Andy & Annabel Return to Disney World - Updated 6/2 - Day 14 Part 2
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Hope you will enjoy our pre-trip report - I can be a little thorough so ...
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Andy & Annabel Return to Disney World - Updated 6/2 - Day 14 Part 2
The Trip of Firsts 2011
Hope you will enjoy our pre-trip report - I can be a little thorough so I hope it's not too much. It's been a good three and a half years since I wrote my last one. I shall be adding a photo at the end of each update from our previous trips.
Your Non-Ghost Hosts:
Me aka Annabel aka Anz aka Wifey - 38 years old, lover of all things Disney. This will be my 10th trip!
Hubby aka Andy - 41 years old, I dragged him kicking and screaming to Disney World in 2003 and he fell in love with it too. Not nearly as much as a WDW addict as I am but he's getting there. Actually, I think he's more excited than me, if that's possible!
My love for all things Disney began as a child. EVery summer and Easter holiday, a Disney classic would be released in the cinema and my mother would take me to see them. I remember seeing The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent scared the crud out of me!), Robin Hood, Fox and the Hound etc. You couldn't get hold of Disney films for years on video here in the UK so as they were slowly released, we bought them. I still remember my brother Chris watching The Rescuers for the first time and laughing so hard at it, he cried.
Skip to my 16th year, 1989. I was madly into the Brat Pack and watched every film I could get my hands on. 16 magazine was the only US magazine I could get over here and I eagerly bought my copy every month so I could drool over Corey Haim, River Phoenix, Kirk Camreron etc. Corey Hain was my first big crush. The walls of my bedroom were adorned with pictures of Alyssa Milano, the 2 Corey's, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald and the like. That year, my parents announced that we would be spending 2 weeks in Florida. You can imagine my
excitement. It increased ten-fold once I learned we would be visiting Walt Disney World. We would also visit Kennedy Space Center and Sea World but I wasnt as excited about that. I was the envy of my Brat Pack-loving friends. Unfortunately I don't remember as much as I would like about this holiday. I have some good photos of course but I don't remember if we rode Journey Into Imagination, Horizons or Spaceship Earth. I do remember Captain EO, World of Motion, IllumiNations and meeting Mickey outside his house at Magic Kingdom. I had an amazing time and knew I wanted to return one day. I was the only one though, no one else was interested. My brother was 11 and when I talk to him about it now, he can't remember a single thing.
Fast forward to 2003. I was married and I still hadn't made it back to America. I came into some money and the first thing I decided to do with it? A holiday to Florida. I remember booking it then ringing Andy at work and telling him we were going. He didn't have a choice but seriously, I knew he'd be ok with it. Even though I wanted to stay on-site my budget just didn't stretch far enough so we stayed at the Quality Inn International on International Drive. I bought us a 4 day park ticket for Disney World plus a Sea World day ticket, Universal Studios ticket and Kennedy Space Center. I'm ashamed to say that at this point, I had no idea about the amount of information on Disney World available on the internet or by book. We didn't plan anything. Yes, we were one of those families that stood on Main Street USA looking at the map thinking "What on earth do we do first?" This trip was to celebrate my 30th birthday and I knew I wanted to have a meal with Winnie the Pooh. Our first visit to Magic Kingdom, I tried to book a breakfast reservation at Crystal Palace for my birthday. Imagine my shock when I was told it was fully booked. I remember thinking "how proposterous!" There was an opening for lunch so I got my wish. Hubby loved being in America and when I sadly packed to return home, I had no idea an obsession had been born.
Our 2nd trip together was in January 2004. Amazingly, it was hubby who wanted to go back and was responsible for booking the holiday, not me. To say I was ecstatic was an understatement. I eagerly searched for Walt Disney World on the internet and a whole new world opened up to me that I never knew had excisted. Fellow Disney World fans posting trip reports and photos, guidebooks, websites dedicated to my Happy Place, I was in heaven! The prices for staying on-site had come down significantly from the year before and we were looking at staying at one of the All Star resorts. I suddenly came across news That Disney were building a new Value resort called Pop Century and it would be opening December 03. We were able to book our stay there and with that wonderful on-site stay, a serious obsession was born. Once home, I bought every single book I could get my hands on, including the Passporter. I soon discovered the Passporter boards and excitedly posted my first ever trip report and uploaded our photos.
Our last visit to our Happy Place was in May 2008. We went with my mum and her husband Jez for the second time. My health has deteriorated since our 2006 trip and it was a very difficult two weeks. I was in pain all the time and I barely slept. Arriving home, I remember descending into tears as I had no idea if, let alone when, we would return to Disney World. The place that feels like home as soon as I pass under the arch. I couldn't plan, I wouldn't read anything, even my Disney playlist on my iPod stayed unplayed for months. It took a while but I eventually got back into a Walt Disney World state of mind. We finally went through our photos and I started planning trips in my head. I had a heavy heart still, feeling that I hadn't accomplished as much as I'd wanted to during that last visit. So factoring in the fact that I was unable to work, and you can see why our return was so uncertain. Every time May rolled around, we felt lost. You can't help thinking "this time last year we were there". Even Mum and Jez had the post-trip blues.
Andy and I tortured ourselves often, looking at prices, watching our Disney programs etc. I will happily admit to you that I shed more than a few tears watching IllumiNations and Wishes that we'd filmed, wondering if I'd ever see it in person again. We had a ray of hope in early 2010 when Andy finally got the job he'd wanted and had waited more than 2 years to get. It would mean more money so the pressure lessoned for me, slightly, about needing to work plus we could start putting money away and start thinking about a possible return. Unfortunately my health is still an issue and the pain could still impact on our vacation. Anyway, on one of Andy's days off work, we went to our local pub for a meal and for Andy to get his favourite beer for a mere £1.65 a pint (it's usually £2.80). As always I took my planning stuff with us so we could enjoy some Disney time. To start with, we had a bit of a decision to make. We could either go for a week in December 2010 or, if we were prepared to wait, we could go in May 2011 for 2 weeks. 1 week would sort out our desperate need to go but we didn't feel it would be enough timw. We concluded that it'd be better to wait a little longer and enjoy a full 2 weeks at our Happy Place. I had ordered the latest brochure and it had come with some deals, like free dining and 15% off hotels. If we upgraded from Pop Century to Port Orleans French Quarter we could get the Quick Service Dining plan for free. The only other resort we'd stayed at was the Contemporary and we knew that we'd like to try a few more. Unfortunately the deluxe resorts are out of our price range if we want to stay for more than a night or two.
A few weeks later, Andy and I were discussing a possible trip yet again when Andy mentioned how much he'd enjoyed visiting during the Food & Wine Festival and attending the Halloween party. He said "what if we were to move our trip to October 2011 instead?" Queue my face dropping and tears forming. I had been thinking "woohoo only a year to go" and now it'd be "oh, still 18 months to go" instead. Did I really want to wait longer? Of course not. We started gathering information and prices for May 2011 and were utterly dismayed to find prices very high. We had never paid so much in the past. The room at Pop Century was about £500 more than before and we'd stayed here our previous 2 trips at the same time of year. I know prices increase but come on! It certainly put a spanner in the works and upgrading to POFQ would not be an option. We couldn't get any flight prices - if you are booking the flights individually you can book 11 months in advance. We would have to wait utnil June to find out how much our flights were likely to cost. To book a package holiday including flight, room and car was also ridiculously expensive. We wanted to fly into Orlando International so we could finally use Disney's Magical Express. Only British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly into MCO direct - we could've flown with US Airways or Continental but the flights are never direct and as you most of you will remember, I'm terrified of flying. We checked prices for flying into Sanford and they were just as expensive. This began to worry us greatly. Could we really afford to go? We left our decision making until June so we could check British Airways and Virgin's prices and then, we would know for sure.
During another Disney planning session in mid-June, Andy mentioned again how much he'd like to go in October. I checked the calendar on my phone and thought that if we went end of September into October, it would give us longer to save and, maybe, it would be a cheaper time of year to visit. We'd only gone during the Food & Wine Festival twice and the first time, we hadn't even known about the Festival. We'd loved attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party as well. We decided we would look at going at this time of year and check the prices the next day. I would've said when we returned home but Andy had consumed a fair amount of beer so I'm sure you understand why the next day would suffice
That night, I had plans whirring around my head. I wanted to revisit my Happy Place so badly! Andy fell asleep early and was snoring loudly so I decided to put the computer on as I had no chance of sleeping. I had a very pleasant surprise when I visited disneyworld.co.uk - originally you could only book your room up to a year in advance but they had changed it to 18 months. Within minutes I had a fantastic quote. They were still offering free dining if you stayed at a Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villa. If we stayed at Port Orleans, we could get the Quick Service plan for free which sounded OK. As I went through getting the quote, I discovered we could upgrade to the regular Dining Plan for £10 extra each per day - £280 for a plan which was worth 3 times more. Result! When you book through the website you automatically get preferred viewing for a showing of both Wishes and IllumiNations. Also included was a free minature golf game and a marina discount. During a previous planning exercise, I had worked out our average spend on food each day. Comparing this to the upgrade to Dining Plan was a very good option for us. The room at POFQ was about £400 more than a room at Pop Century but when I worked out the room cost at Pop with 2 weeks of food and our flights, we would actually save over £200 using the upgrade to Dining Plan and staying at POFQ. Only a fellow Disney World fanatic would understand how excited I was and I couldn't help wishing Andy would wake up so I could show him our quote and explain it all. Eventually, he did wake up and sleepily asked why the computer was on. I explained what I'd found but, unfortunately, as he'd had a few beverages of the alcoholic kind, I found myself having to explain things several times. I told him after awhile to go back to sleep and we'd go through it in the morning. He kept saying to me "if you think it's good then book it" but I wanted him to be sober and see for himself that it was good, rather than book it and he say to me "what on earth have you done?"
Normally the morning after he's had a few, my darling husband doesn't remember anything we've talked about. However, I think because it was Disney World related, he'd remembered that I'd find a good quote, although he was sketchy on all the details. I took over the computer, went back to the website and entered all the same info. The quote was the same. I then tried to get flight quotes but unfortunately I could only get prices for 2010. With any luck they won't be expensive or go up too much the following year. After a few minutes of deliberation and trying to work out if we could afford it, we decided to book it. We could pay a small deposit and the balance would be due 8 weeks before the holiday itself, which will give us plenty of time to sale. At booking, our return to Walt Disney World was 15 months away but hey, I was going back after 3 and a half years of waiting. Far too long between trips in my opinion! The other bonus of booking now means we get our tickets and room at 2010 prices. The only uncertainty will be the flight prices but hopefully they won't work out too expensive. So we have booked the following: 14 nights at Port Orleans French Quarter, upgrade from Quick Service Dining Plan to Dining Plan and 2 Ultimate 14 Day tickets.
You may be wondering why this trip is called The Trip of Firests? As the title implies, it IS a trip of many first for us. It will be our first stay at Port Orleans, or any moderate resort for that matter. It's our first time using a Dining Plan, our first time utilising Disney's Magical Express and our first time not having a car for the full 2 weeks (Hubby's reason for wanting the rental? A trip through the Krispy Kreme drive-thru and a Denny's!). It's also our first time booking through Disneyworld. co.uk and a benefit of booking through their website is the VIP viewings of IllumiNations and Wishes. Result!
As it will be our first trip in over 3 years, I will have a priority list of the most important things I want to do. I've never seen Finding Nemo the Musical so it will be on there. I've listen to it on my ipod countless times so I can't wait to finally see it. As we have the Dining Plan, we'll be booking our ADRs for mostly evening meals. There are so many restaurants we want to try so we will have a lot of fun choosing where to eat. Favourites we will definitely be eating at are Jiko, Boma and Le Cellier. Other restaurants we want to try include Biergarten, Les Chef de France and 50's Prime Time Cafe. Last trip we ate dinner at Hollywood & Vine and lunch at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and both were a disappointment. Hollywood & Vine used to be Andy's favourite but we found the choice of food to be seriously lacking. We both struggled to find enough to eat plus they had removed the most amazing pot roast from the choices. Not to mention the blue cheese and bacon butter I used to love. We are thinking of doing the Fantasmic Dining Package and if we do use it, we'll eat at Mama Melrose as we've never eaten here. So here I am, 15 months out, and as I'm sure many Passporters will agree, the planning is as much as taking the trip itself. (Written in July 2010)
The photo attached is from my very first trip to Magic Kingdom in 1989. I was 16 and I fell in love with Disney World.
Nov/Dec 2012 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday!
Wonderful start. DH and I had our first trip to WDW (we were married and had had our kids by then, but left them home! Oh bad parents!) in 1987. Our next trip wasn't until 2000. To make up for being bad parents we took our son and his family that time and have had many trip with them and our daughter and her family since then. You are going to LOVE POFQ. Can't wait to hear more.
Thanks for all the welcome backs, I've missed posting here.. We will be at WDW from 27 September to 11th October. Our night at MNSSHP is 10th October, the night before we leave. We figured we'd go out on a high
Next update will be posted tonight.
Nov/Dec 2012 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday!
Before I post the next bit, I'd just like to say please excuse any typos. I no longer have Word on my computer and I'm having to type it up on Notepad which sucks
Written 3rd Jan 2011
I can finally say "This year we're going to Disney World!" Yay! We have saved up enough money to pay for our flights so these have just been booked. The price was much better than expected and cost around £900. It feels more real now but to get such a good price, we had a lot of fun (I'm being sarcastic here). We were due to fly out on a Thursday and and we didn't think it would make a big difference. How wrong we were! Our price was £400 more than the last quote I'd gotten in October. This was a huge shock and it made us worry. £400 is a lot of money and it would make a serious dent in our spending money.
We discussed a few options like flying into Sanford Airport and not using Magical Express. Andy then had the bright idea to check the prices on different days. Flying on a Wednesday was cheaper by about £200 but a Tuesday was cheaper by £400. I don't understand why there is such a difference. It's not like we're flying out on a weekend! We were now faced with a dilemma. Would Disney let us change our dates and if so, how much would it cost us? We checked our invoice and under the terms and conditions, it said any change would cost us $50 in admin charges. I guess spending £50 to save £400 on flights isn't too awful. It was a Sunday night, nearly 9pm, so we would have to wait until Monday to call. Poor Andy, it played on his mind ALL night! Every time he woke up, he'd say "9am they open, I have to call them at 9am". I woke up just before 9am and Andy was already up, the phone in his hand. I heard him dial out downstairs and waited impatiently for the call to end.
Ten minutes later, he came running upstairs. "All done," he announced with a big grin on his face. Disney were more than happy to change our dates to 2 days earlier and because it was within our original booking with no other changes, it cost us NOTHING to make our changes. Zero, nada, zilch! He'd then booked the flights as soon as he'd put the phone down to Disney. So, by moving our dates back 2 days we have saved an almighty £400 on our flights. To say we were happy is an understatement. We have booked with British Airways for the first time, flying into MCO. Not only were they cheaper than Virigin Atlantic, the flight leaves nearly 2 hours earlier too. We take off at 11.35am UK time and should land around 3.35pm US time. Now the flights are booked, it all feels more real.
Hubby had over a week off from work for Christmas and New Year and the last Monday before he was due to go back to work, he decided he wanted to go to our usual pub, home of many Disney World talks. Without fail, Disney World was indeed our topic of conversation. I took my notebook and Passporter with me, as usual, and we were all set. We have more or less decided where we will eat and had a jolly good time deciding on our table service choices. A fair few are new to us and a few are old favourites. As you will see from our choices, we intend to spend a lot of time at Epcot - it's our favourite park. Our list of possibles were as follows:
Kouzzina or Biergarten
Hollywood Brown Derby for Fantasmic Dining Package
Yak & Yeti
50's Prime Time Cafe
Tusker House for lunch
Les Chefs de France
Tony's Town Square
Over time, we will have to narrow this list down and decide which ones will make the cut. This will be an incredibly difficult job, which falls to me - Andy says the final choice is mine. All he asks is that we definitely eat at Le Cellier. That is a no-brainer. I MUST have my cheddar cheese soup.
Written 10 March 2011
As of ttoday we are at 201 days until we leave for Disney World. As excited as I am, I am also very worried about what state I'll be in painwise and healthwise. I have decided to up my walking otherwise I will never cope. Our flights and seats are booked (I have a guaranteed window seat, phew!), the room with tickets and free dining is booked and we are about halfway through paying the holiday. Any extra money hubby makes, plus his monthly attendance bonus, goes straight to our savings account. The room is due to be paid for on 2 August but we are aiming for June to pay it all off in full. That means any savings we have from then until the end of September is spending money. Some of this will be needed for tips, the rest for souvenirs and extras.I can make my ADRs on 1 April and I can't wait. They have been changed a few times and will, I'm sure, be changed yet again, due to the fact I've just found out Animal Kingdom will no longer have evening Extra Magic Hours. We were planning on eating here in the evening but Yak & Yeti are open for lunch so that's ok. I really want to try their wok-fried green beans!
As of March, our meals stand as follows:-
28 Sept - Biergarten
29 Sept - Chef Mickey's - if MNSSHP is held tonight
30 Sept - Jiko
1 Oct - Boma
2 Oct - 50's Prime Time Cafe
3 Oct - Tusker House
4 Oct - Le Cellier
5 Oct - Les Chefs de France
6 Oct - Yachtsman Steakhouse
7 Oct - Yak & Yeti
8 Oct - Tutto Italia
9 Oct - Kouzzina
10 - Crystal Palace
We may change the Yak & Yeti dinner to Kona Cafe so we can watch the Electrical Water Pageant and Wishes from the Polynesian beach - I have always wanted to do this. One meal will be paid for out of pocket as we are having 2 2-credit meals. We won't be eating table service the night we arrive as we want to check out the food court at Port Orleans French Quarter and explore the resort.
I have tried to pin Hubby down on what rides he wants to do. His response? "This trip's about you honey, I don't mind if I don't ride Everest or Rock n Roller Coaster, you are the priority." What a sweetheart I'm married to Rest assured I do intend on pushing him towards his favourite coasters regardless as I don't want him to miss out. I am very tempted to try some of the rides I've chickened out of riding on previous trips. I am a Certified Coaster Chicken (I have the t-shirt from Universal Studios to prove it, haha) and I have refused to ride Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Rock n Roller Coaster (the first time I rode an upside coaster I barfed like I'd never barfed before), Tower of Terror and Star Tours. Why? I suffer badly with motion sickness and I hate the way I feel afterwards. I promise that if I do ride any of the above for the first time, I will make sure there is photographic proof! I rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the first time in 2005 and I felt so dizzy and disorientated afterwards. This time I will be riding it again having a dose of Dramamine as I want to see if it helps with the dizziness. I just don't want my day to be ruined if I get sick.
My checklist of "To Do" is still pretty big. This what I have left:
1. Book ADRs on 1st April
2. Check park hours and EMH for our trip on 1st April - I've based my initial plans on hours for 2010.
3. Redo my passporter - it expires 2 months before we go!
4. Book tickets for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party once they're released and check/change our ADR
for that night.
5. Look out for dates of the Wishes Dessert Party being released for our trip.
6. Sort out our visas once my passport is returned.
7. Pay off our holiday in June 2011.
8. Book our week's car hire with Alamo.
9. Purchase our travel insurance.
10. Pre-purchase our Photopass CD.
11. Finalise my itinerary.
The picture attached is of me wearing my Certified Coaster Chicken from our Jan 2004 trip.
Nov/Dec 2012 to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday!