Who? Dee, Mark, Nate (13), Ben (10) If you want to know more about us, I have a detailed introduction in the TR I wrote last year. Heres the link. 3rd Annual We are "NEVER" going to Disney in the summer again TR, http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2524240 July 10-17, 2010 Beach Club; July 11-18, 2009 Beach Club;August 2008 All Star Music Fayecation Otherwise, we will just get acquainted as we travel together. What? Summer Vacation to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Magic Kingdom and Sea World Where: Portofino Bay Resort at Universal When: Monday July 11- Friday July 15, 2011 Heres the July page from our home calendar Why??? For the past 3 years, we have taken a vacation to Disney World during the summer. We didnt mean to go every year. Really! But our trip in 2008 was impacted by Tropical Storm Faye and also by a stomach issue (maybe dehydration) for Nate. In 2009, we had a do over, staying at the Beach Club courtesy of Disneys 4/3 deal. When we received a PIN discount in January 2010, we booked another trip back to the Beach Club for last July. But after 3 trips 3 years in a row to Disney, Mark and I decided we would take a break. We were also afraid to push our luck. We had such amazing trips in 2009 and 2010, great weather, manageable crowds so we feared it could be difficult to live up to these great memories. Plus Nate goes to Disney in May 2012 with his 8th grade class. We are in negotiations about whether I will accompany him as chaperone. He mostly doesn't want me there, but then he remembers that Mom pones (kicks butt) and thinks it might not be a bad idea to bring me along. I am thinking of being a quasi-chaperone- I will stay at the Beach Club, instead of the AllStars with the students and meet the kids at the parks when they go. We decided after last years trip that we were going to skip Disney this year. We were ok with this decision. I swear! We planned a 5 day/4 night trip to The Other Orlando- Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Sea World. I am a huge Harry Potter fan! Nate was really into HP. We had two fabulous HP themed BD parties for him. I wanted to get him to the Wizarding World of HP before we totally lose him to teenhood. It is happening much faster than I ever believed possible! My younger son is just starting to get into the books and is really enjoying them. But once this trip was booked (my family called it "Mom's trip") all everyone talked about is how much they want to go to Disney. And I tell them "We weren't going to go to Disney" and they answer "But we're going to ORLANDO now", so that means Disney. And my husband was the worst one of the bunch!!! So Mark and I decided to surprise the boys with a day at the Magic Kingdom. Go back up and check the sticker on Wednesday. Is that Hogwarts or Cinderellas Castle? Did we pull off the surprise? Youll have to stay tuned to see! Pretrip Prelims: We purchased all of our theme park tickets in advance. We were going to purchase 4 day park-to-park tickets ("hoppers") from Undercover Tourist: $146.95 per adult. The 4 day ticket is just $4 more than the 2 day, so it is worth it to us to get the flexibility. I checked with our local AAA, and the same ticket was $145 pp, so I purchased these. I used my Disney Visa to purchase Universal tickets. Is that wrong??? SeaWorld is currently running a promotion on their website- Adults pay kids prices ($71.99), for a single day, but the tickets are valid for the buy one day, get the next day free offer, so it is really a two day ticket. So we ordered these through the website the Saturday night before our trip. I made the mistake that night of Googling Sea World Discounts, and someone mentioned that AAA had 2 day tickets, $70 per person and it included a lunch voucher!!! But since AAA was closed the next day and we had a 6 am flight on Monday, I didnt have a chance to see if my local AAA office has these tickets. I will check this week and edit in the answer. [ETA: just called our local branch of AAA: they are selling tickets for $80 per person- so I am happy with the deal I got!] Once Mark and I decided we were going to the Magic Kingdom, I started charging up my Disney Visa like crazy! We pay off our balance each month, so we dont incur interest penalties. In the spring, we received a 5x points bonus offer for purchases at grocery stores and gas stations. SWEET!!! By the time we left for the trip, we had $165 to apply to the purchase of admission tickets. Every little bit helps! I think that covers the pre-trip details. Bags are packed and the alarm is going off at 4 am for a 4:45 car service pickup to the airport. Get some sleep! Oh, yeah, one more thing- you will discover that we tour the parks pretty aggressively, so lace up your sneakers and Lets Go! Next up: Arrival Day- Ciao Baby!