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Old 12-18-2012, 06:47 AM   #1
MrRomance
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Post Starting Early - Pre Trip Report Starts Now!

So let’s start with a bit about us...

Me - Jay - 40
DW - Amanda - 37
DD - Goonie aka Kate - 9

We live just outside London, in the UK, we are Disney Obsessed in every sense of the word. We’ve had a really difficult few years, the last 12 months especially, and our next trip to WDW is what keeps us motivated to keep plugging on. The main reason why I’m starting this PTR so early is that it’ll help keep me looking forward through the next few months which we know will be very tough.

So I guess I start by saying we booked the trip in June 2012 through the Walt Disney Travel Company. We always try to book direct with Disney because they tend to be helpful and flexible if plans need to change or you need to modify your booking. Our dates are 26th October - 9th November 2013. The only problem this time was we booked before flights were released so we’re not trying to find decent flights!!!

Our booking is 2 weeks in a studio villa at Saratoga Springs Resort (which was 35% off at the time of booking) with free regular dining plan, 14 day Ultimate tickets (offer included 14 days for the price of 7) and a $200 spending money Disney Gift Card - £2785. We wouldn’t usually book without flights, but I’m sure you’ll agree that it was a great deal that couldn’t be passed up when we booked!

We loved SSR when we stayed there in Feb 2012 and we’re looking forward to going back there, but the whole flight purchasing saga is beyond a joke! We basically have 3 options for direct flights... Virgin Atlantic, British Airways to Orlando, or British Airways to Tampa...and BOY do those airlines know it! Their prices are bordering on criminal right now and when I called WDTC to add flights to our booking when they were released at the weekend, even they said the prices were ridiculous!

Last year we had premium economy flights with VA... the service left a LOT to be desired to be honest, but the price wasn’t too bad. The total for our 2012 trip was £5400 for the same deal as our new trip (barring the gift card). This year, flights through WDTC are over £5000 ECONOMY! Really? I’m aware that prices go up, but over £3000 more in a year!? Not happening!!! It’s not really a matter of whether or not we could afford it (because where Disney is concerned, we’d find the money somehow) the issue I have is I can’t stand being RIPPED OFF!

We’ve found connecting flights, with decent connections £1500 for the 3 of us. Is it ideal? Absolutely not, when you’re travelling with a kid and a kid who has some difficulties at that, connecting flights are a HUGE pain in the butt. Likewise, one of the reasons life has been so difficult is that we had a car accident a couple of years ago where we were rear ended by an idiot who wasn’t paying attention. We both sustained quite significant injuries. DW has a serious back injury and I have a serious hip injury. Being crunched up in economy is doable but would make for a very painful 10 hours that we’d need 2 days to recover from. So the decision we are faced with is...do we wait? Will we see flight sales in the new year? Hard to say, but I refuse to pay with all but my vital organs for crappy service on VA!

Well, I'm off to do some more flight hunting and hopefully, BA and VA will stop charging in telephone number figures sometime soon!
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Old 12-19-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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...and the winner is British Airways...

After 2 days of trying every possible combination, considering every possible option with smoke bellowing from my laptop keys as I frantically search for flights...WE HAVE FLIGHTS!

During the process, I have come to the conclusion that I would rather poke my own eyes out with a tarnished spoon than fly with Virgin Atlantic again! Let me ask you if you can figure this whole fiasco out....

Buying the flights we wanted straight Cash booking £3448.90. Miles & Money Booking £3574.90 + 22,500 miles (7500 each). So let me get this straight... I can pay cash and pay less than if I money & miles?

When I asked Virgin to explain that to me the response was "I can look into it for you if you give me the dates"... Well, actually, I shouldn't NEED you to look into this for me, it just shouldn't be the case and you're trying to rip me off!

So, I looked at switching dates (which made no real difference with VA flight prices) and found a Fly Drive deal with British Airways. Direct, premium economy flights, with fully insured car with Avis £2522. Even better, we don't have to pay it all now, £300 deposit with the balance due in August 2013! That means, I can sit back and keep my money for another 9 months!

Our new dates are Oct 29th - Nov 12th and the entire trip looks like this:

Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) BA Flights
Direct London to Orlando International
2 Weeks Saratoga Springs Resort in a Deluxe Studio
Disney Dining Plan
14 Day Ultimate Tickets
$200 Disney Gift Card
2 Weeks Fully Insured Compact Car Hire with Avis

Total Cost £5307 which is about £350 less than we paid in 2012!



So now, we're on to planning out what ADR's we want. Yes, I know this is ridiculously early seeing as we can't actually book anything until 6 months out (April) but we are notoriously fickle with ADR's! Last year we booked and cancelled about 20 reservations - but here's the problem...

Goonie likes her character meals...she's 8 (9 when we go) and honestly, she'd eat anything if there was a character in the place! DW is quite exotic in her tastes, she'll try most things and will want to try new things. I'm the type that will eat at the same place every day if I like and if it isn't broke I don't want to fix it We have two common desires at this point...we all love the Yachtsman Steakhouse and we all love Crystal Palace. Only 11 more Table Service credits to agree on then... yep, it's definitely a 4 month job to agree a plan!

So that's where we're at today... Flights and Car are booked...ADR's a 4 month work in progress!
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:51 PM   #3
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So happy for you. We are also traveling in October, and counting the days for April 19. To make our ADR's. We are currently set for CB. But I am thinking to go back to AKL. My most beloved resort. No flights booked. But we are traveling from NY. So no so outrageous as yours!!!! Good luck
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DreamingPink View Post
So happy for you. We are also traveling in October, and counting the days for April 19. To make our ADR's. We are currently set for CB. But I am thinking to go back to AKL. My most beloved resort. No flights booked. But we are traveling from NY. So no so outrageous as yours!!!! Good luck
Thank you!!! It's a relief to have the flights booked. CB was really nice, we stayed there in '08, I liked it much more that POR where we stayed in July. Haven't stayed at AKL but we're considering buying DVC there next year! Internal flights tend to be quite reasonable. We used to live in Michigan, where my DW is from and internals are definitely much better than crazy transatlantic flight prices!!
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:44 AM   #5
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ADR Progress....

I decided that if we are to have any chance of actually agreeing on what ADR's to book when April rolls around, we'd need to set some ground rules...

Rule 1 - Everyone gets to choose 1 TS Meal Unchallenged.
Rule 2 - The TS Meals that are agree on need no further discussion.

So... Goonie decided that Crystal Palace Breakfast is her unchallenged request. Great, got no problem with that one, so I one unchallenged choice. Next, DW...I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any less irritating so the second ADR is Ohana for dinner. I took a look at the menu, just to see if I could salvage something from it, just one thing on the menu that I could look forward to but no... So, my plan is going to be to grab a quick service meal before we go so I don't starve to death! My unchallenged choice is difficult. I probably would have gone for Crystal Palace Breakfast or the Yachtsman but as both are automatically on the list, I need to come up with something else.

So we have 4 of 14 ADR's set in stone now...and I'm under pressure to decide on my choice... Any suggestions?
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:17 AM   #6
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Doing a Happy Dance... Flights Went Up by More Than £600!

So, I know that checking flight prices after you've booked your flights is usually crazy! Nothing worse than finding out that your flights are cheaper than when you booked them, right!? Well, unfortunately, I can't resist...call me a glutton for punishment, but I NEED to know.

Just checked the same fly drive package we booked today, which we paid £2522 for is now £3157 (even though there is supposedly a sale on since we booked). I knew that I made the right call booking it, even though I knew the sale was coming. DW wasn't convinced, but I had a gut feeling this would happen.

Definitely feeling like I wanna do a little dance to myself!
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRomance View Post
I decided that if we are to have any chance of actually agreeing on what ADR's to book when April rolls around, we'd need to set some ground rules...

Rule 1 - Everyone gets to choose 1 TS Meal Unchallenged.
Rule 2 - The TS Meals that are agree on need no further discussion.

So... Goonie decided that Crystal Palace Breakfast is her unchallenged request. Great, got no problem with that one, so I one unchallenged choice. Next, DW...I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any less irritating so the second ADR is Ohana for dinner. I took a look at the menu, just to see if I could salvage something from it, just one thing on the menu that I could look forward to but no... So, my plan is going to be to grab a quick service meal before we go so I don't starve to death! My unchallenged choice is difficult. I probably would have gone for Crystal Palace Breakfast or the Yachtsman but as both are automatically on the list, I need to come up with something else.

So we have 4 of 14 ADR's set in stone now...and I'm under pressure to decide on my choice... Any suggestions?
I am dying to try out BOG, but my favorites for ADR"S are Cape May Cafe for dinner, Via Napoli, Wolfgang Puck Cafe, La Hacienda de San Angel and Raglan Rd, those are just mine, I would have no room if I add my familie's Good luck in your choosing.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:17 AM   #8
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A little update....

I guess I should add a little bit of back story for those following along that don't know, in May 2010, our family were involved in what seemed like a minor car accident. We stopped at a green light to allow a police car with sirens and lights ablazing pass through a red light and the guy behind us didn't stop and ran into the back of us. It wasn't high speed, it wasn't what you would consider a major crash, but Amanda and I both suffered some nasty skeletal injuries. Amanda to her spine and I damaged my hip.

I guess the biggest update is that last week, I received a healthy sum (not life changing but more than I thought!) in compensation for my injuries. Amanda's case is still going through the legal process. The plan had been to save the money for the trip but when the money came, I figured I'd just pay our balances off and be done with it. As of last week we are all paid up!!!!

I wasn't worried about saving the money up, but it's a nice feeling to know that it's done and over with. We'll still save up like we had planned to, but we'll put that money into the moving fund! (We hope to move to Florida in the next 18 months - 2 years)

We are fast approaching ADR day...that's right...we can finally book our ADRs!!! When we booked the trip in June 2012, we had over 500 days to go, on May 2nd, we hit 180 days! We decided that this trip we were going to limit our planning and go with the flow more for our meals. The problem is we are very different people with the whole dining choice thing so we rarely agree on what we absolutely want to book! We have 4 choices that we agree on... Yachtsman Steakhouse, Crystal Palace (breakfast & dinner), 1900 Park Fare (dinner) and Ohana (breakfast)...the rest is a topic of heated debate!

We're now on to considering whether or not we want to go to any of the other parks. We usually do Seaworld but haven't been to Universal or Busch Gardens for the last 2 trips. Again, it's subject to heated debate because we plan to go house hunting while we're there too so time may not be on our side to do it all. Discovery Cove is something we all agree we'd like to do again, but again it's a time thing.

Even though we're 6 months out, we're already packing... flying P.E. means we have 2 cases each and we figure we'll take some of our stuff over with us to leave in a storage unit for when we move. Makes sense, right? We have a lot of tough stuff coming up to so we'll be tied up with that and I'd rather get things started early than be rushing around at the last minute as usual!

So that's where we're at now. Planning ADR's, deciding on other parks and pack stuff for a permanent move to Florida... exciting and stressful all at once!
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:42 PM   #9
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Joining in!
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:13 PM   #10
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Joining in and wishing you luck on your ADR search!
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:53 AM   #11
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ADR Day Arrived....

Thanks to everyone joining in and following along! It's a little bit of a slow journey in the Pre-Trip Report phase, so I appreciate you sticking with it!

Three new things to report which are kinda exciting

Those who have followed me here in the past will probably remember that Goonie has been under Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London for several years and that last year, she ran in the Disney Princess Kids Race to raise money for the hospital. At 8 years old, she ran the mile in around 10 minutes and raised quite a chunk of change some of it from the wonderful people on these boards. This year, she wanted to step up from 1 mile to the 5K (3.1 miles) and she's got company! It will be very interesting to see how we hold up, I have no doubt Goonie will make it in good time, I may still be hobbling 4 hours after I set off because I will still be somewhat in recovery from my hip surgery !

Next on the list....The dates for MNSSHP & MVMCP were released this week, both of which we wanted to do. The whole reason we chose the dates we did for this trip was that it would cover both the end of the Halloween period and the beginning of Christmas - two holidays for the price of one!

The only dates open to us for MNSSHP were Halloween itself or November 1st. We decided to choose the 1st to give ourselves an extra day to get over our initial jetlag. We've learned the hard way over the years that Goonie doesn't do well for the first 3 days and tends to crash out by 7.30pm. We didn't want to go to the party and have to leave after a couple of hours, so we figured the extra day would work best. TICKETS PURCHASED!!!!

We had the choice or 3 nights for MVMCP but we're kinda having second thoughts about attending. The plan going forward is that we hope to move to Florida in the next 12-18 months so we'll have plenty of options to attend in future and what with our big race and the house hunting we're planning on doing, I think it may be a little too much to get done. We'll see

Finally...ADR DAY!!! 3 ADR's booked so far. We're not planning on making too many more because we want to be more flexible this trip but so far we have....

31st October - Dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse
1st November - Dinner at Crystal Palace before the start of MNSSHP
6th November - Dinner at Be Our Guest

Not sure what all the fuss has been about in trying to get ADRs for Be Our Guest, we had our choice of dates and choice of time pretty much throughout our stay. Maybe we're going at a slow time or something, but no problem at all getting the date and time we wanted
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Old 06-02-2013, 08:37 AM   #12
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Discovery Cove or Not To Discovery Cove...that is the question!

A little back story... last year on our trip we went to Discovery Cove. Our daughter wanted to swim with the dolphins (she wants to be a Seaworld Trainer & a Judge when she's older --- not sure how she plans on fitting those 2 in but hey ho ) and we figured after the hectic trip with our wedding vow renewal and our daughter running in the Princess Kids Race for charity, it would be a relaxing day. Long story short... we all LOVED IT!

We had decided to skip it this year because we had hoped to be moving to FL in 2014 and thought it could wait until then. Plans have had to change for our move so we started to think should we go?? Well we heard about a deal for tickets that would make them less than the gate price and the offer included free 14 day tickets to Legoland too! Too good to refuse, right!?

So we are now all booked to go to Discovery Cove!

We're now only 148 days out and I'm starting to get excited now. I still have to book our airport parking and possibly a hotel for the night before we leave. I was thinking that we could just stay at home but the more I think about it, the more I think going to the airport the night before makes better sense.

So my plan for this week is to get parking and hotel organised!
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Old 06-02-2013, 01:32 PM   #13
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I hope your recovery is going well! I'm glad you are getting the chance to do a two week Disney trip after all you've been through. Looking forward to reading along 1
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Old 07-12-2013, 05:03 PM   #14
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It's been a while... time for an update!

So at my last update, I still had the airport parking and hotel to figure out. Well, I am pleased to say we have now reached 108 days out (almost time for the DDD ) and everything is booked and sorted out.

Last year we used ABC Gatwick Meet & Greet Parking and I have to say they were brilliant. After trying to find a good deal for this trip with every possible combination of reward sites, the cheapest I could find with some sort of cashback or reward was £100 (with 6% cashback making it £94). ABC quoted £94 too (no reward). Looked through my email archive to see what I paid last year and found that if I booked with them again I could get a loyalty discount of 10%. So for 17 days meet & greet parking...£77!

Next was the airport hotel. Last year we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard but we were flying out of the South Terminal at Gatwick. This time we're flying BA and flying out of the North Terminal. Now, I know that you can just hop the transport over to the other terminal pretty easily, but I figured I'd look to see what the options were at the North Terminal. Again, ran through all the different reward site options, ended up using Quidco to book Premier Inn at the North Terminal. £104 for the night (5% cash back to come off) and that includes dinner the night we arrive and breakfast the morning we fly. I think less than £100 for a night at a hotel right by the doors of the terminal, including all of our meals is a good result!

Today has been an expensive day (we had to buy a new car and a new washing machine all in one day . On the positive side, I got fantastic prices on everything today so I'm feeling slightly smug, but never the less, dropping over £6k in a day so close to the trip is never good! Having said that, we are now the proud owners of a lovely car that we should have paid a lot more for than we did. Thank you Wesley at Nissan, I know I bullied you into it!

So, we now have all of our spending money changed up, we have everything booked and paid for and we just have to wait the 108 days to be on our way to our happy place!
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:18 AM   #15
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Talking 88 Days To Go...29 Til Online Checking!


Double Digit Dance

So double digit day came and went and we're now down to 88 days. I can hardly believe it. Having such a tough year has made this countdown drag a little but we're finally starting to get into the holiday groove!

I've been having really weird moments over the silliest of things. This is definitely not my first rodeo having been to WDW 15 or 16 times now since the early 90s but for some bizarre reason, I'm worrying about stuff that really doesn't need worrying about! Perhaps it's because we've been under such strain and stress generally, but it feels like I'm turning into a strange neurotic!

What's been worrying me? BA flight... Now, I must have clocked up 150,000 flight miles with BA over the years (probably more) but I have never flown BA premium economy and I've never flown BA to Orlando. Avis... somehow in all of these years I've never rented a car with Avis before, but because we booked a fly drive with BA, the car is with Avis. Are they OK? Am I going to get the hard sell on other crap I don't need? Finally, and perhaps the most ridiculous of all... Spending Money.

Just to recap, we have the full Dining Plan. I have a $50 gift certificate for Olive Garden which is probably the only off-site restaurant we'll use. All of our tickets are paid for and we have nothing major to pay out for. We have earned $600 in gift cards from Swagbucks and other reward sites for various stores, so we won't need shopping money. I will have $50 in Target gift cards that will pay for our usual toiletries and drinks for the room. We have a $200 gift card to collect as part of our holiday booking. Our photopass + is bought and paid for as are our tickets to MNSSHP. On top of that I have $2000 spends... So why am I worried? IT'S FOOD AND WINE maybe I'll need more food!??? Seriously? Why is this bothering me to much? I've got money, I could take more spends, but we've agreed not to take too much this time. I will also have a credit card and my bank card.... I feel like a lemon when I say all of this out loud!

This weekend marks out 12th Anniversary! : I can't believe it has been 12 years since MrsRomance and I got together. So much has happened in that time, an international move, marriage, adopting the kids, a serious car accident... yet somehow it seems like only yesterday. We are marking the occasion in a very strange way which I don't want to disclose just yet because it might put a jinx on us (knowing our horrible luck!) but this could be the most amazing anniversary ever.

All in all, life is on the ups and the next 88 days are going to fly by. We have a few days between now and then which are going to be VERY challenging to get through but as we keep counting down to the big day, all is looking well!
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