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The Darling Family June 2011: A Last Minute Budget Vacation

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by dismagiclover, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. dismagiclover

    dismagiclover Mrs. Darling: Mom to Wendy, John & Michael

    Joined:
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    :welcome: everyone! I know this report is a bit late, but I haven’t been DISing much this summer. I figure it is better late than never. Before I begin, I have a confession to make. I’m not sure this is the best place to make the confession because I have noticed that you are a bunch of enablers.:rolleyes1 But I’m going to make my confession anyway. (Gotta start somewhere, right?) I maybe just might have a small addiction to Disney World. There I said it. In a public forum too. That is got to count for something right? ;)

    First let me introduce you to the Darling Family.

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    We have DH. At home he masquerades as a government attorney. Also pictured are Wendy, age 11; John, age 9; and Michael, age 6.

    Here is the heroine of the story.

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    That is me, Jenny, proudly portraying my hard earned Mickey medal. I earned it last January and I’m still bragging about it.:woohoo:

    My addiction this past year has been very well fed. If you’d like to read all about it check out the links in my siggie. This trip was a bit different. It wasn’t planned months and months out. I didn’t agonize and map out every little detail.:eek: (Though my DH might claim it was still over planned.) It just came about rather quickly and by accident.

    Our Annual passes expired on Friday, June 17. The kids’ school was scheduled to end on Tuesday, June 14. Definitely not enough time to squeeze in a trip. Then rumors started flying about how school may end early to get a jump on some summer construction. This, of course, got me to thinking. (Always a scary thing.;)) If school ended on Friday, June 10 that would leave plenty of time to get a trip in. I anxiously awaited official word and mapped out a potential plan.

    I presented my plan to DH. He rolled his eyes and told me I had to find a way to pay for the trip out of our planned summer vacation budget. We always spend a few weeks out west visiting family every summer. This year we were adding a jaunt to CA on to the end of our trip. The plan was to spend some time at Disneyland, the beach and Legoland. Whatever I could squeeze out of the planned budget for this trip I could spend in Florida. So I started squeezing. I eliminated several nights in hotels and we stayed a bit longer with family. I also determined a single marathon day in Disneyland would do the trick. Presto! I had $1000 for Florida.:yay: How could I possibly do a week trip to Florida for a family of 5 for $1000? A little bit of Disney magic. We would drive down; passes were already paid for; we could use DVC points for 3 nights, and we had enough Disney reward points to cover most of our food at the parks. I presented this to DH and by some still unexplained miracle he thought it sounded like a great idea!

    Now the only suspense was the school schedule. We finally received word that the last day was Monday, June 13.:headache: Not what I was hoping for. However, 5th grade promotion was scheduled for Friday, June 10. So Wendy was in the clear. Michael was in kindergarten so I didn’t feel bad about pulling him. John, the 3rd grader, is my greatest Disney lover and assured me that all they would do is watch movies on the last day. So the trip was on! Let the adventure begin!popcorn::

    The Post pre-trip report

    Day 1: Travel Day

    Day 2: Dabbling in Star Wars Weekend
    Hilton Bonnet Creek

    Day 3: An Epcot Rope Drop
    Things Don't go as Planned
    Duffy the Disney Bear
    Just a Little More Epcot
    An Epcot Evening

    Day 4: A Hollywood Studios Morning
    My Secret Spot at Hollywood Studios
    Old Key West Check In and Dinner at Epcot
    An Old Key West Evening

    Day 5: Magic Kingdom at Last!
    More Magic Kingdom
    Even More Magic Kingdom
    And Still More Magic Kingdom
    Another Old Key West Evening

    Day 6: Animal Kingdom Here We Come
    More Animal Kingdom and More Photopass
    The Backlot Tour, A Lovely Boat Ride and Downtown Disney
    A Mother/Daughter Evening at the Magic Kingdom

    Day 7: It is All About the Bear
    Duffy Quest Completed
    The End
     
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  3. Tink2Day

    Tink2Day DIS Veteran

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    I'm in! I've lurked on your reports for a year, now I'm subbing!:cool1:
     
  4. ZFamily5

    ZFamily5 DIS Veteran

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    I'm in too! And I too have lurked on your previous reports!! My sisters are the same ages as Wendy and Michael!
     
  5. MEK

    MEK DIS Veteran

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    That's what an Annual Pass is for - to plan another vacation before it expires. Right?????

    I'm in. Great start!
     
  6. dismagiclover

    dismagiclover Mrs. Darling: Mom to Wendy, John & Michael

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    :welcome: I'm glad you decided to come out of lurkdom! This report will probaby lack the details of my previous report because I've forgotten lots of the details.:rolleyes1

    :welcome: I'm glad you are along for the ride. So do your little sisters drive you crazy? Wendy's little brothers sure drive her crazy:laughing:

    :welcome: Those squeeze in trips right before the AP expires are definitely one of the great perks!:goodvibes
     
  7. dismagiclover

    dismagiclover Mrs. Darling: Mom to Wendy, John & Michael

    Joined:
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    So I didn’t do a PTR because there wasn’t time. We had less than a month from the time we decided this vacation was happening. And as all you DISers know, a month when it comes to Disney World is a truly last minute vacation. First challenge was where to stay. For me there was no question.

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    Last summer my kids and I stayed in an Old Key West studio and had a marvelous time. I really wanted to show DH how relaxing a vacation at Disney World could be. Add to that the low point values of OKW and my curiosity about the size of the 1 bedroom units. (Everyone always raves about them.) So I was just hoping we could get in last minute. Disney magic was with me because when I called there was a 1 bedroom available for the days we wanted. I was feeling lucky and asked for the Hospitality House (a separate DVC booking category.) It wasn’t available, but I went on a waitlist for it thinking there was no way it would come through on such short notice. I was wrong though. About a week before our trip our waitlist came through.:banana:

    Unfortunately we only had enough points available for 3 nights at OKW and we were planning on spending 5 nights at WDW. So I needed to find someplace to stay the other 2 nights. And it had to be within our budget (which was $100 a night.) I toyed with the idea of POR Riverside (the only moderate that will sleep 5), but even with my AP rate it was over budget. So I made a reservation at Buena Vista Suites. It is off property, but it had come very well recommended. Then one day I was cruising around over on the Orlando resorts board and found a great deal at the Hilton Bonnet Creek.

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    For those of you not familiar with the Bonnet Creek area, it is a piece of property not owned by Disney World, but surrounded by Disney on 3 sides. It fourth side is bordered by I-4. Thus the only way you can access it is by going through Disney property. It is right behind the CBR. Frankly it is closer to both Epcot and DHS than most of the Disney resorts. By booking through Last Minute Travel we could stay there and keep within budget. I looked at one picture of the pool and decided to go for it. I really think it was a steal to be at such a nice hotel in such an incredible location for so cheap. ($89 a night.) Then I found a couple inexpensive hotels for the drive down and back and we had places to sleep for 7 nights.

    Next up was the food. We really weren’t planning on many ADRs. First of all I didn’t think much would be available and secondly table service at Disney would blowthe budget right out of the water. DH did mention one night how he’d missed eating at Garden Grill in January and I agreed. So we decided we would do one splurge and try for a Garden Grill ressie. Luckily after trying for a few days I finally snagged a 4:00 dinner reservation.:) Then Wendy saw a picture of the new refillable mugs and decided she just had to have one.:rolleyes:

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    At $15 a pop I didn’t think that fit in the budget either. But then I got to thinking. (Remember that is always a dangerous thing for me.;)) DVC had recently introduced the ability to split a reservation and only add the dining plan for part of your stay. So if we added the dining plan for just one day we would all get a mug good for the duration of the stay. Plus we could then use the dining plan to cover the Garden Grill. Only kink was the mug is not included in the regular dining plan. So what is a girl to do?:confused3 Obviously, my only choice was to add the deluxe plan for the first night. And luckily we had enough Disney reward points to cover it. So really we got the plan free, right? So that left me with 2 more ADRs to make. I’d always wanted to try lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern so I made one there. Then we just had to figure out one more dinner. Since we really wanted to spend some quality time at Old Key West we settled on Olivia’s. Then I noticed that DVC members get a 20% discount for lunch at Les Chefs de France. Well I have to take advantage of that when I’m on a budget. So our ADRs were set and all of them except Garden Grill were easy to get even though we were less than a month out.:woohoo:

    Last thing to figure out was our park schedule. We had arrival day, four full days and departure day. So we decided to hit a rope drop in each park with an evening in Epcot for Illuminations and an evening in the Magic Kingdom for Wishes. So the plans were set and we wouldn’t even have to wait too long to execute them.

    Next up: The trip begins.
     
  8. emmakatbaby

    emmakatbaby Proudmomof3

    Joined:
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    We did a "Surprise, we are going to WDW" vacation last summer with our kids. We also planned it very last minute. I received a "Kids Stay, Play and Eat for free" promotion in the mail with my Disney Visa bill and I just could not pass that up! So I started thinking, "how can I put all 5 of us in a value resort to stay in our budget?" Voila--"Let me invite my parents!" (Our trip was very last minute so we had a very stiff budget to follow. The flier was in my May bill and we left June 19th for 7 nights). :) My parents came also so we stayed at POP, put one child in their adjoining room with us and only had to pay for the room, tickets and quick service meals for the adults!!! Woohoo!!! :cool1: (When I get to thinking, it is very dangerous for us too!!) :lmao: We had a FABULOUS time.
    Then in October, a friend that I work with had a 2 bedroom room booked at Bay Lake Towers for the week of Thanksgiving. Her brother and his family decided that they could not go, so she invited me and my family :cheer2:!! I just could not pass that up either!! Another last minute trip!! So I started thinking again---remember this is dangerous for me too! I presented my plan to my DH and he said it was a GO!!!! :woohoo: I was beyond excited especially when I realized that we would see most of the Christams decorations. We had to buy tickets for all 5 of us this time, so we planned on eating many meals in the room and make full use of that full kitchen! We had an amazing, fabulous, wonderful time (did I use enough adjectives)!!!!!!!!

    Now March of 2011 comes around and I was showing all of my Disney Christmas pics to my parents, and they said "I would love to go at Christmas some year." My response--"Really, how about THIS Christmas? It can be a present for all of the grandkids. My Dsis and I can buy all of the "extras" that go along with a Disney trip as Christmas presents also." Their response was "why not, we never know what to buy them anyway". :dance3: We are going again!!! This time it was booked for Dec. 21st to Dec. 28th for my family, my parents and my sister and her family. A grand gathering Christmas. We are all soooo excited and since it is a present, the kids do not know anything about the trip.
    August of 2011 comes around and Disney announced free dining--I got to thinking again (uh-oh) :goodvibes. I looked at the dates of free dining and our dates-we missed it by 4 days. But hold up, if we take the kids out of school on the Monday and the half day on Tuesday, we can leave on the 17th, check in and have free dining for our entire stay---or could we. I plugged in dates on the website, called Disney to verify that my findings were correct and I called my parents screaming with excitement. I discovered that we can extend our stay to 11 nights, have free dining and save $600 per family!!!! :yay: So we rebooked and now we are staying for 11 nights, 10 days in the parks and free quick service dining for our entire stay!!

    My “thinking” has really paid off for my family and I can’t wait to see how it will for yours too! I really think it is a good trait sometimes :rotfl:.

    PS. I was just reading your tickers--our Christams trip is also my 40th B-day trip--Dec. 30th!!!!! and my family is really enjoying that little tidbit!
     
  9. lynn46356

    lynn46356 DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like a great start to a trip! I'm addicted to Disney too. I've got a Moms Only Trip planned for Jan/Feb and I'm working on a June family trip in my brain. :rotfl2: Disney planning is sooooo addicting. I'm especially interested in your trip because school ends for our youngest DS(13) on June 8th supposedly but you have to factor in snow days. Ugh. I'm not sure when to book our vacation but it will probably start Sunday June 17th. Looking forward to your June trip report!!!!!!
     
  10. DrMomof3

    DrMomof3 DIS Veteran

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    How awesome is that! A surprise trip to Disney!!!!

    Amanda
     
  11. Angies1274

    Angies1274 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in!:goodvibes I'm so excited to hear about your last minute trip!:thumbsup2 Glad you were able to get some great ADR's despite only having a month to plan.:goodvibes Can't wait for more.....popcorn::
     
  12. NMW

    NMW DIS Veteran

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    subscribing
     
  13. mimiloveswdw

    mimiloveswdw Proud Hufflepuff

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    Hi! I've always followed your TRs but just started posting this year :goodvibes WOW your plans make my head spin! That's AWESOME that you could figure all of that out and that it all fit! OKW looks so amazing...and I've heard great things about Olivia's! I'll be here reading along!
     
  14. BookTrout

    BookTrout Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    It seems like luck was on your side and your eagle eye and excellent planning skills saved the day.....and the budget, too. This sounds like a fun trip without any of the excessive planning (that would be my borderline obsessive planning mode, ahem:rolleyes1) that can make you feel like a rat in a maze sometimes. I can't wait to read more. :yay:
    Sharon
     
  15. MagicShell

    MagicShell DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait to hear all about your trip. I love your reports. :yay:
     
  16. MEK

    MEK DIS Veteran

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    Looking forward to see pics of OKW and Bonnet Creek. I am staying at OKW in December and it will be my first stay there. Can't beat the points for a studio. Really looking forward to it.

    Ah - yes - the dining dilemma. I am going through that now. I want to do two days of the DXDP and I am considering a third. What to do? :laughing:
     
  17. SmallWorld71

    SmallWorld71 DIS Veteran

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    Subscribing and off to check out some of your other reports. :goodvibes
     
  18. dismagiclover

    dismagiclover Mrs. Darling: Mom to Wendy, John & Michael

    Joined:
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    It sounds like you have some of the same "thinking skills" as me;) They do come in handy don't they! I am jealous of your upcoming Christmas trip! 11 nights would be awesome! I keep saying one of these summers I'm going for 2 weeks, but so far it hasn't happened. Where are you staying in December?

    I work on trips in my brain all of the time too! Sometimes those trips actually happen (like this past June!) I know that worry about trying to figure out when to start the vacation in June, but not knowing when school will actually end! Go as early as you can though. June gets more and more crowded the later it gets.

    Hello old friend! I'm happy to have you here.

    Hi Angie! So excited you found me! I love having old trip report friends stop by:hug: I noticed you have a ticker! Tell me all about it:goodvibes

    :welcome:
     
  19. dismagiclover

    dismagiclover Mrs. Darling: Mom to Wendy, John & Michael

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    I'm glad you made it out of lurkdom! It is pretty amazing the trip came together in such a short amount of time! Of course I'm always planning trips in my head so that helps out when I plan them for real life too:goodvibes

    Since we've visited so much lately it was easier to kind of let go of the details and just let the trip happen. There weren't any must dos. All of us knew this was just a bonus trip so everyone was pretty laid back. It made for a good trip.

    Hi! It's nice to have some old readers back:goodvibes

    I hear you on those point costs at OKW! They can't be beat (except maybe by BWV standard views.) I love OKW. It has such a relaxed vibe. I love the Epcot resorts because of the walk into World Showcase, but I think I like the atmosphere of OKW best. It just feels like you are in Florida! I don't know if its a good or bad thing that DVC has given us this Dining plan flexibility. Too many choices!!!!:laughing:

    :welcome:
     
  20. emmakatbaby

    emmakatbaby Proudmomof3

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    The resort choice was a huge decision as we are not DVC members......yet :thumbsup2. We are going as a grand gathering so we had to find a place that everyone could afford ;). I did alot of "thinking" and figuring of Disney Math and it seemed like our best deal was a value resort. We are staying at Pop!! My husband loves my family but really likes his "privacy" also and loves that fact that he can close the door and we have our own room and bathroom :rolleyes1. Since we are saving money by not staying in a moderate or deluxe- we are giving Christmas presents such as BBB, Pirates League, the Pirates Cruise, Pick a Pearl, the Sleigh Ride, Characters in Flight, and Horseback Riding at Fort Wilderness. We have free quick service dining, but we also made reservations at Chef Mickey's for Breakfast for our last meal before we leave and at Liberty Tree Tavern for Christmas Day for lunch. My mom, sister and I also have the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package booked for Le Cellulier! I am super excited about that! We also booked the Harmony Barber Shop for my dad. We have gone to Disney for years (my 13th trip) and he has always said he wanted to get his haircut there. So I am giving him that as a Christmas present. I have also booked the "Behind the Seeds Tour" for my parents as a present. So as you can see, we are having a true Disney Christmas. Santa will also bring a couple of toys for my younger kids and I can't wait see what they will be!! :rotfl: Their stockings will also have gift cards from "Disney" so they can buy a couple of souveniers from this trip because I know they will see things they just have to have :lmao:!
     
  21. chattadisser

    chattadisser Mouseketeer

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    Woo-Hoo! Another trip report! I have lurked on your previous trip reports and LOVE them! I kept tell myself that I needed to come out of lurkdom. Your report from the 1/2 marathon and the marathon inspired me and I am going to run the Princess 1/2 in February. :cool1: Can't wait! I've keep telling myself that I have to make sure that I leave enough time during the race to stop for character pictures.

    Can't wait to read about the trip!

    Christine
     

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