One of my all time favorite things to do at Disney World is to take photographs. I enjoy taking pictures so much that the past four years of trips to Disney have accounted for a grand total of 3,340 pictures! Of all of those pictures, which I will admit include a really high number of stinkers, this post will bring back memories of some of my favorite pictures. For this first part, I’ll show you some of our pictures from our June 2010 and August 2009 trips! I hope you enjoy!
June, 2010 Disney Trip
Sophie with Mickey & Minnie
At Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Stephanie with Sophie and Cinderella
She is looking right at ME!
Unfortunately, so is HE!
The culmination of the best parade I’d seen in years!
I love Mickey and Minnie taking in the attractions!
What makes Disney, Disney: The special touches by housekeeping!
August, 2009 Disney Trip
Disney’s Days of Christmas Store
The Three Caballeros!
The Walt Disney World Band
The end result!
That’s Her Mickey!
Sophie loves her some Donald!
Thank you for taking the time to take a trip down memory lane with me. I hope you have enjoyed these photos as much as I have enjoyed remembering all of the memories that these photos bring back. See you next time!
There is nothing quite like taking a family vacation to Walt Disney World. The excitement that comes with planning the trip is almost half the fun. How long do I stay? Where do we want to eat? Should we do the Disney Dining Plan? These are some of the questions that need answering.
However, there is a whole other dimension that gets introduced when you start planning a trip involving multiple families, and even multiple generations of people going. Just like planning your own family vacation, the excitement that builds as you plan it with another family is perhaps even greater! Here is a real life example involving myself, my wife and daughter, my niece and her boyfriend, my sister-in-law and her husband and daughter, AND my sister-in-law’s Mother.
Last year when my wife and I took our daughter to Disney World for her birthday, we also invited and brought along my niece. That was an incredible trip, in part because our daughter didn’t know that my niece was coming until she showed up the day before our trip, and also because Steph hadn’t been to Disney in about thirteen years! The trip was phenomenal, and while we were there, we took the plunge – we purchased our Disney Vacation Club at the Villas at the Grand Californian Resort & Spa! Part of what made that purchase phenomenal was that we received double points, meaning the 220 we purchased were doubled, we banked them, and we have 440 to spend this year! We already knew what we were going to do with those points!
Last year we tried to convince my sister-in-law’s family to take a trip with us, but with the economy the way it was, they declined. This past September, we had a little get together with them and convinced them that they needed to come with us next year! How could they say no when we would be able to book a two bedroom suite at Bay Lake Towers with our points? That day in September, we decided that our vacation dates would be June 17th – 24th, 2011.
Planning Tip #1: Select a date that works for all of you in the party. We selected those dates because my daughter’s 10th birthday falls in that window. There is nothing quite like being at Walt Disney World when it is your birthday! Now that we had a firm “Yes” that they would be coming, and a date that worked for all of us, I had to wait a little bit because I couldn’t make the reservation at BLT until it was 7 months out from our check-in date. That was about two months away. November 17th finally arrived, and with it, my telephone call to the Disney Vacation Club. 9:00 AM arrived, I dialed the phone, got an agent almost immediately…then was told that they couldn’t book my reservation because of the computer upgrades they were performing to the system. I would be able to call back and make my reservation at 1:00 PM that afternoon. At this point, my nerves started getting to me a little. Would we be able to get the room we wanted? Would we have to go to a different resort? Would we have to change our dates? I resolved to try and put it out of my head for the morning, and worry about it when I called back. Unfortunately, I had a dentist appointment at 1:00 PM, so I wasn’t able to call right then – I had to call after that was over, about 2:30 PM. When I called back, I spoke with a nice lady named Flo who walked me through the whole process. They had a two bedroom available – Lake View – so I snatched it right up! I gave her the names of all the adults, then all the children and their ages, and our reservation for nine people was set! This brings me to my next tip.
Planning Tip #2: After your reservations are set, get together with all concerned to iron out additional details. The next thing was to figure out some of the details that we needed to cover. I had a list of four things to cover with Nancy:
How many days of park tickets do we want to do? We decided on six days, with park hopper, no water park option. When planning, I went to the detail of documenting how much the tickets would cost for various days so that they would have as much information as possible.
What sort of dining reservations do we want to make? I outlined to them what it would cost if we elected to do the Disney Dining Plan or the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan. In the end, we decided on one Princess Character Dining meal at Akershus, one non-Character meal at ‘50s Prime Time Café, and a third meal (location TBD) just for adults.
We also mentioned a special surprise that Cindy and I are going to do for the girls: a certain treat that has the initials BBB – I’ll let you figure out the surprise!
Lastly, we made the decision that we will drive down from NC in one day – it is about a ten hour drive.
In addition to those decisions, Nancy decided that she would get the tickets now. There are some good reasons for this. For starters, getting the tickets now will lock them in at the price that they currently are, which is good in case the price goes up. Secondly, getting the tickets now will lock them in for the trip. Thirdly, getting the tickets now will help them to have some things to include in the “gift” that they are giving their daughter at Christmas to tell her that they are going to Disney World! And lastly, the tickets don’t activate the two-week window before they expire until the first day that they are used. At this point, we are all caught up on what we need to do right now. Later on next month, we’ll need to book our reservations for dining, and call to schedule the secret surprise. Additionally, I’m going to read some of my friend Ken’s posts on things that Nancy’s Mom might like to do as an older Disney visitor!
Planning Tip #3: Communication, Communication, Communication What it all comes down to when planning a family vacation involving multiple families is communication, communication, communication! The more planning you do together, the greater your chances of everyone having a great trip, and enjoying every moment of it!
Planning Tip #4: Adding in the extra touches that make planning fun One of the things that I really enjoy getting as a way of increasing the excitement of our upcoming trip is the Customized Maps that Disney offers. These maps are an incredible reference, and a free keepsake that you can enjoy before and after the vacation. Some other things to look into include getting your music together, looking at trivia books and other books on what to do at the parks, and researching the various changes that are occurring at the parks to see if any of the attractions are going to be closed when you are visiting. What things do you like to do to get ready for your Disney vacations, and when do you like to do them?
I have asked the question about where Nancy and I should take our spouses on a date when we visit in June, and in typical fashion, I have receive several different responses. So, to that end, I’m opening up the polls. For background information, please see the my post on the subject at Chip & Company.
My reader in Canada, Gaylin had some really insightful comments, thank you for those, and I have had some friends talk about how much they love the food at this restaurant or that restaurant, and I have been having some banter on Twitter thanks to my friend @DisneyExplorer and her mention of the post.
So I’m asking all of you — where should we eat? Take a look at the poll to the right and go to it! The poll is open until 11:59 PM on December 12th. Thanks!
In the year 2000, my wife to be Cindy and I went down to Florida with my parents so that Cindy could meet my Grandparents. While we were down there, we arranged to spend two days on July 3rd and 4th and go over to Walt Disney World. We had a great time, and Disney magic was evident in full force for those two days. You see, despite it being the 4th of July holiday, the parks weren’t that crowded, and it was also Cindy’s first visit to Disney. On August 11th, Cindy and I were married; we have now celebrated ten years of marriage. That first Christmas was a very special one for many reasons; first of all, we found out that we were going to have our daughter, Sophie, so that was cause to celebrate. Secondly, it was our first Christmas, and it was very special just because it was our first. Lastly, Cindy gave me my greatest Disney treasure – my suede Mickey Mouse jacket. As you can see, this jacket is truly special. The funny thing is that we saw this jacket for sale at the Disney Store at Tyson’s Corner Mall the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I remember looking at them, and then getting side tracked to somewhere else. Little did I know that Cindy had bought the jacket when I walked away, and disguised it somehow so that I wouldn’t know about it – and I was the one that carried the bags to the car that day! To this day, it is my favorite jacket, and with fall weather hitting us and giving colder temperatures, it is a great time to wear the jacket. I have only seen one other person wearing that jacket – someone was wearing the same jacket at the Magic Kingdom the next month, when Cindy and I went to Disney World for a long weekend and ate our way through Disney. It has kind of surprised me that I haven’t seen anyone else with this jacket, but that just makes this Disney Treasure even more of a treasure for me! Do you have a special item like my jacket? Let me know in the comment section below.