manner of creative endeavors. As a kid I had little interest in Disney World, but it only took one trip with my kids for me to be completely hooked. I love to travel and planning is half the fun, so Disney is my dream destination - there aren't many other places you can plan so perfectly to pass the time between booking and travel! This will be my 7th trip to Disney World, 6 of those as Mom and Master Planner.

And along for the ride is DH, who has already expressed more opinions about this trip than he has about the last 5 combined. Normally he just wants to be told where to show up and when, but when I mentioned the campground he got all excited and wants to be involved. He's a builder by trade and together we own a small home improvement business, plus we're in a constant state of renovations on our 130 year old Victorian home, so he's a pretty busy guy and is more than happy to pass the reins to me when it comes to home, family, and travel.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mycuteboyz3 View Post
Just finished your TR and really enjoyed it. Your girls are beautiful and I think it's wonderful that you are creating such wonderful memories with them and your mom. I'm so happy about your "found money". I hope everything goes as planned. So I'll be anxiously waiting to hear all about them.


I have been so blessed with great kids and wonderful travel opportunities. The older kids have actually been to Disney with both sets of grandparents. My inlaws took them once, sadly without DH & I because I was standing up in my BFF's wedding that same week, and my mom has joined us for all of 3 trips and part of a 4th. Once in a while, though, it is nice to have a "just us" trip, and that's what we're planning for August.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:34 PM   #5
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A very rough draft of the plan so far...

The When: August 28 to September 2 at Disney, though the actual trip will last from August 26 until September 5.

The Where: The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Campground.

(Photo from AllEars)

Keep in mind that it didn't even occur to us to take this trip until less than a week ago, so this is all very thrown together right now and will certainly get tweaked and refined when I get around to doing crazy things like looking at park hours and making ADRs.

At first, my thoughts for a fall trip centered around Food & Wine Festival. That would give us more time to get the money together, but with the kids' school schedule not available yet for next school year I was just guessing at dates that might work. Then it occurred to me to price out the idea of going before school starts.

By law Michigan public schools can't start until after Labor Day, so we have a lovely low-crowd bit of summer available for travels in states that go back earlier. States like Florida.

And we already had a Labor Day weekend trip planned, just a few days in Nashville to visit Stitch's best friend who moved down there a couple years ago. We take turns - last year they came up to visit here for a few days, and this year is our turn to go down there. Nashville is halfway to Orlando from here, so I thought maybe we could combine the two trips and drive rather than flying to Disney.

So right now, the tentative plan is to leave here on August 27 and drive the 18+ hours to Fort Wilderness straight through, with an extended afternoon stop somewhere in the Smoky Mountains so DH can catch a nap while I let the kids run off some energy. We check into our cabin on the 28th and will spend the first day resting up from the long trip. Then we have 5 nights at Disney to enjoy the parks and the resort before we check out on the 2nd. Then we'll drive back up as far as Nashville and spend two nights there before heading home on Monday.

I haven't done any planning of park days yet, but Pocahontas would like to take a YES class that is being offered at Epcot if it doesn't fill before we're ready to commit to non-refundable costs so we know Epcot will be on the 29th.

And I haven't done any dining planning yet! We usually do the deluxe plan but for this trip we're going without any plan at all. With the girls both moving up a step, Pocahontas from child to adult and Boo from free to child, I just can't justify the price of the DxDDP. Pocahontas can't finish an adult entree, never mind a three course meal, and Boo doesn't like most kids' meal food. So we're going to give paying OOP a shot to have more flexibility for them. DH plans to BBQ once or twice and we'll have snacky-breakfast foods in the room for the mornings, but I don't really cook on vacation so we'll still be making quite a few ADRs too once I get our park days planned.
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:59 AM   #6
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Joining In! Loved your last report and looking forward to this one.
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Old 03-25-2011, 03:00 PM   #8
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Yay!!! I'm so excited y'all are going back!! How wonderful to have the excitement to look forward to after feeling the "return home" blues.
I've never stayed at the Cabins so I'm really looking forward to hearing about them! And can't wait to hear about the ARD plans (you know I'm all about the food!)!
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Old 03-27-2011, 06:11 PM   #9
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I'm here too!! So excited about planning another trip!! I'm along for the ride..and as far as "will you won't you?"...here's some pixie dust to help!!
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Old 03-28-2011, 11:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blg021576 View Post
Joining In! Loved your last report and looking forward to this one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenseib View Post
I'm in....just gotta go back and read now!
Quote:
Originally Posted by amandaluvsgoofy View Post
Yay!!! I'm so excited y'all are going back!! How wonderful to have the excitement to look forward to after feeling the "return home" blues.
I've never stayed at the Cabins so I'm really looking forward to hearing about them! And can't wait to hear about the ARD plans (you know I'm all about the food!)!
Quote:
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I'm here too!! So excited about planning another trip!! I'm along for the ride..and as far as "will you won't you?"...here's some pixie dust to help!!
everyone!

I'm looking forward to trying the cabins too, since they're such a nice fit for our family. The kids will each get their own bed in the bedroom and a TV for kid shows, and we'll have some privacy to unwind in the living room after they're asleep.

DH is even more excited about it than I am, though! Pocahontas was showing him the planning DVD about the campground (one of the old ones, this year's was pretty short on resort info/pics ). As it turns out he's stayed there before and didn't even remember until the pictures jogged his memory. He remembered the campground but had no idea it was on Disney property! In his defense, that was in 1982 on his one and only trip to Disney before we started taking the kids. So now he is absolutely thrilled with the idea of taking the kids to stay there because he liked the resort better than the parks on that trip.

The dining plans are starting to come together and they are very different from our usual. We're going to take this chance to try a couple non-DDP restaurants that we can't fit in when we're on the plan, but we'll also be cooking out on the cabin's grill a couple nights.

Right now, the rough itinerary looks like this:

Aug 27: Leave around 6am and drive pretty much straight through, with an extended stop at a state park near the KY/TN state line so DH can nap while I let the kids burn off some energy. If we get too tired we'll stop in GA or N. FL for the night, but I want to get past Atlanta at least.

Aug 28: Arrive around 7ish if we go straight through, 11ish if we stop. Magic Kingdom is open until midnight so we'll probably rest up a bit then hit the park, if only for Wishes and the nice late night.

Aug 29: Epcot. Hopefully we'll have the YES class in the morning, and until I know for sure I'm not working on morning touring plans. Either way, we'll have a late lunch/early dinner at Tokyo Dining and plan to stay for Illuminations. It shouldn't be too cold this time!

Aug 30: Studios. Rope drop so DH & Stitch can finally ride Toy Story Mania. I can't decide on food for this day because the kids are asking for Sci-Fi and I'd rather try Mama Melrose or 50s Prime Time, but either way it'll be a late lunch/early dinner again so that at some point we have room for cupcakes from Starring Rolls and another carrot cake cookie from Writers Stop. When we're done for the day we're going to head over to Beaches & Cream for dessert before calling it a night.

Aug 31: Hanging out around the Fort. Trail ride for Pocahontas and pony ride for Boo, lots of swim and bike trail time for Stitch. DH will probably BBQ at the cabin for lunch, and we're planning on take-out from Trails to Go for dinner before the campfire and movie. (if weather doesn't look good, we'll switch the 30th and 31st around)

Sept 1: Animal Kingdom. Can't decide about food for this day either. We're Landry's Select club members and should have a $25 credit to spend by then so we might do a light lunch at Yak & Yeti, or we might just snack as we get hungry. Haven't decided yet on dinner; it'll be at one of the Swan/Dolphin restaurants but I can't decide which.

Sept 2: Magic Kingdom and check-out. Right now I have a dinner ADR at California Grill but that may change, especially if we decide on Kimonos for dinner on the 1st. We don't plan on leaving Disney until after dinner, then we'll drive through the night towards Nashville.

Sept 3-4: Nashville. We'll drive home early on the 5th so that the kids can get a good night's sleep in their own beds before school starts on the 6th.
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Old 03-28-2011, 10:55 PM   #11
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The fun part of planning this far in advance is all the possibilities.

One of the possibilities we've discussed is what we'll do if free dining is offered. That's a tough one, because the YES program tickets are significantly discounted and we have a great room rate but the bottom line still favors free dining by almost $300. And getting into the YES program is iffy because it is completely non-refundable so we can't pull the trigger on registering for that until we're 100% sure on the trip.

So of course I'm looking at the "just in case" of free dining.

If the basic DDP is offered free it seems it would make sense to change over to that but not upgrade to deluxe. We'd be making terrible use of the plan, going places like Sci-Fi and The Plaza, and we'd still have a couple OOP meals - one at the Swan/Dolphin, one or two on the grill at the cabin, and maybe tea with just the girls at the Grand Floridian - but the final tally still comes out a bit cheaper that way and includes more dining out/less cooking.

My spreadsheet takes a guidebook to understand right now with all the options I'm pricing out!
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:46 AM   #12
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I'm loving all of your plans so far. We drive from N.Y every year and love it. We've been doing it for the last 8 years so the kids are use to it. I can't wait to hear about the campgrounds. I love it when DH is as excited as everyone else when planning a Disney trip.
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:29 AM   #13
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Do you think free dining is going to be offered again? I wondered if it will since they already had the deal out once. I haven't been keeping up in the boards though to see what the thoughts are on it though.
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:03 AM   #14
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Do you think free dining is going to be offered again? I wondered if it will since they already had the deal out once. I haven't been keeping up in the boards though to see what the thoughts are on it though.
I don't really know. I don't keep up with the offer rumor mill, and Disney has definitely departed from their usual patterns. But I do expect we'll see something offered for hurricane/back to school season simply because the historically slowest time of year is not the time to scale back discounts dramatically, especially in a weak economy. They couldn't fill those rooms without discounts in good economic times, I don't think they're going to try to do it now. So I'll be watching to see if whatever comes along is better than the 30% code we are booked with right now.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:46 PM   #15
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It has been a busy weekend here with not much time to think about the Disney plans.

We went to the circus on Saturday, and Boo was very excited about elephant rides... In line, she told us that she didn't mean THOSE elephants, she wanted the FLYING elephant. I guess she was expecting Dumbo! She did still manage to enjoy the ride on a real, grounded elephant, though, especially with her brother and sister riding with her!



The circus was a LOT smaller than I remembered, I think because of their new location, but the kids had a blast anyway. And I would like to challenge anyone who complains about Disney prices to get tickets for the circus some time... $4 cotton candy, $4 bottled water, $4 sno-cones. It made Disney concession/cart prices look like a bargain.

And although you wouldn't know it from the weather spring is here, which means I'll be tied up in my basement starting seeds for a while. I can't wait until the weather clears enough to actually work in the yard, but for right now it is sprouting seedlings and trying to figure out what I need to order from the conservation district's tree sale.

On the Disney front, two sets of plans for our trip are starting to come together - one without any dining plan and the other if free dining is offered. I can't say I really prefer one over the other at this point.

If free dining is offered, we're going to take it and stick to the basic plan. We haven't done that since the deluxe plan was introduced and I'm not at all sure about using up all those counter service credits, but the bottom line is a savings for a couple hundred dollars so I'm willing to give it a try.

Right now, that plan looks something like this:

8/28: MK, dinner at CS whenever we get hungry

8/29: Epcot, lunch counter service around the World, dinner at Akershus

8/30: Studios, late lunch at Sci-fi, light dinner at Kimonos OOP w/restaurant.com certificate

8/31: resort day, lunch on the grill at our cabin, dinner at Trails to Go (CS)

9/1: AK, apps/desserts lunch at Yak & Yeti with Landry's reward certificate, dinner at Whispering Canyon or Mickeys BBQ if it is available once we add plan

9/2: Magic Kingdom, lunch at whatever CS is convenient, dinner at Ohana.

If I don't get Mickey's BBQ I'll add the Plaza for dinner on our arrival day.

We'll still eat all of our breakfasts in the room, but this would mean cooking fewer dinners and having more meals in the parks.

The current discounts only cover the summer/peak season and expire at the end of the month, so it'll be a while yet before we know one way or the other about fall offers to make any real decisions.
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