Travel dates: May 12 20 at ASSR and then move to Hilton for a conference for Betsy
Travel method: Alaska Airline Seattle to Orlando direct
Resort: All Star Sport Resort and Hilton
Accommodations: Standard Room
Ages Represented in Group: Betsy (45), DS (Ben age 9 will be 10 in June)
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Betsy (numerous trips to Disneyland as a child, 5 as an adult, 1 trip to WDW (offsite)); Ben (2 trips to Disneyland, this is his first trip to WDW)
Cast of characters: just Betsy and Ben
I have a conference in Orlando, and I debated about whether to try to combine a Disney trip with it. There were several considerations taking my son out of school for 8 days, missing 4 or so of his baseball games, and whether we wanted to spend the money. But I cant stand the idea of being so close and not doing Disney, and I also cant stand the idea of not doing it with my family (it feels too selfish). My husband and I talked about it for several days when I mentioned that I really wanted to go, and we ultimately decided that its a great opportunity to minimize the costs, and that we could fit it in our budget. He went with us on our two trips to Disneyland, but has decided not to join us on this trip (he said he would rather use the money to buy a new sofa). Hes doesnt enjoy Disney that way that Ben and I do (obviously). Ill miss him, and it will be a different experience without him, but Im sort of looking forward to spending some quality one-on-one time with Ben. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, so he spends more time with Ben than I do, and this will be a nice break for him too. Im also looking forward to not having to try to get someone excited to get out the door it will be easy with just the two of us! Ben is always gung-ho!
When I discussed this with Bens teacher (late January), she had some reservations, but she said she was willing to work with us, if we were prepared for the consequences of him missing 8 days of school she is very concerned that he will get behind. She wanted us to start planning for him to miss school early. These were my suggestions for keeping him on track:
Having Ben keep a journal where he writes everyday about his thoughts about the trip, our planning activities, what hes excited about, etc. from now until after our trip is over.
Doing extra reading by researching our trip on line and using the guidebooks Ive purchased between now and May.
Doing extra work between now and May to get a jump on the learning activities (as appropriate).
Working together on the plane (both ways) and during the evenings during our time at Disney World to stay current with what the class is doing while he is gone.
Doing extra work after we get back to catch up (as necessary).
Working on math facts and possibly other things while we are waiting in lines.
Choosing one thing (i.e. one of the countries in the World Showcase, the culture and celebrations that are associated with the food that we try in one of the restaurants we eat in, or the history or science behind a particular attraction or show) that sparked his interest during our trip to research and learn more about, and do a report for his teacher by the end of the school year.
I started planning in January, just after I submitted two abstracts to the conference. I started by researching the resorts with Ben, and figuring out where we wanted to stay. He loves baseball, and he wants to swim in the Goofy pool shaped like a baseball diamond, so his vote was for ASSR. I thought it sounded fun too, so our first decision was made.
Next we started looking at the restaurants, reading reviews and trip reports etc. I also bought an Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and purchased a discounted membership on www.touringplans.com. I figured out what parks we would attend each day based on how busy they would be, but also making sure that we could see all four parks. Then we started making reservations. I canceled a few after seeing others that I would rather try. We ended up with 8. We decided to purchase the Disney Dining Plan (I like the idea of pre-paying for our meals and not feeling guilty about eating in nicer restaurants). At one point I said to Ben that we wouldnt have any character meals, and he said why not?. I said that I didnt know he wanted to do that; he said he did, so I moved things around again.
In early February, I contacted Mary Kraemer from Mouse Ears Vacations. She was great to work with, and I booked ASSR, Disney Magical Express, 9 day Park Tickets (I did not add the park hopper or water park additions), and the Disney Dining Plan. Deposit paid.
As long as my abstract(s) are accepted for the conference, my company will pay my airfare, but I wanted to use airline miles for Bens ticket, so I booked that at the end of January. In the worst case scenario, we will have to change our reservations and pay a fee, but it will be a lot cheaper than having to pay for the entire flight (Seattle to Orlando is not cheap).
Ben and I have also been reading guide books, and thinking about the attractions we most want to do. Im driving everyone crazy as plans are solidified I cant wait to hear whether my abstract(s) are accepted, and whether I will be attending the conference. I think it will work out fine.
To help Ben get excited and to encourage him to keep a journal I made a countdown journal jar (slips of paper with a different journal topic), so he could draw one slip of paper a day and write to that topic in his journal, and when the jar is empty, we will go to Disneyworld. I gave it to him on Valentines Day. Our countdown is 88 days!!!
I found out in late February that my paper was accepted to the conference, so we are now definitely moving forward with our plans (by now, I dont think I could have not gone, though, so the conference attendance just means that I now dont have to pay for my airfare!). Good news! With my flight booked (thanks job!), I think we are ready.
I looked into purchasing the PhotoPass because I read somewhere on MousePlanet that the price was going up. I got good advice from several of you about whether it was worth the cost, and I decided to purchase the Deluxe PhotoPass, and Ill make an album for Ben. I also made my final payment (45 days left).
Saturday, May 12 Travel from Seattle to Orlando via Alaska Airlines, work on homework on the plane, DM to ASSR, check in, get settled in, dinner, swim, whatever we feel like
Sunday, May 13 Mothers Day at Epcot! I love Epcot. Late Lunch ADRs at Coral Reef at 1:50. Ben wants to treat me, since its Mothers Day (how sweet is that?!?!?!). We have the DDP, so I will let him take care of the tip good practice on his math skills, to boot. Youre welcome Mrs. B!!! I want to see Illuminations and everything else that we can. Test Track is closed for renovation during our whole trip, so that is a bummer!
Monday, May 14 Disney Hollywood Studios Hopefully we can see Fantasmic, and try the rides Ive never been on (Rock n Roll Rollercoaster, Toy Story Mania, The Great Movie Ride). I also want to see some of the shows. I also want to be able to go on the new Star Tours. If Ben really wants to, well try to do Tower of Terror, but that ride is not my favorite, and weve been on it before I would rather spend our precious time here doing things we cant do at Disneyland. Dinner ADRs at 50s Prime Time Caf at 7:15.
Tuesday, May 15 Magic Kingdom, boat to Wilderness Lodge for ADRs at Whispering Canyon Caf for 5:00. We will tour before our meal, and when we need a break head for Wilderness Lodge to relax for a bit and explore. If we feel up to it, after our dinner, head back for the Main Street Electrical Parade (I love this parade) and Wishes.
Wednesday, May 16 Magic Kingdom see what we missed and repeat favorites. I definitely want to see Mickeys Philharmagic, because Ive never seen that.
Thursday, May 17 Epcot. I want to see Illuminations again. Well probably do some of our favorites from Sunday again and see the things we missed.
Friday, May 18 Animal Kingdom, Breakfast ADRs before the park opens at Tusker House at 8:05 and late lunch at Yak and Yeti at 2:00. I want to do anything and everything here if we can. Priorities are Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, the Safari, Tree of Life, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Flights of Wonder.
Saturday, May 19 Explore some of the other resorts, including breakfast ADRs at Boma at 10:45 and dinner ADRs at Ohana at 5:00, swim at the pools, laundry, pack up, and relax.
Sunday, May 20 Open we will choose which park we want to go to while were there. EPCOT will be my choice (I think), because its my favorite park and it shows a very low attendance day on Touring Plans. My conference has a social hour on Sunday evening which I may or may not go to. Benihana has a restaurant in the hotel, and Ive always wanted to take Ben there, so we might do that tonight I guess it will depend on whether we have food on our dining plan that we still need to use.
Monday, May 21 Conference attendance, but I purchased 9 day park passes, in case we can sneak away (or even just go back to one of the parks for the evening). Ben will hang out in the room working on homework, reading, playing on the Kindle, and playing Nintendo DS while Im in the conference. The sessions are 1 hours each, and I can go back and check in on him between every session. I will have my cell phone as well, in case he needs to reach me.
Tuesday, May 22 Same plan as yesterday.
Wednesday, May 23 Conference attendance, and then fly home.