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Old 05-07-2013, 05:40 PM   #1
So Thankful
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 70

My first ever PTR... "cuz even poor people need vacations". (September 2013)

So, after years of seeing my daughter’s eyes mist up when we watch the castle intro to Disney movies because she longs to return to Disney and see the real fireworks over the real castle, I decided out of the blue on April 21, 2013 to “look into Disney”.

We had been trying to go to Disney once every three years, and this is the year that we would be due to go… but due to circumstance in paragraph 3 here, we really didn’t think it could be a reality.

We have had a rough time of finances and health. My DH’s ulcerative colitis, anxiety (which sets off his ulcerative colitis) and high blood pressure induced migraines that required at least one hospitalization have been rough on him. My getting furloughed from a really good paying job and having to take a considerable pay cut just to land another job where the office dynamic is one that I really don’t fit into that well has been rough on me. All of it has been rough on the kids because mom and dad haven’t been in the best of moods. We could all use some magic.

We have been harping on the kids about how tight money is so we could avoid ordering food out, not buy video games and pass up on weekend trips so much… that money actually stopped being tight. I think it just took us time to adjust to a lower standard of living. I admit that I spent a lot of money on stuff that didn’t add value to my life back when I had the “good job”. I also spent WAY too much of my life working, so it really wasn’t that good of a job anyway.

We have really “trimmed the fat” on our expenses around the house because I was making less money. We reduced our cable bill by dropping the premium channels and bundling our phone, internet and cable. We reduced our cellphone bill by dropping Verizon and picking up Straight talk. We reduced our heating bills by turning our thermostat down to 58 when we aren’t at home and 68 when we are. We refinanced our mortgage cutting our interest rate in half. We shopped around for an insurance company that got our auto and home insurance on the same plan and reduced that bill drastically. I coupon like a fool now, saving money on groceries. And as it turns out, all these savings measures mean we can not only live on the lower income job but still have some money left over for savings too.

When we got our tax refund, we put that money toward repairing our one vehicle that REALLY needed repairs and it ended up costing about half what we thought it would because my DH’s buddy did the repairs so we are taking the other half of our tax refund along with a little bit of savings to make this trip happen. This will be the only year we see a refund as high as the one we got this year because I had severance pay and owed vacation paid to me in one lump sum check that was taxed VERY heavily. When refund time came, I about fell out of my chair for how much we got back. If that vehicle hadn't needed repaired, I would have booked a Disney trip with ALL the bells and whistles in February when I got that check!

Instead, we now have a modest but awesome vacation planned for August 31 to September 8!

We will leave our home in northern PA on August 30 after work and head to Baltimore to stay with family that night so that we can catch an early flight out of BWI at 7:20 am on August 31. (and also not have to park at the airport to save money!) We will arrive in MCO for 9:50 am and pick up a one way rental car from Enterprise and head to the Holiday Inn across from Universal. (A rental that is only costing us $60 for two day which is cheaper than Mears shuttles for 4 people!)

The Holiday Inn is walking distance from Universal so we will save money on parking by walking. They also offer coupons so that the kids eat free at the Friday's attached to the Holiday Inn and I will make sure I take some TGIFridays gift cards with us that I got for Christmas! We will utilize single day single park tickets to attend Universal on Saturday and Islands of Adventure on Sunday.

We will check out of the Holiday Inn on Monday morning, hit up a Walmart to pick up some bottled water, easy to carry snacks, breakfast foods and foam mattress pads (Walmart has them for $11.94 for a full size bed) to make the beds at Pop a little comfier. We will check into Pop, then return our rental car at the Royal Plaza and then walk to Down Town Disney and enjoy Disney Quest for a little while before heading to a water park on the last day of extended hours since it will be Labor Day.

On Tuesday we will head to Magic Kingdom for an 8:20 ADR at Cinderella's Royal Table. It will be the only meal we pay for since we got the QSDP free! (I LOVE free dining) We will wait for whatever the wait is for lunch at Be Our Guest with one of our QS credits too!

The rest of the week will depend on the weather since some parks are better to do when it rains than others. We have "loose plans" but nothing that can't be bumped around.

On Wednesday we considered going to Epcot. Meals as we go which is why I also love the QSDP. No reservations times to stick to. I get to just go with the flow and pick a QS restaurant close to wherever we happen to be when we get hungry.

Thursday we might be going to Hollywood Studios.

Friday could be Animal Kingdom.

Saturday is whichever park they liked best for a second trip!

Sunday we fly home.

I really believe that being older like I am now, and being way more chill about stuff is going to make this the best Disney trip EVER!!!! I am already swearing that I will not pack every single thing under the sun and schlep it all over the place. I am considering going with carry-on luggage only since we will have a rental to stop at a store and buy the stuff you can't carry on like sunblock, mousse, etc.

I remember our last trip, how I shipped a box to the resort ahead of time with all my “must haves” from reading hours of tips and hints and how I dumped the box out and never really touched much of it. How I would wear a messenger bag on my back, a fanny pack on my waste and then have cargo pockets full. I am actually going to try to go bag-less to the parks this trip to avoid the bag check lines!

Just the fact that I was able to type up this pre-trip report (even though it isn't quite the same as everyone else's very elaborate pre-trip reports) is something SO different from the person who planned the last Disney trip a few years ago, because I couldn't "commit" to anything until I researched it TO DEATH. What park on what days? Crowd calendars, park hours, reading past trip reports for the same week I was going to see what they had to say! Not this time baby! It is time to enjoy Disney, but do so at a more leisurely pace for my brain if not for my feet.

This new calmer go-with-the-flow older version of me is the tradeoff for all of my mental lapses where I get my words jumbled up and can’t remember which kid or which cat I am yelling at. I get to be more relaxed and get to enjoy the planning more, even if I will chronically forget the My Disney Experience password or call CRT the Crystal Palace or even convince my family that we are flying JetBlue out of DCA instead of Southwest out of BWI.

Lifelong Disney fan (from inside the womb) passing the Disney magic on to my young!!!!

Last edited by pixidust1976; 05-08-2013 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:47 PM   #2
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I will follow along.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:15 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 396

Love your fantastic attitude!!!! Sounds like you all are going to have a great trip
2012 AOA Cars Suite w/ Mimi and Paw Paw
Sept. 2013 - Pop Century
** May 2014 Star Wars Weekend and Legoland Trip @ Pop Century
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
So Thankful
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 70

Thanks girls!!!

Some of the old Commando in me has been coming out today.

Since my last trip to WDW had one of my kids ordering off the kids menu, I seemed to remember just how much pouring over the menus at allears that I did to find the restaurants that offered something, ANYTHING, other than chicken nuggets and uncrustables. (I have to admit I was proud of finding a sloppy joe at the Backlot Express and the meaty macaroni somewhere in Animal Kingdom last trip! )

I realized today that since I now have "adults" since they are older than 10, that I don't need to look over the menus, but I sure am enjoying it.

You know what I am enjoying more? Adding up the price for a meal at Flame Tree and finding that until I paid an average of $11 a person for the meal, and $2.59 a person for drinks and $3.79 a person for dessert... I would have to pay about $70 for a meal and thanks to free dining, I don't have to! It really appeals to my super duper cheap skate nature!

I even looked at Typhoon Tilly's menu and noticed that after we all bought a meal for $9 and the drinks and then if we each snag a $4+ sundae as dessert it would be $70 worth of food again for lunch. Just the idea of tasty cold sundaes in the September heat lounging in the tropical theme of Typhoon Lagoon sounds like about the best idea ever too!

I am SO excited!

Lifelong Disney fan (from inside the womb) passing the Disney magic on to my young!!!!

Last edited by pixidust1976; 05-08-2013 at 10:07 PM. Reason: spelling
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