Finished w more picts-Trip reports on how to use 2 years worth of points in 3 months!

Discussion in 'DVC Trip Reports' started by traceyg, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    My dad is a retired Navy veteran. 22 years of active duty service. It made for an interesting childhood to say the least. I am a speech language pathologist. I kid people who ask why I chose this profession that I like to talk so much I made it into a profession...lol In actuality I don't think I ever had a chance to be shy. I constantly had new friends, experiences, and experienced new cultures growing up.

    Disney has a promotion going for retired and active duty service members for 4 day PH tickets for $156 each. If you buy them at Shades of Green or a base's ITT office (travel agency on base) there is no tax added to that amount. Each service member and their spouse are limited to 6 total (that's per family, not per person). Since mom and dad needed two of those tickets we were eligible for the other four. My son didn't need a ticket as he was still carrying his Blue Maingate pass. My daughter and I had left over tickets from a previous trip. My son also had a few days left to be able to get family or friends into the park on his maingate pass too. For two days my daughter and I took advantage of this. His pass was under a blockout at MK so on the MK day we ended up using our own passes. All in all, our tickets for WDW cost $624. Mom and dad spent $312

    Universal Studios (btw) has a promotion going for active and retired military members for a two day, park to park for free. Free is good..lol Mom's ticket was like $150. I had bought four Universal tickets a long time ago that were no expiration. I think I paid around $60 a piece for them. They've been sitting in my body fanny pack thing that I bought when I went to Europe for a while collecting dust more or less. (In some tourist areas of Europe there are Gypsies who like to pick pocket. I bought a garment that wraps around your waist under your clothing. It has pockets to hold your cash, credit cards, passport, etc. This makes it harder for people to steal from you. I figured I was being overcautious but when we went to the Eiffel Tower we were approached numerous times by Gypsies and a few times I actually felt "stealthy" hands on me. Sorry I digress- back to WDW or rather US). When my husband, son and I went in July I bought season passes to US. So other than Mom's ticket we didn't have a ticket expense to US/IoA. Dad's military WDW hoppers were blocked out until Jan 1 so we needed something to do on the 31st. We ended up at IoA. I wasn't thrilled with starting the girls off at US instead of WDW but I didn't really have a choice. In the end I think they appreciated WDW all the more. That's not to say we didn't enjoy US, but we have Six Flags at home so it just wasn't as unique to them as some of the rides at MK.

    Food...check
    room...check
    tickets...check
    ECV's or rather "dad gets a Nascar mobile" and "mom moves to the speed of hungry turtles"!
     
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  3. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    Dad made the arrangements for ECV's through an outside company. It ended up saving them lots of money. I think a week for both scooters ended up costing $175 total. Money well spent! Dad said that in all the information I shared with them about WDW that my recommendation for them to rent scooters was the best. lol And I thought all this useless Disney knowledge was going to come in handy someday :rolleyes:

    The ECV's were dropped off at OKW bell services a few hours before we arrived. My DH and son went down and collected them and drove them back to our villa. We dropped them back off the morning of our departure at bell services. Everything else was handled over the phone.

    The 31st (our first full day) we went to US/IoA. We had a luggage rack on our trailer hitch so we loaded one on it and the other we folded up and put it in the back of the Expedition. With the scooter sitting in the cargo area we didn't have room for everyone to sit so we ended up taking both ours and mom and dad's cars. Problem was we only had one handicap pass. None of us are handicap (besides mom and dad- who are in their own car) but if we have the scooters in our car and if mom and dad park in handicap then how are we going to get the scooters to them.... ugh. US had it all figured out for us! They were awesome! When we pulled up mom and dad were behind us so we stopped and talked to the gate person and explained our problem. He told us to put our hazards on and follow the handicap parking signs. We ended up parking in the handicap section right next to mom and dad. The flagger for the area told us to put a sign in our window that said we were with the car next door. I wasn't keen on taking someone else's parking space and asked about needing to move our car. I was assured that it would be ok. Turns out they were right because there were tons of handicap spaces left when we returned later that evening. Even though we were at "the other theme park-eek!, it truly was a Disney moment. They had it all figured out before we even had to ask a question.
    My DH was such a trooper! He said he was the "Scooter Patrol". He did all the loading and unloading and once when dad's scooter quit working he even "towed" it.
    I went to Guest Services and got the wheelchair pass. Dad is scheduled for both knee replacements starting in March and mom has rheumatoid arthritis. We started our treck off at Harry Potter land which is insanely crowded. The back side of HP land is blocked off too, so all foot traffic has to double back and come out the front. This made it 2x's as insane. The area is very cool but I don't know what they were thinking by blocking the exit on that particular day. Mom and dad got experienced on their scooters really fast!
    The baby decides that the best ride in all of the 6 parks he got to visit was the ECV ride on grandpa's lap. Mr. Toad doesn't have anything on dad btw. :lmao: We ended up pushing around an empty stroller for most of the day.
    We didn't think about the scooter not being fully charged when we got it. you can probably guess where this is heading..... We picked them up, brought them home, loaded them up the next day and took them to IoA. Long about 6pm dad starts complaining that his scooter is broken. Turns out that his battery was dying. Mom's was fine because when we got to attractions she would sit and wait. But dad, oh no.... he had to do donuts everywhere. Mom would do a managable speed limit down the walkways, but dad, oh no.... Mario Andretti would have been proud of his speed and manuevering abilities. Long about 6:30 his scooter dies. I mean D-I-E-S! My poor DH put it in neutral and pushed it all the way back to the handicap section where our cars are parked. Thank goodness we hadn't moved our car afterall. The next day my DH puts tow straps in mom's ECV. ;)

    Other than this experience, the entire rest of the trip was pretty drama free. When I went to get the wheelchair pass at WDW my DS went with me to Guest Relations. When the CM asked what we needed the pass for my DS blurts out "grandpa had a stroke!" Then he looks at me like a deer caught in headlights. I'm like "what?!??" The CM kind of gives a quizzical look and marks "wheelchair access" and we move on with our life. We meet up with mom and dad and I tell dad about our adventure and he looks at DS who at this point apologizes and says "its the only thing I could come up with!" I was like "how about knee replacement?!!!"
     
  4. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    the parks......
    Other than the crowds the parks were perfect as always! I'm not sure about the new Fantasyland yet. I love the theming, I love the fact that Dumbo is now Dumbo squared, I think I just wish that along with all the "newness" that there were more rides. I tried to squeeze in the Ariel ride but it was down for the only time we could make it over there, otherwise it was over a 120 minute wait the rest of the time we were in the park.

    Blake really really loved IaSW! He was mesmerized! I look at it as taking a nap while the TV is on- you can zone out but there's those voices inside your head that just keep you somewhat partially awake. I have a new perspective to it now. All in the eyes of a child! He was ok with Winnie the Pooh, liked Buzz, liked Dumbo a lot, liked Peter Pan, and liked the Carousel, but IaSW.... wow- totally in awe. Funny story- he turned two a few days after we got home, so at this point he is still one. The que to IaSW was about 10-15 minutes long. We finally make it to the front and Blake sees and understands the process by this point I'm guessing. The CM asks "how many in your party?". I say "us" she says "Ok stop right here". Everyone in front of us go on and board their boats. Blake looks her in the eyes and says in a very clear, very articulate voice "I want to get on the boat please!" Yes, there was even a "please". She is now dumbfounded that he's not three as she originally guessed but still really only one. lol

    This morning was the only one that I actually made it to rope drop, actually rope drop on a EMH so we were ahead of the game. No one wanted to get up that early so it was just Blake and I. Whatever we paid for the entire trip was worth these absolutely fabulous few hours that he and I shared.

    We hit the gates at 7am, went straight to Buzz and got a FP, then headed over to Peter Pan. PP was already 40m by this point..crazy! I knew that it wasn't going to get any better so I parked the stroller and away we went. After PP we had a few minutes to kill between being able to return to Buzz and getting new FP's. We rode IaSW then the Carousel. I headed back to Buzz, and tried to grab a new FP at WtP. What's up with the FP for WtP being over at Philharmagic?!?? The CM at WtP pointed in some obscure direction and said "it's over at Phil". I ended up at a gift shop and asked a CM and she walked me over and explained that she gets this all the time. I guess my persistance pays off at this point because we got a bonus FP for Dumbo! Yippee! We head back to Buzz, grab a snack at Cosmic Ray's and kill a few minutes before we head back to WtP. We do WtP and then head over to Dumbo. By this point mom and dad and poor DH are at the parks so Blake and I meet them at PoC. PoC, HM, Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise and HoP all make it on our check off list. My dad is a military/history buff. Normally I don't do HoP but for him I put it on the list. It was a nice 30 or so minute reprieve from the crowds. After this we head back to the "house" for lunch. Later on we go back for Wishes and some of the bigger rides with the older kids. GREAT day!!!

    Enough food for sustainable life.... check
    Perfect room............................ check
    the tickets....check
    ECV service...check
    the parks......check
    meeting Mickey Mouse....
    did the surley 14 year old and grumpy 17 year old end up having a good time.......
     
  5. a742246

    a742246 And, and, and I caught a fish this big!

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    Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. You are a very good writer.
     
  6. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    THANK you!!!
     
  7. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    We have been "practicing" for this moment for quite some time....

    It started at Christmas when we visited Santa....
    [​IMG]

    ummm, not a good experience...sigh

    So we tried again.....

    [​IMG]

    nope...... let's try this again....

    [​IMG]

    There!!! (and I have to add that Santa in this picture was awesome! He wasn't great with parents but with the kids he rocked! He picked up the ball and started playing with the baby until he was comfortable enough to get near him)

    So that brings us to-
    [​IMG]

    He LOVED Mickey!
     
  8. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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  9. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    Well...the 14 year old asked over and over what each ride was about and whether it turned her upside down or not. I incorrectly told her twice that although the ride was fast it didn't go upside-down...oops. Some things she chose to forgo, others she just closed her eyes when it got too overwhelming. She declared that next time she will have a blast since she knows what each of the rides are about now.

    The 17 year old really got into it at the end. At one point she stated that if she had to be a princess to live in the castle then she'd do it (she's NOT girly-girly at ALL). She was also very disappointed that we somehow missed Tinkerbell flying overhead during Wishes. It is on her "to-do" list for next time.

    They went off to DTD for dinner by themselves one night. I was very proud of them for venturing out!! They also wanted to ride the monorail one night so they got on a bus and rode over to MK and rode the monorail around. The 17 yo called and asked how to get back from AK and that somehow the monorail dropped them off there.... umm no... I THINK they got off at the TTC but I'm still not sure. They had to ask a security guard how to make their way back to OKW. Just about the time I was going to start heading their way to find them they called to say they were on a bus.

    (My bonus kiddos aren't world travelers. Actually they've led a pretty sheltered life. Instead of big vacations like I did with my kids, they had horses and rodeo'd around the country. Stock shows and such they can handle.... subways, taxis, airports, etc aren't too familiar to them. Someday we need to do a big city trip to someplace like NYC. My own kids have been a few times. Each time they've been there they have been handed a map of the city that included points of interest, our location and subway maps and told they had to navigate us to a location of their choosing.)

    Here's a picture that they took. They initiated talking to the photographer and everything. The older kids took the younger two under their wings and showed them WDW through the eyes of teenagers.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I had to add this one because I don't know that I've ever seen my boys this happy.... we were at Monster Cafe in US and the baby looked over at his brother and said "I NEED my bubba!" Being seperated for 7 months was tough for both of them.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. disfanforlife

    disfanforlife DIS Veteran

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    Love your report! I have never considered cooking while on vacation but with your methods I might. Especially since our kids are getting older and would like to bring friends and or boyfriends with them too. Also, our daughter is interested in the. College Disney program too. I hope that she will be able to participate in it. It seems like a great opportunity!
     
  12. traceyg

    traceyg Mouseketeer

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    My two bonus kiddos and my husband are chow hounds. Each of them can easily wipe out an entire sit down meal at the parks. Mom and Dad are moderate eaters and the older kids and I could share one plate and still have left overs. My daughter's boyfriend is a chow hound as well. That's a minimum of 7-8 meals every time we'd eat, including drinks that would put us around $200 for a sit down or $80 (or better) for counter service. Economically it made sense for us as long as I wasn't stuck in the kitchen for hours. Time is money, especially at WDW. The use of crockpots and short cuts (like precut lettuce and shredded cheese, etc) minimized the time that I was cooking. I love WDW and I love WDW food. With that being said there's something about being gone for a week and eating out the entire time that just doesn't agree with my stomach after awhile. By day 3 or 4 I am not feeling the best. I don't know if it's spices, oils or what. Cooking in the room provided us with "home cooking" that didn't hurt our stomachs after a week.

    I HIGHLY recommend the College Program. My son is thinking about reapplying. He has lived in the dorms of a very large university and also at a small college. He has worked retail and has been a waiter at Cracker Barrel. He's had life experiences in "the real world" of employment and taking care of himself. None of that compared to being an employee at WDW. He learned so much while he was gone. I really think its the closest thing to sending your kid off to the army without enlisting them. That's not to say that it's not a fun experience though. He worked food service at a moderate hotel- not exactly glamourous but it was a means to a paycheck. He made some friendships there that he still maintains. He had some really good times being with "kids" his own age and doing things around Florida. Last week (here at home) he had his wallet stolen and the one thing that really bothered him was that he still had his Disney ID card in it. Of the credit cards, driver license, social security card, and countless other things, his Disney ID was the first thing he remembered. Luckily the thief grabbed the credit cards and dropped the wallet so he got his ID back.
    Side note: I would highly recommend having her take a car with her if she goes. My son would have to leave the apartment hours early to make it to work on time. There's a scheduled bus that goes to WalMart but if you're working you don't get to go. My son was in an apartment with 5 other guys and from the sounds of it I think it was kind of a bachelor pad of sorts, as in there were Ramen noodles and tv dinners but no real food. He said he'd run out of food sometimes and have to borrow from a roommate. One time there wasn't anything in the cabinets but odds and ends and he really didn't eat for a day or so. After his rent was taken out sometimes he'd be left with like $20 so he had to budget wisely. Buying counter service food at his job wasn't a good economic investment and if they caught you taking anything you'd get termed. It goes back to him learning how to take care of himself. I know he probably didn't budget his time wisely to get to WalMart but if he'd had a car he could have just gone when he got off of work. Long story short- if she needs to grow up, its a good way to get her there without risking her safety, if she's already years ahead then she'll do just fine. Be prepared to send money. When I asked my son why he didn't call me when he was out of food he said that he was sorry for having to ask for things. I would have gladly had pizza delivered. If he goes back he will take his car this time.
     
  13. disfanforlife

    disfanforlife DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing. All of that is great information! Our daughter is 17 and a high school senior. She is going to majoring in Marketing. This summer she has a job at a restaurant - before that she mainly babysat for work. But, our whole family LOVES Disney. I know that she would love to do the college program but not sure what year she will want to do it. She needs to go to college for at least a year first and then decide. She will be doing that at the end of August.
    Our next trip to Disney will be without our two daughters since they will be in school when we go. BUT, we are bringing another family with us who have 3 kids and of course our 12 year DS. So, we will have a full villa. I think we will stick with the dining plan this time because this family has never been to Disney and they want to try all of the restaurants. Hopefully, the next year we will bring our daughters when they have a break - and will try some cooking in the villa.
     

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