Walt Disney World Trip
In January, 2004, I met up for a few days at Walt Disney World with my Australian friends Dianne, Kulendran, and Alyssa during their three-week trip to the United States. I hadn't been to Disney World since a one-day visit to Epcot back in 1983, so there was a lot for me to catch up on. Way too much, in fact, to see in four days. So almost as soon as I got home, I started making plans to go back, and for a longer trip.
Pre-Trip Planning(Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo. Click on links to see additional information or photos.)
Choosing a date Parties and tours A birthday present from Disney Yummm....lots of delicious dining reservations
My original plan was to visit Disney World in late October or early November, when the heat and humidity of summer in Florida would be gone. In early February, I called WDW and made reservations for five nights at Port Orleans Riverside and five nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge, both with water views.
A couple of weeks later, I changed my mind about when to visit. Because my friends and I had visited in early January, we had seen some of the Disney World Christmas decorations. But many of them were gone by the time we arrived, so I decided to move my next trip to early December, when all the holiday decorations and activities would be going full steam. As well, the RADP and Mousefest fan gatherings would be happening then, which would give me the opportunity to do some things with other people during my trip.
In mid-March, I ordered a WDW Premium Annual Pass. Things have changed since then, but at the time, an annual pass could save money on a vacation of as little as 8-10 days. That wasn't even counting the potential savings from AP discounts on lodging. I chose a Premium Annual Pass because it would give me unlimited admissions to Pleasure Island during my trip, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the delightful Adventurers Club.
I also ordered a ticket for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, an evening celebration at the Magic Kingdom. I got it for the night when the Mousefest attendees would be there, too. At the same time, I made reservations for 12 people for dinner before the party at the Liberty Tree Tavern. I would be having dinner with a bunch of other Disney World fans I knew from some online groups. See my report for Day 8 to read about the dinner and MVMCP.
About a month later, I made my airline reservations for the December trip, using my accumulated air miles to book a free first-class flight. That would help me arrive in Florida better rested than being cramped in coach for seven hours.
One of the things I wanted to do during my visit was take the Yuletide Fantasy tour, a half-day walking and bus tour of the WDW Christmas decorations, including a peek inside the Holiday Services building. So in July, I called and made a reservation for that. You can see my report about Yuletide Fantasy on Day 3.
Things were coming along well, and then on my birthday in August, they got even better. Some clients took me out to lunch, then brought a cake to our early-afternoon meeting. When I got home from the meeting, I found an update from Mousesavers, a great website about WDW discounts. The AP hotel discounts for October through December had just been released!
I had been eagerly waiting for the discounts, so I immediately called WDW reservations--and reduced my lodging costs by nearly $700. My Premium Annual Pass had more than paid for itself, and I hadn't even left California yet!
(With the later introduction of Magic Your Way tickets, and changes to the AP hotel discounts, the economics of using an AP for a single trip have changed. But it's still an option worth investigating if you're going to have a long trip.)
Pretty much everything was in place now except for dining reservations, and we finally got into the 90-day-advance window where we could make those. My net-friend Mindy called WDW in September to book a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package at Epcot, which would include preferred seating at the 5:00 show and dinner afterwards at Chefs de France; a Fantasmic Dinner Package at Disney-MGM Studios, with dinner at the Brown Derby; a dinner at Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian, and a lunch at the '50s Prime Time Café at Disney-MGM Studios. Another member of our informal group, Lynne, made reservations for 'Ohana, Cinderella's Royal Table, and Chef Mickey's.
I made priority seating reservations for meals at Boma and Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge), Boatwright's (Port Orleans Riverside), the Flying Fish Café (Boardwalk), Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge), the Kona Café (Polynesian), Le Cellier (Epcot), and the Garden View Lounge (Grand Floridian). I was looking forward to some great meals!
About a month before the trip, I reserved a rental car for the first day of my trip. That was so I could drive to Kissimmee to see Give Kids the World Village, which I'd been invited to visit. More about that in my Day 2 report. I would be picking up the car at the Orlando airport and returning it to the Alamo desk at Disney World, then using the free WDW transportation options for the rest of my stay. I'm happy to let the professionals chauffeur me around WDW. Besides, a lot of the transportation options at WDW are really fun.I was less than thrilled in early November when I got an email from American Airlines notifying me that the 8:00 a.m. flight from San Jose to Dallas had been cancelled and I'd been put on the 6:25 a.m. flight. Ugh! I am not a morning person, so an 8 o'clock flight was bad enough already. Now I was going to be on one of the first flights of the day out of SJC. Oh well, nothing to be done about it. I was excited about the trip, and all was in readiness for my departure!
Pre-planning | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 |
Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Days 11-12 and Tips for Solo Visitors
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Text and photos (c) 2004-2006 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 2/5/06