Our First and Second Second Trip as DVC Members! Dec/Jan & June/July 2021-UPDATE! 6/3

karalecia26

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Hello and welcome to another attempt at a PreTrip report! I have attempted a couple before and just didn’t have the greatest luck getting them going, but this time I am really going to try and get this one going good! As it is our first trip as DVC MEMBERS!

Now for the cast of our trip!

Me: My name is Kara and and I am an Early Childhood Educator at a private child care center where I have been for 13+ years. At times I am ready to pull my hair out with as crazy as my days can be, but I absolutely love my job! I am planner of the family and love to find a good deal so I am always on the look out for discounts and such for our trips! With a family of 5 it is must especially since we live in NW Iowa and a major part of our budget for trips can be the transportation if we decide to fly! (We do drive also, but kids are amazing in the car!)

DH: Chris is a former teacher turned Educational Sales rep for our local music store. He is not a huge a Disney fan, but loves his family and really does love the food at Disney! He is also an amazing father and husband and lets me take the kids on trips by ourselves or in groups too. One of the big reasons we did buy into DVC was the fact we could have a place for him to stay and relax at the resorts if he didn’t want to go to the parks and having a living room and comfortable room was a must for us.
This is our picture from our 15 year wedding anniversary trip and Disneymoon (we didn’t take a honeymoon so this was a great time for just the two of us!)

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Next up is our oldest DD Hannah who is 15. She is finishing up a great freshman year in a really crappy way like everyone else is this year. We are lucky she is only a freshman and still has 3 more years of high school but still missed a lot of what was still to come. Not being able to finish her show choir season, concert choir and speech really sucks and so far soccer has been delayed until July.
She has been my one who also loves Universal a lot and we were able to take a mom and me trip last summer to Cabana Bay with July 4th at Magic Kingdom thrown in. She loves all things thrill (now, but hated it when we did our first trip in 2014) and still loves the magic that is Disney and Universal.

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Up next is our only DS Nicolas who is 13 and probably the biggest Disney lover in our family next to me! He is all teenage boy, but loves his Mickey Mouse (and isn’t afraid to show his friends his Mickey collection). He just finished his 7th grade year where also cut short was show choir, choir, band, math bee and middle school soccer. Hopefully club soccer will be ago in July. He was my first one I took on a mom and me trip for his 10th birthday and was just a magical time. Christmas baby and only boy in the middle of 2 girls he sometimes felt like he was left out, so this was great time. He is ready for our trip and can’t wait to get his hair cut at Harmony Barbershop! (Taken on our mom and me trip in 2016).
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And last but not least in our immediate family is DD Maddalynne who will be 10 in a couple weeks. Maddie is all girly girl and has taken on the role of cheerleader 2 years ago and it fits her perfect! She loves all things princess, Disney, Universal and Harry Potter. She is just happy to be able to go to Florida. She hasn’t gotten a mom and me alone trip yet, but has been able to go on 2 Christmas trips with one of each sibling (love that my DH is okay with us doing these!). She is excited to just go and see everyone and everything this time! Unfortunately for us though all 3 kids are now Disney Adults!
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The last two people that are going to be coming along on this trip will be my parents. This trip is going to be probably going to be the last big trip they go on with us (well that is what my mom says any way) so we want to make it is great as a trip as we can. They have gone to Disney with us in 2018 and although they had a great time, it was also stressful for them because my sister and her 3 kids were also along and it was a tough time for all (long story but will never travel that long of a distance with them again). We are excited they wanted to go along with us and since everything that has happened this year we are able to get a 2 bedroom villa and invite them to stay in our room this time!
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So here is our crew! We are hoping for a great time and we have a pretty long count down to go, but hopefully we can get a lot planned and make this a trip to remember! I plan on getting some initial updates on tentative plans up soon so I have them all in one place instead of all over a bunch of written notes! Hope you enjoy our planning with me and don’t be afraid to help! I need all the Disney “friends” I can get!
 
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karalecia26

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Thoughts and Ideas for our Trip
When looking at the calendar for next summer and seeing when the 4 of July falls (my child care center will be closed on the 5th because the holiday falls on Sunday) I realized we could take a little longer trip without taking a lot of extra time off of work! So right now we are thinking of June 25-July 5, 2021. These dates are great, especially if we were going to drive, but because of this whole pandemic stuff myself and the 3 kids have flight credit from Southwest that we were to use in April that has been extended until 2022, so flying it is! Now we just have to wait to see if we are going to be able to fly out of Omaha or go down to Kansas City. We have done both and Omaha is 1 ½ hours away and Kansas City is 3, so not a huge travel time for either. It will just depend on flight times and if there is a direct flight from either. It is really great to be able to have a couple different airports that we can choose from. We do have a small airport in our hometown, but American Airlines is the only airline out of it and sometimes the flight costs are just plain ridiculous!


Since according my mom, this is going to be the last time they go with us, we want to make this a great trip for them! My parents haven’t been to Universal before and my dad loves Harry Potter, so since we are able to go down a couple days extra we are thinking about adding a couple days at the beginning at USO. As the title of this reports says, this is going to be our first trip as DVC members, so we are now trying to decide will we stay the whole time at Disney on our points or do a split stay with a USO resort. Right now I am leaning toward a USO resort for the first couple days and the remainder at Disney. One big reason is since we aren’t driving this time we would either have to rent a car or use UBER or Lyft and with 7 people that can get a little expensive. So being onsite for both resorts would make life so much easier. So much to think about! If we decide to do this route, we will probably do Cabana Bay Beach Resort as we love the family suites and then book our home resort, Saratoga Springs, for the remainder. We have done a split stay with the two parks before and really liked being able to just hop on a bus and be at the parks and not have to worry about where we parked or paying for parking , ect.

So there is the ideas for dates, travel, and where we are staying. Like I said there is so much to think about and still figure out, so luckily we still have a while until we can book so stuff!
 
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karalecia26

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
I have had some extra time so I have just decided to continue to write down my plans as I go. I may be doing some rambling and it may not be too interesting for any one else, but starting to write (type) everything down has been a great thing for me. We are currently on week 10 of this craziness and although I am one of the lucky (?) ones that still has my job and I get to leave the house daily, the toll of social distancing and not being able to take my kids to their events and so on has started to take a toll a little. I understand why we are doing this and everything, but it doesn't make it any better. So onto my happy place and on with the planning!


How to split our time!
We do know that we are going to spend the majority of our time this trip at Disney. What we haven’t really decided is how many days we are going to do at USO and how many days we are going to do at Disney. Right now, I am thinking of either 2 or 3 days at USO with park to park tickets and 6-day park hopper plus at Disney. With staying at Cabana Bay we won’t get express passes (which we are okay with) so 3 days at USO sound appealing, but I know that my DS will be really eager to get to Disney, so not sure if he would be the happiest of campers with 3 days of USO.

We have also never done the water parks at Disney and we thought that maybe this time we would do this. They also have had H2O Glow Nights at Disney the past couple of summers so we could do this instead of the Park Hopper Plus, but we also like to hop over to MK a couple extra times if the park is open a little later than others so at least get our packs of Sorcer’s Cards or just hop on a couple extra rides so I know that at least we will get the hoppers so money wise it would be cheaper to do the plus instead of the Glow Nights.

So right now, if we had to choose, we would do 2-day park to park tickets for USO and 6-day park hopper plus for everyone except me. This is where my brain has been on overload. Since we have gotten our DVC contract through resale, we don’t get the discounts on food and stuff. I know that we can purchase Tables In Wonderland but we don’t drink so the discount on alcohol is not a big deal for us. This is where getting an annual pass for myself comes in. We won’t be able to go again as a full family within the year, so getting all of us an annual pass doesn’t make sense but getting one for me, so we are able to have discounts on some table service meals and souvenirs would be great. Also, we wouldn’t have to purchase memory maker separately! So, there is another win! This could also mean that I could do a solo trip by myself sometime in the next year or I have a friend that wants to do a cheer mom weekend, so we could plan that, and I would have my ticket! I have also had an annual pass for USO this past year (got it December 2018 when they had the 6 months free so right now it is still valid and with the closure it will continue to September but won’t probably get down before it expires). I may do again an annual pass for the discounts and since the AP’s at USO are not much more than a couple days pass I may be able to get another USO trip in too!

For USO we would go full out for the 2 days that we would be there. We definitely would do the park to park tickets for the Hogwarts Express. My parents won’t want to do any of the extreme rides (so Hulk and Rip Ride Rocket are out for them, but we may do a few of these for the ones who want to do them) so taking in a lot of the shows and both of the Harry Potter areas are a must for us. Hagrid’s is also a must as it was the most amazing ride ever! Hopefully with all this downtime for the parks, they have worked on or figured out how to keep it up and running all day. That was the biggest thing we noticed when we have gone this past year to USO was how much it was down. We did get a few rides in and the longest we waited, even over Christmas week was about 90 minutes. We also defiantly want to spend some time at Cabana Bay enjoying the resort. We absolutely love the lazy river and really want to try and bowl if we have the chance. One major perk is they also have a Starbucks inside the resort and I can get my refresher before heading into the park or even coming back!



After our time at USO we are going to head over to Disney for the remainder of our trip. Our home resort is SSR and we are excited to be able to do a 2-Bedroom Villa while we are there. As of right now we are planning on staying there the whole time, but also have in the back of our heads to look and see if there is availability at AKL at the 7-month mark to switch. My mom said that she would love to stay there sometime so we will see what we can do for her! If not, I know that she will be happy at SSR. A big thing that I am excited about with staying in a DVC room is the ability to wash clothes and not have to go down to a laundry room! With a family of 5 and it being summer I know we will change clothing a lot so having the ability to throw a load in whenever we want and not have to worry about someone taking our laundry or making sure that I am right there when it is done (I don’t like to leave my clothes for long because it is rude and I want to make sure others get a chance to do laundry if they want). I know some people don’t want to do laundry on vacation, but I would rather do a load or 2 while we are there and not come back to a massive pile when we get back from vacation.

Our idea for these days would be 6 days in the parks and either a full day at a water park or 2 half days depending on the weather and what we want to accomplish in the parks. We are for sure going to do 2 days at MK and right now not sure how we are going to spend the other 4 park days. Epcot may be only a 1- day park and spend either a day and a half at each AK and HS. We have not been to HS since they have opened Galaxy’s Edge and a short hop over to Toy Story Land in December 2018, so we don’t know exactly what to expect with that park. We love Animal Kingdom, but don’t know if we want to spend more than one day there this time with so much new at Hollywood Studios. A lot also depends on how things are working for Rise and the rest of Galaxy’s Edge when we go. If we need to do 2 days to be able to get onto Rise, then we will definitely be doing that. Another big question will be how hot it is when we go and if there is going to be a lot of rain. We have gone at this time many times before, so we are used to and know what the weather is going to be like and we can handle it, but my parents may want to take things a little slower with all the heat and humidity. Last time my dad had a scooter that we rented because he was to have a knee replacement after we got back, and he had said that he didn’t think he was going to want one this time, so we will see how fast we can go.






 
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  • DLo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2006
    Following along. Looking forward to reading more. Just a suggestion but have you considered going to universal at the end instead of the beginning of the trip ? I feel like the pace there is more relaxed so might be nice to slow down after the go go go of Disney . I did this with my brother and his family and thought it worked well. It may not be right for your family but just an idea .
     

    karalecia26

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2014
    Following along. Looking forward to reading more. Just a suggestion but have you considered going to universal at the end instead of the beginning of the trip ? I feel like the pace there is more relaxed so might be nice to slow down after the go go go of Disney . I did this with my brother and his family and thought it worked well. It may not be right for your family but just an idea .
    :welcome: Thanks for following along! I have thought at about doing Universal at the end of the trip also, but we were also wanting to be at Disney for the 4th of July. I am going to think about this and ask my parents what they prefer. I am not sure if Universal does anything extra for the 4th of July or not so that is something to also look into. This is another reason I am so enjoying doing this pre-trip report so I can put my ideas down and I can get ideas and responses from others! This is awesome!
     
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    karalecia26

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2014
    Dining Ideas
    Dining can be a lot of our budget when we go, so this time we are looking for a few ways to save, but not make us have to scrimp and not have what we want. Having a full kitchen at Disney will help us save some. I don’t plan on making full meals all the time but having the option to go back to the resort and make a sandwich or have a snack in the room is a plus. Also, we are big breakfast reservation people (costs less for breakfast reservations and my kids love Disney breakfasts), but we won’t do one every day so having the full fridge, so we can have breakfast stuff in the rooms is a major plus for us. Also having the space to have water and soda in the room without taking up a bunch of space is a plus also.

    We have decided to let each kid choose one place to eat and so far, they have all decided on different places, but all for breakfast! DS wants Garden Grill, DD H wants Ohana and DD M wants Tusker House. I think we can make these work! I just need to find out if my parents want to have these reservations with us or not, but we do have a little while to think about this.

    For the rest of the time we are at Disney, we may do most quick service meals. This is one thing that I love about Disney is the amazing quick service meals and they aren’t all hamburgers and chicken nuggets. Some of our favorite quick service meals are BOG, Pecos Bills, Columbia Harbor House and Cosmic Rays (we love listening to Sunny Eclipse and food is typical quick service. Food) in Magic Kingdom. In Epcot we like the Mexico pavilion for a quick meal but there are so many other places we want to try! Animal Kingdom I would have to say that Satuli Canteen is our favorite quick service, but we are wanting to try Flame Tree BBQ as well. In Hollywood Studios we don’t really have a favorite quick service, but we are looking forward to trying Woody’s Lunchbox. This is probably where we will add another table service in because of the lack of quick service options. DH and I have done 50’s Prime Time when we did our anniversary trip and it was so fun, so I think that the kids will love to try this, and I know my parents will also.

    We have also done in the past the dessert party in Magic Kingdom. As much as I love this, I don’t know if it is going to be possible this year with the price increases that have happened. I am still toying with the idea because are looking to be at MK for 4th of July (we have done New Year’s Eve at MK so we know what to expect crowd wise and DD H did last 4th of July on our mom and my trip), but we would have to really decide as a family if it is going to be worth it or not. We watched the New Year’s fireworks from Frontierland and really thought that was a neat experience, so we may do that again and just get snacks ourselves and create our own dessert party!

    We have also never done Fantasmic and have thrown around the idea of doing the dessert party for this. I know that it is just a snack that you eat at your seat, but the idea of having a reserved place and not have to worry about getting a FP or waiting in line to get a good spot is really tempting. If anyone has done this before, is it worth it?
     
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  • karalecia26

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2014
    So over the weekend my DH and I were talking about wanting to get a way at Christmas time and decided to look at the DVC site and see what was available and decided that we would head down to Florida Dec 27-Jan 2! We chose to do 3 nights in a 1 bedroom at OKW (and we will still have enough points to bank for our summer trip!) and will probably do 3 nights at Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal! I think we have decided that we won't do any Disney parks this trip, but take time to enjoy the resort, do the monorail resorts to see all the Christmas stuff and maybe take a trip over to Kennedy Space Center. I am so excited to try and do this! The past couple years for Christmas we have done experiences over presents (they still get a few things) and we were a little worried about what we were going to do this year. Things could still change depending on what is going on, but we do have until October 31 to bank our 2020 points so we will keep planning away! I will be back later to do some of that planning soon!
     

    karalecia26

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2014



    Let’s Go To Florida!
    I can’t believe that we are already on week 12 (yes I have kept track!) of our no school/social distancing. It has been a really long road and I know that we are still in this for a while, but I need (yes need!) something positive to look forward to!

    For the past few years, we have done experiences over presents for our 3 kids for Christmas and for the most part it has been great with the exception of my son’s cruise that we were to take this summer for his present. They have been great with fewer presents and have loved that we have been able to get away from the cold Iowa winters! With everything that has gone on in the past few months, we didn’t think that this would be an option for us this year, but with things starting to open and our DVC purchase, I jokingly said to my DH we should drive down and spend the week in Florida. He was all for it, as long as we drove, and gave me the okay to look!

    So right now we are booked in a 1 Bedroom Villa at Old Key West from December 27-30 and then we will head over to Royal Pacific Resort from the 30th-Jan 2! Let the planning begin!

    How we are getting there?
    With the whole virus thing going on, the price of flights, and my DH not really wanting to fly we are going to pack up the family and all of our belongings and start the 1500 mile trek to Florida! We have driven to Florida 2 times before, plus other places that require a long trip, and we are good with it. Most of the time (our 6+ times driving this far) we break it up into 2 days leaving early in the morning and driving all day to get over half way there then staying the night somewhere then heading the rest of the way the next day with a late afternoon arrival. This time we are debating on when we want to leave and how we want to break up our trip. I absolutely HATE driving through Atlanta and we always end up hitting it at a bad time, even if we try and plan it to be at a time when there shouldn’t be much traffic, but there always is! Ugg! Two years ago when we left Florida we went the long way home (mostly state highways) and it was a great trip and really didn’t take too much extra time. This time we are thinking of doing the Atlanta route again, but doing it differently.
    Christmas this year is on a Friday and we do most of our celebrating with family on Christmas Eve and Christmas afternoon. My thoughts are to start our trip Christmas evening and break our trip up into 2 ½ days with the first being a short amount of time in the car but be able to start early enough Saturday morning that we can drive and get through Atlanta Saturday night and even possibly get to Florida before we stop. Then we can finish the rest of the time Sunday before we check in. Hopefully the weather cooperates with us also as who knows what to expect that time of year.
     
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