The BIGGEST most BESTEST most AMAZINGEST trip EVER (and how we got there): 11/2020 PTR (u/d 5/18)

thingwithwings

Hello there!
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Hello, friend, and welcome to my PTR. You’ve presumably come here because you saw that title and thought, “Golly, how could anything possibly live up to that sort of title hype?”


And my answer is: I don’t know! But I sure as shootin’ hope I can figure it out!

This trip gets such a hyped up title because it’s got a LOT of planning going into it. I mean a LOT. Almost two years’ worth of planning. We’re not going to be in Disney World until late 2020, which begs your next question, dear reader: “Why in the diddly darn heck are you planning your trip so early out? Room rates and ticket prices for 2020 won’t even be released until June!”

And my answer is: because we WANT this to be the BIGGEST most BESTEST most AMAZINGEST trip EVER!

*

THE CAST
Who are we? We’re a pretty large group, comparatively speaking, and a group that’s going to go through quite a few changes before we pass through those magical gates. Our cast of characters includes…


MY DAD (referred to here as BUPPA), a software engineer for almost the last 40 years, the ultimate signer-offer on the big expenditures for this trip, like hotels and yes/no dining plan and addons and the like. His goals and dreams for the trip include dining on fare from the Pacific Northwest, experiencing all sorts of new ride and entertainment tech (but nothing too exciting, since he’s got a stent), and living it up!



MY MOM (referred to here as MUNGA), a bookkeeper for the last 20 years and my co-planner, a.k.a., the one who actually sees all the numbers and swipes the cards and such. This trip was actually her idea to begin with (more on that later), and most decisions start with her saying to me, “You know what I’d like to do when we go to Disney this time…?” Her goals and dreams include living it up and spending time with the grandkids!


MY SISTER (referred to here as AUNTIE A). She lives on SSI because of her disability and is extremely excited about Disney World--almost as much as I am! She has a very long list of things she wants to do and see, but her Disneying tends to take the form of checking those items off her list and then doing exactly nothing else the rest of the trip--she’ll probably be the most well-rested of all of us once the trip ends!



MY HUSBAND (referred to here as DH), a senior web UI developer and the one who says, patiently, “yes dear” when I get on a HERE IS WHAT WE WILL DO AT DISNEY WORLD tangent. His dreams and goals for the trip include having a date night with just me (NO KIDS), getting as much Star Wars in as he can, and finding something to compare on a visceral and taste level with the 6 oz. prawn he had at Artist Point on our honeymoon!



MY OLDEST SON (referred to here as OS), who will be 6 when we get down to Disney World. A bouncy and excited youngling, his hobbies include Legos of all kinds, running around just under the speed of light, and making me laugh. He’s been to Disney once before, but we’re hoping he’ll actually remember the trip this time. His Disney favorites include Mickey Mouse, Jack Skellington, and Darth Vader--the latter of whom he’s dying to meet in person this time around, rather than just seeing him from afar.



MY YOUNGER SON (referred to here as YS), who will be almost three when we get down to Disney World. He and his twin sister are turning a year old in a couple of weeks (ha haaaaaa she laughs because she’s done NOTHING to prep for their party), and he’s an absolute charmer… though DH and I agree that we’ll probably need to get a kiddy leash for him because he’s a runner. If he wants something, he’ll go after it, no matter what stands in his way… and then give you the cutest little smile when you try to give him grief for it.



MY DAUGHTER (referred to here as DD), who will be almost three when we get down to Disney World. She’s our family’s little princess, by merit of (a) being the youngest, (b) being the only girl, and (c) having the kind of personality that 100% lends itself to being utterly treated like royalty. DD is a communicator, with a decent vocabulary already (Mama, Dada, Baba for brother, clicking noises to request a bottle, P for up, and LOTS of gesticulating) and the cutest little nose wrinkling giggle you ever did see.



And finally, ME (referred to here as me), the brains behind the operation, a stay-at-home mom with a wild passion for Disney World and all things Disney related (especially now that they’ve absorbed my other true love, Star Wars, like the media amoeba they are). I like planning things, I like making lists, I like Disney trips because they let me do all of that towards an actual goal. I have about 90 spreadsheets for this particular trip, calendar reminders set up, questions for everyone involved, maps, the works. My Disney favorites? Donald Duck (he gets me), evil queens of all sorts (Maleficent, Grimhilde, Ursula, my babes), princesses of all sorts (with a particular fondness for Rapunzel and Ariel), and Princess Leia.

Now that you know who we are, stay tuned for the answer to your probable next question: “Okay, but why the hootin’ tootin’ scoot are you doing this with so many people?”
 
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  • thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    THE BACKSTORY
    Previously on TBMBMATE(ahwgt): who we are!

    This time: the backstory! Flashback episode! (fellow Lost fans, save your Jears, it won’t be that bad)

    Family vacations have always been a HUGE deal in my family. I’m talking year-long planning and anticipation, I’m talking frequent family meetings about it, I’m talking countless photo album pages dedicated to trips hither, thither, and yon. And it’s always been great! For most of my teenage years, we’d drive up to Maine to spend a week or so in a cabin around Lake Sebago, but every now and then, we’d break up the routine a little bit with a trip to Disney World or California (and Disneyland)... those were, hands down, the best years.

    So I’m a bit of a Disney veteran in that sense, but I typically don’t start diving into trip planning so far ahead, largely because it’s a daunting prospect and less largely because DH and my lives have been in a weird state of flux since about 2011. We’ve dealt with job loss, cross country moves, home buying, infertility, and the eventual birth of three children, all of which has turned out pretty awesome but which also have alternatingly made it difficult to plan anything more than 6 months in advance.

    Our last trip to Disney came about after 2016 was absolutely terrible for everyone involved (what more can you say about the year Carrie Fisher died?). On a personal level, we’d spent the year coping with four separate miscarriages after three cycles of IVF, and that coupled with the loss of my beloved grandmother the year before (and the inheritance she gave me) added up to me needing a little bit of magic so I wouldn’t lose my mind--magic that I planned about seven months out.

    We invited my parents to join us on the trip that time, albeit in a separate room, but because they had that sort of short notice, they weren’t able to swing it. See, my parents have been in the stable phase of their life for a long time, and as a result, they plan things VERY far in advance. Seven months is not enough advance notice for a vacation, at least not for their lives (and to be fair, I think they went to Wales that fall anyway).

    But.

    But they saw the pictures we took, one picture in particular, that made every aspect of the last trip worth it:


    That’s OS meeting Mickey Mouse for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen joy manifest itself so blatantly on someone’s face the way it did then. He doesn’t remember this moment at all, seeing as he was two at the time, but I’ll never forget it, the way he laughed, the way he hugged Mickey so tight. It was like all the magic I’d forgotten since I was a kid came rushing back and I remembered that this, right here, is what it’s all about.

    I loved this picture so much that I couldn’t wait until we got home to upload it, and that’s how my mom saw it nice and early. She texted me that night, saying, “Next time you guys go to Disney, we’re coming, too.”

    I’ve had no complaints about this idea--like I said before, we’d invited them to join us on that trip. I especially had no complaints because we weren’t planning to go back for a while; between Galaxy’s Edge opening in 2019 and the Magic Kingdom’s 50th Anniversary in 2021, I didn’t imagine that things would be uncrowded again until at least 2022, after OS turned 8 and when we’d absolutely be in a place to really do Disney, the way Disney should be done.

    I liked this plan; sure, I’d have preferred to return to Disney much, much sooner, but this plan was solid and gave us time. I especially liked this plan after I found out that an IVF cycle had finally worked and, what’s more, that we were having twins. Twins meant a longer chunk of wildness than I’d had with OS, and it also meant more financial instability (particularly considering they were preemies and needed special formula when they got home from the hospital so that they could have some SICK GAINS).

    Then Christmas came around, and one day, as we were decorating my parents’ house, Munga turned to me and said, with a wistful sigh, “I wish we could go to Disney World sooner.”

    Which is when I remembered the picture. OS may not remember much about that trip, but there was something uniquely magical about him experiencing Disney at that particular age, not any older or younger. Something about the way he looked eating a Mickey Bar for the first time…


    ...something about his shyness meeting Anastasia (who told him that while she could see he wasn’t yet emotionally available--as he buried his face in my shoulder following her sweet kiss--he was financially available, so she was willing to wait)...



    ...something about his blurry toddler understanding of characters, that this wasn’t just Buzz Lightyear’s friend but was, instead, the real Buzz Lightyear.


    I also sighed wistfully. “Me too.”

    And long story short, the trip got bumped up from 2022 to 2020, with me saying to myself, you know what? It’s going to be very crowded and chaotic, but when won’t it be? Let’s live life while we’re alive.

    Next time: our vague and tentative plans, OS’ feelings, and some pterodactyl screeching about Galaxy’s Edge.
     

    Cloe Colton

    Registered
    Joined
    Mar 6, 2018
    Joining in! Sounds like its going to be an amazing trip!

    Its also fun to see how much plans change over time so it will be a great way to document your trip!!

    I also very much am I "Life's too short, take the trip kind of person!"
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    Joining in! Sounds like its going to be an amazing trip!

    Its also fun to see how much plans change over time so it will be a great way to document your trip!!

    I also very much am I "Life's too short, take the trip kind of person!"
    I'm super excited about all of it, and super excited to see the changes, too. I know a LOT will go on between now and then, but everyone is 100% committed to this trip happening in one form or another, and I'm thrilled.
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    UNRELATED UPDATE!

    A brief pause in my Disney planning because I’ve gone an entire week without anything Disney-related, except for my dreams and thoughts.

    My in-laws came to visit for the twins’ birthday.

    My mother-in-law isn’t a big fan of our Disney trip (which she only knows about because DH mentioned it offhandedly in one of their weekly phone calls, so that she wouldn’t be surprised when OS started talking about it). The reasons are numerous and not worth getting into here, but long story short, I’ve had a moratorium on anything Disney planning related since last Saturday, and it’s like being STARVING. I’ve made up for it a little bit with trying to plan a trip down to visit said in-laws for Thanksgiving (she doesn’t approve of that either; again, long story), but it’s not the same.

    But (a) I don’t really care much about her approval and (b) I’m going anyway, so look at all the bothers I don’t give.



    On a happier note, twin birthday pics! Here they are eating cake and doughnuts, because if you can’t go on an insane sugar binge when you turn one, when can you?





    Regular update coming later, after I get a chance to edit it a little bit!
     
  • thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    VAGUE PLANS

    Previously on TBMBMATE(ahwgt): Why we’re doing this! (and the babies turning 1)

    This time: What we want! How OS feels about it! And AAAAAA GALAXY’S EDGE AAAAAAA!!!

    Back when this trip was just a vague concept, Munga and I talked about how we wanted to work the room situation. Our initial thought was that we’d get maybe two adjoining rooms at POR (where DH and I stayed during our honeymoon, and where Munga and Buppa have previously stayed) and meet up for mostly meals and/or various park day things. DH and I then thought about getting a cabin at FW, since it offered a kitchen for our very picky OS (who thinks Cheetos are too spicy), and since DH’s idea of fun vacationing is more on the “camping” side of things than the “this is a very nice hotel” side of things.

    (I am the opposite and frequently tell DH that if he ever wants to take the kids camping, he can have fun with it, and I’ll meet them at the nearest Holiday Inn when they’re done)

    (shown: me "camping")​

    Eventually, Munga and I started hashing out plans more thoroughly and decided that for both financial and babysitting reasons, sharing a DVC villa would work out the best for all of us, specifically a two-bedroom villa, which would give DH, me, and the kids our own private space (ish, or at least two beds and a bathroom) and would allow us to have a nice kitchen. My parents had gotten a DVC villa on our last family trip, back in 2005, and it was a great experience (well. Aside from the villa being at SS, meaning it took sixteen years for us to get anywhere).

    Since we’re traveling with littles this time, we wanted to stay somewhere a little closer to everything, so my parents tasked me with that bit of research, and I gave them options for villas at Magic Kingdom resorts and EPCOT resorts… which was all well and good and informative, until my dad (funder of the trip overall and final yes/no decision-maker) looked at the pictures over my shoulder and said, “You know, I’ve always wanted to stay at the Grand Floridian…”


    So that’s our first choice. Second choice is BLT because we’re really committed to a monorail resort. We’re looking to be there November 28 through December 5, 2020, so I’ve got my alert set to sit down and have a phone call/email adventure with a travel agent this coming June, in terms of getting numbers, and then again this coming July to set everything in stone.

    I’m a little excited.

    Also a little excited is OS. I’ve mentioned before that he doesn’t remember diddly about Disney World, except maybe vague ideas based on the pictures he’s seen from our last trip; but Disney media is the main type we consume from our television, so he’s been inundated with Disney World commercials since he started getting his Saturday Morning Cartoon intake from the Disney Go! Channel on our Roku.


    (the 90s were the absolute best time for Disney commercials, fight me)

    On the tamer side of things, this means he’s been watching a bunch of ride videos when I have control of the Roku remote (a rare occasion) and absolutely loves them. He loves Disney vloggers as well, so a lot of the time, we’ll have those on while he’s playing in the afternoon or while I’m doing stuff with the twins. The other day, we watched a video of Soarin’, and he turned to me afterwards and said, in this awestruck voice, “Mommy? I think magic really IS real!”

    And yes, I did cry.

    On the less tame side of things, he was downstairs in the small hours of the morning the other day with DH (as I say to him often, “Before sunrise, he’s your son”) and watching Disney everything. DH had dozed off on the couch but was suddenly awakened by a cataclysmically loud screech of, “DISNEY WORLD!!!!” followed by the tiniest “sorry” that ever apologized. Apparently, OS had seen a commercial and just couldn’t contain himself.

    I can’t really blame him. The only reason I don’t have that reaction is that 99% of the time I see a Disney World commercial, the twins are napping, and I don’t want to disturb that fragile peace unless I absolutely must.

    And the other day, when there was that HUGE Galaxy’s Edge info dump? Peace disturbance was an absolute must.

    See, DH and I don’t just “like” Star Wars. We don’t just “think it’s neat.” We literally had a Star Wars theme at our wedding in 2011. Han Solo and Princess Leia were our cake toppers. DH and his groomsmen arrived at the ceremony site to the tune of the “Imperial March.” The reception ended with a massive lightsaber battle. Our honeymoon took place on a Star Wars Weekend. All of OS’ monthly baby pictures were alongside a stuffed Yoda. The highlight of OS’ last trip was building his own lightsaber and having a battle with his other auntie after she built her own.




    So there I am, minding my own business, and then suddenly STAR WARS GALAXY’S EDGE INFO DUMP. STAR WARS-ITIZED VERSIONS OF MY FAVORITE FOODS. FANCY AND EXPENSIVE LIGHTSABERS. HOLOCRONS. COSTUMES. AUGMENTED REALITY. BLUE MILK(shake).

    Right after that dump, poor DH had to deal with me texting him in all caps for the rest of the afternoon. He, too, loves everything Star Wars (though he’s more of a Sith than a Jedi), but he’s also in the middle of a big project at work, so I eventually got a response of “I love you, and I’m excited too, but I really need to focus now.”

    Part of me wishes we could scrounge up a cool grand or so and go, just the two of us, right after it opens… but then I remember that we won’t be able to move in those crowds and think that December 2020 will be just right.

    Next time: our favorites and must-dos!
     

    lvcourtneyy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 24, 2012
    Joining in! Sounds like a great trip and happy 1st birthday to your twins!

    Have you looked into renting DVC points for your trip? It could save you a decent amount vs booking through Disney directly!
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    How exciting to have Grand Floridian and BLT on the horizon!

    With both rides not opening at first I feel like its a good call to wait!
    Definitely! And I feel like the crowds will hopefully have had at least a tiny chance to die down... and OS will have a chance to grow a few more inches so that he'll MAYBE be tall enough for both rides. Fingers crossed :x

    Joining in! Sounds like a great trip and happy 1st birthday to your twins!

    Have you looked into renting DVC points for your trip? It could save you a decent amount vs booking through Disney directly!
    Thank you!

    It's something I'll be bringing up to my mom once we're able to start booking everything. As much as my parents are all "SPARE NO EXPENSE!" about the whole trip, I doubt they'll begrudge any tip to save a few bucks here and there :)
     
  • caylene44

    Aspiring Disney Travel Planner
    Joined
    Aug 19, 2015
    but he’s also in the middle of a big project at work, so I eventually got a response of “I love you, and I’m excited too, but I really need to focus now.”
    Literally laughed out loud at this part! This is me and my BF. He's a corporate attorney so he works crazy hours. I am constantly blowing up his phone with random Disney things. He has requested I stop talking about the trip until we get closer (trying to decide if 6 months out is acceptable, I think yes).
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    Literally laughed out loud at this part! This is me and my BF. He's a corporate attorney so he works crazy hours. I am constantly blowing up his phone with random Disney things. He has requested I stop talking about the trip until we get closer (trying to decide if 6 months out is acceptable, I think yes).
    DH is remarkably tolerant of my Disney infodumps, even though we're (*checks watch*) a year and eight months out from the trip itself. Last night, he very patiently listened as I described The Void to him and went down a list of food options at Jaleo... either that or he fell asleep while I was talking. One of the two :laughing:
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    MUST-DOS!

    Previously on TBMBMATE(ahwgt): Where we’re staying and how excited we are!

    This time: some favorites! Some must-dos!

    My family tends to view must-dos as stuff we’ve loved in the past, no matter how it’s changed or whether or not it’s cost effective or even good now. For example: when I brought up the dining plan to my dad, intending to make the conversation something along the lines of, “Well, we might actually save money if we skip it, unless some miracle works out for us to get free dining,” he immediately insisted that we had to do it, maybe not the super platinum plus dining plan we got the last time we had a full family trip, but a dining plan of some sort.

    (I don’t actually know if it was the super platinum plus dining plan or what it was really called, just that it came with tickets to Cirque du Soleil and we absolutely did not use all of our meals because who eats a three course meal every meal of the day when staying in a villa? Nobody, that’s who)

    So most of our must-dos are things that maybe aren’t the mindblowing items you’ll see on a lot of lists, but they mean a lot to our little group.

    MUST DO #1: STAR TOURS

    I’ve mentioned before that we’re a huge Star Wars family (DID YOU SEE THE TRAILER?? I AM IN TEARS STILL), and nobody is more of a fan than OS. We showed him the original trilogy when he was a tender 18 months old, and from that point on, he was in love with Darth Vader and everything Star Wars related. And he’s psyched about Galaxy’s Edge, but what’s really got him excited? Star Tours.

    See, last time we went, back in 2016, he desperately wanted to ride it, but being exactly two years old, he was both too young and too short. He waited outside while we did the rider swap, all of us still groggy from our late arriving flight the night before, and while he did get to see Darth Vader in person…


    ...he wished he’d been able to go on the ride.

    I can’t blame him, especially because when it was my turn, I got to be the rebel spy for the first time in the couple of decades of riding Star Tours.

    This time around, OS will be old enough and tall enough. He’s already surpassed the height limit (unsurprising, since DH is 6’4” and my dad is 6’3”), and he’s excited. Beyond excited! I just feel bad that the twins will have to miss out.

    MUST DO #2: PETER PAN’S FLIGHT

    Back in 1989, I went to Disney World for the first time, brought there by my parents along with Auntie A and my younger brother. I remember very little of the trip, except that it was ungodly hot and that my dad had to drive back to Disney after we’d continued on our road trip (which brought us down to Fort Lauderdale, where my Nana lived) because the souvenir videos we’d purchased were in BETAMAX format, not VHS.


    (and now you know how old I am)​

    And one other thing: I remember riding Peter Pan’s Flight. I couldn’t tell you the specifics of the ride to this day (beyond that I think the Disneyland version is WAY better than the WDW one), but I remember being enchanted, and I remember my mother yelling at me to sit down, because apparently, five-year-old me had no concept of safety.

    It’s kind of stuck in my brain since then, just as something that I love. Our last trip to Disney, I was a little underwhelmed--the ride itself didn’t meet up to the glory of the ride in my memory--but it’s still something I try to get a FastPass for when I can. Not something I’ll wait in line three hours to ride, but definitely FastPass worthy.

    MUST DO #3: YACHTSMAN STEAKHOUSE

    This is a newer tradition, only dating back to 2005. Our first trip to the Yachtsman happened because of my dad, who often went to Disney on business trips (I want his job). The year before our 2005 trip, he’d had dinner at the Yachtsman and loved it, and was adamant that we go this time around. ADRs weren’t quite a thing back then, but we did call the morning of to make a reservation, and we got in easily enough.

    And, as meals go, ours was divine. I’ve got simple tastes, and the filet mignon checked every one of my boxes easily and left me feeling cheery enough that my best friend and I even went clubbing later that night (the first and only time that has ever happened) (also this was back when Disney Springs was Downtown Disney with Pleasure Island in the middle, so that’s where we went).

    DH and I went there again on our honeymoon, and then again when we brought OS in 2016, though OS slept through the whole thing (after refusing to nap during the day the rest of the trip). The Yachtsman isn’t the most mindblowing meal I’ve ever had at Disney (that honor goes to our meal at Tiffin’s, which was honestly a spiritual experience), but it’s reliably delightful, and I know that my parents will want to go there, if for no other reason than to celebrate all of us being there together.

    MUST DO #4: MEETING MICKEY

    This one doesn’t need too much of an explanation (see upthread), but I want the twins to have a joyful experience meeting Mickey like their big brother did. And with all the build-up, I’m sure we’ll get there and they’ll be in hysterics and refusing to go anywhere near him… but then again, I expected that of OS, too, and as soon as Mickey started tickling him and teasing him, he fell in love. So who knows? Maybe this time, I’ll get a double rainbow version of that joyous grin.

    MUST DO #5: HOOP-DE-DOO MUSICAL REVUE and MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY

    I’m combining these two, because they’re less must-dos for me and more must-dos for the founders of the feast, my parents.

    We’ve been to Hoop-de-Doo three times, as I recall--in 1995, 2001, and 2005. I have very little memory of the show, beyond that I enjoyed it (and “Strawberry Shortcake!”), but I also love the clips I see online, and I know OS will enjoy the lively music and comedy (and DH will love the food; minor goal for this trip: getting him to as many barbecue places as I can). My parents have kind of embraced the tradition for longer trips, and since we’ll be there for several days, we’re embracing it, too.

    The same is true of the Christmas party. Other recent family trips to Disney (in 2001 and 2005) took place in February and July, respectively, and both were before Epcot had festivals for every conceivable season. When DH and I took OS in 2016, it was December and technically Christmas Party season, but we couldn’t justify spending the money on tickets for something OS wouldn’t really remember and that the rest of us didn’t feel terribly committed to.

    But now OS will remember, and my parents want to go. And… well, we’ll see what happens. Part of me wants to suggest that my parents just get tickets for themselves and OS, and we’ll chill in the room for the night, maybe order room service, but we’ll see.

    And, of course, we have other favorites and must-dos (I need LeFou’s Brew in my life, and the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, and a good viewing spot for Happily Ever After, and at least one uninterrupted hour in Mitsukoshi, and…), but those are the top five, at least for now!

    Next time: A dress rehearsal trip, of a sort!
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    DRESS REHEARSAL!

    Previously on TBMBMATE(ahwgt): What you want! Baby I got it!

    This time: a dress rehearsal? And bookings!

    It’s been a minute! Things have been crazy, between OS turning five (and having a pirate-themed birthday party), DH and I celebrating 8 years of marriage, DH turning 32, and my in-laws coming to visit, all just in the last ~2 months!

    I am very tired.

    Not so tired, though, that I haven’t been doing MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TRIP PLANNING, first for our dress rehearsal trip and second for our ACTUAL TRIP which is in SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN 500 DAYS!

    But more on that in a minute. First, the dress rehearsal trip. DH grew up rather far from where we live now, and we lived there for the first year-plus of our marriage until the tailspinning economy hit us hard and cost us both our jobs (his in retail, as he’d only just gotten his BA, and mine in B2B marketing). Not wanting to completely drain our savings in a job market that didn’t love us, we packed up our little cars and drove back to my hometown, where my parents had offered to let us live in their in-law apartment rent-free. Not three months later, DH found excellent employment, and not a year later, we’d moved into our own place and begun to establish a permanent life here.

    We like to visit DH’s family, though, as much as we can, and that was easy when we just had one kid: it just meant coordinating hotel dates with my FIL (who has a lucrative points program for several area hotel chains and can usually get us a room for free) and setting up flights. Now, though, with three littles, flying has become… mmm, difficult, we’ll say. Costly. Near impossible. Especially as we’ve been planning to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving, a.k.a., the time of year when flight prices are about six quadrillion times higher than during any other time of year.

    So what are we doing? We’re driving.


    It’s a 23-hour drive, which will be a BLAST with two 18-month-olds and a five-year-old, but I’m honestly kind of excited? I’ve planned our route down to each individual rest stop and am in the process of making road trip snack lists for all of us (pro tip: if your haul after shopping for a road trip doesn’t look like a sugar-crazed nine-year-old was let loose in the junk food aisles at Walmart, you’re doing it wrong). I’ve booked hotels, my FIL is renting us a car (he doesn’t trust our van not to break down somewhere in the middle of nowhere) and has booked a nice hotel for us near DH’s old house, and we’re mostly all hype for it.

    There are concerns, of course: it’s a jaunt through unfamiliar places with three kids under the age of 6, so there’s always some worry about getting lost and what-have-you, but honestly, I’m not THAT concerned. My very first trip to Disney World was a road trip when I was five, Auntie A was three, and our younger brother was 1. We had no air conditioning, drove in a sedan (that I puked in!), and stayed in motels where the bedbugs outnumbered the humans about 60000 to one.

    After those kinds of memories, anything else is a piece of cake.

    So speaking of Disney and road trips (SEGUE!), we’ve booked our rooms…

    See, initially, we’d been talking about the Grand Floridian, and everyone was moderately excited. Monorail resort, lobby where Uncle Jesse sang to Aunt Becky in that one episode of Full House, FLAGSHIP RESORT, beach for watching fireworks, magic incarnate? Yes please.

    And then my parents (the founders of the feast, I remind you) tasked me with pricing everything out and giving them options. I’m a huge nerd and a graphic designer, so I dove in and made a 45-minute long PowerPoint presentation for them over the course of an afternoon and presented it with Main Street, U.S.A., music playing in the background. Per my mom’s request, I gave them five different villa resorts (narrowed down from the list of however many) so that they could choose from between them; and once that was done, she and I would call a travel agent to book.

    WELL! After the presentation, the Grand Floridian did NOT make the cut. The three that did? The Polynesian Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower, and the Beach Club (also eliminated was the Boardwalk, because I just cannot with the clown pool, y’all). With things narrowed down, I contacted a travel agent who got back to us rather quickly and explained that because two bedroom villas go to DVC members first and because these were among the most popular resorts, we likely wouldn’t be able to book anything until a year out from the trip or less.

    I was impatient, but I could live with that. Munga, however, was most displeased and asked me to give her a list of all potential villas we could stay in, from which she chose everything BUT Saratoga Springs (we’ve stayed there before, it takes forever to get anywhere), Old Key West (ditto), and Animal Kingdom (double ditto). I forwarded this all back to our travel agent (bless her, she must think we’re crazy people), and she came back saying that we had a single opening for our stay…

    ...at the RIVIERA RESORT.

    Brand new DVC resort on the Skyliner! Y’all, I am so hype about this. It’s such a gorgeous hotel! It looks like it belongs on the Champs Elysees, like even if I’m wearing flip flops or sneakers in the lobby (I will be) my footsteps will sound as clicking echoes, like I’ll see the REAL Eiffel Tower (not just the EPCOT one) from my window. And it’s brand new! It will be at least moderately broken in by the time we get there, but to stay in a hotel that’s been open for less than 11 months… heavenly.

    So. I’m a little excited. Just a little.


    Either way, the countdowns are on, and look like this:
    DAYS UNTIL THANKSGIVING ROAD TRIP: 127
    DAYS UNTIL ADRs: 298
    DAYS UNTIL FP+: 418
    DAYS UNTIL ARRIVAL: 478

    Next time: Yeah, it's a long ways away, but it's time for some sweet merch anyway!
     

    thingwithwings

    Hello there!
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2016
    OPTIMISM IN CONFIRMATION NUMBERS!

    Last time on TBMBMATE(ahwgt): We were very optimistic!

    This time: We are less optimistic but still trying for it!

    Hello again, it’s been another minute because the world has gone upside down, hasn’t it? The last time I posted anything about this trip, it was still four months away from our “dress rehearsal” trip, nobody had ever heard of Covid-19, the idea of Disney shutting down for any period of time was largely unthinkable, and we were stuck in the limbo that comes with booking VERY early to ensure that you’ve got a room and plans set for your party of 8. This is going to be a long update, so let’s get down to it.

    Since the last time I posted, the twins have turned two and OS has turned six, which is just weird.




    And all of that while we’re in a sort of lockdown statewide, which has been… I mean, it’s fine. It’s not fun, but it’s fine. After a good 25 years battling depression, it’s just sort of familiar to me. That’s not to say I haven’t been gorging myself on horrible, unhealthy food because it’s the only thing to make me feel anymore, but I’ve definitely been through worse.

    YS was diagnosed with autism right before Christmas, which came as a surprise to nobody. DH got laid off about two weeks ago, which came as a surprise to everyone. And despite everything, our trip seems to be still going forward as planned, and I’m holding onto hope that it will still happen because 2020 has been a rough year, and I could really use some Disney time.

    But before all of that, before Covid and lockdowns and autism diagnoses and layoffs, we had our dress rehearsal road trip, 3000 miles round trip between our home and DH’s hometown, all during Thanksgiving weekend.

    We learned a lot of lessons during that road trip, things we can apply to future adventures, both Disney-related and not. Things like, hey, if you’re going on a road trip and said road trip requires passing through New York City, make sure that you time it so that you absolutely do not hit the metro area anywhere near rush hour. Do literally everything in your power to make sure that you’re passing through New York City at, say, 3 a.m. or some other hour when the highways are miraculously clear and not clogged with seven million people trying to get home from work (literally) or you will be sitting in traffic for three straight hours while your younger son, previously thought to be over his carsickness phase, gets sick a total of six times before you reach a place where you can clean him off.

    Things like, you think you’re going to just need an economy SUV to fit your three children and luggage, but the truth is, you’ll really need something significantly larger if you don’t want to leave behind any necessities (like, say, clothing). Sure, the economy SUV seems like a good deal, and it technically is a good deal, but it’s better to spring for the larger car that can definitely fit all your stuff because otherwise, everyone’s going to be wedged into the car like a very precarious game of Jenga, and if you remove even one shoe from the mess, it all tumbles out.



    Things like, you have to expect that you’re not going to sleep at all while you’re on the road, because all of the planning in the world cannot make up for the delays caused by having to do all the laundry that was puked upon by your younger son over three hours in traffic in New York City. This planning also cannot make up for your younger children having their first ever hotel experiences and refusing to sleep unless they are allowed on the Big Bed (despite having never slept in a Big Bed before in their lives) between you and your husband. It cannot make up for the dinner stop that takes three times as long as you expected because literally everyone needed to do number 2, and only two and a half of you are capable of doing that reliably in a toilet. So you get to your hotel around 2 a.m., spend another hour and a half trying to get everyone (yourself included) to sleep, and then don’t leave until late the next morning, thus repeating the cycle.



    Things like, you’re going to encounter some stuff that you couldn’t plan for at all. When we started planning this road trip, my mother-in-law was very much against it, and one of her concerns was, “what if it snows??” DH and I laughed because, really, MIL? A blizzard on Thanksgiving? That never happens. Except it totally did this year, and the only reason I’m here to tell the tale and not still snowed in somewhere around Alabama is because we threw up our hands in North Carolina and drove through the night until we got home, a total of 21 hours straight of driving, including both the Washington, D.C., and NYC metro areas.

    Despite all of that, it was so. much. fun. I don’t even know what it is about road trips--maybe it’s the whole Dungeons & Dragons quest feel of traveling from point A to point B and the liminal spaces between, or maybe it’s just that I’ve been stuck in my house for a few too many weeks, but I honestly can’t wait to do it again.

    Which we hopefully will be, in November. In February, when we got our tax return and before the idea of DH being laid off was realistic and when even I was saying, “eh, this Covid-19 thing probably won’t be much of a big deal,” I booked our hotels and a minivan for our drive to Florida. It’s a bit of a wonky set up, because unless we want to drive absurd amounts of hours the day before hitting Disney, we’re looking at a couple of longer days and then a really short day. The really short day, I decided, should involve staying on a beach, literally, so we’re spending the night before Disney in a hotel on Daytona Beach. This is partly because nothing gets me in a vacation mood quite like hearing the ocean right outside my window and partly because we’re leaving for this drive on my birthday, so if I’m not getting an awesome birthday celebration the day of, I’m at least getting a night on the beach.

    AND! In more exciting booking news, I went in and booked all of our ADRs last week. I focused mostly on breakfast and dinner reservations, since we’re staying in a villa and plan to come back halfway through each day so the littles can nap and we can eat lunch. And, whether people are skittish because of Covid-19 or whether I just got lucky, I’m pretty excited about our schedule! Here’s how it looks:

    11/8 - Dinner for me and DH at Oga's Cantina, 5:20 p.m., preceded by lightsaber making
    11/9 - Dinner at California Grill, 5:40 p.m. (!!!!!!)
    11/10 - Breakfast at Be Our Guest, 8:55 a.m. (!!!!!!!!!!)
    11/11 - Breakfast at Topolino's Terrace, 8:35 a.m.
    Dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse, 5:35 p.m.
    11/12 - Breakfast for me & Munga at Grand Floridian Cafe, 9:00 a.m. (for her birthday!)
    Dinner at Tutto Italia, 4:30 p.m.
    11/13 - Dinner at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater, 4:25 p.m.



    Not too insanely tight, with plenty of really great places on the list. I’ve got fingers and toes crossed that this trip will keep on going the way we’re hoping, but we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m just holding onto the optimism contained in those reservation confirmations.

    Next time: LOL like I could even tell you at this point?
     
    • Like
    Reactions: DLo

    DLo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2006
    Just found your report. Following along and looking forward to reading more. Fingers crossed fall trips happen. I have September booked ( that I booked last year ) and a back up Dec trip - just in case .
     





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