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Pre-Trip Eenie...Meenie...Miney...Dough: Booking (and re-booking...and re-booking) our April 2021 Trip

AKA The NeverEnding 'Reservation'

Hi! My name’s Tom. Welcome to my first-ever (Pre) Trip Report…

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To start off, I’d like to thank a few forum members: @Tuvalu , @Darstarr, @fractal , @DisneyGigi , @MickeyCB , @riverside and everyone else who has taken the time to post a trip report (or 2…or 3…). I’ve really enjoyed reading through your very informative (and entertaining!) reports, and was inspired to try my hand at one myself.

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tommcp516

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Original Poster
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Now on to proper introductions. Our family lives in the suburbs of Seattle, and on this trip it will be

myself (Tom):
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DW (Melissa):
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and our youngest son, Adam (13):

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Here we are from our trip to Disneyland in 2016:
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Here’s Adam & I on the final drop at Splash Mountain. I think one (inner) child was definitely enjoying the experience more than the other…
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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Just to get some of the preliminaries out of the way—when I created my profile for these forums I had to choose a member name so I went with tommcp516:

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Which is a mashup of my nickname from college and my birthday, and in my head it was supposed to sound like “Tom Mick P___Five Sixteen”...but feel free to pronounce it however you like.

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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
The genesis for this trip began last October, and our reservations took a very circuitous journey along the way before the final confirmation was made. So if you’re interested, pull up a chair, sit back and listen for a spell while I tell you the tale of how a five-night moderate booking morphed over time into an eight-day split/stay at two deluxe resorts...

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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
2020 had been a quite a year for our family:

In January Adam was still recovering from a really bad flu that required multiple trips to the Urgent Care and an extended time out of school.

And then later in January Melissa was in a car accident and has needed ongoing treatment up to the present.

Then in February Adam had to have an emergency appendectomy.

Then Covid hit. And the cherry on top of the sundae happened in May when Adam broke his toe on the furniture and had to wear a cast and a boot for most of the summer so the growth plate in his foot could heal without the need for surgery.

Finally, due to Covid, we had to cancel a trip in August for our annual family reunion to the East Coast (where I’m originally from).

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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
So in the fall of 2020 after Adam got the all-clear from his doctor for his broken foot and Melissa began seeing some improvement with her injuries from the car accident, I started to think a family vacation might be in order to end the year on a positive note. Hawaii has always been on our bucket list, so I started to look at various resorts among the five islands that were available over Adam’s winter break.

I kept coming back to Aulani, but when I dug deeper into their current restrictions I saw that a lot of the resort amenities were not being offered (understandably) due to Covid.

But that planted a little spark in my mind to make this a Disney trip.

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Now that I’ve put that earworm in your head, on with the story…
 
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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
DL in Anaheim was out with California still in heavy lock down, so I began looking at Disney Cruises. I had been fortunate in the early 2000’s to win a Disney Cruise at work and it was amazing. But even though (at that time) they were showing available dates to book a cruise in December 2020, there were lots of warnings all over the website that reservations were not guaranteed.

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tommcp516

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Original Poster
Disney's current 35% sale was very enticing, but there weren’t many available/affordable flights between Seattle and Orlando to make a December trip work for us.

So I confirmed the dates for Adam’s spring break (the week of April 5th), which it turned out fell on the exact same week when we had taken our trip to Disneyland four years ago. I began a search on MDE for all of the moderate resorts that were open to book for that week, and then did an extensive deep dive across a number of Disney boards into the pros & cons of the different resorts/room types that were available.


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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We wound up choosing the Caribbean Beach Resort, and I then made back-to-back calls to American Airlines and Disney to book a five-night stay with park hopper passes from April 3 to April 8.

I felt really good having the big decision about where and when we were staying settled, but I still had some work to do figuring out the new daily Park Reservation system that was now in place. I started to do some research into historic crowd calendars for early April to see which might be the best days to reserve at each park for that time of year.

In forum after forum, I began to come across the same warning: Christmas-week and Easter-week were the two absolute busiest times of the year when crowd levels were at their all-time peak, and I started to get a tiny nagging in the back of my mind like I may have overlooked something…

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tommcp516

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Admittedly, I’m pretty bad with dates (I’ve been alive 54 years but every time someone mentions Memorial Day or Labor Day I still have to stop and pause to try to remember which one comes at the beginning of summer and which one comes at the end …), but I swear, in my mind, Easter always seemed to fall towards the third or fourth week of April.

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