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Old 01-01-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
toonaspie
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Let's try this Again ~ Surprise Trip planning (May 2013)

Man, I am pathetic. I looked everywhere for this PreTrip Forum and couldn't find it the first time I try to set up a thread like this. Well since I've made adjustments to my plans from my other thread, let's call this round 2.

SURPRISE BACK-to-FLORIDA TRIP - MAY 2013

So what's the story?:
It kinda start when I bought my friend's Christmas present in advance and the completely forgot to bring it with me when I went to see him on Christmas Eve, (d'oh). Well the Christmas present thing didn't work out the way I planned. I guess it was in the back of my mind while I was at work the next day and then the thought occurred to me. "Hey he's supposed to finish Grad School in the spring, I could get him something better than a lousy gift card I forgot to bring." Well those weren't my exact words but the idea quickly came together: SURPRISE TRIP TO DISNEY WORLD!

Some history:
When I was doing the College Program back in 2007, he came down to visit me twice during his vacation breaks, which was pretty cool. The second trip was just shortly after his dad passed away so it was pretty meaningful to him. Well we always talked about going back and stuff but money was always in the way. Last year I got a job that will probably be the best job I will ever have cause I have some impairments that make it difficult for me to get hired anywhere else. The pay isn't great but decent enough that I could make a Disney trip out of it. Though I tend to waste money like crazy which makes me wish I had thought of this idea sooner. But I figure if I really and seriously cut back on my spending for the next four months, try to put in a full time, schedule each week, maybe sell off a few things, I should be able to pull off a pretty decent vacation surprise for my friend consisting of not only WDW but UO as well. My friend is even more broke than I am due to Grad School so this is gonna be a real treat for him. (And also make up for all the times I mooched off of him.)

My Basic Goal:
An affordable, flexible, and comfortable vacation for 2 adults that will consist of Walt Disney World Resort and the Universal Orlando resort getting the most experience out of all 6 theme parks if possible. The time is around mid-May. Since my friend is a big Star Wars junkie, I wanna try for a Star Wars weekend. I'm thinking 7 night 6 day stay though slight alterations can be made if need be.

How we're doing it:
We're definitely flying. I've done enough 16hr drive trips to places like Florida and Texas to last me a lifetime. My friend wants me to experience the Disney Magical Express because he always found they video they play on the bus funny. And yes, we're staying on property without question. Otherwise we're screwed cause we would need to rent a car, and neither of us would enjoy driving around roads we're unfamiliar with (or pay for parking).

I need a breather, so check back later for my itinerary as far as what hotel, attractions, and restaurant goals. This PTR will have no pics, I apologize. I'm not a picture person plus I don't really have a camera.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:27 PM   #2
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So now we begin the next chap of our tale...my ideal itinerary. As this is my very first PTR, things might not be organized at first and I'll probably be messing these posts alot whenever I make new updates and add more to the PTR and the like.

Save the Date:
In case I didn't specify it well in my first post...the scheduled surprise is to take place in mid-May, preferably to coincide with the Star Wars Weekends that will begin that month. The range between May 13 through May 24 is what we're aiming for. Anytime later than that will likely be crowded, hot, and in the peak season where resort prices will be even higher.

How many days?:
So far I am aiming for a 7-night 6-day vacation. However it can be altered to even longer or even shorter. I don't wanna go too long because I don't wanna be too long gone from my job even though my current manager would probably be okay with it. There is some serious consideration to shorten the trip by a day depending on how much time is needed at Universal Orlando. Stay tuned because I am planning a complete itinerary of the attractions that we will definitely be doing and those we're skipping. I already have one for Universal posted at this thread. I will need input as to how much will be needed to experience everything I want to do. Schedule will also be based on arrival in Orlando from Indiana. I know basic check-in is at 3 and check-out is at 11 so I wanna work with those schedules and not have to worry about our luggage before we check in and after we check out.

Hotel:
We want to take advantage of being on-property and with the prices of the hotels having gone up (and I mean UP!) this year, it looks like it's back to the Value Resorts again. But as far as which one, it's going to be a tough call. I am currently evaluating all the pros and cons between the Value Resorts in this thread. Any helpful advice is greatly appreciated. I am a bit torn as to whether or not I want to pay a little more to stay closer to the main building or how I wanna deal with crowded buses and food courts.

Transportation:
We'll be relying on Disney for pretty much Disney. I know I will require a different kind of transport to get from Disney to Universal and back and I'm still researching this. I'm sure there's plenty of threads to address the issue though.

Budgeting:
My original plans were a bit far too ambitious so I have no choice but to scale back but I think the experience will be worth it and I should still have a little bit of money in the bank when we are back. I have some pretty bad spending habits that I will have to force myself to scale back on and I will have to put in as much of a full shift at work whenever possible cause it's not a job that pays well. I do have a massive collection of cans I can sell off and some Disney pins too. I also appreciate any discounts that can be found. My friend and his mom are AAA members so I might get my friend's mom to assist in the surprise. (Does anyone know what the exact AAA discount would be?) I'm fully aware of the pricey-ness of the MYW packages so we'll be ordering the room separate from the tickets. The tickets depend on the final plan as to what parks we'll be visiting and when.

Stay tuned...
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:44 PM   #3
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~ THE DREAM EXPERIENCE ~
Toonaspie's BACK-to-FLORIDA May 2013 Vacation Itinerary

TABLE OF CONTENTS

0. General Vacation Plan
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants

1. Magic Kingdom
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants
2. Epcot
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants
3. Hollywood Studios
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants
4. Animal Kingdom
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants

5. Universal Studios
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants
6. Islands of Adventure
  1. a. Must do attractions
  2. b. What we might do
  3. c. What we're skipping
  4. d. Events
  5. e. Restaurants


links will be available as the list is being made
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:29 PM   #4
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0. General Vacation Plan

General Vacation

a. Must do attractions
We will be visiting all four Disney Parks plus both Universal Orlando parks. The Disney parks I want to devote one day to each. I'm not sure if I want to do the same for the Universal parks or if I want to park hop one day or maybe park hop two days. I'll explain when we get to the subject in my iteneray.

b. What we might do
Unlikely we'll do anything else beyond what I mentioned above. DTD is very likely though CityWalk will be a maybe (time depending on how we plan for the Universal Orlando part of the trip).

c. What we're skipping
Water parks, golf, and Disney Quest. We got to do DQ for free when I was in the college program and it's not worth really having to pay extra for to do again. We're not swimmers so very unlikely we will go to the pools at any part of the trip (hotel or water park). No point in traveling all the way to Florida for golfing unless there's something special about the Disney mini-golf places that's worth the time and money.

d. Events
I had already intended to schedule the trip in May prior to learning of the Star Wars Weekend dates. This works out great because my friend is a huge Star Wars fan so this might make our past Disney vacation trips obsolete.

e. Restaurants
We're not doing the Dining Plan as we both do not like the complexity and having to keep track of our meals. We are the flexible type. However I am aiming for a good mixture of QSR and table service which will vary by the day and park so likely I will reserve some restaurants. As far as DTD, seeing that we'll likely go, I am torn between eating at TRex Cafe (which will be new for us) or Planet Hollywood (the package that I'm getting will provide some form of discount for PH). I will need a thread on this no doubt.

coming up next...Magic Kingdom itinerary
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:25 PM   #5
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1. Magic Kingdom

1. Magic Kingdom

a. Must do attractions
(The list below is not in absolute priority order though I will explain why some attractions are necessary)
  • Carousel of Progress - the one MK attraction my friend didn't get to do when he was last at WDW that I wanted him to see due to lack of time. It's best he sees this before the attraction rots away to oblivion (which given the state of the ride will be sooner than we think).
  • Country Bear Jamboree - We only got to see half of the show on the last trip before it broke down halfway (and right before the great "Blood on the Saddle" moment). I know that the ride was cut down a bit but hopefully it won't affect the experience too much.
  • Little Mermaid Ride - Brand new attraction for us. Going crazy just being able to experience a brand new and modernized dark ride.
  • Jungle Cruise - must do around sunset. No exceptions
  • TTA (PeopleMover)
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Pirates of the Carribean
  • Flying Dumbo - can you believe this was the ONLY spinner we didn't do on the last trip? (blame the crowds for that)
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Riverboat
  • Train
  • Mickey's Philharmagic
  • It's a Small World
  • Mad Tea Cups

b. What we might do
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Flying Carpets
  • Treehouse
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Barnstormer
  • Astro Orbitor - had an awkward experience last time when CM tried to squish the two of us into the same rocket
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Regal Carousel - it would just feel too weird for us to ride being grown adults and all
  • Stitch Alien Encounter - didn't care for the attraction and I don't think he did either. But we'll see.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle - Not for our age group but really I just want to be there for the magic door effect unless the show itself is worth watching to some degree.

c. What we're skipping
  • Space Mountain - Can not be done. No no and nope. Sorry but I was on this ride once and it was the worst experience for me. The ride was too fast, too dark, too intense, and too bumpy for me to be able to do anything other than close my eyes, hold onto the bars, and scream and pray for the ride to be finished.
  • Monster's Inc Laugh Floor - not really our thing either

    Also Meet n Greets (which isn't our thing or age either)

d. Events
Most likely to hit ALL the castle shows, parades, and fireworks shows (feel free to recommend me a good spot for these performances)

e. Restaurants
As far as restaurants we'll probably do a QSR for lunch and I wanna try and make dinner ressies at Be Our Guest. I know some people say the lunch is better but the dinner menu has more options that I can actually consume. I was gonna try for Cinderella's Royal Table but the prices are just maddening and not worth it. If ressies at Be Our Guest fail, my second choice would be Liberty Tree Tavern, and if that fails we'll try the Plaza or Crystal Palace or Tony's (though the third one we've done before).

btw I think it's best to warn you all now, I am an incredibly picky eater. So online menus are a godsend.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:55 PM   #6
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2. Epcot

2. Epcot

a. Must do attractions
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track - the new version will be new to us
  • Soarin
  • Living w/ the Land
  • Captain EO - this is our probably the only chance in our lifetime that we'll ever get to see this. Who knows what this show's lifespan will be.
  • Maelstrom
  • Grand Fiesta Tour
  • the American Adventure

b. What we might do
  • Journey Into Imagination - not much to this one
  • Circle of Life - we're Lion King fans but it's nothing more than a glorified environmental film so time depending
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure - 45 minute attraction, could be too much of a time waster
  • World Showcase films - maybe the french film
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends - time depending

c. What we're skipping
  • Mission Space - Never done this attraction but it looks to nauseating for either of us. I think even the Green version would be too much.
  • Innoventions

d. Events
  • Illuminations
Flower and Garden Festival - we're catching the end of it anyway

e. Restaurants
So far I have made lunch ressies for Via Napoli. I wanted to make a Le Cellier ressie but I have a credit card issue and I can't make a ressie right now. I fear by the time the issue is resolved it will be too late. So I will have to consider an alternative idea.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:43 PM   #7
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3. Disney Hollywood Studios

3. Disney Hollywood Studios

a. Must do attractions
  • Toy Story Mania - first time experience
  • Star Tours - new version will be first time experience. Might do twice time permitting.
  • Tower of Terror - wanna try for sunset experience
  • Great Movie Ride
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Fantasmic

b. What we might do
  • Backlot Tour
  • One Man's Dream
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Beauty and the Beast live
  • Jedi Academy
  • Magic of Disney Animation
  • LightsMotorAction
  • Legend of Captain Sparrow

c. What we're skipping
  • Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular - friend got bored with this show and we left after 10 minutes
  • American Idol - no thanks
  • Rock n Roller Coaster - can't do extreme upside down coasters

d. Events
Star Wars Weekends - not sure what all will be offered

e. Restaurants
QSR at lunch and Fantasmic Dinner Package (Mama Melrose)
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:49 AM   #8
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Wow, you are very well organized.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happybelle View Post
Wow, you are very well organized.
Why thank you. I guess I have more incentive to continue updating my plans then. (I've been busy with other things.)
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:58 PM   #10
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4. Animal Kingdom

4. Animal Kingdom
a. Must do attractions
  • Kilomajaro Safaris
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Kali River Rapids
  • It's Tough to be a Bug
  • Dinosaur
  • various animal exhibits

b. What we might do
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Finding Nemo Musical
  • Conservation Station
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Expedition Everest - I am so very terrified of heights and I dont think I could handle on going on such a ride even though I'm sure my friend will really want to. Even the videos of the ride terrify me.

c. What we're skipping
See my note regarding Expedition Everest

d. Events
afternoon parade

e. Restaurants
QSR for lunch either Yak & Yeti or Flame Tree Barbecue (the former I have yet to experience)

Note: Since we will probably be done the park by late afternoon we will be spending that evening at DTD. I have made a ressie at TRex Cafe. If scheduling wise we fail to go to DAK/DTD on the day of the ressie we will cancel it and probably go to Earl of Sandwich instead. We have missed it dearly.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:06 AM   #11
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Keep updating, I am reading.
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:02 PM   #12
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5. Universal Studios

Sorry I haven't updated for a while...been sick and distracted.

But for my Universal lists I'm gonna trim it down since I'm not as familiar with the Universal parks as I am with the Disney Parks. In fact, I have only been to UO once and before IoA existed.

5. Universal Studios
a. Must do attractions
  • The Simpsons Ride - this is the only ride that is a must. If this were at IOA, I would cut Studios out entirely. Depending on the time, we might do this twice.
  • ET Adventure
  • Shrek 4D

b. What we might do
  • Men in Black: Alien Attack
  • Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem

c. What we're skipping
Pretty much everything else. We're only gonna focus on the major ones since we're gonna try and do both Universal parks in one day.

d. Events
Don't know of any parades or events going on.

e. Restaurants
Don't know either. Likely a QSR. I wanna try for Three Broomsticks at IOA but that depends on the time. If you guys can recommend me any QSRs at Universal Studios, let me know. The BK Whopper Bar in CityWalk is also being considered.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:49 AM   #13
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6. Islands of Adventure

5. Islands of Adventure

a. Must do attractions
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - most of our time in this park will be spent in the general WWoHP area. We'll need time to shop here.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Jurassic Park ride

b. What we might do
  • Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
  • Seuss Landing

c. What we're skipping
  • Dragon Challenge
  • all the roller coasters and major thrill rides
  • stage shows

d. Events
None to save time.

e. Restaurants
We want to try for Three Broomsticks for either lunch or dinner if the timing works since we are visiting both parks in one day. If we miss it, it's no big deal.
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