How a trip to Hawaii ended up in Orlando...AKA "Why eBags.com Hates Me"

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by janiebegood, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    For the past four years or so, my DH and I have planned to make a special, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary -- New Year's Eve 2008. I made reservations for a beachfront efficiency on Maui and checked into some touring options. All that remained was purchasing plane tickets.

    Ten months prior to our departure, I went online to search for decent flight options. Two hours later, in tears, I drove up to our local AAA office, plopped myself in a chair and sniffed, "HELP! I can't find any flights to Maui for less than $1,700!" Two MORE hours later, even Stacy, my sweet AAA travel agent, was getting a little weepy. Nothing. Nada. Terrible prices, terrible schedules. We were looking at spending a minimum of $5,000 just on airfare, and then still had to pay for that beachfront efficiency, a rental car, all our meals and any touring we wanted to do.

    Time for Plan B! We found that for less than half the cost of that Maui trip, we could go to Disney World -- at holiday season rates -- for four nights, including a theme-park view room at the Polynesian, airfare, park hopper tickets and Disney Dining Plan. We could fly direct, stay in the same time zone, and have access to a superior child activity center for our DD so we could celebrate our anniversary with a special grown-ups-only dinner.

    Now, any time I add something to our trip, usually in the form of something I've bought that the DIS boards have convinced me I can't live without, my DH says, "Is it still less than it costs to go to Hawaii? Okay."

    While many of you are on a quest for the perfect Disney vacation, I hold no such illusions. The only perfect trip is the one in my mind, where the crowds are manageable, the weather is delightful, and I manage to enjoy a leisurely meal at Coral Reef with an ADR time of 7:40 PM and still make it to the World Showcase in time for IllumiNations at 9 PM. See? It's a perfect fantasy.

    In this fantasy, my DD (who will have just turned 7) is the even-tempered, cooperative, lovely child that she is 90% of the time, and my DH, Disney curmudgeon that he is, gets so heavily sprinkled with pixie dust that he sneezes convulsively for the first hour, then enjoys himself immensely.

    Part of this fantasy also includes that most elusive of treasures -- The Perfect Disney Bag. It's not too small. It's not too big. It's comfortable yet stylish. It's easy to get into, yet secure from pickpockets. It has a place for everything, yet doesn't get in the way on rides. It's lightweight AND sturdy; it's well-constructed AND reasonably priced.

    So far, I can mostly show you what is NOT The Perfect Disney Bag.

    Too Small:

    Baggallini Wallet.Bagg (Small):
    http://www.ebags.com/baggallini/wallet_bagg_small_microfiber/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=5790

    Sherpani Cres:
    http://www.ebags.com/sherpani/cres_08/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=109294

    Classic Cotton Vera Bradley Hipster ("old" style): http://www.ebags.com/vera_bradley/hipster_new_colors/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=118196

    Too Big:

    Microfiber Vera Bradley Hipster: http://www.ebags.com/vera_bradley/hipster/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=109506

    Sherpani Vida: http://www.ebags.com/sherpani/vida/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=82452

    (In the Vida's defense, this is the bag I carry every day, and I'll be taking it on vacation, so it could still get some play -- much depends on the weather. If I need a pocket umbrella and an extra layer of polar fleece, I give the edge to the Vida).

    Close, But Not PERFECT:

    Everest Waist Pouch: http://www.amazon.com/Fanny-Phone-P...bbs_5?ie=UTF8&s=apparel&qid=1218906267&sr=8-5

    Pluses: The price is right -- $8.95. I like the idea of wearing all my stuff instead of carrying it. It actually holds all my crap and still has room leftover. It's got outside pockets for cell phone and KTTW.

    Minuses: It's a flippin' fanny pack. And the latch only works in one direction -- if you fasten the latch backwards because you accidentally twisted the strap, it's darn near impossible to open. I had ordered a small one for my DD to wear, but she fastened it the wrong way the first time she tried it on and I thought she might still be wearing it when she left for college -- that's how hard it was to get undone. We've moved on to a more forgiving product for her.

    Undaunted, I have now ordered this:

    Heys USA TravelMate: http://www.ebags.com/heys_usa/travelmate_reg/product_detail/index.cfm?modelid=97266

    I ordered it in gray, figuring I could con my DH into wearing it if necessary. :thumbsup2 I'll keep you posted as the quest continues!

    UPDATE (August 25): Well, the Heys TravelMate is nice...but not The One. The flap drove me nuts. It felt like cracking a safe just to get to my chapstick. Back it goes!

    UPDATE: Vera Bradley has re-styled the Hipster! I exchanged the Microfiber Hipster for a Classic Cotton Hipster in the new style. I got Caffe Latte. The re-design is much more Disney-friendly, since it includes two secure outside pockets (one with a zip, one with a snap), plus three slip-in pockets on the interior. One is even wide enough for my glasses case! Yay!

    Here's the link to the re-styled VB Hipster: http://www.verabradley.com/Site/Store/ProductDetail.aspx?Sku=10447&

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Additional Posts:

    1) "Our ADRs -- Sheer Dumb Luck? Or Pixie Fairy Intervention?"
    Click here: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=26962944&postcount=4

    2) "Why You See 'ARMED NATIVE' bumper-stickers in Orlando"
    Click here: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=26977470&postcount=15
     
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  3. sherreis

    sherreis DIS Veteran

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    I'm first! What a great way to celebrate your 20th anniversary - ours is in March. And, I see in your siggie that it's your DDs first trip. 2 great things! I like that bag - I think I'm going to go take another look. I have a e-bags gift card to use.
     
  4. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Hi, sherreis! Congrats on your upcoming 20th!

    I went to return the VB Microfiber hipster only to find that they've retooled the design on the cotton quilted one, to distinct advantage! So I came home with one of those instead of just getting my money back. It now includes two secure pockets on the outside (a zipped one in back, and a magnetic secure snap on front), plus three inside slip pockets (one wide, two narrower). The profile is slightly more "squat" -- it looks a little shorter and a little wider than the previous model, so its silhouette is a little more streamlined.

    I like it! Whether it's The Perfect Disney Bag is still up in the air, but at least it's another option. Still hoping that Heys USA TravelMate will be the humdinger.
     
  5. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    I tend to be a little OCD about planning stuff. I think y'all will admit that Disney pretty much caters to the OCD in all of us (at least we DISers).

    Having said that, I have to say I think the whole 180 +10 ADR thing is NUTS. It rewards those of us with mild to moderate freakishly obsessive tendencies and punishes everyone else by making it hard to sit down and eat anywhere at WDW at any time unless you planned it months in advance. In my personal, humble opinion, whoever designed this system -- which requires you to know where you're eating dinner before you even know what hours a park will be open -- should be FIRED.

    (I'm a little passionate about this topic...moving along)

    Because of those tendencies noted above, I didn't let myself dive into any real planning (including haunting the DISboards) until after I got all my ADRs set. In other words, I put a HUGE, loaded-down cart in front of my poor little pony and said, "PULL, little pony! PULL!" Now, of course, I know better, and I really do think some little pixie fairy was guiding my hand, because we got some excellent ADRs, and we're lucky it didn't all go horribly wrong.

    Here are our four TS ADRs:

    Tuesday, Dec. 30: Cinderella's 'Happily Ever After' Dinner at 1900 Park Fare @ 6:15 PM.

    Wednesday, Dec. 31: 'Ohana at the Polynesian @ 7:00 PM

    Thursday, Jan. 1: Coral Reef at EPCOT at 7:40 PM

    Friday, Jan. 2: Princess Storybook Breakfast at Akershus @ 8:30 AM

    When I booked the trip, I didn't know about the New Years' crowds. Had I known, I might have changed my dates; I might not. I realllllllly wanted to be there ON our anniversary, so odds are I still would have kept our dates. But! I didn't know about the possibility of MK closing due to capacity on the 30th and 31st. No way, no how will we be at a park from rope-drop to close, or even rope-drop to ADR, frankly, and if I'd planned a CRT or CP dinner for either of those days, I think we'd have been screwed.

    Instead, we're at the two resorts on those crazy busy days, away from (at least some of) the maddening crowd. My fantasy includes watching the fireworks either from 'Ohana or the beach that night while my DD is contentedly ensconced at the NeverLand Club. Oh, yeah, I made reservations at the NeverLand Club for both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day -- another haphazardly excellent decision, it turns out, since NYE is one of their busiest nights and often fills to capacity.

    I briefly considered both CRT and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show, but opted for 1900 Park Fare and 'Ohana instead because they each only require 1 TS, as does the PSB at Akershus. It seems like we're making good use of our TS meals, and the only one that requires real effort on our part is the Coral Reef dinner, since we'll have to leave MK, take DD to NLC, and catch the monorail to EPCOT in time for our ADR.

    We're planning to bring breakfast stuff with us and use our CS meals for lunches, leaving us with 1 dinner and 1 breakfast to pay for OOP. I've made an ADR at Kona Cafe for our departure morning -- gotta try the Tonga Toast while we're at the Poly!

    Next up: The source of my DH's curmudgeonness
     
  6. PrincessToozie

    PrincessToozie Mouseketeer

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    Love it so far...cant wait for more....hoping to go to the Poly soon!
     
  7. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Oooh, PrincessToozie -- only SIX DAYS until your trip!?!?!? YAY!

    (PS -- both my parents are from South Jersey -- my dad from Millville and my mom from Wildwood!)
     
  8. PrincessToozie

    PrincessToozie Mouseketeer

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    Ok...not too far from Millville...I am in Deptford, about 20 min or so away! Cant wait to get back to the World!! Staying at Pop Century for a whole 8 days!!! Yay!!!:banana:
     
  9. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Even better, it sounds like you will miss whatever havoc Fay is going to wreak early in the week.
     
  10. Me&3

    Me&3 DIS Veteran

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    I'm in can't wait to hear morepopcorn:: .
     
  11. AZMickeyfans

    AZMickeyfans <font color=purple>It's in the attitude woman! I l

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    :wave: Sounds great so far. I'm joining! I hear you on the not so perfect bag crisis. I have this frequently.

    Looking forward to hearing more!
     
  12. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Hee, Me&3! Welcome!
     
  13. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    What's a PTR race, AZMickeyfans?

    The bag thing...I tell you...it's gone beyond a quest. Now, it's a HUNT. It's practically a CRUSADE. :)
     
  14. AZMickeyfans

    AZMickeyfans <font color=purple>It's in the attitude woman! I l

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    Our Pre-Trip Report Race to October. I need to rename that dont I?:lmao: i get lazy at midnight!
     
  15. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Ooh! I'll go read all about it! :)
     
  16. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    What turned my DH into a Disney Curmudgeon? It all started in 1996, when my DH got offered a promotion and we moved to Orlando. The city population had experienced a boom so big it bordered on nuclear from 1990 - 1996, going from a relatively lazy town of 300,000 to a city of 1.3 million.

    Add in 44 million tourists going 80 MPH in mini-vans, convertibles, and Jeep Wranglers, and untold numbers of Snowbirds going 45 MPH in the fast lane in Cadillacs and Buick Regals, multiply that by the single highway artery -- Interstate 4 -- snaking through the middle of downtown Orlando on its way from Jacksonville to Tampa, and you can begin to understand why it doesn't take long to wish you had the cojones to slap one of those "ARMED NATIVE" stickers on your bumper.

    Traffic was (and I imagine still is) a nightmare. The first time we drove down to the Magic Kingdom from our house north of the city center, we left MK at 3:45 PM and arrived home -- a distance of 24 miles -- at 7:00 PM. The first time I drove alone on I-4, my husband gave me the following advice: "Go with the speed of traffic." The speed of traffic that day? 78 MPH. I think it took years off my life.

    My husband's work, which involved managing offices and warehouses in Orlando and Tallahassee, brought him in contact with a variety of people, including those we came to refer to as, "Lyin', cheatin', stealin' %$#hole crooks." And that was just his employees! During his tenure, they had a credit card thief among the office staff, and it turned out one of his most trusted warehouse empolyees was selling company product out of the trunk of his car on the side. My husband staked out the warehouse and caught him red-handed loading stuff in his car; meanwhile, that same night, the local sheriff's department raided the storage units adjacent to the warehouse, where some class act was running a brothel. Out of a storage unit.

    One of DH's customers was a pair of large hotels very near Disney, with a very close relationship to Disney. To protect them and him, I won't say which ones, but they were VERY PARTICULAR about their products, and he had many a meeting to placate hotel staff over imagined slights and impossible requests.

    So his view of Disney is this kind of behind-the-scenes, utterly practical, absolutely unmagical, everyday business crapola way of looking at things.

    In other words, Tinkerbell ain't sprinkling no pixie dust on Orange Blossom Trail.

    My DH has told me he thinks he has three Disney trips in him. He's counting that daytrip we took in 1997, when it took more than three hours to drive 24 miles. In fact, if you ask him about that visit, he'll mention two things: our niece got selected to be in the parade, and our three-hour commute. Our upcoming anniversary extravaganza is his second trip, and he figures he might have one more in him.

    Meanwhile, I already tried to book the Wilderness Lodge for December 2009, but made the mistake of telling DH about it! He nixed that plan, saying we have to go on one trip before beginning to plan another. Ha! Little does he know!

    In his defense, I do tend to want to repeat things. If I loved a beach trip, a restaurant, a movie, whatever, I want to do it over and over. Sometimes it's just as great the second time, but often it's not, and he's worried that doing a second trip so quickly, the bloom will fade. How do I convince him he's wrong? I'm ready to book the Wilderness Lodge the minute we get back! I want to know that we've got a trip planned for a less crowded time so I won't worry so much about what we don't get to on this trip. Am I silly? Am I wrong?

    Next up: Attraction Planning By Committee…or…"Our little backseat driver has her say."
     
  17. Me&3

    Me&3 DIS Veteran

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    The traffic is still crazy. I live in South Florida near Fort Lauderdale and Miami and the traffic in my opinion is worse in Orlando. I like your comment about you driving on I-4 traffic is always bad on there no matter what day or time it is. Maybe after this trip your DH will change his mind.
     
  18. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    It's so true -- there are no rush hours, just rush DAYS. ;)
     
  19. AZMickeyfans

    AZMickeyfans <font color=purple>It's in the attitude woman! I l

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    Oh, I lived there the same time as you did and :scared1: Orlando Traffic was scary. I also remember it raining so hard my little Dodge Neon stalled on the I-4 at one point. Not cool.
     
  20. janiebegood

    janiebegood Mouseketeer

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    Shawna, I was driving a 1990 Honda Civic back then, and it hydroplaned so badly on a turn that I slid all the way across the median and ended up facing in the opposite direction on Hwy 434. SO SCARY!!! I wasn't even going fast -- my tires completely lost traction on the road and off I went! Fortunately, nobody was coming into that opposite left lane; I'd have hit them for sure!

    Can I ask -- how do you get your links to appear with text? I'm used to getting a text box to fill in and then add the link, but I only seem to be able to get the URL itself to hyperlink -- I'm not offered a text box for overwriting the URL.
     

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