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Pre-Trip Good thing I like warm hugs...because it's going to be hot between all those people!

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by mlegerto, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member

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    Although I am in the middle of another PTR for our DLP trip, I also wanted to get started on this one because I HAVE TWO UPCOMING DISNEY TRIPS IN THE WORKS :happy: **happy dance**

    So without further ado...let's get to some of the details of this trip.

    Introductions
    Hello. I'm Michelle and I am a Disney addict, undoubtedly if you are reading this you are as well so it's nice to be in the same company. I have no idea how many trips I've taken to WDW (yes, I've been very lucky growing up in a DVC family), but this will be my first trip back since our Disneymoon in August 2015 - yes, I've been away for just over 2 years by the time of this trip which is UNHEARD of.

    upload_2017-4-26_12-43-34.png

    And this is my handsome prince Ryan. Ryan has traveled to WDW many times - some with his family when he was younger (always staying offsite, renting a house nearby) and when we met , he started joining my family trips. Ryan is not the Disney addict that I am, but he agrees to frequent trips to make me happy. Although I would be content going to Disney (one park or another) for every trip, Ryan pushes me out of that comfort zones and makes me experience new places and cultures. At the end of the day, we always return to WDW though!

    upload_2017-4-26_12-53-51.png

    When
    We will be visiting at the craziest time of the year (because apparently we are crazy)! We will arrive on Tuesday December 26,2017 and will be staying until Tuesday January 2, 2018. We will then move over to Universal Studios for a quick two day trip until Thursday January 4, 2018 - this was part of the compromise to "returning to Disney" that I've gotten used to making!

    Since I am Canadian, we get December 26th off as a statutory holiday so we initially wanted to head to the world earlier and be there for actual Christmas day. However, we have a rule in our family that Christmas day is ALWAYS spent together and since this is just a couples trip, no go on missing Christmas - which I am fine with!

    Why
    Well....why not?
    Okay, not the greatest answer - but really, seriously, why not?

    So this year marks a very special anniversary for Ryan and I. We will have been together for 15 years (yes, we started dating back in high school when we were just wee little kiddies). Ryan also proposed to me during the Christmas season (late November) during Wishes at MK back in 2012. AND Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year; even more so when you see the amazing decorations all over Disney World.

    The last time we were in Disney World for Christmas (like the actual Christmas break) was back in 2006, so we are due to return! It has been on my mind for quite a while (as you would expect), but I think the "we have to go back" set in for Ryan last Christmas when I mentioned to him that;

    "I'm sitting here on Christmas day, watching the Disney parade, in my Disney PJ's, with my Mickey Christmas hat, drinking a mimosa out of my Disney champagne glass".

    See...I wasn't joking!

    upload_2017-4-26_13-9-51.png
    YES...I was trying to throw myself a pity party for not being IN Disney World on Christmas LOL :banghead:. Needless to say....I planted the seed in Ryan's head that very moment! ;)

    Where

    As I mentioned above (and before on these boards), I've been very lucky to have grown up in a family who bought into DVC WAY back in 1992 (or maybe 1993) when Old Key West was the ONLY DVC Resort (and actually used to be name Disney's Vacation Club Resort)

    Needless to say, I spent many many many trips there as this was the only DVC resort for the first few years of the program. This also makes this truly my "home away from home". So we will be spending our trip here.

    upload_2017-4-26_13-13-16.png

    upload_2017-4-26_13-13-26.png

    Not only this is "home" for me, but it is a beautiful resort. It is HUGE so it can be difficult to navigate, but we have decided to rent a car this trip, so no worries on that front!

    For the Universal part of our trip, we will be staying at Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

    upload_2017-4-26_13-17-10.png

    upload_2017-4-26_13-17-16.png

    I've never stayed here before (truth be told, I've never stayed on Universal property - if we've gone it's been a day trip during our Disney holiday), but I've heard great things about it so I am excited!

     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  2. Courtney6682

    Courtney6682 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome!!! I hope to be there that same week!
     
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  3. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Amazing! If you are I hope our paths cross!
     
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  4. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Car Rental

    We decided for this trip to rent a car. We sometimes do and sometimes don't, we usually base our decision on price of the rental, what our trip budget is, how long we are on holiday and if we are expecting to do anything off property.

    We decided to rent a car for this trip for the following reasons;
    - we plan on getting out to the outlet malls (without a car we would need a taxi or Uber)
    - Since we has decent length stay we would like to get pick up groceries/snacks for our room (without a car we would need a taxi or Uber OR get room delivery, but we like seeing American groceries LOL, K we're weird!)
    - we are visiting Universal Studios

    To be honest, when the price is reasonable we prefer having a car and driving to parks (other than MK) since it's free for us to park as onsite guests. So we took a look and found something we thought was quite reasonable (especially considering the timing of our holiday).

    We found a mid-size car (Hyundai Elantra or similar) with Budget for 10 days with unlimited mileage totaling $226.17. We found the least expensive price was through booking the car rental through Southwest.com AND we get rapid reward points for future travel. This reservation is 100% refundable, so I keep checking sites every few days and if I come across something less expensive OR we change our mind I will cancel.

    Flights

    We typically fly out of Buffalo - it is only an hour drive from home and prices are drastically more affordable. We tend to fly with either Jetblue or Southwest. Flights are listed for Jetblue, but they are expensive so I am waiting to see what Southwest offers. Southwest hasn't posted their flights for December yet, so we haven't yet booked our flight out there (which is making me a bit anxious as I'm a BIG planner).

    I've called Southwest and asked when they would be releasing their flights past November 2nd and they've advised me they will be announced/released on May 12th, so I've got that in my calendar!

    Now we had a $600 travel coupon from a previous trip on West Jet that was set to expire at the end of this year (meaning flight had to be booked by the end of the year, but the travel data doesn't need to fall before the end of the year/expiry date). I've booked our return flight on January 4th though West Jet back to Toronto - IMHO the worst part about flying out of Buffalo is having to drive home after your return, by then I'm already sad I've left the world behind and I just want to get home.

    This means that we will have someone drive us to the Buffalo airport (no car left there) and have someone pick us up from the Toronto airport. Easy peasy!
     
  5. PacNWTigger

    PacNWTigger Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like your plans are coming together nicely! I'm looking forward to hearing more as your trip takes shape.
     
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  6. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Hello fellow Canadian (and fellow Ontarian as well)

    You are in for an amazingly festive and busy (park wise) trip
    The Max family has done WDW Christmas 3 times now and it is Cra Cra !!

    We found early morning starts with afternoon resort rest and then late afternoon/evening FP+ worked the best for us.
    Unlike normal time it is unlikely to get a good extra FP(ie number 4 or 5) during the Christmas period you are travelling in
    I have zero experience with NYE but I am sure others will chime in with advice

    Will be following along the PTR and of course reading the TR

    Max
     
  7. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Slowly but surely they are! It's been a bit of a challenge trying to plan two Disney trips at the same time that are occurring only 3 months apart of one another - the biggest challenge being how much time is required for planning a trip to WDW (by someone who is beyond organized and creates charts and checklists and everything you can think of!) and trying to plan a Euro trip with a stop in at DLP where you've never been before all at the same time.

    But I'm up for the challenge!
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
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  8. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Howdy neighbor!

    I am VERY excited! I know to expect busy and crowded parks, but that's okay. We know we will be back again if we don't get to everything we want during this trip; it was more important to me to be there during the actual Christmas holiday than getting everything on my "bucket list" checked off!

    Honestly, early park mornings with an afternoon resort rest/swim and back to the parks or some type of event in the evening/night is my favorite way to see WDW so I am quite pleased that you think this is the best touring style for this time of year!

    We plan to go to MK on December 30th to see the NYE fireworks (thinking of maybe doing a dessert party if we can so we aren't quite as jam packed seeing the fireworks) and then EPCOT on December 31st for their NYE fireworks and drinks around the world at a slow pace...but I will get to those details in a little while as I breakdown my plans and get everyones thoughts and suggestions. Either way, it's gonna be cra cra!
     
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  9. 21stamps

    21stamps Well-Known Member

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    I can't wait to read about it!!! Looking forward to all of your plans!

    What a perfect way to ring in the New Year!!
     
  10. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Just a wee bit of a countdown...

    243 days until our WDW trip
    63 days until we can book ADR's
    183 days until we can book Fastpass+ reservations


    SO far, but it'll come quickly - I hope!
     
  11. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I thought so too! Drinks around the world is splendid any day of the year....even more so when ringing in a new year! Thanks for following along!
     
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  12. Logan

    Logan New Member

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    I will say this...Drinks around the world on NYE wont be as easy as it sounds. I'm sure it's going to be a great trip, but my wife and I (pre kids) went to Disney for NYE once and vowed never to do it again....take the largest crowds you've seen and multiply it by 3 or 4...it's that packed. You obviously are a saavy Disney veteran, so I'm sure you'll be fine.

    But what do I know...a packed day in Disney is better than most days anywhere else!

    Looking forward to reading more about your upcoming trips. We are actually in the pre stages of booking our Dec 8-15 trip for this year!
     
  13. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Yah, I know it's going to be crowded and I'm sad about that - like really, why are all of these people always flocking to MY Disney World LOL, so I know it's going to be more frustrating that I am making it seem. Our motto for this trip is "go with the flow" and even though I am a planning maniac, we plan to just get done what we can and not stress about what we don't get too (as I mentioned before, we will be back so it's not a big deal!).

    In regards to drinks around the world on NYE, it's going to be PACKED and it's going to be a nightmare to get around and in lines for crowds and such. That's just the nature of the beast. We're planning on just taking our time, having a few drinks and exploring the countries to the best of our abilities. We will make it! As you said....being in Disney when it's packed is still going to be better than not being in Disney and being home in the cold and snow LOL !


    Oh that's so exciting! What a great time to go - you still get to ensure the Christmas decorations and can go to MVMCP if you would like without the crazy crowds!
     
  14. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Okay guys...back with some more updates.

    Firstly, our updated countdown
    209 days until our WDW trip
    29 days until we can book ADR's
    149 days until we can book Fastpass+ reservations


    Tickets
    We took advantage of the CDN Resident discount park tickets before the offer expired and purchased 2 X 5 day park hopper tickets at a great price. The total price was $878 CDN which is a pretty reasonable price considering we don't often receive discount offers unless they are combined with a package/room deal (which we never take advantage of as we have DVC). I think they were advertising that this was a 35% discount from the non-discounted price, so I'll take it!

    In addition, I purchased the memory maker as I made a resolution this year to take more photos and be IN more photos - both in terms of trips and everyday life. I figured purchasing this in advance saves a bit of money ($20 USD discount for advance purchase) and lessens the blow of the total cost of the trip when it's spread out over a few months!

    Flights
    So Southwest did release their flights into the Christmas season and they were ridiculous! The least expensive ones I found were $504 USD per person one way o_O...I guess that's what happens when you want to fly at peak season :facepalm:

    I am all willing to drive the hour to Buffalo and fly from there when the price is right, but at that price (remember we would have to convert that into Canadian dollars) it just isn't worth it. In addition, their flight times for direct flights were not the greatest offering either - either we would get there ridiculously early (arriving at 8 am) or later in the day than I would like (arriving at 6:30 pm).

    So we went back to the drawing board and starting looking at flying out of the Toronto area. We ended up finding a flight that worked better for us in terms of timing, will be flying out of Person International (local and much easier to ask someone to drop us off at) and it ends up being less than flying out of Buffalo. The only catch....it is not direct :facepalm:. Since the flight to Orlando is only 2.50 hours (direct) I hate flying there with a stop over - I don't mind stop overs on long distance flights. The layover is only 1 hour though, so we figured we are saving the 1 hour driving to Buffalo and off setting it with this 1 hour lay over - and still saving money, so we went ahead and did it.

    We are flying out of Person at 6:10 am to Washington arriving at 7:45 am and then Washington 8:50 am to Orlando arriving at 11:00 am. We found the best price on Travelocity flying with United (a bit worried, but praying everything will be okay!) for a total of $749.08 USD (just under $1,010 cdn). More than I would have liked to have spent, but we are flying at the busiest time of the year AND remember we had a credit to use on West Jet for our flight home so this is our total flight cost -not too shabby when you picture it like this.

    Anyone flown United lately? Should I be worried - I am praying that I shouldn't be LOL.

    Universal Studios
    We've put down a deposit for the Universal part of our trip which includes a 2 night stay at Cabana Bay and 2 X 2 day - 2 park tickets. It is rather expensive at just over $1,000 USD for this package, but I liked that we could put down a deposit and pay a bit here and there up until November 2017 when the total bill must be paid, so we went with the Universal package.

    Rough Plans
    I always wait to really jot down any "substantial" plans until Disney releases their park hours for the period of time I am going - this always is SO close to our ADR date, as I try to make the most out of evening extra magic hours (I love being in the parks at night, especially Magic Kingdom).
    -
    Our ADR opening date is June 29th, so it's quickly approaching so I've started to note our rough plans. We are trying to include some of our favorites, but also try some new things! Here's the rough agenda thus far...
    Tuesday December 26
    - shake off the Christmas Day hangover (joking....not jokingo_O - my family is Irish and Ryan's is Italian)
    4:00 am- have someone drop us off at Toronto Pearson International
    6:10 am - Flight Toronto to Washington
    8:50 am - Flight Washington to Orlando
    11:00 am - Pick up rental from Budget in Terminal
    12:00 pm - Check into Old Key West (room most likely not ready yet)
    - head to Disney Springs for lunch
    (our usual go to is Earl of Sandwhich on the first day, but willing to try something new...We'd like it to be a quick service type meal...maybe Delux Burger or Blaze we were thinking...suggestions?)
    - head over to the Outlets on Vineland (this is tradition for our first day)
    - head over to Publix or Wal Mart (this is our tradition for our first day)
    - dinner at Ohana's (this is our tradition for our first day)

    Wednesday December 27
    - Magic Kingdom in the AM
    - BOG for Lunch
    - Hollywood Studios in the PM
    - Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for Dinner
    (we usually split something here, but like the atmosphere, it's fun!...but willing to change if you have other suggestions in this price range!)
    - Fireworks & Fantasmic (waiting on the timing to see if this is possible!)

    Thursday December 28
    - EPCOT in the AM
    - Garden Grill for Breakfast
    (this is new to us, we've never eaten here before)
    - Animal Kingdom in the PM
    - ROL Dining Package w Tiffins Dinner
    (again, all new to us!)

    Friday December 29
    - Rest Day!
    - Pool / Resort Hopping / Disney Springs....basically whatever floats our boat at this time
    - Chef Arts Smith Homecomin' for Dinner
    (new to us, but looks fantastic!)
    - Mini Golf (I have an obsession with mini-golf so I def. want to do it at least once on Disney property)
    OR
    - Yehaa Bob Jackson Wacky Piano Show
    (there is an 8:30 and 10:30 show - we've never done this before, but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun even though I don't hear much about it, thoughts on this???)

    Saturday December 30
    - Park in the AM, not sure which one yet
    - Magic Kingdom in the afternoon/PM
    - Firework Dessert Party to see the NYE fireworks
    (never done one before and thought it would be very crowded so this would be a good option)

    Sunday December 31
    - EPCOT
    - Late lunch at Via Napoli (we really like this place!)
    - Drinks & Snacks around the world
    - NYE Fireworks

    Monday January 1
    - Rest Day!
    - Afternoon Tea at the Grand Floridian
    (I love afternoon Tea here at the Royal Fairmont and thought this would be great to do on one of our non-park days...never done it before though, thoughts?) I'd like to book it a bit earlier in the day depending on availability
    - Pool / Resort Hopping / Disney Springs....etc.
    - Yatchsman Steakhouse for Dinner
    (never been, looks and sounds amazing though!, plus Ryan loves a good steak)
    - Walk / Explore the Boardwalk OR go Mini Golfing if we haven't yet
    - Beaches n Cream for late night Dessert (I'd try to book a late reservation to ensure we have room after dinner!)

    For those who have been paying attention...you will notice that we only have 4 park days scheduled, but bought 5 day park hopper passes. We are leaving the extra day available to head a park on one of our "arrival/rest/departure" days if we so wish to do so. The price difference between a 4 and 5 day tickets was so little we were only taking the "risk" and possibly not using it.

    Tuesday January 2
    - Check out of Old Key West and say goodbye to Disney :(:cry:
    - Check in to Cabana Bay at Universal Studios (room probably won't be ready)
    - Head over to Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure for the day
    - Have lunch at Restaurant Blvd.
    (we are Simpsons fans (not the new episodes:rolleyes:o_O) and haven't had a chance to check it out yet)
    - Toothsome Chocolate Emporium for Dinner (new to us and I really want to eat here, which is why I plan on trying here our first night as I would have a second night IF we couldn't get in to try again LOL)
    - Mini golf at Citywalk (yes, more mini-golfing!)

    Wednesday January 3
    - Head over to Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure
    - Quick service lunch in Citywalk
    (suggestions very much welcomed!...it's a close walk to the parks and we all know Universal quick service food is quite sub par)
    - Dinner at Cowfish
    - Mini golf at Citywalk (IF we don't get it to before this)

    Thursday January 4
    4:00 am - Wake up & check out of Cabana Bay
    5:00 am - Drop off rental car
    7:00 am - Flight from Orlando to Toronto
    9:45 am - Home to Toronto and ask someone to pick us up



    Well folks...there you have it! Our updated plans and rough daily plans. Please do feel free to make suggestions and offer tips - especially on restaurants or events we are looking to book, but haven't before!


    Thanks for following along. I'll check back in again soon.
     
  15. Matty30

    Matty30 Well-Known Member

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    Your plans look great. We try to avoid United, we did fly with them last August and had no problems. But generally we have bad luck with them. We have been looking at flights for our trip in December and the prices are all above 750$ right now flying from Edmonton.
     
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  16. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Yikes! I am "hopeful" that since we have the first flight of the day we won't run into any issues. I was trying to avoid United (just with the bad press recently), but they were drastically less expensive than other airlines and they offered a good arrival time for us. I am assuming they were "less expensive" because they have recently taken a bit of a hit with the bad press. Here's hoping LOL.

    What kind of "bad luck" have you experienced?

    December is an expensive time to fly....also one of my favorite times to visit Disney so I guess I just can't win haha. Hopefully you guys find some reasonable flights soon!
     
  17. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    Christmas time flights to Florida from up here do jump.
    United is getting bad press but remember that it was a few flight issues compared to the hundreds they run everyday.

    It is going be a great Disney year for you two!!!

    Max
     
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  18. mlegerto

    mlegerto Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    That's what I'm trying to keep in mind. I hope we get by without any issues, but if there are issues we will just have to figure them out. Not much more I can do, there's always a chance no matter how prepared you are or who you travel with.

    Just because I'm curious (I can never let things be LOL) I've been checking flights lately and the flight we are actually booked on have DOUBLED in price since we booked o_O...glad we booked when we did. Yikes!
     
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  19. DisneyBound2017

    DisneyBound2017 Well-Known Member

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    We'll be there at the same time!! Our original plan was for December 26 arrival but we ran into the same issue with Southwest flights. We ended up moving our trip up by two days and the tickets became $1,300 cheaper. So now our first park day is Christmas and our plans only overlap the morning of the 27th.

    Looking forward to your report!!
     
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  20. Matty30

    Matty30 Well-Known Member

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    One time it was maintenance issues and we ended losing 2 days of our holiday. This past November our flight was cancelled due to weather which was not their fault but they were horrible to deal with. We a direct 3 hour flight to Denver and they tried rebooking us on a 18 hour flight with 4 stops. We ended up just cancelling the whole trip. With that being said anything can happen with any airline. And honestly right now united offers the best times for us right now. So we may have to book with them too.
     

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