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Friday, June 25, 2010

Plans are Finalized!!!

I started packing yesterday!  Wow what a pain...I guess it's better than unpacking!  Packing for myself is bad enough but packing for a family - *faint* ....it is a little easier now that my youngest is past the princess days.  We aren't schlepping a variety of gowns, crowns, shoes and hairbows.   So we are packing "light".  For us.   (We still have a wardrobe of ears (I am so happy the girls will still wear "ears") and a huge Disney pin collection and of course tons of flip flops.

I finalized my dining.....  I added the princess breakfast in Norway - it's been 2 years since we've done that & Jo is still young enough to enjoy it.  I actually got a "go" from Lucy, too.   In May, I ate dinner in the castle, and I have to say DISAPPOINTING.  I would not do it again for a long time.  I felt like it was dirty, sticky, and just over all bleh - but expensive.  Hopefully the Norway experience will be different.

 I saw a trip report  where there were photos of food and the photos of sticky toffee pudding dessert at lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern tempted me - so I had to add that and do some rearranging to fit that one in.

For the birthday people (my daughter and husband) I listened to their requests, and have a Cape May Cafe breakfast booked and Le Cellier late lunch.  I am one of the people that thinks Le Cellier is way over rated, but last time we ate dinner there it WAS very good.  I am not having any high expectations, though.

Our usual at DHS is the Sci Fi Drive in Diner.  That's a hit with everybody in my family.  The food is OK but the atmosphere is a lot of fun.  Those black and white funny science fiction movies have been distracting my kids for about 15 years now and allowing me ME time while I eat.  It's a must do each trip.



We like eating outside on the patio at Rose & Crown and I was lucky enough to book a 7:40pm dinner reservation.  I hope we wind up outside for Illuminations viewing.   Plus I love the beer there - and their stilton cheese salad dressing & the cheese bread rolls.   My husband likes the fish and chips and honestly, I am not sure what the kids eat there......not a lot of options that are kid (picky eater) friendly.  We shall see.


My youngest is 10 years old - and she actually WANTED Bippity Boppity Boutique.  That really surprised me.....I was able to get her an appointment in the castle.  I figured I'd better appreciate her wanting to do this now.  After this, the next time I get to take a little girl to BBB will probably be when I'm a grandma lol...because I think soon enough Jojo won't want to be done up with fakey make up, colorful hair extensions, and goo put in her hair.  For now, she does - and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.


Ohana.....wow - our last experience there was nasty.  It was a big bummer disappointment because it has been a staple dining place for us for as long as I can remember.  Well....last time we did eat there was 2 years ago and we all agreed NEVER AGAIN.  Just horrid service & yucky food.  Well, I have heard they've made some changes to the staff and it's getting some raves again.  We are giving Ohana another go.  They must be doing something right because the best I could get for us was an 855pm dining time.  Another we shall see in the works.  I hope it's good again because it was a WDW vacation tradition for us for so long.


Another tradition for us 1900 Park Fare.  We have the dinner booked with Cinderella and her wicked step sisters.  Those sisters are the best.  They make the experience what it is.  Looking forward to that again.


My older daughter, Lucy, is a big Eeyore fan, Jojo is a Piglet fan, and Zack always liked Tigger - so Crystal Palace has always been on my ADR list.

We love the trip over to Wilderness Lodge.  It's a little adventure just getting there - so I booked us Whispering Canyon Cafe.  Last time we ate there, Jojo was having attitude and not in the mood to be anywhere except in front of the TV watching Hannah Montana & playing with her Disney Princess Polly Pockets.  Well, that dinner turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.  We had such a fun waiter - he completely picked up on Miss Jojo's baditude and played right up to her.  She was a star and she loved all the attention.  The food was pretty good and the atmosphere a lot of fun and laughs.



OK I even am taking one for the team.  I booked us a dinner at Tony's Town Square...that place gets horrible reviews.....but I have clients that ask about it and I turn them off to eating there.  Well, honestly it's been 3 years or so since we put ourselves thru the Tony's experience, so we're going to have to try it again so that I can give a fair review of the place.  Our last dinner there, our waiter must have been low man on the totem pole, because he was the restaurant garbage guy....we would see him take out the trash, change the garbage bags, *cross our fingers he washed his hands* and laugh...."When he came back to take our order,  my son even asked him, "Did you wash your hands?" and we all just cracked up....I guess you had to be there but that's part of the family vacation fun....all the silly things you remember and laugh about later.  We had fun there, but the food....eh.  Get the Rolaids and the Tums.   I cannot even guarantee my family will suck it up and go along with this one.....

On MY birthday, I figured a little R&R and spoiling so I booked us a pool cabana at the Grand Floridian.  And then later a late lunch at the tea room.   We have done "tea" here a few times before and my daughters really really enjoy it.  Kind of funny, I wouldn't think they would like it as much as they do, but it's such a nice relaxing break away from the park craziness and the other LOUD restaurants.   Sort of like the Plaza Restaurant.  That's a simple one, too - and one of their favorites.  

My favorite vacation drink is a pina colada with a shot of Kahlua drizzled through it.  I can taste it now.....

On our last morning, I booked the breakfast with Lilo and Stitch.  I figure we'll be out monorail shopping and picking up those last minute souvenirs - so a stop over at the Polynesian fits with that plan.

I am getting really excited...but almost the kind of excitement that sends me into neurotic feelings of "Something might go wrong to spoil this trip".  (I am crazy that way LOL) The countdown is on and as of today I have five days left of neurosis....but so far *knock on wood* so good.  Looks like it's all systems go.

  I have a lot of plans I hope we can fit in  - movies on the beach at both the Yacht Club and the Grand Floridian, I wanted to take a boat over to the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and just check it all out and see what that area is like, I'd love it if we made it to Downtown Disney for shopping, a trip up in the hot air balloon, and ice cream, the girls want to do lots of pin trading & expand their immense collection, and then we have to find time for swimming breaks and just relaxing and people watching from our balcony.  

Renting a pontoon boat is always fun in the afternoons, too....  
 










 My daughters  always like to do the "Pick a Pearl" in Japan in EPCOT - the uglier the oyster, the prettier the pearl is what we learned.  Jojo is a champion pearl picker - she always gets a jumbo or twins.  There are sterling silver settings for a decent price and the jewelry makes a nice lasting souvenir.

This will be a strange trip in a way as my son won't be coming with.  He is almost 20 and pretty much outgrown family vacations. (it's a mutual thing - we've outgrown him, too LOL)   His idea of a family vacation is sleeping til 2 pm and then being on his cell phone with friends.  So...this is it.   Just the four of us this time around. Somebody is going to lose their thrill ride buddy.



Kind of a new step in the family vacation situation - but at least the four of us are all Disney fans and really thrilled about taking this vacation and spending time together.   I have so many memories of past family trips when the kids were young & want to repeat everything - but it gets harder and harder as the kids get older and the experiences pile up.  I guess we'll have to make new memories - just the four of us. That will be easy, though -  we are going to be on the move cramming in all the fun we can handle for 10 days straight. 



Happy travels!
Channing

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Anticipation!!!

Well, we are just under two weeks until our trip!! I had delusions of getting some fantastic SWA Ding fare that would allow me to change my dates a bit and RE add on my last 2 nights (that I - during temporary insanity) chopped off because I wasn't (in my head at the time I made this change) up for moving to a third resort during one trip.  The closer my trip gets the more I ask myself...why did I shorten it?!?!?  We really like to do a split stay between two resorts - one on the EPCOT side of the "world" and then over to the Magic Kingdom side.....but moving a third time left me bleh.  So I added one more night to my Grand Floridian reservation and chopped off 2 Wilderness Lodge nights.  Yeah, a confusing mess, but what
it comes down to is 4 nights at the Yacht Club and 6 at the Grand. 

What happened to SWA Dings?!?!?  I used to get Dings here and there that would send me to fun places.....now it's Indianapolis & Cleveland most often....not fun..... So, no such fun destination Ding arrived for me.....and I feel like I am paying more for air for this summer trip than we have paid in years.


Yesterday I was reviewing my park plans and ADRs.  I use Tour Guide Mike to plan the "best days" and I have found him to be useful and helpful.  But my handwriting and scribble scrabbled notes all over my trip notes page had me lost.  It took me a LOOOOOooooong time to figure out WHAT?!?! What did I want to do?? And WHY?? My reasoning a month ago seems to conflict with my 2 week out reasoning haha.  So I had to back track, head over to TGM and then try and figure out what time and where I did want to dine.   I plan for other people in a nice legible logical way, but my own plans and ideas for my family trip get added here and there when I have a few minutes and become scattered LOL -  I guess it's like the plumber with the clogged drains all over his house.   So, after rereviewing TGM and double checking my ADRs online, I am now good to go with a new plan of attack!!!

 I booked our flight to Florida based on my 13 yr old daughter's high hopes of seeing the midnight showing of the Twilight movie, "Eclipse"  haha.....her birthday is July 1 and she had visions of me taking her and several friends to the midnight opening showing on June 30.....omg.....I am now in denial mode.  WHY did I agree to that?!?!?  I can't even think about the reality of doing that.......  I have never read the books, not seen the movies, am going to snooze thru this movie from midnight to 2 am....and then have to deal with driving a throng of teen girls to our house to spend the night  and dealing with them in the morning while trying to throw everything all together and get us out of the house for the airport.   I selected a 2 pm flight, thinking that works.....but how do I get roped into these crazy schemes.......  I am still (when feeling a reality check) trying to plot a way out of doing these plans.

So now that I have the ADRs and schedule the way I like it.....time to start dealing with things here on the home front.  I have started taking Miss Mischief Penny to a doggy daycare to prepare her for when she'll be kenneled there.  She just turned 8 months old and has never been away from home.   Have to make sure everybody has good park shoes.....shorts and more.....start getting the toiletries together, stuff for the flight...lots of Target runs before a vacation.....I am actually getting butterflies in my stomach while thinking of this list of have to dos!!!  I am a last minute packer - I don't like the pressure of doing it that way, but I don't enjoy packing and procrastinate til it has to be done.  I always bring too much.....so make more work for myself than I should.  I am going to TRY my best to leave home without 400lbs of junk in 8 bags.  Coming home to have to put that away (AFTER laundering 400lbs) is the pits.   I have an almost 20 year old son and he won't be coming with this time.  Part of me is jumping for joy because the last time he did come with (he was 17.5 at that time) he was a huge buzz kill and downed us all out.   But...then I think about being 1200 miles away from him for 10 nights and get a bit of a sick panicky feeling.  I just have to work that out in my head.....but I am sure out of sight out of mind may be what happens once I step onto the colorful mosaic floor in MCO and hop on their monorails!!! *LOL*

We don't have anything super special planned during our trip.    With my crazy family it's hard to even stick with my schedule because inevitably somebody wants to do something else.....or isn't hungry at ADR time.....or is tired or hot....flexibility is a necessary thing for us on our vacations.....We just plan on hitting the parks early (ya right - we shall see..... - flexibility needed here haha) returning for a swim and then back to the parks in the late afternoon/evenings and stay til close.

Three of us have birthdays during the first week of July but my younger daughter is a January baby...I don't want to make a giant deal out of us three birthday people when she has actually never been during hers.  My older daughter and husband and I chose where we want to eat for our days but I didn't mention BIRTHDAY on the reservations.   Last year I let my youngest daughter have my birthday.....she wore the button and got the cupcake at lunch.  She got my year and birthday calories.  What a deal.



Well.....we are finally seeing the sun here in good old northern Illinois, so I am going to soak some up and get a nice tan going so I don't burn in Florida.

I CAN"T WAIT TO GO!!!!!!!  

Happy travels, all!!

Channing
TravelWithTheMagic



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Friday, June 4, 2010

I am in the midst of vacation planning!

Sorry, I am so behind in this blog!!!  I finally reached my 45 day mark for my own family trip this summer and had to COMMIT!!! It was killing me and for weeks I went back and forth on how long to stay...where to stay....which flights..... too many decisions and I am commitment phobic.   I used to book room only - which has the nice generous cancellation policy of 6 nights prior to check in.....but with the way I reserved the rooms this year, it was considered a package and I had to 100% commit 45 days out.  SCARY to me....but I did it.  I managed to make a choice.  Not saying I am all over the process and fully satisfied with what I chose....I still go online and dork around with dates and resorts and even my flights.  I always fly SWA to MCO.....so that makes my change it around option viable....and I love that and take some comfort it the ability to swap out flight times or even days!   

For now, we are set for 4 nights at the Yacht Club and then moving over to the Grand Floridian for 6 nights.  I originally had us staying at the WL CL after our Grand Floridian stay, but thought about obligations at home (8 month old Newfie puppy) and the pool turning mucky.....and then do I really want to move three times during one stay?  NO.  So I chopped those last 2 nights off and changed the flight home.  Then of course the regrets hit me....why am I shortening a Disney trip!!!?!!!?!?  What is wrong with me?  We could get the neighbor kid to deal with the pool water & equipment, and I have a nice doggy daycare place lined up for Penny.....we have the vacation time so WHY did I do that?!?!!

In the mean time my husband decided 10 nights was enough for him.  DARN.  I am not sure what over came me and possessed me to shorten my Disney vacation when I had him roped into a 12 night stay.  My daughters are all for the more Disney the better.  But now what's done is done.  There is no going back.  ......or isn't there?! haha....I keep checking.  I can get the Grand for those last 2 nights now.  It wasn't available back when I got the Wilderness Lodge...but it is now.  So the drama continues...I am just waiting with baited breath for a SWA Ding and that would be it - flight switched and an extra 2 nights added on again.....my husband would probably never know.  He has too much other stuff on his mind LOL.  I plan the trips, he comes.  My daughters and I would have a secret little laugh when it came time to pack up (what he thinks is time to pack up) and we didn't have to.  Too late!  We're staying......I'd just have to say, "Don't you remember we talked about these two nights?" LOL....I have him so confused at this point he would have to say "OH ya...." and let it go or we'd get into one of those "YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME WHEN I AM TALKING TO YOU" discussions.....and he won't want to go there haha.

So...I am still in planning mode....and with resort and flight planning comes the dining planning!!!!! With the chopped off days I had to rearrange dining so we didn't miss what I had booked on those last 2 days.....

The drama continues........

Disney vacation planning is the best!

I'll be back later with more - once I have more settled. :)

PS...the Disney Cruise was FANTASTIC!!!! I posted pics on Magic Chat Live and on Magic Chat Live on facebook in a Disney Cruise Line album.

Happy planning and happy travels!!
Channing
Channing@TravelWithTheMagic.com


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