I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. Robert Louis Stevenson Welcome to one and all to my Trip Report! I find myself extremely blessed to be writing my third Trip Report for the year 2012!! That totally shocks me and I never would have considered this possibility at the beginning of the year. I love traveling and I have many favorite places to go but since I went to Disney in 2009, I have become pretty addicted to the place! (I count this addiction as a good thing!) Some of our other favorite locals are the Smoky Mountains, North Carolina, New Orleans and Williamsburg, VA just to name a few. Of course there are many, many other places we have been and I find the planning to be as much a part of the experience as the actual journey! I just love to go!! It is nothing for us to take a road trip on any given weekend. Exploring, learning and just making memories are what I adore about the whole travel experience! As for my journeys to Disney this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to join my DD16 (Madison) and her high school band in March where they marched in the parade at Magic Kingdom. Yes, you did read that correctly that it was a wonderful opportunity even with over 100 teenagers! (If you are new and want to read about that journey the link is in my signature Led Zeppelin Collides With the Magic Kingdom). My second journey was in July and it included myself, my DH Keith and two of our three children-Madison and DS18 Chris. This was a great trip and I will not say much else on it since it is still currently in progress (Stop and Smell the Roses...But Watch Out for the Bees!). Which brings me to my third journey... Shortly after we returned from our trip in July, Disney released one of those big announcements that Disney fans everywhere wait impatiently for: DISCOUNTS!!! And the one released on this particular day included FREE DINING. The dates for this promotion just happened to fall during the Food and Wine Festival which also happens to fall in the month of October which happens to be my favorite month of the year and also happens to be my birthday so I thought this a perfect opportunity to go at one of the times of year I have wanted to go plus enjoy the Food and Wine Festival which I have long desired to go to. I brought this up to Keith and after working out schedules around Madison's fall school activities and making sure we could afford yet another trip, it looked to be a go. Soon I was off to planning and making decisions (a task I perform very poorly in when it comes to my trips)!! Me and My Traveling Companion (aka my wonderful husband!!): Our trips almost always consist of the family. It has been on rare occasions we venture out without taking at least one if not all of the kids! This time around it was just me and Keith. We left Chris and Madison home for school and soccer and work. (Our third, Evan, is currently living in Australia). At first we felt extremely guilty and this was especially true as the trip got closer and as we traveled south. Thankfully guilt improved and the kids never gave us too much grief about leaving them behind. Getting my husband on these trips to Disney has been a revolving miracle! He was always one to claim he hated Disney although he had never been. I took Madison and Chris alone in 2009. Upon our return and their constant talking about the fun we had, he decided to let us return in 2010. In 2011 I took my mom and it was to be a girls trip (my mom, Madison and me). Then both Keith and Chris decided to join us...see a trend here? Well, Keith is never one to concede being wrong on anything but slowly he was letting things slip. Yes, I was making him at least a believer in the magic to be found. I was satisfied with this even if it isn't the love I hold for Disney! In March 2012, I was discussing restaurants for us to go to one day and he suggested we return that summer! Not one to allow him to reconsider, I was making reservations ASAP! Thus our trip in July was formed and you know the rest of this story!! Me? Well, I love Disney, traveling, photography, and stories. Thus you will see my adoration for Disney, lots of photographs (although not as many as in past trips if you are familiar with my past reports) and in some cases wordiness since I love to talk and I report as I talk! When? The trip was planned for October 27-November 1, 2012. These dates fell perfectly between the final home football game and Madison's first soccer game of the season! How? We drove....I really wanted to fly but I also wanted money to spend at Disney so driving saved us $400!! Where? Ah...the where do you want to stay conundrum! In getting quotes, I had prices for a mod and a value. The difference was about $250. Remember what I just said in the "How?" Well, yeah, I wanted more money to spend at Disney! Keith gave me the choice and he says plan it but has no interest in offering opinions until it is too late! I am going to rewind to 2010 since I now know that what I believed at that time when booking a resort was 110% correct and had I not made changes, all of those other trips I mentioned probably would have never happened! Keith is retired from the Air Force which means we are lucky enough to take part in the amazing deals Disney offers service members! I am forever grateful for these discounts but our trips have been a combination of the military discounts and other offers. In 2010, it was all about the military discounts and I had booked POP Century as our resort. Somewhere along the way I got to thinking that the moderates have discounts also and what would the cost difference be? Well, I called, got a quote, and soon I had a moderate booked. Which one was my difficult decision and in the end I had chosen Port Orleans Riverside. As soon as we got on property, Keith (who had never been) was walking around with his jaw dropped and commented to everyone that Disney knows how to do things first class. That was my first indication that I had persuaded him slightly. That trip also resulted in us adding a few nights at Coronado Springs, another resort we really liked. The future trips were all at Port Orleans French Quarter and it is our personal favorite at least thus far. My choices for this trip was between Caribbean Beach or POP Century. I really, really wanted CBR but in the end the money savings won out. I am going to go ahead and just speak on this part! All the way to Orlando-an 11 hour drive-Keith kept saying I had booked us at a "dump". Of course he was joking but I secretly hoped that it would measure up. As soon as we drove up, Keith said "It looks like a mall". Yikes! I defended it and said the values just have a different vibe going and it is about the larger than life icons. He lets me out to go check in and as soon as I walk into the entrance I think Oh, great! I am in a malls food court!...if I think that I can only imagine what Keith will think! Sure enough, that is his opinion also. What else did he notice/say? 1) Once in the elevator to our room, the elevators wood paneling has a huge portion missing, torn off, broken...great!! 2) The rooms feel much smaller and the beds are doubles 3) The bathrooms are tiny 4) The first night someone lost their cookies on the sidewalk...the next evening the lovely cookies and the smell was still there. 5) There is no boat to anywhere (he loves riding the boat from PO to DTD) 6) The grounds are not kept as well as at Port Orleans 7) The bus area does not have benches and it is not covered Okay, I will stop there...I will say that in many ways he was not being very nit-picky and was joking due to the whole dump jokes but honestly these were very noticeable differences. Our stay at POP was not bad and if that is my only opportunity to go to Disney, I will stay at a value but this is my second time at a value (the other was All-Star Sports) and both times honestly was a let-down. Walking around different places and going through different resorts, I know that our next visit (as a family or couple) will be in either Caribbean Beach-moderate-or a Deluxe. Keith has made definite approval mentions of Boardwalk, Beach Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian and (surprised me!) the Contemporary! As a matter of fact, on one of our visits to Hollywood Studios, he stopped and looked at the DVC info. He asked me questions and I answered best I could. I have a feeling once we stay at a DVC location (I plan to rent points next trip) he may look into it more&from comments he made. I tell you, he is becoming a believer!! Next we move on to the meat of this story...the actual trip!!!! And I promise less words and more pictures!!