I have to again tell you all how awesome it is to work with Hi Ho Vacations. I'm working with Katie and my friend Abbi is also a Hi Ho agent and would be fabulous to work with. I've linked to their email addresses so drop them a line for a quote!! An example of the awesomeness - Katie sent us a package at Christmas that included some Disney info, a postcard from Mickey (handwritten in Disney font!), and an ornament. The kids LOVED that postcard. Disney announced a discount recently. I didn't have to do anything to get the deal. Katie worked with Disney and gave me option to fully utilize the deal. And if another deal comes along that works with our dates, she'll apply it to our package.
- The kids received luggage sets for Christmas. They now each have a rolling kid size duffle bag, a rolling kid size suitcase, and a small backpack. The size make them pretty ideal for carry on, actually.
- We have a shoe box set aside where we are saving up our spending money for our trip. We have a Disney gift card in there and when we have some spare cash or we receive cash as a gift, some or all of it goes into the box. Zach is especially good at thinking of the Disney Box whenever money is invovled.
- I got a 2013 Disney calendar featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy. I marked off when our trip is and then added in count down dates - 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months, then it goes weekly and the last 2 weeks are daily. I'm going to hang it in some sort of central location at home.
- We've worked out most of our dining arrangements. I had a handful of places I definitely wanted to hit and Katie helped me figure out other options.
- I'm learning a lot about airline travel. The research I've done indicates that I should be checking flights 3 months out since that is when the sales will start rolling out (I've marked my calendar so I know when to start the search process again). It's best to look on a Tuesday morning because airlines post their deals and sales on Monday evening into a system and they all get published by Tuesday morning. Southwest is known to change flight prices to match competitors' prices so it's good to check them again within 24 hours. And I signed up with FareCompare to watch the specific flights that I would currently want to book - they alert me when the price changes from the current offering.
I have this awesome itinerary that Katie put together for us. It has our travel dates and check in information on it. For each day, it has information about our dining plan for that day, transportation information to get us to whatever park we've chosen for that day, transportation information to get to other resorts if we're eating somewhere else, and tips about things going on in that park that day (parade times, for example).
And Disney just announced a MyMagic+ program that is rolling out and I hope it is in full effect when we go in June. I don't "speak Disney" so I might not get this completely right. But currently, you get a room key and it is tied to your dining plan and credit card. You carry it with you and use it for eating and also for buying stuff. There are security measures in place, of course. Well, the new program goes a step further. Instead of a card you put in your pocket, you wear a secure arm band. It does everything the card does but so much more. You can scan in at places around the park. There is a way you can use it to plan out your ride times instead of the current FastPass (I think they call it FastPass+ and it works with a website and mobile app, too). I think the scanning in at locations will help the app determine where the crowds are located so you can plan a different route or ride.
One thing I'm going back and forth on... My camera. I love my DSLR. But I don't love lugging it around. I have a great over-the-should, across the body case and maybe my best bet is to suck it up and carry that everywhere. Or use my backpack so I can carry the camera and other stuff all day. But part of me worries that the DSLR will be too bulky to deal with all the time. I was thinking about getting a decent point-and-shoot camera. But talking to other photogs, it sounds like I might end up feeling regret once I'm there if I don't have the DSLR. What are your thoughts or experiences?
I like having something I'm excited about. I like that my kids are excited for it. I am eager for the time to get here. I look forward to the fun, the memories, the laughter, the down time, the food, the sunshine, the afternoon rain showers...
And a little something fun to leave you with - the 2 pictures of the time my mom took me to Disney when I was around 5 years old. These are pictures of pictures so forgive the quality. And I know you're jealous of my one piece sun-shorts outfit. And of that one kid's tube socks.