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Old 06-08-2014, 02:21 PM   #1
TeachGeekLove
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Our First WDW Trip!

WDW: Our First Trip!
Pre-Trip Planning
When:
Update: 6/8/14
Update: 7/4/14
Update: 7/18/14
Update: 7/21/14

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction
About the Trip (Overview)
In Depth Planning
Dining
Pin Trading

UPDATE POSTS

June 14, 2014 - Questions on Splitsville and Grand Floridian
July 4, 2014 - What to carry in a day bag? and Updated Dining
July 18, 2014 - Updated a lot of posts
July 21, 2014 - What's in the Bag?

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Old 06-08-2014, 02:30 PM   #2
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INTRODUCTION

When: Aug 6-11, 2014
Where: WDW All Star Sports
Why: Celebrate my completion of MaEd, celebrate DS' completion of surgeries (see below for more details)


Hi everyone!

I realized that my name sort of sounded like "Hey, as a teacher, you should teach the art of geek-love." But it's supposed to be like "Teach, Geek, Love" as these are all important things to me =P Also, my avatar is a gender swapped Hades from Disney's Hercules in case you were wondering. My favorite Disney princess is probably Belle and my favorite Disney prince is Tom Hiddleston.

Please read through and post opinions, thoughts, help, etc. anything you'd like as I have no one to talk to about this besides my son!

About the trip: This is "our" first trip to WDW. I have personally been there twice, and always loved reading WDW books and watching videos about it.

About me: I'm finishing my MaEd in special education and counting the days. This trip is sort of a celebration of my completion, passing all my tests, and such. I have an amazing 7 year old son. I work part time, but will have to leave my job when my student teaching starts right when we get back from WDW, so I'm looking forward to this as a last splurge of money I don't have before I have even less. I'm currently undergoing tests for an autoimmune disease as well. I'm not sure how I feel about it; if I have it, it will explain all the issues I've been experiencing. On the other hand, if I do have it, things will only get worse. I will update that as well. Hmm, what else about me? I think I'll do a weight loss post as well, see below for more details.

About my son: Who, in a bid for anonymity, we'll call Dear Son or DS. I had planned a trip for him when he was 4 and it didn't work out. So this will be his first ever trip to WDW, and *my* first trip since 2005. My son has had over 20 operations due to birth defects (you would never be able to tell just to look at him, watch him, listen to him ramble on). He's officially been a year and two months without an operation and doing great! He's been through a lot and overcome so much. He is my inspiration in life. And you know what? He absolutely adores Mickey and the gang. I loved telling him we were going to Disney. He was like, "Yeah, right, I've heard THAT before." And I had to literally show him that it was all paid for and we HAD to go. He talked about Mickey at school and I guess one of the kids told him that Mickey was for babies. I sat him down and told him that there is a whole "world" for people that love Mickey and we were going there! I'll never forget how his face lit up. He is the smallest kiddo (and youngest) in his class and people frequently ask me if he skipped grades. No, although it was a difficult decision to let him move on. I was told that he'd be bored if I kept him in preschool another year and that he should move on to Kindergarten. On the other hand, this poor kid is smaller than all his friends which makes sports difficult (and he won't even be 18 till college!)

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Old 06-08-2014, 02:35 PM   #3
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ABOUT THE TRIP

About the trip: I had planned this trip initially for last year after he recovered from his last surgery, but then my mom passed away and all my savings went to helping my family. But now I feel like we both just really need a vacation even though there is plenty that the money could go towards instead. When the WDW cast members ask me if we're celebrating anything I have to laugh. How do I explain all of that? I'll just go with "yes."

When: We're going in August '14. I'm wishing I had planned it for June, because now we're counting down the days of summer vacation and that's no good =/

Where: I've been to WDW only twice. The first time I stayed at All-Star Music in 2001. I wasn't thrilled with the room (it was dirty), but the resort itself was fun! The second time I went I stayed at the French Quarter, and the room was ok, but the resort overall was gorgeous. I was a big fan of the water taxis that you could take instead of buses. This time, in an effort to save money, we're staying at the All Star Sports. DS absolutely loves the videos and pictures we've seen of the place. If I had my say in the matter, we'd stay somewhere with a fancy bathroom, but I don't plan to be in the room much, so I guess it doesn't matter too much.

Dining: Ok, I have to admit, this is my favorite part of the planning! The dining! And I got to break out a spreadsheet for this too lol. From what I'm reading on here, I'm not the only one that enjoys this. I will have a later post detailing dining.

Finances: One of my friends donated $100 for us to get tickets. I want to do something for her while we're there, like take a pic in front of the castle holding a sign that says "Thank you!" on it. What do you think?

I had two left over tickets for me, which was helpful. WDW can't check to see if they're still good, so I hope so! They were comped tickets from 2005. We had an incident and the manager of our resort saw us walking around sad and came over (without any sort of complaint on our end) and gave us free passes for a day! I don't believe they're tied to our names (no names are on the tickets), so I should be able to use the second ticket as well.

Having a part time job on top of getting my Master's has been murder, but I hope it will be worth it! There's so much in terms of costs besides travel, hotel, tickets, food. We decided to do the Disney Dining Plan as well. Although I'm the pickiest eater ever, my son loves hearty, good food. "Mom, can you make me meatloaf today?" Is a frequent request. He doesn't eat candy or sweets either. When he goes trick or treating and someone says, "Here, kiddo, which one do you want?" and he has to choose, he turns around and yells, "Mommy! Which one do you want?" Most parents have to force their kids to eat vegetables. It's that way for me with sweets. "You stay at the table until you eat that cupcake all gone!" (Ok, kidding on that last part)

Another way we're saving is taking Frontier Airlines. Do you know anything about this airline? We got some good seats, too. DS is very nervous about flying. I honestly know nothing about flying, I might be posting questions in here about it. We also saved based on the hours of the flight -- they're ridiculous. Flight to WDW is at 6AM and flight home is at 7PM.

Travel: To save money, our flight is at a nonsense time: 6AM, arriving at 8AM. Yes, I realize we might as well sleep in the airport! A family member will be (grudgingly) taking us to the airport. We will take the Magic Express from the airport to the hotel. As for travel while there, I'm a fan of the bus system, so will be using that as well as the monorail (DS loves trains and gets a kick out of the monorail).
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:39 PM   #4
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Daily Plans Overview
Day 1: Arrival, Typhoon Lagoon, explore Downtown Disney
Day 2: Magic Kingdom
Day 3: Epcot
Day 4: Day "off" (see in depth plans)
Day 5: Animal Kingdom
Day 6: Explore Downtown Disney, departure


In Depth Plans
Day 1:
Our flight out is at a bonkers time. Essentially, we will be leaving the house about 3 in the morning! I figure DS can snooze on the plane, or maybe we can just go to sleep really early (haha, the day before a vacation, yeah right). When we arrive we'll take the Magical Express to WDW. When we check in, it will be prior to normal check in time. So we will take our carry ons to Typhoon Lagoon and just get a locker, I think. We'll take a break in the mid-afternoon and explore the resort, then go to T-rex for dinner. Some (all?) of the resorts/hotels do movie nights, so I figured we could do that as well.


Day 2:
Our first full day at WDW starts with a breakfast at the Crystal Palace. I was looking forward to the empty park, but the day we'll be eating there is an a.m. extra magic hour day. Ah, well!
I plan to get a FP+ for Be Our Guest counter service lunch.
I'm looking forward to all the parades, character meet and greets, and the Magic Kingdom card game. DS is a fan of Kingdom Keepers as well.
DS won't admit it (since girls have cooties), but he loves Elsa. I'm thinking I try to run into them somewhere. I think a FP would be a waste as he might chicken out. One time I went to WDW when smoking was still all right in the park. My group was cutting through this little smoker's alcove when Peter Pan jumped out of the greenery and crowed at them. They all just sort of looked at him like, "Dude, we're trying to releax for 3 minutes." I, however, thought it was awesome and hope that other characters get into their roles and meander around the parks on occasion. As popular as Frozen is, I don't really expect that, but wishful thinking doesn't hurt...
The last time I was there, we claimed some spots right in front of the castle an hour before Wishes. I plan to do this again. I'll tell DS to bring along his Nintendo or something.
Not sure what to do for dinner this day. A big snack? A counter service?


Day 3:
DS won second place in the school science fair. He adores all things sciencey. So, obviously, he's looking forward to Epcot. I've always been a fan of Epcot. I think there's so much to it. Plus, I love learning about other cultures. I've taught DS some Japanese, so he's looking forward to showing that off when we're there. He also loves Duffy the Disney Bear. I think he's a bit in awe that Duffy "lives" in WDW and will be there for him to meet.
Breakfast is at Chef Mickey's, then monorail to Epcot. Dinner is possibly Coral Reef (depending on if they can accommodate a request).


Day 4: Day "Off"
That one gets heavy quotation marks because we have so much planned for that day. First, we're going to have breakfast at the resort. Then DS has a Pirate Adventure cruise. I'm very nervous about this, but trying not to show it. Since my mom's unexpected death (whom he was very close to) he's seemed to figure out that people are mortal and is very attached to me. I told him he can take walkie talkies along with him and that I will watch from the beach (but totally plan to check out Basin at the Grand Floridian as well!) After that, maybe minigolf at Winter Wonderland or DisneyQuest. Both of those seem to be included in the Magic Your Way package (although I'm confused on that as I only got a 1 day pass for me -- so can I use those at any point during the trip or have to use it the same day I use the park pass?). After that, relaxing at the resort and swimming at the pool. DS loves AMC theaters, so we will check out a movie at night. Possibly dinner at Splitsville, I don't know. We'll see how he likes bowling over the summer first! Any non-park recommendations for table or counter service?

UPDATE: DS would like to see the Cars movie cars at Art of Animation, so will likely do lunch there and let him check them out.


Day 5: This is our Animal Kingdom day! DS likes what he's seen of Kali River Rapids, so is looking forward to that. Not sure about breakfast yet, but dinner will be at the Rainforest Cafe. Breakfast possibly at Tusker House.


Day 6: Our flight our isn't until early evening, so we have a full day here! We plan to spend the morning swimming and checking out Downtown Disney again, maybe getting some souvenirs. Lunch is at Planet Hollywood. We'll also be doing whatever else we didn't have time for (minigolf, DisneyQuest, etc.). Our flight out isn't until the evening.
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:41 PM   #5
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Dining


How many of you think this is the best part? Because it's certainly my favorite part of the planning! We have the regular DDP, which consists of 1 table, 1 counter, 1 snack a day.


Day 1:
B - N/A
L - Wetzel's Pretzels - is this part of the DDP or not? I've seen it listed both ways
D - T-rex

Day 2:
B - resort
L - Be Our Guest
D - MK snacks?

Day 3:
B - Chef Mickey's
L - EC snacks - Napoleon for me!
D - resport

Day 4:
B - resort breakfast? (Open to suggestions for counter service, but have to be at Grand Floridian by 9AM)
L - snack at Art of Animation
D - Splitsville

Day 5:
B - Tusker House
L - AK snacks?
D - Rainforest Cafe

Day 6:
B - resort breakfast
L - Planet Hollywood
D - N/A
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:42 PM   #6
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Pin Trading

DS loves Mickey and the guys so much that I wasn't surprised when he spotted pin trading and was entranced by the idea. To celebrate his last day of school this week he will be getting a Mickey lanyard. This summer, the library's reading program isn't giving out prizes, but I figured I'd give him a pin for each goal he meets. I ordered a blind lot of 10 from someone on Amazon and got some great ones (doesn't hurt to talk to the seller before shipping). There are a few Mickey, Mater, and a couple letter ones that he won't like but I will make sure to tell him to trade them for ones he does want. I think pin trading is a great way to remember your trip.

7/8/14: DS loves a couple of the pins. He's putting them on his lanyard in "to trade" and "to keep" sections. The only "problem" is that he's now flying through his books and I'm running out of pins
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Old 06-08-2014, 02:44 PM   #7
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My Fitness Goals

I labeled this as fitness goals instead of weight loss, because I think that's more important. Physically, my body fat and everything is in the green. I used to be over 200 lbs (I'm 5'8") and I ended up with blood pressure problems and I couldn't keep up with my son at all. When my mom died, the grief ate me up: literally. I lost 55 lbs. While everyone oohs and aahs over my transformation, the truth is that I didn't do any work to get to where I am. As a result, my endurance hasn't increased much (although my bp issue resolved). So, this summer my son and I will be walking quite a bit for practice. And in case you're wondering, what I do to maintain the weight is exercise 4 days a week on cardio machines at the gym, hike with DS, and ride bikes. So my goals are (1) look good in a bikini! and (2) increase endurance quite a bit. I will post updates here.

7/18/14: I think a lot of health issues can be resolved by staying in shape. I have a knee issue that has been doing a lot better since starting on the treadmill and eliptical every day. I had a trainer friend who said that after 30 I'd never lose weight or get in shape. Ha! Additionally, my frequent walking has gotten my family into fitness as well (although not as much as I'd like).
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:15 PM   #8
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Congrats to your first WDW trip together!! All of your plans sound great! These will be memories that will last a lifetime! I actually cried reading the first part about you and your son. You're a good mom to do all of this for him and I hope everything works out for you with the medical testing you're having done. I read that since they redid the food court at all star sports that it's really good. I've never stayed there, but it sounds like something a little boy would love! We have stayed at AoA the last 2 years and if he is a fan of Cars you have to take him over there to take some pictures. You may want to eat lunch or dinner at AoA one night and hang out there. There are lots of neat things to take pics with. I wish you the best on your upcoming trip!
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Old 06-08-2014, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinktinktink View Post
Congrats to your first WDW trip together!! All of your plans sound great! These will be memories that will last a lifetime! I actually cried reading the first part about you and your son. You're a good mom to do all of this for him and I hope everything works out for you with the medical testing you're having done. I read that since they redid the food court at all star sports that it's really good. I've never stayed there, but it sounds like something a little boy would love! We have stayed at AoA the last 2 years and if he is a fan of Cars you have to take him over there to take some pictures. You may want to eat lunch or dinner at AoA one night and hang out there. There are lots of neat things to take pics with. I wish you the best on your upcoming trip!
Thanks tink! Yeah, there's a lot of drama in my situation. It never seems to end, but we're doing well here now. I didn't mean to make you cry! I actually tried to reign in how much I shared =P

We looked at pictures of restaurants (quick service) today and he likes the way AoA looks, so we'll likely head over there to take pics and eat as you suggested.

I appreciate suggestions and input as I haven't been there in almost a decade and I'm not nearly as experienced as most of the people on here.
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Old 06-14-2014, 02:37 PM   #10
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Splitsville and Grand Floridian

Hi everyone! I had a couple questions and figured I'd post them in my own thread before starting a new one, especially since I wasn't getting any answers on the second question...

(1) Splitsville - I've read that this is both table service and counter service. I'm looking for a counter service restaurant for our "day off" and wondering what on the menu counts here? And do you eat while you bowl, or after, or how does that work?

(2) Grand Floridian - We're doing the pirate adventure, as I mentioned in the detailed plans section. While we're there I was wondering if we could play at a playground or in the "wet playground", or if that all counts as part of the off limits for non-guests pool area? Can I hang out on the beach while he's on the cruise?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:00 PM   #11
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your trip sounds fantastic!! we are coming in on the 6th too and have MK as our 1st day in the parks too, as well as EP the next day!! none of the other days match up, but maybe we'll pass on the first 2 days!! have a wonderful trip, make lots of memories, relax and enjoy!!

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Old 07-04-2014, 09:50 AM   #12
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Hi everyone! I was just wondering what you think: should I use a belly bag or carry a backpack during the day (while in parks)? What are the rules about carrying those on rides? Keep in mind I haven't been on vacation in about a decade so I honestly don't remember!
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeachGeekLove View Post
Hi everyone! I was just wondering what you think: should I use a belly bag or carry a backpack during the day (while in parks)? What are the rules about carrying those on rides? Keep in mind I haven't been on vacation in about a decade so I honestly don't remember!
Ièd say carry whatever you feel comfortable with in the parks. As far as back packs go the only thing is you need to take it off your back. Most rides you can just put it on the floor and to keep it from moving too much put a foot through one of the satraps. Some rides have net bags in front of your seat and you can try and shove it in there
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeachGeekLove View Post
Dining


How many of you think this is the best part? Because it's certainly my favorite part of the planning! We have the regular DDP, which consists of 1 table, 1 counter, 1 snack a day.


Day 1:
B - N/A
L - Wetzel's Pretzels - is this part of the DDP or not? I've seen it listed both ways
D - T-rex

Day 2:
B - resort
L - Be Our Guest
D - MK snacks?

Day 3:
B - Chef Mickey's
L - EC snacks - Napoleon for me!
D - resport

Day 4:
B - resort breakfast? (Open to suggestions for counter service, but have to be at Grand Floridian by 9AM)
L - snack at Art of Animation
D - Splitsville

Day 5:
B - Tusker House
L - AK snacks?
D - Rainforest Cafe

Day 6:
B - resort breakfast
L - Planet Hollywood
D - N/A
Dining is one of my favourite experiances at WDW!

Acoording to The Disney Food Blog - "Snack credits for the Disney Dining Plan are accepted [at Wetzel's Pretzels], but not applicable to “Bitz” or the Cheese Dog, as noted on the sign." Perhaps that's why you've heard it both ways.

Had a blast with the characters at Chef Mickey's and Tusker House, breakfast buffets are nothing spectacular but the food was fresh, warm and tasty!

Have only had dinner at BOG and the food and ambience were outstanding!

Hope you and DS have a fantastic time!
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:08 PM   #15
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Hi Ripper, thanks for the info. The official Disney World site says (on the Wetzel's pages) that the place is not part of the DDP. But, like you just said, other sites like the Disney Food Blog state that they count as snacks. So I'm still confused.
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