Almost five years ago one of my MILs asked me if we wanted to go to WDW, their treat. My girls were 2 and 3 at the time, I was pregnant, and our oldest was a major flight risk. We politely said, “No thanks,” and did Dollywood instead the following summer, which was perfect for us at the time. DH and I had talked before about a trip to WDW and timing and cost and had decided that we could probably only ever go once due to living overseas, the cost of a trip, and wanting our girls to remember the trip. So, in our minds we had planned on going when they were around 8, 10, and 12, for a one-and-done kind of a trip.
Fast forward to 2016. We came to America for 3 weeks in February, saw family and friends, and turned around back to Russia. In early April DH learned that one of his good, longtime friends whom he had just seen in February had pancreatic cancer and would die within a month. In late April he went to visit her and say goodbye, and when he returned, he basically said we need to do the WDW trip as soon as possible, because you never know what tomorrow holds. DH and I both have memories of WDW with our parents or grandparents and really want our children to have those memories, too.
So, I started researching and we started saving and scheming and planning. We asked all the grandparents if they wanted in on the trip and 5 out of 7 said yes. We do enough traveling and staying in hotel rooms with kids to know that our idea of a vacation does not involve us all sharing one room. The larger on-property places are just plain out of our budget, so we decided to use our timeshare and exchange for a place off-property for two weeks, allowing up to 3 additional people to stay with us. We found a 3-bedroom at Hilton Grand Vacations Tuscany Village (or something like that) and will be there from November 30-December 14. Our trip has very much been planned “on a budget.” It’s a kind of large budget because nobody can go to WDW for 2 weeks and not spend some serious cash, but for 5 people for 2 weeks we are definitely “on a budget.” We have carefully chosen ADRs, no extras, and plans to enjoy free things like the resort swimming pool, the water parade, and resort Christmas decorations.
We’ve been staying in North Carolina for the past two months visiting family and DH has been promoting his business. We’ve been telling our girls that we were going to leave here on Friday and go to Alabama for the rest of our time in America, but surprise! We told them on Sunday via a scavenger hunt that we were going to go to Disney World first. They were shocked and surprised and DD8 actually cried she was so overwhelmed.
So here I sit, the night before we leave. The plan is to drive to south of Charlotte tomorrow and spend the night with my brother and then to drive the rest of the way on Friday. Saturday morning I’m actually going to get to see a friend whom I haven’t seen in 4.5 years because they’re in WDW, too, and leaving Saturday afternoon. I happened to plan a day to swim, settle into the resort, buy groceries, and do some resort hopping, so getting to see a longtime friend is an unexpected bonus.
Week 1: me and DH (late 30’s-early 40’s), DD8, DD6-turning-7-in-WDW, DD4, my mom (mid-60’s), his mom and stepdad (late 60’s)
Week 2: the 5 of us, DH’s dad and stepmom (late 60’s-early 70’s) and DH’s brother (late 40’s)
The rough plan:
December 2: EPCOT. RD until we’re tired, making sure to hit up some of the WS Festival of the Holidays stuff.
December 3: MK. RD until after our 12:00 lunch at BOG. Return around 5 and stay until after HEA.
December 4: Day off. Swim, puzzles, resorts, whatever we feel like.
December 5: AK. Show up around 10-11 and stay until after ROL at 6:15.
December 6: breakfast ADR at Trattoria al Forno, then head to HS at around 11:00. Stay until after JBJB!
December 7: Day off. My mom leaves this day. I have a lunch ADR at Sanaa that we may drop if we just don’t want to go anywhere. DH’s parents will pack up and prepare to leave the next morning, unless they decide to leave later this day to get part of their trip behind them.
December 8: MK. Not sure if we’ll RD or just use our first 3 FPP and then see what we can get. DH’s other parents arrive this day so we won’t stay too late, probably will leave by 4ish.
December 9: EPCOT. RD Soarin’, use our FPP, go to WS and see the rest of the Storytellers that we didn’t get to see before that we want to see. Head back to the resort for a break and be back in EP by our Garden Grill ADR at 6:45 (If I can get one for 3 more people…I have 5 of us so far!). Stay for Illuminations.
December 10: Day off. Swimming, etc. DH and I have a date night planned at Raglan Road.
December 11: MK. RD, use our FPP, have a late lunch at CRT. Stay until we’re tired (or 6:00, when they kick us out for MVMCP).
December 12: AK. This could totally change as it’s my DD6’s 7th birthday. So, if she wants to go somewhere else then we will. 5:30 pm ADR at T-REX for the dino-loving birthday girl.
December 13: pack, swim, laundry, etc.
December 14: head to Alabama.
Tomorrow we’re off! More to come!