Starting Early ... Nove 2014 PTR (PLANNING update! 4/11/14)

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by arianrose, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    Here's the backstory to this adventure:

    In 2004, I went to WDW for my first time as an adult. It was a budget, seat-of-our pants trip. We stayed off-site, ate food we made ourselves, and tried really hard to do way too much. (Part of this included making the 29 hour trip from Minnesota in one go, in a minivan, with 5 adult drivers.) We survived because, well, we were in our 20s, and we were young and immortal. I loved every minute of it, and hoped I would one day go back.

    Flash forward to about 6 years ago: I found out that my current partner (now my wife!)*, and the love of my life, has never been. I start thinking a little bit about how to get her there, but we're still solidly working class and I'm working my way out of debt from a previous relationship.

    Flash forward again to about 3 years ago: my partner is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. We make it through (she's been clean for 4 years as of this April! :cheer2:), but it levels our finances. Despite this, I come back to the thought that I want to take her to Disney. For us, to share that magic with her.

    Flash forward to about a week ago: we've recovered nicely. She's been clean; I've bought us a house. I'm the budgeter and planner in the family, so I take a good long look at our finances, and discover that we can afford a wonderful trip to WDW in November ... 2014, for our 8th anniversary.

    Okay, I know I'm a year and a half out, but I want to start planning now! A part of the fun of doing things for me is the planning and anticipation.

    I've started planning a 6 night/7 day trip. I know I can't show her everything in one trip, but I want to make it special for her. This time, we're going to stay onsite, eat onsite, and visit a combination of what I remember most fondly, and what I think she will enjoy the most.

    Here's where we're at so far:
    • I'd like to get the special occassion buttons I've read about: Anniversary for both of us, and 1st Visit for her. Do they still do those?
    • I'm thinking Port Orleans - French Quarter for our stay. I'd love to stay at the Polynesian or the Contemporary, but can't quite swing a Deluxe this trip. - Plans change! Now we're staying at BWV. Check out the updates!
    • I'm hoping to schedule it so we can hit both MNSSHP and the Food and Wine Festival. We're huge foodies, and our anniversary is on November 1. - Another change in plans! We won't be there in time for MNSSHP.
    • I'm thinking (so far): 2 days in MK, 2 days in Epcot, and splitting the other days in DHS, Downtown Disney, and the Boardwalk. Mostly, I just want to go to DHS to show her the fireworks. Does, um, does that seem like too much? (I'm betting we don't manage to make it to the Boardwalk. If she seems too tired, I'll suggest we hop the boat over to Port Orleans Riverside and take a carriage ride or rent a surrey bike.)
    • We are planning to come back to our room after lunch everyday and take a nap, so we can take advantage of the night hours.
    • I've come up with a few places to eat that I think we'd both enjoy so far (keep in mind that we will cut anything else to get really great food): Chef Mickey's for breakfast, Spirit of Aloha, Raglan Road, and the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater are the places I'd most like to hit. I've run the numbers, and it doesn't look like the dining plan would actually save us money, because of the dinner show and the reservation at Chef Mickeys - plus we'll be snacking our way through Epcot. Anyone want to chime in on what food we should absolutely not miss?
    • I'm trying to think of the most iconic rides/attractions to show her. I want to do Space Mountain, of course, but wouldn't mind skipping the other mountains. Mostly, though, I haven't looking into it too much.
    • For MNSSHP, we're thinking we're going to go as OrgXIII members from Kingdom Hearts, but I don't know if a black, full-length coat is the best idea in Florida. We're from Minnesota, so we don't get along well with heat.
    • She adores parades ... I've heard a little of the Electric Light Parade, but don't know much about it. And there are daily parades in MK and Epcot, IIRC, but can any one help with suggestions?
    • She also loves trains, so I'm thinking about springing for the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains tour. Is it any good?
    • I'm conflicted about PhotoPass. Shoryl doesn't take pictures, but I like to. Mostly, though, I enjoy macro photography, so I'm likely to have a lot of pictures of things like individual flowers. I'm thinking it might be worth it to have pictures of both of us.
    • Okay, I'll leave it there for now. I'd love frequent-goers and enthusiasts to chime in. I want to show my girl the time of her life (er, within budget and time constraints).

    I know it's a little crazy to start planning this early, but it's an attempt to both 1) up the excitment, and 2) act as an incentive to save. (Whenever we want to go out to eat, I just say "or ... do we want to go to Disney?" Sometimes we want to go out to eat, but sometimes we agree to stay home and cook something.)

    Phew! It seems like everything I research brings up 10 new things to learn! :scared1:

    Oh, about us (which I've seen on some trip reports):

    I'm 36, and a systems analyst. I'm also a knitter, video gamer, writer, SF geek, and a whole host of other hobbies. They seem to follow me home like strays. :rotfl2: This is me, from our August wedding.

    [​IMG]

    She's 43, and mostly plays a whole lot of World of Warcraft. If I'm a hobby dilettante, she's a dedicated specialist. She's also got an amazing spirit of whimsy, and will absolutely adore the parades, character interactions, and shiny ... well, everything. For example, this is her at the zoo, watching the fish, after going through the children's pay/water area. :confused3

    [​IMG]


    *She enjoys her privacy, so goes by the handle Shoryl.

    The Pre-Trip Planning Index:
    Getting There
    The Money
    Planning our Days (also known as "Ari rambles all over the thread")
    The day my plans completely changed!
    The (First) Wedding Post
    The Calendar is out! - NEW! 04/11/14
     
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  3. autoracepr989

    autoracepr989 Mouseketeer

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    Welcome!!! I'm joining in to follow along with your planning. If you need help just ask & I would think that someone will help answer whatever question you have.
     
  4. wwwosie

    wwwosie Mom by Day - Disney Freak by Night

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    Hi! If you have never seen the Main Street Electrical Parade, I highly recommend it! Also, if you can swing it, apply for a Disney Visa card, many perks that will make your trip more enjoyable!!!
     
  5. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    @autoracepr989 Thank you! It's always nice to have others along for the ride.

    @wwwosie I've actually been accepted for a Disney Visa, but it hasn't yet come in the mail. I'm not-so-patiently waiting...
     
  6. laur roo

    laur roo Mouseketeer

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    French Quarter is a great resort. I have stayed there twice in the past and it's wonderful. The size of the resort is smaller than any other so its very easy to navigate around, the main areas are close to every building, and even if your room doesn't have a view of the river, you can see it just by walking for a minute or two from your room.

    Good luck with planning your trip, I think I'll follow along too! It will be interesting to see how your trip plans unfold with so much time left to ponder!!:thumbsup2
     
  7. SnoWhiteRabbit

    SnoWhiteRabbit DIS Veteran

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    Not too early for planning :) Sounds like a great trip. French Quarter is great.

    I'm planning a trip for April 2014...To celebrate 1 year cancer free (just finished treatment this month...planning ahead & thinking positively). It is nice to have something to look forward to! (and the incentive to save :)

    As foodies, plan on spending time eating your way through the food & wine festival. This can easily take the place of a meal. It's tons of fun to try lots of different samples.

    I love photo pass, in order to get some pictures of the whole group together...
    If you only want two or three pictures of the two of you, you can order individual prints after the trip, but if you are going to take pictures every chance you can, then it's worth pre-purchasing the CD.

    Good luck & have fun planning :)
     
  8. happybelle

    happybelle DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! :goodvibes
     
  9. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    @SnoWhiteRabbit: Oh my goodness! Congratulations for completing treatment! That's a huge undertaking. (Our motto when Shoryl was undergoing treatment was "it's better than the alternative!") What a wonderful gift to yourself, too. :thumbsup2

    @happybelle: Glad to have you along!
     
  10. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    I thought I should finally fill this in, more than a year after reserving the post. >.>

    Anyhow, the drive is a long one - from Minneapolis, MN to Disney! Here's how we think it's going to go down:

    Day 1: Drive from Minneapolis to Cincinnati (about 12 hours).


    Why Cincinnati? My parents live there! Not only will I get to spend more time with them, but we'll get to sleep for free. :thumbsup2 We'll eat cheap on the road (probably Subway), and stop as little as we can. (Some complications to that last part: I am the only driver (Shoryl doesn't drive), and Shoryl also has a back injury that means she needs to get out of the car every so often.)

    Day 2: Drive from Cincinnati to somewhere in Georgia, maybe outside Atlanta? (Aim for 10 hours of driving)

    Why Atlanta? Well, that seems to leave us about 5 hours of driving on our first "Disney Day," which seems a nice, leisurely pace. I'm currently looking at hotels in the area that offer a "bed and breakfast" package, or at least a continental breakfast. We'll eat cheap on the road again, because after all, Disney food is right around the corner!

    Day 3: Drive from ~Atlanta to DISNEY

    If we get on the road at 9 (not at all an unreasonable hour), then we can be at BWV sometime between 2-4 pm. That means a whole afternoon of exploring the resport, unpacking, and maybe a late ressie at Kouzzina!

    So that's the driving plan. All told, I'm estimating about $1200 to get down there. That's about what round trip tickets would cost us, but includes a nice leisurely pace, seeing my family, and not having to endure the discomfort of being pooh sized on a flight.

    Is it November yet?
     
  11. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    I thought it would be fun to share our budget, and how close we make it by the end of the trip. As I said in my intro, I'm the budgeter, and I actually usually do a fairly good job. (I overestimate a lot.)
    Blue indicates out-of-pocket; purple indicates something I can use Disney gift cards for.

    Upfront Costs
    Room: $1258 (assumptions: 6 nights @ POFQ; 3% increase from quoted rates for same week in 2013; no discount applied)
    Tickets: $588/$713 (assumptions: without/with Park Hopper; 3% increase from quoted rates for same week in 2013; no discount applies)
    MNSSHP Tickets: $134 (assumptions: Oct 28 or Oct 30; 6% increase over 2012 price)
    Misc: $460 (new robes, KH t-shirts, Vera Bradley bag, randomly guessed $100 per costume to create)
    Total Upfront: $2440 - $2565 ($460/$1980 - $2105)

    Getting There
    Day 1: Minneapolis to Cincinnati
    Gas: $150 (assumptions: 300 per 12 gallon tank, gas @ $4/gal)
    Groceries for the car and Disney: $100 (assumptions: snacks and soda for the drive; breakfasts at the park)
    Lunch on the road: $20 (assumptions: fast food)
    Dinner on the road: $50 (assumptions: "family" restaurant, like Perkins, Denny's, etc)
    Overnight: $0 (staying with my parents)
    Total Day 1: $320

    Day 2: Cincinnati to Atlanta(ish)
    Gas: $100 (assumptions: as above)
    Breakfast: $0 (Dad is cooking for me!)
    Lunch on the road: $20 (assumptions: same as above)
    Dinner on the road: $50 (assumptions: same as above)
    Hotel stay: $100 (looking at a B&B at a hotel off I-75)
    Total Day 2: $270

    Day 3: Atlanta(ish) to Disney
    Gas: $100 (assumptions as above)
    Breakfast: $0 (assumptions: B&B package at hotel)
    Lunch on the road: $20 (assumptions: same as above)
    Dinner at Quick Service: $30 (assumptions: average of several "test menus")
    Carriage Ride @ POR: $90 (assumptions: stable pricing)
    Drinks at the bar: $30 (assumptions: $12 cocktails; $5 tip)
    Total Day 3: $270 ($210/$60)

    Whew! That at least gets me to the park.

    .....

    Running Total: $3300 - $3425 ($1260/$2040 - $2165)
     
  12. happybelle

    happybelle DIS Veteran

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    Thank you!
     
  13. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    I'm discovering what really happens when you have this much time to plan ... Is that you change your mind an awful lot!


    After picking POFQ as our favorite moderate, I did some number crunching and discovered that we could rent points at BWV for less. If there's anything available, of course. I'm thinking.... Since the Food & Wine Festival is a big draw for us, maybe that's a better location anyway?

    I was also thinking I could make an ADR for Crystal Palace breakfast on our first full day to make it easier to take the bus to MK. :P

    What do you guys think? Based on my estimates, switching to BWV could save us about $300 (keeping in mind that I'm totally guessing on 2014 rates), and give us a walking path out of WS. Plus, it'd be kind of inconvenient to rent a carriage I think. So that's another $90 saved, but possibly eaten up by spending more by being right there on the Boardwalk.

    I mentioned that I like to plan, right.

    DISers, chime in! What would you do? (Remember, we have no kids.)
     
  14. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    A tentative touring plan (because its still a year and a half away, really). Expect these notes to make progressively more sense the closer we get. I really can't believe I'm even attempting this so far out.

    Day 1: Shoryl has requested MK for our first day. So I'm thinking an early morning ADR at Crystal Palace to get there nice and early. (Hmm... Can we get back to the front of the park to see the opening show?) based on suggestions, we'll be starting in Adventureland, picking up POC, Jungle Cruise, and the Tiki room. Not sure her back will do thrill rides, so starting out slow. Also, I think that's the best concentration of non-princess Disney ambiance. From there, maybe cut across Main Street to get FPs in Tomorrowland, and go counter-clockwise around the park. She's going to want to ride the train, too.

    Second day in MK will be whatever day we have tickets for MNSSHP. Morning will be the train tour. Not sure there are any ADRs we want, though.

    Two days in Epcot. One day we'll get there early and do Future World. The other will be the day after MNSSHP, so we can sleep in and go to WS at 11. Still contemplating an ADR at Biergarten, but I'm sure we'll be much too stuffed from a day doing F&W. Hmmm. We only get one ADR in Epcot, then, unless we get hoppers. WS day would be a great day to see IllumiNations.

    One day in DHS to get my RNR fix, then whatever else she wants to see. Not enchanted by any TS places here, but want to show my fireworks-loving girl Fantasmic!

    Want to get an ADR for the dinner show at the Poly on 11/1, to celebrate our anniversary. Is that over early enough to see Wishes on the beach? Hmm... This would be a non MK day, which means giving up time somewhere else ... Maybe the Future World day at Epcot?

    We leave on a Sunday ... House of Blues gospel brunch sounds like a blast. Can we take time to shop DTD too, even with a 6 hour drive after that? Might have to see how I feel. Could also hit DTD the day we come in. No ADRs or anything, jus take it easy.

    What I'd love it to look like:

    11/27: arrive, DTD?, explore boardwalk (if at BWV), or carriage/explore resort if at POR/POFQ.

    11/28: MK day 1 (that's a Tuesday, so avoiding MK on a Monday)

    11/29: DHS, maybe take an extended break at the hotel (see what we want, then head back in at 6... If they're open that late. Need to find out when Fantasmic is that day)

    11/30: MNSSHP (train tour in AM).

    11/31: Epcot for WS and Illuminations

    12/1: Epcot day 2, luau at Poly (could rest for quite a bit of the afternoon, depending on how long Future World takes...)

    12/2: Brunch, maybe a little shopping, head out.

    Looking at that ... I want another day. *sigh*

    And I have no idea if MNSSHP will be available on the 30th, of course. It's not this year... Which means 2 consecutive days in MK, then not going back, which isn't the best. Don't want to leave a day sooner, because I want to be there for our anniversary, but I'm not sure I can afford another day. And we're missing AK entirely, only because something had to be cut.

    Or, if MNSSHP was available the day after we arrived.., then that would be day 1, and I could put the other MK day wherever I wanted, with the AM train tour, then finishing up whatever we missed on day 1. Choices...

    Anyone want to shoot holes in this? You've got 12 months or so to comment. :rolf:
     
  15. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    This information is from 2013, of course, for the equivalent days as our planned trip in 2014. I'm just sticking it here, so that I can use it as a reference for what is likely, not set in stone for next year.

    Tuesday 10/29/13
    MK 9-7
    Afternoon parade: 3pm
    MSEP: None
    Wishes: None
    MNSSHP

    Epcot 9-9 (+1 AM)
    IllumiNations: 9pm

    DHS 9-7:30
    Afternoon parade: "dark" <-- I know this one is going away
    Fantasmic! 7:30

    Wednesday 10/30/13
    MK 9-9
    Afternoon parade: 3pm
    MSEP: 8pm
    Wishes: 9pm

    Epcot 9-9 (+2 PM)
    IllumiNations: 9pm

    DHS 9-7:30
    Afternoon parade: "dark"
    Fantasmic! 7:30

    Thursday 10/31/13
    MK 9-7 (+1 AM) <--Wow, that would be a loooong day
    Afternoon parade: 3pm
    MSEP: None
    Wishes: None
    MNSSHP

    Epcot 9-9
    IllumiNations: 9pm

    DHS 9-7:30
    Afternoon parade: "dark"
    Fantasmic! 7:30

    Friday, 11/1/13
    MK 9-7
    Afternoon parade: 3pm
    MSEP: None
    Wishes: 9pm <-- ?????
    MNSSHP

    Epcot 9-10
    IllumiNations: 10pm

    DHS 9-7:30
    Afternoon parade: "dark" <-- I know this one is going away
    Fantasmic! 7:30

    Saturday 11/2/13
    MK 9-9
    Afternoon parade: 3pm
    MSEP: 8pm
    Wishes: 9pm

    Epcot 9-10
    IllumiNations: 9pm

    DHS 9-7:30 (+1 AM)
    Afternoon parade: "dark"
    Fantasmic! 7:30


    So, if I were going this year, I'd do this:

    11/29: MK (no ADR, no tour), MNSHHP
    10/30: F&W at Epcot, evening EMH
    10/31: MK EMH, train tour, maybe earrrrly ADR at CP (if you can do that), evening at the Poly for the luau (if they're having one that night)
    11/1: Epcot, Future World and finish up what we missed in WS
    11/2: DHS (EMH), finish our vacation by relaxing in the resort in the evening
     
  16. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    Well. I knew I was tempting fate, by planning so early. But even though my plans are changing, I couldn't be more ecstatic. You see ...

    I'm getting married! :dance3:

    Minnesota passed a law yesterday that will allow my girlfriend and I to get married in our lovely home state. We're "eloping" on August 1st (the first legal day), but we're planning a celebration that family and friends will be attending next year. We're thinking right before our Disney trip. Which will make the Disney trip our honeymoon! (Sorta)

    The reason "elope" is in quotes is because we've told our family, but with only a few months lead time, it would be prohibitively difficult for us to save and make plans, and for our loved ones to come see us. However, we really don't want to wait any longer than we have to! So we're going to get married at City Hall in August, then plan an actual ceremony and reception for next October. Sure, the legal part will have been done for more than a year, but that's not why people come to weddings.

    Needless to say, my budget is completely shot. All the money I thought I'd be able to save between now and November, 2014? Going to a ring, and clothes, and a venue, and catering, and a license, and, and .... :rotfl2:

    And that's not the only change! I also have invited my parents on the trip with us. I know, I know, a lot of people have said that going with extended family is a really bad idea. I can only offer the following excuses: my dad and I have a FANTASTIC relationship. Seriously, he's my favorite person, other than my fiancee; he and I are in complete agreement that we will not spend every moment together at the parks; and we are totally getting separate rooms, or at least a 2 bedroom villa.

    And really, that should help with some of my budgeting problems, as there are a few things we'll be able to split costs on.

    Until that update ... I'll be planning a wedding! :eek

     
  17. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    Note to self: Grand Floridian has a tea
     
  18. dvcmbr94

    dvcmbr94 Mouseketeer

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    Come on back and update your plans! How was the wedding? So happy that your state passed a same sex marriage law! I found your PTR when doing a search for "World of Warcraft". I've been playing for four years and was just looking to see who else plays. I'd love to read more about your plans.
     
  19. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    Hey, Ann, thanks for joining in! Shoryl is an avid WoW player, and I'm a seriously casual one. I just went back to school, so my account is on hold until the next expansion, but I still love the world and the character.

    Update coming ... soon! (Maybe tomorrow?)
     
  20. arianrose

    arianrose Earning My Ears

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    So. This is not tomorrow. It's not even the same year as "yesterday." But I'm finally back with the info on our August "legalling."

    We had a tiny wedding ceremony in "Cancer Survivor's Park" in the middle of downtown on August 1 - the first day we were legally allowed to marry in our state.

    We followed that with happy hour at a local restaurant with our coworkers (we work for the same company). The friends and family Grand Ceremony will be this November, right before our trip to the World. But more on that in the coming months. For now, pictures!

    [​IMG]
    AugWedding03 by arianrose, on Flickr

    Before the ceremony. I am the grinning redhead, and my lovely wife is (glaring? :confused3) at my flowers. We purchased the flowers at the local farmers' market while we walked to the park.

    [​IMG]
    AugWedding4.6 by arianrose, on Flickr

    Also before the ceremony, where I'm standing with my "man of honor" - both of us on our phones. That's pretty common, actually.

    [​IMG]
    AugWedding13.2 by arianrose, on Flickr

    During the ceremony. Shoryl is now grinning, and I'm looking nervous as ;) .

    [​IMG]
    AugWedding08 by arianrose, on Flickr

    Our officiant teared up during the ceremony, as she talked about how historic a day it was, and how amazing it was to stand with us. I am desperately studying my flowers in a (vain) attempt to not start my own waterworks. To the surprise of no one, I barely held it together. My man of honor, in fact, was equipped with a packet of tissues that I had handed him before the ceremony. Know thyself, and all that.

    Next comes the big grand wedding on November 2, and then we leave for the World on Nov 3! Now that we're a teensy bit closer to the actual date, I'll have more updates soon (I hope, anyway.)
     
  21. twinsouvenirs

    twinsouvenirs Mother of Dragons :)

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    What fun!!!! Congratulations :) I used to be quite the WoW addict myself but I had to cut myself off for law school... then we had kids, and, well, they are not conducive to serious participation in a raiding guild :)

    Can't wait to hear more about your trip--BWV are great. I highly recommend renting DVC points. If you are hoping to rent for a period during food and wine, you should get on that ASAP because they book quickly, I'd say try to rent even before the 7 month window if possible. If you go through a broker like David's or the Timeshare Store, they hold your funds in escrow and it is a very safe rental transaction.

    The great part about renting DVC is that you can save a lot of money with the Kitchen (if you go with a one or two bedroom); even the studio kitchenettes are great. Pack/have groceries delivered for some easy breakfasts, lunches, and even dinners. You'd be surprised at how relieving it is to just eat SOMETHING in the room :)

    You can probably save a little extra by buying your tickets through undercover tourists... and even though I am a total park hopper, I would say you save soooo much money by not getting park hoppers that you may want to skip that option.

    Love Spirit of Aloha at the Poly :) And I think the CP breakfast is a great way to show her MK for the first time... no other way to get that magical picture of the two of you in front of the castle with no one else around :)

    Don't forget the fun free activities at the DVC resorts--they have evening campfires WITH SMORES and movies under the stars if you need a relaxing night.

    OH forgot... the tea at the Grand Floridian can be THE BEST on a hot afternoon. Very relaxing and delicious.
     

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