Welcome to the Walt Disney World Vacation August 2013 pre-trip Report, where I entertain you with tales of planning, packing, and general craziness.
Our oldest child graduated high school in 2013, and she worked hard to graduate a year early. This trip was her graduation gift.
Let’s meet the cast of characters, shall we?
Pete: Thirty-something father of three, master mechanic, and generally handy guy. After our very first Disney trip in 2009, he fell in love with the magic and loves going back to the World.
Aimee: Thirty-something mother of three, artist, and general crazy person. A certified Disney freak, I soak up all of the Disney knowledge I can find. I would spend a month or more in the World every year if I could!
Kristen: 18 year old recent high school graduate.
Austin: 17 year old middle child.
Taylor: 15 year old youngest child, always the most fun out of the three when at Disney!
Jeana & Harry: The grandparents. This was their first ever Disney trip and we ran their legs off them. They were pooped out by the time we left, but they want to go back!
The planning, reservation making, and clothing buying started about 9 months before the trip. Actually, even a bit before that, because for Christmas 2012, everyone got goodies for the trip for Christmas. Everyone received a Disney lanyard (with their favorite characters) and pouch for Christmas, along with some other little goodies for the trip.
Trip was booked, deposits made, and flights were booked in February. The kids are excited, grandparents are excited, and mom is SUPER excited! Grandparents are flying out of Buffalo, NY. The rest of us are flying out of Dayton, Oh. The kids haven’t flown before and are a bit nervous. We have a connecting flight on the way to Orlando so we can get there earlier in the day, and mom is kind of worried about getting everyone to the second plane on time!
The fun of planning has begun- dining reservations, touring plans, shopping! All so much fun! So much to do and think about and remember!
I needed a new bag, because the one I took in 2012 was passed on to someone else. What a perfect excuse to get the pretty pink duffle bag from 31 that I’d been eyeing! Woohoo! Pretty pink travel bag! Kristen needed a new bag too, and we found a really cute polka dotted Jansport bag at TJ Max for under $20.00. Pete and the boys already had suitable travel bags (although I think Pete could use a larger one). Now that everyone is outfitted with appropriate luggage, I can start thinking about the shopping and the packing.
Dining reservations were finalized in May. We had to switch a few things around from Feb-May because of our large party (7 people all together) and wanting to get the extra magic hours at all of the parks. Once we had our dining plans finalized, I started shopping for clothes. Oh, so much fun!
Austin, in 2009, offended Donald Duck. Because of this, I like to buy him Donald Duck items. So of course his lanyard is Donald Duck. We also just HAD to have breakfast at Tusker House, with Donald Duck. And he just HAD to have some t-shirts with Donald Duck on them for the trip. I had great fun looking for Donald t-shirts and other goodies on eBay! Most of the clothes and shoes I purchased for the trip came from eBay sellers. I found an adorable top for Magic Kingdom day- pink with large white polka dots and a ruffle down the front. I just knew Minnie Mouse would like it! I also found Teva sandals for me and both boys, under $30.00 for each pair including the shipping. If you’ve ever looked at Tevas, you know how fabulous of a deal that is!
One day while on a grocery trip to Wally World, I found the cutest Disney t-shirts. They were yellow and had “Hakuna Matata” on them. I just HAD to get it for Animal Kingdom day, so I bought myself and Kristen each one. I sent Jeana a photo and she went and bought one as well, so we all had matching shirts for Animal Kingdom. The boys each had character t-shirts to wear for the Animal Kingdom, and Pete was wearing his Rainforest Café shirt that he purchased in 2009. Gotta look spiffy for those photos!
Planning really is part of the fun of a Disney trip. Now, I know lots of people over plan and over pack, and when you’re a Disney message board junkie, it’s easy to become an over planning over packer, too. But, it’s great to see everyone’s tips and tricks, and just take from it what you can use.
Some tips that came in quite handy:
1. Soak a cheap kitchen sponge in dish soap & water. Let it dry, and then cut it up. Use this for washing your refillable mugs every night. I did this with two sponges, and had a baggie of soapy sponges for each room, so everyone could wash their cups at night.
2. Take more shoes than what you think you’ll wear. We were in Disney World for 6 days, and I took five pairs of shoes, plus flip flops for at the resort. I simply cannot walk every day in those parks comfortably with the same shoes day after day. Some family members didn’t take that advice and had very sore feet after a few days.
3. Take an over the door organizer, and hang it on the bathroom door. I kept seeing this tip everywhere and thought it was silly, but once we got there, I was wishing I had brought one. There really isn’t much counter space unless you are staying Deluxe (which we do not), and if you have an organizer to hang on the bathroom door, you can keep the counter cleared off. I bought an inexpensive shoe organizer when we came home to take next trip!
4. Water! We know how hot it is in FL, especially in the summer. Many people buy the Brita or similar water bottles with the filters and fill them at drinking fountains in the parks. The grandparents INSISTED on buying bottles of water in the parks (I’m sure they spent a small fortune in Dasani water that week). Not me! If you go to any counter service they will give you a free cup of ice water, so I got my water for free!
5. When entering a park, go to the left. Yeah, it sounds silly, but most people are right side dominant (right handed), so will go to the right. Go to the left for less crowds.
So, let’s get back to the packing, shall we? By June, I’ve got everyone’s bags in my bedroom, and the lists of who’s wearing what on what day started. Gotta love Pete, he just wears what I tell him LOL. As things arrive from eBay, they get washed and packed. Same with things I purchase such as chapstick with sunscreen, small bottles of sunscreen, etc. By July, we are pretty much packed except for the last minute stuff like toothbrushes and personal items. I’ve also ordered a new camera lens and extra battery. I made myself a pretty camera strap cover and made the girl a pretty camera strap. I’ve been searching for a cute bag that will handle the camera lens and autograph book, but can’t find anything I love. Pete suggests getting one in Disney. What?! He’s encouraging me to shop? In Disney World?! Don’t argue, just agree!! J
The week before our departure I finish the final arrangements: get the key to the house sitter, double check everyone’s bags, double check the lists, make sure I have all of the paper work, Photo pass Plus voucher, and all that good stuff. I had also ordered gift baskets from Memories By Betsy and I got in touch with her to double check that everything was good there. I made little itinerary cards for every one for each day, so that if we do separate in the park, everyone knows where to be for dinner. Now, we just had to wait....