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Old 10-12-2012, 04:15 PM   #1
Escape2Disney
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2 Trips Cancelled Lead to the Ultimate Christmas Adventure

I started this PTR/TR on another site, but wanted to share it here too since I spend so much time on the DIS. I'll update it on both sites from now on...

Travel dates: December 6th - 13th, 2012
Travel method: Alaska Airlines, shuttles, and various cabs
Resort: DL/DCA
Accommodations: Doubletree in Culver City (1 night), and PPH (6 nights)
Ages Represented in Group: 18-over 60
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Novice to DLR Veteran
Cast of characters:Me (41), DD (18), My Service Dog (5), DMOM(She asked me not to say), Various friends (ages 40-65)

How this trip came to be:
WAY back in 2010, my daughter graduated from high school a year early! Being an eternally proud mama and life-time Disney fan, I planned to take her to our first-ever trip to WDW since we'd never been to the East Coast park. Mid-way through the planning, I had an opportunity to buy a house. My daughter and I discussed it, and she understood that buying a house had to trump a vacation. The trip was postponed until 2011...

Plans were made, deposits paid, and we were anxiously planning every detail. UNFORTUNATELY, my health took a turn and we had to cancel. This one was hard - it would be the longest we'd ever gone without a visit to Disney, and the reason was so awful in its own right. It was becoming clear that a trip across the country just wasn't going to happen.

Sad but not defeated, we started to re-evaluate our plans. For the foreseeable future, WDW just wasn't in the cards. We decided not to wait until we could make that trip - we needed our Disney fix!

Since we still needed to celebrate her graduation, and I have a birthday in December, we have decided to take a Christmas/Graduation/Birthday Trip to our tried and true favorite - DISNEYLAND!!

By going to DLR, we cut down on the travel time significantly, won't have to deal with all of the transportation issues, and will be somewhere familiar - all of which is really important while still dealing with health challenges.
I may still have health issues, but that wonít stop me taking DD to our happy place!

Various friends and family will be joining along the way. DMOM will be joining us for the entire DLR portion of the trip, which is AWESOME! She hasnít been to the parks since I was a toddler, so sheís in for a real treat. Others will drop in for a day or two.

Now that we've covered the who, what, when, where, and why, let's get on with the details!


Money Saving Plans
Being the penny-pinching miser that I am, Iíve searched high and low for deals. For this trip, we were able to take advantage of an unknown-to-us perk Ė the 30% discount at hotels for seniors! Since mom will be joining us, weíll be saving quite a bit on the room.
In addition, mom is celebrating a birthday at the end of October, and Iím celebrating one in December. This makes us both eligible for $30 Patina coupons. These will make a huge dent in the cost of a couple of our meals.
We also used GAT to pay for some of the character meals and our shuttle. It wasnít a HUGE savings, but enough to make me happy!
Another thing Iím doing is making some of our things instead of buying them. Itíll likely be cooler, so Iím making scarves and hats for mom, DD and I. Iím also making a few drawstring backpacks to hold stuff while weíre in the parks. The backpacks will have room for snacks and any other things we need to carry to/from the parks.
Instead of buying lanyards in the park, I found them online for under .50 each! The pouches were another .15 each. I bought one set for each of us, plus an extra set just in case.

Our Plans:
If you knew me, youíd know that I am a crazy over-planner! Itís not that I want each day mapped out to the second, itís more that I donít want any financial surprises. Iím also careful not to wear myself out since to do so would really affect my health.
This year I started by creating a trip book. Itís a Ĺ size 3-ring binder with sections for each topic of the trip. There are tabs for reservations, important phone numbers, budgets, etc. I know some people think Iím crazy, but I think itís just good common sense J If anyone is interested, Iíd be happy to post pictures of the book.
YAY! SO MUCH FINALIZED...

Now that I have made all of the meal reservations, our schedule is looking more and more complete! After months of planning and shuffling, here's what we have:

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6TH
We have a very, very early flight to LAX. Hopefully I'll get a bit of sleep on the plane since I'm in no way a morning person. Once we land, we'll take the hotel shuttle to drop off our bags and attempt early check-in. Then we'll take a cab to Museum of Tolerance. About mid-day, our friends will meet us there. We'll spend as much time as possible at the museum, eating lunch nearby. We'll pick from our list of LA restaurants for dinner. Since our friends will have a car, we won't be limited to eateries near the museum or hotel. We should be back to the hotel early to get some sleep. Our friends may either stay with us or go back home.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7TH
Up early again, we will head to LACMA with our friends. This is a big draw for my artistic daughter, so we'll likely be there open to close. Thankfully there's a restaurant on site, because dragging DD away from art is next to impossible. We hope to have dinner somewhere in Farmer's Market, but have a list of alternative restaurants near the museum and near the hotel just in case. If we leave early enough, we'll have dinner in DTD.

If our friends stay with us the whole day, then we'll hitch a ride to Anaheim with them since they live 6 miles from the parks. If not, we'll take a cab back to the hotel to grab our bags, take the shuttle back to the hotel, and then take the DLE to DLR. We'll check into PPH and probably just crash for the night. After 2 days with no breaks, I will likely need to get to bed early if I want to stay healthy the rest of the trip.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8TH
On this day, we have early reservations for Storytellers. (Are you seeing a pattern here? So many early mornings!). Since there is no early entry in DCA, we'll try to hit it at opening. I don't think we'll do Carsland - instead we'll hit all of the other favorites since lines will be short. Then we'll putz around DTD and the hotels, checking out the decorations and update our Park Hoppers to APs since we want to visit again next Sept/Oct. Groceries will be delivered sometime in the morning, and mom will be arriving between 10 and noon, depending on how long it takes her to get from LAX to the hotel on DLE.

Once mom is with us, we'll FINALLY head to DISNEYLAND!! The goal this first day is to help mom get familiar with the parks. We'll head to some of the less populated rides just to get our feet wet. By around 2, I'll go back to the hotel for a sandwich and nap (not sure if DD and mom will take a rest). We have dinner ressies at Cafe Orleans.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9TH
We snagged first seating at Minnie and Friends, and will be meeting an old HS friend and his partner. It will be so nice to see him again! Hopefully they will have time to tour the parks with us for a while. I will once again take a break around 2 for a sandwich and nap. When I wake, I'll meet DD, mom, my HS friend, his partner, and a two friends from Oceanside at Naples for dinner. We're hoping to wrap-up with Fantasmic dessert seating.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 10TH
On this day, we'll start by having breakfast in DTD. My guess is we'll end up at Jamba Juice. We haven't been to one in a long time since we now live in a place without our favorite smoothie shop. We'll head to the DCA early entry, and take our first shot at Carsland. We'll only eating at counter service locations for most of the day. Another break at around 2, and dessert at Blue Bayou to end the day.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 11TH
Since we are staying at PPH, we thought it would make sense to try the new Mickey character breakfast at the hotel on this day. We'll follow that with some park time and dinner at Tortilla Joe's.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12TH
On our last full day, we'll have breakfast in DTD, and dinner at WCT. Early entry is at DCA, so we will try to do Carsland and brave the crazy lines.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13TH
Oh, our last day! I'm already sad just thinking about it! We'll take advantage of the early entry at DL in order to maximize the time we have left. On this day we will visit everything we missed, or redo some of our favorites. Our flight leaves LAX at 5:30, so we'll have to leave on DLE no later than 2:00. We'll head home tired, happy, and ready for Christmas!


The only thing yet to reserve is Fantasmic. In less than a month, that'll be completed as well. I'm so excited!!

I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I'm sure if I did I'll remember before we get on the plane.

WHATíS LEFT TO DO?
There are only a few things left to do before the trip:
Get the last of the trip supplies
Order groceries (waiting for the delivery window to open)
Make more specific touring plans
Make CM Thank You cards
Pack and GO!

CM Thank You cards are things we have been doing for a few years. It occurred to us that when CMs have to deal with a lot of cranky, demanding people all day long, itíd be nice for them to have positive feedback as well. It can be a morale booster to receive good feedback! If a CM is particularly helpful or nice, we give them a card, take their name, and let City Hall know all of the CMs who were wonderful that day. It may seem cheesy, but sometimes a nice gesture can make someone's day.

OH, NO! CANDLELIGHT!
Don't get me wrong - I'd love to see CP. It sounds like such a beautiful performance! I'm just not thrilled that this large set-up will be taking up the front part of Main Street for our entire stay. Mom hasn't been to the parks for over 35 years, and I was hoping she would get the full immersive experience. It's not a wonderful impression to be herded like cattle as we exit the park at the end of the night. When I get around to pulling together a touring plan, we'll probably be heavily dependent on the Monorail.

I'm glad that time is moving along so quickly! Before we know it we will be in the parks!

Thanks again for tagging along on our planning journey!
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:20 PM   #2
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I'm in! Sounds like a great trip! I'm really glad to hear you are able to visit Disneyland after all the setbacks - it makes the time there all the more special. You have a pretty diverse group going so it will be interesting to hear about everyone's perspectives.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlutoRocks View Post
I'm in! Sounds like a great trip! I'm really glad to hear you are able to visit Disneyland after all the setbacks - it makes the time there all the more special. You have a pretty diverse group going so it will be interesting to hear about everyone's perspectives.
YAY! Thanks for joining the party!

You're right - it does make it so much more special. I never know which trip will be my last, so we tend to always do something to make it a special set of memories.

The group is VERY diverse this time! None of the mini-groups know eachother, so it should be interesting. Thankfully they're all weaving in and out of the trip so it should flow well.
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Old 10-13-2012, 12:10 PM   #4
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Well, I just couldn't wait until they posted the hours on the website! This planning disease took over, and I decided to call the dining line to ask. I figured they need to know!

Here's what I was told:
Saturday, December 8th:
Extra Magic Hours - Disneyland
Disneyland 8 AM - MIDNIGHT
DCA 8 AM - 10 PM

Sunday, December 9th:
Extra Magic Hours - DCA
Disneyland 8 AM - MIDNIGHT
DCA 8 AM - 10 PM

Monday, December 10th:
Extra Magic Hours - DCA
Disneyland 9 AM - 9 PM
DCA 9 AM - 8 PM

Tuesday, December 11th:
Extra Magic Hours - Disneyland
Disneyland 9 AM - 9 PM
DCA 9 AM - 8 PM

Wednesday, December 12th:
Extra Magic Hours - DCA
Disneyland 9 AM - 11 PM
DCA 9 AM - 8 PM

Thursday, December 13th:
Extra Magic Hours - Disneyland
Disneyland 9 AM - 11 PM
DCA 9 AM - 8 PM

They still don't have any info on CP, but I'm sure it's coming soon. My guess is they'll provide that info about a month in advance.

I know this will sound weird, but DD and I are actually happy that the hours are shorter for a couple of days. When I told her, she said "GOOD! Then maybe we'll get some SLEEP on this trip!" HAHA, the kid is just so practical! She's right though.

That's all for today! Have a good weekend!
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:11 PM   #5
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Well, it's finally happened. I wasn't sure this day would EVER come, but here we are. The game has changed over the last 24 hours....

MOM IS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE TRIP!

She started rather luke-warm about the trip; we had to talk her into coming along. As time went on, she started to get excited about sharing the experience with her daughter and granddaughter. Last night I finally found a way to sit down with her and go through all of the special add-on experiences. THAT changed everything.

She really wants to do the Cultivating the Magic tour, WOC dining package, and Candlelight Processional. That's a huge jump from "eh, let's just wing it".

While planning these new add-ons, I had to smile at some of her misunderstandings about touring the parks:

1) She asked if there'd be time for her to go on her morning walks (usually around 2 miles). When I let her know that the average person walks 8 miles a day at the parks, she looked quite shocked! She said with all of the shows and dining we had planned, she thought it'd be nothing but sitting.

2) She worried we'd run out of things to do (gasp!) I described a typical day with DD and I, and then showed her a list of everything there is to do.... She then asked if we'd have ENOUGH time!

It will be so much fun seeing the parks through her eyes this year. I'm so happy we'll be able to add this trip as another lifelong memory.

20-25 days until I can book all of the add-ons!
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:40 PM   #6
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I have awesome news about our trip! Are you ready for this? We're going to CLUB 33! I can hardly believe it's happening!

A friend of a friend heard that Club 33 was on my bucket list, and that I've been having some significant downturns in my health this year. He kindly offered to make us a reservation to take my mind off of the scary stuff for a while. While I hope for a remission, if things continue the way they have been, I won't be traveling more than a few years more. I'm so happy to do this before I stop traveling.

Now that the reservation has been made, I thought I'd share my joy with other Disney fanatics. Our reservation is for lunch on December 10th. DD and I will be dining alone since mom would rather explore the parks instead of buying an expensive lunch. (I know, WHAT IS SHE THINKING??) Through our host, I arranged to have a birthday cake brought to the table so we could have a mini celebration for my birthday. We plan to take our time and soak in all of the wonderful art and artifacts in the club.

Our last thing to reserve will be CP. Rumor has it that there will be a dining/tour package released soon.

This truly is turning into an ULTIMATE CHRISTMAS TRIP!
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Old 11-03-2012, 04:00 PM   #7
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I just wanted to pop in for a minute and tell you that I'm very happy for you that you'll be experiencing Club 33! It sounds like it's something you really want to do and deserve to do - and it sounds like it will also be the perfect Christmas/birthday trip activity!

In an odd way, I can't blame your mom for her opinion. I've never been to Club 33 and have never been given an offer to go. I suppose I could have pursued it over the years and eventually gotten an invitation of some kind, but I haven't. In truth, I am not all that interested in actually eating at Club 33. What I would be interested in is looking around at all of the decor, design, architecture, knick knacks and souvenirs! I would be interested in looking at whatever art or pictures might be hanging on the walls while everyone else was eating! I'm interested in being there for the historical aspect of it and not so much the culinary aspect.

So I'm always happy to hear that one of our DIS'ers is able to go to Club 33 and really enjoy the whole experience in the proper way that they should enjoy it (including the food)! If your mom were to go anyway, she might not really have as good a time as she should have if she's thinking about the money spent on the meal instead of just enjoying the whole experience.

Have a great time!
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Old 11-03-2012, 04:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Sherry E View Post
I just wanted to pop in for a minute and tell you that I'm very happy for you that you'll be experiencing Club 33! It sounds like it's something you really want to do and deserve to do - and it sounds like it will also be the perfect Christmas/birthday trip activity!

In an odd way, I can't blame your mom for her opinion. I've never been to Club 33 and have never been given an offer to go. I suppose I could have pursued it over the years and eventually gotten an invitation of some kind, but I haven't. In truth, I am not all that interested in actually eating at Club 33. What I would be interested in is looking around at all of the decor, design, architecture, knick knacks and souvenirs! I would be interested in looking at whatever art or pictures might be hanging on the walls while everyone else was eating! I'm interested in being there for the historical aspect of it and not so much the culinary aspect.

So I'm always happy to hear that one of our DIS'ers is able to go to Club 33 and really enjoy the whole experience in the proper way that they should enjoy it (including the food)! If your mom were to go anyway, she might not really have as good a time as she should have if she's thinking about the money spent on the meal instead of just enjoying the whole experience.

Have a great time!
Thanks for your kind words, Sherry!

Truth be told, I'm most excited about the art and history too! My daughter's an artist and a life-long Disney fan, so to her, this is a dream come true. Sure, we'll enjoy the food, but for us, the real treat is the experience.
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:44 PM   #9
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I spent last night in the hospital. My family thought I was crazy because I kept telling them I needed to go home....to book FANTASMIC! I guess they thought my priorities were a little off, but thankfully they did let me out in time to make that all-important call...Fantasmic is booked! Now all I need to do is book the tour, and we're set. I'll make that call on Sunday. I was planning on doing the CP dining plan, but they aren't having it this year. We have so much packed into this trip, I think we're fine. I started pulling together a schedule, and am surprised how little time we have booked for rides! That's okay, though. Mom's not a huge ride person and DD and I just like being there, no matter what we do. I just had to giggle at my mom thinking we'd run out of things to do in 6 days.

We're doing a lot of firsts during this trip, which is quite amazing considering how many times we've gone in the past. We're going to CLUB 33, will see WOC, ride Little Mermaid, go to Carsland, and meet up with quite a few of our friends - both lifelong friends and new ones met on the discussion boards.

I can't wait to go on HMH! We haven't been on Haunted Mansion in any form for almost 5 years! That was the bad thing about going in early September - it was always down. I know I may be an odd-ball, but I prefer the IASWH to the original. I saw it once on a Thanksgiving trip in '07, and LOVED it. I'm also looking forward to Peter Pan, Buzz, TSMM, and...well, I'm just looking forward to everything.

We board the plane in 27 days!!

That's all for now!
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:28 PM   #10
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After a year of planning (more if you count the endless cancellations), the details are now set! The tour and fantasmic seating are paid for, and I have groceries sitting in the online cart for Vons, waiting for a delivery window to open. The planning binder is updated, and ready to go.

This last stint in the hospital spooked me a bit. It was the second time in two months, and I really, really want to stay healthy for this trip! I'll be armed with all of the meds and plans to rest every day. Just as a precaution, we're adding phone numbers for urgent care facilities and the closest hospital so we can nip it quickly if it becomes a problem again. I certainly hope it all works out okay.

After all of the changes, here's our new schedule:

December 6th
  • Obnxiously early flight to LAX
  • Check in at our hotel
  • Go to the Museum of Tolerance
  • Have lunch near the museum
  • Have dinner in LA
December 7th
  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • LACMA with friends
  • Farmer's Market
  • Take shuttle to PPH
  • Dinner in DTD
  • Upgrade our tickets to APs
  • Exchange our voucher for the PhotoPass Plus
December 8th
  • DD and will have breakfast at Storyteller's
  • Groceries delivered in the morning
  • Hang out in Disneyland until mom shows up
  • Go to WCT for our WOC lunch
  • Relax at the hotel for a bit
  • Watch Bill Hill & The Hillbillies
  • Wander around Disneyland
  • Cafe Orleans for Dinner
  • Meet some friends
  • Watch WOC
December 9th
  • Meet friends at Minnie and Friends for breakfast
  • Pick up F! tickets and Tour tickets
  • Rest at the hotel
  • Disneyland in the afternoon
  • Dinner at Naples with friends
  • Watch Fantasmic and Fireworks
December 10th
  • Breakfast in DTD
  • DCA Early Entry
  • Club 33
  • DCA or Disneyland
  • Blue Bayou Dessert
December 11th
  • PCH Grill Breakfast
  • Disneyland or DCA
  • Back to the hotel for a rest
  • Holiday Tour
  • Tortilla Joe's for Dinner
  • Meet friends at Trader Sam's
December 12th
  • Breakfast in DTD
  • DCA Early Entry
  • Aladdin
  • Back to the hotel for a rest
  • DCA
  • WCT for Dinner
December 13th
  • Breakfast in DTD
  • Disneyland/DCA
  • Shuttle to LAX and fly home

If anyone has any thoughts on what should be changed, let me know.

We always seem to forget something each trip. This time I made a checklist of everything we want to do so we can peek at it at night before deciding what to do the next day.

When I called for the holiday tour, I found out it had changed quite a bit from what I read of years past. I was told it no longer includes IASWH. Instead, it's HMH, ToT, Matterhorn, and BTMRR. Since we don't do thrill rides, I was a bit bummed, but we're still going to go on the tour. Having a seat to watch the parade and hear about all of the holiday history is plenty to make it worth it - especially since I received a AAA discount.

Now all we need to do is wait 25 days to get on the PLANE!

Thanks again for joining me on our journey!
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:41 PM   #11
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They're including ToT and BTMRR in a "holiday tour"? I find that very hard to accept. It sounds like a CM was reading the rides that were included in the Halloween (Happiest Haunts) tour, not the holiday tour. I'd bet that you'll end up on IASWH when you take the tour.

Out of curiosity - because I live right down the street from both LACMA and the Farmers Market/The Grove, which shuttle are you taking from there to get to the PPH? I'm not sure if I missed that somewhere earlier in this TR. If it's something that's cheaper than what I usually use for shuttles from my area to the PPH, I might need a reference!
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Pumpkins, Peppermint, Pastels and...Club 33!!! - (A new chapter begins... Many photos and wacky tales, coming soon to a Trip Report thread near you!)
And for some non-holiday seaside fun in the sun ~~ 2012 Catalina Island/Avalon Trip Report - My Solo Day Trip, in Photos (LOTS of Photos!)- 7/21/12 & Highlights from 2013 & 2014
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sherry E View Post
They're including ToT and BTMRR in a "holiday tour"? I find that very hard to accept. It sounds like a CM was reading the rides that were included in the Halloween (Happiest Haunts) tour, not the holiday tour. I'd bet that you'll end up on IASWH when you take the tour.

Out of curiosity - because I live right down the street from both LACMA and the Farmers Market/The Grove, which shuttle are you taking from there to get to the PPH? I'm not sure if I missed that somewhere earlier in this TR. If it's something that's cheaper than what I usually use for shuttles from my area to the PPH, I might need a reference!
That's what I thought, Sherry! Someone on the other board I frequent said the same thing. Maybe she was just confused. Hopefully it really is HMH and IASWH. Those are both possible for everyone in our group.

Our shuttle situation is a little convoluted. Here's how it plays out:

We're staying in Culver City which has an free airport shuttle. We're staying there one night, and are taking taxis back and forth to the room. On the 7th when we check out, they'll hold our luggage until late afternoon. We'll head back to the hotel from Farmer's Market/LACMA by cab to gather our things and take their shuttle back to the hotel. Then we jump on the Disneyland Express to get to PPH. It was the cheapest option we could find. We got our DLE vouchers through GAT at a discount. If you have an easy way to get to LAX, this would be a decent option for you. If not, it might prove to be more expensive.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:55 PM   #13
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I called the tour department today, and you're absolutely correct. The holiday tour includes HMH and IASWH, not those thrill rides. I'm VERY happy it's not going to be thrill rides since nobody in my party will ride them.

We're down to 21 days! After such a long week, it almost seems impossible.
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Old 11-16-2012, 08:44 PM   #14
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You know, if you need someone else to help you celebrate your birthday at Club 33, all you have to do is ask!!! I'd be more than happy to pay for an expensive lunch!!! I'm so happy for you!!! What an amazing gift to be given an opportunity to go!!!

I'm sorry to hear that you've been dealing with some major health issues. Reading the beginning of your PTR, it reminded me of mine and some of the reasons I "justify" NOT going to WDW after all the planning, deposits, etc. I agree that DL is home and there's a sense of comfort knowing where everything is and what to expect. I'm happy to be going back there.

Looking forward to meeting you at Trader Sams!! Hopefully we'll get a few more Disers to join us!!
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10 of Us Summer Trip~2010: HERE 25th Anniv.TR~2009: HERE

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Old 11-16-2012, 10:05 PM   #15
Escape2Disney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DizNee Luver View Post
You know, if you need someone else to help you celebrate your birthday at Club 33, all you have to do is ask!!! I'd be more than happy to pay for an expensive lunch!!! I'm so happy for you!!! What an amazing gift to be given an opportunity to go!!!

I'm sorry to hear that you've been dealing with some major health issues. Reading the beginning of your PTR, it reminded me of mine and some of the reasons I "justify" NOT going to WDW after all the planning, deposits, etc. I agree that DL is home and there's a sense of comfort knowing where everything is and what to expect. I'm happy to be going back there.

Looking forward to meeting you at Trader Sams!! Hopefully we'll get a few more Disers to join us!!
Thanks. Health issues are no fun at all, but planning Disney trips helps me look forward to something fun. My family thinks I'm nuts, but I say there are much worse addictions in this world!

I'm sorry, our ressie is only for 2. I think my friend would be a bit upset if I brought a few dozen of my DIS friends. At least we'll hang out at Trader Sams! I've never been, and I hear it's a lot of fun! I'm a bit surprised there aren't more people jumping into meets in December.

ONLY 3 WEEKS TO GO!!
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