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Old 03-11-2014, 05:15 PM   #1
GrandCalifornian
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She's Turning Five at Disney World, a September 2014 PTR

Contents:
TOC, Introduction and Background (This Post)
ADR Day!
MDE + Premier APs (Part 1 of ?)
Pass update (2 of ?) and a Minnie Dress
Pass Update (Part 3 of 3, we think) and other Randomness
Magic Bands (Round 1)
A Dining Addition
Allie's Birthday Plans
Double Digits!
Anniversary DLR Day
Fast Pass + Schedule and other random updates
PIF Day!
Sewing Update: Baloo Dress
Stroller Makeover
Final Schedule Tweaks
Magic Bands (Round 2)
Decorating Magic Bands Part 1
Disneyland Half Marathon
Decorating Magic Bands Part 2
Sewing Update: Elsa Dress
Packing Up and Partying
20 Hours to go!

Introduction and Background:
This is a Pre Trip Report for our upcoming trip, which will be September 13-22nd. As we have in our other trip reports, Paul will write his portions in Blue and Melissa in Orange. We'll start with the background on how this trip came to be:

When we left off, on the last day of our 2013 trip we decided to go ahead and call to take advantage of the bounce back offer, just in case we got to go back in 2014. For only a $200 deposit, we had the chance to lock in free dining for 2014.


We booked at WL again for 10 days but decided to schedule the trip later than we had been gone in the last two years so we could be in WDW for Allie's birthday.

Once we told my parents that we booked the return trip, but were unsure we would keep it, they said that if we went they again wanted to go with us. They had a great time with us in 2012 and enjoyed hearing daily updates during our 2013 trip.


Financially it was going to be a huge stretch for us to make the trip for the third year in a row.

After we got home we headed to DLR on 9/30 for dinner. When we entered California Adventure our passes were denied. It wasn't really a big deal the manager CM came over and took down our pass numbers and said they had to manually enter them in the CA system because we had bought them in FL. On a trip in November we pulled into the parking garage and the parking guy said that our pass was scanning expired despite the expiration date printed on the pass being ok so he let us have our free parking but said to visit guest services on the way in to check on things.

So we stopped by to see what was up. At the window, the CM was as confused as we were as to why the pass showed expired in the computer but had expiration dates of next September printed on them.

So he called a supervisor over showed her the problem and got authorization to fix it. Because the CA and FL systems aren't linked the first use on the pass he saw was Sept. 30 so instead of resetting the expiration to Sept. 6th or 7th whichever it was originally he set it to Sept.30th for all of our trouble (which really wasn't much). This was amazing of him and meant that we'd have passes for the entire 2014 WDW trip!

We thanked him profusely and talked the entire night about how this made the trip to WDW even closer to happening.

So with our tickets valid for the whole month, this meant we could reduce the cost of another Florida trip. We knew we had to buy park tickets to keep our free dining, but by reducing them to the minimum number of days we could save money, and those tickets won't be used this year anyway. We called Disney one night to find out what the minimum number of park ticket days for the promotion was, and the CM on the phone had to check with another department, but they figured out that we could reduce the number of ticket days to two, and that by not using those tickets we could apply their value to a future ticket purchase. The CMs were super helpful, and appreciated that we wanted to have free dining while taking advantage of our APs. We successfully reduced our outstanding balance by a few hundred dollars.

While on the phone we also asked about possibly switching resorts. We were told no problem, and if we went with a Value resort we could pay the difference to upgrade to the regular dining plan. For us and our trip, this would be $371, which would provide material for further resort cost cutting option discussion.

To figure out a minimum cost option, I started pricing packages at Pop Century. We liked Pop when we ate there on our 2012 trip, and knew that it would have its benefits. The biggest negative to us was the bed size, but we still did some number crunching.

Looking at the value option I thought that AoA had a lot of plusses for us traveling with Allie that Pop didn't, namely the theming. I thought Allie would really enjoy the Little Mermaid theming and the pool and playground are great. It however had the same bed size drawback as Pop and we were guaranteed a long walk to and from the bus stop and lobby from the Little Mermaid section.

With the small price difference between Pop and AoA, we got excited at the prospect of maybe staying there. We knew we still preferred WL, but there would be some fun things at AoA for Allie. The nagging drawback however, was the walk to the little mermaid rooms. We looked at the maps, and measured with Google earth and convinced ourselves we could handle the walk. We had concerns though about my parents. They were glad to hear that the buildings had elevators, but we were all concerned about the walk to the bus and food court. So, we were back to sticking with WL.

So fast forward to February. Our ADR dates are fast approaching and airfare opens up.

We found that we could get nonrefundable tickets for $870 total, which was a great deal for three of us flying cross country. This really made me want to commit to go, but the total trip cost was still too high. The airline website had a $1000 room only option at Pop that we briefly considered, but that put us in the same Pop -> AoA -> WL loop

We couldn't secure airfare because we had the opportunity to bid on a wedding with our photography business and the wedding date was smack in the middle of the trip that we currently had booked.

If we got the wedding, we could shift to later dates in September. If we didn't, our original dates looked good because we would catch the begining of Epcot's Food and Wine festival for a few days, but not for our whole trip.

So after two weeks of waiting we got the news that the bride decided to go with a different photographer. Needless to say we were both bummed but the silver lining was we could keep the same time frame for our WDW trip...if we decided to keep it. Unfortunately in that two weeks airfare had gone up some, not substantially but when you are trying to shave money off a trip every little bit matters.

So knowing that we wanted to save some money, and wanting to avoid the resort upgrade cycle we had been considering, we decided to look for an option we had been overlooking. We knew that Port Orleans Riverside was our favorite moderate, and was one of the only resorts we had visited on each of our previous WDW trips.
We priced out a nice package at Port Orleans, and found that even with paying the $25 a night extra for a preferred room we could save $866 over our WL package. This was still substantial, almost enough to cover airfare. By going with a preferred room we would have a decent location, with not too long of a walk to the lobby which would be great for my parents. (And us too, since we are so used to running down for mug refills at WL.) We would miss all being under one roof and right on Bay Lake, but trying something new would be fun.

I was beginning to get tired of the limbo of the trip and watching the airfare go up was gut wrenching for me so I had gotten to the point that we needed to book the airfare or cancel the trip.

We called Disney back and made a one day date shift (to get cheaper airfare by not flying home on Sunday) and also made the switch to Port Orleans Riverside.


I was starting to let myself get excited about the trip and after lots of talking about what it would take to get us to Florida in September we decided it was worth it to pull the trigger and book the airfare.

We made our airfare reservations on a Saturday morning, then got on the phone with my parents so they could book theirs too. Now it's official, we are going back to Disney World!

So there, that's what our last 4 months have been like and how we ended up booking at POR Riverside instead of our beloved WL.

Now we will have the usual PTR details to review and post, but we have 185 days to get to that...

Last edited by GrandCalifornian; 09-12-2014 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:49 PM   #2
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Thumbs up Congratulations!

Yippee! Love the detailed start to your 2014 POR PTR. Fantastic news about the pass extension. You just can't pass that up. Now, do I dare admit that I'm secretly wondering if this trip might morph into a WL stay

Looking forward to following along with... Five Means Riverside?!
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:10 PM   #3
GrandCalifornian
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Originally Posted by WDWKOOK View Post
Yippee! Love the detailed start to your 2014 POR PTR. Fantastic news about the pass extension. You just can't pass that up. Now, do I dare admit that I'm secretly wondering if this trip might morph into a WL stay

Looking forward to following along with... Five Means Riverside?!
Yay, we're glad you're here. We are definitely not avid resort changers, and even making this switch felt like it is super late to be making changes, but at least we were ahead of the ADR window.

We probably won't be upgrading to WL for this one, but that's ok. We had to eventually stay somewhere else. It is funny though, right after we booked we read about some people getting upgraded from POR to WL at checkin. Wouldn't that be a completion of the circle. Anyway, we are all (including my parents) excited about POR, and are really hoping that it will be our second favorite WDW resort.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:17 PM   #4
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It is great to see another one of your trip reports. You always do such a good job writing them.

That was some major pixie dust on the park passes. I'm glad that you were able to make it all work out. Getting free dining at a moderate like POR is a pretty good deal. I'm looking forward to reading all about that resort.

Does Allie have her trip all planned out yet?
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Old 03-12-2014, 01:44 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Wood Nymph View Post
It is great to see another one of your trip reports. You always do such a good job writing them.

That was some major pixie dust on the park passes. I'm glad that you were able to make it all work out. Getting free dining at a moderate like POR is a pretty good deal. I'm looking forward to reading all about that resort.

Does Allie have her trip all planned out yet?
Aww, thanks. We enjoy having you contribute and follow along.

We are looking forward to experiencing POR. We visited it every trip to WDW, even on our honeymoon, and we like some of its similarities to WL, so it will be fun to try. We already know we enjoy the QS food there, and being closer to DTD should work well, especially with my parents joining in as well.

Allie doesn't have any detailed plans, other than she wants to see Belle at her house again and do the hula hoops (Outside Trail's End at FW). I think we can make those requests happen. Melissa is starting to plan dresses, and we'll share those here as they come to be.

Thanks for your replay and we'll post more updates here as we continue planning.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:06 PM   #6
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ADR Day!

This morning I got up early and called for our ADRs. We had been discussing the list of potential restaurants since before last year's trip was over, and I have the "Clear" app on my phone that allows you to re-arrange lists, which we had been using to pick our nine favorites for our 2014 trip.

I did not get up early this morning, I rolled over, groaned, got up to use the bathroom, crawled back in bed and gave him a thumbs up whenever he said anything to me.

That's pretty much how it went, but I had made sure to get all of her input beforehand. I had decided to just call for the ADRs, since we hadn't had much success with the Disney website before, and the CMs on the phone are always so nice and efficient. While waiting on hold after calling as soon as they opened (which was at 4 AM our time) I got out the iPad and tried the website for our BOG reservation. Surprisingly it was available, so I booked it online. A nice CM came on the phone before I booked any others, and she was super helpful.

So, what else did we book? Here's our list:

Sunday September 14th: Via Napoli 5:45 PM
We're starting out with something new for us, but after reading about it I can't wait, and I don't think we can go wrong.
I am really excited about Via Napoli, I have seen so many good reviews. I think the biggest decision is going to be pizza or pasta.

Monday, September 15th: Yak and Yeti 12:00 PM



We like planning a lunch at AK on an EMH day, and this fit in great. We loved Yak and Yeti last year, especially the ribs. We knew this was one we had to repeat from last year.
Lunch at AK seems to be a nice break for us. I am looking forward to it again this year.

Tuesday, September 16th: Liberty Tree Tavern 12:55 PM


LTT was probably the restaurant we missed the most after not repeating it in 2013, so it had to be on the list. The scheduling works out great too, since Allie will do BBB at MK this morning.



I'm excited to do LTT this year again and I think Paul will take my advice on the ooey gooey toffe cake.
YES! I am ordering that this time! I don't know why I didn't think I would like it before, but it was delightful...

Wednesday, September 17th: Akershus 6:55 PM


Akershus had some of the best food of the trip last year, and it is a nice chance for Allie to meet the princesses. (Not to mention a multiple princess sewing opportunity for Melissa.)
Yes! I really have to figure out my sewing plans for this year. I'm in a bit of creative funk right now but I'm sure I'll pull out of it just in time I really enjoyed the food here last year. I'm not a huge buffet fan so it's nice to have a plated character meal on our lineup.

Thursday, September 18th: Be Our Guest 6:55 PM



I was glad to have experienced Be Our Guest last year, and considered skipping it this year, but the food was great and I want to have the chance to show it to my parents, since my Mom is a huge Beauty and The Beast fan.
I liked BOG last year too and I'm excited to be eating there again. The atmosphere is amazing and the food was great.

Friday, September 19th: Hollywood and Vine 12:35 PM


Hollywoond and Vine is one of the few restaurants we've been to every trip. We almost didn't go last year after having made an ADR at Mama Melrose instead, but we switched back. I really enjoyed the quality and variety of the buffet food here, but the thing that sealed the deal was them adding Doc McStuffins and Sofia The First, two of Allie's favorites.
I wasn't planning on doing Hollywood and Vine again this year but when they added Sofia and Doc we had to. Plus the food is great.... for a buffet.

Saturday, September 20th (Allie's Birthday): Crystal Palace 8:00 AM



For Allie's birthday we thought it would be fun to repeat our overall favorite meal of last trip. The atmosphere and food were great. This year it is out only breakfast ADR and we have it scheduled for an hour before the park opens, which will be neat.
It was tough trying to decide which ADR to do on Allies birthday, Akershus or Crystal Palace but last year CP was her favorite character meal and it just seemed to have more of a celebration atmosphere. Besides its a breakfast ADR so the rest of the day will be free to do whatever the birthday princess wishes.

Sunday, September 21st: Garden Grill 4:00 PM
This is another new one for us, but it definitely appeals to Melissa as a agriculture major, and it is another chance to fit in a character meal, our fourth of the trip.
I'm excited to try Garden Grill and see Mickey in his farmer overalls.

So, those are our reservations. We are very excited that we were able to get everything we wanted within an hour or less. We left one Table Service meal open, which will most likely be Trail's End for dinner, but we like having the flexibility of going whenever we choose, and the wait there usually isn't too bad.
We are so excited that in just 180 days we'll be in Disney World. In the end it was definitely worth getting up early for.
Next planning step, figuring out AP's on MDE and Magic Bands....

Continued in next update.
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Old 03-18-2014, 07:58 AM   #7
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You've got a great list of restaurants there. It is hard to narrow it down when there are so many good ones. I first tried the Ooey Gooey toffee cake at LTT in December and now it is on the "must do" list. All of your choices are good.

I noticed that all of your choices are restaurants that are in a park. I've found that those are the easiest ones to do. When we went with the grandchildren last February we had too many resort restaurants in our list: Ohana, 1900 Park Fare, Cape May Cafe, and Hoop Dee Doo Revue. Although we had great meals at all four of them, the travel time really cut into our trip time.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:21 AM   #8
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You've got a great list of restaurants there. It is hard to narrow it down when there are so many good ones. I first tried the Ooey Gooey toffee cake at LTT in December and now it is on the "must do" list. All of your choices are good. I noticed that all of your choices are restaurants that are in a park. I've found that those are the easiest ones to do. When we went with the grandchildren last February we had too many resort restaurants in our list: Ohana, 1900 Park Fare, Cape May Cafe, and Hoop Dee Doo Revue. Although we had great meals at all four of them, the travel time really cut into our trip time.
Yes, we think this will be a fun set of restaurants. There were another four or five that would have been great too, but we ran out of space in the trip, and table service credits.
The CM on the phone mentioned that they were all in parks. We hadn't really thought about it, but it does make sense. We did have a hard time getting back from Boma last time, and Ohana would have been great for dinner, but the park locations were easier. We will visit resorts for some of our Quick Service meals though, since we want to eat at the Grand Floridian and will probably stop by Roaring Fork too.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:26 AM   #9
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Old 03-19-2014, 01:48 PM   #10
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Good job on snagging all your ADRs - you are both very efficient planners. Did Allie provide input into her birthday breakfast? I can't believe she's going to be 5. Will she start kindergarten in the fall? I'm guessing not since she just misses the cut-off or will you homeschool? Sorry to get a bit OT here.

I really like Y&Y, too and I prefer a second floor table by the window where I can look down at the people passing by (cat-like behavior). The only thing I don't like is that they don't accept TiW. They do offer an AP discount, but that's 10% Vs. 20%

We've only tried BoG for lunch. Would we like dinner there better? Garden Grill has great photo ops with the characters and Allie will love that the restaurant rotates. I just love The Land and now that I think about it, I may have to book GG. It's been so long since we've been and it really is charming. I could ride Living with the Land over and over. You inspired me to book Akershus again in December, so you may have planted the seed for GG, too - get it?

The photo of your parents reminded me that they'll be joining you again on this trip. I think it will make for an extra special trip for Allie.
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:27 PM   #11
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Following along!
Great, we're glad to have you following along over here too! We're not sure what all we'll have to say, but we'll try to come up with something interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WDWKOOK View Post
Good job on snagging all your ADRs - you are both very efficient planners. Did Allie provide input into her birthday breakfast? I can't believe she's going to be 5. Will she start kindergarten in the fall? I'm guessing not since she just misses the cut-off or will you homeschool? Sorry to get a bit OT here.

I really like Y&Y, too and I prefer a second floor table by the window where I can look down at the people passing by (cat-like behavior). The only thing I don't like is that they don't accept TiW. They do offer an AP discount, but that's 10% Vs. 20%

We've only tried BoG for lunch. Would we like dinner there better? Garden Grill has great photo ops with the characters and Allie will love that the restaurant rotates. I just love The Land and now that I think about it, I may have to book GG. It's been so long since we've been and it really is charming. I could ride Living with the Land over and over. You inspired me to book Akershus again in December, so you may have planted the seed for GG, too - get it?

The photo of your parents reminded me that they'll be joining you again on this trip. I think it will make for an extra special trip for Allie.
Yes, Allie had some input on her birthday meal, but she pretty much wanted to do anything at WDW. She does remember the pooh breakfast as being fun. I'm not sure she realizes that it means getting up early on her birthday though, so we'll see how that goes.

She won't start Kindergarten this year, since she is so close to the cutoff and we decided we'd rather have her be one of the older kids in the class rather than one of the youngest. We still aren't certain on a school plan, but right now she is in a preschool three days a week and they offer a kindergarten there that has appeal to us since it is so close to Melissa's office. We live about 30 minutes away, and while the public schools near our house are an option, it will be harder with neither of us working near the house. Nothing is OT to us, especially when it has to do with Allie since she's pretty much the center of everything around here.

We are very excited to be going back to Yak and Yeti. Last year it was so slow that the upstairs section was closed, but we got a seat by the front window and did some great people watching (one of our favorite Disney activities). We did get to walk around upstairs and check things out, which was fun. It is good to know about the AP discount, but I think we'll still use a dining plan TS credit for this one.

We haven't done BoG for lunch, but from looking at the menus and comparing to our dinner I would say it is a good sit down restaurant meal. We didn't have any complaints at all about our food, and while the food didn't wow us quite as much as Akershus, it was a very nice meal. The desserts were quite good, and we got to try three of them plus the grey stuff since we were celebrating. I'd recommend one of the fancy cupcakes, they were great. The real reason we're going back though is the atmosphere. We were impressed with the main room, and the West Wing is all dark and the food service counters are hidden from view. Having Beast walk through every 20 minutes or so is interesting, and at the end you get to go meet him on your way out. We know my Mom will particularly enjoy this. I was impressed with the relatively low cost of the meal, since it would have been less expensive OOP than other sit down meals that weren't as fancy. I wouldn't fight too hard for an ADR here though, and we're surprised they are still so hard to get.

As for "planting the seed" we'll let you know how Garden Grill works out for us, but with being in The Land and having Mickey characters I figure we can't go wrong.

We are all very excited about our trip. Allie is glad to have Grandma and Grandpa coming, and she wants to show Grandma the hula hoops in front of Trail's End again, because she remembers doing that with them in 2012. It is funny to see the things she remembers.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:45 PM   #12
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Yak & Yeti has an AP discount? I've eaten there twice while I had the AP. And I asked about at least TIW once, they should have mentioned the AP pass!!!!
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:15 PM   #13
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Yak & Yeti has an AP discount? I've eaten there twice while I had the AP. And I asked about at least TIW once, they should have mentioned the AP pass!!!!
Yeah, that would have been nice, huh? Discount, dining plan, or whatever this is a restaurant that we can't wait to go back to.

We're glad to have you hanging out here. You never know what you'll learn.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:18 PM   #14
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MDE + Premier APs (Part 1 of ?)

So we had all our ADR's and our trip set up right in MDE. You don't really have to do anything they kind of magically appear. We got our MB's customized for the trip and there didn't seem like we had much else to do until August when we can make our FP+ reservations. That is until Disney announced they are rolling out MB for APs....

We already knew we would have some issues configuring our Magic Bands, because we want to use our APs for park admission and not use the 2 days of admission we had to buy with our package to get free dining. We both tried adding our passes to our MDE accounts online, and had varying degrees of success.

My original assumption was that we would use our cards to enter the parks and our MB for everything else. With FP+ it was complicated but I figured we could make it work.
After some digging on the DIS we both realized we'd have to call to get our AP's linked to our MDE accounts so we could get MB for our passes. Not that we really needed them but ultimately getting them into the MDE system properly means we can choose which park admission we use on the bands, the AP or the 2 day tix we have with our package.



Since we had the ADRs booked and not much else on our Disney agenda, we decided to start the process of getting this issue resolved. We made sure to call when we both were there and we had access to a computer, and we had that opportunity Saturday afternoon.

I am the one in our family who normally makes these calls so the job was mine.

I sat and provided encouragement and watched intently...

The CM on the phone was super nice but I sat on hold for a long time while she sorted things out over chat with their help desk.
Then we chatted while she reset both of our MDE accounts and manually added the passes into the system which FINALLY allowed us to customize our MB and for them to show in the system as proper park entrance media.

That call took exactly 1 hour and 12 minutes and apparently is the same for all of the Premier passes. It is such a pain.

Fortunately Allie was busy playing with her great Grandma and watching Disney Junior, so she was cooperative.

While we were waiting for the help desk to resolve our issues we discussed the extension of our passes here in California and how they will now expire Sept. 30. I was slightly concerned that because that was done here it might not be in the system in FL so I asked her about it and what date she saw them expiring. She showed Sept. 7th.

Knowing how disconnected the systems are this didn't shock me either, but it is a tad bit concerning since our trip doesn't even start until the 13th...

So I asked if she could fix that and she said that no she couldnt but gave me the phone number for Ticketing in FL and that maybe they could help us. My ear was sore after sitting so long on the phone I decided to wait to make that call. I'm not looking forward to it but stay tuned.... hopefully it all works out ok.

Fortunately we are holding passes in our hand that say they are good in both CA and FL and expire on Sept 30th, but the challenge will be getting the two systems re-linked. I am lucky to have a wonderful wife who will sit through that one. Perhaps I should plan on bringing meals during that call...

Yes! Plan on bringing food, you never know that call could last all week ;-)
So come back for Part II of this saga, hopefully by the end of the week we'll get it all straightened out and we are as anxious as you to find out if we will have to buy park tickets for the length of our trip or if FL will honor the CA extension.


My money is on my wife prevailing on this one
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:27 PM   #15
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Middle-of-Nowhere, PA
Posts: 33

Watching your journey closely! We're heading down to WDW at the end of September, and our youngest will be celebrating his 5th birthday while we're there!!! Hope you guys get everything straightened out! (and my husband leaves me to make all the phone calls as well. lol)
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