The "It's NOT my birthday trip report" (trip complete)
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The \"It\'s NOT my birthday trip report\" (trip complete)
As promised in my other pre-trip report, here's the second planned trip (3rd total for the year).
me, 41, single mom. Moved to Tampa in October, this will be something like 10 trips to the world.
DD, Kaylie, 14. Lover of all thrill rides. Has one less trip than me.
DS, Casey, turns 13 on August 25th. Not a lover of thrill rides! Has one less trip than his sister (he stayed home with the in-laws on one trip).
My mom, late 60s. This will be her 6th trip I think. All but one (a one day EPCOT visit) was with us.
We spent a week at the world over Spring Break (late March), and celebrated DD's 14th birthday. DS was a little grumpy with the attention she got, so I wanted to do the same for him.
The kids go back to school the first week of August, so I knew it would be a short trip. DS's birthday is on a Friday, so I called and booked a campground reservation for one day only on that day (I work in the church nursery, so I try to be there on Sundays). When I called, the CM asked me if I'd heard about the free dining offer. I said "oh, we're pass holders, so that doesn't work for us. And we're really light eaters too." He mentioned that it only takes the purchase of a one day MYW ticket, which can be applied to next year's pass renewal, and let it go at that. We booked one night, standard site, $39 (too early for any discounts yet).
Remember that frugal gene I mentioned in my last trip report? Well, it started calling my name. I called back and told the CM "I have a reservation for August, and I'd like to add the free dining". The CM pulled it up and said "this doesn't work at Ft. Wilderness. You have to stay at a resort." I told her Ft. Wilderness WAS a resort, but she said "I got an email on this. Campgrounds aren't included."
So I went on line to research it, and what do you know? She was right. Oh, and we wouldn't have been eligible anyway, because it needed a three night stay. Hmmm. What to do, what to do? The kids are in school at that time... Oh, but labor day is that very next weekend!
So I went on-line and plugged in some numbers. I had made campground ressies for just 3 (Grandma doesn't sleep on the ground!), but I put in all 4 of us for this. Hmm. Pop Century standard room is available, and it's value season rate of $79. One day MYW tickets are $67 (and that's funny money since it's really a downpayment on next years' tickets). Total package price? $533 ($268 of which I get back this winter). That was a no-brainer! Book it baby! (I did talk to Mom first, and she said she'd like to go for Casey's birthday).
Okay, now with the dining plan, I am going to have to actually plan something. And since I'm absolutely opposed to wasting food, I wanted to be sure I thought out how I was going to use all those credits! So here's my plan (but much less ambitious than spring break). I made my ADRs and got everything I wanted (only had to move one night by 15 minutes), so that's all set.
Fri, 1 September.
Mom will probably come up to my house (she lives 2 1/2 hours south, just past Fort Myers) the day before. This is a full school day for the kids, but I may pull them out halfway through to beat the traffic. DD will be in high school, and I think they get out earlier, so maybe I'll just time it to pick her up on the way (the high school is 10 minutes closer to WDW than our house!)
I'd like to be in the World by 3:30 for checkin to Pop Century. DS asked for 9 Dragons as his birthday dinner, so we'll head over to EPCOT once we're settled. Now I know 9 Dragons doesn't have the best reputation. But DS likes Chinese food, and we had CM's from there at our Teppanyaki table for DD's birthday who were really nice. It's his birthday, so his choice. I expect to use 2 table service credits here. (remember, we're very light eaters. We ordered 2 meals at Teppanyaki, and that didn't include appetizers or dessert).
I plan to stay for Illuminations. It's evening EMH at EPCOT this night, but we'll see what everyone wants to do. At most, I'd expect to ride Soarin a few times, and maybe one test track spin, then back to Pop.
Saturday, 9/2 (this was my anniversary, but we'll just forget that, huh?)
Breakfast in the Pop Food Court (2 or 3 CS credits).
Hopefully to MGM by 8 for morning EMH. I'm not forcing anyone out of bed this trip, but we usually are morning people, so unless we stay at EPCOT pretty late, this should be a do-able thing. At the minimum, I expect DD will go with me. Remember, TOT and RnR are her all-time favorite things to do!!!
We have 11:30 ADRs at Sci Fi. Grandma didn't go there with us over spring break, and we all really enjoyed this, so that's why I booked it again. I plan on 2 TS credits here too (again, we had 2 meals there in March, and we'll get appetizers and dessert).
Back to the room for a break. The kids and I might hit a water park if they want. Depending on how the break goes, we might head over to MK for a bit. We haven't been on Pirates of the Caribbean since our trip in Dec 04, and it should be open by now. DD LOVES the movie, so I think she'll want to do this.
We have 7:15 ADRs at O'Hanas - 4 TS credits. As I said in our spring break trip, my family really likes the atmosphere in the Poly. I'd love to stay there, but I can't see spending the money anytime soon. I've always wanted to do this, but once the kids turned 10, I couldn't justify the price for as little as they eat. But with free dining??? Oh, yeah! We're there!
Back to the room for an early night.
Sunday, 3 Sept (yes, I'm missing nursery duty at church, but 2 times in a year isn't bad!)
Breakfast ADRs at Kona at 8:00. I sure hope they don't have the a/c as high as they did in March! I'd like to try the tonga toast, but we'll see what everyone else wants. Again, I plan on 2 TS credits here.
After Kona, I have an open morning. We'll probably go back to EPCOT, since that's a good fit for everyone. But I'm playing it by ear. Wherever we are, we'll do CS for lunch, then take a break.
After our break, I'd like to be back at EPCOT by 3:30. We have 6:30 ADRs at Coral Reef (2 TS credits planned here to finish off our TS part of the plan). Again, I know mixed reviews. But I haven't been there since my honeymoon 18 years ago. And both kids like seafood (especially DS). With the fish tank to keep them occupied, this won out over Le Cellier for our last table service restaurant.
After dinner, I'd like to head to MGM to catch Fantasmic at 8:30, then back to bed.
Monday, 4 September.
Breakfast at Pop food court with CS credits.
Check out, and hopefully to AK by 8 for EMH.
Lunch likely at Tusker House, but maybe Flame Tree using more TS credits.
Leave by 3 for home.
I do expect to have 4 CS credits left over, because I'm not going to order food I don't use! My family is used to sharing, so unless somebody really wants to eat something that no one else wants I'm expecting to use 2 CS credits per meal. So I'll be on the lookout for people to share the credits with that last couple of days!
Well, that's the minimally planned Birthday trip for DS's 13th! I do expect to spread some pixie dust his way this time, so our activities will be geared toward what HE wants to do.
It\'s not my birthday trip (Pre-trip report, updated)
I was writing up a pre-trip report for this report, and as I was typing, I realized that I had already posted the pre-trip report.
There's been a couple of little changes, so I thought I'd post them but the plans are fairly stable.
The first change is the title of the report. About a month after I booked this, DS said "I don't want to go to WDW for my birthday." I said "But it's already booked. And you said you wanted to eat at 9 Dragons, and stay at Pop Century?"
He said "Oh, I'll do all of that. But it's not for my birthday!" ohhhkay then. I think he's afraid I'm going to make him wear a birthday button, and be sang to by the servers! He really does embarrass pretty easily, so we've decided this is just our trip to WDW, that's not really for Casey's birthday! Of course, if they decide to spread a little pixie dust his way, I'm not going to turn it down!
So far, I've left our ADRs alone. I've been debating about changing Coral Reef to the San Angel Inn. DD would really like to eat there. But I don't see anything on the menu that DS will eat, so we'll probably just do the counter service in Mexico this time.
I'm also strongly considering spending more time in the AK this trip. We really haven't spent much time there at all this year. I know there's a lot more to see there.
This summer is almost over for us. The kids go back to school in 3 weeks! Once I see how their schedules work out, we'll see how early we'll leave that Friday. If they have electives at the end of the day, I have no problems pulling them early. But if it's a core class with a test, we'll probably wait until school's out.
That's my update for the "It's not my birthday" trip.
Re: It\'s not my birthday trip (Pre-trip report, Leaving today)
Good morning everyone!
Well, it's finally time to leave for our "it's not my birthday" trip!
Now that the kids have been in school a month, I've decided to not pull them out early. DS has his core classes at the end of the day, and he's missed science twice already because of a doctor and dentist appointment.
A couple of other minor adjustments. My mom has hurt her knee, so we're going to try to minimize the long distance walking. She thinks she banged it on something, since she's got some bruising in the area. They did an x-ray and gave her some celebrex to take while she's at Disney, and I told her we can get a wheelchair if she needs it.
I also joined DVC a couple of weeks ago, when we went over for a one day visit. Since Pop doesn't have a whirlpool, and my Mom could probably use one for her knee, we may try to pool hop. I've been told that you can only pool hop if you're staying at a DVC resort using points, but I'm going to just ask the lifeguard and see if they'll let us do it.
I've also pulled down the final hours and EMH days for the parks (at least according to the "official" WDW site).
So my final plans are (free dining credits mentioned throughout)!
Friday, 1 September (TODAY!)
DD's bus returns home about 3:30. We'll load up into the van and pick DS up as school gets out at 4:00. I hope to be on the road by 4:10 and arrive at Pop Century by 5:30. We'll take the bus over to EPCOT (or maybe drive). We have reservations at 7:00 pm for 9 Dragons for DS's birthday dinner. (plan is to use 2 TS credits here) If we have any spare time we'll probably split up and let DS visit Innoventions while the ladies wander World Showcase. If there are any Soarin FPs left, I'll pull a set before we go over to WS. We'll watch Illuminations after dinner. My Mom hasn't seen this since Christmas 2004. We'll stay for some of EMH and try to get into bed by 11:00.
Saturday, 2 September.
MGM has morning EMH, but closes at 7 tonight (probably for the Tom Joyner family reunion).
We'll start with CS breakfasts at the Pop Food court (expect to use 2 CS credits). I'm sure DD will ride her favorites (ToT and RnR) multiple times with fast passes. Since DS doesn't ride this, and grandma can't go on RnR, she'll probably end up with about 3-4 rides on each. I may try to get Gma to ride ToT this time, but we'll see. Over the rest of the morning, I'd like to fit in:
Indiana Jones (we haven't seen this since Christmas 2004 either).
Little Mermaid (Mom's never seen it)
Muppets 3d (again, Mom's never seen it)
The animation tour,
and maybe the stunt show.
DS will hang by himself for a good part of the morning here. We have ADRs at Sci Fi for 11:30. Mom missed this over spring break, so we came back here just for her. Again, I'm planning on 2 TS credits here. For the 3 of us at Spring break, we had 2 meals, and didn't have appetizers or desserts and we were all full.
We'll take a break, and this is when I think we'll try to pool hop. I think we'll try to head over to the Boardwalk and see if they'll let us do this. I know Mom will need the warm water on her knee by this time.
After our break, we'll head over to Magic Kingdom. Plans for here include:
POC, Buzz Lightyear, DD will probably ride the mountains, etc.
We have ADRs at OHana for 7:15 (4 TS), then we'll come back for Spectro and Wishes. The park closes at 10, and I plan to be in bed by 11:00.
Sunday, 3 September
We have ADRs at Kona Cafe for 8:00 and plan to use 2 TS credits here. I really want to try the Tonga Toast, but we'll see what everyone else wants. I can see DS deciding to stay at the hotel longer this morning and using a CS credit for breakfast at the food court, but we'll see how it goes.
After breakfast, we'll probably go to either MGM or MK. IF we go to MGM, we'll try to get into the BackLot tour and the Stunt Show. At MK, we'll probably go back through POC and watch the pirate show. We plan on CS for lunch today, and will probably use 3 CS credits (I know DD will want chicken strips, and she eats every bite of those.)
We'll take a mid-day break, and if the pool hopping thing worked yesterday, we'll probably try it again. This time, we may try the SSR pool. That's my home resort, and I'd like to show my mom around a bit.
After our break, we'll go to EPCOT for the evening. DS will probably hang in Innoventions until it closes, while we visit World Showcase.
Voices of Liberty (Mom's never seen them, and I know she'll love it!)
France movie (again, for Mom)
We have ADRs at Coral Reef at 6:30. I'm planning 2 TS credits here, which will finish up our TS credits.
Then we'll hop over to MGM to see Fantasmic at 8:30. Another thing Mom's never seen.
MK have evening EMH, but we'll probably skip it for an early night.
Monday, 4 Sep (Last day).
Pop food court breakfast (2 CS credits).
To AK for EMH by 8:00.
EE (for DD)
Kali (for DS)
We'll see how busy it is here. We'll probably eat lunch at Tusker House, and may use 3 CS credits.
I expect to try to take care of someone's lunch since we'll have CS credits left.
We should be on the road for home by 2:30 or so to let the kids settle in before the next day of school.
So those are my "final" plans. Stand by for what actually happens!
Re: It\'s not my birthday trip (Pre-trip report, Leaving today)
We’re BAAACK! So how did it go? Overall, really well. This was a little different trip that had a lot of neat twists and turns. I’ll try to get to basics in here, then go back and add pictures and any details I forgot.
As a reminder, the cast is me, Lisa. I’ll be 42 the end of this month, and this is something like my 12th trip to WDW.
DM is a retiree. She stays with my kids when I have to travel, so I treat her to WDW in return.
DD, 14 is a thrill ride junkee. She’s been to WDW one less time than me.
DS, 13 is NOT a thrill ride junkee. Enjoys the technology things at WDW. One less trip than his sister.
First evening, Friday, 1 September.
Plans were to leave by 4:10 and check in at Pop Century by 5:30. ADRs at 9 Dragons in China at 7:15, then watch Illuminations followed by some evening Extra Magic Hours.
Here’s what really happened.
DD got off the bus right at 3:30, and we headed out to DS’s middle school to pick him up. We were all loaded up and on the way by 4:15. Luckily, traffic was moving right along, so we were at the check in desk by 5:30. We were taking advantage of the free dining program, but we have seasonal Annual Passes, so I was very clear that NO ONE put their room key into a turnstile! Those one day passes will be used as the beginning of next years APs!
We were assigned room 6356. It was in the 70s section, and was in a really nice location. We were at the far end of building 6, overlooking the lake. It was very quiet, but an easy walk up to Classic Hall. The kids headed to the room, while Mom and I parked the van and brought up the luggage. I then headed over to Everything Pop to get a reusable mug and a couple of snacks for the kids. I knew I probably wouldn’t get the $12 worth out of the mug, but I NEED my morning coffee, and it makes a nice souvenir. They didn’t take the Disney Dining Experience (DDE) discount on the mug, although I know some people have gotten it. I got a piece of cheesecake for DS, and cheesefries for DD to snack on (2 snack credits used + $12.70 for the mug).
Mom and I unpacked, while the kids ate, and we all headed to the bus stop about 6:25 and made it over to EPCOT by about 6:50 (we had 7:15 ADR at 9 Dragons in China). I took everyone’s passes and went to get FPs for Soarin. My mom had hurt her knee a few weeks ago, so we tried to minimize the walking. I told the kids to get her to the boat dock for world showcase and I’d meet them in China. Once I got over to the Land pavilion, the CMs were just covering the FP machines since they were gone for the night. So I quickly walked over to Test Track to get FPs there. Mom called and said the kids walked over to China, and she was waiting on a boat. About this time (7:10), DS called and was worried that we would lose our reservation. He went ahead and checked us in while I walked over. Mom was still waiting on the boat, and I decided that it wasn’t that long of a walk, so I met her halfway, and we were all seated by about 7:30.
As I mentioned, we had the free dining plan for this trip. That meant we got 1 table service (TS), one counter service (CS) and one snack (SN) per person per day. Or a total of 12 of each type of credit. Since our family is made up of very light eaters, I had planned out eating in 5 table service restaurants over the 3 nights, and we would split meals to have enough credits. The CS credits we would use mostly for breakfasts.
This meal was DS’s choice for his birthday dinner. He had turned 13 the Friday before this one, but he didn’t want any fuss made over his birthday on this trip. I had planned 2 TS credits here, and I told him he could choose what he wanted first. Well, wouldn’t you know, he decided he wanted Duck. The duck is a two person entrée (which means we wouldn’t be able to choose anything else). I tried to talk him out of it, but he was bound and determined that was what he wanted. Since I knew this wasn’t something my mom or daughter would enjoy, I decided to order fried rice and pay for it out of pocket. To make things worse, they didn’t have their normal duck that day. What we got was basically deep fried duck, still on the bone chopped up into little pieces. It had 4 puffy pancake things and came with steamed rice. DS did end up eating a fair amount of it, but I couldn’t figure out a polite way to get the meat off the bones.
Anyway, what we ordered was:
Tri-Star Appetizer (serves 2) - A delightful combination of 3 favorite Dim Sum: Pot sticker, shrimp and pork spring roll, and chicken & shrimp shao mai. - $10.99
Beijing Duck Dinner (serves two) - Two courses: Crispy Beijing duck skin with steamed butterfly buns and Beijing style stir-fried shredded duck with string beans. - $38.99
Nine Dragons Fried Rice - Stir-fried with shrimp, ham, chicken, and veggies. - $14.75 (paid out of pocket, and used DDE for 20% discount).
The kids each had iced tea (Mom and I had water), and we had mango pudding and ginger ice cream for dessert.
Overall, I’d give this meal 1 ½ stars out of 4. But it was primarily because of what we chose to eat. I know the Gen. Tso’s and sesame chicken that other people were getting looked pretty good to me!
The kids left before dessert to visit the shop in Japan, and Mom and I were done by about 8:15 or so. We decided that DS and my mom didn’t want to stay for EMH, so we’d watch Illuminations from the Future World side and they’d leave afterwards. Mom took a leisurely stroll over there, while the kids and I used our TT fast passes. We finished there at 8:55, and when I called Mom to see where she was, she said “I’m between the two burning cauldrons”. She didn’t realize there were cauldrons around the ENTIRE lake! Since we were running out of time, we just watched by the boat dock, and met up with her when the crowds cleared out. Mom and DS were able to get a bus back to Pop Century right away, and were back at the room before 10.
DD and I got our EMH wrist bands, and she decided to ride Maelstrom. We waited about 15 minutes to go “Back, back… over the falls”. For some reason, she really likes this ride! We skipped the movie, then walked the rest of the way around world showcase. We rode Journey into Imagination, then waited about 20 minutes to ride Soarin. By this time (11:00), I was worn out so we headed to the bus stop. The line was wrapped all the way around, but they were bringing in two buses at a time. We got on the 4th bus, and were back in the room by 11:30.
Overall, it was a pretty good day. My mom’s knee seemed to be holding up pretty well, and I knew we’d have much better dining ahead! I didn’t take any pictures this day.