A few months back I wrote about how we had made the decision to take a family trip to Disney World later this year. Well, most of the year has passed and we’re now less than two months away from taking our trip. I’ve been bad with updates (a whirlwind summer with mostly great weather has a way of doing that), but wanted to check in with some updates and observations!
So, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up!
The first thing that I have to admit is that we made a change of plans that increased our budget and is a big splurge. When we first planned things out, we had decided to stay at a moderate level resort. Since then, we’ve upgraded to one of the deluxe resorts.
After we did our initial planning, Disney came out with a free dining plan, but you had to stay at one of the deluxe resorts in order to get it. The increase in the hotel price exceeded the savings in the meal plan, so we ended up paying more. But, we put a lot of thought into it and we’re OK with it. Here’s why:
- This is a rare trip for us – If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, we do go away quite a bit, but 80%-90% of our traveling is local and camping. A trip to Disney is something we’ve been thinking about for five years, and it’ll probably be another five years or more before we do it again. My wife knows people that go down there every year, sometimes multiple times! Since we don’t do that, we felt OK with the extra costs.
- Our kids LOVE animals – We are staying at the Animal Kingdom lodge, and we have a room type that makes it possible that we’ll see animals right outside of our room. Many reviews state that you walk out on your balcony and you can see zebras or giraffes or other animals. Our kids could go to the zoo every day, so we know they will love this element as well as the cool themes within the room.
- My wife;s business supported the cost – I mentioned in the original article that my wife had decided to fund the trip with money made from her Etsy shop, and even with the change we were able to do so, as her business did better than she’d projected at the end of the day. So, while it certainly would have been great to have that extra money, we’re 100% fine with having the same amount of money at the end of the trip as we would have with the original projections, and getting what we hope is an awesome trip.
I’d been following airfares before the trip, and was happy that we got what appeared to be a great deal. I’m somewhat obsessive and have been tracking the fares ever since, and we appear to have booked with the single lowest fare available since we started tracking. Our flight is the ideal flight for the time of day, and is about twice as expensive as what we paid for it. The flights on either side of the time are still 20% higher.
We are also looking forward to avoiding having to pay for luggage costs as we paid for it with a Delta American Express card.
One thing of note, they did adjust the schedule a bit so that we’re leaving (and arriving) about one and a half hours earlier than when we’d booked. We’re cool with that.
Planning Is Nearly Complete
Because we’re on the Disney meal plan, we had to plan out our schedule pretty tightly. We had to pick what park we wanted to be at on which day, as we made reservations on certain days for different restaurants. My wife did a lot of research on what restaurants have the best characters present and some of the ‘must see’ places, and we were lucky enough to get things planned almost exactly as she wanted.
We later were able to book many Fast Pass reservations, which also ties into our schedule, and allows you to get on rides with a lot less wait time versus standing in line. You’re only allowed a certain number per day, so my wife did a lot of reading up on what rides and attractions would be the hardest to get into that our kids would enjoy, and so far, it looks like we have a good plan.
It’s Looking Busy…But That Could Be A Good Thing
We chose our time with one of the reasons that it is typically a less crowded time, as it happens to fall before Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is when things often pick up. Because of the different promotions (including the meal plan), it appears that the crowds will be pretty heavy.
But, that could actually be a good thing. Why?
Because one thing that often happens during less crowded weeks is that Disney will offer pretty short hours for many of the parks. When reservations indicate higher crowd levels, they’ll expand the hours, which they have started doing. This will give us flexibility to either enjoy the parks longer, or take some time in the middle of the day to return to the hotel, rest, and head back out. With much shorter hours, this wasn’t looking like a possibility, and this worried us, as our kids (and let’s face it, the grown ups) need their rest.
We Told The Kids
We’ve been planning this for a while, and this past weekend we finally told our kids about the trip! My wife wanted to tell them far enough in advance that we could show them information about the park and start getting them used to the idea of rides, and really increase their excitement level. We also want to make sure to prepare them for the idea of a plane ride, as my daughter has never been on one, and my son was on one when he a year old, so it’ll be a new adventure for him, as well.
My wife came up with some great ideas:
- We got some balloons with Mickey on them, and put them into a box that was taped shut. When the kids opened the box the balloons floated out.
- Mickey Mouse wrote them a letter telling them that they were coming down, and went through some of the great things that have been lined up for them to do, including the hotel, the parks, and some of the restaurants.
- There is a ‘How Many More Days’ picture frame that has a piece of glass in front that we change the number each day with a dry erase pen, to show the countdown on how many days left!
Thanks To The Planner
If you’ve read through all this, by now you may have noticed a theme. How many times have you read the words ‘ My wife’? Answer: A lot. She’s been amazing and has pretty much single handedly planned (and of course paid for) the entire trip. She’s great at planning things that turn into wonderful memories, and her attention to detail and knowing the details of what will not only make it a wonderful time, but a wonderful time for our family, are huge.
So much love and thanks to her for all the work!
Readers, if you’ve had or have a big trip, tell me about your planning and details and excitement in the comments below. Any tips or tricks as we get ever closer to the travel date?Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.