I’m partly writing this for my own benefit — as a way of thinking out loud. But I welcome any (nice!) thoughts anyone might have.
There are two things stopping me from committing to planning a WDW / UOR trip for next year: money, and my dog.
I make pretty good money and, being single, I have no dependents so I have a fair amount of disposable income. But during the last few years a combination of a decades-long addiction to Apple products and a newly-found addiction to Orlando theme parks have led to some overspending. It’s fine. I have a chunk of credit card debt, but it’s all at 0% and I have a plan to pay it off, which I’m doing. It’ll be gone in a year and a half. Simultaneously I’m putting money into a couple of savings accounts.
Other than when I go to Florida, my dog and I are together 24/7. I never go anywhere without him. If a venue isn’t dog-friendly, I don’t go there. I haven’t been to the cinema — except at UOR (!) — for years. I don’t go to restaurants. No doubt this is unhealthy and I’m sure I could train my dog to survive without me, but it’s not really about that. I don’t have any family, I don’t have any close friends, so he is my world. And I’m his. And I think the fact that I can say #metoo goes some way to explain why I’m overprotective of an innocent, vulnerable little creature.
But I want to go back to Orlando. I was going to write a whole bit about why, but I think you all probably get it! The current plan is to wait until Calvin, who’s eight, has passed on. That’s likely to be in about four years time.
At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child — that’s too long to wait. What I mean by that is this. One of the things I struggle with is finding an answer to the question “what’s the point of being alive?” I’m not saying I have a bad life. No doubt many would be jealous of it. But don’t we all need something to look forward to?
I’ve got some vacations scheduled: trips to country cottages and woodland cabins that Calvin and I will take together. But I’m mostly not really looking forward to them. They provide a change of scene but, other than that, I’m not sure what the point of them is. Well, the next one is in early November — in the UK we have a thing called Bonfire Night and it means lots of fireworks and Calvin is terrified of them. So we’re going to a cottage in the middle of nowhere to escape from them. Then a couple of nights away in a hotel at Christmas because, well, it’s Christmas and it would be kinda sad if I just stayed at home alone.
Then my 50th birthday in April — I’ve booked an especially luxurious cabin in the woods, complete with hot-tub and sauna and huge-screen TV — and I already have a nice bottle of champagne in the fridge to mark the occasion.
And then next summer I have a trip to a lochside cabin in Scotland. It’s a long drive and I’m not as excited about it as I should be.
I mostly enjoy my work. Some of it is a grind. Some I’d do anyway if I were a millionaire. Some I’d ditch if I didn’t want / need the money. But I do ask myself “what’s the point of this?” Pay off the debt. Build up the savings. And then four short — ! — years later a trip to Orlando in an attempt to mask my then grief at losing my dog.
It’s not a very motivating prospect, to be honest.
So last night — not for the first time since I got back from Orlando in early July — I started thinking again about the feasibility of a trip.
My initial instinct was to go minimal in terms of cost. I want to stay on-property for the FPP and transport advantages, and general convenience. Ten nights at an All-Star is £1,200. A fourteen day ticket is £400. A side-trip to UOR would cost, say, £300. A cheap flight would be £800. We’re talking probably £3,500 all-in, including food, airport hotel in the UK and so on. Maybe it’d balloon to £4,000.
But then I looked at photos of the All-Stars and I read reviews and I just thought I’d feel depressed staying at one. They’re just not me.
Next up in cost was Caribbean Beach, but there’ll be building work going on there next summer and that put me off.
Which brings us to Port Orleans. Hmm. I dunno. Those rooms aren’t really calling me. So that means AKL. Lots of people like it. But the location isn’t great: it’s a lot of Disney busses.
And so we end up at Beach Club. Killer location. A nine night stay — I figure that’s a reasonable minimum — is £3,600. Wow. That’s triple the cost of an All-Star. Though the price does include the regular DDP and a $100 gift card. Add in tickets, flights, and so on . . . we’re talking, say, £6,000.
Hmm. Can I afford that? Well, I could find the money. It’s not an impossible trip. But is it an irresponsible one?
What about Calvin? The people who looked after him the previous two times did an OK job, I guess. I’m pretty sure they accidentally hit him on the head with a heavy ball during my trip this year and I don’t think they fed him the best food. But he survived. And I’ve got eight months to find an alternative if necessary.
What about the trip itself? What would the plan be?
If I did nine nights at BC I’d work it like this. Arrival day and departure day would be Epcot/DHS. Very straightforward. That leaves eight days. I figure two MK, two AK, two UOR, one Epcot, one Disney Springs or maybe a water park (perhaps even Stormalong Bay).
No extras. No dessert parties. No Disney After Hours. No Wild Africa Treks. I’ve done all that stuff. With two days at each park (except DHS) and FPPs at 60+9, surely I’m covered for rides. I’ve seen HEA three times — I’m not going to fight for a spot or wait for an hour to see it again. And I’m not doing a dessert party. But wouldn’t that be a great time to get in line for primo rides? Will IllumiNations be a thing next summer? But whatever there is, it should be easy enough to find a spot. Or an FPP. Fantasmic isn’t difficult to get into. I don’t care about ROL or the Star Wars firework show.
For a couple of hundred extra I can upgrade from regular DDP to deluxe — that brings signature restaurants into play. I figure one big breakfast and an early evening signature dinner every day and I’ll be good. Plus I’ll have those snack credits: a Frappuccino and a churro or Mickey bar sound good. Restaurant-wise I really want to try some places I’ve never been. Lots to tick off the list!
Well, it’s obvious I want to do this. I’d say the primary thing holding me back is money. I need to look at my spreadsheets.
Does anyone have any helpful comments or suggestions?