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As of January 1, 2019, we have closed our forums. This is a decision we did not come to lightly, but it is necessary. The software our forums run on is just too out-of-date and it poses a significant security risk. The server software itself must be updated, and it cannot be without removing the forums.

So it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our long-running forums. They came online in 2000 and brought together so many wonderful Disney fans. We had friendships form, careers launch, couples marry, children born ... all because of this amazing community.

Thank you to each of you who were a part of this community. You made it possible.

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We want to personally thank Sara Varney, who coordinated our community for many years (among so many other things she did for us), and Cheryl Pendry, our Message Board Manager who helped train our Guides, and Ginger Jabour, who helped us with the PassPorter-specific forums and Live! Guides. Thank you for your time, energy, and enthusiasm​. You made it all happen.

There are other changes as well.

Why? Well, the world has changed. And change with it, we must. The lyrics to "We Go On" for IllumiNations say it best:

We go on to the joy and through the tears
We go on to discover new frontiers
Moving on with the current of the years.
We go on
Moving forward now as one
Moving on with a spirit born to run
Ever on with each rising sun.
To a new day, we go on.

It's time to move on and move forward.

PassPorter is a small business, and for many years it supported our family. But the world changed, print books took a backseat to the Internet, and for a long time now it has been unable to make ends meet. We've had to find new ways to support our family, which means new careers and less and less time available to devote to our first baby, PassPorter.

But eventually, we must move on and move forward. It is the right thing to do.

So we are retiring this newsletter, as we simply cannot keep up with it. Many thanks to Mouse Fan Travel who supported it all these years, to All Ears and MousePlanet who helped us with news, to our many article contributors, and -- most importantly -- to Sara Varney who edited our newsletter so wonderfully for years and years.

And we are no longer charging for the Live Guides. If you have a subscription, it's yours to keep for the lifetime of the Live Guides at no additional cost. The Live Guides will stay online, barring server issues and technical problems, for all of 2019.

That said, PassPorter is not going away. Most of the resources will remain online for as long as we can support them, and after that we will find ways to make whatever we can available. PassPorter means a great deal to us, and to many of you, and we will do our best to keep it alive in whatever way we can. Our server costs are high, and they'll need to come out of our pockets, so in the future you can expect some changes so we can bring those costs down.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing support over the years. Without you, there's no way us little guys could have made something like this happen and given the "big guys" a run for their money. PassPorter was consistently the #3 guidebook after the Unofficial and Official guides, which was really unheard of for such a small company to do. We ROCKED it thanks to you and your support and love!

If you miss us, you can still find some of us online. Sara started a new blog at DisneyParkPrincess.com -- I strongly urge you to visit and get on her mailing list. She IS the Disney park princess and knows Disney backward and forward. And I am blogging as well at JenniferMaker.com, which is a little craft blog I started a couple of years ago to make ends meet. You can see and hear me in my craft show at https://www.youtube.com/c/jennifermaker . Many PassPorter readers and fans are on Facebook, in groups they formed like the PassPorter Trip Reports and PassPorter Crafting Challenge (if you join, just let them know you read about it in the newsletter). And some of our most devoted community members started a forum of their own at Pixie Dust Lane and all are invited over.

So we encourage you to stay in touch with us and your fellow community members wherever works best for you!

Best wishes for a wonderful and magical new year!

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Old 02-06-2017, 06:19 AM   #16
Big Baloo
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A 3 hour drive after an international flight? Probably not the safest option. Fingers crossed that Black Friday Deals come through for you.
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Old 02-06-2017, 09:24 AM   #17
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Great start to your plans. Hope you get decent flight prices sorted out soon. Looking forward to reading more of your plans.
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Old 02-06-2017, 10:20 AM   #18
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Oh my goodness! Hope you were able to find affordable flights.
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Old 02-06-2017, 11:01 AM   #19
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Great start!! I'm hoping you get some decent airfares!
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:08 PM   #20
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A 3 hour drive after an international flight? Probably not the safest option.
No, that was my conclusion too.

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Fingers crossed that Black Friday Deals come through for you.
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Old 02-06-2017, 01:54 PM   #21
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Yay, you've started! I don't really know any other way to plan a trip other than about a year in advance. Isn't that what everybody does? hehehe... No, I know it's not because I just booked a Universal trip for a family leaving in one month. Now that's crazy!
But I'm not sure which way is less stressful.....
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Old 02-06-2017, 02:20 PM   #22
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Yay, you've started! I don't really know any other way to plan a trip other than about a year in advance. Isn't that what everybody does? hehehe...
Tell me about it!

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No, I know it's not because I just booked a Universal trip for a family leaving in one month. Now that's crazy!
Wow!

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But I'm not sure which way is less stressful.....
No, I have to be honest, having done both now, I'm not sure either....
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:31 PM   #23
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Great start! Oh, how I hate playing the airfare game! I hope it all worked out for you!
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Old 02-06-2017, 04:57 PM   #24
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What a mess with the flights!
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Old 02-06-2017, 07:57 PM   #25
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Getting flights always makes me a bit nervous and we aren't flying internationally. Thank goodness, Luke enjoys that challenge so I leave it to him. Hope you get blessed with a great Black Friday deal.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:13 AM   #26
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Great start! Oh, how I hate playing the airfare game! I hope it all worked out for you!
So do I. Normally, it's not too bad, as you know roughly what sort of fare you can expect for the time of year - you don't normally see such dramatic changes, which is why that really worried me.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:13 AM   #27
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What a mess with the flights!
I know, right?
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:15 AM   #28
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Getting flights always makes me a bit nervous and we aren't flying internationally. Thank goodness, Luke enjoys that challenge so I leave it to him. Hope you get blessed with a great Black Friday deal.
Usually it isn't too bad on international routes, particularly if you're familiar with them and oddly enough, I'm very familiar with the London to Orlando route. Also, for route like London to New York or LA, you can normally get good deals, because there's so much competition. I don't want to put you off heading to this side of the pond.
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Old 02-07-2017, 01:16 AM   #29
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Pre-trip report – part three: is the Black Friday sale going to come through for us over here?

I left you on a bit of a cliff hanger, with no flights that would really work for us, and the flights into Orlando out of our price range. However, salvation was possibly in sight. Black Friday was rapidly approaching…

Let me just explain about Black Friday over here. We don’t have Thanksgiving, as you probably know. Until a few years ago, we didn’t have Black Friday either, which frankly made perfect sense to me. After all, why on earth have something on a day when most people have to work? However, some bright spark obviously thought “hang on a minute, those Americans have a plan on making money in early pre-Christmas sales” and we started to adopt it over here.

We had some of the scenes that you guys have had over the years, with some hardened people getting up at stupid o’clock to get TVs at dramatically reduced prices, and fights breaking out, then a lot of stores decided maybe that was quite a lot of bad publicity, and this year, most of the deals were to be had online, although I have to say the place I work was packed that day. Anyway I digress…


For a bit of a laugh more than anything else, I decided to try Virgin’s website to see if they had any deals. If they didn’t, I’d be waiting until after Christmas, and I just wasn’t sure I was prepared to risk it, and wait that long. In truth, if nothing was available, I’d probably have to suck it up and fly into Miami with British Airways, and make our way to Orlando somehow…

What did I find on the Virgin website? You may have already guessed, given this is pre-trip report, so there’s a trip in here somewhere… the prices had dived back down to where they were originally. Over here, legally something can’t be on sale unless it’s been at full price for a certain period beforehand (it might be 21 or 28 days), so I’m guessing that’s what Virgin had done – hiked their prices on the appropriate day, so they could then offer a Black Friday sale.

To say I was relieved to get direct flights into Orlando with Virgin, exactly what we wanted, was an understatement. I genuinely wasn’t sure this trip was going to happen until that point, but now we were committed with the flights in the bag.

We headed off to work, and I didn’t do anything else until that the next day. The first thing I wanted to try and secure was a cruise, using our Disney Vacation Club points. There were a number of options, generally three and four night cruises out of Port Canaveral, either on the Dream or the Wonder. Usually, I’d be leaning towards the new ship, but this time, I wanted the Wonder, as it had recently undergone a major refurbishment, and I wanted to experience that for myself.

I wasn’t sure what would be available at this late stage, as DVC Members can’t always book any cruise. If they’re full, then of course, that’s it, but equally, use of your points on cruises is always at the discretion of Disney Cruise Line and they can withdraw that perk at any time. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here. I needn’t have worried. The cruise I wanted was still available, and surprisingly, there was still a lot of availability on it. The Cast Member I spoke to couldn’t believe how many staterooms were still going.

I opted for the 5 – 9 March cruise on the Wonder, which is towards the end of our vacation, as we tend to find cruises more relaxing than stays at Disney World. Can’t think why… We’ll still have a day and a half when we get off the Wonder, which is quite nice, as I always find leaving the cruises quite depressing, and it’s nice to have something else to look forward to, albeit for a short period of time, before we head home.

I first opted for a 4A category stateroom, but then re-thought it. After all, although they’re the top ranked category staterooms, apart from concierge, they are on deck 8, right underneath the swimming pools. I’m sure that’s not a problem, given Disney would have had to re-categorise them if it was, but I just don’t like the idea of being there, with people scrapping chairs on the deck above etc. I ended up opting for a 5A category stateroom instead. I couldn’t see the point in paying the additional points for something I wasn’t sure would benefit us that much.

Once that was booked, I could then sort out the accommodation for the rest of our trip. I had been keeping an eye on Disney Vacation Club availability, and it was a bit all over the place. Thankfully, when I logged on to the Member website, I was able to snag most things quite easily, although it took me quite a while, even with the new Resort Availability Tool, to work out what was available, and when, before I took the plunge and booked.

This trip is very different to other ones, as I’ve already mentioned, as it’s partially a research trip for PassPorter’s Everything But the Mouse, and I wanted to use the opportunity to stay in some very different accommodation to the ones we usually go for, so I could get some up to date information for PassPorter’s Disney Vacation Club Guide for Members and Members-to-Be. In a way, it’s just as well, as the selection wasn’t exactly overwhelming, shall we say, with quite a few resorts already unavailable.

The first problem was actually the first night. Ironically, we’d usually fly out on a Saturday, but I’d decided to fly out on a Friday instead, so we could have two full weeks, as we’d fly back on a Friday. Had we stuck with our original plans, we’d have been fine, with availability every night we were there. However, the Friday night saw nothing available anywhere on Disney property, that is except for the bungalows at the Polynesian. Now don’t get me wrong, we adored our stay there last September, but they are a hideous price. We have a fair amount of points still left, which is why we could afford to book the cruise, but if I say one night at the bungalows would cost around 180 points, and that was about what we paid for one person to do the cruise, you get an idea of how expensive they are!

I decided to just leave the first night alone. I figured I’d keep checking back regularly to see if anything became available for DVC Members, and if not, there were plenty of other places with availability in the Orlando area. I might even get to stay at one of the other hotels mentioned in the forthcoming book, which wouldn’t be a bad thing… I could do some first hand research!

For the rest of our time, I ended up with the following:

1) Two nights in a two bedroom villa at Old Key West. Yes, a two bedroom villa is excessive, as it sleeps nine people, but honestly, it didn’t cost that many points – something like 108 for both nights. You compare that to a bungalow at the Poly, which would’ve been way more than that for just one night! We’ve only stayed at Old Key West once, back in 2006, and that was because we couldn’t get into the Beach Club Villas. I really enjoyed our stay there. The rooms are massive, and I know it’s a lot of people’s favourite because of its wonderfully laid back atmosphere. The only thing that really stops us staying there more is its location. We tend to like places with easy access to the theme parks – hence our love for the Beach Club Villas, but also it’s useful to spend some time at Magic Kingdom resorts each time, but more to come on that…

2) Four nights in a one bedroom villa at the BoardWalk Villas with a garden or pool view. I don’t think we’ve stayed at the BoardWalk since maybe 2007 or 2009? We’ve stayed there once or twice, but it’s hard for us to see our beloved Beach Club Villas across the lagoon, and not be staying there. However, like Old Key West, it’s definitely got its own charms, and I’m looking forward to getting back there after a long time away.

3) Two nights in a one bedroom villa at Boulder Ridge Villas at the Wilderness Lodge. I hope you noticed the new name there? No more Wilderness Lodge Villas, this is the new name that the DVC Villas have here. There’s also a whole new back story to go with it, although I’m afraid the whole thing escapes me now. I know there’s a lot of work going on there, but I’m hoping it won’t impact too much on our stay. In truth, this was about the only Magic Kingdom resort that had good availability, otherwise we’d have been staying a day at Bay Lake Tower and then moving on to the Grand Floridian. Interestingly, there was no availability for the studios at the Polynesian, which was a shame, as I’d have liked to have experienced them, but it wasn’t to be.

4) On our final night back at Disney World after the cruise, I did give in, and got us a studio with a savannah view at Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Villas. I figured why not? We might as well indulge ourselves, and we’re quite happy with a studio for one night, especially as we’ll be heading home the next night – no need for a washer and a dryer by that point in the vacation!

Next: what about our first night’s accommodation?
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Old 02-07-2017, 06:52 AM   #30
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How exciting! It sounds like you've got some good room/resort choices there.
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My PassPorter Bookshelf
My Previous TripsOur first trip-November 2012 Coronado Springs :), Our "redo" trip November 2014 Coronado Springs :); Osborne Lights trip Nov/Dec 2015 ASMusic; Em's Sweet 16 trip November 2016 CBR
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