"Let us plan our escape!" - Adults only for F&W/1st DVC-Oct '14 PTR(TR Link Post #99)

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by skier_pete, Jun 23, 2014.

  1. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    Hello everyone, and welcome to my newest Pre-Trip Report! If you're a long-time DIS friend, you know the drill, but if you have mistakenly decided that this tale of trip planning may be interested to you, I'll start with a little background.

    First of all, the cast of characters is very small in this case.

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    There are only two, myself, Skier_Pete, 8-year veteran of the DISboards, and certified dis-a-holic. On my left is my DW, Ukeemom on the boards, though don't expect her to ever, ever post. We have been to WDW 10 times now is 1997 - eight since 2006 - as well as two trips to Disneyland including the ABD trip the picture above came from (yup, us entering Club 33), as well as our first Disney cruise this year.

    Missing from that photo, and from this trip, is our DD11. No, she is perfectly OK, we are just leaving her at home with grandma, Otherwise, how would it possibly be an adults only trip?

    So, like every good Disney Pre-Trip report, this one starts with an earlier trip. In fact, this story starts ON our previous trip:

    While we are well enough off, we are far from rich, and as a result we typically can only afford to take one Disney trip per year (yeah, I know poor, poor me). And going into 2014, we knew DD really wanted to do a Disney Cruise, and that if we did a Disney Cruise, that would mean no Disney Park trip! :sick:

    So, while we were spending our last days in the parks in 2013, DW and I decided that we would call up about what sort of bounceback offer we could get.

    Here's us daydreaming about Food and Wine, while DD suspects nothing!

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    They told us we could get BB free Dining for the end of September. It was only a $200 deposit, so we decided to put down a placeholder to come down for 4 days (3 nights) to enjoy an adults only food and wine trip. WE booked for September 27th-30th.

    We got back and discussed how we could afford to pull it off. We figure it would cost us about $1600 to come down for 3 days even with free dining, which was rather a lot, but decided that we would split the costs and each try and save 1/2 that amount. (Normally ALL our vacation $$ comes out of my account, so to have DW pay half made it more "affordable".)

    In February we took our Disney Cruise, and while we had a lot of fun, DW and I both decided it was no Disney Parks trip!

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    By this time we had a little money saved, but it was still very up in the air as to whether we were going to actually go forward with the trip.

    Then I surprised myself. Something made me take a closer look at DVC. I had heard about it before and thought it cost way too much. However, when wandering around the DISboards, I stumbled across the option of buying re-sale, and suddenly the numbers made waaayyyy more sense. We had only ever stayed deluxe once (renting DVC points at AKL) and it is far from a necessity for us, but we DO prefer the moderates. But, without going into the details, when I started to look at the long-term implications, and how DVC would allow us to afford Disney trips into our retirement days, I couldn't say no to the idea.

    Even THIS was not enough to get us to solidify a trip for this year. In fact, my plan was to buy a DVC contract for use in 2015. I had decided to buy at AKL since it is a resort we love, and is one of the less expensive DVCs to by into.


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    Then, as I was watching for a new contract, I came across one that had a good price, and was stripped of 2014 points (a DVC term) but had a bunch of "Freebie" points that had to be used before December 1st of 2014. (Freebie points are a term for points in which the buyer does not have to pay the annual maintenance fee. Because the cost of DVC is the up-front cost plus the annual MF, points without the MF are often consider "Free", though technically you are paying for them with the purchase of the contract.

    Anyways, enough of that boring jargon, we decided that if we could purchase this contract, it would give us our "free" hotel stay. This would actually be better than "free dining" as the problem with free dining for Food and Wine is that you only have 3 snack credits each, so most of Food and Wine would be OOP anyway.

    So, we put a bid in on the contract in mid-March. The bid was accepted within a few days, and then we had to go through the whole DVC re-sale process, which takes about two months.

    In the meantime, we got a really good deal on airfare, with a free flight we were able to book round trip for only $224, so we picked a weekend in October as our best bet, October 16-20th. We would have enough points for 4 nights in a studio at the DVC resorts.

    That week has big significance for us:
    Our 2nd trip to WDW together took place on that week in 2000.
    Our 3rd trip and 1st trip with DD also took place that week in 2003.
    And our 8th trip - the one we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2010 also took place that week. And THAT week we had the most perfect weather we've ever had on a Disney trip!

    Us enjoying an Adult's Only dinner at Jiko from that trip!
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    Sitting together on Aladdin's Magic Carpets
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    Hey, just came across this pic, what's that they're building over there?
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    So, we'd booked the flight, we were committed. Our only problem now is getting the room. See, one of problems with DVC is it at certain times of year, it's really hard to get a room, even months in advance. And the WORST time of year to try and book with short notice is during Food and Wine!

    So -FINALLY in mid-May our contract came through, our points were available and we could book a room.

    So I log on and look for a studio:
    Beach Club and Boardwalk....nothing...well, no surprise.
    Bay Lake Tower, VGF and Wilderness Lodge...nothing...OK, not really a surprise either.
    Animal Kingdom....nope!
    Saratoga Springs? Nada!
    Old Key West. Zip, Zilch, Zero

    S&%T!

    OK, no need to panic. We actually have enough points for a 1-bedroom at a few of the less point-heavy resorts.

    Animal Kingdom...sorry.
    Old Key West....no chance...
    Saratoga Springs....YESSS!!! :worship: :banana::banana:

    Whew! We had just enough points to pull it off 127 freebie points, and we needed 122!

    So, we are IN! Five days / four nights at Walt Disney World, and we are sticking with our original $1600 budget.
    Total Airfare Cost: $224
    Total Room Cost: $0
    Estimated Ticket Cost: $620
    Food budget: Ummmmmm.... :eek:

    Cause there's one main reason we're doing it all. It's all about this place!

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    Yup, Food and Wine Festival. We've been to WDW during Food and Wine season a number of times, but we have never really had the chance to really do it right. And by "do it right" means take multiple days to really taste "around the world". So yes, our food budget is likely going to be more than the Gross National Product of some of these countries represented around World Showcase. But boy is it gonna be worth it!

    So, stick around to see what our plans are, and if you're going to be around the parks, maybe we'll see you there, but if you are there with your kids, you'll excuse us if we don't stick around too long! :rotfl2: There's food to be eaten and beverages to drink!

    Updates / Page Links
    Saratoga Springs as a resort of choice
    Day 1 plans

    Day 2 plans

    Food and Wine Seminars BOOKED!
    Day 3 plans

    Day 4 Plans

    Day 5 Plans

    FP+ Plans

    Mini-TR for Myrtle Beach

    Pictures from 1997 and 2000

    MAGIC BANDS and Be Our Guest
    More updates to come.
     
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  3. Tinker326

    Tinker326 DIS Veteran

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    FIRST!!! :cool1:

    Looking forward to following along with your first DVC vacay!
     
  4. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Oooh, I'm going to miss October trips even more now as I follow along with your plans!! So great that you and DW get a trip to yourselves and you get to use DVC for the first time! :cool1:
     
  5. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Subbing in. Can't wait to read all about it.
     
  6. Dis_Yoda

    Dis_Yoda DIS Veteran

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    You'll learn quickly if you continue to go in the fall - October to December are the high months for DVC demand. I really lucked out getting BWV & BCV at the 7 month marks for F&W but I had to play with the waitlist to get the entire stay & risk having to move.

    Enjoy your first trip as DVC members! SSR is a nice resort - we found it relaxing.
     
  7. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    Wow, you WERE fast! Welcome aboard! Bummed that we couldn't co-ordinate the same weekend, but thems the breaks. I think there is a strong likelyhood we will be taking a trip to Chicago next summer, so hopefully we can get the kids together again then. And we gotta schedule that darn skype!!

    Oh yeah, I feel so bad for you stuck on that awful Viva Italia trip instead! :goodvibes Nope, not jealous, not even one bit...:crazy2:

    Thanks for joining in! I have been keeping up on your EPIC TR, just not always posting comments. You have so many "fans" it's hard to keep up!

    Dis_Yoda - I am a big time believer in understanding the ins and outs of what I am getting into, so I really appreciate any advice. That is awesome that you got into BCV! I didn't think that was remotely possible in the fall. In our case, we were booking at the 5-month mark, which basically meant "forget it".

    I played up the drama of my booking at SSR in my initial post, but truthfully, that was the resort we were targeting in a realistic best case. I'll talk about that a little more in my next update, but for now I'll say I am looking forward to being able to check out the resort, and we definitely hope to spend a little time enjoying it.
     
  8. Teetah

    Teetah Joining in the fun!

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    Following along! We will be there at the same time! Adults only here too...but ours always are! :rotfl2:

    I have always thought about the re-sale - I might have to check into that!
     
  9. Tinker326

    Tinker326 DIS Veteran

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    We may be canceling fall anyways. Kurt was just informed he has mandatory training starting the Sunday after the race. (the race is Saturday night). We had planned to go through Tuesday... it seems silly to spend all that money to head there for like 2 days. We have not 100% agreed to cancel the trip but there is a strong likelihood. Trying to look on the positive side as we are desperately trying to pull together funds to go to Hawaii next summer for our 15th... and this will help that savings fund if we cancel....

    I hope you guys do get to Chicago next summer. It'd be great to spend some time around the city. Perhaps even Wrigley! :)

    Yes, Skype! My girls are at Girl Scout Camp this week......maybe next. Except that's the 4th. Hahahahaha- we'll get it figured out!
     
  10. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    That is cool. I stopped by your PTR and it looks like some of our days may overlap. I don't want to get ahead of my PTR though and "spoil" the plans! I'll be posting more over the next few weeks.

    Oh, that's too bad, though saving for Hawaii is a good thing! You are welcome to leave Kurt home and come down two weeks later. We have an extra sofa bed/living room available in our 1-bedroom. Of course he might not be too fond of that idea! :thumbsup2

    I would definitely want to get to Wrigley Field if we came out. I grew up a baseball fan and though I am not much into it now have always wanted to see Wrigley. DW and DD would be less impressed, but DD wouldn't mind if the girls were there too. We won't really be planning too much on this one until the spring anyways.

    DD is going to DMIL's for this weekend, and then next week we are driving to Massachusetts to visit my dad and step-mom, so it will have to be after July 7th. We'll get that call in again, I swear.
     
  11. Disneychix

    Disneychix When you wish upon a star...

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    Congrat's on the DVC purchase! I didn't know you joined the best club ever! ;)

    Sounds like a fun trip. We did a quick adults only trip in May. Really nice to get away sometimes!

    You'll love SSR and way to go with the 1 bedroom. Although I have to tell you, you may never go back to a studio! ha!
     
  12. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    Hey, thanks for joining in! No one has told me the secret handshake yet.

    Fortunately or unfortunately it is really unlikely we will be doing anything but a studio for the foreseeable future. We have 160 points a year, and 4 nights in a 1-bedroom is costing us 122 points. This year, we had the points to burn, but there's no way I'll be using up all my annual points on a 5-night stay! I almost feel silly going into a 1-bedroom with just the two of us, especially since I have no intention of cooking or doing laundry!
     
  13. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    For those that have joined in so far, thank you for coming along. I myself find Pre Trip Reports to be rather dry, and tend to avoid them, so the fact that you’ve been willing to come along for the ride means I will try and make this as interesting and entertaining as possible. That includes lots of pictures, which tends to make the best PTR and TRs.

    I am devoting this post to talking a bit about the resort we are staying at Saratoga Springs Resort. Why is this? Well, because I think like many people, it is not a resort that has ever been high on my priority list to stay at. It’s a “deluxe” property, yet it is not in close proximity to any of the parks. It’s also big and sprawling and its theme of Saratoga Springs in its racing heyday probably never held much appeal to me. Then, why am I actually quite happy this is where we ended up?

    First a history: Over our previous on-site trips we’ve only managed to stay at FOUR of the Disney Resorts:

    Port Orleans French Quarter – 3 times (2006,2007.2008)
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    Pop Century - 3 times (2009,2010, and again in 2010 only 1 night at the end of a trip)

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    Animal Kingdom Lodge DVC (2010)– just the once

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    And Caribbean Beach Resort - twice (2011, 2013)

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    There’s many other resorts we’ve wanted to check out, but Saratoga Springs was never on that list…until now.

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    See, we’ve bought into AKV for our DVC purchase, but I am a long-term picture guy, and by long-term I will often think years down the road. And I am thinking that depending on how things go with this DVC thing, I MAY just want to purchase more points in a another 5-7 years. Long-term I look at a point in the future (retirement) where we could spend 2-4 weeks each year at Disney. And to stay on-site, we could maybe do that with enough DVC points. And while SSR is NOT a prime location, it is, from the standpoint of the maintenance fees and the length of the contract combined, the least expensive to own of the DVC resorts. So, a future purchase at this resort would be a possibility. However, if you buy at a resort, you need to be satisfied with staying at that resort (one of the shortcomings of DVC), so the only way to really see that is to stay there.

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    There’s a second reason that SSR was actually a top choice for this trip, and it was about location. Now, we pretty much knew there was no way we were going to get into Boardwalk or Beach Club at the late date we booked. But, we still wanted to spend at least 2 or 3 of our evenings at the Boardwalk at one our favorite nightspots – Jellyrolls!

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    But, that leaves the problem of getting back to our resort after a night out at the club. Sure, we could stay until the club closes at 2 AM and they have a resort bus waiting to take you wherever you want, but we didn’t think we would be out THAT late. Or we could take a taxi. But doing that three times will add up pretty quick. So my thinking was, what resort that I could get into would be easiest to get to from the Boardwalk. And the answer my brain told me? Saratoga Springs!

    “Wait!” you scream at your computer “There’s no direct buses between hotels! How will that work?” Well, it’s easy as pie.

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    Yup, that’s Downtown Disney in this picture, and on the near side of the lake – there’s Saratoga Springs. If we leave Jellyrolls at 11 PM or midnight, we can still catch a bus from the Boardwalk to Downtown Disney. And if we are clever enough – we can end up with a room that is within short walking distance of the main DTD bus stop! So, I put in a room request for Congress Park. Hopefully we get it, because it could be a LONG walk otherwise!

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    The picture below shows the aerial view of the Congress Park section of SSR. The path to DTD can be seen along the waterfront.
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    It does seem like a beautiful resort though. So, we are hoping to spend enough time there to check out the resort a little bit, particularly the main pool. We know we probably won’t get the chance to have a meal at one of the restaurants, but I think we will have enough time to get a feel for the place.

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    Any chance we get to try a new resort is appreciated. It's not really a resort we would target when travelling with DD, so this seems like a great opportunity to check it out.
     
  14. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    It does look like a beautiful resort. Hope you're happy with it.
     
  15. khertz

    khertz Proud member of the WHO DAT NATION!!

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    Saratoga Springs looks really lovely! It seems like it will be really great for a couples only trip as well. Bonus that you will be close to DTD and have a route back from the Boardwalk. :thumbsup2
     
  16. Tinker326

    Tinker326 DIS Veteran

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    It's my goal to stay at all the resorts at least once in my life so I can't wait to see how you like this one!

    It looks nice and I do think it is a good choice for adults only.....
     
  17. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    It does indeed. I obviously am curious to check it out.

    It's a shame that Pleasure Island is no more - I would be lovin' Saratoga Springs even more in that case.

    I never had the goal to visit all the resorts. The All-Stars hold no appeal to me, though we like Pop Century OK. And I honestly never imagined being able to stay at the deluxes. Now that we own DVC, I do want to check out all of the deluxes this way. The only one that doesn't interest me much is Old Key West, but we may eventually try that one out as well. As I said, now that we discovered DVC re-sale, I am tempted at the thought of owning more points than we currently do. However, that would be a ways off - probably 4-5 years minimum - but in that time, I am hoping we can check out all or most of the DVC resorts.

    Saratoga Springs seems to be the "fallback" resort. When all other resorts are full, there's usually SSR - though in this case even SSR seems booked out that weekend and we were lucky to get in. That's the negative of owning there is that you prefer to own at a resort that gets booked out by the 7-month mark. The positive to owning there is that it is inexpensive both purchase cost and maintenance fee wise, so if it's just about staying at Disney than it's a good choice.
     
  18. Disneychix

    Disneychix When you wish upon a star...

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    I really like SSR. And I'm not just saying that because that's where we own.

    It's not adjacent to a park but it is centrally located so travel time to all parks is not so bad.

    The grounds are beautiful. While you may not be immersed in another 'world' like at AKL the grounds are quite pretty and I love the look of the buildings. Also, no long hallways!

    Did you by any chance waitlist for a different resort or are you sticking with trying out SSR?

    Oh, and I never in a millions years thought I would do laundry on vacation but when you have access to bring clean clothes home or wash/dry your pool clothes it's really enticing!
     
  19. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    Thanks for the comments, we are waitlisted at Boardwalk and BLT, but realistically I have no expectation for them to come through, and I'd be perfectly happy sticking with what we have at this stage.

    That's a good point about the distance to the parks, it does seem pretty central.

    My one question, is there an internal shuttle bus? It seems to me that if you want to go to the main pool/area you have no choice but to walk, and it seems like it could be a pretty long one!
     
  20. x5x5x5x5x5

    x5x5x5x5x5 Finally figured out how to do this...

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    I don't recall seeing an internal shuttle. Maybe the park buses could sort of act as one? We recently stayed at Saratoga and man was I surprised at how much we loved it. Very relaxing and the room seemed fresh. Enjoyed all the paths and pretty water features and wild life. We requested to be near the walkway to DTD and they put us right on top of it (congress park). I adored being able to walk into DTD and we used the buses there as a way to resort hop. It was so easy to go anywhere and never have to worry about how to get back to our resort because they all run buses to DTD! By the way, we ended up walking to all of the pools from our room and found that the walk from our room to the main pool wasn't long at all. I kind of feel like I'm on to a secret by staying at SSR. And I'm a beach club / boardwalk girl!
     
  21. skier_pete

    skier_pete None

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    Wow, that's all good info! I have requested staying in Congress Park, so hopefully we will be there. Not planning on doing much resort hopping, but as I said, we will spend a couple nights at Jellyrolls and intend to take advantage of the DTD bus!
     

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