Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: A November 2018 Disney Trip Update

I thought it might be a good idea to update you guys on our upcoming Disney trip. A LOT has changed (regarding not only this trip but our trips in 2019) since this post. But honestly, a lot more could change. The problem with constantly planning your vacation is that change is inevitable. If we didn’t change things about our upcoming vacation, we would run out of things to talk about. What are we gonna talk about? Current events? Sports? Our children’s futures?

Pfft.

Now, this post is sort of meant to be a broad discussion of the trip. I will most likely be doing a day-by-day pre-trip report and of course a day-by-day actual trip report.

On account of we don’t have anything else to talk about. Pay attention.

We’re driving? Yeah. Wait, I thought you were flying. Yeah.

So originally, the plan was to fly down the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and stay the week after, coming back most likely the following Friday (so a total of 10 days.)  We booked Bay Lake Tower for our first night and Beach Club for the rest of the stay. That was the plan.

That WAS the plan.

Then flights came out. And they were expensive. So we started toying with the idea of driving. The plan then became driving down and driving back, with stops in between. You guys know we love a road trip so this was kind of exciting. We are all kinds of Griswold. So we made the plan to leave the Saturday before Thanksgiving and drive down, stopping for two nights (once in Savannah) before reaching Disney and then still leave Disney on Friday, November 30th (again, stopping for two nights with one night at Disney’s Hilton Head resort.) The result? A 15-night, 16-day trip in November. We ended up booking a couple nights at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista near Disney Springs for Monday and Tuesday night.

THAT was the plan.

Then, flights became cheaper and our full trip we had planned was actually coming in more expensive than it would have if we flew down. But I mean, we were already in for the road trip. Heck, we had already ordered shirts.

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So we ran number after number. We looked into different scenarios. Renting a car. Not renting a car. Flying. Driving. Driving one way and flying back. Flying into Atlanta and driving out and back. So much Excel. It was Excel-ent. Except it wasn’t.

And nothing was working in the road trip’s favor.

Until.

Yup, until. Until I came across this insane deal for an SUV for $17 a day one-way from Boston to Orlando. Technically, I came across a deal for a $7 a day sedan. But a sedan? On a road trip? With my children?

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I also had enough points in my Delta account for two free one-way trips back from MCO to Boston and the remaining one-way flights weren’t looking too bad either. Everything was starting to come up road trip. And I mean, it was kind of a perfect scenario because we were definitely dreading the ride back and not getting home until Sunday as we had to host a Christmas party the next weekend and at the thought of having to somehow cut down a Christmas tree on top of all of this, I was starting to break out in hives. They were Mickey-shaped, but still.

We were bummed to have to take Hilton Head out of the mix, but we had a plan now. Leave on Friday night before Thanksgiving, spend a night in Connecticut. Wake up early Saturday, drive to Virginia Beach for the day/night. Drive to Savannah the next day, spend the night. Leave Monday, drive to Walt Disney World and drop off the car. And this would still have us staying, as mentioned, at the Wyndham, Bay Lake Tower, and Beach Club before flying out on Friday.

We secured our Lilo/house sitter for the time we would be gone (burglars, no burgling) and made all the necessary reservations. So yeah, now we are driving and flying. Kind of awesome.

Like I said, I will be publishing a day-by-day plan before the trip (most likely, some time soon after we book our fastpasses) and will outline all we have planned not only for Walt Disney World but also for places like Virginia Beach and Savannah. For now, this overall idea will have to suffice.

NOT ENOUGH

No dining plan. Wait. What?

Yup. No dining plan. Not a one. This right here? It’s drastic. We have been doing Deluxe Dining since like forever ago. Three table service credits a day. Two snacks. Refillable mugs. And now, we are paying out-of-pocket for all of our meals. Crazy town.

Why though? Why did we do it?

Mainly, it’s ALL OWEN’S FAULT. Being a full-blown adult by Disney standards, we just knew the amount of money we would spend on a Deluxe plan wouldn’t be worth it for him. And yes, I get the insanity that is Disney considering our 11 year-old an adult. He can’t even seem to make himself a bowl of cereal.

But then it came down to what then? Do we move down to the Basic Dining Plan? Do we move to the Quick Service Plan? We thought about doing all this. But honestly, moving to the Basic Dining Plan had us still paying quite a bit out-of-pocket and moving the Quick Service Plan wasn’t really a consideration. On account of we like table service meals. On account of we like to eat at a table.

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So we have decided to save up and pay for all our meals when we get down there. This has caused me A LOT of angst. I have always liked the all-inclusive feel of having the dining plan, not having to take my money out to pay for meals. Well, I guess it’s sort of an all-inclusive feel. I mean, we still have had to pay for tip. And tax. And even with the addition of the 1 alcoholic drink per meal, we would still be having to pay for alcoholic drinks at meals as well. I mean, 1 drink per meal? What are we? Quakers?

I was definitely messed up for a few weeks after deciding to go with no dining plan, but I have come to terms with it and am actually kind of excited about it. I mean, yeah, I do like table service for sure but I am kind of excited to throw some good quick service options in there (especially with the advent of mobile ordering. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

We are special-eventin’ all over the place

Going at this time of year is super special anyways. Going over Thanksgiving week is like a holiday-a-palooza. Not only do we get to spend Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World but we also get to experience a proper Christmas kickoff.   Annnnnnnnd, we also get to celebrate Nickie’s birthday while we are down there, which is also pretty much amazingtown. Because she is pretty much amazingtown.

There are a ton of Christmassy things we will be doing outside of special events (touring the resorts, walking EPCOT’s Festival of the Holidays and Holiday Storytellers, the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs, etc.) but we have booked some different experiences to get the most out of our Christmas-ing at Disney:

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – we have done this party twice already. And last year, we decided we probably wouldn’t do it again. Then, we started to see posts talking about. And once hype sets in, I can’t help myself. I love hype. And now, I am getting kind of excited about it again. We have no plans to do much else the day of the party (aside from enjoy an amazing-looking brunch at California Grill) so we can be nice and rested for it. Last year, we spent the morning at EPCOT and ended up completely exhausted by the time the party ended. This time, we are going in rested. And a rested Goody clan can only mean one thing at a party – we takin that shizz OVER. The party don’t start til we walk innnnnnn.

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Candlelight Processional – I mean, of course we are doing the Candlelight Processional again, but I mention it specifically here because we went back and forth on doing a dining package for it. With us not doing the dining plan, doing a dinner Candlelight Processional package started looking really expensive. However, we found an awesome package for $30 at Ale and Compass for breakfast that would get us priority seating. And with the recent addition of the $23 buffet+entrée there, it seemed like a good deal. We are going to be doing the Processional on the 29th. And according to Disney, our narrator is TBD. Oooh, I love him.

Holiday sleigh ride at Wilderness Lodge – As I said above, not only are we celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas while at Walt Disney World, but it is also Nickie’s birthday. And with Nickie loving both Disney and Christmas, I decided to book this awesomeness for her birthday. After a day of sleeping in and touring World Showcase at EPCOT, we will head over to Wilderness Lodge and the four of us will have our own personal sleigh ride around the grounds. And while carriage rides are pretty much always available at Wilderness Lodge, it’s especially cool at Christmas time as a lot of the campers deck their sites out in Christmas-ity. This review does a good job of describing what to expect, including the exclusive pin you receive. And after our 25-minute ride, we have reservations at Hoop-Dee-Doo, which is one of our favorites.

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Happily Ever After Dessert Party – Right, well I guess this one isn’t technically Christmas-related but still. And since we had already done this one last trip, we sort of went back and forth on doing this dessert party again. Walt Disney World is like dessert party crazy so there are a ton of options for parties to attend. We ended up selecting this for a second time because we just feel that getting a good spot for Happily Ever After is the most valued of all the nighttime show spots. While the Frozen Ever After and Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam Dessert Parties both offered some interesting elements, we landed on Happily Ever After because Illuminations is a show with a lot of good viewing options in the park and Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam is a show we want to see, but don’t classify it as “high priority.” And doubly awesome is the fact that I think we are being joined by our Florida friends Missy and Eric (and their adorable daughter Livi) for this one. So I mean, friends and cupcakes. Life will be good.

So yeah, lots of cool stuff. This is why we keep coming back to Disney. While we go to experience all the things we know we love again, we always try to incorporate some “new” into the trip. We have begun the “sketching out the fastpasses” phase of our planning. With that 60-day mark approaching, we need to get that stuff in line. And once those are booked, I will start doing more formal day-by-day pre-trip reports. So get excited. For the minutiae.

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