The Peterson Family WDW Invasion 2009 PTR

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by mariezp, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    All it took were a few suggestions and I decided I would go ahead and get started on a little pre-trip report for our very first trip to WDW which will be coming up in December. Just what I really need... another good reason to avoid all the other things I should be doing... and like you should be doing... but oh what the heck! Here we go!

    Guess I should start with a little back ground.... how far should we go back? I was born in Lake Worth, Texas at a tiny little hospital that is no longer there. NO! NO! NO! NOT that far back! Okay.... fast forward.... almost 40 years....
    My Disney madness was unknowingly about to begin in connection with a trip my family took to Schenectady, NY in 2000. Short version... we traveled via Amtrak to pick up an RV, blizzard hits, we end up delayed 24 hours which is not good since we have limited time to drive back to Texas, almost flip the new RV as it slides through the snow into a ditch, manage to SOMEHOW make it home in one piece, write letter to Amtrak expressing disappointment in our trip, FABULOUS customer service guarantee, we are issued a complete credit for travel via Amtrak, we decide to head as far away from the east coast as possible, and PRESTO, our very first Disneyland trip becomes a realization.
    Unfortunately, that was WAY back before I had any idea that there were boards where so many Disney lovers shared their stories so I don't have a trip report to share. (As a matter of fact it took me several years to get around to writing a first trip report but once I got started it sure was a lot of fun!) But let me just say that that very first trip was the start of something AMAZING! I don't think I ever imagined that I would love a place so much but Disneyland did have that MAGIC and I am now a fan for life!
    So that first trip was the start of many. I also have my DH to thank. In 2005 he decided he wanted to get his pilot's license. Not being one to do things half way he also decided to buy a airplane. At first, I thought about fighting the idea and then I had this brilliant idea! Why not make this work for me too? So, we discussed it an reached an important compromise. For as long as he has a plane I get a guaranteed annual family trip to Disneyland! Not bad, huh? As of now, we have currently made it to Disneyland 8 times. We have had so many wonderful times! Tons of cherished memories. You can check out my past reports if you would like:
    Nov. 9-23, 2008
    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2021554

    Sept. 3-13, 2007
    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.....php?t=1588869

    Dec. 3-14, 2006
    http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...-part-1-a.html

    Guess this would be as good a time as any to insert a photo of my family from our last trip to Disneyland so you can see just who is involved in this here trip report. Here's the whole crazy bunch!
    [​IMG]


    So, now that I have gotten all that out of the way I suppose I should quit reminiscing about the past and get to the more pressing matters... the upcoming trip! Every year almost as soon as we get back from our guaranteed annual family trip to Disneyland I start thinking about the next trip. This year was no exception. Somewhere along the way, before I had anything definite in mind, my DS-18 made the suggestion that we give WDW a try. He has several friends that live in Florida and thought it would be fun to meet up with them so.... me being the sweet and considerate mother that I am... sometime in January I mentioned the idea to the rest of the family and the decision was made. We are going to Disneyworld! After several rounds of changing dates we finally decided on the dates of December 2-16, 2009.

    As any good planner I started delving into all things WDW. I bought the Unofficial Guide to WDW and the Passporter. (which I still have not finished readin) I started checking out all the WDW postings on the boards and eventually joined TGM. I started asking questions, pricing airline tickets, researching houses and getting rental car rates. Things really started taking shape in March.

    My first big venture was to purchase our AA airline tickets. After watching fares rise and fall and then toying around with different departure days I found what I thought to be the best deal. For many years we always left on Saturday but I found that by leaving on Wednesday the airfare was about $70 cheaper per seat. Worked for me! (At the time it was a-ok with DH too. Of course, now he is wondering why in the world we would leave in the middle of the week and then have him go back to work for one day before the weekend. Oh well.) I booked our seats and was extremely happy with our total round trip airfare price of $876.80 for the four of us. Our last year airfare to DL was $1284.00 so I felt like I was getting a huge bargain!
    Lesson learned:
    If your schedule is flexible check to see if a weekday departure will help save a few dollars.


    Next on my list... lodging. Staying on site was simply out of our price range. There were also several other deciding factors for staying off site to consider so I began looking around at Windsor Hills because it came so highly recommended. (Gotta tell you I was really impressed with their website. After I filled out the lodging request form I received something close to 50 offers in about 10 minutes.) From there I branched out looking into full sized rental houses and then pool homes. One of the first places that really caught my eye was a Homeaway property named the "Peterson Paradise". I showed the family the website and even though I shopped around for awhile longer to make sure I couldn't find an even better deal the rest of the family was adamant. They loved my first choice and were all hooked. So, I made a few inquiries, exchanged a few messages and made our deposit. Looks like this is our Homeaway from home for 2 weeks. We are even on the calendar!
    http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p219739

    So that's got my report started. Gotta run for now but I will post more on the continuing saga again as soon as I have a chance.
     
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  3. Sherry E

    Sherry E Currently tag-less... Moderator

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    I subscribed to this one too! You can't escape me, Marie!!:lmao: I may not always have time to post anything substantial, but at least I can keep reading along, and I will just bop back and forth between this Pre-TR and your TR on the DLR TR section!:goodvibes
     
  4. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Yeah! Sherry has arrived. I certainly don't want to escape you. I need to thank you! You may be my only reader. :laughing: Here's hoping I get to learn some useful stuff that you can use whenever you get the chance to take your first trip to WDW.
     
  5. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Next on my agenda... a rental car.
    I did some shopping around for several weeks and decided to grab something now while I found a good deal because those rental car rates are CRAZY! I made a couple of reservations knowing I could cancel if I found a better deal later. I went with Dollar since they were cheaper and in terminal. They also appear to have good reviews in the Unofficial Guide. I went ahead and booked a minivan and a Jeep but after consulting with DH he confirmed what I pretty much already knew... there was no way he was going to drive a minivan... so I canceled that one, even though it could have saved us $80. When I mentioned that we would be using Dollar I could almost see him cringing as if they are not worthy of taking his money. ARRRGGGH! He asked what type of car and when I told him a Jeep Grand Cherokee he says it just will not be big enough. So, HE gets on the phone to Enterprise. HE is a pilot so HE is going to get us this fabulous rate. He checks the rate on a Chevy Trailblazer. My rate was $690 and his is $782 but he likes Enterprise so he books the deal. Not a lot of difference BUT I thought my mission was to find the best deal. Frankly, I don't care which car company takes my money if they have good ratings. After comparing car sizes I really think his choice is going to be very close to the same size as mine. As it turns out Enterprise did not even end up giving him a discount for being a pilot and I had to go back and change the arrival time because they did not have it correct. I still continued to check for better deals. Lo and behold, in May Dollar came up with a full size SUV for $592 so now I have that one booked. With an almost $200 savings even DH agreed it didn't really matter who we rented from..
    Lesson learned:
    Keep checking back, do lots of comparing and use those codes for better car rental rates.
     
  6. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Next big detail to take care of.... tickets.
    My original plan was that we would be in Florida for 2 weeks but would only be in the park for 10 days simply because 10 days is the longest park hopper ticket available before jumping up to an AP. We usually get an AP in DL but the ones in WDW are really expense! Since I have no way of knowing if we will be back next year I quickly decided that we could make do with 10 days. Worked out fine. It will give us a few days to rest a bit and take in a few sights around town.
    Some of the things I thought we might consider were Wonderworks & their dinner show, the Titanic exhibit and the Holy Land Experience. DH requested that we go to see the ocean one day. Of all the things we could possibly do, DS's request is that we go bowling one day. We gotta run over and eat at Bubba Gump's. We got spoiled by the Cold Stone Creamery just outside our hotel last year so I even went so far as to locate several which will make DS quite happy. So I think we can find something to do. A few days out of the park was starting to sound pretty good. So now the plan was rest and relaxation on our 2 arrival and departure days, 10 days in the park and 3 days fun outside the park. Simple enough, right?
    As July rolled around I started hearing rumors of ticket prices going up. So I decide to go ahead and get our tickets. Generally, I take full charge of our entire agenda and don't rely on much input from the family. It is actually kinda fun surprising them. So far I have done well on every trip. For some unknown reason I decided to share a glimpse into my plans with my DS. When I started going over the itinerary he said "You mean we are not going to the park all 13 days?!" So I did some rethinking with my plans, dropped some of the outside of the park ideas and decided we will go ahead and be in the parks for 12 days with only one day off. Thanks son! Since someone else is excited I will get to add 2 more days in the park! Looks like I have some more planning to do. Anyway, really glad I mentioned it to him before I bought the tickets.
    So I got busy doing more comparison shopping. I was just about set to get the tickets from UT when I discovered that they did not sell 2 day tickets. Thankfully, I found Ticketmania and they offered 2 day tickets which worked out great and saved us a few dollars. I was just in time because I believe the tickets went up in the next few days.
    So now I have got the airline tickets, the house is lined up, the car is reserved and I have our park tickets. What else could there be? Bet I can think up something!
    Lesson learned:
    Asking someone in my family what their opinion is may not be a bad thing. Worked well for me this time. I get 2 extra days in the park!
     
  7. Pikester

    Pikester DIS Veteran

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    Got to get in line so I can get on the Peterson Family Walt Disney World Vacation train. ALL ABOARD!!!!:donald:

    Plus, there is no way that I will ever write my own trip report so I'll just read yours.
     
  8. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Hi Pikester! Glad you dropped by! Now I can imagine maybe no PRE trip report since this is something new to me too but don't tell me you won't get a real trip report done!? I gotta hear what I missed when we were there at the same time! It's getting closer!
     
  9. LOVEMY3KIDDOS

    LOVEMY3KIDDOS DIS Veteran

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    Yay! Another December trip planner! We will be there at the same time! Excited to see what your other plans are! Looks good so far!
     
  10. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Hi Erin! Thanks for popping in. After looking around there are quite a few of us heading to WDW in December. I noticed that you and I will be arriving on the same day! You have a great pre-trip report going yourself. I am going to have to follow along to see what surprises you have in store.
     
  11. MadilynnsMomma

    MadilynnsMomma ...first star to the right, and straight on til mo

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    Subbing popcorn:: I'll be back to catch up later! YAY another December trip to follow! :santa:
     
  12. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Oh boy! Another reader. Hi MadilynnsMomma! We are all gonna have a great time in December, don't you think?! Checked out your report. Looks like you are finding ways to keep yourself busy until your trip gets here. Won't be much longer now!


    Well, I guess this means I am going to have to get busy and add more to my report! Here's hoping... maybe tomorrow.
     
  13. SilverL

    SilverL My DH thinks he's Tarzan and I'm Jane. Go figure!

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    I rearranged our dates so we were flying out on a Tuesday and home on a Wednesday to save $ on airfare! It's very true!

    Looking forward to the rest of your PTR!
     
  14. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Welcome, SilverL! Thanks for letting me know you dropped in. I am hoping I can get something else posted soon but wouldn't you know it the real world keeps interrupting me!
    Isn't it great to when you get to save a few dollars here and there!? More to spend when you actually hit the parks!
     
  15. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Well, I still don't have enough time to add much more to my update... BUT I did want to pop in and mention that we watched "Hook" today so now I am in such a Disney mood. I have been really considering doing the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. After watching the movie I am now totally convinced! You just new know what will inspire your trip planning!
     
  16. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Okay, let's see if I can get this report going again....

    If you have taken a look at any of my last reports you know that I love to take pictures. [​IMG] I am not a great photographer by any means but I still love to take pictures of everything when I am at Disneyland. I have a real feeling that it is going to be just as bad, if not worse at WDW. There are going to be so many new and totally different things! So many little details!
    Over the years I have gone through several cameras trying to find one that really knocked my socks off with it's performance. No small task considering the user poses to be the real challenge for any camera! Last year's camera did ok but as our trip gets closer I found myself talking myself into a new camera all over again. The final straw came when I was trying to take a decent photo of our dog and came up without any luck. She's not the most cooperative subject either but it was just the nudge I needed to push me over the edge so I made the decision to buy myself a new camera for my birthday. I am now a proud new owner of a Canon Powershot SD880. So far the results have been pretty impressive, although it's gonna take some getting used to all the settings. [​IMG] (right, Sherry?) Can't wait to break lose with it in WDW!
     
  17. LOVEMY3KIDDOS

    LOVEMY3KIDDOS DIS Veteran

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    Congrats on the new camera!! You'll get some great pix with that!
     
  18. Canyon girl

    Canyon girl Disney Homeschool Mom

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    Hey, Marie! I'm on board, too. PM'd you on TGM when I saw you were there. We were going to DLR in Sept, but that fell through. When we looked to rebook for Dec, WDW vacation was same price as DLR even though airfare was much more. Just thought that I would suggest to you that you visit New Smyrna Beach on one of your off days. That was my favorite beach!!! We are renting a car for one day just to go to the beach. When I lived down in Orlando, I would visit New Smyrna and walk the shell mounds. I occasionally saw manatee floating in the water between the road and the mainland. Hope you have a great time. What are your exact dates? I may have missed that. We are there Nov. 29-Dec. 6 staying at POFQ.
     
  19. mariezp

    mariezp DIS Veteran

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    Thanks! I am going to do my best and you can bet there will be plenty!

    Welcome Canyon girl! That' s my Sherry! Always putting in a good word for me. (thanks Sherry! :hug:) I got your message! I stink at replying to messages so I hope you don't mind if I answer you back here.
    I have to tell you that I am not doing too good on this pre-trip stuff. I do much better on the real trip report. Still, I am gonna have to keep giving it a try since I have already gotten it started. Anyway... for now, tell me more about your plans. Too bad about having to cancel your first trip but at least you were able to make other plans. From the looks of your siggie you have made several trips to both parks and are already planning for next year too. I am envious! Seeing as how you have been to both... ya gotta tell me what your favorite parts are about each park.
    Thanks for the tip on New Smyrna Beach. It is always good to have a nice recommendation. Shell mounds and manatees sound very interesting. We will be there December 2-16 so our days do overlap on a few. Maybe we will see you! I'll have my TGM DVC button and most likely a LGM too. My DD is the same age as yours so I know she would love to meet you and the family!
    I see you are taking your DD for her first trip to the castle. Will you be dining with Cindy? I debated about it but there is nothing on the menu that I really think my bunch would enjoy. Kinda takes away from wanting to spend $50 per person. I haven't totally ruled it out but at the moment it is not in my plans. I am sure as the time nears to make ADRs I will do some reconsidering. This may be the only time we make it to WDW and it would be a shame to never get to eat inside the castle. You see, I do have that thought in the back of my mind so there is still the possibility.

    Gotta run now. Just wanted to let my readers know that I had not forgotten to come back! And, with any luck there will be some new posting to the PTR soon!
     
  20. Canyon girl

    Canyon girl Disney Homeschool Mom

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    Actually, I finished my senior year of college at a large hospital in Orlando back in the early 90s. I had an AP that year and greatly enjoyed driving over for an evening in the parks. My favorite park (of course pre-AK) was EPCOT. I could spend days there! DISCLAIMER: Diehard tour plan followers should not read the following statement!!! I loved to take a book and read while sitting on a ledge next to the Seas aquarium. Note: The pavilion has been changed, and I do not know if that ledge is still there or not. I also enjoyed being able to just pop in and eat somewhere interesting. That was pre-dining plan. The dining plan has certainly put a kink in flexibility. Since we are planning this trip with little notice, we are going to take it easy and limit the parks that we tour in. We are planning MVMCP on Dec. 1 and will use this day to resort hop and see the decorations (gingerbread, here I come!!!). We are planning on doing Wed. evening in DHS to see the lights. The majority of the time will be MK and EPCOT. We are also planning on doing the CP one evening. I'm not sure about CRT. My TA is making my ADRs except CRT. If I decide to try for that one, I will have to stay up all night to get it. I am in the Pacific time zone. 6:01 eastern is 3:01 for me. I am not an early morning person, so it is an all nighter for me.
    Since I had to postpone DD's birthday trip and change it to WDW, I suppose (being the loving mother that I am) I will find a good movie, pull out my computer to trip plan, and stay up all night for her. SIGH!!! BTW, I noticed that your last trip was during a "off season" time. Do you homeschool, too? Just imagine how much schooling can be done at EPCOT!!!! Make sure you do the kidcot program. More later. I'll let you know how the ADRs went. At least, you will have a calendar up before you have to call.

    BTW: CRT is cheaper at breakfast. Even the pickiest eaters should be able to find something to eat. Check out allears. As for specifics in the parks, I want to show my kids the differences between MK and DL. Make sure to hit Tom Sawyers Island and the Swiss Family Treehouse. Watch the movie before you go. Other than that, it has been a decade since I was there last. There have been many changes. I am looking forward to seeing Mickey's Philharmagic!!!
     
  21. MadilynnsMomma

    MadilynnsMomma ...first star to the right, and straight on til mo

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    You are going to love your Canon! I got a Powershot from last Christmas (it actually replaced my older Powershot that was 2 years old and still working "enough") and have been very pleased!
     

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