Back to try this whole trip-planning thing AGAIN!

Hi all! I’ve been gone a while. I hope everyone’s been doing well!

To make a long, long story short, a little over a year ago my dad said to me, “Hey, why don’t you and I take my grandkids to WDW?” The idea was to do a 6-day trip, mostly focusing on MK and Epcot, with one day at DHS and one day at UO. And I got on here and tried to plan and ended up having to postpone three separate times. The good – very, very good! – news is that my dad’s health problems, which continued into the fall, are now largely under control. He managed to avoid getting a quadruple bypass (that is a STORY) and is treating the related issues. He’s still almost-72, with all that brings, but he’s willing to talk about the trip again.

We were supposed to go to Ireland the week of April 6th, my girls’ spring-break week. However, my husband has voted that we postpone that trip for work reasons. Guess how fast I bought the 2020 Unofficial Guide and got back here.

First let me go ahead and get the EMHs down around my dates for my own benefit:
Friday 3 April: MK 8-9 am
Saturday 4: AK 8-9 am
Sunday 5: DHS 8:30-10:30 pm
Monday 6: AK 8-9 am
Tuesday 7: Epcot 9-11 pm
Wednesday 8: MK 9-11 pm
Thursday 9: Epcot 8-9 am
Friday 10: MK 8-9 am

Things that are the same from the last time I tried this:

  1. Still driving down.
  2. Dad is still going to be super-anxious about helping me wrangle two kids in a crowded environment in his less-than-perfect health. That’s not going to change. He’s currently suggesting another adult go with us. My current take is, I’m happy to have his girlfriend along (I’m saying that sincerely; she’s sweet with the kids) but either way, the girls are not toddlers (they’re 10 and 8), I’ve got more stamina than he’s giving me credit for, and we can always send him back to the hotel in an Uber if we need to.
  3. Relative to Point #2, I think he’s still going to want a really close hotel. First week of April is mostly booked; I was able to get a MVT quote for the Contemporary for that week but it is ugly (like $5K for a 6-day trip). Given that we’ll have a car, I’m not putting a Monorail-adjacent hotel as a priority (I also suspect his idea of how the Monorail works, and how crowded it’ll be, is based on memories of 1997), but I expect to get an argument on that point.
  4. I’ll still take pointers to any drawing/art/animation-themed activities anyone knows about.

Things that have changed:

  1. Oh, SWGE. How I hoped to avoid your clutches. Y’all have no idea how ballistic my older kid is going to go when she gets the chance to ADOPT A PORG. Suffice to say we’re going to have to dedicate a day to DHS, and I’m just going to cross my fingers that the RotR BG program is less chaotic by the time we get there (I foresee DD10 and me going ahead and DD8 having breakfast with Granddad).
  2. But her interest in Harry Potter has cooled somewhat. I still have my one-day ticket to UO; the kids may still petition for a second day but I’m anticipating it less.
  3. No more Illuminations. Is its replacement fun? Should I go ahead and plan for Tuesday night dinner at Epcot?
  4. Obviously my kids are a year older and have a little more stamina, although DD10’s biological clock is starting to do the teenager’s shift to stay-up-late-and-wake-up-late.

Soooooooooooo we’ll see. I’m going to get on MDE and fiddle around, see what I can get with dinner reservations. [update: got Garden Grill for 4/4, Via Napoli for 4/7, Akershus for 4/8. That’s too much Epcot and I’ll have to drop at least one of them if this trip goes through, but at least I got 'em! Both girls enjoyed Frozen 2, DD10 especially, so I think they’ll enjoy Akershus more than if we’d gone last year as planned.]

tl;dr didn’t get to go last year; trying to go again in April. tips welcome, especially for non-Disney hotels that are close enough to the park to reassure worried grandpas! :smile:

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Have you considered Swan/Dolphin for its proximity to HS and Epcot? Love the way you described the monorail hotel pricing - gross. Lol!

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Have you considered renting DVC points?

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That’s a prime Spring Break week (leading up to Easter) - pickings are probably going to be pretty slim for a 7 or 8 night stay. Could you do a split stay? Might open up some better options. And set your expectations appropriately for crowded parks (we’ll be there the week before you!).

Since you’ve already passed the 60 day mark and you’ll have a car…I’d definitely investigate offsite options (which I know nothing about, so someone else will have to help).

I don’t know your kids, but I wouldn’t worry for a single second about wrangling an 8 and 10yo.

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Glad to hear that Grandpa is doing so much better and rearing to go to WDW with his family.

Book your lodging ASAP so you can get your FPPs. Your travel days are less than 60 days away but more than 30 days away. If you book a Disney resort or a good neighbor hotel, you can book all of your FPPs after you book your hotel. Otherwise, you can book at 30 days, one day at a time.

What hotel? That depends on your budget. You say that Contemporary is ugly for 6 days at $5,000 but you don’t say what’s your budget. You might consider a last minute deal from David’s DVC Rental to see if you can get a good last minute deal. If you want a Dining Plan, you have to stay at a Disney Resort.

I priced a good neighbor hotel, Double Tree Suites at Lake Buena Vista. It has a shuttle but I would drive to WDW since you have a car and if you are in a hurry. For 9 nights from April 3rd - April 11, it’s $2,632.75 with a $23/night resort. Parking is another $22/night. Disney parking is another $25/day. The total is $3,055.75 for a suite with 2 queen beds.

Most Disney resorts and good neighbor hotels are about 10-15 minute away by Lyft. Driving will take more time, since you have to park.

Since you have a car, you might even consider a vacation rental. Others here have said you can get 4-5 bedroom homes for $100-$150/night.

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Thanks, y’all! I knew this community would be here for me when I got back :hugs:

@Ladyderks – yeah, I just checked dvcrequest and their cost calculator is showing $2800 for a studio at Bay Lake Tower (for Apr 4-10). It’s possible something last-minute might come up, so as we get closer to finalizing this trip I’ll keep an eye on things.

@stlouie – the budget is a slightly tricky thing since I’m technically not in charge of it. So I’m trying to balance what my dad wants (to be close to the parks, MK especially) and what my dad also wants (to not feel like he’s overpaying – he just bought a house so he’s feeling a little sheepish about money these days, although, thank goodness, this trip isn’t a stretch for his budget).

@TheSafetyLady – thanks for reminding me about Swan/Dolphin! If I see a cancellable rate I’ll try and get it. I think my dad’s girlfriend may have suggested Swan when we were planning this last year.

update: went ahead and got two rooms at Sheraton Vistana Villages ($2,430 / six nights / two rooms) that are cancellable without penalty until April 1st.

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The Animation Experience at Animal Kingdom is great! Kind of a pain to get to since you can only take the train and the class is a bit fast paced, but it’s really cool to see how they make a few circles and lines turn into a character!

Some resorts have art activities throughout the week, including tours of art on the property and drawing/paint classes (check out the Riviera particularly). Note that this site updates the schedules monthly:

I’d also vote for checking out Epcot/HS area resorts for proximity to SW and the art/animation things they have in both parks!

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Thank you so much for those calendars!!!

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I didn’t read everything but stopped at kids ages 8 and 10. My kids on last trip were almost 8, 11 (just turned 11) and almost 13. Those are great ages to go! They are very independent yet still will stand beside you and not fuss that they want to be off on their own. Worst problem I had was that the younger 2 sometimes yearned for the stroller (we used to have when they were younger at WDW) b/c they’d get tired. Mine were tall enough to ride everything, although my youngest is pretty tall for her age. She was not, I thought, mentally ready for some of the thrill rides so her brothers did that without her (we had 3 adults and could easily split up).

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Have you been to UOR before? Even if your kids aren’t into HP as much as they used to, the HP areas are amazing. Truly amazing. I don’t think you’d have to know anything about HP to appreciate them on some level. It’s worth doing for a day, esp with your kids at their ages. Lots of rides for older kids.

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hey there! We have not been to UOR before but I do have a one-day ticket. The plan we hatched last year, and are still holding onto, was basically 5 days WDW (2 days MK / 1-2 days Epcot / 1 day DHS / sacrifice AK) + 1 day for Harry Potter.

My younger girl is pretty tall but really dislikes loud noises + loud ambient sounds; I plan to get her some kind of earplug. Neither of them are much into roller coasters.

I suspect they’ll both get tired and fuss; I would’ve rented one of those stroller-wagons if they were still available. Oh well. I’ll have to have a come-back-to-the-hotel-and-rest strategy.

You seem pretty sure you won’t like UOR, but it may surprise you. There are lots of interesting things beyond the HP areas if you don’t like them. Mythos restaurant was a nice quiet meal and the entire Dr. Seuss area was delightful (I say this not knowing if you have a park to park ticket…I can’t remember which park these things are since we kept switching). Since you are saying your daughter doesn’t like loud sounds I will warn you that when the dragon in Diagon Alley breathes fire it is very loud, and also hot. But you get a lot of warning that it’s about to go off b/c it sort of makes gurgle sounds first. You get used to this as you hang out there but at first it can be a little startling if you don’t know it’s going to happen.

ugh, y’all. I’m being a coward.

At some point I have to call my dad and explain to him that (a) we can’t get the Contemporary, (b) my husband is not going no matter how often my dad wistfully says that we should bring another adult, and © I still think the trip is worth taking the week of April 6th.

I honestly think we could go and have a good time even if it’s just me, him, and the girls – we can manage expectations; the girls aren’t Disney trackers enough that they’re requesting specific rides; the presence of Uber/Lyft means we can send him back to the hotel any time he wants. However, I’m not sure he’ll agree with me. It’s going to be hard for me to talk him into taking this trip (and paying for it) if it just makes him worry more.

And this all assumes that the coronavirus won’t be an issue, which does not feel like a safe assumption on the day when Japan has closed all schools for a month. (Which is apparently being seen as an overreaction borne more by panic over hosting the Olympics than actual threat to kids, but it still feels shocking from here.) I haven’t committed to new dates on the tickets yet and the hotel’s cancelable, so I’m not out any extra money if WDW shuts down between now and April 4th, but again that’s going to be on my father’s mind, and I can’t tell him he’s completely wrong to worry, especially since there does seem to be a consensus that seniors are at the greatest risk.