2 Birthdays an an Anniversary June 2011 PTR

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by Procrastinator, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Procrastinator

    Procrastinator Mouseketeer

    Dec 31, 2005
    I’ve never done a Trip Report, but I’m putting so much effort (and money) into this trip, I thought it would be fun to look back on the planning stages and the end result.

    Dates: June 16-24 at Disney with a few days visiting family in GA before.

    Location: 3 nights in a 2 bedroom condo at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa then 5 nights in a standard 1 bedroom at AKV Kidani Village on rented DVC points.

    Cast: Me, Tiffany, 31, Disneyholic and hyperplanner. Wife, mother of 4, just returned to the full time workforce after 11 years as a SAHM, and anxious for tax time to be done so I can have 9 months off of my second job at H&R Block.


    DH, Matt, 32, is new to the SAHD thing. He worked as a retail manager for 10 years until this past August when he started going to college full time for Archaeology. Not sure if that will amount to anything, but it leaves us more time to go to Disney. He didn’t want to go the first time we went, but now he loves it there and can’t wait to go back. He's my Star Wars geek sports fan. :lovestruc


    DD Samantha is 11 and in 5th grade. She loves art, so the Animation YES program is going to be a real treat for her this trip. pixiedust:


    DS Tevin is 6 and in 1st grade. He doesn’t remember a whole lot from our previous trips and has no real requests for this trip. He’s doing the “How Things Move” YES program and he’s looking forward to the cool waterslides at the resorts. pirate:


    DD Cadence will be turning 3 on June 23. I told her we were going to spend her birthday with Mickey Mouse and she hopped around the house for 3 days singing “Going Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!” :dance3: I’m so excited to see her reaction when we actually get there.


    DD Lauren is turning 1 on June 24. She’s at the just along for the ride phase, but she loves excitement, so I know she’ll love it there. And what better place to spend your first birthday than the Happiest Place on Earth? :wizard:


    We’ve gone to Disney as a family twice before. The first time we flew down in May of 2006 and had a wonderful 9 day trip at POP Century with the dining plan. We got free water park and more and had a really magical time. Our second trip, we drove down in August of 2007 for our son’s 3rd birthday. We had a great PIN and I planned the trip in less than 2 months. We completely surprised the kids. They didn’t even know we were going to Disney until we were already in FL, about a half hour from Disney. We stopped in GA at my husband’s Aunt & Uncle’s house and they had decided to come down with us. They’re in their 50’s and had never been to Disney. I was happy to share that with them. Uncle John’s birthday is the same day as Tevin’s, so it was a special magical day for them both.

    I really wanted to get back to Disney before the kids get too old (not that you can ever be too old for Disney, but I’m sure you all know what I mean). I had hoped to go last year, but then our surprise bundle of joy came along and the trip was postponed to this year. With dh’s school schedule, summer is really the only time we can go, and as much as I’m not looking forward to the heat and crowds, our 12 year anniversary is also June 24, so I’m excited to spend our special week in a magical place. party:

    So there you have it. The makings of a crazy trip. Future installments that will bring us up to date include: onsite or offsite…where to stay when your family has become a small army; To dine or not to dine; and why get 6 day tickets when you can get the time off to do 8?
  2. mrssmith06

    mrssmith06 DIS Veteran

    Feb 25, 2011
    :yay: I'm here! Can't wait to read more! :)
  3. Procrastinator

    Procrastinator Mouseketeer

    Dec 31, 2005
    Step 1 of any trip is to decide what dates you will be going. I’m blessed to work for a fabulous company that has a lot of PTO. I knew that we wanted to be in Disney for the 23rd and 24th. Putting that at the beginning of our trip would be a challenge, though, since that leads up to 4th of July week and it’s more difficult to get time off then. Plus, my family does an annual family reunion at my parents’ house the weekend before the 4th. I haven’t missed one yet and don’t really want to miss this one.

    I will not fly with 4 children. At least not while 2 of them are under 3, so that leads us to driving from Wisconsin. :car: Matt’s Aunt and Uncle live in Athens, GA, near Atlanta, and it works well for us to go stay with them and then drive down from there. It’s still an 8 hour trek from their house to Disney, but it’s much better than trying to drive over 20 hours straight. They have never met our younger 2 girls, so they’re very excited to have us stopping there. The first draft of my plans involved us driving down on June 17, staying at their house the 18th, driving to Disney on the 19th, staying at Disney until the 24th, driving back to their house that night, and driving home the next day so I could get back to work the 27th. That was 1 week off of work and didn’t sound like fun at all. We want to make this a 2-in-1 vacation, actually spending quality time with them and maybe seeing Stone Mountain and the Georgia Aquarium while we are there. Draft 2 included another 2 days off at the beginning of the trip (I have Wednesdays off and work 10 hour days the other 4) so leaving the 14th, getting there the 15th, and heading to Disney the 19th as planned. It still seemed too rushed, so Matt and I sat down and had a chat. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish. He said “what gives us the most days at Disney?” I forecasted my PTO for the year and decided that I could take off the entire week of the 13th, which meant we could leave on the 10th. Then I had that entire next week off as planned, and I could tack on 2 more days at the end. For a grand total of 2 and a half weeks off of work. Alright. Dates set. :teacher:

    We will leave home around 8pm on Friday, June 10. That day, we will have a sitter help out with the kids so Matt can sleep and be ready to take the first leg of the trip. We like to drive at night because that cuts back on the potty breaks and whining. Children are so much more pleasant in the car when they’re asleep. I get off work at 7pm, it takes a half hour for me to get home. I will change into traveling clothes, go through the final checklist, and the Kia Sedona will be pulling out of the driveway at 8pm. Hopefully. That will put us in to Athens, GA around noon the 11th. I haven’t planned out exactly what we’ll do on which days there. We do want to check out Stone Mountain and the GA Aquarium, though. We plan to drive down to Florida after brunch on the 16th. But I’m getting ahead of myself. :hyper:

    I was still solidifying dates when Disney sent out a mass email inviting families to sign up for the YES program. That put be into a bit of a panic, since I was worried that so many people would see that and the classes would get sold out. Planning overdrive started. I talked to Matt about offsite versus onsite. He said that he wanted to stay at Disney. He’s a big fan of the transportation system and it was so wonderful to get a nice card and balloon for Tevin’s third birthday, we wanted to have that chance for the girls, too. (I know it’s not a guarantee unless we purchase it, but I always hope for magic.) We could cram into a POR room, but I started researching DVC point rental and got my heart set on AKV. Cadence LOVES animals, so it will be a special treat for her. I priced the 19-25, since weekdays are a lot cheaper. I found a fabulous owner on the rental board and rented 160 points for $11 a point, totaling $1760 for 5 nights in a standard 1 bedroom at AKV Kidani. Not too shabby for the end of June. We secured that with half down and moved on to YES tickets.

    “So I’m going to get 6 day park hoppers. That will be the 19th through the 24th. We can drive back to GA after we’re done at the parks on the 24th. I’m going to click through to buy. I need input.” In the past I’ve always just planned trips, but I’m forcing Matt to be involved in the planning this time. He doesn’t mind. “Well, what would it cost if we wanted to go a couple more days? I want to spend as much time as possible at Disney. 6 days seems so short. How about 8?” :mickeyjum I think it was $40 extra for the tickets, but it would have been $350 a night extra at AKV! Yikes! :scared1: So the hybrid off/onsite trip came about. We bought 8 day park hoppers for the 4 of us (2 little girls are still free the whole trip) for a total of $777 shipped. Water park and more was appealing, but it would be hard to do the water parks with all 4 kids and I know when we went to Disney Quest last time it was tough because Tevin couldn’t do a lot. It would be that for the little girls, so we skipped it this time. Matt likes to have things in hand and was willing to pay the $10 to get them here. I didn’t argue.

    I did need to talk to my manager and get the PTO guaranteed before I could book any more of the trip. I had already gotten the 17th and the week of the 20-24 off, but I needed to get the rest of the 13-16 and the 27-28th off. She was able to push that through, so it was a go for the offsite. I had considered doing the 3 nights beforehand at a Disney resort, namely POR, but no discounts came through for our dates that made it worth it. I did have a couple days where I considered the free dining PIN, but we would have to buy park tickets, which we already have. Offsite it was. :thumbsup2

    I did extensive research into offsite resorts/hotels. :surfweb: One night, I found myself on Hotwire. A 2 bedroom suite in a resort close to Disney with a shuttle to the parks for $291 for the 3 nights…it was either the Caribe Royale or Lake Buena Vista Resorts and Spa. Both were acceptable, so Matt encouraged me to push the button. My heart was going a mile a minute and I felt like I was going to throw up. I don’t like spending money with any kind of unknown. What if I could have gotten a better deal? What if I missed something and it’s a horrible place to stay? Did I just ruin our trip? Aaaaah! When I saw that we had reserved at LBV Resorts and Spa, I started the research. It looks like a nice enough place. We will likely drive to the parks in our van, since the shuttle times aren’t flexible. But the condos are huge and have a washer and dryer with a full kitchen and there’s a pirate ship in the pool. I did good. pirate:

    The plan for the night of the 24th is to hopefully drive up the east coast and spend the night at Daytona Beach or another beach on the ocean. My kids have never seen the ocean, so it will be a treat for them. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if Matt has seen it either. Besides me dragging him to Europe in 2009, he has lead a fairly sheltered life. My family stayed on Daytona Beach when I was 10 and it was great. I still have to book that night, though. I’m hoping to stay there overnight, then drive back to GA in the afternoon/evening of the 25th. We’ll rest there until probably the night of the 26th. Get home on the 27th, rest a couple days, go back to work on the 30th and then after 2 days of working, get another 3 day weekend for 4th of July. I love summer! :cloud9:

    With lodging booked, our next step was dining. Which reminds me that I’m hungry, so I’ll pick up there next time.

    Thanks for reading! :lovestruc
  4. Procrastinator

    Procrastinator Mouseketeer

    Dec 31, 2005
    Both times we’ve gone to Disney, we’ve done the dining plan. We were never fortunate enough to get it free, but it made sense for us. We like character meals and eating at places we probably wouldn’t otherwise. Since this is the little princesses’ first trip, we’d like to go to the castle again. Samantha has requested the Sci Fi, and I’ve been thinking about checking out the Hoop Dee Doo Review. One of the best things about renting DVC points is that you can add the DDP on. And segmenting. Oh, segmenting is wonderful. :yay:

    I added to the spreadsheet. Yes, I have a crazy spreadsheet that had many many variables on it to begin with and is now pretty and concise. I poured through park times, menus, and calculated what we would “probably” eat if we weren’t on the plan, what we “probably” will eat on the plan, tips, mugs, and snacks. I explored the Quick Service, regular DDP, and Deluxe. I planned several ways to segment it. I finally settled on a 3 part segmenting. We will do 3 nights of the Deluxe plan the 19-21. That is a grand total of 27 adult TS meals (Sam is really smug about being an adult for meals. She will share much of her food with the little 2), 9 child TS meals, 24 snacks (I hear Dole Whips calling my name from here), and 4 mugs. :teacher: I don’t know how much we’ll actually use the mugs since from my understanding we’re kind of far from the beverage station. But they’re great keepsakes. We still use the ones from previous trips for hot coco all winter long. Then we will do the 22nd with no dining plan and back to the Deluxe again for the 23rd. That is another 9 adult TS, 3 child TS, 8 snacks, and 4 more mugs. I sense that we might be leaving 2 of those mugs in GA for souvenir gifts. ::yes::

    I made all of the ADRs online that I could without actually adding the dining plan. At this point we were about 90 days out and the final $880 was due on the DVC points. I didn’t want to chance not getting in to the Castle or HDDR, so I got Hollis (the DVC owner) to conference me in to add the dining plan. :banana:

    ADR’s are as follows:

    June 19
    11:30am lunch at Coral Reef
    8:25pm dinner at the Castle
    June 20
    10:20am breakfast at AK (Donald Character bfast)
    8:00pm dinner at Boma
    June 21
    Lunch at ESPN Club
    7:15pm dinner at HDDR
    June 22
    11:30am Lunch at Crystal Palace (Tevin will be at his class that morning at MK)
    June 23
    11:15am Lunch at SciFi (Sam is at her class that morning at DHS)
    7:45pm Dinner at Chef Mickey’s
    June 24
    9:20pm Epcot Princess breakfast for our little princess’s 3rd birthday

    The times between include lots of snacks and some sandwiches and things packed from the room. Full kitchens in both resorts. We will have the van to pick up things at WalMart for the room and we plan a fairly relaxed pace with lots of mid afternoon downtime.

    The dining plan cost us $1035.84. I figure approximately $150 in tips that we will have to leave in addition. What I think we will order on the DxDP would cost us $1234.53 OOP, plus $100 in mugs and $96 in snacks. That leaves a savings of $394.69. I don’t have to think about the cost while we’re there, and we will have some wonderful snacks that the singy, er, frugal part of me would never allow otherwise.

    Of course, this is only the 19-24. We still need to have food for the night of the 16 and the 17-18. I'm figuring we'll have some light eating days, maybe share some counter service, more downtime. We're planning to have the van, so there won't be waiting for busses with "starving" children. I have budgeted about $200 extra for food on top of the dining plan. That shouldn't be too far off. We tend to do well with snack-type food. Can't go wrong with some mid-afternoon pizza in the room, either. :laughing:

    So, how do our ADRs sound? I’ve already gained 5 pounds just looking at our meal plans. Not good, since I have a lot of weight to lose. But all the walking and sweating we’ll be doing, I’m sure I won’t gain too much.

    The next installment is a fun one. The great stroller hunt. With all that walking the girls need a good ride

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