May the Force be With Us (a May 2011 Anniversary trip - PTR)

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by Chaitali, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Well, I just joined the Board recently to research our Disney World trip coming up in May. I'm super excited, so I thought I'd try my hand at a pre-trip report. Hopefully that will help channel some of my anticipation into something useful!

    First, a quick introduction. The travelers on this trip will just be my and my husband, Mike. I've been to Disney World several times, mostly as a child. The last time I went to Disney World was while I was in college and it has been more than 10 years. I recently found out Mike has never been there!

    [​IMG]
    024_24 by Chaita_1, on Flickr
    (My brother and I during a childhood Disney World trip)

    We were at his parents house for Christmas and they mentioned that they would be going to Orlando as his dad had a meeting there this year. Mike commented that he had never been to Disney World. How have we know each other for six years and I didn't know he'd never been to Disney World! We were at the airport the day after Christmas and I suggested that instead of the one big vacation we had planned for 2011, we split it up into 2 smaller vacations so we could also go to Disney World. He loves Disney and Pixar and is often a child at heart, so he quickly agreed :) Therefore our 2011 plan became 5 nights in Disney World and 10 nights in the Fall for the U.K.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_0071_edited-1 by Chaita_1, on Flickr
    (Mike and I on our last trip - India)

    Well, things moved pretty quickly after that. We talked over dates and decided that May would probably work best for us. I did some research and learned that May seems to be a good time to go to Disney World, not value season but not peak time either. It was also around our anniversary. And to Mike's delight, Star War's Weekend was in May too. We settled on May 17th to May 22nd to avoid the Memorial Day Crowds but also be able to catch Stars War weekend. We had our room booked by New Year's Eve. Disney World, here we come!
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Oops, it turns out I can't post photos or links yet. I guess I might have started too soon :) Oh well, I'm one post away so hopefully I will have photos up soon.
     
  4. Lifelong_Dreamer

    Lifelong_Dreamer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    13,757
    Hey there!

    We'll be there at the same time. You will have a blast showing him around WDW for the first time. :thumbsup2
     
  5. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Hi, yours was on of the first pre-trip reports I read :) I saw that you'll be having a nice long time in Disney World. You must be excited! I'm not sure how much showing around I'll be able to do since so much has changed at Disney World. Animal Kingdom wasn't even there the last time I went and it was still Disney-MGM studios. But I'm sure we'll have blast discovering/re-discovering it!
     
  6. Marshay

    Marshay I'm Goofy for Mickey. Don't worry if you get a bi

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Messages:
    13,451
    Hi! We'll be in Disney the same time (May 14 - 21) at AKV-Kidani! I'll be starting a PTR soon...I've done one for each trip and they are fun to do and great for family, too.

    BTW, I'm your neighbor over by Dulles Airport!

    Can't wait to read more!
     
  7. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Welcome and hello :) I work out toward the Dulles Area. It's so funny that we'll be in Disney World at the same time and we live in the same area. Well, given the number of people that live in this area and the number of people that go to Disney World, I guess it's not too surprising!
     
  8. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Once we decided to go to Disney World, the first decision we faced was where to stay. We quickly decided that we wanted to stay at a Disney resort. We never stayed at a Disney resort on any of my family trips when I was younger. It always seemed like it would be magical. In addition, driving stresses me out so I like to avoid renting a car on vacation if possible.

    So a Disney resort it is. Now we just had to choose one! I started out by pricing various resorts on the Disney website and doing some online research. It's just me and Mike, so I wanted to choose a resort which was somewhat romantic. Based on the research, I was leaning toward the Port Orleans Riverside resort. I liked the idea of staying in one of the mansion rooms. I talked to my cousin who goes to Disney World every couple years and she said that they had stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and liked it.

    She did indicate that if we could afford it, she strongly recommended the Wilderness Lodge. I looked into it, and it also sounded wonderful and romantic. Though it was the most affordable of the deluxe resorts, it would still be several hundred dollars more than staying at the Port Orleans. The main advantage over a moderate resort seemed to be the boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom.

    However, we're quite used to using public transportation and I don't think we'll have a problem with the bus system at Port Orleans. We're also used to walks from the metro or bus stop to get where we're going, so I think the spread out nature of the resort shouldn't be too much of a problem. We've requested one of the 2 closer mansions, but the walk should be ok even if we're at one of the further mansions. We should get one of the mansion rooms as we have paid to upgrade to a king bed. (Double beds are not very romantic!)

    In addition, we'll spring for taxis when we have dinners booked at another resort. The occasional taxi will still be cheaper than upgrading to a deluxe room. Port Orleans - Riverside seems like it will be a good middle ground for us, and it will allow us to have extra spending money while we're there. Which is good, as I love fancy dinners and Mike is already planning the souvenirs he wants to buy!
     
  9. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Have I mentioned that I'm a little obsessed with food? I even booked our dinner reservations for this trip before I booked our room or plane tickets! My husband thankfully humors me but he's one of those people that's happy with pretty much any food you put in front of him, as long as it's plentiful and doesn't contain brussel sprouts :)

    I'm a vegetarian so I have to be relatively aware of my food choices. I am excited that Disney World seems to have so many options for me! We've decided that we'll probably splurge on one meal a day, grab a quick sandwich or something for the other meal, and probably just eat breakfast in our room.

    I did restrain myself from making a dinner reservation for the Tuesday we arrive. Given all the possible travel glitches, I feel more comfortable knowing that there's no specific time we need to be anywhere on that date. Our flight is supposed to land at 10:30am, but you never know. If all goes well, we'll probably spend the afternoon at the Magic Kingdom and then head to Downtown Disney for dinner. I keep hearing about the Earl of Sandwich so it might be the perfect time to try it out.

    I'm most excited for our Wednesday night dinner at Victoria & Albert's. We've decided to celebrate our anniversary at Disney World so this will be our anniversary dinner. We usually go to a fancy meal for our anniversary anyway, so the money for this meal will come from our anniversary budget instead of the general trip budget. I even considered the Chef's Table, but it was booked for every day that week even though I called five months in advance! I called the restaurant and they assured me that it would be no problem to have a vegetarian tasting menu for me. I've read great things about their food so I'm sure anything they offer will be tasty. So now the only decision I have to make is wine pairing or not :)

    Thursday I've booked a reservation at the California Grill (hopefully with good timing to see the fireworks) and Friday at La Hacienda de San Angel (hopefully with a view of Illuminations). Saturday is Jiko, which I am also super excited about. The Animal Kingdom didn't even exist the last time I went to Disney World so that whole area will be new to me.
     
  10. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    So continuing with the theme of food... I keep reading about the Disney Dining Plan and I have managed to confuse myself completely. When the agent at AAA initially told me about it, I was pretty sure we didn't want it. I was pretty sure that we could get by with spending less on our own. After all, we didn't need dessert twice a day. And I would probably prefer an appetizer or salad at times instead of dessert. Our general plan is to have breakfast in the room, a counter service lunch in the park, and as explained above, some fancy dinners.

    But in reading about the dining plan more, it seems like it might make sense with that scheme. A lot of the reasons it doesn't work for some people don't seem to apply to us.

    1. A lot of people would save money be sharing entrees. However, I'm a vegetarian and my husband is not. He will pretty much never want to share my entree.

    2. Some people don't want to take the time for table service meals or lock themselves into a reservation, but we'll be doing that anyway. And I do like the idea of having a leisurely dinner each evening.

    3. We don't have kids so we don't have to worry too much about keeping our plans flexible. We also are planning to get the park hopper with our tickets so we will be able to go to a dinner reservation even if we're not in the park that day. And in fact, only one of our dinners is at a park. The rest are at resorts.

    4. We certainly don't need 2 desserts a day. But my husband does like his sweets. So he probably would like to have a sweet with his meals while on vacation. And we'll be doing plenty of walking. It seems that I should be able to get fruit as my "dessert" at the counter service lunches and have it as an afternoon snack or as breakfast the next day.

    I tried to crunch the numbers by looking at the menus on allears.net and choosing what we would likely order. I didn't include dessert with lunch and I didn't include any snacks. Now my entrees will probably be among the less expensive entrees as they will be vegetarian. If my husband chooses among the moderate price entrees, we'll pay less out of pocket than if we went with the plan. But if my husband chooses the most expensive entrees, we will come out ahead with the dining plan. It basically seems as if the dining plan will result in one "free" dessert and one "free" snack per day. This is true even with using the 2 dining credits for the dinner at California Grill and the dinner at Jiko. And we won't have to deal with me being annoyed if he chooses an expensive entree.

    These calculations are based on the assumption that the dining plan includes tax but that the menu prices listed on allears.net do not include tax. Does anyone know if that's true? Of course, it also assumes that the listed menu prices are accurate. They seem to be the 2010 prices, so if they've gone up this year that means that the dining plan probably would be a good value for us. If anyone knows if the prices have gone up and whether they include tax, I would love that information :)

    All the numbers may have confused me, but I think the dining plan might actually work for us. I can pack snacks for us to eat in the park, but I know I'm going to be tempted to buy snacks at least a couple times instead of just eating my granola bar! Sigh, sometimes too much information is not a good thing. I used to be convinced that we didn't want the dining plan but now I might have convinced myself the other way.:confused3
     
  11. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Well, the Disney Dining Plan decision became a lot easier today :) I took time during my lunch break and opened up menus on allears.net. I typed up each meal, the items we'd be likely to buy and the prices. Even including desserts with each dinner, and a snack for each of us per day, the dining plan will be more expensive for us than paying out of pocket. This takes into account tax, sodas, etc, So I am pretty confident with this decision to go without the plan.

    It's actually a relief because I would have felt compelled to get the plan if it would have saved us some money. But I like the flexibility of not being on the plan and being able to order whatever I want. And I now feel like I have a pretty good idea of how much we will be spending on food while at Disney World. We've already budgeted and set aside more than enough money to cover it, so that's a relief too!

    Next I should really go beyond food and talk about what else we'll be doing with our time. After all, we can't spend all day eating!
     
  12. Lifelong_Dreamer

    Lifelong_Dreamer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    13,757
    That is how I feel about the dining plan. Unless every person orders the most expensive thing on the menu it is not really worth it other than it is more convenient as you don't have to carry cash around with you.
     
  13. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! ~~Nearly twice as many chi

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    4,471
    Your plans sound WONDERFUL! :woohoo: Looking forward to following your journey of discovery/rediscovery!
     
  14. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Lifelong Dreamer, thanks for the confirmation :) I guess you just have to sit down and do the math to be sure. But I definitely have no doubts any more, so it was worth it!

    Blessed mom, hello and welcome! I just read a little bit of your pre-trip report following the link in your signature. You and your family are so inspiring. I hope your daughters are doing better today.
     
  15. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    I actually had Disney nightmares last night! I starting working on some touring plans yesterday evening before going to sleep. So I had a dream about forgetting to get a fast pass for space mountain and we weren't able to ride it. Of course, that's not a big deal in reality. We're going to Disney World just to spend time with each other and to have fun. If we don't get on a certain ride, it's not a big deal. But in the dream world, it seemed like it was the end of the world!

    I had a second dream about trying to get to Fantasy Land and repeatedly getting lost. At one point, I was walking around the perimeter of the park, outside it, trying to find a way to get to Fantasy Land.

    I'm glad I started this PTR so I have somewhere to confess to this. If I told my husband, he might take away the Unofficial Guide and find some way to block disney related sites from my computer. :)

    But definitely time to reintroduce some perspective into my planning! It won't be a perfect vacation because there's no such thing. But we can certainly enjoy it for whatever it ends up being. After all, we'll be together and in "the happiest place on Earth."
     
  16. Lifelong_Dreamer

    Lifelong_Dreamer DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Messages:
    13,757
    :rotfl: I have had the odd Disney nightmare, totally normal. ;)
     
  17. silverhaze269

    silverhaze269 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    931
    I have to confess that I too, have had the odd Disney nightmare...one in which I was "spit out" behind the ride I was on so I could see the mechanics of the ride, but I couldn't find a way to get out of the area :scared1:

    The DDP is not for everyone, so you just need to remember that when making your decision...for some people it's great, others, not so much. For you it definitely sounds like you made the right choice, especially if you did all the math behind it. :thumbsup2
     
  18. AKL LOVER

    AKL LOVER Are we there yet??

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Messages:
    978
    I'm joining in too...I followed you over here from the Official May Countdown thread :goodvibes We also live very close to you--we are in Fredericksburg VA!

    So jealous you get to eat at V & A. Can't wait to hear all about it when you return! DH and I both love California Grill and Jiko! They are great restaurants and you are going to love them too!

    I don't think it's very odd that you booked your meals before your trip--I did this very same thing for our first family trip back in 2008. In fact, I planned my whole trip around our meals because we didn't decide until March that we were going to go (in May!) and I wasn't picky about the week that we went. So I called and the week that I was able to get the best ADR's for is the week we ended up picking. Worked out well for us. :thumbsup2 But since then I've been an obsessive Disney planner. In fact, I can't believe our trip first trip turned out so well for only 5 weeks of planning! :eek:

    Can't wait to read more about your plans!
     
  19. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Well, I bought the Unofficial Guide shortly after we booked our hotel reservations. I also subscribed to their website so I could get the Iphone app and the crowd calendar for May. Armed with this information, I've started to plan out which parks we're going to on which days.

    May 17th: We're supposed to land at the airport in Orlando at 9:30 am. We're planning on taking the Magical Express to Port Orleans so hopefully we'll be there by 10:45 at the latest? We're going to keep what we need for the day in our handbags and leave the checked bag to Disney to transport. We'll check in and grab a quick lunch at the counter service area. I'm hoping that we'll be at lunch by 11:30 so it shouldn't be too crowded. Then straight onto the bus for the Magic Kingdom. I think we should be there by 1 at the latest. It is listed as a preferred park for the day on touringplans.com and it has a pretty low crowd number. We'll head back to the resort around 6 or 7 to check on our luggage and the room if it wasn't ready earlier that morning. Then hop on the boat to Downtown Disney for some wandering, shopping, and maybe a sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich.

    May 18th: This is going to be our Animal Kingdom day. I am super excited about this park since it wasn't even open the last time I was at Disney World. And I love animals, so I think it will be right up my alley. It is a preferred park for the day. It closes at 6 that day so we'll leave by 6 at the latest to go back to POR. We'll rest a bit and get ready for our dinner at Victoria's and Albert which is at 8:45! We'll probably just use a taxi to get there and back. Does anyone know if there are taxis just waiting at the Grand Floridian or if we'd need to call one and wait?

    May 19th: This is Early Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom and we are hoping to be at rope drop. This might be overly ambitious given our late dinner the night before, but we're usually early risers and we're planning on having grab and go breakfasts with us in the room. We'll probably have an early lunch at the Magk Kingdom and then head back to the resort for a nap when things start getting too crowded. Then off to Hollywood Studios around 3 or so. (We do have park hopper tickets.) We're hoping to ride/see most of the things we're interested in at HS except Toy Story Mania and Star Tours. The only other big attraction we're really interested in is the Rock n Roll Roller Coaster. Neither of us is interested in the Tower of Terror. Next we'll hop on the bus to the Contemporary Resport for our 7:45 dinner at California Grill. I'm thinking we should be able to leave HS around 6:45 and be fine? Again, probably a taxi back to POR after dinner and fireworks viewing.

    May 20th: This is our Epcot day. It's only a neutral park that day (probably because of the evening extra magic hours). But it seems the best way to fit the park in, and I love Epcot. Again, we're planning to get there at rope drop so I think we'll be fine. We may go back to the resort in the middle of the day if we feel tired. But it seems like there are plenty of places to rest our feet at Epcot, and I'm looking forward to snacking and drinking around the world :) We have a late dinner reservation at La Hacienda de San Angel and hopefully we'll be able to see some of Illuminations from there. We'll take advantage of the late magic hours if there's somethign open we didn't get to do earlier or want to do again. But I highly doubt we'll stay for all three extra hours.

    May 21st: This will be our Star Wars day. We're planning to get to HS for rope drop so we can do Star Tours and Toy Story Mania. And the rest of the morning we'll just soak in the people watching and star wars fun. We'll probably check out the merchandise also and just leave once we're tired of the crowd! The rest of the day is unplanned so we can choose to just relax or go back and see one of the parks. We'll have dinner that evening at Jiko and maybe check out the Boardwalk or Downtown Disney afterward if we feel up to it.

    Sadly, we fly out again on the 22nd. I've tried to schedule in some mid-day rest time and time for us to just enjoy being at Disney. But I've promised my husband I'll remain flexible about the schedule! If we're tired or if something awesome comes up, that's fine too :)
     
  20. BucsTex

    BucsTex Passing the Magic to a third generation!

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    182
    Have a great trip! I hope you guys don't get trampled at SWW.... I guess we'll see you at POR on your way out the door! ;)
     
  21. Chaitali

    Chaitali Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    409
    Yep, last Sunday was 100 days before our trip. It was very exciting but now it still seems so far away! Haven't done too much Disney planning since the last time I was on here. The one very exciting this we have done is book our plane tickets! And I'm really glad we did that as soon as I saw a decent price. I was thinking of waiting for the next credit card cycle but my husband said to just go ahead and do it. He is a smart one :) I checked the prices a couple days later and it had gone up substantially. I never seem to be good with predicting airfare changes, so I feel pretty lucky with this one.

    And because I feel like this PTR is lacking photos, another gratuitous childhood Disney photo :) I will definitely have many photos after our trip!

    [​IMG]
    045_45 by Chaita_1, on Flickr

    My brother and I showing off Disney Loot
     

Share This Page