The $16,000 "Free" Disney Trip **Updated 12/11** COMPLETE
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October 25 – November 2, 2008
How’s that for a crazy TR title? (Shoutout to ...
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The $16,000 "Free" Disney Trip **Updated 12/11** COMPLETE
The $16,000 “Free” Disney Trip October 25 – November 2, 2008
How’s that for a crazy TR title? (Shoutout to Heather (ilovedisney247) for inspiring it.) Heather knows what it means, but I’ll explain it to everyone else.
You all should know how much I enjoy visiting Disney theme parks. I really love to travel, but found myself going back to Disney time after time. A few years ago, I made a couple of promises to myself. The first was that I would stay at a new Loews Hotel every year (after all, that’s the company I work for), and the second was that I’d visit a new city every year (and a lot of times, I could do both at once).
Southwest Airlines added service to SFO from my home airport, so I decided my new city for 2008 would be San Francisco, California. I also decided that I couldn’t fly all the way to California without a trip to Disneyland, so I added on a day (okay, five days ) at Disneyland. (And in case you’re wondering, I stayed at the Don CeSar this past March.)
I made all these decisions in 2007. This trip had been in the works for a while. Then one day this past August, I got an email from Disney. It was a DVC offer. I’d considered DVC in the past, but always decided against it because I had some warped idea that I’d vacation less when using points. Anyway, the offer really got my attention. (I’ve just included the relevant parts of the email)
DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO RECEIVE A COMPLIMENTARY VACATION*!
Purchase a real estate interest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas and you’ll enjoy special incentives:
· A complimentary Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation. · A pre-paid gift card to use for vacation expenses…
That’s a $16,000 asterisk. It was almost like they tailored this offer to me. AKL is my favorite resort. I was already planning a Disneyland trip (by this point, I’d already bought my airline tickets), I could use points for my DLH stay, and the $500 gift card would pretty much pay for everything else, so it would, indeed, be a free* Disneyland trip. I was sold.
I joined DVC (and ever since, I’ve been wondering what the heck took me so long!!) and also got a $16,000 free tote bag.
I couldn’t make a trip all the way to California without arranging to see my fellow Crazy Lady, Karen (zacksmom_1993). I knew even if she couldn’t join me in Disneyland, I’d get to see her when I went to San Francisco, but I of course was hoping for both. She and Zack will be at Disneyland for my first 3 days. Karen’s even picking me up from the airport. I can’t wait to hang out with her and Zack again! I am sure my sides will be aching because they are two of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I’m also excited about the chance to meet Karen’s family (particularly her sister Alice, since she’s everyone’s favorite ).
Somewhere along the line I learned that Cheryl (chezp) was also planning a trip to Disneyland in late October. I was thrilled to find our trips overlapped and we’d have a chance to spend more time together, so we made some plans to have a few meals together and we’re doing MTOTP on the same night as well. I also got to spend time with Cheryl and Mark when they made their first stop in the U.S. here in New York. The way it works out, I’ll have lots of company on my not-so-solo solo trip!
I’ve been to Disneyland three times before, twice having stayed at the Grand Californian. While I really enjoyed the GC, I was enchanted by the Disneyland Hotel. Of all the Disney resorts (including the WDW resorts) this one seemed the most “Disney” to me. I am quite excited about staying there. I knew I could see everything in 3 days, but I decided 5 days would be better, giving me time to enjoy all the beautiful Halloween decorations as well as Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party (a smaller-scale version of MNSSHP).
Disneyland may have a smaller-scale party, but they do have some other special stuff that makes up for it (at least to me). First is the Haunted Mansion Holiday, where the Haunted Mansion gets a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, and that’s probably the thing I’m most looking forward to seeing.
I’d also heard that during the Halloween season, the characters from the Tower of Terror movie can be found roaming around the TOT, and that’s something I really needed to see. There’s a lot of other holiday stuff going on too, which you can read about at the Halloween Time at Disneyland website.
There was also a tour I’d read about, the Happiest Haunts Tour, a spooky tour given only during Halloween that takes you into both parks and on four attractions. This sounded like something I’d enjoy, and Karen and Zack wanted to do it as well, so I booked that.
When I’d planned the trip, I was thinking of making the scenic drive up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but when I saw that I could fly for only $45, I changed my mind (it would cost that much in gas – forget about the cost of the rental car!). I’ll have to take that drive another time.
Speaking of airfare, when I booked, I wasn’t too thrilled with my rates on SWA, but it’s my morning ritual to check airfare every morning, so I ended up with a nice savings. In fact, between this trip and my Mousefest trip, I’ve got a credit large enough to pay for my next flight! The only downside is that I don’t have direct flights (well, except from L.A. to San Francisco). But considering I’m taking 3 flights for just about $300, I can live with it.
When it came to making arrangements for the San Francisco portion of the trip, I turned to my brilliant BFF, because she is somewhat of an expert on San Francisco (and lots of other stuff – she is the awesome!!), the lovely Samantha Brown. I’ve seen every episode of Great Hotels and since Sam enjoyed the Fairmont in San Francisco, that’s where I decided I would stay.
I’ve got some other stuff on the agenda for San Francisco, too. Namely, the Golden Gate Bridge (I bridges), a visit to Alcatraz was a must (and a t-shirt for my oldest brother who is at Riker’s Island, the other island prison in the U.S. – not as an inmate! He works there ), and a ride on the cable cars, plus some other touristy stuff.
But I’m really using that as filler for when I can’t be with my other brilliant BFF, also somewhat of an expert on San Francisco and who actually admits to knowing me, the lovely Karen. And yeah, Karen is also the awesome!! And I’m not just saying that because she’s picking me up from the airport.
Up Next: Where Am I? Where Am I? Where Am… AAAAAH! My Itinerary.
Fun with friends! Read about it in my Trip Report. Final thoughts added 4/9. NOW COMPLETE!
Did you also get your $16000 Free Tote Bag? Have fun! Wish I could come! I am taking my Free $16000 vacations (yeah I squeezed those 160 points into 2 free vacations) at Mousefest and in May for the IF&GF! I love my free $16000 vacations!
Well I would have to say that everything fell into place, who would know that by fianlly taking the plunge into the DVC world you would luck out with a free trip to DL and a $16,000 tote bag
Your plans sound great. How nice that you will get to spend some quality time with Karen and Zach both in SF and DL. The Happy Haunts tour sounds like so much fun.
Glad you will be able to share some more time with Cheryl and Mark...and to share the MTOTP with them.
You should absolutely the Fairmont in SF, while I have never been there my boss loves it so it has become a staple for him when he travels to that neck of the woods. He says it is just such a nice atmosphere and he has always had great service. This I must agree with because they have always been so helpful with the dozen or so changes I make to his travel plans each time he visits.
Can't wait to hear more....(you really need to keep this up, I don't feel bad about one of your TR's ending knowing there is a new PTR coming up)
Absolutely awesom Sharon! DH and I had our first experience with DLR and DLH in August and we both agree we will be going back as soon as we can! Fall is really my best opportunity to travel because of work (until I actually retire that is) so I will be interested in hearing all about your experiences. We've also been to SF once but although we went into the city we missed Alcatraz and riding on a cable car. So, next time we go back that will be on the agenda.
It's so great you'll see and be with so many PPers. Can't wait to hear more about it.
These are some great plans you've made!!! I've seen that Samantha Brown episode too (among others..... ) and always thought that would be a great place to stay in SF. I hope it lives up to your expectations - I'm sure it will!!! Totally, completely green with that you get to not only enjoy Disneyland, but Disneyland during Halloween. AWESOME!!!! Looking forward to the itinerary!!!!
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