"The Trip Itself Is Only Half The Battle" - Prepping for October 2018

Discussion in 'Pre-Trip Reports and Plans' started by B. Shoe, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Welcome to what I hope is a moderately entertaining pre-trip report as I take you through booking, the "big reveal" and our planning leading up to a 4-day, 3-night trip beginning on October 23, 2018!

    The Cast of Characters:

    Me ::MickeyMo: My friends all call me "Shoe", so I think that will be appropriate for this thread.
    • Last Trip To Disney: 1987. Yes, at age 37, this is my first trip to Disney World in 30+ years. In full disclosure, I remember nothing from the trip other than riding Space Mountain. I fully remember getting a killer earache in the back of a Ford Bronco during our 17-hour drive to Orlando, but the trip evades me.
    • Favorite Disney Movie: The Sword In The Stone.
    • Favorite Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Thing I'm Looking Forward To Most: Happily Ever After, Waking up to see the Magic Kingdom from our hotel room.
    DD ::MinnieMo: The true star of our show is 9-years-old, but will be 10 when we embark on our trip next fall. While I'll make sure everything we do is logistically doable and within our budget, I'll let her take the lead when it comes to making FastPass+ selections, what rides we want to focus on, shows to see, etc.
    • Last Trip To Disney: 2016. She traveled with her mother and grandmother for a 2-day trip. There's still several things she hasn't experienced, so I'm excited to take her for another round!
    • Favorite Disney Characters (in no specific order): Moana, Aurora, Belle, Joy, Cinderella.
    • Favorite Activities: Dancing, Making slime, Reading, Playing with her new puppy.
    The Trip Details
    • When: October 23-26, 2018
    • Where: Contemporary Resort, Theme Park View, with 4-day Park Hopper tickets.
    I debated heavily between the Contemporary and Boardwalk. But I'm banking on the notion that at least two of our nights will end at the Magic Kingdom. And after a long day of touring, I'd rather simply walk 10 minutes back to our room, rather than wait on other transport.

    Dining/ADRs: All meals will be paid out of pocket, as no version of the DDP seems to be financially in our favor. While we're still way out of our 180-day window to book any ADRs, my DD has a pretty simple palate and eating habits. So unless something drastic changes, we'll make a minimal amount of ADRs and our meal planning will be focused on simple sustenance and efficiency and less on "experience."
    • All breakfasts will be at Contempo Cafe, where we can quickly grab a breakfast buffet, or simple meal.
    • All lunches will be QS/CS locations that utilize mobile ordering, in hopes of saving ourselves some time of waiting in line.
    All of this, I hope, will save us a few bucks to splurge on a couple of more fun experiences listed below:
    • Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing. (Our dinner would be at Tomorrowland Terrace, leading right into this.)
    • Fantasmic! Dining Package, with dinner at Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano.
    • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, as long as it fits into the plan without too much trouble.
    (If you haven't yet figured out, I've put way too much thought into this, still 350 days out. But here we are...)

    Coming Soon...the "Big Reveal"

    Now comes the fun part. DD turns 10 in early January. Her birthday party will be January 14, and that's when she'll find out the news. The next part of the story is figuring out how to best surprise her. I am definitely open to ideas or unique ways that anyone else may have surprised their children that I could use!
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  2. Alexsandra

    Alexsandra Ready for the next adventure

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    I'll follow along. I love WDW in October with all the Halloween decorations. We've been twice in the fall. Once with the kids when they were very little and once with my husband two years ago without the children for an anniversary trip. It was a blast. I loved the MNSSHP but I don't think we'll be back. Seen it, done it!
    Your 10 y.o. will love it though.
     
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  4. shannie102

    shannie102 Mouseketeer

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    Following! Did all your splurges this past trip, 1-/14-10/23, and don't regret a single one! Excited for the big surprise!
     
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  5. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    So happy to have you aboard for the ride, shannie102 and Alexsandra! With my schedule of work and community events that I'm involved in, late fall is the most opportune time for us to make the trip. (Thankfully, it appears to be one of the least costly times of the year, also!)

    My DD loves Halloween, so I'm happy to spend a little extra on MNSSHP. The F! reservation and the Dessert Party, if anything, is more for me not wanting to feel rushed to find spots for those events towards the end of the day. Hopefully we'll get to spend a little extra time in the parks that way. These are not something I'll likely splurge on again, unless life changes. But this trip is a long time coming for the both of us and I'm trying to cram all the magic into four days that I can.:)

    I'm still tossing around some ideas for our "big reveal" at her birthday party. We still have to get through Christmas, first, but I'm sure something great will come to mind to make it extra special!::MickeyMo
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
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  6. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Happy new year, everyone! It's been a while, but we're anxiously gearing up for the big reveal at her birthday party on Saturday evening! The downtime between updates has been spent working away to save up cash for the trip, and there's just not much else very exciting to report ten months out. Regardless, here's what we've got to help with the big reveal:
    • Disney trading pins: Unbeknownst to me, we'd been collecting Disney pins for the better part of two years! My DD and I regularly watch all of the Disney/Pixar movies in the theater, and they always give us these character pins with our admission! So I picked up a lot from what appears to be reputable seller on eBay, and we can add the ones we've collected from the theater to the pile. And since we have duplicates of the Pixar pins from each of us getting a pin, she'll feel comfortable trading off those pins for some new ones.
    • Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom playing cards: I read about this game through the message board and thought this might be a fun things we can experience at the park beyond waiting in line for rides and shows. I found a complete set of cards 1-60 for sale online and maybe we'll snag a few of the limited edition ones from now to October on eBay.
    • Mouse ears: Self-explanatory.
    • Gift cards: Several of her family members are getting her Disney gift cards to hold onto for souvenirs at the park. And hopefully it'll help her dad save a couple of bucks along the way.
    Am I missing anything else that anyone can think of? I have a vision of this amazing reaction when she figures it all out, but I'm sure it'll be something more realistic like "This is great! Let's go hit the pinata." ::MickeyMo
     
  7. shannie102

    shannie102 Mouseketeer

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    I think that's enough, you hit all the big things. You have to take a photo and post please! And of the ears too, i love ears!!
     
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  8. emilyhuff

    emilyhuff Mouseketeer

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    I am just following along today! How did the reveal go!!!
     
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  9. Spencer Wright

    Spencer Wright Constantly craving a zebra dome...

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    Following along! I am interested in hearing more about the Contemporary.
     
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  10. blueant315

    blueant315 Earning My Ears

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    Hi Shoe. I hope the reveal was as exciting as you'd hoped.

    I took my younger children to Disney for their first trip last summer for 3 full days and 2 half days and thought I'd pop in with some unsolicited advice to consider. We took an opposite approach to meals since 4 park days isn't very much time to get a well rounded experience - we brought granola bars and protein shakes from home so we didn't have to spend time or money on breakfast most days and could get to the parks earlier when they are less crowded. We splurged on character meals - they took longer than a QS, but you met 4+ characters while you ate so we didn't spend time waiting in character meet lines. Plus we got as much food as we wanted since most character meals are buffets. We also ate peanut butter sandwiches in our room many times at lunch since my kids were still napping and are picky eaters, but that's probably not relevant for you. Plus we were there in June, so a mid-day break was a necessity since it was SOOOO hot! Akershus might be a worthwhile investment of your time and money based on your daughters favorite characters since you meet Aurora, Belle, and Cinderella and get the castle experience. We did Cinderella's Royal Table breakfast for a comparable experience, but I don't think Belle was there.

    I also wouldn't do dinner at Tomorrowland Terrace just before the dessert party. I would do a late lunch instead so you aren't too full from dinner to eat many desserts. Of course your approach is much healthier so you don't over indulge. But I would be trying to get the most for my money for that one night, personally.

    You will also have a small refrigerator in your room, so you could have some groceries delivered and bring some picnic meals into the park with you if you want to really save time and money. We did that a lot to be slightly healthier eaters and to especially deal with the fact that my toddler wouldn't eat much more than bread and peanut butter when we went.

    We are going back in December for 9 days and I have spent a ton of time researching everything. Overthinking is totally my thing, too.

    Hope you have a great trip!
     
  11. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Good afternoon, everyone! Please accept my sincerest apologies for the delay in updates. I keep a pretty busy winter schedule and, despite my best attempts at tying a string around my finger to remind myself to post an update, here we are weeks later with the latest on our upcoming trip.

    • The Reveal: It went great! I opted to tell DD in private, contrary to my original plans of revealing at her birthday party. We ended up with a few last minute invites that had not yet traveled to Disney. It felt a little rude to do it in front of those kids, when they might go back and say "Well she got a trip to Disney for her birthday!" Needless to say, she was still overjoyed to find out we'd be making the trip, and it was actually nice to have that little moment just to ourselves to share. Both of our ears, along with a couple of other Disney items, sit on our coffee table to remind us of what's to come.
    • Planning: It begins this weekend. My DD and I will begin starting to chart out some key attractions, places to eat, and how to schedule our day. She seems eager to see some of the shows, which she said she had not visited on her earlier trip.
    • Paying For The Trip: This is my proudest update of all. Since we booked the trip in October, I'd planned, number crunched, saved, and make sure I'd be able to make this work without stressing myself out financially. Thankfully, 2018 is proving to be a great year. For the past 15 years, I've volunteered in local organizations and events, usually lending my skills in public speaking, emceeing, call it what you will, to host events. That has turned into two big paying opportunities this Spring/Summer. Add that on top of what was a surprise raise at my place of employment, and needless to say we'll have our trip paid for, in full, by the end of June. It's a blessing, to say the least.
    • Little Things: I was able to find the basic card set of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, and certified trading pins, on eBay. DD seems to be eager to give both a try when we're there. And several family members have gifted DD with Disney gift cards, specifically for use on the trip.
    I am all in for unsolicited advice and any help people can offer, trust me! The meal planning is realistically what's probably what keeps me thinking the most. I'd like to be able to keep moving as much as possible. I'm hopeful Mobile Ordering might help us in that regard, but now that it appears Dining Plans are now able to be accessed in Mobile Ordering, I'll be keeping an eye on how that affects the timeliness of getting in and out of QS locations.

    Thank you all for chiming in! I appreciate the insight.::MickeyMo
     
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  12. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Happy (almost) April, friends. It was a big weekend of planning in our world. We were able to secure MNSSHP tickets for October 25! DD and I started daydreaming of costume ideas for the big party, and I was introduced to the "Disneybounding" trend (not "Disneyboarding", as I unfortunately typed into another thread) that we explored for some party outfit ideas. We also started making a list of DD's favorite rides (No. 1 is Space Mountain) and watched a couple of videos about the Contemporary to introduce her to where we'd be staying for the trip.

    Some other update and general planning thoughts:
    • Based on our trip dates and the surrounding MNSSHP dates, we're pigeonholed into hopefully securing Fireworks Dessert Party tickets for October 24.
    • If we continue to plan a trip to the Fantasmic! show into our schedule, which I feel confident that we will, it would be October 23 (our first night on the grounds). We could try and stick around on our last night (Oct. 26), but I'm unsure of our exit strategy that evening before we fly home the next morning.
    • Our ADRs open up April 26. At this point, our only reservation we may need to make is at Cinderella's Castle. But DD is unsure whether she's wants to make that a priority in the day.
    Thanks for following along, everyone.::MickeyMo
     
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  13. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Happy Easter weekend, gang. So there's been some relatively big news in our pre-trip planning...

    We've added an extra day to our trip! We're now staying from October 23-27, instead of our original departure date of Oct. 26. The flip side to this is that we're switching rooms from our Theme Park View in the Contemporary Resort, to a Garden Wing room.

    In full disclosure, this is something I've been mulling over for a while, and became even more apparent that we should likely make this move after we purchased our MNSSHP tickets. I know we're still 200+ days out from our trip, but I spend just a few minutes each day watching videos and reading the little nuances of the parks that I'd love for us to experience. And as I learn more, I grow unsure if we'd genuinely have time to fit them in due to just trying to cover some of the tried and true big experiences. Things like the nighttime safaris at AK, playing through Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, the drawing classes at AoA, exploring the Boardwalk area, or even just taking some midday breaks and enjoying the CR! (I mean, we are staying at a Deluxe resort. We might as well enjoy it for more than a bed and shower, right?)

    Mind you, maybe we won't end up taking part in any of these things I mentioned. Maybe we'll just ride all of the rides until our shoes fall off our feet. But I'm going to encourage DD to take on some of these more off the beaten path opportunities and make some unique memories.

    Now, why the switch of rooms, you ask? We're adding an extra night to our trip and having the proximity to MK that we still desire, at the same cost we're paying now for one night less in the Theme Park View room. It seems like more than a fair exchange to give ourselves an extra full day at the parks, over the view of MK.

    Oh, we also received our MNSSHP tickets today! I think I've come up with quite a dapper and modern "Sorcerer Mickey" Disneybounding outfit to take on the evening with.

    Have an awesome weekend, everyone.::MickeyMo
     
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  14. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Just found this PTR! Sounds exciting- can't wait to read more. MNSSHP is our favorite!
     
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  15. blueant315

    blueant315 Earning My Ears

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    You can't go wrong with a great location and more days for your trip.

    I am SO jealous of your MNSSHP tickets! I love all things Halloween, costumes, and candy.

    Happy planning!
     
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  16. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Thanks for coming aboard! Hopefully there's enough to keep you entertained along the way. ::MickeyMo

    Thank you! I'm still hopeful that a room will open up for our opportune dates of 10/22-10/26. In full disclosure, Halloween is not really my favorite holiday. But DD loves it, and all of the information I've read about the party sounds quite fun. I'm sure we'll have a blast that evening. ::MickeyMo
     
  17. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Where is the time going? It's already mid-April, and Spring has finally arrived in the greater rural metropolitan suburbs of the western Illinois area...just 25 days after Spring officially arrived! Anyways, more excitement builds as we've changed our reservation dates. (This is the second time, but the last time. I promise...probably.) Our trip is now Monday, October 22, through Friday, October 26. These were the dates we originally wanted when moving things around and expanding the trip days. Moving things back seems somewhat trivial, but it's important to us for the following reasons:
    • Getting DD home a day earlier on Friday evening, instead of Saturday, to allow her more time to rest up to return to school the following Monday.
    • Moving things one day ahead opens up a second evening that Magic Kingdom will be open publicly, as the week is extremely full of MNSSHP dates during our stay. I feel like this gives us all the flexibility we need to hop around the parks.
    • Everything initially is showing that our flight costs will likely be a little less traveling on Sunday and Friday.
    Our ADR window now opens on April 25. DD has given it a lot of thought and wants to make a dinner reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table. We're also looking at ADRs for dinner at Mama Melrose's, as part of the Fantasmic VIP package, and Rainforest Cafe, as we're trying to parse out an evening at Animal Kingdom. I'd been mulling over purchasing a Disney Dining Plan for us, but I've broken it down, and I estimate we'd lose $50-70 on the DDP. (NOTE: This includes $40 for refillable mugs as part of the DDP offering, and assuming I'd order a pricey steak at Rainforest Cafe.) So the savings by paying out of pocket may be even larger in the end, or I'll nickel and dime myself back to even on snacks. But hey, it's just money, right?::MickeyMo
     
  18. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Spring was here...then it left for a couple of days...and now it's back in the greater western Illinois area. Well, at least until it snows again this weekend. (I say that in jest, but right now you never know!)

    We're just a week away from ADRs opening up, I've secured our flight tickets and am starting to build a blueprint of how we hope to spend out days. Not in a "we'll be at this ride at this time, and that ride at that time" sort of situation, but a general scope of where I think we'll be in mornings, afternoons and evenings.

    The concept of trying to plan things ride-to-ride just seems overkill, beyond our FastPass reservations. Don't get me wrong, I love putting a good plan together. But it just seems like there are too many variables that could come in our way to try and be that specific. I'm sure what I've already put together so far will shift when actual park hours for our dates are announced later this month. Am I wrong in being too broad in planning, or should I try to get a little more particular?::MickeyMo
     
  19. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Your ADR choices sound good! We had dinner at CRT last October and loved it! I read so many bad reviews- bad food, overpriced.. But DS wanted to take his girlfriend there (huge Cinderella fan!)so we did. We are a group of 5 adults and we loved it! I thought the food was very good, service great, character interaction fun!
     
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  20. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    I'm betting we've both read a lot of the same reviews, but hopefully our experience will mirror yours. :) Opportunely, we'd land an early ADR (5:30 or so) on our first night of arrival, then take in the Fireworks Dessert Party later in the evening. With the number of MNSSHP events taking place that week, I'm hopeful one of our two nights that MK is open all evening will include evening Extra Magic Hours. (Morning would be fine...but c'mon, we're on vacation! I just wanna sleep in a little bit.)::MickeyMo
     
  21. B. Shoe

    B. Shoe Blow me to Bermuda!

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    Warm weather has finally arrived in the greater rural metropolitan suburbs of the western Illinois area, and so has our ADR window! Our TA was up before the roosters this morning, as a wave of emails flowed in to my inbox from Disney World all before 7 am! We have secured reservations at all of our requests, including lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table and the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing.

    Our CRT reservation is at 2:30, which may seem like a late lunch at first. But it's on our first day at the parks, and with us still adjusting to the slight time change, it'll feel like 1:30 in our stomachs and I'm sure we'll be ready to eat. I still may regularly check to see if any later reservation times open up that we can swap into. DD's eating habits at dinner are much larger than lunch, at times. I know part of the cost of CRT is the ambiance, character interaction, etc., and I'm fine with that. I just hate the idea of dropping that kind of cash to hear her say "Dad, I'm full," after two bites of a chicken breast at lunch. Maybe we can take a to-go box back to CR right after that, come back for the evening before the fireworks show, and have a late snack available.

    We also reserved a Fantasmic VIP dining package at Mama Melrose's, but it's a 3 pm reservation. Maybe there's an early performance of Fantasmic, or something I'm missing in the timing of it all? All questions to be answered in good time, I'm sure. I couldn't locate a later time available in the drop down menu online, either, for that day, or days preceding it.

    I'm eager to see the rest of our park hours finally appear in the online calendar as the next four days pass by. I'm hopeful we'll get some Extra Magic Hours in the evenings at a couple of parks, as DD is still very much more of a night owl than an early riser.

    Excitement is rising and my checkbook is sinking. Disney planning is truly in full swing.::MickeyMo
     
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