I can't think of a better place to turn 30! ~ Oct 2014 PTR (Update 8/2)

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by freckles04, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    hello and welcome!

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    ~ to my first ever pre-trip report! ~


    We are planning our 4th family vacation to Walt Disney World and I'd love to have a place to document and share my thoughts!
    Our trip will take place in October of 2014. We loved our Fall Break 2013 trip so much that we hope to make it a yearly thing!
    & we think we found our "perfect" time of year for Disney.

    As stated in the title, I will be turning 30 on this trip. (Actually, my birthday is the day before we leave, but that doesn't really matter, right? ;))

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    I'm SUPER excited about spending such a milestone birthday at my happy place! :cool1:
    It definitely softens the blow of leaving my 20's behind.

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    Thanks, Grumpy Cat. ;)
    Now, onto the good stuff!

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    [​IMG] introductions
    [​IMG] we're booked!
    [​IMG] travel details
    [​IMG] mickey mail and other things
    [​IMG] beach trip mini trip-report
    [​IMG] itinerary
    [​IMG] FP+ selection day!
     
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  3. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~introductions~

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    ~ me ~ My name is Emily. I'm an RN and definitely the biggest Disney fan of the family.
    I love all things Disney: WDW, movies, music, characters. You name it and more than likely, I'm a fan!

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    May 2014

    [oh how i love thee, instagram filters ;)]


    ~ my SO ~ Matt is my SO. He's almost 35. He loves WDW because we all have so much fun together,
    but he's not as big of a freak about it as me, and doesn't care about the planning. He just loves the fun & family time.
    Perfect partner for an OCD WDW planner such as myself.

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    October 2013

    ~ DS ~ Our DS Matthew is 10 and will be a 5th grader by trip time.
    He's into football, basketball, and swimming, among many other things.
    He loves actually going to Disney World but sometimes gets tired of hearing me talk about plans for our next trip. :/
    He likes to ask what-if's such as: "What would you do with a million
    dollars?" And then blurts loudly to me: AND YOU CAN'T SAY MOVE
    TO DISNEY WORLD, MOM. bwahaha. he knows me well.


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    January 2014 - He was a reluctant Beast but played it well.

    & here's us together on our Fall Break 2013 trip.

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    that's it for introductions... I tried to keep it short and sweet. If you're still reading along, thanks! :woohoo:

     
  4. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~we're booked!~


    We will be staying for 9 nights at our favorite resort, Pop Century! in a Preferred Pool View room. I'm a little nervous about extra noise in the main area of the resort, but I'm packing a fan for white noise.

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    We've included 8-day Waterpark Fun & More tickets, as we will more than likely spend a couple of days at the water parks and/or Downtown Disney and Disney Quest. I'm wondering, though, if I shouldn't have just gone with the 10-day pass, but my thinking is that we can add more days if we need them. I have read some horror stories about hassles trying to add days from clueless CM's, so hopefully it won't be a problem.

    This will also be our first time EVER to have Park Hopper tickets. I'm hoping it will lend a bit more spontaneity to our trip.

    Backstory: Our last trip was in January of 2014. With the fairly recent credit card guarantee policy for ALL restaurant reservations, along with having to keep up with FP+ reservations, we decided to try a less-scheduled approach this trip and just go with the flow.

    Go with the flow... and stop to smell the roses!

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    I have a few things planned (such as MNSSHP, or certain EMH's that we want to hit) but mostly, we're just going to do whatever we feel like doing at the moment. Isn't that what vacation is all about? Heck, we might even go to a park just because it was the first bus to pull up.

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    So far, we have made ONE ADR.

    ~one ADR!~

    That's a huge change for us, folks, as we are a one-ADR-per-day family, if not two a day!

    Our one ADR happens to be at Sci-Fi Dine-In, which is DS's only MUST DO.
    The rest of our meals will be Counter Service. Speaking of which, guess which promotion I finally got in on, after years of trying???

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    That's right! Our stay at Pop comes complete with FREE Quick-Service Dining, which I booked online the morning it was released to the public. It was sold out for our dates by the next day, so I am eternally grateful for the heads-up from Disboarders who are in the know. You guys rock!

    ~heck yeah!~

     
  5. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~travel details~

    Every trip up until January of 2014, we have made the 14 hour drive to WDW. Even as a kid... drove. Every time, that dang drive got longer and longer. And the drive home? LONGEST. DRIVE. EVER. pure torture.

    Can ya tell I'm not a fan of road trips?

    So for our January trip, since it was only 5 nights, I couldn't bear the thought of making that drive and turning right around and making it again! I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself enough just thinking about that drive. Luckily for me, in November of 2013, Southwest Airlines with their amazingly awesome fares & free bag policy came to Memphis.

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    HELLO, FLYING!!!!

    I will never.ever.ever.ever.ever drive back to WDW again!

    Our travel day will consist of:
    1. 1-hour drive to airport
    2. 2-hour flight
    3. arrive to Orlando in the early afternoon
    4. board the Magical Express and enjoy the ride!!!

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    & on departure day, we'll do the reverse. only, it will be a sad ride to the airport. :(

    still better than a sad 14-hour drive home. so YEAH! :)

     
  6. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~ mickey mail and other things ~

    A few days ago, we got some Mickey Mail!

    It was a booklet featuring the Incredibles and was full of information I already know about MDE, FP+, and MagicBands. :rotfl:

    I did enjoy the Welcome Back on this particular page because we can't wait to be back!

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    But the best part about the booklet was a magnet which has important dates on it.

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    I know now we can make FP+ on August 2nd... but, I only plan to use that information to make sure we get a 7DMT FP+ on the days I know we'll be in MK. Which I need to obviously decide by August 2nd. :scratchin :laughing:

    Now for the "other things" bit... just wanted to share my latest Etsy purchase... a Hakuna Matata case for my iPhone.

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    My old case broke awhile back, and I finally found a new one that I love. The old case was plain black, so I'm excited to have one that's not only pretty, but Disney-themed!

    It came from this Etsy shop: iCaseBeauty

    It's shipping from Hong Kong, so we'll see how long it'll take to get here. :)

    We have just under 2 weeks til our beach vacation, so I expect the Disney planning to ramp up once we get back. :wizard:

     
  7. jmskinner

    jmskinner DIS Veteran

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    Hi! Saw you had subscribed to my PTR, so thought I would follow yours.

    That whole FP+ doesn't really allow for winging it now.

    And I would love to stop and smell the roses while at WDW, but my DH never takes the time. Most of my pics have him walking away from me, not mad or anything, he just won't slow down. He has to ride, not look at everything. But then he will look at my pics and say "Where was that?" :rolleyes:

    I understand not wanting to drive to WDW. Since moving to VA, the only way down is I-95 and when it is only 2 lanes through NC and SC, it is one of the scariest interstates.

    Hope you have a fabulous beach trip!
     
  8. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    Hey, thanks for following along!

    Yes, the whole FP+ thing is fighting my every move at a spontaneous trip. I know from our last trip that early October is very crowded; I recall Test Track reaching 100+ minute waits by 10AM or so. Just an example. I'm really conflicted on this and may do a little more planning than I (or my DS) want to do. Last October we had no problem changing our FP+ selections the morning of, but that was still during testing phase... a lot more people are using it now, including off-site folks.

    And an interstate with only 2 lanes? Do you mean 2 lanes on each side? Or literally just two lanes? 'Cause that sounds just plain scary! When we drive, we go through Nashville, down to Chattanooga, Atlanta, then straight down through GA to FL. The interstate itself is not a bad trip, it's just the sheer length of time that makes me go crazy. lol.
     
  9. jmskinner

    jmskinner DIS Veteran

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    It's two lanes in both directions, but there is so much traffic it is bumper to bumper going 70 mph.
     
  10. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~ beach trip ~

    Just returned from 5 nights on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL. We had a great time!

    Gulf Shores is a cute little tourist town. It has lots of souvenir shops, restaurants, a water park, parasailing, fishing excursions, etc. And of course, white sandy beaches.

    We stayed right on the main "strip" or Beach Blvd in a condo rented from VRBO. The complex is called The Boardwalk. It's very no-frills (no gym or sauna etc.) but did have a pool right on the beach. Since it's not a high-rise like many condos in Gulf Shores, our beach was very uncrowded.

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    The condo was 1 bedroom 1 bath, but it had a VERY comfortable sleeper sofa. It also had a full kitchen, balcony, huge TV, washer/dryer in unit, king sized bed. Amazing what you can get for your money anywhere else vs. Disney. :laughing:

    I loved the kitchen. Fully stocked with anything you would need for cooking. We only went out for meals 3 times.

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    Living room with amazing beachfront view.

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    Where I had my morning coffee and muffin every day:

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    Full balcony view. We did share the beach with the Sea n Suds restaurant. We never ate there because it has pretty terrible reviews on TripAdvisor. (The food they cooked smelled very greasy.)

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    We did a lot of playing on the beach & in the water.

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    Our favorite restaurant was Cosmo's in Orange Beach, AL.

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    Great atmosphere and the food was fantastic. I had the Sea Bass wrapped in a banana leaf, which is their specialty. It was incredible.

    Our condo was in easy walking distance to many of the shops, we so spent one evening just going from one to another and browsing all the kitschy souvenir places. Souvenir City has been there since the 1950's.

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    I recall getting my picture made in the shark's mouth when I was a kid.

    DS loved visiting all the arcades in the area (money pit that they are!!!)

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    On our last day, we ate at Lulu's, the restaurant owned by Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lucy Buffett. The restaurant is open air but has cool air blowing, so it's great for outdoor eating on a hot summer day while still enjoying that outdoor feeling. The fried green tomatoes were to die for.

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    Overall, we had a nice, relaxing trip. Now it's time for some real Disney planning. :hyper:

     
  11. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    Gotcha. Sounds like it's time for them to do some expansion in that area... but what a pain construction is, too!
     
  12. Alysa

    Alysa DIS Veteran

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    Great trip report so far, and I have to follow along with someone who quotes David Bowie!
     
  13. Mickeyj73

    Mickeyj73 Earning My Ears

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    I love hearing about your trip planning. We are also going to WDW October 5-13. We too are a family of 3 with my son being 12 when we go.We have gone every year since my son was 6 months old but once he hit 9 he wanted a Disney break - can you believe anyone not wanting to go back to Disney! Anyway my son asked if we could go back now that he can ride everything - So of course I said YES !!! I can't wait to go to MNSSHP for the first time and we are staying at Saratoga Springs in a 2 bedroom villa for the first time. Can't wait to read more about your trip - who knows maybe we will end up in the same park one day!!!::cool1::cool1::wave2::wave2:
     
  14. RooRach0906

    RooRach0906 "Oh Goody, Horray!"

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    Joining in! How awesome to celebrate your birthday in Disney! Yay for free dining. Flying does make you never want to drive again. Your beach trip looked awesome. Can't wait to hear more.
     
  15. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    Right on! :thumbsup2 Glad to have you!

    Maybe so!!! Our trip last year was October 5-13! We had a great trip. We never took DS to Disney until he was 8 and we were in a better place financially. I wish we could have taken him when he was little and believed all the characters were real. :) Saratoga Springs looks lovely. I'd like to stay deluxe sometime!

    I know, I'm so excited! If I have to turn 30, I may as well do it in my happy place. princess: We had a great trip to the beach but it was no Disney.. haha! The first day DS declared it was better than Disney, but by the last day admitted defeat by saying he DID like Disney better after all... he got tired of having sand in strange places. :scratchin heh!
     
  16. DisneyDarling13

    DisneyDarling13 Mouseketeer

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    I'm joining in!!!! I'll be in WDW for my 30th celebration too! We are going Sept. 16-30, but I turn 30 on Oct. 13 (that's okay, a little early celebrating never hurt anyone!) Love your report so far!!!
     
  17. ZehnJahren

    ZehnJahren DIS Veteran

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    I'm joining in; I'll be at WDW for my 36th birthday celebration at the same time you're there! So excited now; it's getting so close!
     
  18. jmskinner

    jmskinner DIS Veteran

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    The beach trip sounds nice and very relaxing. People don't seem to realize that with high rises come more people on the beach. :sad2: Looks like you had a great location.
     
  19. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    Happy early birthday to you then!!! Wear that birthday button with pride! :woohoo:

    Awesome! I hope to celebrate my 36th at Disney too! A birthday isn't so bad when you're in your happy place!

    Other than sharing it with the restaurant, it was perfect! We had a lovely time.
     
  20. freckles04

    freckles04 DIS Veteran

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    ~itinerary~

    Hi guys! Sorry for the lack of updating. I've been busy with work and getting DS ready for back to school (schools here start August 1!).

    We spent the last few evenings as a family watching Star Wars, which we have actually never seen even though we LOVE riding Star Tours! We watched A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. We all really liked them and want to see the newer movies now as well. Now I'm hoping to get DS in on some Jedi Training action at DHS one morning of our trip.

    As our date to make FP+ selections draws near (August 2), I'm thinking we cannot be as spontaneous as I'd like. If we want any good FastPasses... I'm going to have to at least pick a "main" park per day.

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    Thanks, Disney.

    So here's what I've come up with so far. I tried to mostly just pick a park to book FP+ in and leave park hopping and other activites open for spontaneity.
    Also, only a few rope drops. I think I will set an alarm on only 2 mornings this trip (instead of every morning like I normally do!).
    (Not that we are late sleepers really. I get up at about 5AM to go to work so sleeping until 7 or 8 is VACATION for me :))

    Day 1: Arrive to MCO at 2:30pm. Get checked in and unpacked. Head to DisneyQuest.
    Day 2: Epcot. At break time (we almost always do afternoon breaks) swing by the Dolphin to get the rental car. Don't know if we'll go back to Epcot or hop.
    Day 3: MK. 7DMT FP+ for sure somewhere in there. It's a party night so we might leave after the afternoon parade. Maybe park hop or do something else.
    Day 4: DHS (AM EMH) til after our lunch ADR at Sci-Fi. We'll take the car for an easy trip over to one of the water parks. Chill the rest of the day. MK EMH at night (thanks, Disney, for suddenly moving this EMH to a Saturday which is already going to be super crowded!
    Day 5: Sleep in, water park/DisneyQuest/whatever. Would like to hit up Epcot at night for Food & Wine. It's a Sunday night so maybe won't be too terrible.
    Day 6: AK.
    Day 7: Not really sure, but maybe MK. Will make 7DMT FP+ in any case.
    Day 8: DHS and first thing sign up for Jedi Training.
    Day 9: Going to make some FP+ for Epcot. Returning the car this day. 90% sure on MNSSHP this night, but haven't committed to tickets yet.
    Day 10: Departure day. Will have to be at the bus stop for DME by 12:30 or so. We are early risers even after late nights, so I added on an extra day of tickets (cost me like 30 bucks) in case we happen to get up early and want to squeeze in a little park time. We did that in January and enjoyed it so we'll see.​

    & that's it, really, for now.

    OH, one more thing. Do you guys ever look up Disney Parks music on youtube? It so gets me into a good mood! My favorite is the Tomorrowland music loop and the Star Tunnel music from Space Mountain. Makes me almost feel like I'm there. :) & what's really funny... it almost kinda makes me feel homesick!

     
  21. SarahDisney

    SarahDisney DIS Veteran

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    Hey! I saw the link to your PTR you signature when you commented on mine, so I figured I’d come check it out.

    When we were there last year, we only did FP+ in advance 2 of 3 days … the other day we made our selections morning of. It may be harder to do that now, though, because the FP+ sells out more – when we were there, it was still in the early stages of FP+. Since you’re there for long enough to spend more than one day at each park, you may want to pick one day to do FP+ for each park, and the rest of the days you can see what’s available once you’ve chosen a park. You may not get everything you want when you choose the morning of, but you might get lucky and get something good (or maybe you’ll have a chance to try a ride you don’t normally do).

    I do think the old Fastpass system allowed for more spontaneity … we used to see the fastpass return times that were available and change our schedule on
    the fly based on that.

    I think if you’re willing to put up with some longer lines, you can still be a little spontaneous … it’s jut not quite as fun or as easy as it used to be.
     

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