|04-07-2014, 12:04 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Let's Try This Again-Heigh Ho Ho Ho-it's off to Disney we go (Thanksgiving 2015)
Hello and welcome to my PTR! I tried doing one of these before and it didn't pan out, but I think I might drive my husband crazy if I spend the next 19 months yammering about our 2015 trip, so you all get to hear me yammer instead.
I've been blogging for almost six years at my personal blog<-- and I began blogging at a personal site in 2003, so blogging is nothing new for me. I've never really attempted to blog, long term, about Disney so this will be a new thing for me.
Introductions first? I think so
The Cast of Characters
My husband, known blog land as Big Daddy.
Big Daddy and I have been married for 14 years (15 in July!). He's 38 and works from home doing Information Security for a major non-profit health insurer. Big Daddy loves coffee, beer, hockey and the South Carolina cost. This trip is a combo trip to make sure we keep Big Daddy happy, but I'll get into more details on that later.
My oldest daughter, aka the Princess
The Princess turned 14 just before our trip to WDW in February. She is the consummate oldest sister. She's responsible, reliable and just a little bossy. She's in 8th grade, an honor roll student and plays clarinet in band. She has a class 6 peanut allergy, but we were lucky enough to be able to get her into a desensitization program last summer and peanuts are no longer her, or our, enemy.
My middle daughter, aka Littlebit
I might be biased, but Littlebit is probably the happiest child I've ever met. She wakes up singing every morning, loves everyone and always has a hug and smile for anyone who needs it. LIttlebit turned 7 in September. She's in first grade and an honor student just like her big sister. Littlebit was diagnosed with developmental delays during preschool and after four years of therapies, she should "graduate" out of needing special help this year.
Our baby, aka Baby Bee
Baby Bee is teeny tiny and full of energy. She's always moving and going! She loves to play pretend and has even been caught taking off her own shoe when we've been in the car and no other toys were available. Baby Bee spent most of a year truly believing she was Mickey Mouse. Baby Bee will be five in June. She's in her second year of preschool and like her big sister also has developmental delays that she receives in classroom therapy for. Hopefully, an extra year of help in preschool will find Baby Bee just about caught up with her peers.
and, last but not least, me!
I was 37 last August. I'm a Stay-at-home Mom. I lead the Disney charge around here and I'm sure that contributes to the girls' obsession. I blog, knit, sew and read. I also love photography and cooking and being crafty in general. But, the thigns that keep me the busiest are being a wife and mom to my family. Also, we have a little bit of a zoo at our house, too...
Rory Willams, Juno and Amelia Pond...
Luna Lovegood (cats need a first and last name, I think).
And one of our guinea pigs! We have two..
This is Zoey. We also have her sister Chloe and a turtle named Shelly.
We love to travel, be busy and go go go!
|04-07-2014, 12:06 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Table of Contents
Planning Related Updates
Chapter 1: But We Just Got Back!
Chapter 2: Gotta Squeeze in a Fripp Trip
Chapter 3: What We're Doing Differently Next Time: Part 1
Chapter 4: What We're Doing Differently Next Time: Part 2
Non-Planning Related Updates
Nearly Easter Update
What am I thinking about 2016?
Last edited by 3Gsandme; 04-24-2014 at 01:00 PM.
|04-07-2014, 12:23 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jan 2013
"But, we just got back!"
That will be Big Daddy's battle cry throughout the trip planning process. I promise you that right now.
Our November 2015 trip will be my sixth trip to WDW. I first attended as a little girl in 1983. I don't remember much about the trip, but I do know I wore my shiny silver Atari jacket and rode Space Mountain. I will definitely have to look for pictures from that trip. My Mom was a huge Disney fan and she sort of sparked the obsession in my brother, sister and me.
My second trip was when I was a high school freshman in 1990.
That's my brother at Disney MGM during our trip. I picked that park over EPCOT hoping to see the hand prints of the New Kids on the Block in front of the Chinese Theater. I did not see them, for what it's worth.
My third trip was with my Mom, siblings and Big Daddy in 1999. I was pregnant with the Princess...
Big Daddy's hair is so much better now, don't you think?
In 2004, we took the Princess for the very first time!
And, in February we went for our very first trip as a family of five. I think it was our best trip so far!
The bad news is, for Big Daddy, that having such a great trip made me even more anxious to go back right away! But, to keep some marital happiness, I know that not every family vacation can be at WDW. I have to keep Big Daddy happy, too! Big Daddy, intially offered a Late Winter/Spring 2017 trip and while I agreed, it was too far away! He nixed a full trip in 2016 (we have another big even planned!), but with a little bit of thinking and planning it became clear that using the girls fall break in November 2015 we could spend a week in our favorite place...
...and some time in my happy place!
We won't remind Big Daddy that the Princess will be at WDW with marching band in 2016 (and I plan to chaperone). We'll just keep that between us, for now.
Our girls don't get a spring break in their distrcit. Can you believe that? It was a big change for us, too, when we moved there. Spring Break was time to escape the cold, damp Mid-west and go somewhere it was sunny. Sometimes, we still make our own spring break, but as the Princess gets older, it will be harder and harder to take her out of school, so we have to pick our time carefully. I don't want to go during the busy season with everyone else. We are lucky in that the girls get some extended time off over Thanksgiving. The school plans it as conference week, but otherwise, it's almost a full week off and the kids get the Monday after Thanksgiving off as well (it's opening day for hunting season, here). We could have the kids skip a day or two of school and get a full week on the ocean as well as some time at WDW! Big Daddy even agreed it could work and I was more than happy to quickly work up a budget so we could add it to our financial goals.
|04-07-2014, 01:37 PM||#4|
Join Date: Jan 2013
2015 Trip Planning Part 1--First, we need a Fripp Trip
Big Daddy has a favorite Aunt. I know you're not supposed to have favorites, but Big Daddy does. Auntie Kay is not so far away from Big Daddy's age (meaning, close as far as Aunts go) and she has tastes and interests that are very similar to ours. Auntie Kay is our go to gal for restaurant recommendations, new to us beers and wines and she turned us on to our favorite vacation spot.
We have this group of friends. At first, there were just three of them, but over time their numbers have grown to eight! We love them like family and we get along so well we can actually vacation together. In 2007, we took a great group trip to Gatlinburg and loved every second of it.
The Princess and Littlebit in Smoky Mountain National Park.
We knew we needed another group trip and someplace warm and that's where our favorite Aunt Kay comes in. Her friend owned a vacation home on Fripp Island and she thought we'd love it.
Where is Fripp Island? If you drew a line connecting Hilton Head Island to Charleston, Fripp Island would be in the middle. It's a private resort island, meaning you must be a homeowner or a guest of a homeowner to be allowed on the Island. Fripp Island is beautiful and Big Daddy and I hope to be homeowners there one day.
In March of 2008, our seven person crew got into cards in cold snowy Illinois and raced out ahead of a blizzard! Palm trees fix a lot of things...
And that was when Big Daddy and I became hooked. We need to be in the low country every year. Maybe twice, if we can swing it.
When we returned home from our 2014 trip and I began to scheme about how soon we could get back to WDW, Big Daddy pointed out how long it had been since our last Fripp Trip.
That was too long without the ocean, I agreed and since we'd kind of blown our vacation wad on WDW in 2014, an extended trip to Fripp anytime during this calendar year wasn't going to happen.
Don't feel too badly for us, Big Daddy and I are going on a grown ups only trip to Charleston in July.
For the past several years, Big Daddy and I had tried to figure out if a Thanksgiving trip to the Island was possible. It never seemed to be, but maybe if we planned far enough in advance we could spend Thanksgiving ocean front.
And, since I'd delivered Big Daddy the bone of a Fripp Trip, couldn't we drive the brief six hours from Beaufort to Orlando? Of course we could!
Big Daddy has a couple of requirements that should be easy enough to meet. We need to have the money saved in advance (easy enough) and he wants our credit card debt paid off. This one might be a little more difficult, so part of this PTR will be about how I'm saving money to make sure we're meeting our financial goals!
|04-09-2014, 08:58 AM||#5|
Join Date: Jan 2013
What We're Doing Differently Next Time: Part One
To start off, I must admit that Big Daddy is getting more accepting of trips to WDW as he gets older. I don't really know what it is, but he's more interested and involved in the process now. Maybe he's just realized that I'm not going to give up and it's time to adopt the When in Rome mentality. The nice thing about his increased interest is that we've been able to have some good conversations about what we'd do differently on our next trip.
But, didn't I say that our Feb 2014 trip was the best trip ever? I did, but you can always improve upon things and that's my goal. I want to take something great and make it even better. So, let's start with lodging.
Prior to this trip to WDW, we'd always stayed off site. I couldn't justify the extra money, mostly to Big Daddy who was already freaked out about the cost of a WDW vacation. The best way to placate him was to keep the costs low. I want to say, first, that it is true that you can stay someplace great in Orlando for a lot less money. But, to me there are great benefits to staying at Disney Resorts that are worth the extra price. I guess I'll get into that first.
First, with ADRs being so competitive for some restaurants, the 180+10 advantage may be huge. That +10 day window may be the difference between getting a BOG ADR and not. We did get a BOG ADR fr our Feb 2014 trip, but I canceled dinner in exchange for a FP+ for lunch.
Sixty days+10 for FP+ reservations. I think with the new mine train ride and Elsa and Anna appearing in Fantasyland, this will be a huge advantage to resort guests.
Free transportation will help keep your costs down, if you're worried about costs. A car rental fee, for a moderate sized car, can run you $300/week. While that doesn't totally bridge the gap between a WDW Resort hotel and the $100/night you're be paying at the Holiday Inn Express somewhere, it does help.
The resorts are so immersive and beautiful, it's like taking another vacation. You won't feel like you're just minutes away from the busiest tourist attraction in the world. Also, the door to door distance should be shorter than other Orlando/Kissimmee properties.
All of that, of course, joins other resort benefits like Extra Magic Hours and the ability to still access the park if it's at a level 10 and they're turning away guests.
Big Daddy probably hoped that we'd stay at resort hotel and then realize it wasn't worth the cost. THe opposite happened however and that leads to what we're doing differently next time.
I bet you can guess.
We're going Monorail hotel, most likely the Polynesian as I think that would appeal to us more as it has a more relaxing decor and not as much pretense.
Why are we willing to pay so much more? Didn't we like POR? We did like POR. It was beautiful and relaxing and the thing I'm most sorry about is that we didn't get to spend MORE time there. I think I could have sat in the pool bar and people watched all day long. But, the deciding factor happened on our first MK day.
We. Were. Exhausted. Look at these faces!
Well, ignore the Princess. She was still having fun, apparently.
Earlier that day, we'd had breakfast at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary. We parked the car there and left it. I know this is a morally gray area. Some people say never do that, some people say it's okay as long as they're not busy. IDK. I asked and was told it was okay, so we went with it.
After seeing Wishes and running the Main Street After Wishes Stroller Demolition Derby, we exited the park totally out of steam. There was a line building at the Monorail station of course, but we noticed that the long line was for the TTC, NOT the resort monorail where our car was parked. Score!
We bypassed the huge monorail line for the TTC, boarded the resort monorail and were tucked into our car in just a few minutes. And do you know what happened? Big Daddy said, and I quote "Next time, I think we'll stay on the monorail!"
Ask and ye shall receive, Big Daddy. Who would I be to ignore his decree of "monorail hotel". Mousesavers tells me that I should be able to expect a bit of a room discount, so while the Poly is 2x the cost of good old POR, we're springing for it. Besides, we'll only be in the parks for three days! We have to make the most of it!
|04-14-2014, 03:15 PM||#6|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Things We're Doing Differently Next Time: Part Two
I wanted to write this part of my PTR last week, but I got saddled with some sort of plague gifted upon me by at least one of my kids and this is the first time I felt like I could sit down at the lap top. In all actuality, it was just a cold with a super bad cough that caused me to cough so much that I pulled muscles in the right side of my neck and typing at the laptop sounded like a really bad idea. I feel better today thanks to a nice shot of Tramodol and I'm not on steroids, antibiotics and muscle relaxers. I bet I feel awesome in a day or two.
Today I want to talk about dining.
Yes, I'm thinking about dining already. What sort of PTR would this be if I weren't?
Last time, we had the Disney dining plan. I had no intentions on paying full price for it and we got it a discounted rate as part of the Stay, Play, Dine discount package. I don't know the exact numbers, but it was around $700 total for our family o five for seven days and it seemed like a really good deal. And, in essence, it was. We definitely "saved" money dining with the dining plan on a discount, but in the end, I didn't like it.
I know that's kind of controversial around these parts.
Why didn't I like it?
You know, I thought people were crazy for saying it was too much food. How much food could it be?? But, yes, I agree. I can't say it was too much. Maybe that's not far. Too much of the wrong kind? I guess that would be better. I mean, we're not dessert people, for instance. We do get it from time to time (usually at home to enjoy after we're not full from dinner anymore) but with the dining plan we were kind of obligated to take dessert to really get the full value out of the dining plan. From a health aspect, it kind of forced us to feel like we had to consume calories we didn't want. From a financial aspect, it felt like we were obligated to eat things we maybe didn't want.
Second, I didn't like what I perceived to be the inflexibility of the dining plan. I know that ADRs, by nature, are inflexible, but I'm okay being inflexible every now and then. I just don't want most days being dictated by when we eat.
Third, we are gong to have way less character meals. We had 4. It was at least two too many.
So, what about next time?
I don't have a park order, yet. I'm not that obsessed. Well, I might have a little bit of an order. A teeny tiny one. Not huge or written in stone or anything.
But, this is a loose plan of dining I hope to book for our trip. This will be the Saturday night, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Wednesday departure) after Thanksgiving.
Opening Dinner-California Grill or O'hana during Wishes. This one is most likely to be scrapped, as I'm thinking viewing from the beach at the Poly might be at least as special and reduces an ADR.
Cinderella's Royal Table-Breakfast (as early as possible).
Hollywood Brown Derby for Fantasmic! package. We had Hollywood and Vine in Feb and...well...no. Not again. But, I do think the Fantasmic package is worth it. Great seating and you don't have to line up as early.
Be Our Guest lunch (if we can get a FP+).
Everything else will be counter service and I think that will be a plan that suits us well.
I'm also considering having more breakfast options in our room this time. Maybe. It's only four mornings with one planned breakfast? I heard so many wonderful things about the Tonga Toast at the Poly, but it's off my list because I'm allergic to bananas. Maybe Kona on check out? See, I'm not that planned out, yet.
|04-17-2014, 12:11 PM||#7|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Nearly Easter Update
So, that cold I mentioned last? It's still here. KILLING me. The tramodol shot DID help my neck...for the six hours it was in my system. The steroids didn't play nice, so I opted not to take them (I know, you have to ween off but I only took two pills total, so I felt okay just stopping) and I didn't see the point of the antibiotics as this is probably viral.
So...the muscle relaxers help over night! But once I'm up and coughing again, I'm back to feeling pretty miserable. My Aunt convinced me to try some mucinex and I think that's helping.
I did manage to get out to Target today and buy the things I needed for the girls Easter basket. I had no plans of scoring anything from Frozen and it's a good thing! The shelves were wiped totally clean! Like, in a crazy way? Like, people were grabbing and throwing cast offs? That sort of thing. Thankfully, thanks to a post here I was able to get an Elsa Barbie type doll for Littlebit, an Anna Barbie style doll for Baby Bee and a stuffed Sven for the Princess from the Disney store. They've been sitting in their box for weeks, and I think the girls will be surprised.
The Princess is at such a hard age, now. I think the dolls I bought Littlebit and Baby Bee are beautiful and I'm sure they'll get played with, but the Princess is hard to read. I don't know if she'll be thrilled to get Sven or disappointed.
We also had a little drama yesterday when my Tupperware order shows up. I'm sure everyone here has them, but these adorable cups were new to me!
They come in a set of five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy) which is perfect, but the Princess insisted she had to have Minnie. This is a problem. For much of the past year, Baby Bee has been convinced she's Mickey Mouse and has assigned us all character names. Big Daddy, of course, is Goofy (they're both tall). Littlebit is Minnie Mouse (the one Mickey loves the most) and I'm Daisy, mostly because she's a girl and so am I. However the Princess?
This offends the Princess greatly. I can't really fault Baby Bee for coming to the conclusion that her sister is like Pete. Sometimes it's TRUE! Being called "a Pete" is a huge insult around the house. No one wants to act like Pete.
When the cups came, the Princess claimed Minnie. I told her that probably wouldn't fly and she could be Donald or Goofy (or I'd have given up Daisy too). The Princess said she'd give the Minnie cup to Littlebit, but she wasn't too thrilled about it. I guess the lesson here is to be nice to your little sister. This could be avoided by NOT having assigned cups, but, honestly? The fit Baby Bee would have if she couldn't be Mickey isn't worth it. He just means that much to her.
Her little face in this picture brings tears to my eyes every time. This was such a special moment for Baby Bee. She'd met Mickey before (at EPCOT) but this time Littlebit told Mickey that he was Baby Bee's favorite (here come the waterworks!). He got down on her level and looked into her eyes and rubbed her little face. It was so, so, so sweet. Baby Bee was too shy to tell him herself. Score one for Big Sister. It was so nice for Mickey to take that moment with her.
And that's why you won't catch me saying anything bad about Chef Mickey's.
We also got a great surprise in the mail yesterday. Our favorite Aunt Kay sent us an adorable Easter cookie jar and cookies!
The cookies are from a company called Cheryl's and they're really good for delivery cookies. I sneaked an extra last night at bedtime. Auntie Kay must have heard that I called her our favorite in public.
|04-24-2014, 12:59 PM||#8|
Join Date: Jan 2013
Post Easter and Weekend Roadtrip and maybe 2016?
Hopefully everyone had an awesome Easter weekend. Ours was pretty good. I was feeling a little better so we were able to put together a nice dinner. Big Daddy is a meat smoker and smoking meat is one of his hobbies. We had some yummy smoked ribs for Easter dinner (hey! It's still pork, right?) and I made scalloped potatoes, pineapple au gratin and a carrot cheesecake thingie. The ribs were a little spicy. Big Daddy has a higher spicy food tolerance than the rest of us and we had to peel the yummy bark off of the ribs for the girls.
I'm guessing no one really cared for the cake. It's still in the fridge. If we liked it, it would have been gone Sunday night.
The girls got some Frozen goodies...
...and they were really excited about them.
The Frozen fun continued as the Animator's Collection dolls I was lucky enough to order last week came on Tuesday. More fun!
The Princess got an Elsa too. I'm not sure if she took hers out of the box, though. She seems really interested in Kirstoff, so I'll have to see if I can find him at some point, too. Although, I'm supposed to be saving money for vacation.
We are finally getting to go on a little get away. Even though we were at WDW less than two months ago, everyone is antsy for a road trip and we were all super disappointed when we canceled the trip to visit my sister. Thankfully, our trip this weekend is a for sure thing. My niece is turning 1, so we're heading up for her birthday party. We'll get to see some old friends and their new baby (well, he was born in October, but we haven't met him yet) as well as getting to spend some time with my brother, sister-in-law, baby niece and Dad. It should be fun, even though it looks like it's probably going to be cold.
We're getting the baby niece a Step 2 push buggy, so I'll order that tomorrow for us to pick up in MI on Saturday. We drive a small car (for a family of five) and I decided NOT to buy it locally to save us the space.
So, I've been having a crazy idea and I'm wondering if I can pull it off. I feel like neither Big Daddy or the Princess reads here, so I feel like I can spill a little bit and have it still be a surprise at home. Big Daddy and I are going away in July. For a while, it looked like we might be able to do an affordable trip to California and I was kind of insisting that we got to Disneyland. Big Daddy wasn't so sure and pretty soon we realized that the prices were outstripping our budget and we decided to pass.
OF course, I haven't given up on the idea of Disneyland and I'm starting to wonder if I could surprise the family with an August 2016 trip. It looks like late August would be a good time, crowd wise and our girls won't have started school yet. This is super SUPER preliminary. Mostly because I have no idea how to "hide" the money to actually fund a surprise trip without Big Daddy noticing. Any ideas? This is in addition to a pretty big event Big Daddy and I are planning for summer 2016. I think it's doable, but the funding details are a little sketchy. Stay tuned!
On a side note, I'm STILL SICK! I've lost count of how many weeks this is now. Three? I think it might be four as I think I was sick for the last Girl Scout meeting we went to and that was four weeks ago. I'm feeling better, for sure, but this is hanging on and just lingering FOREVER. I decided to go ahead and take the antibiotics I was prescribed because I'm pretty desperate. The last time I had a lingering cough like this, I had the legit, diagnosed actual influenza. I have no idea what this is. I was so desperate today, I used the netti pot. You don't know me so well, but, trust me! Netti pot=serious desperation.
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