Saturday, October 6, 2012

Disney Boot Camp

We are taking the plunge.

After going to Disney World for the Experience Conference in September, I came home knowing that I had to take my family to Disney.  The time is right.

We plan to go in June.  Teagan will be 8 at that point and Zach will be 5 1/2.

We aren't making the trip a surprise.  While I love it when I get to watch videos or see pictures of other families that do the surprise thing, we decided against it.  Because we don't go on Big Vacations every year, it is really something special for us to be planning a trip to Disney World.  And a trip to Disney isn't cheap.  It's less expensive than I was planning, thankfully.  But to really "do Disney," you have to be prepared to spend some money for it.  We've already decided that we will do less spending at Christmas this year.  We will do less for birthdays (after Zach's - he is turning 5 in a few weeks and we do celebrate 5 as a milestone so he will have his first party with friends).  This trip will also be a celebration of our 10 year wedding anniversary next fall.

We will be going when we can spend a day at Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends which will be awesome for Jeff.

We are going to stay at the resort I fell in love with when I was there - Port Orleans, French Quarter.

And the kids will get to be at Disney.

Which means we have work to do.

We are making plans to brush up on our love of Disney.  We watch a wide variety of movies and shows and there isn't a huge focus on Disney and we don't make a point of showing what is or isn't Disney.  But that is going to change for the next 9 months as we work closer and closer to Disney World.

We are gathering up our Disney movies.  We are getting familiar with Disney, Pixar, Muppets, and more.  I want the kids to be excited about the characters and familiar with what they see when we are there.  Jeff has the perfect opportunity to get the kids fully versed in Star Wars.  They will also need to know something about Indiana Jones and Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

I am pulling out my Disney stuff from my obsession period in college.  Sweatshirts, jackets, t-shirts, nightshirts.  My faves in college were anything Winnie the Pooh (except Piglet - never had much of a soft spot for him), the Fox and the Hound, Lady and the Tramp, and Grumpy (Snow White).  I have (and still have) a Grumpy night shirt, a Grumpy sweatshirt, a Pooh Bear sweatshirt, a denim jacket with the entire Pooh crew embroidered on the back, Grumpy slippers, and more.  I wish I knew what happened to the watches I used to have - my favorites were a Fox & Hound watch and a Goofy watch that ran backwards.

I have many friends who are Disney experts and know the ins and outs of the best places to stay, best places to eat, hidden adventures and all that fun stuff.  I'm not one of those people.  My mom took me to Disney World for a 1 day visit when I was 5.  I don't remember most of it but while I was there in September, I did have a lot of memories of the place that I know came from that trip.  Jeff went once for a family vacation when he was in 6th grade.  We don't know anything about the resorts, the restaurants, the rides, the parks, the transportation.  It is hugely overwhelming to think about trying to plan a trip to a place that you really know nothing about.

Which is why I'm thankful to have my friend, Katie.

Katie is a travel agent with Hi Ho Vacations.  She and I met to talk about the best time of year to go (I had thought we could go over Fall Break next year and she's the one who tipped me off to Star Wars Weekends in June and that the park is often less crowded the first week of June since a lot of schools are still in session).  We talked about the different resorts and what they offer.  We talked about places to eat and the Disney Dining Plan.  She is fluent in Disney - and I'm not.  And I don't have the time to get myself fluent in Disney.  Best of all, her service to us is free.  And she can help anyone, anywhere, with any Disney trip.

Our trip is booked, we have arranged a payment plan, and Katie will be keeping an eye out for any special discounts offered by Disney between now and then that we can apply to our trip.

Because I have Katie in charge of the details of the trip, my family and I can concentrate on the important stuff - getting completely immersed in all things Disney!

Pretty soon, Katie is going to guest blog here a few times.  I'm even going to place an ad for Hi Ho Vacations on my blog.  I'm getting nothing for it - no special discounts on our trip, no payment.  I just really believe in the service Katie provides and I want more people to know about it.  Because she can work with you well in advance and can set up a payment plan, I really think Disney can be something most families can enjoy!

Most important part of all...  I need to know all your Disney favorites!  If you've been to Disney World, tell me your favorite things.  If you're a Disney fan, tell me your favorite characters, movies, princesses... Help me with our Disney Boot Camp!



Tracy said...

Love, love, love Disney world. I'm an obsessive planner when it comes to our trips there. Take advantage of your early entry/extra hours for staying on property. I'm not a fan of Disney dining unless you always eat three substantial meals a day or get a sweet deal on it. I started my blog after my last trip there but I have written trip reviews on another site.

That was out first trip with a kindergartner.

Second trip just a couple years later.

While those are old it does talk about kids about the age of yours.

We do Disney a lot differently with teenagers or young adults.

Unknown said...

We went in 2009, again in 2011, and have planned our trip for this December. We enjoy going to Orlando! I will say that I preferred to stay off-property, but that's just my preference. Since you're staying at a Disney resort you will have the extra Magic hours. Plan to USE that, but do it smart. For example, if Magic Kingdom is open until 2 am on the Tuesday of your stay, hit the Magic Kingdom hard all day and then come back to your room in the late afternoon/early evening. Let everyone get a couple of hours of sleep (or whatever they need) and then go back and plan to stay until they need to go back for the night. It was a big thrill for our kids to be able to be up until 11 or midnight and at the MK. They could not have done that w/out the rest! Utilize the fastpass system for the "popular" rides. Make a photo copy of your tickets (or take a photo with your cell phone). If someone loses a ticket, you can take that photo or copy to the CS office and you can get your ticket back.

KPCL Girl said...

1) Sci Fi Dine-In.

2) A great 'plan of attack' that worked very well for us when the kids were younger was a one-day-on, one-day-off schedule for attending the parks. Going to a Disney theme park is exhausting. You tend to get up early, get to the parks as soon as possible, and stay as late as you can. We did very well by going to the parks only every other day. On the off-days, we slept in, then sauntered at our leisure to one of the water parks, to Downtown Disney, to Disney Quest, to play miniature golf or just hang around the hotel. It gave us time to rejuvenate for the next day.

Angie @ Just Like The Number said...

How exciting! We're going in just a little over a month and we're so excited. I highly, highly recommend the book "The Unofficial Guide to Disney." It's a huge book, but it's full of so many great tips and really helped us on our previous trip in '07. The touring plans they offer for young kids helped us hit the best rides and attractions for their ages, manage lines, and prevent us from taking them on things that would've ended up scaring them. Using it again this time around ... if you can wait you can borrow ours when we get back!

Garret said...

I expect 9,000 photos at least. Are you bringing your laptop? Make use of Livewriter so you can create your posts offline.

I'm so excited for you.