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Pre-Trip Not our typical Disney trip (and a bonus very typical Disney trip!)

Discussion in 'WDW Trip Reports' started by bee, Mar 24, 2017.

  1. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The Disneyland portion of the trip is PAID OFF!

    [​IMG]

    I leave tomorrow morning for my opera gig. I'll be gone for three weeks and then have THREE DAYS to unpack, do laundry, repack, etc. (I thought it was four before but I confused the date of the final performance with the departure day). Since I'll be in rehearsals from about 11:00am to 10:00pm most days (with breaks, of course) the time will fly by.

    26 days to California and 32 days to Disneyland!!! :D :D :D
     
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  2. mcstensrud

    mcstensrud Well-Known Member

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    Would love to hear about your non Disney adventures. DH and I went to DL in 2013 and only ventured off property twice! Once to Laguna Beach the other to Outback ! Lol.
    Stayed at the GC Villas.
    Any Questions just ask! Have Fun!
     
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  3. ScarletBegonias

    ScarletBegonias Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait to hear about everything! It's getting close now!
     
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  4. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Non-California-related post!

    I'm having a great time on this gig and learning so much! I am covering (opera term for understudying) and my teacher was afraid I would be (as she puts it), "sitting on my butt watching someone else who's not as good as I am sing." Fortunately that's not the case as I've gotten to sing a bit in rehearsal and shadow the main cast during staging rehearsals. And the soprano I'm covering is AMAZING. Next week the covers get private coachings and the following week we get one show to ourselves.

    Most of the singers are living in a historic house turned into a college dorm. The outside is beautiful and either original or a convincing restoration. The inside has been fully converted into a modern dorm (we are staying on a college campus close to the theater). The house is right on a lake and my room faces the lake so every morning I wake up to the sun sparkling on the water. Here's the view from the patio behind the house:

    IMG_3376.JPG

    Rather than make a new PTR, I will just post here that...we're going back to WDW!!! We were planning to go at the end of September but due to a flight time change we didn't like we moved our trip to Labor Day weekend. Which is also the first weekend of Food and Wine! Which is going to be nuts! But we're ready!

    This works out better anyway because we get an extra day (M was taking off a Friday and a Monday, but now she's taking off a Thursday and a Friday and Monday is off anyway), plus my school won't have started yet so I won't have to take Monday off (unfortunately I'm considered an independent contractor and don't get any PTO, sick days, etc.) and my church job won't have started so I won't have to get a sub (again no PTO for me!). It will be our last hurrah before our respective semesters start! More details when I have time...and I'll make a full TR after the fact of course.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  5. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    All right, I have some down time this evening so here are some WDW details!

    WHO: M and me
    WHAT: Our triumphant return to WDW Passholder-ship after a 15-month absence from the parks!
    WHEN: August 31-September 4
    WHERE: Caribbean Beach (1 night) AND the Dolphin (3 nights)
    WHY: Because we want to! (More on why this specific time later..)
    HOW: Southwest, DME, Lyft, etc.

    Why summer? Why a holiday weekend? Why the opening of Food and Wine? Why so soon after you get back from DisneyLAND? I present the evolution of this trip:

    The original plan was to celebrate Epcot's 35th birthday (October 1, 2017) with a quick trip over that weekend (Friday-Monday). We've been planning that trip since at least February-that's when I made a reservation at Pop, anyhow.

    But you all know how vacations tend to get longer and/or upgraded. When the Caribbean Beach construction announcement-and, more importantly, the $75/night gift card announcement-was made, we looked into changing resorts. We've never stayed at CBR but we've stayed at CSR and POFQ, and I have stayed at POR, so this would have completed our/my moderate resort education. The nightly rate minus $75 was just north of our original rate at Pop. We've heard/read plenty of CBR hate on these boards and elsewhere, but we figured it was such a short stay that if we hated it we would only be hating it for three nights.

    We booked direct flights the day Southwest released our dates. We paid for the flight to Florida entirely with points (yay!) and the flight back half with points and half with dollars (also yay!). ADR time came around and we reserved a few things but kept the schedule mostly open so we could enjoy the Food and Wine booths. The plan was to buy our APs later this month so we could make FPs on July 31 at the 60 day mark.

    It was a perfect plan.

    (To be continued...)
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
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  6. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Yesterday I was checking my spam folder. I check it at least once a day just in case something important gets routed there, so I am only looking at a page or so of spam and not hundreds of email subject lines at once. Usually it's the typical dating sites, Nigerian princes, anatomical enlargement ads, etc.

    But an email allegedly from Southwest Airlines caught my eye.

    The email stated that our departure flight from Newark to Orlando had been rescheduled, from 6:00am to 1:00pm.

    "Certainly that's incorrect! Certainly this is a phishing scam and that's why Gmail routed it to my spam folder!" I thought to myself. So I logged into my SWA account and sure enough, the new time was on my reservation. A seven-hour delay on a weekend-long trip is unacceptable! So I called M (remember, we are almost 300 miles apart right now) and we discussed our options. We agreed that I would call Southwest to express my frustration with the change and ask to be changed to an earlier option without an additional charge.

    I spoke to a lovely customer service agent who was as puzzled by the change as we were disappointed. She apologized and told me that, unfortunately, there were no earlier nonstop flights that day, and the flights with connections all landed in the afternoon. I requested a full refund of my points and the $5.60/flight September 11 fee and she happily granted my request. Within a few minutes the points were back in my account and I'm sure the $11.20 will be refunded to my credit card within a few days.

    The question then was: Now what? We still had a return flight and a hotel reservation. I called M again with one hand holding the phone and one clicked around Kayak for flights on other airlines. Obviously we couldn't transfer our SWA points to another airline and would have to pay for a new reservation. Despite this little situation with Southwest, I am still very much a Southwest fan for the booking flexibility and low-stress boarding process. In my field I sometimes get very last minute work and on multiple occasions have had to change my flight to accommodate a gig. When other airlines would have charged me $200 or more to rebook, Southwest allows me to reschedule and only pay the difference in fare, if any. I also appreciate the boarding process for Southwest. Other airlines' boarding processes make me very anxious. For these reasons I avoid flying on any other airline unless there is absolutely no option on SWA.

    (They really should have paid me for the preceding paragraph. I swear they didn't.)

    I asked M about going another weekend when better flights were available. We considered our wedding anniversary weekend (late October) and Veteran's Day weekend, but both seemed too difficult given their respective placements during the semester. Then I said, "What about Labor Day weekend?" We could take an extra day (Thursday-Monday instead of Friday-Monday), still enjoy F&W, avoid missed work days for me (no PTO for a freelancer!), and most importantly, GET BACK TO DISNEY WORLD SOONER!

    You already know how the story ends if you read the who, what, when, and where above. I rebooked all the flights we needed. I called Disney to change the CBR reservation to our new dates, but very few rooms were available and the nightly rate was significantly more than what we wanted. As I was on the phone with the Disney CM, I was on my computer researching Swan and Dolphin rates. The Dolphin was available at a great-refundable!-rate for September 1-4, so I asked about changing the CBR reservation to just August 31-September 1. The rate was much lower than what we had had before; the new rate minus $75 is less than $100, even with tax!

    The last step was to buy our APs online a bit earlier than we'd originally planned. We'd been saving for them so it made no difference financially. Now we have FPs for Frozen, Soarin', Rivers of Light, and Navi River Journey! No FOP for now but we'll check again at the 30 day mark in case any are released.

    I canceled all the old ADRs, which had included the Highway in the Sky dining event our original first night. I checked for availability for the new dates, expecting to find nothing. But it was available for our new first night! I'm not 100% sure we'll keep this one as it's pricey and it may be blasphemy for our first viewing of HEA to be from outside MK (right, @Tuvalu?). I'm also going to call next week to try and book the Parisian Breakfast for the Saturday morning of our trip. If I get this one I may keep it a surprise from M like I did two years ago (TR here).

    If you made it this far, thanks for reading! If you scrolled down for a TL;DR that's okay too! So that's how we ended up moving up our trip to a holiday weekend that also coincides with the opening weekend of Food and Wine. May the Force be with us as we embark on this crazy journey!
     
  7. MinnieM123

    MinnieM123 Well-Known Member

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    Well, it sounds like you've managed to salvage your trip with only a few days difference, and a room discount as well--good for you!

    Since you'll be over at the Dolphin this time, check out Mandara Spa--really lovely in there. There's also a discount for hotel guests, if you reference that when making an appt. (I know the discount was also in the Swan's check-in brochure, back in May.) And hopefully, the new Dolphin lobby might be finished when you arrive, too. :)
     
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  8. Tuvalu

    Tuvalu Premium Member

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    Very exciting plans!!
     
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  9. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Thanks, @MinnieM123! I too hope the lobby is finished. Thanks for reminding me about Mandara! I'll have to go check it out, even if I don't have time to book any services, just to see the facilities (although I'd sure love to book a massage!). I'm hoping to visit some of the restaurants, as well. I'll definitely need a scoop of coffee caramel ice cream from the Fountain if they still have that flavor.

    I'm so excited! I'd call this making lemonade from life's lemons!
     
  10. amjt660

    amjt660 Well-Known Member

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    It is like this has now become two, two trips in one report.

    Wait

    That sounds really familiar :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

    (@Tuvalu )

    Max
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  11. ScarletBegonias

    ScarletBegonias Well-Known Member

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    Yay~ another trip!!
     
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  12. Trisha Lynn

    Trisha Lynn Well-Known Member

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    I totally agree with this, as I read your PTR while continuing to convalesce from my feet problems.

    The best description I ever got of Cars 3 was "What happens when a Latina woman decides to take on toxic Silicon Valley bro culture?" I think you might like it and when it comes to Netflix, I'm gonna catch it, too.

    Yes, because I'm originally from Southern California and on the days when it's hot and humid up here, I miss Californian weather. I hope you have a great trip and in bocca al lupo for your performances!
     
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  13. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I booked the Parisian Breakfast for the WDW trip this morning!! I was on the phone with Disney for 44 minutes but it was worth it!! M said our new plans are even better than our old plans and I have to agree. We're both kind of feeling "meh" about the Highway in the Sky reservation so I may cancel that. We're keeping it for now in case we realize later we're actually super excited about it.

    @Tuvalu is my hero and of course I aspire to be just like her. :D

    Yay! So excited!

    I'll at least watch Cars 3 on Netflix if not in the cinema. I will certainly report on the entire California trip. And thank you!! :D Thursday morning ( :eek:) singing at 10am ( :eek:) is an outreach show for a local summer school. Saturday evening is a gala for our patrons. I'll be singing on both. Our cover performance is next Wednesday ( :eek::eek::eek:) and the full show opens Thursday!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  14. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    Advice for anyone staying at the Swolphin: book the best refundable rate and then periodically check for better rates. I think the hotels must hold a lot of rooms for conferences and then release them later when the held rooms aren't all booked. On multiple occasions I've booked and rechecked and gotten something better, OR there was originally no availability for my dates and later I was able to book a room.

    I originally booked 2 double beds for 181/night, and today I rechecked and was able to get a king room for 178/night! Obviously the price difference is small but we'd much prefer a king room to a room with two doubles. Woohoo!

    16 days to California, 22 days to Disneyland, and 43 days to WDW!!! :D :D :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  15. DisneyShe

    DisneyShe Well-Known Member

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    You guys get there when we do.i know we will cross paths at some point. If you see us, say hello!
     
  16. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    I certainly will! And I'll know your distinct bunch if I see you! If you see a short-haired blonde and a long-haired brunette drinking around the world it's probably us!
     
  17. fractal

    fractal Premium Member

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    Really excited to hear more about your Opera trip and DL. Also excited for you going to WDW! Good advise on Dolphin/Swan. One of these days I'll be staying there.
     
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  18. MinnieM123

    MinnieM123 Well-Known Member

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    Years ago I worked in the hotel industry. It's very common for groups to hold large blocks of rooms. They have a "release date" they've agreed upon with the host hotel. If their convention group doesn't need the full block, the hotel will release the (remaining) rooms to the public.

    I've often received a great rate if I waited it out--a few weeks prior to when I wanted to stay at Swolfin. At that point, management wants to push those rooms--nothing worse for a hotelier than to have vacant rooms. So they cut the prices and it's a "win" for the last-minute traveler. Having stated the above, it's still a gamble--because sometimes the group WILL need all the rooms.
     
  19. bee

    bee Well-Known Member Original Poster

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    The covers sang an outreach concert this morning for school children. They loved it, except that I saw a kid in he back cower and cover his ears when I sang a high note! :hilarious: :hilarious: :hilarious:
     
  20. dizfan917

    dizfan917 Well-Known Member

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    I think that means you're good at your job! I'm directing the Hunchback of Notre Dame at a local community theatre in October. I'm hoping to find lots of peeps just like you for that gig! :0)
     

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