Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pre-Trip Report

I’m gearing up for a summer excursion to Disney World for my 40th birthday.  I’m so very excited…as every 40 year old should be, right?  I created a countdown calendar for my daughter and I don’t know if she’s more excited about checking the days off, or I’m more excited to remind her to check the days!  Since I now have this blog, I’ve decided to work on a bona-fide Trip Report (TR).  Never done one, but enjoy reading them so I’ll try my hand at this.  
As I don’t plan to blog, tweet or otherwise report to the outside world while I’m on vacation, I’m going to prep my TR with a Pre-Trip Report.  I guess that would be a PTR?  I work with NASA…hence all the acronyms.  Believe me, I KNOW acronyms.  
Let’s start with the players of the trip.  There’s me, of course, LeagueCityMouse (aka Mommy).  My husband, Grumpy.  My two kids – boy 8 and girl 4.  I call them P and R for short.  In addition to my immediate family, two fairy godmothers (Grammy & Grandma) are joining us.  Plus, Crazy Ol’ Maurice (Poppy), the PhD Chemist of the family.  The kids are thrilled the grandparents can make it; and while I’m always nervous traveling with a large group at WDW, I think it’ll work out fine.  Lots of hands to deal with the kids, and spread their attention over.  Maybe it’ll also afford my husband and me a chance to sneak away for a quiet drink together.
Location, location, location.  I’m a true believer of the benefits of staying at a WDW resort (Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, Transportation, Theming, etc).  This year, we have chosen the Ft. Wilderness (FW) Cabins.  Now, most people think that’s an odd choice.  Unless you are on RV’er, people never think of Ft Wilderness as a place to stay.  However, growing up, my family always spent our Disney vacation at FW.  I haven’t stayed there since 1989, so this will mark my return to the Fort after so many years.  As we don’t own an RV, or want to tent camp in the summer, we are staying in the Cabins.  They come with lots of amenities and sleep 6, so we are spread out between two Cabins.  I really enjoyed FW when I was young, so I hope my kids are able to enjoy it just as much.  There’s so much to do at the Fort that you could really just stay there and never go to a park.  I think some people do.  Nightly Campfire program, sing-a-long and movie, viewing the fireworks from the beach, HoopDeeDoo Review, water craft, fishing, hiking trails, swimming, wildlife viewing, etc.  
My family and Grandma are flying in, staying for 9 nights.  Grammy and Poppy are driving and staying for 6 nights.  They have plans to visit friends while in Florida.  We were fortunate enough to book with the Free Dining promotion, so we get the Disney Dining Plan with our package.  Even though the cabins have full kitchens and I had originally planned to cook a number of our meals at the cabin, the free dining plan was the best discount available.  I have mixed emotions about the dining plan.  Yes, it convenient.  Yes, it’s a good value for the food you get.  I just don’t like being tied to a set number of table service reservations.  And you get so much food…too much, in my opinion.  But free is free, and the cost savings were worth it over any of the other promotions available.  
Once park hours were released, the planning commenced in earnest; and at 180 days out Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) were made.  My “to-do” and packing lists are being generated and checked multiple times.  Shoes are being bought and broken in; summer clothes picked out for ease of packing, light weight and ease of washing.  Snacks are being planned.  And most importantly, our wine list is being generated.  The adults in our party (minus Grandma) are wine drinkers.  We cannot think of anything better than ending a perfect day by sitting on the deck of our Cabin, with a glass of wine (red, of course).  
Our itinerary follows.  I tried to align our visits to the parks on the least crowded days.  I took all the advice (avoid Hollywood Studio on Fantasmic Day, go to the park that had Extra Magic Hours in the previous evening, stay away from special events, etc.).  I think I did pretty well.  Looking at Undercover Tourist, I scheduled us at a “park to avoid” on one day (although I don’t see the logic in that yet!), and I scheduled us at Hollywood Studios on a Fantasmic day so we can see it, but I did get us booked under the Fantasmic dinner package.  I have yet to plan out our park days (which rides to hit first, fast pass utilization plan, etc.).  I need to work on that.
Even though, my husband and I are foodies, I didn’t venture too far in the culinary world with our ADRs.  I stuck with the basics since my kids tend to be picky eaters and Grandma doesn’t like too many ethnic things.  I’m much happier knowing I don’t have to deal with my son turning his nose up on everything on the menu, and even much happier when he can pick what he wants on a buffet.    
Here’s a little key to my notations below.  
** denotes Extra Magic Hours (AM or PM)
Bold is the park of the day (no hoppers for us)
TS – Table Service meal requiring reservation
QS – counter service meal suggestion
MK – Magic Kingdom
HS – Hollywood Studio
AK – Animal Kingdom
F! - Fantasmic
Thursday    *****Arrival day***** check in 3:00
MK **9-10 EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-9 F! AK 9-6
Pool time
Dinner at cabin (spaghetti)
MK - hit a few rides, early night.
MK 9-10** EPCOT **9-9 HS 9-8 AK 9-6
1 QS at Pizzafari
Hoop Dee Doo Revue (2TS) 7:15 
MK 9-11 EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-8 AK **9-6
Lunch at Coral Reef (1TS) 12:15 pm (aquarium)
Afternoon pool time/nap
1 QS at Sunshine Seasons
MK 9-11** EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-9 F! AK 9-6
1 QS at Columbia Harbour
Afternoon pool time/nap
1900 Park Fare early dinner (1TS) 5:05 (character meal – Cinderella, prince charming, stepsisters)
stay late in the park (open to 2am)
MK 9-11 EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-7** AK **9-7
1 QS at Pinnochio Village Haus
Afternoon pool time/nap
Dinner at O’hanas 5:30 (1TS)  
MK **9-11 EPCOT 9-9** HS 9-9 F! AK 9-7
1 QS at tbd
Fantasmic dinner package Mama Melrose (1TS) 1: (comes with Fantasmic reserved seating)
F! 9:00pm
MK 9-11 EPCOT 9-9 HS **9-7 AK 9-7
1 QS at tbd
Afternoon pool time/nap
1 QS at tbd
Back to MK or stay for campfire program
MK **9-11 EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-9 F! AK 9-7
1 QS at tbd (Liberty Inn)
Dinner at Italy (1TS) 6:35 pm, 
watch Illuminations 9:00 (Fantasmic night so crowds should be lighter)
MK 9-11** EPCOT **9-9 HS 9-8 AK 9-7
1 QS tbd
Lunch at 50’s Prime Time (1TS) 11:45 am, 
Campfire program
Saturday    *****departure day****** check out 11am
MK 9-10 EPCOT 9-9 HS 9-9 AK **9-7
Lunch Crystal Palace (1TS) 11:45am  (character – pooh, tigger, piglet, eeoyre)

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