Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Have Some Decisions To Make

Cinderella Castle

In less than a month, I'll be heading to Disney World. I've been listening to Disney World music and whipping myself into a fever pitch of excitement because DISNEY! Music! Food! Dancing! Awesomeness!

I got my travel documents sometime last week. You know once those show up that it's not much longer!

As usual, I felt like I had plenty of time to plan things and well, time is running away from me. Like time does. I mean, the last time I posted here was in March, and I still owe you trip reports. Oops.
I have some choices to make. 

In the past, I've taken the Magical Express. It's easy, it's free, and they play the video to get you all excited. My mom and Falandos have never been to Disney World, and I'd love for them to experience the fun of the Magical Express.

BUT. I've been toying with the idea of getting a car service instead.  I've seen reviews for two particular services and ooohhh, it's so tempting. It would be an additional cost for sure, but we'd get a 30 minute grocery stop, where I can pick up a case of bottled water and some pineapple juice for my mom, and we'd possibly get to our hotel sooner. And on our last day, we'd probably get at least 30–45 extra minutes in the parks, so we could leave at 430 instead of 330 or something like that. THAT is really appealing to me, as I do not want to miss the Jammin' Jungle Parade!

So, I did some pricing and looking at the different options. Honestly, I think the Escalade would be the best for us because it would fit all of our stuff (none of us are light packers--Falandos has already prepaid for two carry-ons!) and would be fun to ride around in that. But I'm not one of those people who is obsessed with SUVs--in fact, I strongly prefer to AVOID them. I feel like most people who drive them are bullies and they take up too many parking spaces. And they're ALWAYS parking in the compact car spaces--what is up with that? ANYWAY. I have reservations about that. I was thinking of a limo. Aidan's never been in a limo and I know he'd get a kick out of it. I've been in loads of limos--for all sorts of things. Bachelorette parties, funerals, casino nights, grocery store runs.... so it's not a big deal for me to ride in one. In addition, there was that terrible limo fire that just happened in San Francisco, so I have a friend who is begging me not to get a limo for that reason. A town car just seems boring. I mean, they're NICE and everything... but it's really just a fancy car. 

I would love a car just to go back to the airport... but none of them seem to do that. It's either round trip or one way from MCO to Disney.

The other choice I'm trying to make is whether or not to do the Photopass thing. I want to pre-pay because you save $50 by paying before vacation.... but I also remember feeling so liberated, not having to stop at every Photopass photographer so I got my money's worth. 

So, these are the agonizing decisions that have been plaguing me the past couple days. If any of you have any insight, please let me know. I could use some advice! :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I Owe You A Trip Report!

I owe you guys a serious trip report. We had such a good time at Disney World. I really did not want to come home and the only thing that saved me from being super sad about leaving was knowing that I'm going to be back in a few months.

Anyway, I'll be posting a MULTI-PAGE trip report soon. If you don't want to miss it, then be sure to follow my blog with Bloglovin!!!

See ya real soon! :)

Me and Mickey Mouse

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ten Days!!

You guys!!! Just ten more days until DISNEY WORLD!!

And I've been so busy making plans for the June trip that I keep forgetting to be excited about THIS trip. HA.

The cool thing about this trip is that one of my yoga teacher trainee classmates will be there with her family. We're going to try to meet up at some points. She has the Park Hopper and we don't, so they'll have a lot more flexibility. It's going to be so much fun! :)

I'm only just now starting to think of what to pack. And a game plan--as I start a new freelance gig the same day we fly out for vacation. Depending on the schedule, I may have to lug my computer into the parks with me. Thank goodness Disney has free WiFi now. I know, it's silly to start a job the day I'm going on vacation, but I am freelance and I'm not turning down extra income, yo.

For the second time, I am not doing the Photopass CD. We didn't do it last time and I was fine. Now for June? I think I will just because it's going to be such a momentous trip.

I keep seeing, on various forums, that Disney (especially Magic Kingdom) is super crowded this time of year for some reason, when it normally isn't. Tour groups, cheerleading and dance competitions, the new Fantasyland, and Free Dining are my suspect culprits. That will be disappointing, but I'm sure I'll manage. I just have to get lots of rest, stay hydrated and medicated, and exercise huge amounts of patience. Which I don't have a lot of in big crowds these days.

I do hope the weather is amazingly warm. I'm ready for short sleeves and the sun on my skin. This winter in Chicago hasn't even been that terrible, but I still miss summer. I'll be happy to get a taste of it in a few weeks. Or, if not summer, then spring.

Let the countdown SERIOUSLY BEGIN!!! :D

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Booking Madness


Planning the summer 2013 trip for my mom, Aidan and me has been more stressful than I am used to. There are so many factors to look into that I haven't had to deal with before, such as my mother's health issues, predicted high crowd levels, and flight times/costs that were ... less than satisfactory.

I'd originally decided we'd go from June 3-June 6. The plan was to fly out early on June 3, leave our bags with bell services if the room wasn't ready, and hit Magic Kingdom. On our last day, we'd go to Animal Kingdom, and then fly back that evening. Sounds good, right? Adam and I have been doing that, or a variation of that, for years and it worked out fine.

Except the airlines would not cooperate. Well, I'd found a decent deal with Airtran a few weeks ago (just over $800 for the three of us round trip), but I didn't book it because things weren't finalized yet. Every week, I watched those fares creep up and up and up, and I decided to set up a watchdog for fares. When I got an email this morning with the right prices, I jumped on the chance. BUT. My original times? They were either sold out or SUPER expensive. I'm taking $300-$400 to fly one way. I was frustrated. VERY frustrated. And nervous. Because what if I kept waiting and ended up having to pay thousands for a crappy flight with connections and entire days of traveling?

Adam told me that it was way too early to book. That prices go up and down all the time. I was very concerned about the times I wanted being sold out, though, and those were the times whose prices were jumping up all the time.

When we took a trip around this time frame in 2011, the flights we wanted were going to cost us $1200 with Southwest, which is usually our first choice. Adam looked at other airlines and asked me how much would it cost to stay an extra night. Well, he'd found a flight on Airtran that flew in on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, and round trip for me, him, and Aidan was just over $700. Even staying an extra night, we came out hundreds ahead. AND WE GOT AN EXTRA NIGHT AT DISNEY WORLD. It was a win-win!

And I wondered... could I possibly get that lucky again? So I played with the numbers. Found flights for the three of us for $662. $662 total round trip for three of us. Instead of flying in Monday morning, we'd have to fly in Monday afternoon BUT by adding an extra night (room only), I come out $200 ahead.

I worked and worked trying to figure things out. Naturally, the cheapest flights were to fly in late Monday and leave early Friday. That was not going to work because we'd miss an entire day in the parks. I ended up picking a midday flight to Orlando on Monday, and the last flight out to Chicago Friday night. It costed a bit more, but was worth it and much better than the $900-$1000 I was looking at the week before.

I was on the phone with Disney for 45 minutes getting everything set up. They were super helpful and nice. They shifted my original reservation to June 4-7, and added a room only to June 3. I didn't want the Dining Plan and park tickets for June 3 because I didn't see any point in wasting a park ticket on half a day. We can go to Downtown Disney, have dinner in the food court, and relax so we can be well rested for the Magic Kingdom rope drop the next morning. They also transferred me to Dining so I could change my reservations. On top of all this, they're running their Spring discounts on rooms and packages, and our stay falls right within the dates.

AND checking the crowd calendar on Easy WDW, it turns out that the shift in our vacation plans and days we visit which park works out in our favor. It will still be crowded, but slightly less in the parks we're going to.

I swear, this is the most math I've done in years. I don't even know if it was algebra or what, all I know is that it made my brain tired!

I'll write again soon with more of the nitty gritty details of the trip itself. It will be my mom's first trip ever, and I want to make it really awesome for her! :)

'Til next time.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

40 Days!!!

Cinderella Castle

Forty days until my Disney trip and I have FINALLY gotten all my plans squared away. It's all paid off and now I'm just waiting for my travel documents to show up. I am so excited!

I'm changing things around a lot more this time than I've ever done. We're coming in on a Monday instead of a Sunday. THAT is going to feel weird! I know I'm going to be off the whole time I am there. Anywhere, here is the plan.

Monday - Magic Kingdom and dinner at Be Our Guest
Tuesday - Animal Kingdom and dinner at Cape May Cafe
Wednesday - Epcot and dinner at Garden Grill
Thursday - Hollywood Studios and dinner at Grand Floridian Cafe
Friday - Magic Kingdom and lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern

We are trying three new places this time, and Liberty Tree for lunch which we have never done before; we've always had dinner there. I'm excited to try out the new places, and also hit a few old favorites as well. I don't think we'll make Fantasmic--I have this habit of scheduling dinners during the show. Everyone says we need to see it, and I don't doubt them. It's just something I want to keep saving for "next time." A reason to come back. Because I plan on coming back!

Here is my preliminary wish list for this trip:
- meet Gaston
- have a Dole Whip float
- see Wishes
- ride the new Test Track
- ride Soarin'
- take lots more photos (and instagram more too!)
- relax in the hot tub more often
This trip is going to be easy peasy. Fun, laid back, and a nice break from the Chicago winter (which honestly hasn't been that bad this year)!

Next time I will talk about the FUN I'm having trying to plan a trip for my mom and my son for the summer. Until then...


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