WDW 2008 Pre and Post Trip Report
I thought I would share with the great forum members and guests my pre and after I go, post trip to WDW in late September, 2008. I have been to WDW twice in my life, but since I grew up in SoCal, I've been to Disneyland so many times. In fact, one year my lovely wife (who I'll call Belle through this thread) and I were annual passholders. It was great!
My past two trips to WDW, I planned myself. I really do enjoy planning my trips. Belle likes the fact that I plan the trip and she just goes. Don't get me wrong, she does have a say in where we go, what we eat, etc. But she calls me the "drill instructor." :lol: I am just go, go, go. I want to do everything when we are at WDW and she just wants to take things easy and sleep. So this time, I built in a few days where we can hang out at the resort, go take in the water park, and hopefully relax a couple of days. The hardest part of this is going to be the 3 hour difference when we get to FL. But, I'll talk about that later.
This time, I felt it would be good to collaborate with a travel agent. I have a couple of things going on where I thought it would be good to use the agent. I'll discuss more about using a travel agent in a separate post.
As I mentioned in my intro thread, we are planning on doing Disneyland Paris in about 2 years after this trip to WDW. But, it is only in a thought stage. One vacation at a time.
Travel Agent or No Travel Agent, that is the question.
My life is extremely busy. Yes, I work for one of these casinos here in Las Vegas. I also have a second job/hobby where I officiate sports. I currently umpire baseball, and I am looking to start officiating hockey. Yes, there are ice rinks in Hot Vegas. :grin: Most of my money for vacations come from my officiating. And, there are more rewards then just getting money for my vacations. I get exercise and I enjoy the sports. Finally, i have my home life. I enjoy spending time with Belle. She is my best friend in life and even after 9 11/12 years of marriage, I can't wait for the next 10.
So this time around, I thought it would be good to use a travel agent. They can monitor my reservation for if a promotion comes out (like the free DDP that I am hoping will be offered for when I go), make my Dining Reservations, and maybe make some suggestions to something I may not know. Two minds are better than one. But, the most valuable thing with the travel agent, she can do the phoning and arrange for everything while I enjoy my life. Hey, time is money. And that is especially true when it comes to planning and going to WDW.
I wish I could mention her name and the agency she works for, but I got her name off of another website. It wouldn't be right for me to mention it here. If you really want to know, IM me.
Where are we going to zonk out when at WDW?
The next step in our decision to go to WDW is where do we want to stay? We already knew that we wanted to stay on property. The first time we went to WDW, we stayed off property. We wanted the "cheap" vacation. And we got what we paid for. We just did not like leaving the parks early, having to catch the bus on their schedule, and having a pool that just was an ordinary pool.
On our 2007 vacation, we stayed at POFQ. Once we checked in, we knew that we would never, ever, stay off property again. The property was beautiful, the pool was exactly what Belle and I wanted, and we liked the special treatment that came with staying at a Disney property.
So, now to decide on where, at WDW, to stay. This is where the travel agent did come in handy. We wanted to stay at one of the moderate resorts again. But, we couldn't decide on which one. We ruled out the Caribbean Beach due to the bad reviews and that the pool did not look like one we would enjoy. So, it was either back to the POFQ or Coronado Springs. The travel agent gave us the differences between the two, but did say, "If you want to experience something different, go with Coronado Springs. If you want to stay with something familiar and that you know, go with POFQ." After talking with Belle, we decided to go to Coronado Springs. I think the selling point was the pool. It looks sooooo cooool! Well, it gives us another thing to look forward to for our trip.
Airfare and the Stock Market
This is one thing that the travel agent would not touch, she would not be able to purchase airfare. That was ok with me. Remember, I like the research thing.
Airfare prices are like the stock market. You just need to know when to buy and when to sell. As of right now, it looks like I bought at the right time. We decided to leave at first on Sept. 18th and come back on Sept. 28th. However, when I found out that airlines have their cheapest fares on Wednesdays, I took a look at how much it would be for us to leave on Sept. 17th. I will be spending another $200 at Disney for the extra night, but I saved $200 for us to fly out a day earlier. Even trade off and I get to enjoy WDW for an extra day.
While I was going through and studying the airfares, I stumbled across one that was being offered by priceline.com. Fly out of LAS to MCO on the 17th at 1:30 AM and arrive at 10:30 AM. Then return at night on the 28th. 2 people for $534 total round trip. Oh, and the airline we are coming back on I can check in at the resort. Only bad things, it's with two different carriers, and leaving at 1:30 in the morning here in Las Vegas. I did not book with priceline.com, I went through the individual carriers websites. Show me the miles. :wink:
I checked today, and the same airfare is now at $741. So, I saved a gross of $400, and net of $200. So it pays to keep looking online and find that right airfare. I did think about waiting for Southwest to announce their fares for the days that I wanted to fly, but, I just did not think I would get a better deal than this and pulled the trigger.
Now, does anyone have any connections with Continential to get Belle and I upgraded to First Class?;)
As of today, Southwest still has not announced their scheudle for the days we are going out. I'm just glad that we didn't wait. I would be stressing out right now if we didn't have a flight.
Here comes the drill instructor!!! (Part 1)
Now that we were nearing when we can start to make our ADR's, I had to figure out where to go on our trip and what day. So, the first thing is to figure out which parks will be opening early and staying open late for the extra magic hours. I got this off of the Disney website. I figured that for the nights with the extra magic hours, that would be good to get dinner reservations in the parks.
Oh, and I think I forgot to mention that we will have the Disney Dining Plan. The travel agent suggested that we go ahead and put it into our reservations. Belle and I are banking on the fact that Disney will come out with the DDP to be free for our stay. But, even if Disney does not come through, it's ok. We figure we will still save money.
And being the planner person, I put a place for me to see what parks have the EMH and to figure out what and where to eat every day we are on vacation. This is on an excel spreadsheet. Feel free to download this. Sorry I had to zip it down in order to put it on the forum. The forum will not allow me to upload excel files.
So, after laying out each day, I figured out which parks to go to and when. We also had one hickup, we only have enough for 10 days in the parks. My solution, we don't go to the parks on the day we arrive. We also have the water parks and more in our package. I have never been to Disney Quest, so I think we will be heading over to Downtown Disney after we get a couple of hours of rest. (When we went to WDW in 2007, we took the red eye as well. Thank god they had our room ready when we arrived at 10:30 AM. I didn't get much sleep. I was excited, but it didn't help that the guy sitting next to me on the plane was snoring and I had Belle on my other side using me as the pillow.:bedtime:)
I know I have a lot more to talk about with this subject, but it's time for me to get some zzzzz. I need to go to the regular job tomorrow and I think I am starting to fall asleep at my computer here. So Disney Dreams all!!!!
To be continued....
Here comes the Drill Instructor Pt. 2
The second part to this is to decide where to eat. Belle and I love eating out. Especially here in Las Vegas where you have exceptional steak houses to the all-you-can-eat buffets. One perk for working in the casino is that they provide you a meal for every shift you work. Everything from a simple hamburger to a carving station.
Now that we are nearing the 180 day mark until our trip, we needed to decide where to eat. Belle and I have our favorites, but we wanted to eat at some new places. So, we have two that are our absolute favorite restaurants:
Folsom's Crab House - This is our splurge place, absolutely love the crab claws!
Le Celier Steakhouse - Oh the Cheese Soup.
Off to allears.net to see the menu's and reviews! This is a beautiful website. It is a great tool to use to plan your vacation. I used the website not only to decide where to eat, but to help make my decision on where to stay. Based on the reviews on allears.net, this is why I ruled out the Caribbean Beach resort when we were looking for where to stay.
Belle had some demands of where she wished to eat this time out. She wanted to go to one of the dinner shows, she wanted to eat at the Brown Derby at DHS, and she wanted to go to the Sci-Fi Diner back at DHS. I wanted to eat at the new Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom and the Japanese Teppan Edo at Epcot. One night, Belle and I got in front of the computer and ran down reviews and restaurants. It was hard for Belle to sit with me to a point because remember, she wants me to do all the planning. However, she needed to be able to see the menus and I wanted her to look at the reviews. We knew where we were going to be and worked out our ADR's according to that. We are going to eat at all the restaurants we wish and want. And, try some new ones. We are going to see the Hoop Dee Doo dinner show, eat one time at the Maya Grill at our resort, and go do Folsom's and then go dance the night away at Pleasure Island.:dance2:
So, off to the Travel Agent I go. I gave her a list of where we would like to eat and when, down to a time. I did give her a fudge factor of 30 minutes on the dinner time. It just so happened that she was going to be at WDW on vacation when we hit 180 days. I felt a bit guilty that she was going to work when she was on vacation, but then I thought that because I am booking my vacation through her, this is what she is getting paid for and probably will pay for her vacation to WDW. The only thing I did not like was that I would not know if I got my reservations until she returned from vacation a week after she is to make my ADR's. What would happen if we didn't get into the restaurants we wanted? :confused:
When she got back from vacation, she e-mailed me the reservations. She got me all my requests, but one. The Yak and Yeti was not open for dinner the day we wanted to go. So, Belle and I decided to go for lunch. The menu was the same, we just need to eat earlier. The TA also did something that I would have NEVER thought about. She booked us for the Fantasmic Dinner Package for when we are at the Brown Derby. If I booked it myself, I would not have done that because I would not have even thought of it. So, she was invaluable! She made my ADR's for me on the first day she could on vacation and got me into a package that I would have shorted myself on if I had done it.
So, our dinner and one lunch reservations are all set!!!!! We are going to eat like a King and Queen! But, we still need to get the free DDP offer to top everything off.
Disney announces free DDP!!!!!!!!!!
So, I get onto my computer late yesterday and I hear through the boards, Free Dining Plan! So, now I am preying that I planned to go during the dates that they are offering the plan. Couple of Mickey Mouse clicks later, and :yahoo::hurray::figment:=partytime:tigrbnc:
The last day is Sept. 20th.
A quick e-mail to my TA to see if she knows, and she replies right back, "Of course I know." She tells me that she will be getting up early the next day to attempt to change my reservation since I don't have a Disney Visa to make the change earlier. So, I get to sleep in and hopefully, by the time I wake and check my e-mail, I will have some good news in my inbox. She does ask me that if she can't get the discount on our current reservation, if I would be willing to switch resorts. So, I tell her that we would be willing to change and give her a list of preferences. Of course, I put the Coronado Springs on top, then POFQ, POR, and on the bottom of the list is the Caribbean Beach. I even put that we would pay to upgrade our rooms before we would stay at the Caribbean Beach.
Hopefully, by the time I wake, I will have saved $800.00!!!
She Got It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I get an e-mail from my TA at 9:57 AM. I have the Free DDP on my reservation! :cheers2::hurray::yahoo::mousetune:rotflol:
So for you guys keeping score, this is my reservation:
12 days/11 nights at the Coronado Springs Resort
10 day magic our way tickets with Water Park and more option and park hopper.
Free Disney Dining Plan
Price with airfare - $3,058.76.
Now to calculate the savings:
Same resort and reservations cost with DDP - $3,363.54
If I buy the same airfare now than when I did purchased it - $752.00
Total Package - $4,115.54
SAVINGS - $1,056.78.
I hope that by me showing what I am saving, it will inspire others to just work hard, do your homework, get a little help, and you too can go on a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank.
Everything is set. Now the real fun comes, the anticipation of going!