Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Planning A Last Minute Trip On A Shoestring Budget

I can hardly believe that I'm typing this...  I'm going BACK to Walt Disney World!

Not only am I going back to WDW but I will be there in less than 2 months!

This all came about after talking to a friend of mine, Ashley, that works at Walt Disney World.  She's been trying to get me to come down and hang with her for a few months now.  I really wanted to go back at the beginning of December but Matt and I just couldn't afford it.  Anyway, I was talking to Ashley this weekend and just for kicks I started to look into how much it would cost me.  My husband was okay with me going but it would be contingent on me making it ridiculously cheap.  We also have a trip to New York in May for his brothers graduation. 

To my surprise, I could get decently priced flights out of airports relatively close to me.  Normally I have to drive to Chicago or Detroit in order to fly out to Orlando International.  I had the option of flying out of South Bend, IN; Fort Wayne, IN; and Kalamazoo, MI.  I copied a March calendar and wrote down all of the prices for each day's flights.  Departing and Returning.  I then wrote down all of the prices for any combination of flights.  I ended up choosing March 5-9 since I would only have to take 3 days off of work with it being over a weekend.  Flying out of South Bend, Indiana's airport will mean I only have to drive an hour instead of over two hours.  I'll be flying back into Fort Wayne, Indiana though which is an hour and a half drive.

Ashley gave me her sign on info to "The Hub" which is a cast member website that allows you to look at lots of stuff that CMs might be interested in seeing.  There is a section for booking resort reservations for either yourself or Friends & Family.  Ashley came up with the idea of her staying in the room with me and splitting the cost.  Her normal discount is 50% off rack rate but right now there is a 60% off discount for CMs.  We're going to be staying in one of the All-Star Resorts for four nights.  The total?  $198.  That means my portion is under $100.  Ridiculous, right?

The price for my flight ending up being a little more tricky.  For some reason on Allegiant Air's website you can't book a multi-city roundtrip package.  Stupid!  This means that I'd have to pay their $15 online booking fee twice for doing two seperate flights.  I talked to a customer service rep online today and they said if I called I'd only have to pay the $15 once.  Also, when I got home I double checked the prices and found that my return flight which was already cheap ($64.99) went down even further to $43.99!  My other flight is $79.99 without fees.  Final total?  $156.37!  Flight is booked!

All I have to pay for after my flight and part of the hotel is food.  Even this gets cheaper!  Ashley has cast member vouchers for 20%, 30%, and 50% off dining at on-property restaurants.  Almost every restaurant is on the participating restaurant list.  We know for sure we want to go to Boma.  I'd also like to try one restaurant I've never been to before.  Ashley and I have to compile a list and go over the prospects.  :)  She also would like to take me to a sushi restaurant off-property that apparently will knock my socks off.  I have a new found love for sushi and she is going to feed that love.  I'm quite alright with this.

The itinerary for this trip will be pretty vague I think since I was just there in October and I'm going to have less days to spend. 

I arrive at Orlando-Sanford International Airport on Saturday at 3:05 p.m.  Ashley is driving to pick me up and then who knows what we'll do after that.  We can do whatever we want and I feel good about the "winging it" opportunity.  I rarely wing it. 

We have Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday as full days to tour.  Ashley had the idea of going to the beach for the day if the weather permits.  I would absolutely love this since I haven't seen the ocean since I was in high school!  Not sure if Ashley has ever been to New Smyrna Beach on the east coast but it's my favorite place in the entire world next to Walt Disney World.  It's a quaint surf town.  I often dream about retiring here and/or raising a family in such a beautiful place.  It's only an hour away from WDW as well.  Back in high school I went on a few Youth For Christ trips to Florida and we spent time at New Smyrna Beach.  I think I miss it so much sometimes it brings me to tears. 

Ashley and I have decided that we're not interested in spending much time at Animal Kingdom.  I'd like to go do Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Festival of the Lion King.  We'll probably do Disney's Hollywood Studios on the same day we visit AK.  I'm really excited about seeing One Man's Dream after the renovations! 

So, you probably wonder how I know Ashley, right?  Given that she's never been to Michigan, grew up in Florida, and isn't related to me.  Back in 2009 on a trip to WDW with my mom, I participated in American Idol Experience at DHS.  When I had to check in for my show I had a conversation with a CM about random stuff... clothes, Disney, etc.  Months later this same girl found me on Facebook via Sean Klitzner (host of my AIE show) and sent me a message saying she remembered me and loved my performance.  We continued talking and realized that we could have been twins seperated at birth.  Haha!  I got to see Ashley briefly (she now works at Space Mountain) in our trip this past October.  I'm really excited to be able to hang out with her soon! 

I'll update with more info soon!  Mickey Mouse, here I come!

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