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Pre-Trip 4th Birthday at WDW - why not?

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by dmatt87, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member

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    Hi guys,

    This is my first attempt at a Pre-Trip report, and hopefully a Trip Report afterwards :)

    PROLOGUE
    Ever since our honeymoon in 2011, I've been telling my wife that we have to go back to the most magical place on Earth! That trip, almost 6 years ago, was my first Disney vacation - I had been dreaming of visiting this whimsical place since I was a little boy. I remember watching TGIF on ABC back in the day when AK opened, I was in complete awe.

    HONEYMOON
    [​IMG]


    Wanting badly to go back, I was casually mentioning Disney to my wife every few months, hoping she would get the same itch that I had, however it wasn't the case. It also didn't help that during the past 6 years, we bought a house, had a child and my wife lost her job. The timing just wasn't right.

    Luckily for me, the tide changed in early January when my wife said to me that this spring would be a great time to go on a Disney Vacation!!! She had a new job and our son was a decent age for his first visit. We initially wanted to go in July to celebrate my 30th birthday, however we are trying to conceive are second child and it wouldn't of been a good idea if my wife would've been 7 months pregnant. We believe that it might be our last chance to visit for a few years. Since my son is a huge Disney fan, we thought it would be a wonderful idea for him to experience the magic for his birthday.

    WHO
    Mathieu (me)
    [​IMG]
    Disney and Star Wars lover

    Emilie (DW)
    [​IMG]
    Late 80's / early 90's Disney fan

    Olivier (DS - soon to be 4)
    [​IMG]
    Loves the new Disney movies and Star Wars

    WHY
    To celebrate DS's birthday:D

    WHEN
    May 20th to May 26th, 2017 (we are missing Pandora :cry:)

    WHERE
    Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside

    In the next few days and weeks, I will be posting more details about the trip and answering your comments;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  2. MomofPrincessGrace

    MomofPrincessGrace Active Member

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    Following :) We will be there May 6-13 at POR! We went in September 2015 for my daughters 5th birthday. She got to eat her birthday breakfast in Cinderellas castle which was such a cool experience. She also loved getting told "Happy Birthday Princess" by every cast member that we passed. Cant wait to hear more!
     
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  3. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Here's to hoping that you get a sneek peek into Pandora of some type
    (you can always hope)
    Following along

    Max
     
  4. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I'm hoping for a preview as well - I can't believe that a week before the official opening they won't want to try and adjust based on guest feedback.
     
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  5. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure how they will handle it
    If it was just one ride they might do soft openings but with it being an entire land they might keep it under wraps
    Hoping for the former and not the latter

    Max
     
  6. Emadsen

    Emadsen Member

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    Following along, and keeping my fingers crossed for you that you'll get a sneak peak into Pandora!
     
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  7. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Very stylish shot of you with the mug!

    Max
     
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  8. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Went to see a client and he offered a coffee - I was surprised when I got this tiny expresso cup... my finger actually got caught in the handle!
     
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  9. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    CHAPTER 1 – THE RESORT SAGA

    When my wife game the go ahead in early January to start shopping a Disney vacation, I was over the moon. My wife is a Disney fan but she doesn't get this horrible gut feeling when she's been away from Disney - I've had that feeling periodically for the last 5 years.

    When we honeymooned in 2011, our status was different, we were newly married, in our early 20's and didn't need to carry a child everywhere we went... I know, first world problems ;)

    So from the start, we knew this trip was going to be different, but not only different but also special. Our DS will be turning 4 on May 16th, our little baby is now a big boy :bawling:. It will be his first Disney vacation and our first time seeing the magic through the eyes of a child. That feeling alone makes the trip even more worth it - and will make us rediscover Disney once again... even will all the changes that the world as gone through since our last visit.

    Sorry about this long prologue, I tend to rant when telling a story.

    So let's get back to the resort saga :)

    Once we knew we were going on a trip, we had to decided on a when. Since DW and I are trying to get pregnant, we didn't want to risk later in the summer. We aimed for DS's birthday to take place in the world, however a colleague already had booked a vacation for that week. So we decided to go the following, just before Memorial Day (and Pandora).

    Date is settled - now where to stay? We knew that we wanted to stay on-site. Not that we have anything against staying off-resort, especially to save a few dollars, but for DS's first visit, we wanted to be immersed in all the magic. We might consider off-resort next time, and I say might.

    I started to dream immediately, like we all have at some point, and started looking at AKL and the Poly. Ever since my honeymoon I have dreamt of staying at AKL with a view of the savannah or staying at the Poly and being in a monorail resort! However I was brought back to reality once I looked the costs. I might of decided to splurge, and might of been able to convince my wife, IF I didn't live in Canada. If the dollar was near parity, pricing would be more reasonable, but when our dollar is worth only 70 cents on the dollar, it hurts! Maybe for our next visit we will have the luxury of staying at AKL and live the dream...

    Reality brought me directly to the value resorts. I always found that these resorts looked very fun and extremely family oriented, which was great for DS. We had a slight preference for AoA, and their themed rooms. We would've loved to get a suite so we could have a room away from DS for a better night of sleep, but prices were much too high, might as well go to a deluxe resort. The Little Mermaid rooms were interesting and pricing was good. We were now leaning towards that option, but then I read about Pop Century and how it shared a lot of the perks of AoA but a little cheaper. I had the finger on the button and was ready to book our trip... but then I noticed something very important. My wife and I sleep in a queen bed at home, and it's not too big for comfort, and we always get a King bed on vacation, so when we noticed that these value resorts had only double beds - we had to look elsewhere.

    And elsewhere we found Moderate resorts! Although we enjoyed CSR in 2011, we wanted to A) try something new, and B) we wanted a more family oriented resort. So are eyes met a beautiful resort, full of colours and caribbean charm... we fell in love with CBR. The resort was perfect, even if it was huge! The main pool and kiddy pool were magnificent and the food courts were absolutely charming. We were seduced - and ready for the next step. Luckily for us, we had great offers available: 25% on park tickets and 20% on CBR rooms. We were able to get a water view room for $180 a night! With these prices, we booked our trip for 6 nights at CBR from May 20th to 26th. We proceed in booking our non-refundable plane tickets.

    The story should end here... but like any good saga, there is a twist :jawdrop:

    A few weeks after we booked our magical vacation, I start reading on the forum that CSR will have major renovations. I'm thinking great, I dodged a bullet... But then I start reading about major work coming to CBR.. I worry a little bit but initially it only seems like the work will affect one section of the resort. So DW and I tell ourselves that it shouldn't be too bad, and we might get extra perks.

    However, a week or two later I receive the official email from Disney. What we thought was going to be a not too big refurbishment is going to completely change our vacation. It wasn't one section that was going to out-of-commision, but two (including a preferred section), and all the food courts were going to be closed as well. Sure they would have alternate options, but I was more than weary. Alternate options are like alternate facts, they might work for some but not for me.

    I decided not to wait and see, and I called Disney reservations to discuss my options. I was maybe willing to accept a discount, but honestly I wanted to switch to a non-construction zone. Before calling I looked quickly at my options, and it was either a value resort or POR/POFQ, since deluxe was out of our price range. We really didn't want to spend a week of bad sleep in a double bed.

    After 1.5H on the phone (30 minutes on hold), thanks to great help from dedicated CM's, I was able to switch resorts and get a price match offer. In the end I couldn't be happier of our resort switch, it's beautiful, quiet and I think offers something fun for the parents and something amusing for DS.

    In case you were wondering... we got a King room at POR :D
    [​IMG]

    Stay tune for Chapter 2 - ADR's at 120 days :jawdrop:
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  10. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Hello to a fellow Canuck - I live in Waterloo, Ontario.
    Great story of the trials and tribulations of deciding on which resort to stay at.
    Been there and done that a few times over the years.
    I have not stayed at POR but I hear great things

    Max
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
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  11. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    My wife absolutely loves the Pandora world ever since we saw the movie in theaters - I know it would mean the world to her to get to step into this magical place!
     
  12. joshsprincess921

    joshsprincess921 Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait to follow along!
     
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  13. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    CHAPTER 2 – ADR'S WITH ONLY 120 DAYS

    Good morning folks - sorry about the little delay, it was a busy week at the office. Which isn't a bad thing to stop thinking about Disney for a few minutes ;)

    Now today, I will go into (some) details about which ADR's we booked, we cancelled and dreamed of.

    As all the Disney vets know, booking ADRs isn't an easy task. You have to plan ahead of the 180 days window and be ready at 6 am to try to nab that most coveted spot at CRT or Le Cellier or California Grill. Now in our case we were already 60 days late, for ADRs, and we hadn't even started planning the trip. I had wanted to go in July for my birthday but my wife preferred going in May, better prices and less risks that she would be 7 months pregnant. July would of been good about 190 days out... but now we were someplace else.

    Usually I would start by building my weekly schedule to see which parks had EMH, and wanting to space out the different parks. We always like to use Park Hopper and do a park in the morning and another in the evening. However, since I knew that good ADRs are hard to come by almost 2 months after the initial window, I had to start booking... and I did, like crazy!

    I had to quickly think of the restaurants that I wanted to visit, which were kid friendly, and which offered a good variety of foods. My wife is a picky eater, not extreme, but she doesn't anything too weird with lots of spices, so no German or Middle-Eastern meals at EPCOT.

    So I started to look at restaurants and booking various dates, to ensure I would be getting a spot at good places. I was booking right and left, and cancelling left and right when I found something better or it wasn't fitting in the schedule I was starting to build.

    We had initially opted for the Quick Service Dining Plan, but I quickly realized that this wasn't gonna work. What started has getting 1 or 2 character meals, turned into getting pretty much a table-service meal every day. So I got our the spreadsheet, made some MIT comparable calculations:p and came to the conclusion that the best deal was to go with the DDP.

    With that out of the way, it was back to planning ADR's that would please everyone and fit in the weekly schedule. In the end we have 8 reservations and 14 cancellations.

    We wanted to do character meals to prevent us from having to stop everywhere and do many lines to meet a few characters. CRT wasn't available, so we booked Akershus Royal Banquet. Then, CRT became available for lunch, so we booked, but then we thought two princesses meal was too much. We cancelled Akershus. We wanted more characters, and DS loves Pooh, I tried getting a spot at Crystal Palace at a decent hour and that fit in our schedule, but wasn't able to. I thought Mickey and the gang would be cool, so I was able to get a lunch spot at Chef Mickey, but as soon as I booked I was uncertain by the time slot and the menu... I started looking at other options, and then I found the Disney Junior lunch at Hollywood and Vine is DHS, I booked it, and kept Chef Mickey. However, I wanted to change Chef Mickey, so I found a great replacement with Tusker House - better food and fit better in our schedule. I cancelled Chef Mickey and then realized I had to cut out another TS to fit in our DDP, I had forgotten that CRT used up 2 credits. I cut out Disney Jr's meet and greet meal, because it was the least interesting and there was a discussion on the forums on who would actually be there, and found out a few weeks after the Minnie dinning experience would now be dinner and lunch, so I was happy about my choice.

    Now here are the FINAL ADR's with a few anecdotes of how we got there:

    T-Rex at Disney Springs / Saturday, May 20, 2017(6:15 PM, Dinner)
    We had initially booked PH Observatory for this date. We are schedule to arrive at our resort before lunch, so we thought we would hit a park and then go to Disney Springs for dinner, and then a good night's sleep. However, it really bothered me that they didn't have a kids menu. I wanted to book T-Rex but no spots were available. So in the meantime, we booked spots at Rainforest Café, it was a nice themed dinner that would please DS4. However, thanks to a few members of this forum, I able to book T-Rex, they told me that T-Rex only gave a few spots to Disney reservations, so that if I called, I could get a spot... And I did, for the time I wanted as well! DS will be happy, he loves dinosaurs! This meal will be out of pocket and not on the DDP.

    Be Our Guest Lunch (MK) / Sunday, May 21, 2017(12:15 PM, Lunch)
    This was actually one of the first reservations we made, and kept. We wanted to have the chance to eat in the castle. Fantasyland was being completely refurbished during our 2011 visit. DW loves Beauty and the Beast.

    Tusker House Restaurant Dinner - ROL 1st Show / Sunday, May 21, 2017(6:10 PM, Dinner)
    You had the full story of how this reservation came about, a little higher in the post. However it was initially a lunch reservation. By moving things around, we turned this into a dinner reservation, and were able to get a ROL package. This was great news since we wanted to see all four shows during our visit.

    Chefs de France Dinner (EPCOT) / Monday, May 22, 2017(6:10 PM, Dinner)
    This was our first or second reservation we made. We had loved our meal back in 2011, and wanted to visit once again.

    Fairytale Dining Lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table (MK) / Tuesday, May 23, 2017(11:45 AM, Lunch)
    This is the dream reservation. Never I would've thought we could've gotten a reservation to CRT, especially the first lunch service. I know it's not a late dinner with the fireworks, but with DS4 it wouldn't of worked anyways. I remember DW and I talking in 2011, and saying that we thought people getting to go inside the castle were so lucky - now that's us!!! Our little prince will be very happy :)

    Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano Dinner (DHS) / Tuesday, May 23, 2017(6:00 PM, Dinner)
    Simple reservation. We were planning in being in DHS for dinner, and wanted a sure bet for the whole family. Hollywood Brown Derby was great in 2011, but I don't think it would be very kid-friendly and didn't want to spend 2 TS credits. The menu wasn't to my liking at Prime Time, although I loved the theming.

    Rainforest Cafe Lunch at Animal Kingdom / Wednesday, May 24, 2017(12:15 PM, Lunch)
    Sure thing for DS and DW while at AK. Simple menu but fun theming, that goes well with the park as well. This will be out of pocket, but pricing is reasonnable. We might cancel it during the week if DW sees a QS option that pleases her.

    Kona Café Dinner (Polynesian) / Thursday, May 25, 2017(6:55 PM, Dinner)
    Initially we had Coral Reef booked on our last full day. It was in our ADRs in 2011, but we had skipped out on it, because of bad planning, and underestimating the energy it takes to tour a park all-day with no breaks. It was a reservation that was initially earlier in the week, that I had moved to the last Thursday. Although the theming is fun for kids, the menu wasn't giving me a wow, and I didn't want to close out my week there. I kept looking for alternate ideas and open slots but couldn't. DW and I had never gone on the monorail or visited a monorail resort, so I thought it would be fun to try it on our last night. We didn't want to do the Contemporary Resort, but the Poly looked really cool, and we could scout it for a future visit :rolleyes:. The first wish I had was for O'Hana, but no spots, so looking at reviews, menu's and the forum, I found out that Kona Café was a good choice, and since we missed our ADR in 2011, it was a shoe in.

    We plan on sticking with our ADR's this time around. Back in 2011 for our honeymoon, we ended up ditching at least half of our ADRs and I can't remember why for the most. This time we have better planning and DS4 to keep us in check.

    Stay tune in a few days for Chapter 3 – How to plan a balanced schedule.
     
  14. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Great ADR pics - the explanation and logic behind each one makes sense to me!!

    Max
     
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  15. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Thanks - it's not as complicated as your family when it comes to choosing restaurants, thank god! I can't imagine the planning you go through!
     
  16. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    It can be a challenge for two reasons - allergy restrictions and preference
    For you it is only 2 of you (assuming your 4 year old is not checking menus online yet !!!!!)


    Max
     
  17. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Nope - his only is an intolerance to eggs. Not a big deal.
     
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  18. 21stamps

    21stamps Well-Known Member

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    Have you thought about Ohana breakfast instead of Kona Cafe? I love both.. but Ohana breakfast is our favorite on property... the kids dance along in a Congo line with maracas!

    Also, We LOVED the Disney Jr meal. My one regret was that I think my son would have even loved it more at age 4 vs age 5. He was just about out of the Disney Jr stage when we went.. but the characters were wonderful.

    Just suggestions.. can't go wrong either way :)
     
  19. dmatt87

    dmatt87 Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I thought about Ohana breakfast but there were no good times. Also, breakfast prevents us from doing the rope drop.

    I admit Disney Jr was tempting since he loves many of the characters, however it will only be breakfast by then...
     
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  20. 21stamps

    21stamps Well-Known Member

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    The Disney Jr meal is fantastic for a child who likes those characters, it's the only place to meet them all. Keep checking times if you want either of them.. I've booked my trips at 65 days or less the last 2 times, dining always became available. Ohana breakfast does start super early and it's very quick to get to the MK turnstiles from Poly (less than 10 minutes), so keep that in mind..if you want them. :)
     
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