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Old 02-19-2014, 11:53 AM   #1
NigelSTW
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Pennsylvania to WDW in Sept '14

Li-Li and I are headed back to WDW this September. Li-Li finalized our plans last night for a week at POFQ. During our last stay in WDW in October, 2013 we stay at POR. We took advantage of the bounce back promotion of free DDP if book for the following August or September. At the time we booked a conservative three night stay. After weighing our vacation options for the last five months we decided to spend the entire week in WDW, and therefore extended our initial reservation by four glorious nights. Now we have an entire week with free dinning tossed. This is quite exciting. We have never done a dining plan, so it’ll be interesting to see if we fall into the like it or leave it category for future trips.

Some background: Li-Li and I are married and no kids. We have a dog, cat, and turtle. Luckily, my parents live near us and are always happy to watch over our critters. We have been to WDW for at least a day each calendar year starting in 2008. We were in WDW twice last year. The first stay was in January for three nights at AKL, and again in October for three nights at POR. In 2012 we stay at the Dolphin for six nights, and in the years prior we stayed off site with my snowbird parents who rented a house in the Orlando for a couple months in the winter. Li-Li went to WDW a couple times as a kid. I was in WDW in ’78,’80, ’83, & ’90 on family vacations. In 1992 during Spring Break a friend and I went to the MK for a day, in ’97 my uncle and I went to EC for a day, and in ’01 my sister and I flew down to AK for day. The place sure has changed a lot over the years.

Now Li-Li is taking everything over to plot out our trip. We both want to finally try Ohana. We’d also like to get to a water park. I recall being in the late River County in the '70s and Typhoon Lagoon in ’90. It’s time to return. I also have not been to the Hoop-dee-doo since I was a kid, which I hope we can squeeze into the trip. We can’t wait to ride the brand spanking new mine train. I am also interested on how Magic Band experience is on this trip compared to our October trip. We’ll be updating from time to time as things get booked, and travel plans are finalized. I hope to add a preamble section as to our thought process of deciding on a week at WDW over some other ideas we punted around in an upcoming post along with other random thoughts.
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Old 02-20-2014, 12:04 PM   #2
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So how did we decide to spend a week at WDW instead of doing something else for vacation? Well, as I noted during our last brief visit Li-Li learned of the free DDP on a bounce back. We decided why not take advantage of trying out the DDP since it is free we would have nothing to lose. We decided to only commit ourselves to another brief three night stay and not lock ourselves into anything great as we were 11 months away.

We had been to Punta Cana two years ago for a week and loved it. It was the most relaxed week of my life just sitting on a breezy sunny beach reading my iPad and listening to my iPod. Therefore, we thought about do a split vacation. We would begin the vacation with a few days in the Dominican Republic followed by a few days in WDW. As we do all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean we would have free dining the entire time.

However, some problems arose with this plan. The timing and pricing of a flight from the Northeast to the D.R. and then from the D.R. to MCO and finally MCO back home was a bit of train wreck. Either the ticket prices for reasonable flight times were incredibly high, or the flights included incredibly tight connections. The travel between the D.R. to MCO included either exceedingly brief or long layover in Miami or we’d have to rent a car to drive up to WDW. Hence, we decided to make a 100% Disney trip. We still have not booked our flights, but given there are a lot more option flying from Pennsylvania to MCO this is not a big concern.

We now had to extend our trip for the entire week. We had recently stayed at POR. I enjoyed it a lot. My only problem with the resort was our building was pretty far from the main building making it feel as if we stayed at an outpost. Otherwise, I like the lobby, the pool, the room, the hotel bar, the restaurants, theming etc. Li-Li disliked the location of our room a lot more than I. Therefore, we booked our bounce back at the more compact POFQ. I think we both were thinking with an entire week at WDW why not try a split stay. (Yes, I know for some a week in a short stay, but for us it is a long one.) We pondered the frugal first couple of nights at PC or less frugal but intriguing CR. However, we did not want to risk losing free DDP. After talking to the CM if we did a split stay we would have two reservations and one of them would be sans DDP. We decided that an entire week at POFQ with the continued free DDP sounded like heaven, and we went down this path.

We still have to book our flight. We are still over 180 days out to make ADRs, so we have time to plan. We have to figure out which waterpark we wish to try.

We have a lot to figure out and look forward to doing.

Next installment might be how things have changed in WDW (at least compared to my memory of them) since I was a kid.
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Old 03-09-2014, 12:22 PM   #3
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Let's start from the beginning...again

Well, if we are going to do another PTR, we should try to do it properly.
I did a PTR for our October 2013 trip and was fairly faithful to it (with help from Nigel). But since we usually don't plan things out too much, I don't think I said a lot about our days at the park and whatnot. And I never got around to doing an actual TR. This trip is filled with spreadsheets, free dining and even a water park, so let's get it started!

I think the link to my prior PTR is still in my signature. But to begin again, here are your faithful DIS'ers:



Li Li and Nigel (pseudonyms). We are both attorneys living in South Central PA, and we have admitted to ourselves that we are Disney addicts. We have been fortunate to visit WDW at least once every year since 2008. Years 2008 to 2011 were easy because my in-laws would go to Orlando for January and February every year, so we would hop on a plane at some point to hang out with them, enjoy warm weather and go to Disney! In 2012, my in-laws decided they wanted to winter in Sarasota instead of Orlando (the horror!), so Nigel and I started planning Disney trips on our own. This year will be our second September trip as we went in Sept. 2012.

Some fun facts:

Fav Disney movies: Beauty & the Beast and Sword in the Stone (me); 101 Dalmations and The Rescuers (Nigel)
Favorite park: It is really is a tie for both of us - Epcot and Magic Kingdom
Favorite character: Chip and Dale, Mickey (me); Mickey (Nigel)

We had a great meet with Mickey last year:

The PP photographer got this great shot for us!

Most important part: THE WHEN! We will be at POFQ 9/7 to 9/14 because we booked the bounceback for free dining during our trip last year in October.

Very exciting. We've never used the Dining Plan before, so its very exciting. ADR day is this coming Tuesday, so hopefully I can pop by and say what we are doing.

Thanks for reading
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:52 AM   #4
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The big picture planning is nearly complete

We hit the big 180 day mark for our trip, so Li-Li was online and on the phone at 6am booking our ADRs. I am pretty sure we were able to get everything we wanted. I am especially happy that we're be doing the Hoop-Dee-Doo Review. I have not seen the HDDR since I was about aged 7 or 8. So far we have 7 ADRS, and given Li-Li's track record we're be adding others as the spirit moves her. I am sure she'll go into greater detail, but it's just a relief to have the things booked.

The other thing we have left to figure out is what airport hotel we're be lodging at the night before our flight. Oh yes, we booked our flight. We were able to find some suitable round trip tickets without layovers. Score! Even better we're being touching down at MCO at 10am which means we're have some quality time in WDW that first day.

I always find picking a hotel airport is a choir. On the one hand who wants to spend money on one night where the best thing about the hotel is the location and a shuttle to the airport. On the other hand, I need comforts. It does not have to be the Four Seasons, but a workable restaurant and bar make the travel jiggers a bit more bearable. Oh, I am paranoid about bed bugs.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:29 PM   #5
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I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Let's talk flights. Boy, this seems harder this year than other years. Flight prices have definitely gone up. So, we have our flights booked. They're decent enough. Under $500 for both of us roundtrip, but out of BWI (Baltimore) which is about 2 hours away from us. So, we will be staying at a hotel near BWI the night before since we leave at 8:30ish.

And now, we whine. See, local flights came out for September (finally!) yesterday. Prices were really good. But stupid me (us), I thought I could just wait until I got home from work to book. Yeah, by the time we got home from work the price had gone up $200.00!!!! FML.

So, now I will just stalk to see if I can get that old price again to come up on website. There's plenty of time, so it might happen. But it bummed me out all last night. But we still have the original BWI flights and it's with Southwest, so we would have free checked bags with that. So, yeah, just trying to look on positive side. All in all, we still have a good price, and I should just stop with my #firstworldproblems.

Next up, I should discuss our day to day plans since we actually have some! Usually, we are more go with the flow people. Or perhaps talk game plans since we have definite plans of what we want to hit. Can you believe there are still things we haven't gotten to in MK, and we've been going once a year since 2008. How are we so lame?! And for the first time ever, I made 180 days reservations! We've seriously never done that before. I blame these boards, lol!

Until next time...
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Old 04-02-2014, 07:32 PM   #6
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Flights...the next chapter

So, since my last update about missing out on the good price for the flights for the local airport, I have been OBSESSIVELY checking those flight prices in hopes they would go down. My ultimate plan was that I would jump on the low flight price for the local airport, and then use the credit from the Southwest booking towards a Las Vegas trip we were hoping to make in July.

But Southwest was making me nervous. The flights were starting to inch up. I didn't want to wait and miss out on good prices again, so we finally sucked it up and booked Vegas (woo hoo!). DH booked Vegas Friday afternoon.

So, on Saturday around noon after getting errands and Taco Bell breakfast done (go ahead and judge, but Taco Bell is awesome), I flop on the couch and decide to check local flight prices for funsies. OMG, they went down!!! Get me the credit card, I yell to DH. But wait! We had booked Vegas already, what would we do with the credit for canceling the Southwest Orlando flight?! But then I remembered, I was pretty sure I read that you could cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking for a full refund to your card. I called Southwest and the customer service person confirmed that as long as we were within 24 hours, we could cancel for a full refund rather than credit. Whew.

So, I canceled the Vegas flight through Southwest, and then booked the local airport flight. The local flights cost the same as the Southwest flights except we pay $20 for first checked bag. But balancing that out with not having to pay for a hotel room the night before to go out on the early SW flight and we are saving money overall! Then, I modified our Southwest flight to Orlando to make it the Vegas flight, which applied the credit, and we are all set! Yay! So, everything with flights is all settled and I feel better. I'm sure everyone was concerned!
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Old 04-02-2014, 07:46 PM   #7
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Can you believe what we haven't done yet?!

So, I promised that we would talk about our plans. I think we are being way more plan-y than ever before! I blame the DIS! We really want to make this trip about things we haven't done at Disney. One of those is to spend the ENTIRE day at AK, open to close, no exceptions! It is a beautiful park, and we are very guilty of giving it short shrift and only hitting up the popular stuff and leaving after half a day. Also, there are a surprising amount of things we have not taken in at MK despite the fact that we have been lucky enough to go to WDW once a year (short trips but still).

And thus, I present to you our list of things that I have deemed we should do since we have never done them before!

MK:
Carousel
Dumbo
Teacups (We actually did this with DH's mom but she wouldn't let us spin the cup! So I think we need a do-over.)
Aladdin carpets
Astro orbiter
Tomorrowland Speedway
Stitch
Festival of fantasy parade (duh)
Mine train (duh)
Princess fairy tale hall
Tom Sawyer island
Country bear jamboree
Enchanted tiki room

AK:
Conservation station/ rafikis planet
Finding nemo
Primeval whirl
Festival of the Lion king
It's tough to be a bug
Kali River rapids

Epcot:
Cronut - yes, I totally listed this as a thing to do.
Behind the seeds tour? - not sure if we will get to this.

DHS:
Toy story mania - can you believe it?
Animation academy
Charaterpalooza? - We will have to see where DH is at with his character tolerance. He is more rides, dine and walk around than characters and shows.
I'm tempted to put American Idol experience, but I think that would be a no-go for Nigel.

I should add that we are also doing a bunch of new dining experiences including character meals! The only character meal we have ever done was dinner at CRT in 2008 with DH's parents. We had a photo with Cinderella before dinner, and then had pictures with the mice and only saw the Fairy Godmother from afar. So, I'll go into ADRs and dining in another post, but feel free to judge us and leave comments!
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http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3237902
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:56 PM   #8
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Your plans are sounding great! I love Toy Story Mania. It is probably one of the best rides ever!! I think you should try American Idol. Even if it isn't Nigel's favorite, it is a nice comfortable seat to cool off for 30 minutes. Plus, I think it is pretty fun. Looking forward to hearing more plans!
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:08 PM   #9
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Indecision and doubts

Li Li has done a fantastic job getting our ADRs and getting the airline tickets straighten out and keeping our trip reservation while not losing our free DD. Things are so in the can with this trip we been projecting about not our next visit to WDW but our next two. I won’t go into further detail at this time on those thoughts.

Our current plan has us taking the Magical Express to WDW and using Disney transportation to get around during our stay and Magical Express for the trip back to MCO. Unfortunately, after having listen to a recent Disney Hipster podcast on do’s and don’ts they made a compelling case to rent a car to travel around WDW especially if one is park hopping. Having been to Disney on previous trips I do appreciate Disney Transportation, and while it is not perfect it has been more than adequate for our past needs. It would be more than just adequate if we were one park per day people, and then return to the resort types. However, we are park hoppers. In our September 2012 trip we accidently road attraction in all four parks during our first full day in WDW. It just happened. No planning we just hopped that much. Also, it would be nice to have some reasonably priced water, snacks, and beer stashed back in our room that we could pick up at the Publix.

The hipsters make the case that if you are hopper then springing for a rental is the way to go. They wisely suggest waiting fairly late in the game before bidding for rental on the William Shatner travel site to get a very good deal. This would suggest the best deal means renting the car form the airport as it does not seem possible to rent a car via bidding from an onsite or near onsite location at WDW. I kind of like the idea of the ME whisking our bags to our room while we do other stuff and enjoy the Donald Duck cartoon on the ride into WDW. A car rental would preclude this mini-attraction. On the other hand looking at our plans the car would be most useful from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday night. The rest of the trip a more relaxed approach without a car would likely work. We could not bid for a car (at least I can’t figure out how online) if we picked one up at the S&D or one of the nearby DD resorts. I might then feel like we are getting rooked paying a higher rate for a car.

Is getting a rental worth taking away the ME experience? Is it worth it to just rent the car onsite for the first few days? Should be just go with plan “A” and use Disney transportation for our trips? I don’t know. Luckily we have 139 days or so to figure things out.
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Old 04-24-2014, 07:16 PM   #10
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A sudden turn

Our countdown to Disney has been changed. In an unexpected turn of events we are going to flying down to WDW on May 23rd of this year! Instead of waiting a 130 something days to our next trip it is now under 30. 29 days to be exact. We decided to go for it and stay over the crowded busy madness that is MK and attempt to stay there as long as physically possible during the 24 hours of madness of Rock your Disney Side.

Li Li I am sure will in all the details, and it unlike us (especially me to do something so sorta kinda spur of the moment, but the plane tickets are purchased the resort booked for a quick three night stay.

We're be bookending this summer with WDW at the end of May and WDW in September and Las Vegas in July for something different.
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:49 AM   #11
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PA to WDW in May, 2014 explained

As I noted above we are now headed to WDW over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. This all came about over the last couple of days. I am not exactly sure why but at the same time both Li Li on separate larks decided to check into flights and room availability for the weekend once we learned of the 24 hour MK event on Friday into Saturday. (Yes, we finish each other’s sandwiches.) From there things garnered a life of their own. We were able to find reasonably price (sadly not wonderfully priced) airline tickets on a direct flight from the airport that is not 15 minutes from our house that landed mid-Friday morning at MCO and direct flight back that returned us home mid-Monday morning. The first hurdle was jumped and travel to MCO and back was feasible. When we first looked on resorts to stay at PC had a perfect three night stay available. It was slightly more expensive than a couple of rooms at some of the All Stars, but we decided it was worth the difference, if we made the trip, to have the benefit of PC superior bus service.

As this was all last minute so we decided we would not wish to spring for a moderate, and given the time constraints try to rent DVC. This trip was a bonus on its own and we have been thinking to test out a value resort for a bit, so it all seemed good. It is three nights and we are staying at FQ in September, so why the heck not.

Then we decided to book a resort just to hold it while we determined how serious this last minute trip planning actually was to us. Unfortunately, by the time we decided to do this PC was book for the three nights, so I found online that we could book AoA on Friday night and PC on the next two nights. I called to reserve our rooms this way and the CM said such rooms were not available and before I could continue the conversation the line went dead. (I don’t think the CM hung up on me, I think the line just went dead.) I then checked online again and through the website I could still book a split stay, so I did. This was on Wednesday.

Li Li pointed out that Star Wars weekends in DHS would still be continuing during this time, thus fortified with the knowledge I might actually meet R2 and CPO I then on Thursday (yesterday) booked the airline tickets.

Yesterday evening Li Li found online that a three night stay at PC had opened up so we changed our lodgings from a split stay to all three nights at PC. This was a big boon. As Li Li wishes to be at MK from whenever we get there on Friday to 6AM, and we were thinking our single ‘night’ at AoA would consist of getting back to the resort at 8AM taking a shower, napping for an hour or two and then going over the bridge to PC. If we stay at MK all night at least we can crash more comfortably staying at one location.

Today, Li Li found that our flight price has dropped a bit and we are within 24 hours of our non-refundable purchase so we were still within the cancelation window. Now we have a cheaper flight to MCO and staying at one spot for the three nights.

Li Li spent some time on the phone with a CM and we are now getting new Magic Bands that will have our 5 day no expiration park hopper ticket on it. It’s all good. It’ll be interesting to see Li Li stressing to pack for four days with just carry on for the flight. She did it in October, so it ought not be a big deal. From Monday evening when the only Disney trip on the radar was this September to adding this trip all occurred from Monday evening to day.

This whole thing is out of character for me. I plan long term. I have just resigned myself to wing it the whole time due to the crowds and how in and out of WDW is this whole new side trip.

My goals are to eat at Earl of Sandwich and maybe dine in the CR concourse which I have not done since I was a kid. Other than that we’re winging it. We may not even make to the DHS, but if we do I will soak in the Star Wars goodness.
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:49 AM   #12
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I love that I can now say: "we're going to Walt Disney World this month." Yeah!
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:15 AM   #13
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We’'re eight days out from our whirlwind three night trip to WDW. Li Li already did the online check-in to POP. We have our new magic bands, and they are synced to our trip. We are not doing any ADRs on this trip, but we have fastpasses for MK on Friday and DHS for Sunday set up. As we’re only doing carryon for our flight and it is only three nights the plan is to watch the weather reports closing and then pack for it on Thursday night. We’re just hoping they get the weather right for the weekend. I have already semi-packed my personal computer bag for the trip with various wires, chargers, and our camera. We have our ride to the airport lined up. (We live only 15 minutes from it, and it is a direct flight which is nice.) We have our pet sitting set up too. (The pet’s grandparents live nearby which is also nice. Although the dog is going to be spoiled with rotten with treats, but there is no way to prevent it.) The idea right now is that we get up little before 5am on Friday morning. We are whisked off to the airport a bit after 5:30am with the cat in his cat carrier and we leave the dog at home. (There is no way anyone other than us can get the cat into his carrier without bodily injury or hours coaxing him out from hidden recess.) My parents drop us off at the airport and then they pick up the dog afterwards and bring him and the pre-packed cat to their house for the weekend. We land at MCO around 9:30am and take the ME to POP. While it would be swell that through some miracle our room would be ready around 11:30am I highly doubt that is going to happen even with our pre-check-in. We’re probably just check our bags with the appropriate CM at POP and then off we go. We’re hoping if the flight is on time and ME is on time that before noon we can be in Epcot to grab a bite to eat for lunch and something desserty and delicious in France before boarding the monorail to MK. Here’s where timing gets dicey. We are fans of the Disney Youtube show Seeyareelsoon. The hosts of the show Joey and Ashley will be having a meetup in MK around 2pm. We would love to be able to swing by and say hello and thank them for their efforts. However, given the crowds and the timing of everything I suspect we might have to sacrifice an Epcot lunch to make the meet-up or sacrifice the meet-up. (Li Li mentioned the Mongolian beef at Sunshine seasons as a possible lunch item, and I can’t expunge it from my brain.) I suppose we could go to the meet up and then swing back to Epcot for an early dinner in theory, but I suspect with the 24 event once we’re in MK we’re staying in MK. I do not have expectations of riding many attractions given the crowds. Although I’d like to hit Swiss Family and/or the Tikki room, but we are more focused on snack items for this visit and food venues. The Mickey bar, the rice treat Mickey on a stick, Casey’s Corner hotdog, and a lot of other food items with their not counting calories. Whether we last until 6am or exhaustion forces us to leave at 3am, Saturday we plan to recuperate. We hope to catch a view hours of sleep in the morning and then hang by the pool, and go to DTD to enjoy Earl of Sandwich. I’ll probable nap at some point. If we are feeling very frisky I have notions of going to the Contempo Café just to be able to dine in the middle of CR and then enjoy a cocktail at the Outer Rim. It might be pushing it. We might not. Sunday is the wildest card on this trip. It is a Star Wars weekend so DHS might be the place to visit and check out of the Lucas inspired fun. On the other hand, we could also go to AK and just soak in the park which might be nice and then hit another park in the evening for dinner or whatnot. We could also use this day to hit a waterpark which we have not done in years, or just do some resort exploring. On Sunday, we get up at way too early and fly home. We should be back in Pennsylvania by 10:30am, and eating Memorial day hotdogs by lunchtime. A short trip, but we have our September one to look forward to keep the depression at bay.

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Old 05-16-2014, 12:08 PM   #14
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Let's add a car

Yesterday, I checked out car rental prices. Depending where we looked we found rentals as low as $6 per day (plus tax and fees), so we a rental prices dropping so much suddently obtaining a rental starting to become attractive.

We would not have to worry over possible lines at ME. We could stop at a convenience store for beer or whatnot. We could drive between our resort and any other result we might want to visit on Saturday or Sunday. On the other hand cheap is not free. There is just that something special about being on the Magical Express. It is called Magical for a reason.

In the end, we decided to visit our national club store travel website of choice, and rent a car. Maybe it'll be a pain. Maybe it'll be brilliance itself, but now we have a set of wheels.

Now I must remember to launder all my Mickey t-shirts this weekend so they will be available for the trip.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:45 PM   #15
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Our first TR!

Well, I've started a TR for our quick May trip and thought I'd better update here as well!

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3285760

We had a blast of course, and when we got home, it was only a mere week before we could say, 100 days to Disney! Actually, 97 days at this point.

We actually got to do some stuff that we were planning for September, so it was nice to kind of knock out some to-dos. We finally went to the Enchanted Tiki Room, rode Dumbo, rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets, and ate tons of new food. Feel free to check out the TR!

The May trip also helped us try out a rental car for the first time. It actually was a very smooth process, so we may consider it yet again for September, but how can we forgo the Magical Express? Perhaps by remembering they pick you up waaay too early when it's time for your return flight!

Hopefully, we'll be able to keep up with both this PTR and the TR. If you are reading, thanks!
__________________
Current PTR: Pennsylvania to WDW in Sept. '14 -
http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3237902
Current TR: A Whirlwind 72 (minus 5) hour trip to WDW!!http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3285760
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