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 wont 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 hasnt been to the parks since I was a toddler, so shes 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, Ive searched high and low for deals. For this trip, we were able to take advantage of an unknown-to-us perk the 30% discount at hotels for seniors! Since mom will be joining us, well be saving quite a bit on the room. In addition, mom is celebrating a birthday at the end of October, and Im 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 wasnt a HUGE savings, but enough to make me happy! Another thing Im doing is making some of our things instead of buying them. Itll likely be cooler, so Im making scarves and hats for mom, DD and I. Im also making a few drawstring backpacks to hold stuff while were 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, youd know that I am a crazy over-planner! Its not that I want each day mapped out to the second, its more that I dont want any financial surprises. Im 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. Its a ½ 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 Im crazy, but I think its just good common sense J If anyone is interested, Id 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. WHATS 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, itd 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!