We won a trip to Disney World! Now what...?

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by UConnFan, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    Hi! pixiedust: I've never written a trip report of any kind, so I'm excited to jump in and share our planning! My husband and I were lucky enough to win a trip to Disney World recently, but more on that later. First, let's introduce ourselves.

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    I'm Belle* a 20-something Disneyphile. I'm a third grade special education teacher who loves books, podcasts, yummy food, playing outside, and mild athletics. This will be my eighth trip to Disney, including an upcoming short trip this December for an amazing experience.

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    This is Kevin, my hunk of a husband. He's currently working toward becoming an actuary. He loves playing video games, watching sports, and completing complicated math. He came to me as a past Disney traveler, but not (yet) a fan. After two trips together, including our Disneymoon in May of 2013, he's becoming quite the Disney convert.

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    This is Dobby. She's our 7-month old lab puppy and the light of our life. We love her quite dearly, and I'm sure I'll mention her constantly. She loves chewing anything, her food bowl, being chased by other dogs, and cuddling. She's very intelligent (an unbiased opinion, I swear!), so she's a blast to have around.

    Now for the good part - our trip!

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    Kevin and I were beyond amazed to win a 6 night, 7 day trip to Disney World. That story deserves its own post. This just happened on Saturday, November 2nd (also my birthday, as if it couldnt get any better), so we are very much in the beginning of our planning process.

    Here's what you can expect some rambles on in the near future:
    - I'm a teacher, so our timeframe is somewhat limited. Hmm...
    - We get to stay in a moderate (fancy living!). We've only ever stayed in a value, so this is a *big* deal for us. Where should we stay?
    - We also get the dining plan. What new restaurants should we try? Will we go back to some of our old favorites? How will we find the time!?!
    - How will Fastpass+ and Magic Bands play into this trip?
    - Should we add extra days to our trip and make it a dream 10-12 day trip?
    - Will we find time to give back to our favorite charity while we are there?
    - And so, so much more, I'm sure!



    Table of Contents
    Winners!
    Let the Planning Commence

    Calendar Conundrum
    It's her birthday! (Podcast Recording)
    Port Orleans Showdown
    Adding on Time
    Eating our Way Through the World...and a change of plans (already)
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    * This isnt my real name, but as a teacher, I try to keep a very clear line between my personal life and my professional life. I have a sort-of common name with very a uncommon spelling. If anyone searched my first name, they would easily find me. For that reason, I will go by Kevins nickname for me here. If you do know my real name, I ask that you please not post it on the boards.
     
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  3. Applemomma

    Applemomma DIS Veteran

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    I'm in! Can't wait to follow along!! And I vote for POFQ! Small and romantic ;)
     
  4. Imbri

    Imbri Mouseketeer

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    So awesome! Can't wait to hear about how you won your trip. =D

    Hubby and I did POR for our Honeymoon, and I'm in love with it. Part of what we loved was the river transportation. <3

    Our next trip (in Feb!) we'll be at Pop, which I'm pretty excited for, because it's one of the value ones I've been wanting to stay at for awhile (I've only been twice, once in All Star Movies and once in POR).
     
  5. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    I'm an avid follower of the Dis Unplugged Podcast. I love the team members as if they were friends and I love the people we have met through the podcast. We're fortunate to have attended five Dis Meets. If you aren't a listener to the podcast, go download it now. It's the highlight of the week.

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    Pete Werner, the CEO of the Dis and the host of the Dis Unplugged, announced a challenge a few years ago. His goal is to raise a million dollars for the organization Give Kids the World. This is a dream resort in Kissimmee, Florida, where children who are suffering from life threatening illnesses can escape real life for a magical week in Disney World. This organization is consistently ranked as one of the most fiscally responsible charitable organizations in the country. Through Petes challenge, I've come to love this organization , and I take every opportunity I can to support them.

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    A few times a year, friends who have met on the Dis come together to plan a weekend of fun and fundraising for this worthy cause. We call them Dis Meets. These events happen all around the country and have raised thousands of dollars for GKTW. These weekends are a blast and Kevin and I go to as many as we can. We've been fortunate enough to attend 5 Dis Meets. We've been to Nova Scotia, two New England meets, New Jersey, and now Delaware, where this fateful trip was born.


    The Delaware meet took place November 2nd in Newark. As is common with these meets, there was an impressive array of raffle and silent auction prizes to be won and even a live auction, something I had never experienced. The meet also included a recording of the podcast, which is the capstone of the weekend. At the last few meets, Pete has offered a raffle for a trip to Disney World courtesy of Dreams Unlimited Travel. I had heard of these raffles before, but had never been to a meet where this had happened. I was hoping Delaware would include this opportunity.

    Lucky for us, Pete did announce a raffle for a trip. Tickets were $10 a piece. I tried to convince Kevin to buy $100 worth of tickets, figuring we either pay $100 for a trip to Disney or we donate $100 to GKTW. Win, win. He didn't love the idea, so we stuck with $40 worth, instead. After buying tickets, I saw a few people with long strings of tickets. I knew our chances were slim and I told myself not to get my hopes up.

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    When we reached the end of the podcast recording, it was time to pick a raffle ticket. Everyone in the room stood, hoping their number would be called. As numbers were called, more and more people sat down. Finally, it was just us and one other couple standing. My heart was racing. I couldnt believe I was *this* close to winning a trip to Disney. As he called the last number, my heart sank. The first ticket in our strip ended in a 7 and they had called a number ending in a 4. Surely, we had lost. But wait - Kevin had just announced that we had won! Confused, I glanced quickly at the rest of our tickets. Sure enough, we had the winning ticket! For some reason, the tickets were ordered in reverse sequence. I was immediately in shock!

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    This was the best birthday present I've ever been given. I stood there, with 80 other people watching me, and whispered in disbelief to Kevin. I cant wait to go back and listen to this moment again on the podcast.

    We received lots of congratulations and even began to get advice on where we should stay. I have to admit, when we finally got back to our hotel room, I danced and jumped on the bed with excitement. I'm really not sure how to adequately describe the excitement and disbelief I feel about winning this trip.

    Immediately, the gears started turning. A moderate resort - where should we stay? When should we go? I knew I needed to chronicle this experience with a pre-trip report. Thanks for joining in on the fun - now lets get the party started!
     
  6. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    We love pop! That's where we always stay when we ware paying our way. It's great that is has its own bus system and I really enjoy the theming. The food quart has always been good, too. Then again, we've only stayed at Pop. This trip may ruin us forever...
     
  7. ShesAPirate

    ShesAPirate DIS Veteran

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    I was there, I was there! :rotfl: Looking forward to reading all about you're planning!
     
  8. tankgirl427

    tankgirl427 DIS Veteran

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    Joining! What an awesome story so far! I stay at Pop for my go to value resort. But I second staying at POFQ. It's a small resort and there is one bus stop. Unless you go to get on the bus at weird hours you typically do not share with POR. I think all other mods have multiple bus stops, which I'm not a fan of. The boat to DTD is awesome and relaxing. Congratulations and can't wait to hear about your planning!
     
  9. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!

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    Joining, in, this is so exciting!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    As a Wish Alumni Mom who has spent a good deal of time enjoying GKTW, I simply want to say THANK YOU for supporting this amazing place!
    :goodvibes:goodvibes :goodvibes
     
  10. Imbri

    Imbri Mouseketeer

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    I hear that Pop has some sort of cheesecake that everyone loves? Lol, i'm exicted to try that. :cool1:

    The boats are so much fun, aren't they? =D I love water/anything related to it, so when I saw the boats when we got there, I was so happy.

    We were in POR, and the buses back to our resort were always super packed (and we went in Sept), most nights you'd have to wait for 2-3 buses before getting on. The second day, we noticed that while there was a loooong line for POR, there were maybe 3-5 people for POFQ, soooooo.
    We totally hopped in their line everyday! And then took the boat back to POR from POFQ.
     
  11. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    We just love GKTW. I'm really hoping we can volunteer on this trip. What were your favorite aspects of the resort?

    Woo hoo! I'm glad you're joining us! :cool1:

    Thank you! The more I think about it, the more Port Orleans appeals to me. I'm going to write a separate post on it later this week. The bus situation is definitely something we need to consider...

    We finally tried the tie dye cheesecake last time we were there. It was really good! It wasn't my favorite cheesecake ever, but it was certainly delicious. It was also super fun and the perfect Disney treat :hippie:

    Do the boats only run to DTD? It's interesting that the buses were packed in September. You'd think with lower crowds, the buses would be better. I hate standing on the bus when we've been in the park all day (but, who doesn't?). This seems to be a common concern...that may have a big impact on where we decide to stay.
     
  12. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    I’d like to get our email in to Pete solidifying the details of our trip as soon as possible, so it’s time to really start planning this trip. First things first, when should we go?

    As a teacher, my options are somewhat limited. I could go during my April vacation. The temperatures are cooler and it would be wonderful to escape during the school year. I’m worried about a few things, though. First of all, going away right as school ends and returning right as school begins again is very stressful. I would have to make sure all of my lesson planning and side work was complete for the next week before I left for Disney. Secondly, we all know Disney is an exhausting trip. It would be challenging to come back from a trip to Disney just to jump right back into teaching.

    The other alternative would be to go during the summer. The most enticing part of traveling during the summer is the flexibility we have with dates. If I go during the school year, I am limited to the dates we have off. During the summer, we can take advantage of a free trip by tacking on extra days. Never mind the ease of having time before our trip to get ready and after our trip to rest.

    Of course, going during the summer means fighting the crowds and the oppressive heat. It’s hard to determine which factor weighs heaviest and which will finally tip the scales.

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    (Hot trips look like this!)

    I’ve been during the summer once, a few years ago. Although it was very hot and very crowded, we still had a wonderful trip. Additionally, every time we go, I wish we could stay longer. There is just never enough time to do everything we want to do. We have dreams of water park days, sleeping in, Harry Potter expansions, and a leisurely trip. The more I think about it, the more I think I want to brave the crowds and heat in favor for a longer trip.

    If you had these options, what would you do? Would you brave the crowds and heat and stay longer, or would you go during April? If you did add extra time, how long would you stay? Would you go in July or August?

    On a side note, can we talk about how amazing it is to be in this part of the planning process??? Things are so brand new and exciting. There isn't much in the world better than planning a trip to Disney. Am I the only one who thinks the planning is one of the best parts of the trip? Never mind the fact that we won't have to worry about the financial aspect as much for this trip...I'm thanking my lucky stars so hard right now.
     
  13. zianha

    zianha Is it time to go back yet?

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    I'm in! How exciting for you two!! I can't wait to hear about your planning and then about your trip! It's gonna be awesome! I can just feel it! :cool1:
     
  14. Nermel9

    Nermel9 DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! I live in CT too, so it's always nice to talk to other DIS'ers from the same area! :thumbsup2

    I can't believe you won this trip, how amazing!! :cool1: I would definitely look into Port Orleans Riverside for your moderate choice, it's amazing! I know people say it's big, but it's really not, the mansion section is beautiful and romantic!

    As far as your dates, I'd go with April, even though it might be crowded, the weather will be so much nicer than July or August, and you have the Flower and Garden Festival going on! :thumbsup2 If not, I'd say go late August if you can, but avoid July all together, it's just way too hot!
     
  15. Applemomma

    Applemomma DIS Veteran

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    Just watched the Delaware podcast! You can hear Kevin say "That's us!" I was smiling thinking "I know that gal!".

    I say go in the summer...plan accordingly for the heat and plan to explore all the indoor stuff much, much more thoroughly... I would think less stress by going in the summer always trumps being exhausted.
     
  16. Imbri

    Imbri Mouseketeer

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    I'm picky about cheesecake, but not in the way most people are. I loooove the fake, out of the box, instant cheesecake, and I'm not really fond of "real" cheesecake. :rotfl2: So we'll see how that goes...

    Yeah, the boats run just to DTD (and between POR and POFQ). I think the buses were packed because it was during a free dining deal period, so there were more people than usual at the moderate resorts. Although I'm not sure why everyone chose Riverside over FQ, lol! They were PACKED in the mornings, not gonna lie. Me and husband toughed it out, but we heard a lot of complaints, especially from the people with kids.

    And as far as when, I'd go in April, personally. I become the BIGGEST baby when hot. We went to Universal Studios 2 summers ago in July/August. Neeever again. :faint:
     
  17. blessedmom4

    blessedmom4 WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!

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    My favorite aspect of the resort...EVERYTHING! We love it all!!! There were a few of the nightly parties that weren't as appealing to us as others; however, even in saying that we had a blast! Who CAN'T love a place where you can have ice cream from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep! I LOVED how they cared about my family and went out of there way to make it special for us. When we took our trip the four years prior had seen one of our family members in the hospital each and every Christmas. We arrived the day it is Christmas (or winter wonderland for those who don't celebrate) at the village (Thursday). I mentioned to the ladies at check in how excited we were to celebrate as a family that night. They told us our villa wasn't ready and to go have some lunch at Katie's Kitchen (we also had our first ice cream of the trip...well I didn't but everybody else did). We returned to the house of hearts and they sent us to our villa with a volunteer. Imagine our surprise when we saw our villa was decorated for CHRISTMAS and I mean even to a wreath and flowers on the porch (we just thought it was part of the village celebration for that night). :yay::dance3::yay: It was AMAZING!!!! We had Christmas for 6 nights, not just one! All of the common areas were decorated, even down to the placemats on the table!

    As for volunteering, definitely worth it! We have been blessed to go back twice since Lisa's wish trip, thanks to my BIL letting us use his time share. We spend LOTS of our vacation there, since we can't afford Disney tickets. We have volunteered at the pools, Ice Cream parlor and the nightly party...so much fun! :thumbsup2

    Sorry for the hi-jack, I just LOVE GKTW. It feels like home!! :cloud9::cloud9::cloud9: We dream of moving to Florida and volunteering every week!

    If heat is a huge factor on when to go I would pick April, If you plan to take VERY easy/light days, I would pick August and add more time.
     
  18. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    Thank you! I know it's going to be awesome too! I'm excited to finally get into the heart of planning.

    Hello fellow Connecticutian! Unfortunately, I think April would just be too stressful. Plus, I really want to add time on. I think it's probably going to make the most sense for us to go in Summer. We did July once. It was hot, but I didn't think it was that unbearable.

    I think the mansion section looks like it's beautiful. I have a feeling we may end up there ;)

    We haven't heard it yet! I need to go download it and listen. I'm glad it was caught on tape for us. I think I agree with you about summer. Going during school would just be too hard. Now we just need to figure out if we will be able to make it up to your neck of the woods this summer.

    I'm trying to weigh how much I think the bus system will impact us. It's kind of a hard decision, in that way. I really want to try this boat out, though. It sounds so relaxing!


    That's sounds amazing! I'm so glad they were able to decorate for you. Everyone I talk to about GKTW is so positive about their experiences. I'm so excited that we will hopefully have the opportunity to volunteer there this summer. I actually know someone who moved there recently and she spends a lot of her time volunteering there.
     
  19. UConnFan

    UConnFan Mouseketeer

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    We’ve debated, we’ve discussed, we’ve read the tea leaves and we’ve decided…

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    Summer it is!

    When I went a few years ago, we enjoyed July 4th fireworks in Hollywood Studios. This was a really fun experience that I wouldn’t mind repeating. I’m nervous about the extreme crowds during this time, though. I also would like a little bit more time after the end of school to wind down and prepare. The last few weeks of school are crazy. It would be nice to put some time between that stress and our trip.

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    We could also go at the end of July into the beginning of August, but this coincides with our family trip to Nova Scotia. We love Nova Scotia. It’s the most beautiful place in the world and the beaches are phenomenal. It’s a relaxing trip and we love spending time with Kevin’s family while we are there. Since we are taking this trip, I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to go this year. I’m super bummed about this because we weren’t able to go this year, either. I’m just worried Kevin wont be able to get the time off. I think it makes the most sense to leave this time frame open, just in case we can make it work.

    The last option is to go the second week of August. This way, we can go to Nova Scotia if circumstances allow, we’ll hopefully beat some of the crowds, and we can still add time on to our trip. I’m thinking it may be less crowded as people begin to prepare for the start of the school year? Fortunately, if we take a longer trip, the crowds shouldn’t be as much of a bother. We can take it slow and be sure to hit all of our must dos.

    Ultimately, I think the latter option makes the most sense for us. We can add time, maybe join our family vacation, and hopefully avoid some of the crowds. Additionally, rumor has it we may be able to enjoy some magic of the literary variety in that "other" park. We named our dog Dobby for a reason…

    Tentatively, our dates are August 4th – 15th, barring any other conflicts. I need to contact Pete and the Dreams team to confirm that these dates work and that we can add days to our trip on the same package. Even if we need to do a split stay, I want to add days on to our trip.

    With dates in mind, it’s time to finally turn to our resort options. Although I think we have our minds made up, I want to weigh our options. It’s time to do some research!!!
     
  20. LisaTC

    LisaTC DIS Veteran

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    Wow, this is an amazing story. How wonderful about everything! Obviously, by my sig I recommend POR! LOVE IT! Period. It is beautiful, serene...good food court. Fun lounge with great entertainment. We've had great luck there. Check out the POR thread and portorleans.org It is larger, but that makes it nice because you never feel crowded. Excellent access to DTD. Bus to MK is fast.

    Have fun planning!!!!!!
     
  21. OKW Lover

    OKW Lover Retired and living 2 miles from The Castle. DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Just wanted to add my congratulations to you! Not only did you do a really good deed by supporting Give Kids the World, but you got a bonus for doing so!!!! :cool1:

    Oh, and I recognize a bunch of people in that photo even though Val & I couldn't be there. Nice crowd.
     

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