Welcome to my Pre-Trip Report! Now, I have to guiltily admit that I have never finished a trip report I have started (but I've only attempted to do one). I vow, though, that no matter what it takes this trip report will have the following: a) Lots of Pictures b) An ending I cant promise that it will at all times be funny (or, for that matter, entertaining), but I will do my best! _________________________________________________ TABLE OF CONTENTS December 2011 Trip ~Introductions and Details ~Our Itinerary ~Purchases ~Cost Breakdown ~Glad I Did/Wish I'd Done Differently Sept.-Oct. 2010 Mini-Trip Report ~Beginning of Day 1: Arrival ~More of Day 1 ~End of Day 1: Magic Kingdom and MNSSHP ~Day 2: Epcot ~Rest of Day 2: Epcot ~Beginning of Day 3: Race Expo and Naps! ~Rest of Day 3: Wine and Dine Half Marathon ~Beginning of Day 4: Animal Kingdom ~End of Day 4: EMH at MGM ~Day 5: Epcot ~More of Day 5: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Magic Kingdom ~End of Day 5: EMH at Magic Kingdom ~Last Day! Checking Out and DTD _________________________________________________ So, on that note, I bring you the Christmas Scenery and Fort Finery Trip Report Introductions of the lovely trip members: Dad 62 (but doesnt believe it), retired firefighter and lover of Harley Davidson T-Shirts and firefighter memorabilia (I'm sure many of which will be making an appearance on this trip). Also known as the person who put up the biggest fight before our first trip in 93, but my Mom convinced him that it wasnt a waste of money and now I think he loves it the most. Hes also a fan of the moustache. Mom (a classy woman never reveals her age), almost retired from the financial service industry (retires in February 2012) and lover of her family. I think my Mom loves WDW, but its hard to tell with her. Shes gotten the I-love-anything-my-family-gives-me-or-loves down to a science, so I dont know the difference between tolerance and love. She also loves her grand-dogs and desperately hopes my brother or I decide to have kids one day. Mom, Dad, and Meeko (don't you hate when people take pictures when you're talking?) Keith 32, my brother, and generally not a fan of WDW. His last trip with us was in 2005 when we all stayed in the same room at Wilderness Lodge (big lesson learned on that, what a nightmare!) and he hasnt wanted to go back since. He had planned on going on this trip last year when it was in the beginning stages of being obsessed about and he and his girlfriend of 3 years were together. Well, in January they had a horrible break-up and she moved out. My parents told him he could still go and stay with them. He loves his dog, Kirby (a cardigan Welsh corgi), fitness, and, I dont know, debating things? My brother and I didnt really get along growing up (were much different analytically), but were better now and enjoy each others company (most of the time). Hes also a drafter (like in he draws blueprints for engineers, nothing to do with NASCAR ). My brother and Meeko (she'll figure out a way to be in any picture ) Matt 34, my wonderful boyfriend. Weve actually known each other for 10 years (I dated his brother when I was a teenager ) and have talked off an on throughout the years. Last Fall we were talking and decided to go out on a date (we were both single at the time). After a few dates, we were both head over heels and moved in together. Were so much alike and enjoy doing much of the same things. He has two dogs (a yellow lab and Miniature Pinscher) and works as a real estate agent and property manager. My Christmas present this year is that he leaves his phone in the room and only does work for an hour a day (since were going to be gone for almost 2 weeks I knew he couldnt stop working completely, the joys of being self-employed!). Well see if this actually happens. Me (Kimberly) 29 (not a classy lady ), lover of amusement parks, animals, and running/fitness (only to counter balance my love for sweets!). Ive traveled many places, but none touch my heart like Disney does. Im hoping Matt has the same experience, but I know its different when you grew up with something and have a lot of memories attached to a place. Im a paralegal for an Estate Planning law firm and I love it. I also have a wonderful little 4-year-old dog, Meeko, a Miniature Pinscher. Matt and I on a recent camping trip. I went back to being a brunette (my natural color) as I am growing my hair out to donate to Locks for Love. Whew! Now, that thats done, on with the show! When: December 2nd through December 14th 2011 Where: That depends. My brother was gracious enough to watch Meeko the last time I went to WDW with my parents (2008). She has ridiculous separation anxiety and hardly ate while we were gone or moved. Since hes going this trip (and I dont have the nerves or guts to leave her in a kennel/doggie-daycare in Virginia while were in Florida for so long), I had to figure out a way to take her with us. My 3 options were: 1) Rent a house outside of Disney. This was appealing as we could have our own pool and a lot of privacy. However, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE night EMHs and we have our own pool at home. Also, while I dont mind driving, I knew we would have to leave the park every afternoon/evening to let Meeko out and I didnt want to spend 30-60 min. every day driving. I felt like that would take away from the WDW vacation I was used to. 2) Put her in a kennel in WDW or in Orlando, that way if shes not eating I can get her or figure out what to do without driving all the way back to Virginia. The only problem with this is that I wouldnt want to spend a whole day trying to find a decent pet-allowed hotel if something did happen. 3) Rent a motorhome or camper and stay at Ft. Wilderness. This option made the most sense as it allowed us to get EMHs and have Meeko stay with us. However, I grew up camping and really did not want to feel like I was having a cheap, camping vacation when Im used to the nice Disney resorts! After looking around online, I decided this really was the best option and Im keeping my fingers crossed that I dont lose the Disney vacation feeling by camping. My parents own a 2-year-old motorhome and offered to drive it down for us and set it up at Ft. Wilderness so we wouldnt have to rent one. Arent they the best?! The only catch was that were not allowed to fly, we have to ride down with them. Not a problem for me, I prefer driving to flying (safe naps, bathroom/drinks/food whenever I want, packing anything I want? Yes please!), but Matt would MUCH rather fly. Hell get over it. Anyways, that puts us at Ft. Wilderness for the duration of the trip (I reserved a Premium pet loop site, I believe that would put us on the 300 loop and I also requested to be along the canal. Heres hoping!). My parents wanted to stay at the Poly (we all love the Poly!), but it was just way overpriced. They decided on POR (we also love this resort). About the time they were figuring out where to go (March-ish), I got a discount code in my email. I told my Mom she should call as my mailing address is the same as theirs and they may be able to use it. Sure enough, the CM told them because our mailing address is the same its good for the whole household! They saved 40% on a few nights of the room at POR (some of the nights were blocked out [Im assuming because of Pop Warner]) and switched the last three nights to the Wilderness Lodge (my parents love this resort, I like it okay) for 40% off as well. My brother will be staying with them (poor thing, I hope he packs ear plugs with the Snoring Choir in full force every night). Oh, also, the breeder where he purchased his dog from welcomes anyone she sells her dogs to bring them back to stay. Hes arranged to drop Kirby off with her to stay (he gets to play with some of his brothers and sisters) for the trip. Details: Were actually in Florida for a total of 12 days. During this time we will be doing all four theme parks of WDW, Sea World, Discovery Cove (just Matt and I), and Universal/Islands of Adventure. We may also be doing an evening at Disney Quest and maybe Blizzard Beach. Matt and I will also be doing the Around the World Segway tour in Epcot. Food: I drove over to my parents house at 5 a.m. with my laptop in tow to make ADRs with my Mom online at 6 a.m. at our 180 day mark (I believe, June 6th?). She didnt wake up until 5:50, which freaked my Dad out as he was super paranoid we werent going to get an ADR at Ohanas (we didnt get to eat there during our 2008 trip and weve never heard the end of it, it usually goes like this Oh, yes, I remember that trip. The ONE trip where I didnt get to eat at Ohanas, even though that was the ONE thing I REALLY wanted to do ). Talk about pressure! I went on a solo 6 day trip to WDW last September/October (also ran the Wine and Dine half marathon), so I knew how to work the online system. We went through the ADR list, splitting up which ADRs we knew would go fast and who was going to do which ones first. Not an easy task when my Dad is breathing down our neck. He had a heart attack 2 years ago and I kept telling him its a good thing he wasnt making the ADRs or hed surely have another one! It was a stressful 5-10 minutes, but we got all the ADRs we wanted! Even thinking about that morning now makes my heart race. We did have to tweak some times here and there, but we are eating at all the restaurants we wanted. I'll post the details on that in my next post! Hope you'll follow along!