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Old 02-19-2012, 03:25 PM   #1
BrerMama
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Beast. The awesome PTR of awesomeness June 2012 last update: Universal Resort

Hi all, and welcome to yet another time suck to keep you away from such mundane things as cleaning your toilet or folding laundry. I'll try to make this as entertaining as possible. Shouldn't be too hard, as we're a pretty entertaining bunch here where life truly is a happy song.

So here's a little introduction to our happy family:



That photo is over a year old. Time to get some new family photos taken, people. Anyway, it'll give you the lay of the land.

I'm Kim. 41, mom, early childhood special ed teacher, blogger, scrapbooker, hobbyist photographer. I'm the planner and organizer in our family. The glue, if you will, that holds our travels together. I love to write and record and document. And plan. Did I mention that?

I know that photo is in black and white, but my husband Dan really does have gray hair, and he really is only 43. He's a pretty funny guy. Or at least he thinks he is. He has memory issues. No, that's not fair. He doesn't think he has memory issues, he just sees no need to remember anything because he knows I'll remember everything (I do have a pretty awesome memory). The only time this becomes a problem is when he insists I didn't tell him something, and I did, he just chose not to remember it. I get a bit cranky when that happens. So Dan doesn't remember much, likes it that way, and only wants to be there for the fun. He's an adrenaline junky and his biggest regret in life is marrying a total ride wuss like me. We've been married 21 years and I think he's stuck with me.

Then there's our son. That photo above does not do the current look justice. Let me see if I have something more recent....



That's right people. I'm growing my very own Barry Manilow Chia Pet. Seriously, the boy has not cut his hair since June and in June it was only a very small trim because we were taking senior pictures. He wears shorts and Crocs slides 90% of the time (if he's wearing jeans, you know it's a cold day in Kansas) and he's a vegetarian. My very own hippie. He has a wicked sense of humor and I adore him. He'll graduate from high school in May; we're currently deciding which college he'll attend. He's been accepted into a community college and a state university, both within a half hour of our home. For several reasons, he's going to live at home for at least his first year of college. Mainly because the Keurig is his and I'm pretty sure the rest of this family couldn't function if he took it with him to college.

Joking.

Sort of.

Anyway, I'll just call him Tater here in this trip report. His name is Brady, but back when he was but a babe, my sister started calling him "Brady Mr Potady Head" and he loved french fries and mashed potates and soon we were just calling him Tater. I'm sure a teenage boy loves to be called Tater, right?

Next up are my girls



The oldest (and now shortest... her sister has shot up in the 9 months since that photo was taken) is Kiah (16 next month). She's currently lecturing me because she just read Mombaarjo's trip report and she wants to know why I didn't do a surprise trip this time. Um, because then she wouldn't get all the fun of being my assistant trip planner? She's a pretty good girl... sometimes a little blonde, but she's fun. She's currently in the middle of forensics season and kicking some butt. Two medals in two tournaments. She does Oration, for any forensics parents out there. I'm sure you'll read more about her in the future because I'm sure she'll be reading this. She's a huge trip report fan.

Finally, my youngest. Chesney. I'll just call her that. She just turned 12. She's tall, loves to read, and is caught between being a little girl and being a teenager. So awkward and difficult. I adore her, she's my baby, but she's developing a bit of that teen attitude and I could live without that. She loves Stitch and Harry Potter and I'm praying she doesn't get too cool for all that before we go in June.

So that's us. I've got tons more to write, but don't want to bore you to death before we even get started. Before you sign on, though, I'll give you a little overview of what is to come:
  • 16 nights
  • 2 resorts: Sheraton Vistana (yes, we're staying offsite at Disney) and Royal Pacific Resort
  • 6 parks: MK, AK, HS, Epcot, Universal, and IOA
  • 2 water parks: TL and BB
  • 7 dining reservations (currently... it could change if Dan suddenly remembers we weren't going to do very many... or if he forgets and I throw some more in)
  • 1 airport hotel: Quality Suites at Kansas City International
  • 2 or 3 melt downs (I'm hoping that's not per day)
  • adult beverages for me
  • healthy and vegetarian dining for my two oldest

You really want to do this, don't you? Come join us for our pre-trip report... and what promises to be a very long trip report to follow. We'd love to have you!
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June 2009 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
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May/June 2004 Port Orleans Riverside
December 2000 Walt Disney World Offsite

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Old 02-19-2012, 04:12 PM   #2
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YEAH ... So happy you have started your PTR.

Can't wait to follow along.

Sarah
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:04 PM   #3
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Hi Kim, I'll be following along. We'll be at Disney the same time. Can't wait to hear all the details.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayhawkFans View Post
YEAH ... So happy you have started your PTR.

Can't wait to follow along.

Sarah
Aw, Sarah's here! Welcome!

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Hi Kim, I'll be following along. We'll be at Disney the same time. Can't wait to hear all the details.
Looks like it might be a bit of a busy time. We're usually far out of Florida by mid-June. Should be fun!
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:27 AM   #5
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OK, want a little placeholder here for all the upcoming chapters.

1. Introductions
2. In the beginning....
3. Where shall we stay...
4. A little story about buying tickets
5. We've got to eat, right?
6. Life's A Crafty Song
7. Our itinerary, a work in progress
8. Spring Break Update
9. End of March Update
10. What Not to Wear
11. Mid-April Update
12. Day One Plans
13. My Ultimate Park Bag
14. Day Two Plans: MK
15. Let's Talk about Happy Feet
16. Day Three: Hollywood Studios
17. Those Things That Aren't In the Budget
18. Our Disney Pony-O Project
19. Day Four: Epcot
20. Documenting Our Trip
21. The One Where She Has Nothing To Stay
22. Day 5: Animal Kingdom... at long last
23. What to Wear, revisited
24. Day 6: Return to the Magic Kingdom
25. Thinking about Packing
26. My Touring Cards Project
27. Day 7: Typhoon Lagoon
28. Finding the Perfect Rental Car
29. 20 Day Update
30. Disney Photo Challenge
31. Back to Hollywood Studios
32. Our two week update
33. Day 9: Blizzard Beach
34. Day Ten Countdown Photo
35. Day Nine Countdown Photo
36. Days 10 & 11: Animal Kingdom and saying goodbye to MK
37. Universal Resort
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Currently planning March 15-22, 2014 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
June 15-30, 2012 Vistana & Royal Pacific
June 2009 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
May/June 2007 Port Orleans Riverside
May/June 2004 Port Orleans Riverside
December 2000 Walt Disney World Offsite

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Old 02-20-2012, 07:42 AM   #6
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Chapter 2: In the Beginning

Where to start? Let's go back a little in the history of our family....

Dan was so not a Disney person when I met him. His family didn't vacation when he was a child, and Disney was just not his thing. I managed to convince him different and we took our "true" honeymoon back in 1992 to Disneyland. Loved every minute of it and it was the beginning of my love affair with The Unofficial Guide.

Since then, we've managed to make 2 more trips to Disneyland with the kids, and 4 to Walt Disney World. Some of those trips were not the most fun trips of our life -- cross country driving trips with infants and toddlers do not have the most treasured place in my file of memories -- but we're hooked. We don't go every year, but we go as often as we can.

Back in summer of 2011, it had been 2 years since our last Disneyland trip and 4 since WDW. We had actually planned to go to WDW in 2010, then decided we didn't want Disney trips in back to back years. Then we intended to go last year in 2011 and our house decided to fall apart on us and we had to put that money into plumbing. So it's 2011 and we're on vacation in our other favorite vacation spot, Branson, MO.

I'm a-floating through one of the rides at Silver Dollar City, a theme park where we hold season passes most years, and realize that I'm just over it. I'm over a very pretty, very yummy theme park where the only rides I will ride are a silly boat ride with guns (think lame Buzz Lightyear on water) and water rides. I'm a little *gasp* bored with Branson and all that it has to offer.

[Um, side note here: Not so over it that we aren't going to Branson for our entire Spring Break in a month. Just finding it's not how I want to spend my summer. Plus, I need to hit the outlets to stock up for our Disney trip.]



Dan & Kiah, my roller coaster junkies, on Powderkeg at SDC

At some point during that trip, I announced to my family that in 2012, we will be going to WDW. We will be using the Universal passes we purchased five years ago.

And so the countdown began.... I think we started at 300+ days. I returned here to the DIS boards, which while a bit crazy at times, has been my home for Disney planning since 2000. I preordered a 2012 Passporter, which I consider essential to any trip. I started a spreadsheet for planning. And here we are, a little over a hundred days out and preparations are getting serious, people.

Next up: And where shall we stay? Offsite?!? Heresy!
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:06 AM   #7
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I am here!! And loving it so far... I really enjoy your writing style!

I ROFLed at your Chia Pet (AKA: Tater)... Sorry... We we have some cheesy nick names in our family too, but I think my dd's would murder me in my sleep if I posted them publicly.

I also love that you have 2 girls - although they aren't as close together as mine are - I can relate to the attitudes... It's even worse when they both choose to have them at the exact same time - that's when I lock myself in my room. I am praying mine can be nice to each other for 10 days in a row at Disney... I already told DH that I am sending them home, if that's the case... Grrrr...

Oh, sorry, yes, this is your PTR...

Looking forward to hearing about more of your plans!

D~
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:33 AM   #8
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i am following over from D~'s report.

Loved meeting your family.

I have a special place in my heart for SpecEd teachers.
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:08 PM   #9
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Hi Kim,

I found my way over here from D~'s PTR too. I read the first sentence and you had me hooked. You know . . . anything to get away from laundry and toilets!

I at your 'Barry Manilow Chia Pet' comment. Seriously though, I had to clean my monitor off after that. (Note to self, no liquids while reading this PTR in future.) I'll have to remember that Chia pet comment for use in the future with my DS, who hasn't cut his hair since mid-July. He doesn't know it yet but he will be getting a trim before our trip next month.

Loved the introduction to your family and can't wait to read more about your plans and trip. I'd love to go to WDW in the May/June timeframe but that just ain't gonna happen anytime soon (we are pretty much booked every weekend from May to October with racing and soccer!) so I'll just have to live vicariously through you!
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Old 02-21-2012, 05:00 PM   #10
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Hey there. I'm in but you almost lost me on the comments on Branson though . Glad you are still doing both!
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Old 02-21-2012, 07:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMGeurts View Post
I am here!! And loving it so far... I really enjoy your writing style!

I ROFLed at your Chia Pet (AKA: Tater)... Sorry... We we have some cheesy nick names in our family too, but I think my dd's would murder me in my sleep if I posted them publicly.

I also love that you have 2 girls - although they aren't as close together as mine are - I can relate to the attitudes... It's even worse when they both choose to have them at the exact same time - that's when I lock myself in my room. I am praying mine can be nice to each other for 10 days in a row at Disney... I already told DH that I am sending them home, if that's the case... Grrrr...

Oh, sorry, yes, this is your PTR...

Looking forward to hearing about more of your plans!

D~
Welcome and thanks so much! I do so love my kids. Calling him Tater is probably the least I do to embarrass my son. And the girls and fighting. Sigh. All. The. Time. Unless they're best friends. There is no happy medium.

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i am following over from D~'s report.

Loved meeting your family.

I have a special place in my heart for SpecEd teachers.
Oh thank you. I have a special place in my heart for kids with special needs, so I appreciate those those appreciate me.

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Originally Posted by tinkbell13 View Post
Hi Kim,

I found my way over here from D~'s PTR too. I read the first sentence and you had me hooked. You know . . . anything to get away from laundry and toilets!

I at your 'Barry Manilow Chia Pet' comment. Seriously though, I had to clean my monitor off after that. (Note to self, no liquids while reading this PTR in future.) I'll have to remember that Chia pet comment for use in the future with my DS, who hasn't cut his hair since mid-July. He doesn't know it yet but he will be getting a trim before our trip next month.

Loved the introduction to your family and can't wait to read more about your plans and trip. I'd love to go to WDW in the May/June timeframe but that just ain't gonna happen anytime soon (we are pretty much booked every weekend from May to October with racing and soccer!) so I'll just have to live vicariously through you!
PLEASE tell me how/if you get your son to agree to a trim. I refuse to put gas in his car unless he shaves, but his dad will sabotage me if I try to up the ante and make the rule "no gas unless you get a haircut." I swear this is my punishment for liking Poison in the 80s.

I personally am not thrilled with going to WDW in late June (I'd prefer the end of May/first of June, when we usually go) but DH is not budging on this. We could go earlier, he's just always busier at work the first half of the month, so he'd rather go during the slower time. Since he agreed to two full weeks, I'll go when he wants.

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Hey there. I'm in but you almost lost me on the comments on Branson though . Glad you are still doing both!
Ah. I love Branson. Sort of already have my countdown going. Trying to think how I can Disney-fy Spring Break. Rope drop at the Disney Store Outlet? A BucketsNBoards show (since they're on the Disney Cruises now)?
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Currently planning March 15-22, 2014 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
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June 2009 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
May/June 2007 Port Orleans Riverside
May/June 2004 Port Orleans Riverside
December 2000 Walt Disney World Offsite
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:21 PM   #12
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Chapter 3: Where shall we stay (the short-ish version)

I guess we started where everyone else starts in planning our trip... where are we going to stay?

We stayed at Riverside in 2004 and 2007. It was "our place." I have so many memories of the food court, the pools, our room. We stood out by the river in 2007 and watched a space shuttle launch. I *loved* that place.

However -- and you might have noticed this in our intro photos -- we are no longer a young family. We are a family with 2 teens and a preteen. And unfortunately for us, the younger two are both girls. With the configuration of beds at Riverside (and the new refurb) this would mean my 6 foot tall son would need to sleep on a trundle/murphy bed.

That's not happening, peoples.


loved the Mousekeepers at Riverside!

And then there's the bathroom issue. We need 2. Not just "it would be great to have 2 bathrooms" but we need 2. I could maybe compromise on this issue if it was a really great room, but when we're talking 2 weeks, I'm thinking we need two.

Value resorts do not appeal to me. I teach pre-K. I'm surrounded by bright and happy and overstimulating for 8 hours a day, five days a week, 36 weeks a year. I want calm and peaceful -- serene -- when I'm on vacation. So family suites at All Star or Art of Animation are out.

That pretty much leaves us going offsite. No way is Dan The Budget Man going to pay Disney Deluxe prices when it's only one room (and here it is almost March and they still don't have any discounts available for our time period and no, Disney has never ever sent me a PIN).

Originally we booked a pool home. I loved the idea of having our own pool. The kids loved the idea of having their own rooms and bathrooms. It was a great solution for us.

Except I started to get nervous about the owners. Threads were posted here on the DIS boards by people visiting soon who were unable to get ahold of the owners. Many tried to make new reservations and got no response. I myself was waiting for an email which I never got. I ended up cancelling, just because I felt uneasy about the situation and didn't want to worry about it for months on end.

I decided that renting from a private owner probably wasn't what I wanted. I wanted a brand name. Hmmm... what about a timeshare? And while I'm looking for different accomodations anyway, why don't we just go ahead and stay on property at Universal (because while we'd be crammed in one room at Universal the onsite benefits are so huge that I can make it work for a few days)?

So... trying to keep this really long story short... we ended up booking Sheraton Vistana for 11 nights. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms. Nice little resort. Got it for $123/night plus taxes. Super duper cheap. Yes, we'll have to rent a car. And yes, we'll have to pay for parking. But hey, we're renting a car! We can go shopping! We can try some new-to-us restaurants! We can shop at Wal-mart!



After our time at Vistana, we'll move to Royal Pacific Resort. I got the cheapest room they offer. I plan to spend little to no time in the room. We'll sleep. We'll survive the bathroom situation. It's four nights, and that unlimited Express Pass thing just can't be beat.

To conclude this not-so-brief chapter, I'm pretty sad that we're not staying onsite. I want that magic bubble. I want what is familiar.

But there's this other side of me that's thankful for the space we'll have. Excited about the opportunity to explore a little outside of that bubble. Excited about trying something new. And determined to write a trip report that will show that you can stay offsite and still have an amazing, magical trip.

So stay tuned.

And rock on.
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June 2009 Disneyland, HoJo Anaheim
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May/June 2004 Port Orleans Riverside
December 2000 Walt Disney World Offsite

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Old 02-23-2012, 09:22 PM   #13
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So today, along with a fellow teacher and a university professor, I presented at a state conference on early childhood special education. I wasn't nervous at all.... until I was driving across town to the conference. At that point I decided that the scarf I was wearing looking like a paisley caterpillar trying to attack me. And that my hair looked ridiculous. And that my thumbnail was no longer needed, so I might as well just bite it off.

For the record, it went really well. I sort of enjoy talking about stuff... whether it be my profession or my interests or my planning. Just in case you haven't picked up on that by now.

None of this is really Disney related, but here's a Disney question I've been pondering for a few days. I woke up yesterday and my Disney countdown app on my iPhone was at 114 days, which means that two weeks from today is our double digit dance day.

In the past, on our double digit day, we've had a little celebration. In the past, this usually included visiting the Disney store and going out to eat. Well... our Disney Store is long gone. And we don't usually go out to eat on a Thursday. DH works 12 hour days 4 days a week, so he's usually not home until after 7 pm on a Thursday.

I could do a Disney themed meal that Friday, but we're accustomed to going out to eat on Fridays. I sort of have issues with coming home and cooking when DH has been sitting at home watching his DVR all day. It doesn't sit well with me. We solved this issue by just eating out every Friday. Lots of times it's just subs from Jimmy John's or Subway. When we're getting fancy, we order pizza. About once a month we actually go out to eat. Like sit in the restaurant and order drinks and everything. So anyone have any suggestions re: a good (probably chain) restaurant that could be vaguely tied to Disney? Or an easy themed meal?
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Old 02-24-2012, 08:21 AM   #14
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So today, along with a fellow teacher and a university professor, I presented at a state conference on early childhood special education. I wasn't nervous at all.... until I was driving across town to the conference. At that point I decided that the scarf I was wearing looking like a paisley caterpillar trying to attack me. And that my hair looked ridiculous. And that my thumbnail was no longer needed, so I might as well just bite it off.

For the record, it went really well. I sort of enjoy talking about stuff... whether it be my profession or my interests or my planning. Just in case you haven't picked up on that by now.

None of this is really Disney related, but here's a Disney question I've been pondering for a few days. I woke up yesterday and my Disney countdown app on my iPhone was at 114 days, which means that two weeks from today is our double digit dance day.

In the past, on our double digit day, we've had a little celebration. In the past, this usually included visiting the Disney store and going out to eat. Well... our Disney Store is long gone. And we don't usually go out to eat on a Thursday. DH works 12 hour days 4 days a week, so he's usually not home until after 7 pm on a Thursday.

I could do a Disney themed meal that Friday, but we're accustomed to going out to eat on Fridays. I sort of have issues with coming home and cooking when DH has been sitting at home watching his DVR all day. It doesn't sit well with me. We solved this issue by just eating out every Friday. Lots of times it's just subs from Jimmy John's or Subway. When we're getting fancy, we order pizza. About once a month we actually go out to eat. Like sit in the restaurant and order drinks and everything. So anyone have any suggestions re: a good (probably chain) restaurant that could be vaguely tied to Disney? Or an easy themed meal?
Congratulations on the presentation going well. I hate getting up in front of people and presenting and always have. Grade school speeches were a disaster for me. I am a nervous wreck now prior to presenting to a group, then I stand in front of all those people and this really polished looking and knowledgable person presents my materials. Little do they all know I am shaking inside.

Yay for upcoming double digit day! That is the same day as we leave for the World! I'll have to think a bit more on restaurants or a themed meal. Not sure what you have in your area and there are typically more/different options for restaurants in the US than what we have around here. I mean, honestly, I ate at Jimmy Johns for the first time at the end of December. Didn't even know it existed a month before that.
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Old 02-24-2012, 10:14 AM   #15
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Fellow teacher here, also going in a few months, to celebrate our oldest daughter's high school graduation!

Looking forward to hearing more of your plans!
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Hold my umbrella while I find your poncho-May 2012 TRhttp://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...64&postcount=1
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