My First Real Trip, a July 2012 PTR: **CHANGES UPDATE 6/18**

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by andapanda, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    I have always dreamed of a Disney vacation. As a child, I used to go to the local video store and rent every Disney-themed VHS I could find. I remember watching one that did a tour of the park (I’m not sure now if it was Walt Disney World, or Disneyland – it didn’t matter at the time). I came from a family that struggled just to make ends meet. When I was a junior in high school, my dream came true. Sort of. My high school marching band was taking a trip to Orlando to be in a bowl parade (again, not sure which parade) and the Christmas parade in the Magic Kingdom. The drawbacks: We stayed off-site, half a day in the Magic Kingdom, a whole day in EPCOT, and half a day in MGM (as it was then). No Animal Kingdom. It was dreary and rainy the whole time we were in Florida. I can count the number of rides I rode on my fingers. While it was still an awesome experience, I left feeling somewhat disappointed. Fast forward seven years. When my husband and I discussed honeymoon possibilities, we brought up Disney and quickly tossed it aside. We were on a strict budget and didn’t think it would be possible. Looking back, we could have spent less going to Disney World than the beach trip that we ended up taking. But hindsight is 20/20. Our honeymoon wasn’t the greatest experience. We did what we could but everything cost twice as much as we had planned. Fast forward another four years (our 4th anniversary). We decided to make our 5th anniversary special, and finally take a trip to Disney. A second chance at the honeymoon we feel we missed out on.

    Cast of Characters
    Me: 28 years old, a teacher. For me, summer is the only option for a vacation. My goal is to lose 30 lbs before we go. My emotions regarding our upcoming trip go between absolute excitement and being incredibly sad to leave our 3 fur-babies behind while we’re on our trip. We have three cats, and I’m very protective over them – we don’t have kids, so they are my babies. I will probably cry when we leave.

    J: 32 years old, works in the food/beverage industry. He can go on vacation any time. His goal is also to lose 30 lbs before we go. I think he’s excited, but he really won’t show it. J has been to Disney World twice before, but it has been almost 20 years since his last trip.

    Deciding on a Date
    Deciding on a general time of year wasn’t hard. After all, I have no choice but to go in the summer. I had wanted to plan our vacation for the first week of June – right when school let out. J wanted to go in the beginning of July – he wanted our first day to be on our anniversary. I couldn’t persuade him otherwise, so July it was. We booked our trip almost a year in advance, as soon as we decided on the dates. When the free dining dates came out, we briefly discussed changing our trip to the last week of August – my school does not start until after Labor Day. However, I would miss two orientation days. We quickly decided to stay with our initial plan, and arrive on July 7th. We will be leaving Disney World on July 14th, going to Universal Studios for three days, and finally heading home on July 18th.

    Deciding on a Resort
    We had discussed resorts many times, even before we decided to go. J and I had always assumed that our only option would be the value resorts, and had decided on Pop Century. While we were both fine with staying at the Pop Century, we just didn’t know if it was what we wanted for our anniversary. We started pricing different resorts, and contemplated staying off-site. I mentioned to J that we might want to look at the Moderate resorts – we had priced a Deluxe resort and knew it was way out of our budget. The problem was deciding on a resort. My picks were Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resort. J’s picks were Port Orleans – French Quarter and Port Orleans – Riverside. After doing some research on resort specifics, ratings and reviews, and pricing different packages, we decided on Port Orleans – French Quarter for a variety of reasons, with our main reasons being its small size and romantic atmosphere.

    Chapter Links
    1. Weight Loss and Dining/Park Overview
    2. Part 2: Switch to Universal
    3. Off the Beaten Path: Fun Activities
    4. Things We'll Miss, Some Changes, and Decisions
    5. Countdown!
    6. Arrival and Day 1
    7. Day 2
    8. Day 3
    9. Day 4
    10. Day 5
    11. Day 6
    12. Day 7 and Day 8 (Last day at Disney)
    13. Weight Loss Update
    14. Days 9 - 12 (Universal Plans)
    15. Some Changes
     
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  3. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Weight Loss Journey and Deciding on a Dining Plan
    Before I begin with our dining plans, I want to give some background on my weight loss journey. I started this past August at the heaviest I’ve ever been. With a personal trainer and some changes in habits (mostly portion control), I’ve managed to lose roughly 35 lbs. This may not sound like much, but it’s been steady, which is major progress for me. I’ve always had weight issues and I’m used to having my weight yo-yo up and down. I’m still working and hoping to lose another 30 lbs before we go, as is my husband J. That being said, we didn’t really feel that the quick service dining plan would be the best choice for us. My husband was still concerned about the amount of quick service on the regular dining plan, so we decided to go for the Deluxe Dining Plan. The rationale was that we would have access to better choices than we would with either the quick service or regular dining plans. We will be eating three sit-down meals for most of the days. I know that some people say not to do this, but this will most likely be our first and only trip without children, and we wanted to do it our own way. Breakfast buffets work great for us because while J is a breakfast lover, I’m picky about breakfast foods and I can try a variety of different foods.

    Our Dining Plans/Itinerary

    July 6th
    This is our actual arrival date, and we will be staying off-site for the night. I wanted to be there as early as possible to maximize our time in the parks, especially since we have the Water Park & More option. Right now, we are planning to possibly visit Downtown Disney. I’m open to suggestions for quick/counter service for (a possibly late) dinner in Downtown Disney.

    July 7th
    This is our anniversary. Yes, we were married on 07-07-07. We had thought about spending our first day in the Magic Kingdom, but decided to use one of our water park credits since we wanted to have a romantic evening and didn’t want to feel like we were wasting a day at the park. We will be arriving at the resort first thing in the morning and having our luggage stored until our room is ready.

    Park: either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach (not sure yet, but open to suggestions)
    Breakfast: Sassagoula Floatworks
    Lunch: Turf Club Bar & Grill
    Dinner: Fulton’s Crab House (my husband has his heart set on this, but I’ve heard some mixed reviews)

    We also have a carriage ride scheduled at Port Orleans Riverside. J wants to attempt a game of mini-golf between lunch and dinner. I think we’ll be exploring Downtown Disney after dinner, and probably Disney Quest.

    July 8th
    Park: Magic Kingdom
    Breakfast: Crystal Palace
    Lunch: Liberty Tree Tavern
    Dinner: Quick/Counter Service (open to suggestions). We originally had Tony’s Town Square scheduled, but decided to cancel it since we are hoping to do the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party.

    July 9th
    Park: EPCOT
    Breakfast: ‘Ohana – I am truly excited for ‘Ohana. This was the first restaurant that I decided on for our trip.
    Lunch: Biergarten (per J’s request). J is of German descent and is a lover of German food. This was no question for him.
    Dinner: Akershus – I’m also very excited for this, since it’s an opportunity to broaden my tastes.

    July 10th
    Park: ??? (we may park hop since all ADRs are out of the parks)
    Breakfast: Kona Café (originally had Trail’s End Restaurant scheduled here, but decided to swap in favor of Tonga Toast, and also after reading of lengthy transportation and vehicle restrictions - we were planning on driving our own car until we read of the restrictions)
    Lunch: Raglan Road (another of J’s picks)
    Dinner: Kouzzina by Cat Cora (if I remember right, I’ve also read mixed reviews on this restaurant)

    July 11th
    Park: Hollywood Studios
    Breakfast: Boma (my pick)
    Lunch: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (J’s pick)
    Dinner: Mama Melrose (Fantasmic! Dining package) - We initially had Hollywood & Vine scheduled, but after hearing that the food wasn't great, we decided to change to Mama Melrose. It took me two weeks to find an opening for dinner time, but persistence paid off.

    July 12th
    Park: ??? (possibly a water park for part of the day)
    Breakfast: Chef Mickey’s
    Lunch: Captain’s Grille
    Dinner: Kona Café – we’re hoping to see the Electrical Water Pageant after dinner. Any suggestions on how to go about this?

    July 13th
    Park: Animal Kingdom
    Breakfast: Tusker House
    Lunch: Yak & Yeti (originally had Rainforest Café scheduled here, but decided to change it)
    Dinner: Boatwright’s Dining Hall

    July 14th
    Park: Magic Kingdom
    Breakfast: 1900 Park Fare
    Lunch: Quick/Counter Service (once again, suggestions welcome)
    Dinner: Might be in park, but it depends on when we decide to leave

    Any suggestions/opinions are welcome. :) Next up, Round 2: Universal Studios
    Also, any suggestions for a better font/size/color? I think the current choice is hard to read...
     
  4. onescgirl

    onescgirl DIS Veteran

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    I'm in for your ptr :)
    Congrats on your weight loss! :cheer2:
    I think losing 2 lbs is hard, so 30 is awesome!
    I know what you mean by always wanting to go to Disney while growing up, that's how I was.
    All of your food choices sound great!
     
  5. Angies1274

    Angies1274 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in!:goodvibes I followed you over from my PTR.:)

    Congratulations on the weight loss! I think that's a huge accomplishment. I am also trying to lose weight for our trip and it's not easy.

    How exciting to be able to do the Deluxe Dining Plan! It sounds like you have a lot of great places picked out to eat.:thumbsup2

    Can't wait to read more.popcorn::
     
  6. earthfaries

    earthfaries DIS Veteran

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    Congrats on your upcoming trip AND your weight loss! 35 pounds is a lot ~ and makes you feel so much different doesn't it?

    I can't wait to follow along on your adventures with you!
     
  7. DLB

    DLB DIS Veteran

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    Cant wait to hear all about your trip since we have the same resort and Dining plan!!

    CONGRATS on loosing 35 lbs! That is really something to be proud of...

    I am interested in how you like Boatwights. We were also thinking of doing that one at some point.?

    Just curious of your plan to get from BOMA to Animal Kingdom. I wanted to try that place too, but I have heard it is hard to get too.
    (grab a bus to a park, switch to AKL bus, EAT, then bus to park)
    Well? once I wrote it out it wasn't too bad sounding. Hmm - now you have me thinking I can do it!!!

    I like all you other ADR choices. The only one that I might change is Hollywood and Vine F! package. The food isn't that great.. BUT - it wasn't terrible either. I have heard good things about Mama Melrose F!

    We loved Askershaus!!!
     
  8. eaj1228

    eaj1228 Mouseketeer

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    We love Wolfgang Pucks Express in Downtown Disney. Great options for a counter service. We stayed at SSR last year and went to Wolfgang Puck Express several times. Everything I tried awesome.

    Congrats on your weight loss. I too am trying to make it to a goal prior to my Disney trip.

    POFQ is an awesome resort. It is so relaxing and we loved the size of the resort. Please have a beignet for me.
     
  9. PixieMama

    PixieMama DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! :)

    Congrats on your weight loss! I'm also in the process of losing weight... DH and I are on week 10 of a 12 week program. So far I've lost 25 lbs, and hope to lose at least 5 more while on the program. After that, I'm hoping to lose another 20 lbs (at least) by the time we go on our anniversary trip in October!

    We've never been to any of the water parks, so I don't have any personal recommendations on those... but my BFF has been to Typhoon Lagoon and loved it.

    As for quick service meals at DTD, I can suggest Earl of Sandwich... I ate there twice on my trip last year! Very yummy. I've also heard nothing but good things about Wolfgang Puck Express, but haven't been there myself. I think I also read somewhere that it's the best quick service value in all of WDW.

    If you can book the Dessert Party, I say go for it! Especially if you love sweets, LOL. I went last year and had a great time. There's a ton of desserts (and variety) and it was so nice to have somewhere to sit and enjoy Wishes.
     
  10. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much! :love:

    Thank you! We know we'll probably never do the Deluxe Dining Plan again, especially if we are going with children. :love:

    Thank you! 35 pounds does make me feel different. I see the difference mostly in how my clothing fits and the change in clothing sizes. I can now wear non-plus sized shirts and am SO CLOSE to non-plus sized pants. I'm still not able to look in the mirror and see a difference. Luckily, my husband is very supportive and will be very honest with me and tell me if the clothes I'm wearing are too big. :love:

    Thank you! We picked Boatwright's because POFQ didn't have a table service restaurant, and J is a lover of Louisiana-style food. I haven't truly thought out transportation yet, but we are driving down instead of flying, so I figure if I can't figure out a semi-painless way, we'll drive. :lmao: Hollywood & Vine was J's choice. He's pretty set in not changing it, but I've been looking at the reviews and they don't seem great. I may change it and just not tell him. He probably won't remember by July anyway. :rotfl: I tried to read reviews of each restaurant and look at menus before I made my decisions.

    Thank you! I think I have J talked into making a trip to Wolfgang Puck Express on the night we arrive. I may try to squeeze in some shopping that evening, depending on how tired we are from the drive. We will definitely be having some beignets :)

    Congrats on your weight loss as well. We're currently doing the 17 Day Diet in an attempt to change our overall eating habits. The first cycle of it has been really hard for me, as I LOVE my carbs. J has been doing quite well, and has lost almost 7 pounds in roughly a week and a half - this is mostly with portion control and much more exercise than we were getting. The diet itself is not that much different than the one given to me by my trainer. I, however, have only lost about 2 pounds in the last week and a half. I will probably add some running back in in the next week, since it seems that is what really works for me (as much as I hate it). I have a feeling we may be making a stop at Earl of Sandwich at some point for J. We're hoping that we'll be able to snag a reservation for the Dessert Party, but I've also heard tables for 2 are the hardest to get. :love:

    I've already made one change to our dining plans since I posted the itinerary above. We decided to switch our Trail's End reservation to Kona Cafe. I've read great things about Tonga Toast, and we both really want to try it. I didn't see anything special about Trail's End, other than run of the mill breakfast buffet foods. And I think I'm going to look into Mama Melrose's in place of Hollywood & Vine. Thank you all for your support and suggestions! :love:
     
  11. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Vacation Part 2: Switch to Universal

    After budgeting our money for Disney, we wanted to do our Universal portion as cheaply as possible. The three Universal partner hotels were way out of our price range. Hotels, plus park tickets…I didn’t think we’d be able to do Universal. I started racking my brain, messing with package options. I wanted an affordable hotel, but something clean, comfortable, and reputable. I completely forgot about having AAA. J suggested searching for AAA discounts. I was able to book a package through AAA for four nights at the Holiday Inn at the Entrance to Universal, with three days of park tickets and a breakfast reservation at Three Broomsticks for roughly $740. Considering that the tickets are almost $300 of that total, I didn’t think that was bad. I did see a few cheaper packages, but according to my research, this hotel is walking distance. Included in the package is also early entry into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – our main reason for going. Aside from our Three Broomsticks breakfast reservation, we have no dining plans. I welcome any suggestions. Also, we may get the Express Passes for one of our Islands of Adventure days – does anyone have any experience with this? Is it worth the money?

    July 15th
    Park: Islands of Adventure
    Breakfast: Three Broomsticks
    Lunch: ???
    Dinner: ???

    July 16th
    Park: Universal Studios
    Breakfast: ???
    Lunch: ???
    Dinner: ???

    J wants to see a wrestling taping, if they are happening at that time. He has put up with my mania in planning this trip, so I’m willing to grant him that wish.

    July 17th
    Park: Islands of Adventure
    Breakfast: ???
    Lunch: ???
    Dinner: ???

    July 18th
    Depart for home :(
     
  12. MelMel11

    MelMel11 Mouseketeer

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    Count me in!! Were going in July also we will be there July 8 thru July 15..
     
  13. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Awesome! It's exciting to see other people posting plans around the same time we are going. :)

    To update on the Hollywood & Vine/Mama Melrose debate, Mama Melrose doesn't have any openings for dinner on the day we're planning on going, so we're probably going to stick with Hollywood & Vine. With such mixed reviews, it does concern me, but as J said, if we eat there and don't like it, we don't go there again. I know I shouldn't stress out about one meal; it won't ruin our trip if it isn't great, but I might ruin our trip if I stress out about every little thing (which I am prone to do).
     
  14. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Off the Beaten Path

    J is very interested in doing some things that are “hidden gems.” On our list so far:

    Play mini-golf
    Carriage ride at POR
    Characters in Flight
    Pick an oyster in EPCOT (Japan)
    Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom (for J)
    Swim in the Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon
    Electrical Water Pageant (after dinner at Kona Cafe)

    I'd love to add some interesting things to this list, so if you know of anything interesting, let me know.
     
  15. onescgirl

    onescgirl DIS Veteran

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    The pick-a-pearl in Japan is fun to do at least once. Then you will have a pearl to remember your trip/anniversary.
     
  16. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    We're getting closer... :cloud9:

    [​IMG]

    I have a couple of additions/details/changes to my schedule, but this week is going to be extremely hectic at work, so I'm not sure when I'll get to it. More to come!
     
  17. Angies1274

    Angies1274 DIS Veteran

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    :woohoo: for being in double digits!!


    Great idea to try some "hidden gems"! We are hoping to try mini-golf as well. I'm not sure we will be able to fit it in this trip but hopefully. I've also heard great things about the pick a pearl in Japan. Have you thought about a setting? I know some people on the boards order some cute Cinderella carriage pearl cages on ebay. They are really pretty and affordable.
     
  18. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    I've seen the Cinderella carriage setting, but I'm not sure how big of a pearl they hold. I'll have to look into it - they are very pretty.

    I have our first day planned to go into the water park and then we'll do mini-golf. I know we won't be at the water park the whole day - and then that way my 7 day pass won't start until the next day, and I'll be able to go into the parks for the whole day on the day we leave. (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach don't take a day out of my pass, they just take a day off the water park and more option...right?)

    Also...PhotoPass+...I'm kind of interested in upgrading, since I already pre-paid for the regular PhotoPass CD. Thoughts on this? If I understand it right, we don't have to pay for the photo packages at the character restaurants to get them added to PhotoPass+. If that's true, then it would really benefit us since we have several character meals.
     
  19. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    Things We'll Miss Out On

    Snow White's Scary Adventure is closing at the end of May. I didn't get the ride it on my first trip, and I obviously won't get the chance this time. I'm kind of sad that this ride will be gone forever. I've watched videos on Youtube of it, and although it looks cheesy, I still would have liked to ride it.

    Test Track will be closed for refurbishment during our stay. This really disappoints me. The first time I was at Disney, I had a FastPass for Test Track. It broke down and was down the rest of the day - and that was my only day at Epcot.

    Cape May Cafe was one of our original plans for dining, but it will be closed for refurbishment starting July 9th. I wasn't able to make a reservation for our first two days.

    Dining Changes

    July 11th - Hollywood & Vine changed to Mama Melrose for dinner. Yay!

    Decisions, Decisions...

    We can't decide on Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens for mini golf. Depending on what how long it takes, we may try to fit both in. J and I both love mini golf (and we can get very competitive with each other, which makes a lot of fun - we like to joke around and harass each other).

    We've decided to go with Typhoon Lagoon for July 7th, and Blizzard Beach on July 12th. Even though we have a 1:50 lunch ADR on this day, Blizzard Beach as AM EMH, so that will give us an extra hour. I'm hoping if we get there first thing in the morning, we'll be able to do most of what we want to. J and I like water parks, but aren't the type to spend the whole day swimming. We'll ride the slides we want to, take a trip in the lazy river, maybe swim for a little bit, and then we'll be sick of the water.

    We're taking an IllumiNations Fireworks Cruise on July 14th. I think this will be the perfect end to our time at Disney. Also, we've decided to park hop on this day. We'll go and ride our favorite rides, and try a few quick service places.

    We've also filled in some of the gaps in our plan - I'm nothing if not a planner. This is mostly for transportation purposes, as we've decided to mainly drive our own car since we have 3 ADRs on most days. I'm going to try to do a more in-depth day by day plan soon.
     
  20. PixieMama

    PixieMama DIS Veteran

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    Aw, that is a bummer you're going to miss SWSA and TT :sad1:

    But, it sounds like you have lots of fun things planned! The fireworks cruise would be a great way to cap off your vacation!

    I think I mentioned this (?) but we haven't done either water park... nor have we done the mini-golf. Maybe we'll get to those on the next family trip! My oldest DD has been to a local water park (her first and only time, she went with a friend) and she LOVED it. And we all like to play mini-golf (I can get a bit competitive with my DH, too!)
     
  21. andapanda

    andapanda Mouseketeer

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    I had started a countdown when we were oh....300 days out. However, the school year started and it got put aside. I had a really elaborate idea that was just too time consuming to do for 300 days. This past weekend, I decided to revamp the countdown for our last 75 days (WOOHOO, ONLY 75 DAYS!!)

    [​IMG]

    I should add, that picture was taken with a Nikon Coolpix S3100. I got it on clearance (I think at Walmart), and I like it because it's so slim. We'll be taking that camera in addition to our DSLR (We don't plan on having the DSLR with us all the time). I don't really have the hang of it yet, so I better start practicing.

    We have switched a few restaurants around the past few days, once my husband learned of The Garden Grill (and the fact that it has Chip and Dale, high on the top of his list of characters to meet), and wanted to find a way to fit it in. So, I swapped out The Captain's Grille for the Garden Grill, and moved The Captain's Grille to July 14th, I think at 6:00, so we'll already be at the Yacht Club for the fireworks cruise.
     

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