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Old 02-02-2012, 02:41 PM   #1
BigDaddyWill
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ONE DWARF SHORT - THE SEQUEL! HAPPY MEETS MICKEY! Our 2012 PTR. (2/6 Trip Finances)

Last year, our family of five took my sister in law. When I was thinking of a theme for our PTR I came up with One Dwarf Short.

Unfortunately I had a crazy year as far as the job situation goes and could not give the Trip Report the attention it deserved. I am happy to say that now my situation has settled and I can share our magic experiences with you.


And so it begins...


ONE DWARF SHORT - THE SEQUEL!

Introduction:

We are a family of five from Northern Kentucky. This will be trip #4 for us in 5 years. This year, we have a stowaway in our DS25's best friend from high school and our adopted son (any parent can relate to having extra kids you didn't remember raising LOL). This is our pre-trip planning log as well as our trip report and thoughts after we get home.

We are heading down in late May this year.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section I - Pre-Trip
1) Cast of Characters
2) The planning process
3) Trip Finances
4) Drive Plan
5) Reservations (Resort and ADR)
6) Packing
7) Creative side (T-shirts, tip envelopes and more)
8) Other items to think on
9) Countdown (The last two weeks before the trip)

Section 2 - The trip
This section will have a daily journal (hopefully at the end of each day) that shares the plan for the day and the reality of it. We'll see how well we do!

Section 3 - Post trip wrap-up
Thoughts on the trip, reviews, etc.

Now let's get this party started!

Next up - Dramatis Personae (The cast of characters)
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:16 AM   #2
BigDaddyWill
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Cast of Characters

DRAMATIS PERSONAE AKA Cast of Characters AKA Partners in Crime

DOC is played by me (was actually my high school nickname).


SLEEPY is played by my DW (also known on Dis as SheilaG62)

GRUMPY is played by my DS(25) (also known on Dis as fantasmusician)

DOPEY is played by my DDIL(27) (also known on Dis as littleangie)


BASHFUL is played by my DS(12)


SNEEZY This year, my sister in law could not come, so no SNEEZY. Instead...

HAPPY is played by DS(25)'s best friend from High School.


Celebrations!

We have several things to celebrate this year.

- I am going to be celebrating my 50th birthday.
- DW and I are going to be celebrating our 29th Wedding Anniversary .
- DS(25) is celebrating his college graduation.
- DDIL is celebrating her college graduation.
- DS(25) and DDIL are celebrating their 2nd Anniversary.
- HAPPY is celebrating his first WDW trip.


Our TA said we should look like button warriors, lol!


Next Up: The planning process
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:12 PM   #3
BigDaddyWill
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The Planning Process.

Well actually the process is an ongoing thing. While we were at WDW in June 2011 we noted all the fun things we did and the things that we missed.

When we got home, I wrote down as many as I could as a sort of checklist. In July when we first started seriously discussing going back this year, we invited our son's friend Tyler along. He had never had the opportunity to do WDW the way we do (staying on-property, dining plan, etc.) and so we mentioned it to him. He was excited and agreed pretty quickly.

We made our initial lists of what we liked from past trips and what we still had on our wish list that we hadn't gotten to in August and then I started creating my planning spreadsheet.

Some givens:
  1. We will stay again at Pop Century. We really enjoy the theme and as we spend most of our time out of the room, it really does not make sense to pay more. We also like the gift shop at POP and the food court is great for breakfasts and snacks. Due to a handicap that I have we get rooms on the first floor and near the front, so we are set.
  2. Dining Plan - We got the Deluxe Dining Plan last year and it was great as we wanted to try things like CRT and the Spirit of Aloha show. We are going back to each of these this trip as Tyler has not been and we had a great time.
  3. Driving vs. Flying - I priced flights and it is about $1,000 cheaper to drive. I enjoy driving so it is not a big deal. Have to get new tires for our van, but that would happen anyway.


PLANNING TOOLS

I mentioned above my planning spreadsheet. Just to warn you, I am a heavy planner. I also went to college for accounting so my spreadsheets tend to be intense, lol. I also rely heavily on the DIS boards and other travel sites as well as disney.com so I can price out different scenarios/resorts etc.

I have the following tabs on my spreadsheet :



  • Summary (this holds general information and balances from the sheets behind it.)

    .
  • Package (this year’s version holds pricing from disney.com based on several scenarios as well as some other info. I have it set so that you can choose a scenario number and the total field (which carries to the summary page as well as the payments tab) updates based on which scenario you choose.)

  • Room Only (We have decided to stay at the same resort the night before and night after our package and we track the total cost here. The total goes to the summary and payment tabs as well.)

  • Travel Details (This tab holds my fly vs. drive calculations and I track flight costs from six airports within a two-hour drive. I use similar programming as the package to choose which airport I want to use (if fly is chosen) and numbers are auto-magically updated on the summary and payment tabs. I can change a cell to use drive or fly numbers and a different cell to choose which airport scenario I want.)

    .
  • Shirts (Last year we did matching shirts with iron-ons that we created ourselves (I'll talk more about these later in the report) and we are doing the same this year. I capture the plans and costs here that are once again sent to summary and payment.)

  • Misc (Every spreadsheet needs a miscellaneous tab, lol! Mine currently has our trip insurance captured here.)

  • Payments (This is where all costs are captured and the budget is developed as well as tracking all payments made. (Due dates such as deposits, package balances, etc. are stated here.) Information is gathered from several other tabs to make the correct decisions and to make sure that we can afford things. We also include travel costs and incidentals in here to capture as much as we can for planning.)

  • Dining (This tab is used to record ADRs and plan for counter services as well as to track dining plan credits and where OOP expenses will most likely be incurred.)

    .
  • Park Hours (Yeah, this is just park hours, but I include parade and firework info as well as EMH.)

  • Itinerary (This is a visual representation of the trip that I carry in my camera backpack that has park hours, ADR info, etc. that we can glance at to know what we have planned. It has come in handy on past trips!)

    .

  • SWW (This is the Star Wars Weekend tab where I record which actors are onsite for each day. We usually plan around SWW so it's a standard tab anymore.)

  • DDP tracker (This is basically a punchcard that I will use each night to track our balances and verify the Dining plan and Disney printouts against what we have recorded.)


  • Drive Plan (This final tab (not shown) is where I plot our trip from home to WDW and back. I plan approximate times and gas stops as well as record hotel confirmation info and such.)

As you can see it's pretty detailed and I have a lot of fun planning different scenarios. Once I have things pretty well plotted the family and I sit down and decide if there is anything else we need to add or subtract. Once we are good, it's time to book!

If anyone would like a copy of my spreadsheet to build their own just PM me. No sense to build from scratch! lol.



Current booking (as of 2/1/2012):
2 rooms RO on 5/25 at Pop Century.
2 rooms with DxDP at Pop Century from 5/26 - 6/2.
2 rooms RO on 6/2 at Pop Century.

So that is arriving on 5/25 and leaving on 6/3.


Next Up: Trip Finances
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:27 AM   #4
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Trip Finances

For anyone new to the DIS, you may want to look at commonly used abbreviations here. I use many in this report.


Planning a trip to WDW can be almost as fun as going there. ADRs, Packages, Tours, Resorts...the decision are many. Before we get to the actual money part, let's look at some of the decisions that need to be made BEFORE you start your pricing.
  1. How many are going? Is it just your family? Any additionals? How about multiple families? Each of these can decide what resort/package that you research.
  2. How long do you want to stay? Depending on length of stay, you can look at some options and/or resorts for non-park activities.
  3. On-site or Off? Do you want to immerse yourself in Disney or just spend part of your time there?
  4. Drive or Fly?
  5. Dining plan or OOP?


There are more to be made, but these will help you get started. Now, let's look at how I came up with our plan.
  1. How many are going? We are a family of five, so we either have to go to 2 rooms or stay at POR or a family suite. We added our oldest son's friend so we have six going again this year.
  2. How long do you want to stay? Since we only really take one vacation a year, we try to get the most out of it. So we try to stay 7 nights. That means we have 8 days worth of tickets. We also stay the day before and day after our package to maximize things. We can get up onsite the morning our package starts without having to try to check in and we can stay late our last night and just go back to our resort. This works out great for us.
  3. On-site or Off? For us, we like on-site. Disney transportation makes it easy and we just enjoy it. We do spend most of our time in the parks, so we stay at a value. In particular we love POP because it's just the best for us overall. Their gift shop is the best we've seen in a resort and the layout of teh resort is fun.
  4. Drive or Fly? We seriously checked this out this year. I used to work for an airline and love to fly, but I also like to drive. We decided on driving just due to the cost. It is about $1,000 more to fly. It is a 15-16 hour drive from Cincinnati to WDW so we won't be overly tired. We drove straight through last year but have decided to stop in southern Georgia this trip.
  5. Dining plan or OOP? We have tried OOP, DDP and DxDP. We are going to go with DxDP this trip since we have a first timer with us...we are planing on a few signature dining ADRs so we can really show him around.
Okay...now...money time.

There are several items to price in order to set up your budget (and not all are obvious).

  1. Package. This is the most obvious. We prefer POP so we start there. In looking at our schedules, we have decided to use the Memorial Day holiday to extend our trip (usually we go in early - mid June). Since Star Wars Weekends are then (part of why we go that time of year) we plan around them. Starting our package on a Saturday means our 8th day is a Saturday. This year our package dates are May 26th - June 2nd. We have six going, so 2 rooms. Add the Park Hoppers and DxDP and our trip is around $7K.
  2. Room Only Reservations. As I stated we stay the night before and after our package, so we have 2 rooms x 2 nights @ about $600 total. Now this may seem extreme to some, but we usually try to get in by noon on the first night and go to DTD. I have a cousin that lives near Orlando, so we have dinner together each trip that first night. The last night, we are so tired that going back to the room is just easier, lol.
  3. Travel to/from expenses. Since we are driving, we plan on fuel, lodging for one night each way, food and tolls. I calculate the mpg our van gets and figure approximately how much gas we'll buy. Lodging is planned weeks ahead and so is food. Since we eat so well while at WDW we plan on one picnic each way and places like McDonalds while enroute. I am going to buy a Sunpass removable toll and prepay tolls so that we don't have to keep digging for change. We'll see how that goes.
  4. Travel Insurance. We book through AAA and get the insurance through them. This year it was $68 for each adult.
  5. Miscellaneous expenses. We do matching t-shirts and I buy the blank shirts at cheapesttees.com. Only a few bucks apiece so not a major expense. There will be some vehicle expenses (tune-ups, tires, etc.) but they are not vacation related except for timing. Other expenses may pop up but usually those are small.


So...how do we budget for this?
  • We try to start putting away some each payday as soon as we get home from the previous vacation. While not always successful, this gets us started.
  • Our oldest and our daughter in law take a portion (this year, it's the RO part) and they pay it.
  • The DS's best friend is paying his portion.
  • We put a portion of our tax refund towards it.
  • We get some spending money by dropping our extra change each night into a pretzel barrel jar we have. Last year we had about $250 in change when we took it to the bank. This year I am hoping for over $300.


One thing I am going to try this year is a prepaid VISA card for fuel/lodging. We will continue to put aside money each payday after we are paid in full and buy the card just before vacation. We'll see how that works and I will let you know.

EDIT: As of 3/1/2012 we are PAID IN FULL!

Now if we get a little pixie dust and get FD somehow, we will revisit this.

Next Up: Drive Plan
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Old 03-02-2012, 01:14 PM   #5
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Drive Plan

We have gone back and forth many times on the Drive vs. Fly options, going as far as looking at several airports around Cincinnati and several airline options.

It really just came down to money. The least expensive flights were several hundred dollars more than our driving budget. Add to that baggage fees, parking, etc. and it makes it unrealistic. =-( So we'll hope it is an option next trip.

Last year we opted to leave mid afternoon and drive overnight. With the three we had driving it was doable; this year we have four drivers available. However, I found out last year that I do not sleep well in the car (I am usually the only driver) so we have decided to break it up into 2 days each way.

The current plan:




We will once again be driving our 2007 Chrysler Town & Country:



Our gas mileage is approx 17.3 mpg fully loaded so we expect to gas up before the trip using some fuel rewards to get the price down, then to have to fill up 3x each way.

On the way down we will stay near Macon, GA and on the way home we will stay near Calhoun. For fuel purposes, we hope to buy a prepaid VISA and load up what we anticipate to spend on gas.

We will be buying a Toll Pass ahead of time and preloading it as well. The plan is to save time and to not have to take a lot of change.

This section will be updated with more detail in the next few days/weeks.

Thanks!

Up next: Reservations (Resort and ADR)
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDaddyWill View Post
Just to warn you, I am a heavy planner.
That might have been a slight understatement! Seriously, I am in awe of all your planning spreadsheets, and feeling just a little inadequate!

Just wanted to say HI, since we will also be at Disney around the same time---May 27-June 2.
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Old 11-27-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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I definitely apologize. Work got super crazy from March to May and then I got sick a couple days before the trip and then had surgery to fix something after...I will update this in the coming days!

Will
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