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Old 06-05-2012, 11:14 PM   #1
11point5
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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, To Disney We Will Go! (an Oct. 2012 PTR) **UPDATED 7/12**

Hi!!!! This is my first ever PTR and I'm excited to get it going! We booked our vacation March 22nd and I've been reading everyone else's PTRs and TRs ever since, and now I'm finally starting one of my own!!
So, without further ado, here we are!



The cast of our vacation this year is myself, Suzi, (11point5 ---which, btw, is how much I love WDW on a scale of 1-10!) and my DBF, Mike, who has never been to WDW before! So far he is only medium excited to see Disney for the first time (he hates not being able to feel the ground under his feet, and the impending horror of the flight from Buffalo to Orlando is definitely stealing most of his excitement), but I know as soon as we land at MCO he will be bouncing off the walls like I will be!! (okay, maybe he won't be quiiite as excited as me, but close). He has been SO patient and loving with all my never-ending excitement about little trip details, and he’s even agreed to watch a Disney movie each week with me to help me channel my omg-we’re-actually-going-to-Disney-I-can’t-believe-it energies! Lol

The purpose of our trip? To celebrate our 3 year dating anniversary! (which is officially Oct. 26th, but we didn’t want our travel dates to be that close to Halloween). Also, we have this awesome relationship pact where we go on some kind of vacation every 2 years together In 2010 we did NYC for a weekend, and 2012 ---DISNEY for 10 days!! Since this one was 100% my choice, I’m thinking 2014 should be fully Mike’s choice (he’ll probably pick either somewhere Caribbean, or Italy!)

Our Disney trip dates: October 10th to 19th, 2012. I tried to plan away from all the major holidays, bad weather (my biggest fear in the universe is tornados!), huge crowds, and extreme heat/humidity. Plus, we had to make sure we could both get the time off work. Mike works at a golf course, so going on vacation mid-golf-season definitely wasn't an option. My job was a lot more lenient though, since I gave them so much advance notice (I'm a classroom assistant in a Montessori school). So, all those factors considered, October seemed like a good bet!

Once the trip was booked, I decided to make October 10th the deadline for my weight loss goal! What better reward for 6 months of healthy eating and exercise than 10 days at my favourite place in the world!?!? I have 28lbs to lose, and I am just hoping to look and feel awesome in my bathing suit and cute warm-weather clothes again! I already eat very well; my main challenge is convincing myself to exercise when I’d rather be snuggled up in bed reading or on Pinterest! Mike and I have started running together 3 times a week though, doing this podcast program called “Couch to 5K”, which I highly recommend! Plus it's free!! It’s an interval-running program that lasts 9 weeks, and we are loving it so far (we just did our 5th run yesterday)! Updates to come soon!

Our rough itinerary: (which I had SOOOO much fun creating!!)

Wednesday Oct 10 – leave Buffalo at 8:05am, arrive in Orlando around 10:30am, DME to ASMo, lunch at ASMo, explore hotel, relax a bit, then head to MK for dinner and the electrical parade and Wishes! (this will be a long first day, but how could we NOT start our trip with the MK fireworks!?!?)

Thursday Oct 11 – MK EMH, back to hotel in the afternoon to swim and nap, Epcot for dinner (food and wine festival!!) and “eat to the beat” concert (Smash Mouth), boat to boardwalk for some exploring

Friday Oct 12 – AK EMH, hotel break in the afternoon, dinner and shopping in DTD, cirque du soleil 9pm

Saturday Oct 13 – DHS EMH, boat to boardwalk in the afternoon, boat back to DHS for Fantasmic

Sunday Oct 14 – sleep in day! Epcot WS at 11am, food and wine festival lunch, tour WS in the afternoon, ADR at Coral Reef restaurant 6pm, Illuminations

Monday Oct 15 – AK EMH, afternoon at the hotel or DHS, depending on tiredness, then dinner and shopping at DTD!

Tuesday Oct 16 – Epcot FW EMH, monorail to MK, see the Dreams parade, ADR at Tony’s 6:25pm, explore some other resorts in the evening! (GF and AKL for sure!)

Wednesday Oct 17 – Universal Studios day – Mears shuttle to IoA bright and early, TWWOHP, dinner someplace at Universal, Mears shuttle back to ASMo

Thursday Oct 18 – MK EMH, monorail to Epcot at some point, relax, swim, pack, maybe some more shopping

Friday Oct 19 – last vacation day check out 11am, spend the day at some parks (tbd), then DME back to airport around 5:30pm for 7:30pm flight

(can you tell I’m a huge fan of EMH in the mornings?? Heh heh)

Anyway that’s it for now! I’ll try to post my packing list and budget breakdown in the next few days. AND a picture of us too, but I have to write 6 more posts before I can upload a picture!
If you’re here reading I’d love to hear from you!
__________________
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---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!

Last edited by 11point5; 07-12-2012 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:22 PM   #2
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Dang...you have put so much work into this trip nothing possible will go wrong...The dates you have picked are pretty good too for all the reasons you stated. Mike will really enjoy the trip once he gets there and gets into it. You both should have a blast....and congrats on your three year anniversary.....may you both have many more together.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:26 PM   #3
11point5
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thanks for the kind words davmill!! I wish I could just plan trips for a living lol. will you be traveling this year too?
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October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:27 AM   #4
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Old 06-11-2012, 11:23 PM   #5
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Our Budget (in 2 Different Currencies, ugh)

The budget breakdown post!! (121 days til Disney!)

I am an incredibly passionate financial planner (alright let's be honest, really I just love ALL kinds of planning!) and I had a ton of fun working and re-working the trip budget before we booked things!! Originally we were going for 7 nights, 8 days, but when we started talking about including a Universal day, I was like, "Hmmm, why would we cram Disney into just 7 days when we could add a couple more days for just a bit more money!?" So then I worked out the numbers for if we stayed NINE days, or if we stayed TEN days, and the difference was small enough that Mike agreed it was a great idea to stay TEN days, and he had the happiest girlfriend in the entire world!
The unfortunate part was that we'd already booked our (non-refundable!) flights before adding the extra 2 trip days, but I managed to convince AirTran to switch our flight day for FREE instead of the $150 fee we were going to have to pay! How did I do this? Weellll, very shortly before we decided on 10 days, AirTran had sent us a flight schedule change email that involved our return flight being 40mins later than originally planned. Thinking nothing of it, I accepted the changes. When I called to make the "oh-we-want-to-stay-two-extra-days-at-Disney" adjustment, I was told that because I had already accepted the airline's schedule changes, I would be charged the full adjustment fee of $75 per person if I wanted to change my flight.. I just continued to talk nicely with the airline rep, really really laying it on thick how badly we wanted to stay the extra 2 days, and how it was our anniversary vacation, and eventually she said "hang on, let's see what we can do for you here". and then - magically! - she said it would be okay this one time to make the switch! YAY!!

So, back to the budget (sorry for the offshoot story about the airline!)
I divided our budget into things that have to be pre-paid (Disney room + park tickets package, flights, travel insurance, and Universal tickets) and things that don't have to be paid til October (baggage check, food, airport park-and-fly, and Mears shuttle**)

**I should note, we haven't decided yet whether to splurge for the special 2-park Universal tickets that include roundtrip Mears shuttle, offered by Dreams... it works out to about $95 US more than just doing IoA and paying for the shuttle on its own, but Mike and I are both not huuuge roller coaster fans, and I'm only really excited to see the Harry Potter area and the decor and stuff around the rest of the park, so I'm not sure doing both halves of Universal would really be worth the money for us.

One VERY annoying thing I am endlessly unhappy about is the stupid exchange rate between CDN and US money!!!! I've been trying to only make payments when the dollars are pretty much at par, but I'm still paying about 3% more in exchange costs! And okay, it's just small amounts each time, (ie. $9 extra on a $400 trip payment) but it's adding up and interfering with my wonderful budget!

Anyway, here it is! parts are in US and parts are in CDN


Standard Room (9 nights) plus 9-day Park Hopper: $1722.36 US
Two Roundtrip, Nonstop Flights (Buffalo to Orlando) with AirTran: $570.35 CAD
Travel Insurance with TravelSafe (via *****************) : $98.72 CAD
Universal Tickets: $191.76 US

Two Roundtrip Tickets for Mears Shuttle (Disney to IoA): $40 US
Two-Item Baggage Check (Roundtrip): $80 US
Airport Park-n-Fly for 10 Days: $75 US (Buffalo Niagara Airport has a printable "$5 off longterm parking" coupon available on their website which I got very excited about!! Gotta love saving!)
Food for 10 Days: $1200** we have some wiggle room here, but I'm hoping to keep food costs low! We aren't really dessert fans and all our breakfasts will be at the hotel, and we've only booked 2 fancy dinners (details to follow in my future FOOD post!) so I think we should hopefully be able to stick cloooose to the budget of $120 per day!

So there it is! The whole trip comes in around $3900 for everything except shopping (so, probably about $5900 after shopping!!)
but again, that total is a weird hybrid of CAD and US. I wish there was just ONE standard monetary unit in the world! And I'm not going to pretend to understand economics at all, but I can sort of comprehend why one universal currency wouldn't work. Sighhhhh, guess my budget will remain unofficial until October!

Anyway, after budgeting the trip costs, I even got to do the financial planning for Mike's income and my own to determine when we can afford to make payments to trip savings, how much, etc.
My mom also has a secret stash of US cash she keeps to give me some spending money for whenever I go to the US, so she will be contributing $450 US to our trip!! Thanks momma bear!! And my dad gave me $100 US for my graduation present today, because he knows there's no way I'd rather celebrate being finished university than by shopping at DISNEY WORLD! So thank you daddy too!!


__________________
Suzi
---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!

Last edited by 11point5; 06-22-2012 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:30 PM   #6
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ADRs (and other food we're excited about!)

So far we have 4 ADRs, and I sort of doubt we'll add any more but who knows! Anything could happen in the next 110 days!
We decided not to do character dining on this trip since we're trying to keep the budget down, and plus I think it's way more fun to hunt down the characters as they walk around the parks! We also didn't want to have ADRs every single day so we could keep some freedom of choice, and a lot of our meals will be quick or counter service anyway.

Here's what we have booked so far:
Friday October 12th: lunch at Rainforest Cafe in AK 1:15
Saturday October 13th: lunch at Sci Fi Drive In Theatre 12:55
Sunday October 14th: dinner at Coral Reef 6:00
Tuesday October 16th: dinner at Tony's Town Square 6:25

I was really really heartbroken to see that Tony's no longer does breakfast!!! My dad and I STILL talk about the amazing waffles we had for breakfast there (either in 1998 or 2000, or both? I can't remember) and I don't think I have ever had such an enjoyable breakfast dining experience anywhere! The butter was even shaped like Mickey Mouse! And I actually hate butter but I remember eating some just because it was so cool!! So I'm hoping dinner at Tony's will be as memorable as breakfast was!

Apart from our ADRs, I went through the list of all the other 'restaurants' (anywhere that serves food! QS, CS, TS) at all four parks as well as DTD and narrowed down the HUGE list to just the ones that interest us (ie. menu looks good, theming is particularly special, price is reasonable). In creating our list, I stuck to food that isn't too fancy or international because Mike isn't a fan of TOO much new stuff all at once, and to be honest I'm not really big on fancy or exotic foods either, so no losses there! I wish we could try out ALL the places on our list, but realistically we won't have enough time (or room in our bellies!)
Here's our list of appealing eateries! (any feedback on our restaurant choices is greatly appreciated!! Have you eaten at these places? Have any favourite items on the menu?)

Magic Kingdom:
Columbia Harbour House
Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
Liberty Tree Tavern
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Pinocchio Village Haus
The Plaza
Tomorrowland Terrace

Epcot:
Electric Umbrella
San Angel Inn
Sunshine Seasons
Yorkshire County Fish Shop

***we will be eating/drinking Food and Wine Festival stuff at least once! very excited to try this as it's my first time being at Disney (actually, even my first time being in the US!) and old enough to drink!!***

Disney's Hollywood Studios:
ABC Commissary
Backlot Express
Studio Catering
Sunset Ranch Market

*All our DHS choices are probably kind of plain and boring, but of the 4 parks DHS has the fewest food options that appeal to us.*

Animal Kingdom:
Pizzafari
Restaurantosaurus

*also maybe boring choices at AK, but we won't be at AK during many meal times so I thought we'd keep it mostly simple*

Downtown Disney:
Cap'n Jack's
Earl of Sandwich
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain
Fresh-A-Peel
Rainforest Cafe
T-Rex
Bongo's Cuban Cafe
House of Blues
Raglan Road

*I had the hardest time making the DTD list because I know we won't get to try all 9 places!! We'll probably have a hard time squeezing in even 4 of them! Also, I feel like T-Rex is something we'd need an ADR for, since it's kind of like Rainforest Cafe?
If so, we might make T-Rex our dinner before Cirque du Soleil on the 12th!

Coming up soon: packing list and individual park plans! One of my two part-time jobs wrapped up today (assistant preschool teacher), so now I have a LOT more free time to do updates! I've been kind of slacking on updating lately
And final piece of exciting news: I think I can finally post pictures!! Since this is my 10th official post on the DIS!!!
__________________
Suzi
---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!
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Old 07-03-2012, 01:10 AM   #7
11point5
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FINALLY in the double digits, revised ADRs, gift card plan

soooooooo as of an hour ago.... it is Tuesday July 3rd, which means we have
99 DAYS LEFT until Disney!!!!


We did end up adding more ADRs (I knew it would happen, lol!), including one on the first night which I really didn't think was a good idea because I didn't want to feel rushed on our very first day... but after further consideration I decided it's nicer to have a guaranteed sit-down dinner before the parade/fireworks than to be grumpy waiting in line for dinner before the parade/fireworks.
So our whole list of ADRs now looks like this:
Wednesday October 10th: dinner at the Plaza Restaurant 6:30
Friday October 12th: dinner at Rainforest Cafe in DTD 5:00
Saturday October 13th: lunch at Sci Fi Drive In Theatre 12:55
Sunday October 14th: dinner at Coral Reef 6:00
Monday October 15th: lunch at Rainforest Cafe in AK 12:15
Tuesday October 16th: dinner at Tony's Town Square 6:25

I feel like I should mention that for the entirety of our trip planning I have been TOTALLY against the Disney Dining Plan. I thought it was very structured and limiting and as much as I like planning and budgeting, I prefer to do such things in advance, so balancing meal credits during the trip did NOT sound appealing. But I had been reading lots of DIS posts about the DDP, and I was starting to have mixed feelings, so one night last week I decided to figure it out once and for all. I stayed up for THREE HOURS going painstakingly through each menu at each place on our "maybe-eat-here" list, picking out the handful of things we'd be likely to order and calculating what the average cost of those meals would be at each place including tax and non-alcoholic drinks, so that I could see if the DDP would be worthwhile for us. It was a verrry long and tedious process, but I didn't hate it (because, duh, it still counts as Disney planning!) and in the end I discovered that our average daily food costs would be $92! For breakfast lunch and dinner! And I was being a bit generous in my calculations. The DDP would run us $110/day as I understand it, and that's only lunches and snacks and dinners; all our breakfasts would be OOP! And then you add 20% tips on top of that, and the odd appetizer here or there, plus some alcoholic drinks of course and more than 2 "snacks" a day (especially at the Food and Wine Festival!) and the DDP is definitely NOT worth it for us! My original daily food budget was $120/day for EVERYTHING, and after my long night of menu calculating, I think $120/day will actually be perfect!
That said, however, I'm still keeping my fingers and toes crossed for free dining, but for the past 3 years October 10th has been blacked out so I'm not too hopeful Maybe we'll be able to get a sweet room discount of some kind instead. (Or is it too late to get room discounts?)

ALSO - in my last post, I meant to talk about how excited I am for the Food and Wine Festival, and then I totally forgot! We are super psyched to see Smash Mouth and Gin Blossoms and Javier Colon at the Eat to the Beat concerts, and Air Supply will be playing during our trip too but I don't think we'll be at Epcot those days. We're planning to do two meals where we eat around the world, sampling little things here and there and I LOVE the idea of eating little bitty snacks at a whole bunch of places! Provides a nice contrast from all the QS and TS meals. Also I'm really looking forward to the cheddar soup from Canada (even though I live in Canada and could have it anytime!)
At the restaurant where I work, we had beer and cheddar soup as a summer menu feature last year and it was DELICIOUS! But it was around for a limited time only unfortunately, so I've been missing it and am counting on Epcot's soup to be equally yummy if not more so!
I read somewhere on the Disney Food Blog (one of my new favourite websites!) that there is a special F&W gift card you can buy at Epcot Guest Services! And it comes on a little bracelet thing which is super handy, annnnd it would make a great scrapbook item!! win-win! Here's a picture:



On Thursday I'm planning to drive down to the US to buy some Disney parks gift cards to use on our trip, because I discovered that the bank charges a fee on top of the exchange rate every time you use your Visa card for non-Canadian purchases!!! I think by purchasing some gift cards for like $300 all in one big purchase, I will avoid being overcharged exchange fees on my Visa card. This is my best option I think....it's really tough getting around the currency exchange issue!!!
If I go to the bank and ask for $____ US money, I pay that day's exchange rate PLUS the bank fee (but then I have to carry around a bunch of cash)
If I put all our individual meal and shopping purchases on Visa in October, I pay that day's exchange rate PLUS the bank fee for EVERY purchase
If I buy gift cards on Visa, I pay that day's exchange rate plus the bank fee, but I get the convenience of carrying 3 or 4 gift cards instead of a pile of cash
So all in all it seems the best plan, but I'm not 100% positive what Visa will charge me. If it works out in my favour though I'll definitely go post it on the Canadian trip boards (unless someone already has and I haven't seen it yet!)
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---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:46 PM   #8
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Good idea about crossing the border to get some gift cards. I hadn't thought about that, but now might have to make the drive over myself to pick up a couple. Thanks for the idea
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Old 07-03-2012, 03:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeroKero View Post
Good idea about crossing the border to get some gift cards. I hadn't thought about that, but now might have to make the drive over myself to pick up a couple. Thanks for the idea
Thanks for stopping by KeroKero! It's great to hear from another Canadian Disney fan! I'll let you know what happens with my gift card idea! Just checked out your PTR really briefly (I'll be following along!) and I have to say your cross-body bag is SO CUTE!!!!!!! I love love love it, especially the must-have easy-access phone/lip balm pouch in the front!
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---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!
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Old 07-03-2012, 05:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 11point5 View Post
I'll let you know what happens with my gift card idea! Just checked out your PTR really briefly (I'll be following along!) and I have to say your cross-body bag is SO CUTE!!!!!!! I love love love it, especially the must-have easy-access phone/lip balm pouch in the front!
Thanks for checking out my PTR!! I definitely look forward to reading the rest of your PTR and looking forward to your findings on going across the border to get gift cards. Keep us posted!
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:34 PM   #11
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gift card verdict.....

So on Thursday I made the trip down to Buffalo/Amherst area to buy a Disney gift card, hoping to save myself multiple needless Visa fees for multiple Disney purchases when we go in October.
What I wanted: a choose-your-own-amount Disney gift card, which I wanted to put $200 on.
I quickly discovered that there are NO nearby Disney Stores in New York, and the closest one in Michigan is 3.5hrs away from me! Not very convenient. But from my helpful DISboards community I learned that SOME (but not all) Walgreens and Target stores have the Disney gift cards, so I made my plans based on that info!
I spent awhile Google mapping out the closest Target and Walgreens locations and narrowed it down to four (2 Targets, 2 Walgreens). Then I arranged the four stops in a sensible order (in terms of distance and wanting to avoid driving in circles!) and printed out the directions. I also printed out directions home from each of the four places, so that I could just drive straight home from whichever place had the loadable gift cards!
I meant to leave at 1130am to try to avoid horrible wait times at the border, but I was running late and didn't end up leaving til 1pm ....oops! By that time, the border wait was AN HOUR according to the highway signs!! Luckily there was an old magazine kicking around in my car! I spent the hour (it took exactly 60mins! ughhh at least they were accurate) reading my magazine and flipping through radio stations, trying not to overuse my AC (it was like 39 degrees plus humidity!!) and then finnnaaalllyyyy I made it!!! My first stop was a Target but I happened to drive past a Walgreens on my way (this one never even showed up on Google maps!!) so I decided to try my luck and stopped there first. I wandered in, trying to seem like an American because I always feel like everyone can tell I'm Canadian and they assume I'm a tourist or something....and there, along the same wall as the greeting cards..were the gift cards!! I must say, I'm really jealous of the variety of gift cards available all in one place in the US! We don't have such a convenient selection anywhere in Canada that I'm aware of!
AND THEY HAD THE LOADABLE DISNEY CARDS!!! So I quickly bought one and turned around to head back home!
Thankfully the drive home was wayyy shorter since the border was quick, and I made it home safe and sound. Today the purchase showed up on my credit card and..... $200 gift card = $207.99!
I'm pretty mad about this. I purposely picked a day for my Buffalo trip when the dollar was very close to at par, and STILL I paid an extra 4% for my gift card!!!!! I am discouraged. I was expecting it to be like $4 or $5 but not $8. The last time I made a vacation package payment to Disney online, $400US became $409CAD, which is a lot better ratio but still kinda sucks.
In conclusion, I guess there's no great way to beat the exchange rates. I think I'll make one more trip for a bigger gift card before the trip (maybe $500) and just do cash and Visa for everything else. Or maybe I'll just have to move to Orlando and avoid all this currency exchange nonsense!!
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---------------------------------------------------
October 1998 - (ASMu) My Very First Disney Trip!
April 2000 - (POFQ) Second Daddy-Daughter Trip!
April 2007 - (AS Sports) High School Band Trip!
October 2012 - (ASMu) DBF's First Trip AND Our 3 Year Dating Anniversary!
February 2014 - (POR) Glass Slipper Challenge Trip!
March 2015 to March 2016 - Canadian Pavilion Cultural Rep Program!
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:01 PM   #12
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no free dining :(

I have been checking the "Special Offers" page on the Disney website 4-5 times every day for the past month, just waiting and waiting for them to post the fall free dining!!!! Today when I opened it up and saw the picture of Simba beside the dining plan description (instead of the picture of the laughing girl? I think that's what it was... or a kid eating a Mickey ice cream bar)...I knew without even reading the description that IT HAD ARRIVED! THE FALL FREE DINING ANNOUNCEMENT!!! I made myself take a deep breath before clicking the link, because I've read that our trip dates have almost always been blacked out in the past and I didn't want to get my hopes up tooooooo high. When I finally opened it, sure enough, my heart sank because our whole trip is blacked out, and the closest arrival dates included are either 6 days BEFORE we arrive, or the day we LEAVE. I tried not to be too upset but really I felt like this

I had to call Mike and tell him the bad news..and he said "Why don't you do some of your awesome Disney research and see what the difference in price would be if we switched our arrival date to the 19th?" He's always so sensible and helpful! I was like OMG HOW DID I NOT THINK OF THAT!!!??!? He knows me too well!
I must admit, I did a lot of pre-consideration before picking our trip dates in the first place, but I couldn't remember why I had steered away from late-October (ie. 19th-28th), other than I wanted to avoid Halloween time.
So anyway, long story short (because I'm getting sad again just writing this!), I ran the numbers, found that with flight change fees and paying the upgrade from the free QSDP to the regular DDP, plus all the food costs not included in the DDP (tips, alcohol, one meal a day, extra snacks), it would cost $100 more to change our trip dates. That's not super bad, but there's also some Symposium over at Boardwalk from the 21st-25th apparently? which would limit the times we could spend there and would probably increase the crowd size at Epcot's F&W festival. Not to mention the fact that we'd probably lose most if not ALL of our ADRs, AND we'd be at Disney during TWO weekends (so higher crowds again!). Plus the Eat to the Beat bands later in October don't sound as appealing as the ones during our trip. ANDDDD I don't know how easy it would be to exchange our awesome Cirque du Soleil tickets at this point (we have 4th row centre stage seats on the 13th, a gift from my dad!) I would also be missing the Halloween Pancake Breakfast at the school where I'll be assistant-teaching this fall, and apparently it's a pretty big event and all the teachers are supposed to be there to help out. The ONE good thing about the later trip would be that Mike and I could work 2 more days, compared with our original trip dates (thus earning more money), but since we'd be spending an extra $100, we'd only be earning about $220 extra. Not really much.
All things considered, we decided it really isn't worth it to switch our trip dates. I was grumpy periodically all afternoon and I didn't even want to write this post but I thought it might help get the sadness/frustration out of my system!
DEAR DISNEY -- please include the October 10th week in free dining next time!!
The one positive thing I'm taking from this experience is that NEXT time I'm planning a trip to Disney (which will likely be next year!! or 2014), I will not book anything until free dining has been announced!!! I don't want to go through the tease-and-heartbreak again!

Hey it worked!! I'm feeling better!! And since Disney has released their package prices for next year, maybe it wouldn't hurt to just go take a look at some possible trip dates....

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Old 07-18-2012, 12:37 PM   #13
KeroKero
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Thank you thank you for the update on the Disney gift cards. Since you had originally mentioned crossing the border to pick some up, I was researching myself and noticed no Disney Stores in and around the Buffalo area

Now I know about Target and Walgreens. Will think about taking a trip over one weekend before my trip. Thanks again
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