I am proud to be a cheapskate. I very rarely pay full price for anything. If there is a discount available I take it and I am proud of all that I am able to accomplish for my family and maintain our very tight budget. That being said Disney has alluded us. I have wanted to go so bad I could taste it...for years. My husband thought it was a frivolous expense. His idea of a vacation was a primitive campsite for a long weekend. Maybe it has something to do with the way we were brought up. My family took vacations every year his family never went anywhere and the idea of having a job that paid vacation time was a novelty. In his large family if they weren't working they weren't making money. Sorry I digress... Just over 2 years ago I started working for AAA. A Mecca for all things Disney and Discounts. I think my first day at work I began plotting how to get us out of Chicago and down to Orlando. Free dining 2007 came and went... no money + new job = no vacation. 2008 beckoned and vacation time loomed overhead. My husband got a pacemaker in February and my DS 13 was diagnosed with Aspergers and spent several weeks in the hospital dealing with extreme depression. Vacation time used for family + Medical bills = no extra money for Disney. So long Free Dining 2008... I formulated my plan and got others on my side. I found Disney Fans within our circle of friends at church. They plotted with me and feigned shock and awe that my husband and 2 children had never been. "Why that's cruel and unusual punishment" they told him. I said what better way to boost our DS mood than to go to the happiest place on earth. I socked away the "stimulus" payout in '08 and prepared for a nice Tax return due to the excessive Medical bills. Thanks Uncle Sam! Now there was just the final discussion with my DH. He asked if he said yes this once would he be lassoed into going every year? "Of course not dear" I said "this is a once in a Lifetime vacation" (do you think he noticed my fingers were crossed) And that was that, deposit was made Free Dining '09 was going to be my year! Here is how the trip was planned out: Sept 14-19th: Pop Century non preferred 6 Day Park Hopper FREE DINING DH 43 Birthday = Birthday Fun card MNSSHP 9/18 no insurance No air (we will drive and stop to see his family in GA) All our AAA extra Benefits Fast forward to end of June and DD 7 catches a cold. DH agrees to stay home from work to watch her by the time her fever broke 3.5 days later DH was feeling her pain. The only difference was he wasn't feeling better after a few days. A trip to the Doctor, became a trip to the ER, became 72 hours in isolation with the possibility of FLU! I could feel Free Dining slipping out of my fingers. Sure I was worried about my DH but I knew he would get better. All I could see was this very similar scenario replaying itself just days before we were supposed to head to WDW. A quick call to my co-worker and Travel Agent and all was well The changes were as follows: 5 day base ticket Travel Insurance--Non Disney All total switching to the 5 day base from the park hopper saved us just over $200 and buying the Insurance added just over $100. That was an extra $100 to spend in the House of Mouse. Time to Make those ADR's: We got everything we wanted after some tedious nail biting: Monday DHS--50's Prime Time--7:00PM Tuesday AK--1900 Park Fare--8:20PM (we hope to Picnic with the animals this day) Wednesday EP--Beirgarten--7:30 PM DH Birthday his choice Thursday MK--AAA Storytime--Crystal Palace--6:00PM Friday MK--BBB --PL -- Whispering Canyon--5:00PM It took several days of phone calls and repeated checking when the online system opened up to get the times just the way I wanted them. I think 1900 Park Fare is a little late but I am hoping to see the Electric Water Parade after from the Contemporary Beach. OK by now your asking so what is the surprise??? Well we haven't told the Kids where we are going other than a long weekend to GA!!! They have no idea. I have never ever kept a secret like this from them other than Christmas stuff! It just started out that we would wait until we were past the point of return (45 days out) because our plans always change last minute and I didn't want to disappoint them. Well 45 days came and went and we were having so much fun not telling them and thinking of options on how to surprise them if we did wait that we figure "what the heck, let's see how long we can carry this." I spend obnoxious amounts of time looking for tips and suggestions on the Computer or reading pamplets and books about Disney. I have the '09 Passporter and the '09 Birnbaum. Both at a discount through AAA. We have told the children that I am studying to earn a certificate from Disney for my work. They do offer a program called College of Knowledge, but I do Auto Travel, not sell Travel Packages so I don't really need it. I figure though it wouldn't hurt to get it. Ya know "Brownie Points". They seem pretty satisfied with that explanation but I can tell my DD7 has been bitten by the Disney bug as she likes to watch over my shoulder as I read web page after web page and look at all these really cool pictures of all we will see and do. She even offered me her money in her piggy bank to help finance the trip (how sweet was that) My DH on the other hand would rather this trip not even exist...he is acting like Grumpy when I even mention the impending travel plans. Its hard to believe his favorite character is Tigger! Well I guess I have over stayed my welcome here... I will try and post more background info another time. In the meantime I would appreciate any suggestions on the big reveal!