Because all you liners were such a great help in my planning, I wanted to share my very first trip report with you. I’m also hoping some of my experiences will help others in the their planning, especiallly anyone staying offsite. I know, I know, blasphemy! But we needed to save some money and it ended up saving us approximately $350 for the week, even including parking. I had originally posted this for my non-Disney fanatics on Facebook, so please excuse any obvious explanations - I had to assume they had no idea what I was talking about!
A quick summary:
- I had a TP in place for every park day, which were obsessively checked over every day for weeks going up to our departure day. It was my first time making TPs and I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly, and I had needed to do some convincing with DBF for this trip so I wanted to have the shortest waits possible. However, these were quickly thrown out the window by day 1, and instead we just used the MDE app to check wait times before heading to a ride. This worked great for us, but others may enjoy following a plan.
- We stayed off Disney property to help save some money. I had also planned on bringing snacks and sandwiches into the park each day for meals, but we didn’t follow that plan very well either.
- It rained every day. I knew it rained in FL in September, but the days it rained it was steady and lasted most of the day. Our last day was beautiful sunshine. Otherwise, rain and clouds. But it sort of worked out in our favor.
- This was rated the slowest week in Disney, but it was still pretty packed. Wait times were higher than expected for most rides.
- We got on everything multiple times, which was much better than I thought we would do!
- My original plan was: 9/12 no parks, maybe DTD; 9/13 DHS and MK; 9/14 Epcot; 9/15 half day MK; 9/16 half day Epcot; 9/17 no pakrs; 9/18 AK; 9/19 DHS, Epcot, and MK; 9/20 leave. This plan changed. A lot.
Neither of us had been to Disney in 14 years, so this was our first experience as adults, and our first Disney trip together. A lot has changed since we were there, so it’s almost like a first time trip for us, therefore please excuse any mistakes I make in locations or names of parks/rides. We decided in May to do this trip, but didn’t end up booking anything until the end of June. I studied hard for the next few months for the best parks to visit on each day, which rides were worth it, which restaurants we needed to stuff our faces at, and setting up our fastpasses (my first experience with their new fastpass+ system - more on that later). I also consulted the great Alex D. Gorgone (my cousin), who should definitley charge for his services because he helped shape our itinerary, and man was he spot on! Anyways, happy reading!
Saturday, Day 1 - Arrival
Our plane left MHT in NH at 5:45 am and landed at 8:55am, so we had the whole day to do whatever we wanted! We had no plans to go into the parks today, and instead decided to keep it low-key and relaxed. We got through baggage claim and the car rental counter quickly, and were on the way to the Sheraton Vistana Resort by about 9:30am. We decided to go right there and try to check in early, even though we knew our room wouldn’t be ready. But the woman at registration worked her magic and got us a room immediately! So we headed over to unpack the car and get settled.
We ended up on the 4th floor, which on a normal vacation would be fine, but we knew we’d be hurting after long days at the parks climbing those stairs. But our room was ready so no complaining! We were in a 1 bedroom villa, with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, living and dining area, and screened in deck. It was awesome. Now I know some of you are thinking - who in their right mind wants to do laundry on vacation? Well, me. We packed very light, 3-4 outfits each, so we wouldn’t have to lug large suitcases around. I ended up doing 3 loads of laundry and it was the best. Not only did we not run out of clothes, but we came home with suitcases packed with clean clothes so I didn’t have to do laundry when we got back. We didn’t use the kitchen much except for the fridge and freezer to keep fruit and stuff for sandwiches, and to keep bottles of water frozen to take into the parks with us. But it was nice knowing we had the option to cook dinner if we wanted to save some money. We planned on making breakfast every morning, but upon check in we were given the option to forgo daily housekeeping in exchange for a free breakfast buffet for each of us every morning. Score!
This resort had 7 pools, 3 restaurants and bars, a marketplace, and 3 gyms (that we didn’t use). All this for half of what we would have paid for at a moderate resort on disney property. I know, to many of you disney fans it’s blasphemy to even suggested staying outside the “Disney bubble”, but we were on a budget - and you know what? This ended up being way better for us than a Disney resort. The longest drive we had all week was getting to Animal Kingdom, and it was maybe 10 minutes, if I wanted to exagerate it. Probably more like 7 minutes. The other parks were 5 minutes, and DTD was literally 2 minutes. We could see the Epcot fireworks from the resort - I wouldn’t recommend it as a viewing area, but we could see them. There was a free shuttle available, but we chose not to use it due to inconvenient timing and having to schedule 12 hours in advance.
We spent some time exploring the resort and finding out where the pools were (2 were within walking distance, and we never did find the other 5). It’s a really nice resort and would definitely stay there again and recommend it. Just be prepared for their timeshare pitch when you check in and be ready with your “no” face and attitude - they barely take no for an answer and will do anything to get you to attend one of their seminars. Be strong! You don’t have time to sit through a 90 minute speil! Mickey is waiting!
After exploring, we were hungry, so what’s our first stop? Golden Corral of course! DBF Anthony’s favorite place of all time - me, meh. But he agreed to a Disney trip so we will do whatever he wants while we’re here! We ate too much food, and by that time I was itching for some Disney. We were’t doing any parks, but why not explore DTD? Anthony’s mind was blown by their parking garage set up - they have a digital screen at the entrance of each level showing how many open spaces there are, and another screen at the beginning of each row. Looking down the rows, you can see small black “bubbles” that look like mini security cameras above each space. If the space is occupied, the bubble is black. If it’s open, a green light comes on so you don’t have to drive in circles searching for a spot! Pretty cool! We also had no issues driving in and parking, I’m not sure what all the fuss was about with the construction. But then again, we’ve never done this as adults so maybe it’s bad compared to what it used to be. We walked around a bit, went into some of the stores, and I had a margarita while we listened to some live music before heading back to the resort. Easy first day, and we were going to be up early the next day for our first park experience as adults.