"Everyone's A Cousin On This Trip!: A PTR For 8!" - AUG 2018 | UPDATE 1/17 - Our ADRs!!! ...for now.

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by KJeff90, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    EVERYONE'S A COUSIN ON THIS TRIP!
    July 31st, 2018 - August 7, 2018

    Hey there, friends! I'm Jeff and glad you're coming along for the journey!
    From this point on, since you're kinda going on this trip with us...
    ...consider yourself a cousin!

    [​IMG]

    And yes, you read that title right; there's going to be 8 of us going on this trip. All of us will be in our 20s for this trip, except for my cousin Albert who will be 17 at the time of our trip. Most of us are definitely going to be either a cousin or sibling to one another; but there's also a newly made spouse in the mix, as well as a boyfriend, tagging along! If we aren't already blood-related, we've all become family over the years. That's why everyone going is going to be given the awesome title of "cousin"! With that many characters involved, there's going to be tons of opportunities to make memories that will last a lifetime.

    [​IMG]
    Here's a pic of seven of the eight of us (Don't worry, the eighth person (Daniel) is about 1,300 miles to the right,
    just out of frame.), about three years ago at a wedding.
    Top Row: Abbey, Kelly, Katherine - Bottom Row: Randy, Jeff (Me), Albert, Joseph

    I hope you're ready for some adventures in planning.
    Once this trip starts, it will have been at least a year's worth of dreaming that has lead up to that moment!
    Right now we're in the middle of all the planning; tough decisions have been made, the roster of cousins tagging along has gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, and there's plenty of things we're excited about.

    One fact about us is that we're all from California. The majority of us are within an hour of Disneyland, a few of us are from Northern California closer to Sacramento. For some, the Disneyland Resort is the only Disney resort we've ever known. I personally have been to Walt Disney World two times.

    For now, below will be a space where we answer all of the W's that you would hope to find in a DIS Pre-Trip Report. Like every good story, it takes time to reveal the details. Some of these details have been left out to have you coming back for more, and others are still being worked out. In any case, stay tuned as we hope to have all the details added as time progresses.

    WHO - The "Cousins" Going
    Jeff, Joseph, Randy, Abbey, Albert, Katherine, Kelley, Mardie Bhelle

    WHERE - Our Resort


    [​IMG]
    Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort

    WHEN - Dates Were Going
    Leaving Los Angeles July 31st Evening(Red-eye),
    Arriving in Orlando August 1st Early Morning,
    Leaving Orlando August 7th Evening

    HOW - The Way We're Getting There

    [​IMG]
    We're flying JetBlue there!

    WHAT - Things We Have Planned/Looking Forward To

    Too many things to count, but Details Coming soon!

    WHY - The Reasons We're Going

    Another thing that there's too many to count.
    Essentially it's to spend time with people we love, and make memories we can look back on as we get older!


     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  2. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    [​IMG]
    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    Meet the Characters of Our Trip
    Come see who's tagging along... meet all of the cousins!

    An Origin Story
    Come see how the opportunity of planning a trip came to be, and learn about our resort choice!

    The Point of Points
    Learn about the magic that is TrueBlue points for our trip and how it's gonna help us get to Orlando, and save money! Not pointless as all! (The dad jokes are free, so we're not taking them back.)

    The Wind Is Back!
    Come learn about what the winds of change have brought back... and how I'm trying to make people fee guilty!

    Made With Magic - From Our Ears to Our Toes!
    We're going to be obnoxious in Orlando... but in the best way of course.

    A Carousel of Food - The Lazy Susan that Holds Our ADRs
    Come check out where we want to eat... for now!
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018 at 9:08 PM
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  4. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    The Characters of Our Trip
    There's a large group of us, and just as the wind changes, our roster has changed as well! Daniel is out, and Mardie Bhelle is in... so for now, we'll wave to the wind as it takes Daniel away.

    [​IMG]

    Me - Jeff

    I'm currently a 27 year old living in Southern California. I'm a current Disneyland Resort Cast Member, and also a student a California Polytechnic University, Pomona. I've been to Walt Disney World twice, and have only ever stayed at Pop Century. Going with this large group is exciting, but also as I'm realizing now, a lot of work too.

    My Brother - Joseph
    My brother is the sequel in my parent's saga of children. He's a year and a half younger than me, so that makes him about 26. He's never been to Disney World, but he's up for the task with all of his trips to Disneyland.

    My Cousin - Randy
    Randy and I are about the same age just a few months older than me at 28. The closest theme park to him is Six Flags Magic Mountain, but he somehow still manages to go to Disneyland as an Annual Passholder. I was his best man at his wedding, and I feel of my actual cousins, we're the closest.

    My Cousin-In Law - Abbey
    Abbey is Randy's wife, and one of the sweetest people you'll meet. Aside from sharing my cousin, we also share our love for Disney. She may not be blood-related but her she's clearly part of the family! She's the person I'm looking to be the co-captain for navigating and guiding the others who are new to Walt Disney World.

    My Cousin - Katherine
    Katherine is another one of the blood cousins that is a delight. She's slightly older than me, but exponentially classier. She originally from Northern California, but now lives closer to the motherland that is Disneyland with us here in Southern California. She's optimistic and seems excited for the adventure.

    My Cousin - Kelly
    Kelly is Katherine's younger sister. She's may seem mellow, but has a giggle that will bring life to any conversation. Clearly, making laughing is a way to her heart. She's still up in Northern California, but she's ready to travel when the time come's to Walt Disney World.

    My Cousin, Kind Of - Mardie Bhelle

    Mardie Bhelle is going to be the youngest of our traveling group. She's the teenage cousin of both Kelly and Katherine, but on their father's side. But when you're Filipino like we are, we're all cousins! She's taking the place of Daniel as Daniel couldn't make it because of expected work he'll have to do at his job.

    My Cousin - Albert
    Finally, there's my cousin Albert. Albert has never been to Disney World, but like everyone else, he's excited. The summer of his trip will be just before his Senior year of High School.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  5. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    One Little Trip Made Our Big Trip: An Origin Story
    Before a great story can be written, a little spark of inspiration has to ignite. Here's where we'll tell the story of the origin of our trip. It all started with a trip to Disneyland...

    [​IMG]

    Once upon a time, about a year ago to be exact, Daniel, Katherine, Abbey, Randy and I all decided to go on a spontaneous trip to Disneyland. On this trip, a good time was had and we figured out that that day should have been longer, shared with more people, and be somewhere bigger. So we figured a trip to Walt Disney World was in order.

    It took a few Facebook based conversations, running of numbers, and tons of time speculating that August of 2018 would be the best time to go! Sure it'll be hot, but we're used to a bit of heat and humidity in Southern California already.

    You've seen the roster change once during this thread, but it's gone through a few revisions that once had as many as a dozen people going, and as little as 6. The magic number ended up being 8 and hopefully it stays that way.

    A Facebook Group page was made, group surveys taken, and spreadsheets made to determine the best case scenarios! Who doesn't love a great spreadsheet. Depending on the numbers, we had our home for the trip range from a 2-Bedroom Villa, to three suites at Art of Animation. What we settled on and the best value ended up being, of all places...

    :cloud9: Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort! :cloud9:

    [​IMG]
    We've got a 2-Bedroom Villa Lined Up

    The numbers may not seem like they make sense, but they do with a bit of magic. :thumbsup2 We're excited to have this opportunity. I'm especially glad having only been to Pop Century. From everyone I've talked to, it seems like being on the monorail will come with its perks.

    Number crunching also made the Disney Dining Plan an option as well, so we took it. The alcohol with meals is not something we're overly excited about, but we won't turn it down. :earboy2:

    :tigger: We're bouncing with excitement. :tigger:

    The story may seem short, but there's tons of chapters coming along about the planning process. We have a few deadlines coming up, and that exciting post about our reservations planned.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  6. lauren_elizabeth

    lauren_elizabeth Disney World Lover

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    Count me in for this one! We’ll be down at Disney in August, but at the end of the month. We can get excited together! Looking forward to hearing all about your plans!
     
  7. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    I'm glad you're coming along for the ride. Right now with 8 people, we need to realize that it's a trip for all of us. With that said, I'm trying to get feedback from everyone on where they might want to make dining reservations at. We're about a month away from the 180-day mark. I'll be posting details about where we're considering soon... there definitely is excitement in the air!
     
  8. clayfolks

    clayfolks DIS Veteran

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    I'm in! I love your writing and am looking forward to more!!
     
  9. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying my style of post. We can't take ourselves too seriously, so I like to put in(or at least attempt to put in) a bit of humor. The discussions are all happening in a Facebook group...a room if you will. If we get stuck , we just start all over again. It's much like this...
    [​IMG]
    ...just without the high production values, a giant turntable, or musical styling of Lin Manuel Miranda.

    ...but we do dance like those people up above during every meeting -we know how to get things done. ;)
     
  10. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    The Point of Points: How We're Getting There
    We're getting lose to that important dining deadline of 180-days before our arrival in hot, humid, and Hogwarted (I love alliterations) Orlando, Florida. But before I get to our plans for what reservations we're going to be making, I thought I'd take the time to talk about how we're getting there!


    In the only two past trips that I've been to Walt Disney World, I've been lucky enough to fly Virgin America. Their mood-lighting and on-screen snack/beverage ordering system made me feel spoiled and pampered. it was a much simpler time in Florida-bound flying for me... I believe it was a Tuesday.

    Both those times, I was lucky to get flights that left LAX(Los Angeles, CA... keep up, folks) at 8:00amPST, and got to MCO (take a wild guess where this is) around 4:00pm-ishEST. Well, times have changed, quite literally and figuratively. The times that Virgin America travels would leave for, and arrive at MCO would take most of our day and lessen the chances for a "7th day in the parks". So what did we do? We decided to go crazy with a red-eye that would leave the night before planned arrival at our resort on...

    JetBlue!


    [​IMG]
    If it wasn't already obvious, we're flying JetBlue.

    We're leaving at around 10:00pm PST in the evening from LAX and will be arriving at the ungodly hour of 6:33amEST. We get an the fullest meaning of a 7th day in the parks, possibly sleep-deprived, but an extra day nonetheless! (Don't try this at home kids, do it at WDW... it clearly makes sense.) While I want to tell myself that we'll get soem sleep on the plane, I feel that all the excitement will be keeping us up.

    [​IMG]

    The real reason for the change was because of an attractive looking credit card deal (aren't they all)? Well the JetBlue Plus Credit card had an amazing offer that seemed too good to pass up on, and would allow for me to do the following:
    - Get 50% off in flight purchases
    - Get 6x TrueBlue points/dollar spent on JetBlue purchases
    - Get 2x TrueBlue points spent on grocery/restaurant purchases
    - Get 1x TrueBlue points for every other dollar spent on other purchases
    - Get an additional 30,000 TrueBlue points for an initial $1,000 spend in the first 3 months(ships has sailed, and got that already)
    - Check bags in for me and 3 others for each leg of our trip.


    [​IMG]

    So the points are already racking up with everyday purchases, and I'm "strategically" paying for this trip with the card to earn multiple points/dollar. With the math all said and done, I should be getting at least the airfare for two (possibly three) with points. So yay for savings!

    [​IMG]

    Well that's it for now in this chapter that is the book that is our trip. Hoping t actually book airfare for some of us soon(part of the strategy), and get more of this trip paid off. The next update should be covering our ADR plans. Stay tuned!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  11. ariane37

    ariane37 Dis veteran

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    Hi there Jeff! I just found your PTR and love your writing style :) A big, family trip is so exciting, especially since some have never been to WDW!

    Perfect reasons to go, IMO :goodvibes

    And great choice in resort! We haven't stayed at Bay Lake or the Contemporary yet, but we have stayed at the Poly a couple times and it's very convenient to MK, Epcot, and the other monorail resorts if you go to eat at one or just check them out. So far sounds like planning is coming along nicely and I look forward to reading more!
     
  12. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    The Winds of Change Are Back: Another Significant Change & Guilting People Into Staying :littleangel:
    Do you hear that? ...the mighty winds of change are back with another stirring up in our roster. Poor Mardie Bhelle was swept away from us (don't worry, she's fine!). Mardie had her first day of high school orientation scheduled on the day that we head out for Orlando. Being the responsible person she was, she chose not to miss it.

    [​IMG]
    Let's stare at the wind as it take Mardie to her school orientation...

    For now, we're introducing Ivan, Kelly's boyfriend. He's the newest cousin to join the cast of characters. He's relatively new to me. I've met him less than a handful of times, but he seems like a fun guy. The reason for me not seeing him is that he mostly shows up to family gatherings up in Northern California which happens around the holidays. At work, the holidays are some of, if not the, busiest times of years (try to remember where I work ;):earboy2:). For the cousins who are lucky enough to have the holidays off, they've met him plenty of times.

    With a new person joining us, let's hope that this is the final roster change.

    So for now, let's hope that that pesky wind doesn't come back.

    [​IMG]

    I realize that all these Pocahontas GIFs are taking over...

    So here's a random Disney/Pixar IP-based GIF to get your mind off the wind and into a great segue into how I'm trying to prevent further roster changes:
    [​IMG]

    Apparently, this is a GIF from the movie, Planes. If you're wondering what I thought about the movie... I didn't see it. Based on this GIF, I think it's the cars being struck by lightning. then a curse is started where they turn into planes ...and they somehow have to earn frequent flyer miles?

    Speaking of planes :upsidedow, I've found a way to prevent people from leaving...

    :woohoo:I've started to book flights!:woohoo:


    While it could have been done sooner, I've now reaching the point of no return with the flight bookings. Everything else in the trip seems to be changeable or have the ability to be dropped altogether, but the weight of booking our flight is enough to make even the most dastardliness-filled villain feel guilty to bail.

    [​IMG]


    There's a strategy with the JetBlue Plus Card that involves us booking 4 operate reservations and strategically to potentially hold out on free airfare. Here's the order:

    Jeff(That's Me!), Joseph, Albert, and Katherine
    I'm booking me and the three others that I'm planning to help out with free checked bags with the privileges my card allows. Since we're all going to the same place, I'm sure it can be anyone's bags, but we can figure it out later...

    Ivan
    Ivan gets locked in next. His airfare is "free" with my points, I only have to pay about $12 in taxes.

    Abbey, Randy, Kelly
    For the final 3, I'm holding out on finding out how much more in free airfare we can get. I'm pretty sure we can get airfare for one, and then just have to pay the taxes. There's a slight possibility to get two more for "free" if the rates aren't too bad. Either way, the final three will be booked in two separate bookings.

    :earseek:It's all convoluted, maybe even confusing, but there is a method to the madness. :earseek:

    [​IMG]

    I'm pretty sure after reading all this, you were hoping for our ADRs for the trip. We're still figuring it all out. Right now, Randy and Abbey are in Florida/the Caribbean enjoying a trip to WDW and a Disney Cruise.
    :sail:
    I'm sure they'll share with us their experiences, and we can plan with their knowledge. Once we have everyone's say, we'll talk about what we're interested in, and what restaurants we're hoping to get ADRs for.Great stories and adventures take time to be written, so thanks for staying interested in what we have to share.

    :disrocks:
     
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  13. allison k

    allison k I'm a lurker, not a poster!

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    Hey Jeff! I'm joining in on this one! I don't usually look through pre-trip reports, but I decided to go for it this time. And I think I might write my own!

    Anyhoo, we're not just cousins, but we're neighbors! I'm down in South Orange County and have AP's to Disneyland. We don't go nearly enough, but that's okay. Plus, I went to Cal Poly when I graduated from high school !@(#*@&#( years ago (notice I didn't say I graduated) and my sister is alumni - class of '98!

    We love both resorts and own DVC at Saratoga Springs! We try to go to Florida every couple of years. My heart truly belongs to the original, but we LOVE WDW!

    I can't wait to read more!
     
  14. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    I'm excited to see you can't wait to read more! Also, I'm glad that you're considering making your own PTR. I've tried to make one before, but lost momentum with so many variables not settling, so early in our planning process.

    It's awesome to know we're neighbors! While I'm very careful to not reveal my specific work location, if you ever find me, feel free to say hello! You can never have too many trips to Disneyland! ;)

    Thanks again for coming for the ride, Allison!
     
  15. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    Made with Magic - From Our Ears to Our Toes
    While it may be Martin Luther king Jr. Day today, I thought we'd take a time warp back to another holiday... Christmas!

    In a time where creatures weren't stirring, and people were looking for the most ironically beautiful ugly Christmas sweaters... I was thinking of how we would coordinate our look for this big ol' trip we had coming in August.

    So I did some research.
    [​IMG]

    Actual footage of me searching "the net" on AOL, with a free preview disk I got from our supermarket circa 1998.

    Well among all the ensembles of groups wanting their presence to be known. I thought matching shirts and chants in Portuguese had been done a bit too many times; I wanted to take us forward into this great year-to-be, 2018, with something shiny.

    [​IMG]


    So further searching lead to the magical technology that is "Made with Magic 3.0". You know, those color changing ears that all the cool kids have on in the parks? Well now you can change the color with the Shop Disney Parks app via Bluetooth.

    [​IMG]

    So I threw my money at the website and ordered 8 pairs of the ears as Christmas presents to everyone going on the trip. We'll be coordinating so great/obnoxiously at night, you'll think we're the second coming of Paint the Night (A better version of MSEP for you East Coast people who "haven't seen the light").

    Now I have 8 pairs of ears stockpiled at home, waiting for the moment to be distributed out to all the cousins. When they arrived, I clearly had to do some quality assurance to make sure they worked. And boy, do they!

    Well there's something I didn't need to do, but I think will make our experience in Walt Disney World that much more exciting/obnoxious.
    :woohoo:
     
  16. KJeff90

    KJeff90 Earning My Ears

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    The World is A Carousel of Food (It's A Lazy Susan)
    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cousins and friendly faces, the lights around around our pre-trip report will be dimmed so that you may better enjoy the experience that is our list of ADRs... no presentado por Honda.
    [​IMG]

    While I'm not totally sure how much people were actually looking forward to our ADR list, I feel that it's definitely something that "makes" a pre-trip report. We all get to share the communal excitement and anxiety of the weeks of planning leading up to that majestic 180-day mark. We then get to play the game of trying to get everything we want, based on said planning.

    [​IMG]

    Well being the way I am, I'm open to flexibility. I have contingency on contingencies, and will settle for not getting first, second, or #th choices. You'll notice that we have a lot of all-you-care-to-enjoy restaurants listed(all of them except for 1). Well, with so many people, I think it'll be tricky to please everyone. So I thought it would be easier to choose restaurants with options; there's bound to be something for everyone to enjoy.

    Well, here's a peek into our plans for our dining adventure with the cousins(and a peak at our planned park(s) for each day):

    [​IMG]

    Day 1: Arrival Day
    'Ohana (Breakfast)
    I thought we would start off strong with a character breakfast at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort (You'll notice I'm a stickler for proper nomenclature[There's a word...]). We have that awesome idea of taking the red-eye from Los Angeles. For the cousins that are going for the first time; what better way to wake up from that flight than to be welcomed to Walt Disney World with some characters? Arrival day may start out early, but plans for parks will be loose and flexible depending on energy levels. I'm sure we'll want to step foot in Magic Kingdom at some point this day with it's close proximity to Bay Lake Tower.

    [​IMG]

    Day 2
    Boma - Dinner
    With all the hype about Pandora: The World of Avatar, I think our second day should get right to it with Disney's Animal Kingdom. An early dinner could serve as a great break from the parks and potentially could to either a newly-energized ...or a horribly slowed-down food coma. I guess we'll find out! This is actually my favorite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World!

    [​IMG]

    Day 3

    Be Our Guest - Dinner
    With our meals being either a buffet or all-you-care-to-enjoy thus far, we might as well take a break and escape to the Beast's castle. We might as well (emphasis on try) to get an ADR for this restaurant.

    [​IMG]

    Day 4
    Garden Grill - Breakfast
    We'll be up bright and early trying to take in all the morning Extra Magic hours at Epcot will have to offer, and then take a break with a semi-late breakfast at Garden Grill. Another character meal with an all-you-care-to-enjoy atmosphere... that spins... like a lazy susan! (That post title was worth it!)

    [​IMG]

    Day 5
    Biergarten
    We'll be spending the first half of this day at Disney's Hollywood Studios (We'll get a peak at it the night of Day 4), hopefully to get at Toy Story Land offerings during morning Extra Magic Hours. At this point in the trip, a beer might be in order.

    [​IMG]

    Day 6
    Tusker House - Lunch or Dinner (Rivers of Light Dining Package)
    Just like the holiday season, we'll be ending our trip brighter than we started with. Even more characters at Tusker House and reserved viewing at Rivers of Light should be a relaxing last evening at Walt Disney World.


    [​IMG]

    Day 7
    Be Our Guest - Breakfast (MAYBE)
    If the ADR on Day 3 won't work out, we'll try to go for breakfast at Be Our Guest. It could be a great send-off from our trip.

    Well those are the proposed ADRs, I'm looking forward to see what everyone thinks!
    Don't worry, there's plenty of planning yet to be done and a lot to be revealed!
     

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