Pre-Trip Report: August 2024 (free dining extravaganza!)


Apr 20, 2022
Hello and welcome to my latest PTR!! I am a bit behind on this one, as our trip is already <60 days away (got our ADRs in yesterday!!) but better late then never, right?


This trip was booked before Matt & I took our kid-free trip back in February, as we have accepted our fate of being a "goes-to-WDW-at-least-2-times-per-year" kind of family. The kids ask to go back basically every single day, so what's a parent to do?

....I will accept any answer other than "tell them no & don't go to Disney"


I hear you, but, we're still going. :)

We were initially booked for 7 nights at Caribbean Beach Resort (love that Skyliner!) which we were super excited about, especially since we were able to snag that Disney+ Free Dining promo! So it was 7 days at CBR + free (I'll use quotation marks and say "free", because I'm not stupid, I know they get their money one way or another) dining, with 4 days at the parks.

... initially.

Then I was like "mmmm, is 4 days enough? Let's ask our TA if we can tack on a 5th park day. Cause, YOLO." So then it became 5 park days.

....and then I was like "mmmm, is 7 nights in the Disney Bubble enough?! Let's ask our TA how much more it would be to stay for 10 days instead of 7. Cause again, YOLO." She informed us that CBR didn't have the availability, but Art of Animation did and it was going to be CHEAPER than our 7 nights at CBR (makes sense since it is going from moderate to value, but still - you had me at cheaper with more days at Disney!).

.... and then I was like "mmmm, if we are staying for 10 nights, and have free dining, why am I limiting myself to 5 days of park food + 5 days of hotel food?! Let's ask our TA how much more it would be to do TEN park days instead of 5. Cause, YOLO." And it was a difference of $350. $350 to be able to walk into ANY Disney park all 10 days of my vacation?! And grab dinner at Epcot instead of Landscape of Flavors?!?!


Are you still with me, through all these changes/modifications??

So now it is 10 nights at Art of Animation (Little Mermaid Standard Room, unfortunately, but I'll take what I can get!), 10 park days, with the "free" QS dining plan. So each of us, for all 10 days, get 2 QS meals (& Matt and I get a free boozy drink with ours!), 1 snack, and a refillable resort mug. YES PLEASE.

DD5 starts kindergarten literally 4 days after we return (hopefully we don't bring home any illnesses!!) so we figure this was our way of ending her pre-school days with a bang. (excuse me while I go cry)

.............which also means we'll have to do literally the same thing next year when DS4 starts kindergarten. See what I did there?!?!?! Genius if you ask me.


Fair is fair!!
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Okay I'm realizing I left out some important details. I just got too excited to share how this turned into such a Disney Trip EXTRAVAGANZA.

The Who: Me (Bethany), DH (Matt), DD5 & DS4
The What: 10 days of park hoppers, Memory Maker included
The When: August 12th through 22nd, 2024 (yes we will melt)
The Where: Art of Animation
The Why: Because YOLO - but also because DD5 starts kindergarten and we want to celebrate her!! And also it's Matt's birthday 6 days after we return. And also it's our 10 year wedding anniversary a month after we return. And also because WE GO TO DISNEY WORLD A LOT AND ARE FINANCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE (can I get that on a "celebration" pin?)
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Okay tentative plans -- I'm thinking that because of the amount of park days we have + the fact that they are hoppers, we really will just kind of go with the flow (not exactly my forte, if you haven't guessed) and not have any real plans for each day. We did not buy MNSSHP tickets so the party days will slightly impact which park we start/end at, but that's about it. I also promised Matt to plan to only "hit it hard" on 5 of the 10 park days, to ensure we are really getting rest days in. That was one of Matt's concerns when we upgraded to the 10 park days- that we would be go-go-go rope drop to park close each day, and want to die by the end of the trip 😂 So here is my LOOSE itinerary for the 10 days we're there:

Mon (8/12) arrival; bus to MK, monorail to Epcot, Skyliner back to resort?

Tues (8/13) **MNSSHP** Park Day 1 **THEME PARK NANNY 4:00pm-9:00pm** -- haircuts @ 12:40

AM: Magic Kingdom

PM: Epcot

Wed (8/14) rest/pool/Disney Springs

Thurs (8/15) Park Day 2

AM: Animal Kingdom

PM: Hollywood Studios

Fri (8/16) **MNSSHP** rest/pool – BBB @ 09:20, CYM @ 11:15

AM: Magic Kingdom

PM: rest/pool

Sat (8/17) Park Day 3

AM: Hollywood Studios

PM: Epcot

Sun (8/18) rest/pool **THEME PARK NANNY 16:00-21:00** Oga’s ADR @ 17:30

AM: rest/pool

PM: Hollywood Studios

Mon (8/19) Park Day 4

AM: Epcot

PM: Magic Kingdom

Tues (8/20) **MNSSHP** rest/pool-- CYM @ 09:15

AM: Magic Kingdom

PM: rest

Wed (8/21) Park Day 5

AM: Hollywood Studios

PM: Magic Kingdom

Thurs (8/22) check out – stroller return @ 08:30, Mears pick up @ 09:15

So you can see that basically any MNSSHP date, I figure it is a total wasted opportunity if we don't at least hit MK in the morning when crowds are basically non-existent... right? We also have a couple ADRs + date nights sprinkled in that require us to enter a park, but for the most part I'm hoping the itinerary listed above appeases Matt and doesn't result in us being overly tired. For each of our "Park Days" (every other day, listed 1-5 above) I plan on buying Genie+ but not for any of the other days, so that will also limit what we are able to do cause my kids do not have the patience to wait 45+ minutes in line. The rest days/non Genie+ days I'm thinking we'll just go in to grab a specific meal one of us is craving or to ride a low-wait time ride if it works out- but definitely not trekking all over or crisscrossing the park by any means.
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Regarding ADRs, you can see above we didn't do many. Our main thought process was if we have the QS dining plan, why are we paying extra (and risking not getting our "money's" worth, having leftover credits left unused at the end of our trip) by doing a sit-down meal instead?!

So we have haircuts for both kids (a tradition), BBB (something new for us!), and two Capture your Moment photo sessions. The first one is immediately after the kids' BBB appointments so that will be cute to get some professional pictures with them all done-up! We are bringing our own outfits (who in their right mind would trade Taylor Joelle's comfort for a scratchy dress provided by Disney?!) and doing a Cinderella theme - DD5 will wear the TJ pink Cindy gown (I know not quite as 'regal' as the blue gown but I just love this dress!) and DS4 in his Prince Charming tee. The other CYM photo session is kind of up in the air - I had initially booked it with the intention of buying DD5 a cap & gown and making her a cute "next up: Kindergarten" / "but first - Disney World!" sign however I remembered that "graduation" season is like, now (May/June) and not in August.. so that idea went out the window. Now I have a CYM session with no real plans on how to use it! Do I still have it be DD5 focused? Should I do just a quick family session? If so, what do we wear?! I have themed outfits for each day (because hi have we met?) but none of them really make sense for a fancy family photo session....

Here are my outfit themes:

1. Classic Mickey/Minnie
2. Winnie the Pooh & friends
3. Toy Story
4. Star Wars
5. Star Wars 2 (different characters/outfits)
6. Mickey's Friends (Donald/Goofy/Daisy/Pluto)
7. Lion King/Safari
8. Cinderella (already planned for CYM session #1)
9. Cars
10. Little Mermaid
11. Snow White
12. Nemo
13. Favorite rides (Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Tiana's Bayou Adventure, Jungle Cruise)

The ones I'm leaning toward are Theme #1 (regular ol' classic Mickey/Minnie) because it just makes sense, being at MK & all, and Theme #11 (Snow White) - only because DD5's Snow White dress is BEYOND adorable. Mine/Matt's/DS4's outfits are nothing super special/fancy though so then it feels that DD5 is the star of the show... and the rest of us look like scrubs.

Anyone have any thoughts/ideas/suggestions?! I am open to them all!


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