CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT CAN'T WAIT WE ARE GOIN TO DISNEY DURING CHRISTMAS TIME! Allow me to introduce the cast for this trip! Actually, it's my favorite cast of all! It will be just the four of us! Me, DH, DD8, and DD5! Oh man did we have such an amazing trip to WDW last September. We were worried that it wouldn't live up to our very first trip the year before (Oct. 2007) but it surpassed all our expectations. I think my discovery of The DIS after our first trip really contributed to a fantastic 11 days in WDW with free dining last September 2008. Even with my two broken arms. Planning really began in it's initial phase for this trip while on our last WDW vacation in September. I really thought Christmas time would be a great time to see our new favorite world. The video we watched on Magic Express on the way back to the airport really helped solidify it in DH's mind. There were a lot of promos on Christmas-time in WDW. The cruise didn't come into play until I spent far too much time here on the DIS reading trip reports. I read some awesome reports on cruises and suddenly I wanted to go on a Disney cruise too! I began looking into cruises in January and found some great prices for May but unfortunately DH had accepted a position within a new company and felt it was too early to take vacation. So, we decided to try to merge our December WDW trip with a cruise. By the time we sail the cruise will have been booked for nearly a year! We did have trouble waiting for this trip to come and ended up taking a trip to Disneyland in May. DH could only come up for the end portion because of his new job so my DM joined us. We really enjoyed our visit to Sunny Southern California. Like most other TRs I read here on the board we've had so many tweeks and changes to our original plan and I'm sure more are to come. When we booked the cruise we always said that if a free dining offer came out that week (the third week of December) that we may cancel the cruise and spend more time in the world. However, since booking the cruise the girls have looked at endless pictures and youtube videos of the cruise. They are SOOO excited. We have a cute postcard from Mickey himself up on the fridge that says he can't wait to see us! So I know there will be no backing out of the cruise. Our original cruise booked for December is a 4 night cruise. However, we are in the process as of last week in deciding between a 4 night and 3 night cruise. (I do have them both booked.) We are now leaning toward the 3 night even though the four night is a better value. By switching to the 3-night we will be able to do the WDW portion first, then cruise. We will also have more days in WDW at a better resort rate and less crowds. Who knows, I suppose we could still decide to do a Back to Back cruise. But there is SOOOO much in WDW we want to see. Our flights are booked through Southwest! I love Southwest! Just today I changed our departure flight to a day earlier. I love how they allow you to do this at no extra charge. In fact, if the flight is cheaper you get a credit. With free dining we decided it would be worth it to fly out on a Friday evening after work which would allow us an additional day on the dining plan and an additional full day in the parks. We also had planned to return on a Sunday. However, with our return flight being the weekend before Christmas prices were pretty high for that Sunday. The best rate we could find was for 6:50 a.m. on Monday. Crazy I know. But in my opinion it is a better option than paying more for a Sunday flight. The money we would pay for a Sunday flight would be more than the cost of an addition night in the hotel and extra day at the theme park. So, we may be tired when we return home but the extra day we got for a cheaper flight will be worth it! So, as of right now it is looking like 10 nights! (3 of those on a cruise ship). 6 nights before the cruise and 1 after. 6 nights on the dining plan and 6 full days in the park. (Possibly even an additional morning in the parks before the cruise.) It looks like our official dates are December 11th-21st!! This trip has almost come to a hault a few times already. DH's company will definitely get through these economic times. However, they decided that for this year there will be no paid vacations. So, he can work a few weekends to try to make up for it but we will most likely lose some money for the week he misses. Also, in the Spring I decided to accept a PT teaching position for this school year. DD5 is starting half day kindergarten this fall and my stay-at-home days are now over. I was fortunate to stumble across this position as a part-time 5th grade teacher in the same school where my children are. I will teach while DD5 is in kindergarten. It will be a nice transition year before I return full time. Teachers are not usually allowed to take vacation time right before Christmas vacation. So, of course all you Disney fanatics know what I did right? I put this vacation on my contract. Actually the teacher I am job sharing with wanted to take a few weeks off at the beginning of the year since she just had a baby so I told her I would cover her as long as she covered my week vacation before Christmas break. So, yes, I know all you DIS fanatics like myself would be proud to know this Disney vacation is actually in my contract! Can't wait to share the rest of our planning as well as the trip!