Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where Did My Vacation Go?!

Current state of Michigan: Cold. Freezing. You can see your breath hang in the air.

I'm sniffling like a mad woman and my toes and hands are always like ice. Clearly, i'm back home.

Mom and I had such a great vacation! I really can't tell you. Last year's mother/daughter trip was great but this year just topped it. More exciting things happened and we had an extra day to play with that we didn't have last year. Sure, we had one very rough day which some of you might know about if you read my tweets last Saturday. All in all though, it was wonderful!

I'm not going to go into details just yet because I don't have my photos with me on my work computer. Just know that we had a magical time and I really am missing Florida so badly right now.

Wanna know some of the exciting things that happened!? A preview?!?!

*Meeting the UP characters
*Meeting lots and lots of other characters for the first time
*New and VERY yummy dining experiences
*Participating and doing very well in The American Idol Experience
*Meeting Chef TJ at 'Ohana
*Being recognized by an Intercot member
*First time at Food & Wine Festival (oh my my my)
*... our first trip to Celebration Hospital

Will update tonight most likely!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Less than 24 hours!


I'm officially checked in with Northwest. I'm almost done getting my finances in order. I'm almost totally packed. Best yet, i'll be out of work in four hours!

Michigan is currently cold and rainy. And i'm not exaggerating either. It's freakin' frigid. I got my flu shot taken care of on my lunch. I'm hoping it's $24.00 well spent. Right now i've got a runny nose and a sore throat. Translation: Fall is here. That's the thing about Michigan. Summer comes quickly and ends even quicker. Fall starts but only lasts about 2 weeks then we're in winter mode. It's sucks since I really enjoy nice autumn weather. Thank goodness i'm going down to the upper 80's very shortly.

On the agenda for tomorrow is arriving in Orlando at about noon. Then we hop on the Magical Express bus to go to our resort. Hopefully we'll be able to put our crap down in our room. If not, we'll have them hold our bags and then we'll head out to Animal Kingdom. We've got a 4:00 p.m. reservation for Tusker House. I haven't ever been there before so i'm really excited because i've heard such good things about it from other non-meat eaters. :)

Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00 p.m. so we'll probably go back to the room after that to unpack and freshen up. Most likely we'll head to either MK or Epcot for a nighttime show. I love first days! :) So exciting!

Also, i've decided not to purchase an annual pass just yet. There are some personal reasons behind my decision and I know i'm doing the right thing by just holding off until i'm sure i'll be able to get full use out of it. In replacement of the AP, i've decided to purchase my mom and I tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! I surprised her on Saturday and we went to Target to get some cute Halloween t-shirts since we didn't have time to put full costumes together. It should be SO much fun! I heard it's well worth the price for the ticket and I have no doubt that Disney will pull through and show us an amazing time.

This coming Friday I will be auditioning for American Idol Experience. I've chosen to sing "Leave The Pieces" by The Wreckers as much first audition song. After that i'm thinking of doing either "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer or "This Is Me" by Demi Levato. I'll admit... i've never seen Camp Rock... and I have no intention of ever seeing it. My husband actually suggested I try and sing "This Is Me" for him to see if I sounded good. Unfortunately, that's the song I sound the absolute best on. I sang all my choices for my family and they chose that one too... a bit reluctantly I might add. Sure, i'm kinda selling out but whatever. It's a cute song, i'll get the crowd into it, and it kinda suits me best so... we'll see what the producers want me to do if I make it that far.

Just a reminder.. i'll be tweeting and abusing TwitPic the whole time on vaca. You can follow me at

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Walk in Walt's Footsteps

For a while now i've been thinking about how badly I want to experience Disneyland for myself. I know some hardcore Walt Disney World lovers that have no aspiration to ever see Disneyland since they believe it can't get better than Walt Disney World. Now, I don't know that for myself so I can't say but I can tell you that i'd at least like to see the original --- Walt's baby.

I'm quite fascinated by Walt's old plans for Disneyland and how the idea even came about. He wanted a place that the entire family could have fun together. Really this was a new concept for people since it seemed that before Disneyland, adults had their fun and kids weren't involved in that. Walt took his two daughters to this little local park and sat on a bench watching them play. It dawned on him that it would be really great if the whole family could have a place to play. Not just the kids! Walt was definitely a kid at heart so I think Disneyland was just as much for him as it was for the public.

Even though Disneyland is older and smaller than Walt Disney World, it has some of the classic attractions that haven't been revamped into something twisted and weird (Tiki Room: Under New Management). Disneyland has the better Space Mountain! I've also heard on numerous occasions that Fantasmic! is better at DL as well. Disneyland has an Indiana Jones attraction whereas WDW only has the show. Ever since I saw the movie "That Thing You Do" when I was a kid i've had a strong desire to ride the Matterhorn. Also, Toontown is apparently way cooler than Towntown Fair in WDW. No surprise there.

The NUMBER ONE reason that I want to go to Disneyland is to see Walt's baby. You should know i'm a huge fan of Walt himself. I've read lots of books and have seen lots of movies on the man behind the mouse. His life just blows my mind. I admire him so much for so many reasons. Disneyland has a tour called "A Walk in Walt's Footsteps." I cannot wait to take this 2 1/2 hour tour myself. They talk about Walt's personal involvement in the park's design and development. He really put his seal of approval on everything and wouldn't let something go public until it was perfect in his eyes.

I'm hoping next year i'll get to make it to Disneyland. It'll probably end up being more expensive than my usual Walt Disney World trip but I'm sure it'll totally be worth it.

Upcoming WDW Discounts

It appears as though Disney is going to be throwing out the amazingly awesome Buy-4-Get-7 deal. They did this a little while back and everyone was going gaga over it simply because it's a pretty nice deal. It's especially nice for families that normally only go for 4 days simply because they can't afford any more days. Truthfully, you can't tour the parks in 4 days... but, hey, that's just my opinion.

Value resorts will get a slightly different deal... buy-5-get-7. Makes sense... values are significantly less expensive and Disney would be losing some money and overbooking big time if the value resorts had the buy-4-get-7. Economically, you get the better deal if you book a moderate or deluxe resort with this particular deal.

I'm sure that you'll be paying rack rate for the room but in the end you should come out ahead. If you're an AP holder you'll probably have to do the math to figure out if a possible AP discount could be more to your advantage overall.

Last year when Disney put this discount out they also included a gift card for certain dates. It was January through March (I do believe...) got $200.00. Not per person but per room booking. Good deal if you ask me! If you're going in January *cough*Graham and Jill*cough* then this deal is AMAZINGGG.

Now on a personal note, i'm thinking of skipping a WDW trip in 2010. One of my very best friends from high school was an exchange student from Poland. She's finishing her final year in college in Buxton. I'm thinking about doing a 2 week vacation in Europe. Going to Manchester, London, then Poland. I haven't seen her in years and we still keep in touch. If I came across an amazing deal or someone could pay for me to go to WDW then I could do both. But, until then, i'm just not sure. I'll have to price out the European trip and we'll see.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Entertainment in WDW

On my last trip to WDW I was pretty focused on allowing my mom to experience her favorite attractions along with anything new that she hadn't seen. We didn't spend a lot of time looking for characters or stopping to watch street performers.

Mom expressed interest in meeting more characters this time and I happily agreed with her. I'd love to find some of the characters that I haven't ever met before. Sadly, WDW entertainment has cut down on how many characters you see out and about. You also won't see some of the less "popular' characters around doing meet and greets anymore.

While reading my 2010 Unofficial Guide I found a really cool website that tells you where to go at what time to find character greetings as well as street performances. This guy updates the website every week and puts lots of information on it and is really well organized. Now, he can't specifically tell you what character will be where at what time but he informs you of your best shot of seeing them. Here's the link ---

If you have a specific character that you or a family member wants to meet you should check with Guest Relations at the front of any of the four main parks and they can try and track down where you're beloved character will be that day. I haven't done this myself but i've heard of people doing it.

I have a strong desire to meet Hercules characters. STRONG desire! Unfortunately for me, Hercules and Meg don't come out anymore and the only time you'll even be able to SEE them now is during Fantasmic. The villain I most want to me is, ironically enough, from Hercules. That'd be my buddy from the underworld... Hades. He's a comedic genius!

When mom and I will be at WDW this year they have the Food and Wine Festival going on. They have a concert series called "Eat to the Beat." For the days that we will be there we've got three performers we could go see.

Richard Marx September 28-29
Starship Starring Mickey Thomas September 30-October 3
En Vogue October 4-6

Mom really wants to see Starship and I would LOVE to see En Vogue. I grew up listening to En Vogue and thinking they were so cool. Oh! And hey! Kelly Clarkson performed with them back in the day! Woooo! Free Your Mind!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Week To Go!



I can't believe i'm one week away from being in the happiest place on earth! :) Leaving Michigan for a week simply sounds amazing. I'm excited to have one full week of summer weather since Michigan basically had a warmer version of fall in replacement of a traditional summer. Kinda ridiculous if you ask me!

I brought my WDW planning binder to work with me today because I need to get all of my documents organized and put together. Sadly, is still not fully running properly so I can't even pull up my reservation on there and attach my dining reservations. I must have written TWO of my confirmation numbers down wrong so I'm just going to have to not have a confirmations number on my itinerary for those days. Ugh. I hate not feeling like I have all of the information. Gotta learn to lose control I suppose and throw caution to the wind.

Every WDW trip I seem to have an overall "theme" or a "goal" that I want to achieve. This time I sort of feel like I want to literally have as much fun as possible. Stay as busy and consumed in the Disney magic as possible. I want to be able to drain my brain before I hop on that plane and leave all my worries in Michigan. Now, traditionally I suggest to friends that they don't try and run from their problems but in this case... a little vacation is exactly what I need. Maybe to find some clarity and new found appreciation for life. I just want to do exactly what I want when I want and not have to live on this silly schedule that I do in my everyday life.

Is it terribly weird of me to say that i'm really stoked to eat good food? And I don't just mean "good food." I mean "Gooooood fooooood." There is a subtle yet very important difference. I mean, i'm going to be filled up with tofu, salmon, and cheesecake. It's going to be pure heaven. I really feel like talking about food... I think I need a double blog day just so I can talk about what i'm thinking of ordering at each restaurant. Yeah, folks! I've already thought about that! How could I not?!

That's it for now guys! Feel free to ask me questions or leave me comments!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting The Most Out Of Your WDW Vacation Time

The average WDW vacationing family does not have a full two weeks to take their time inside and outside of the WDW theme parks. Most families don't even have 6 or 7 days days! Often times people visit WDW just because they are passing through the area or are there to visit other popular Orlando attractions and they want to get a taste of what WDW has to offer.

No matter how long you are at 'the land of the mouse' for you definitely want to get the most out of your time there. You want to see as much and do as much as you possibly can. That is why the absolute best way (in my opinion) to tour WDW is to become an "early riser."

Arriving early at the parks is crucial to getting your big "headlining" attractions out of the way with little to no wait at all. The Official Guide (the bible) suggests that you can experience four rides in one hour in the early morning that would take you three hours to accomplish after 10:30 a.m. That's a lot of time you just saved by getting your tush up a little bit earlier. So many people leave WDW and think, "Wow! I missed out on this and this and this! We never got around to all of that!"

In my personal experience I know that i've went to AK and knocked out KS and EE (3 times in the single rider line) all before 10:00 a.m. because my mom and I were there about 30 minutes before park opening. At Epcot it's much easier to waste your time away just because there is so much walking and if you aren't familar with where everything is it's easy to get misplaced. The Studios and Magic Kingdom are the hardest to choose where to go to first thing after park opening. I'm not sure what the Unofficial Guide is suggesting for 2010 but I would say go for Toy Story Mania at DHS and Space Mountain at MK. A lot of people grab a FASTPASS before riding anything and I just don't bother doing that until i've gotten my first ride outta the way. It's not quite as fun knowing you're running towards a FASTPASS kiosk and not an amazing attraction. haha! ;)

I'm sure you're thinking, "Okay, Nazi Stacey! What time do YOU get to the parks?" Well, if i'm going by standard opening time which is normally 9:00 a.m.... I try to get one of the first WDW Transport busses. If i'm ahead of my game I end up waiting on the first bus at the bus stop and enjoy my muffin that I grabbed from the food court using a snack credit from the DDP. :) Magic Kingdom always takes longer to get to from Pop so I have to make sure i'm on one of the first busses for that park but i'm much more lax when it comes to DHS or EP since it's always a fast drive there. Let me just break down my tips... park by park.

Magic Kingdom - Get to the turnstiles (yes, turnstiles) at least 30 minutes before park opening. You'll be brought up to the main entrance to MK. There are TWO ways to get inside of the park. One tunnel is on the left and the other is... on the right. ;) The one you want to head towards is the one with less people and less STROLLERS! Not kidding folks! Strollers will slow you down when it's time to move. This goes for any park... not just MK. After the little opening show shin-dig the ropes are dropped and you are allowed to move into MK. Don't be distracted by the good smells of the bakery if you have your heart set on a certain attraction. Move quickly down Main Street and you'll probably be stopped at the entrance to the land you're approaching. Once 9:00 a.m. hits you'll be walked to the main attraction of that particular land. Keep moving and dodging people. Sometimes staying on the sides and not in the center of the crowd will allow you to be ahead of the pack when the CMs move out of your way.

Epcot - This is the easiest park to lose your place in. Even if you get there 45 minutes or more before park opening and you're right at the rope... you could lose your bearings very quickly if you don't move fast. It's pretty crucial to get to Epcot early since the addition of Soarin'. The line for Soarin' can quickly build and make it impossible to knock out the top attractions very quickly in the morning. When the first rope is dropped and you are allowed past Spaceship Earth... stay on the right! Move quickly up to the center hub and take a right to the little side hub. Ignore the big crowd that will go to the center hub itself. They are dumb and don't know better or are headed for Test Track. Once the rope is dropped at your side "hub" follow the CMs into The Land pavilion and head for the stairs on the back right section of the pavilion. Don't bother with the escalators... use the stairs and head to Soarin' which will be past the waving and cheering CMs on your right. You're good to go!

Disney's Hollywood Studios - With the recent addition of Toy Story Mania it's no longer an obvious move to head towards Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster. Your best bet is to head over to Toy Story Mania now and either ride right away or obtain a FASTPASS. I try and get to DHS about 30 minutes before park opening... if not earlier. The entertainment crew does an awesome park opening show that I like to watch (and sometimes star in) as well. Use Extra Magic Hour mornings here if you can. It's really worth it at DHS because the headliners can get backed up during busy months. Learn the lay of the land before you arrive at DHS because it's the most confusing park to get around in.

Animal Kingdom - This is fairly easy for me to tell you what to do. Even if you are somewhat late getting to the park (20 minutes or less before park opening) you can still weasel your way closer. The key here is to look for the turnstile line with the LEAST amount of people... usually those on the sides. Try to find a line with more adults and less children. Kids have issues with the finger scanning machine so that takes up time for you if you're behind the rugrats. Once through the turnstile don't get distracted by the park map stand... blow through the left or right pathway (whichever is closest to you) and get to the next rope right in front of the tree of life. Position yourself either at the far right or the far left depending on if you are going to KS or EE first. If going to EE first, when the rope is dropped follow the CMs but stay on your RIGHT. There will be little shops with awnings to the right of you... use that space under the awnings to move ahead of people in front of you. No one will even think to occupy that space since it's not actual "road." If you're going to head to the Safari first thing... stay behind the CM and choose either the left or the right side... try to avoid the middle. You accomplish moving past people if you are on the sides. Don't worry! It's not cutting since you're not even in a line! :)

Okay, wow! I've typed a lot! I'm done for now! Feel free to comment and let me know what your tactics are for each park and if you get to the parks early or if you're a late riser.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bueller? Bueller?

Clearly, i've been absent.

The thing with planning a WDW trip so far ahead is that once your ADRs are taken care of all you can really do is wait until the trip gets closer. I have one month until my next WDW vacation and i'm mentally trying to get myself super excited. Lots of personal junk has been bogging me down lately and it's hard to think about something so wonderful and fun when you've got "reality" surrounding you and beating you down day after day.

Let me get the bad news over with... the trip has changed to just mom and I. Matt has chosen to go out to see his aunt in California with his mom. That means it will be another team trip for mom and I! Really.. nothing wrong with that. Just kind of a mental bummer.... ya know? Sadly, I have to take care of trying to transfer his Northwest ticket from going to Orlando to going to San Fran or L.A. Ugh. I'm not looking forward to paying the extra fees for that mess.

On a high note... the trip is totally paid off! About two weeks ago I paid the final $250.00 ish and now i'm totally done! Wooo! I'm really still thinking of doing the AP like I wanted to but there are personal reasons as to why i'm not sure it'd be such a good idea. Hmm.. not sure yet. I have more time to think about it. Really... I don't have to decide until the trip is upon us. It'll be about $220.00 just to upgrade my 1 day base to a 7 day park hopper. And the AP will cost me about $520.00. Kind of a big difference but if I KNOW that I will get to use that AP fully then it will be worth it.

It's also time for me to start getting my WDW binder together. The binder I carry religiously until we step foot into our hotel room. I still have to get all of the info typed out and printed so I can neatly store it. Once that is done it's really just a matter of time. Did you know that I left my binder on the plane during my honeymoon and almost totally left the gate without it?

Anyways... i'm hoping someone is still interested in reading this! I'll keep updating when I feel necessary.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Oh, Happy Day!

This morning I set my alarm for 6:45 a.m. Last night I had showered so I was all set and wouldn't have to shower this morning in case I was on hold with Disney Dining for a long time.

Since the new "online dining reservation system" has opened, we've been told that if you booked your vacation through a travel agent or DVC, the online system cannot recognize your vacation at your 90 day window so you cannot book 90 +10 days like you can do on the phone.

The online reservation does have a great advantage over the phone reservation system. The booking window time begins at 6:00 a.m. eastern standard time online while if you call... you need to wait until 7:00 a.m. So, the people able to use the online system have a great advantage when it comes to getting "hard to get" reservations.

I was up and ready on the couch at about 6:50. I decided to mess around with the online system anyways before I started calling. Just for kicks I typed in my confirmation and phone number into the system to see if it would recognize my reservation (booked by Magical Journeys). Well... IT DID! Right away I started going head first into booking.... letting 7:00 a.m. roll right by. The whole time I had this huge fear that this was some sort of glitch or joke and I was going to be screwed out of everything I had put into my "cart."

Luckily, I got to the end of my reservations, crossed my fingers, and clicked "check out." IT WORKED! I got my confirmation e-mail sent to me and everything. So, here are my final reservations.

September 29th - Tusker House @ 4:00 p.m.
September 30th - Coral Reef @ 2:25 p.m.
October 1st - Kona Cafe @ 8:45 a.m. & Raglan Road @ 7:30 p.m.
October 2nd - Cape May Cafe @ 5:55 p.m.
October 3rd - Mama Melrose @ 5:30 p.m.
October 4th - Le Cellier @ 4:30 p.m.
October 5th - 'Ohana @ 5:15 p.m.

The only thing I'd like to change is Coral Reef's time. I couldn't get anything later and i'd really really like a dinner time on the 30th. Originally, I had Le Cellier on the 30th and Coral Reef on the 4th. I couldn't get ANTHING for Le Cellier on the 30th or any other day before the 4th for that matter. At first I thought I was going to have to give up Le Cellier completely but then I noticed that since the system recognized my reservations I was able to go past 5 days from the 29th. When I checked Le Cellier on the 4th I was able to pull up a 4:30 p.m. only! Nothing else at all. It was just fine with me! No complaining here! I was actually surprised how easy it was to book 'Ohana. I got the exact time I asked for.

Glad this is all done and over with. Only 90 days to go!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Schedule Revision

I forgot to take into account something very important when I came up with my last schedule... Extra Magic Hours! Normally, I don't plan my days around where I end up at night so I basically ignore the Evening Extra Magic Hours all together. The schedule for October hasn't been released yet but i'm basing my schedule for October after September's Extra Magic Hours that have been released. If it is all different then i'll just have to suck it up and deal because once I book my ADRs i'm not going to flip them all around.

What's Extra Magic Hours (EMH for short) you ask? Basically, any guest staying at a WDW resort on property has the ability to get into a WDW theme park 1 hour early or stay in the park up to 3 hours past park closing. The smart people know that the evening EMHs aren't really worth it as you don't get much accomplished because more people are there. Why are more people there? Easy! More people would much rather stay out late than wake up early. Well, i'm a freak of nature and like getting up early at WDW so the morning EMH really works out for me well.

Right now, my revised schedule looks like this.

September 29 - AK ('till close) - Tusker House dinner
September 30 - EP - Le Cellier
October 1 - MK - Kona Cafe
October 2 - AK - Cape May Cafe
October 3 - DHS - Mama Melrose
October 4 - EP - Coral Reef
October 5 - MK - 'Ohana

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happenings Around WDW

I just wanted to talk about a few things that are going on in the parks right now down in Orlando. Lots of new technology... even if it is a little behind the times.

WDW just started a Mobile Room Ready Notification Service for guests staying at a WDW resort on property. Basically, when you check-in and if your room isn't ready, you give them your cell phone number and they will send you a text message or give you a call to let you know when your room is ready. That way you can feel free to mess around at your resort or head to the parks and start having fun. I'm surprised that WDW hasn't implemented this service yet but i'm very glad now that they have. There has only been on instance where my room hasn't been ready upon arrival (and we always arrive quite a bit before 3:00 p.m.) but still I think that it'd be nice to know when your room is ready so you can head back and freshen up or whatever. They will still give you your Key To The World card and your room will be attached but they won't tell you what room until it's ready. That way you don't try and get in early when the room isn't prepared for you yet.

Next up in WDW technology...the ability to book your ADRs online! This excites me as I hate having to use the telephone anymore than I have to. The only thing is... it sounds like there are still a few glitches in the system that they are going to have to figure out. If you call to try and book your ADRs like we've always had to before, you can book 90 days out from your arrival day plus 10 more days after that. Implementing the well known 90 plus 10 rule. It sounds like people are having issues using the 90+10 rule when booking ADRs online. The website says something about 5 days which i've heard means you can book in 5 day increments. So, if your vacation is 7 days, you will need to book your first 5 days ADRs and then go back in and do your last 2. Someone is thinking that if you put in your resort reservation number you should be able to book for your entire vacation but this hasn't been confirmed yet. I book my ADRs July 1st so if the kinks aren't worked out by then I will just call and book all 7 days.

Lastly, on May 8th a new stage show opened at the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland. It's Stitch based of course (what isn't these days), and includes go-go girls and break dancers to boot. Funnily enough, the show is closing at the end of the month already. Why? Well, it sucks. haha. Honestly, if you find it on YouTube and watch it you'll see how horrific it is. There is a rumor that the show isn't closing for good. Just for a while so they can tweek it (a lot hopefully) and then reopen when it's actually a decent show. Right now it kinda reminds me of an episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse... set in the future... with Stitch. Now, I love Pee Wee's Playhouse... don't get me wrong... but I don't wanna see something that bizarre at WDW. Some people are saying that they saw the show but couldn't stand there through the whole thing because of the heat. The guest area is not shaded at all and the sun just beats down heavily on patrons. I can understand that the heat could get unbearable but I don't think that it's a sole reason to close the show. The show is just bad and needs to be fixed ASAP. They've already wasted that space enough over the years by not utilizing it... you'd think they'd actually put a good attraction there. hehe. Guess not! :)

Next time... i'll probably post about dining... got food on my mind. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


It's been a month since i've last updated my Disney blog. Clearly, this is the time when planning gets slow because not much new information is out for me to plan around.

Today, we confirmed our dining choices. We are going to pay OOP for Kona Cafe breakfast. We pay OOP (out of pocket) because it's not worth a dining credit. The price of the meal itself isn't at the higher end of the restaurant options so we'd be wasting a credit on a $12.00 meal per person when we could be spending it at a restaurant like Coral Reef which is about $30+ per person. For the other restaurants we will be using our DDP credits. I can't actually book our ADRs until July 1st but at least we know we've got what we wanted figured out. I took the time today to get onto to look at the crowd calendar for when we go. All 4's and 5's! Woo! I matched up our restaurants to the best park to go to on each day. All while thinking about other things we might like to do and when we'd like to do them.

September 29 - AK ('till close) then probably EP ADR: Tusker House
September 30 - EP ADR: Le Cellier
October 1 - DS ADR: Mama Melrose
October 2 - MK ADR: Kona Cafe breakfast
October 3 - EP ADR: Coral Reef lunch & Raglan Road late dinner
October 4 - DS ADR: Cape May Cafe
October 5 - MK ADR: 'Ohana

Raglan Road could get moved around. I'm still not sure where to put it. I really don't want to have to put Coral Reef as a lunch but, nothing else works as a lunch. I COULD put Raglan Road on the 2nd but I don't wanna rush anything at MK since we'll be getting a late start anyways because of having breakfast at Kona. I'm also hesitant to put Raglan Road on a Studios day since i'm not sure what day i'm going to audition for American Idol Experience. Right now, i'm thinking October 1st because the crowds will be lower...therefore my competition will be less stiff. And because my friend Ed will still be in WDW with his family and i'd like for them to be able to come and see me if I get a showtime.

I think I will have to sit on that one and think about it. Tough tough stuff. I may end up switching around a bunch of days to cater to this whole ordeal anyways.

Oh, so anyone out there see "Up" yet? I've now seen it 3 times and I am totally obsessed. I got an "Up" shirt at the Disney Store Tuesday. Wanna see??
I wore it last night when we went to see the movie again. Matt also got one that is pretty awesome. I'm shocked that a medium fit him. And i'm even more shocked that a child's large fit me. Thanks Disney for making me feel tiny again.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How I Plan...

Some WDW vacationers fly by the seat of their pants. They make no real reservations, have no idea where they are going on what day, and certainly have no touring plans set. These people are the complete opposite of me. I'm not saying i'm a planning Nazi. I don't have every day planned out perfectly. I don't like to do that! I like SOME spontaneity.
What I normally do is figure out first what park I plan to START the day at. Not saying we will stay there the whole day because normally we don't stay at one park the whole day. I use for crowd calendars and tips on what parks to avoid each day. The people that do the statistics for the website also write The Unofficial Guide. Without a doubt, that is the best WDW guidebook and I use that in my planning as well.

I then decide what restaurants my family and I would like to eat at. I always pick two back-ups just in case something is totally booked up when I make my Advanced Dining Reservations. I then take a look at what park i'm going to on each day and match up the ADRs by location as best as I can. Finally, I call the ADR number and set up all of my dining. Sometimes I have to adjust my daily schedule if I have to book a dining reservation on a different day than I had planned. No biggie. It all evens out in the end.
It's time to whip out the planning binder now! I LOVE my binder. I organize it the same way each and every time I go. That thing never leaves my side until we get to WDW. Then it stays safely in the room and I only take one page with me to the parks which is in a plastic page protector. Yes, nerdy... I KNOW! But, it works! The page I take with me has our starting park for each day and the times and confirmation numbers to each ADR. This is what that page looks like...

After that I then make my own "park guides" with the dates, opening times, and any special happenings like parades and fireworks going on. I sometimes also make note of what parks to avoid each day. This stays in my binder so I can easily look at it before heading out to the parks. I know you can retrieve time and event guides at the parks but this is idiot proof to me.

I wish I had a picture of my binder all finished to show you but.. I don't. These photos were actually from our honeymoon when I did a trip report for Intercot. Doing this sort of this is truly where I shine. I'm good at this. I love the research end of it all. FUN FUN!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Like Food

Last night, as Matt and I were falling asleep, he randomly blurts out "when do you think we'll start booking stuff?" I said, "what stuff?" And he said, "dining reservations" as if that were the only answer.

I decided to pick his brain as to what restaurants he would like to go back to and ones he wouldn't mind staying away from in September. He said he loves Mama Melrose at the Studios and Cape May Cafe clambake at the Beach Club Resort. Matt's only breakfast request was Kona Cafe. He wants to stay away from Boma. New restaurants don't really interest him I don't think. I think he's afraid to try something new. I'll have to show him some menus to try and change his mind. haha!
My mom only requested two things out of the entire trip and one of them was that we eat at 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. At 'Ohana, they serve you family style. It is a meat lovers paradise. But, since it's family style, Matt and I always have found more than enough to eat with all the pastas and veggies available. We also eat fish and they have great peel and eat shrimp. The only, and I mean ONLY, downside to 'Ohana is the annoying and very loud singer/child wrangler. Only, she doesn't wrangle the kids so much as she gets them all fired up and running around. I could do without her. haha.

I could do without Matt's choice of Mama Melrose. I've down it twice and the first time was great but the second time was not so great. My pizza tasted like feet. I'd like to pass that restaurant up and try something new.

At Animal Kingdom Lodge, they just opened a new restaurant called "Sanaa." The menu looks pretty awesome and the place is just gorgeous. For a while now i've also thrown around the idea of checking out Le Chefs de France. That's another one I think my mom and Matt might gripe about. haha. Can you tell they like burgers and fries and a good steak (mom)? Tusker House at Animal Kingdom also seriously interests me after I read a great pescetarian review on it. It's a buffet with all types of indian and african flare. Give me spiced tofu!

I do have some restaurants that I would like to go back to for one reason or another. Le Cellier (yeah, it's a steakhouse) is one i've been itching to get back to. I had the best salmon in the world there on our honeymoon. The service was also outstanding. Everyone was ridiculously sweet. Also, I always request that we go back to Coral Reef which is where Danny Tanner and Vicky dined on an episode of Full House. And because of this, I always have to request a table next to the tank. Oh, yeah... I also SWAM in the tank! : ) haha! Anyways...I'd like to take Matt to Teppan Edo because he has never been there and my mom and I really liked it in September. You sit around a giant grill and the chef cooks all of your food in front of you. Onion volcano anyone?

The amazing Chocolate Wave at Coral Reef
The dining area at Teppan Edo in Epcot
And, finally, the buffet area at Tusker House.
Hungry yet?!?!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pop Century Resort

Pop Century Resort at WDW is a value resort. The only value outside of the All-Star clan. It is also the newest of all of the value resorts. I have stayed at Pop in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. When I walk into the lobby I always say "i'm home." It just feels very Disney. The theme is "decades" and each section of the resort has it's own icons to let you know what decade you are in.

That is the main entrance sign. Below is an overhead view of the entire resort.

The lobby is awesome! Along the right wall when you walk in there are shadow boxes with memorobilia from all of the decades. Really interesting and you could spend a half hour just checking out all of the cool stuff. Check in always is really speedy because they have so many people working. Straight ahead of check in is Everything Pop. In there is the gift shop and the food complex. The gift shop is quite large and has lots of Disney garb as well as essentials like toothpaste and condoms (yes, condoms are available... not that I would know from personal experience).

Like I said, each section is pretty defined. Unless you are a moron of course. The 50's section is my personal favorite. I love the music and the icons. There is a giant jukebox and a bowling pin pool. Pretty freakin' awesome if you ask me. The 60's and 70's share a flower pool. Everything has a "hippy" vibe to it. The 80's and 90's have a "computer" pool. I always thought it looked dumb until I stayed there myself. I actually enjoyed the 80's quite a bit!

The rooms at Pop are very basic. Not Best Western basic but Disney basic. Which means, it's not as plain as a regular chain hotel. But, it's no deluxe resort. I've never walked into my room dirty. Mousekeeping has always been great. I'm picky about bathrooms and how clean they are. I've always felt comfortable in Disney hotel rooms.

I could go on talking about the bus stop but that is pretty average. The busses get filled up quickly so be out early and be prepared to stand a while at times. Also, if you wanna go to Downtown Disney... take a cab.

Last thing before I go.... the best part about Pop Century..... cheesecake!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Price Breakdown

The cost of our Fall 2009 trip is probably going to be one of the most inexpensive WDW trips we've ever taken. Thank the Lord because we aren't made of money here. I consider myself an expert at saving money on a WDW vacation. And in these tough economic times, you sort of have to be if you want to feed your WDW addiction regularly. So, let's take a look at how much this amazing vacation is going to cost us.

For my birthday, my family pitched in some money for me to get an Annual Pass to WDW. I have to put a lot of my own money towards it but that's okay. An AP gains you access to all of the four major WDW parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) for 365 days from the day you activate your AP. Disney also releases room only discounts different times of the year. You can also get many discounts on dining and merchandise, as well as free parking. I wanted an AP so I could take friends more easily. I could get money off the hotel room and my park tickets will already be paid for. Really, I am just looking for a way to make it to WDW as often as I can. :)

For an Annual Pass in 2009, the cost is $499.00. The average 7 day park hopper ticket is just over $300. Or... somewhere around there. If I plan on going to the parks for more than 10 days within one year, I am saving money.

By me having an AP, it threw a bit of confusion into the booking process. We ended up having to book everyone with a one day base ticket. Once we get to the parks on our first day, we'll just upgrade Matt and Mom to a 7 day park hopper. I won't need to upgrade my base ticket because i'll have my AP. The upgrade will cost them $216.00 each.

The cost of 3 adults, with 1 day base tickets, staying at Pop Century from September 29-October 6 is $1022.85. That is $340.95 per person. Then add in the cost of the ticket upgrade for mom and Matt... $557.96.

Remember, we won't be paying for food this entire trip unless we chose to eat something off of the dining plan. The DDP is very flexible and always works very well for us. On the DDP, you get 1 snack, 1 Quick Service Meal, and 1 Table Service meal for each night of your stay. I can't even explain how much food this includes. Often times we don't even use all of our snack credits up. It's just so much food to consume in one day!

I looked yesterday morning at flights and found some really great prices that I just didn't want to wait on. With my luck, they would go up as soon as I decide to wait. Well, what I found was round trip flights out of Detroit International to Orlando International for just $139.19 per person! That's great! I am happy to report that I booked 3 people today for just $417.00 round trip! Paying for things makes it feel so official... :)

The breakdown looks like this for mom and Matt...

Upfront part of package = $340.95
Ticket upgrade = $217.00
Flights = $139.19
Grand Total = $697.14

The breakdown for me looks like this...

Upfront part of the package = $340.95
Annual Pass = $500.00
Flight = 139.19
Grand Total = $980.14

It's a small price to pay for one heck of a vacation.

First WDW Blog! Eeeek!

I decided that it was time to create a separate blog to talk about all things Disney. As most of you know... I could talk about it for hours and hours and never tire. It's in my blood or something.

"The tribal rhythm was like, oh yeah, in my blood..." - Stacey from Top 7 Must Sees at WDW

...sorry, I had to. :)

I have a big announcement! *cue drum roll*

I'm going to Walt Disney World!

That's right! I'm off to the Most Magical Place On Earth once again!

Travelers: Matt: 25
Mom: 62
Stacey (that's me!): 21

Travel Dates: September 29-Oct 6

Travel Reason: Free Dining! Well, and the fact that we all miss WDW like crazy.

We're all pretty stoked to get the ball rolling on this vacation! When Matt and I first started talking about definite times we wanted to go... we talked about free dining (August-early October) or the first week of December. When I started to do a price mock up for September/October I came up with something really good and doable for Matt and I. I chose the dates that I did because Free Dining technically ends October 3rd. But, most people will look at that and think that they need to finish up their vacation by the 3rd. Uh uh! Not true! You simply need to check in by the 3rd. My thinking is that the tail end of our vacation should have less crowds. Smart, or smart? ;)

When I talked about the vacation with Matt he said that he felt bad because we have never taken his parents before. I know that Matt's dad would have a hard time getting around because he has a prosthetic leg and he refuses to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter. I told Matt to go ahead and ask his rents. Well, to my surprise they said that they would just wanna know how much. When I told them their part they thought about it for a day and then decided that since they are already going to Las Vegas in a few days, they better not take the risk of not being able to pay for it.

The rest of my family have different reasons for not being able to. Trust me, all of them would LOVE to... but, for one reason or another they cannot. Then it was time to ask my mom. But, first, I had to find out when she wanted to go to Graceland (our Christmas present to her). She said that she worried that the summer would be too hot and that she'd think about it. I told her about our WDW idea and she seemed very responsive to it. The idea intrigued her but she wanted hard prices of course. I got quotes from our travel agent with Magical Journeys and then yesterday I looked up what flights were looking like. Wow! Super cheap! I called up my mom and she came over so we could sit down and talk about it. I put all the figures out for her and added them up. Her part turned out to being just under $700 total. That is flight, hotel, park tickets, and room. Pretty killer for one amazing week at WDW!

She said that she had done some thinking and she decided that she wants to wait until next year to go to Graceland. She feels like it would be too much for Matt & I to pay for in one year. I told her that we thought about it and we thought we could swing it if we made some cuts for about 6 months. Then I just said that Matt and I could always go to Disney next January like we plan to. So, it's not that big of a deal if we don't go for free dining. Then she said the cutest thing ever...

"But, I want to go to Disney more!"

I never thought i'd hear my mom choose WDW over Graceland! She said that Graceland would always be there and at the same price but this deal at WDW would pass us by for one whole year. So, that was that! She said "Let's go to Disney World" and gave me a high five! haha! We were all smiles...

Next installment: Details with pictures