| Walt Disney World 2001:
|| Pre-Trip |
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Greetings and thanks for taking a look at our trip diary for our Walt Disney World Vacation in May 2001. I'll call the trip WDW2001 from now on. First thing I should do is introduce myself and the group. I'm Len, as you may have gathered by looking at the rest of this site. The seven of us who took this trip are all adults in our mid-20s to very early 40s and we brought NO CHILDREN. You may get the impression from this report that we don't like children... well that's not completely true, but as far as several of us are concerned, if they were to set up adults-only days at WDW or Disneyland, we'd go a LOT more often. We chose the 3rd week of May for it's weather and in the hopes that most schools would still be in session. We hate crowds, but don't really like the abbreviated park hours either so May is a nice compromise.
There are 2 special occasions happening on this trip. Our friends, Pat and Melissa Healy are celebrating their Honeymoon (a year late), and we're gonna hoist a few pints at the Rose & Crown for my 36th birthday. 5 members of our crew have known each other for at least 10 years, Pat and I go back almost 20. Denise is a friend we've hung out with in the last year, since she started working at my former job (and Kel's current). Terry is a friend of Greg's and the rest of us met him for the first time at our final big planning meeting/party on May 5th. Kelleye and I are married and have been for about 12 years, Pat and Melissa are the other married couple on this tour. Pat and I met back in college and have been annoying each other ever since, and he and Melissa have been together for about 10 years. Greg is a friend we met when we ran our BBS back in the late 80s/early nineties. Most of us are Disney Park nuts with multiple Disneyland visits under our belts. We live in the SF Bay area and can get to Anaheim by car in about 5 hours or 90 minutes by plane. You should check out my Disneyland Pages if you are interested in the Original Disneyland. As for WDW, I win with this being my 5th trip, Kel has 2, Pat and Melissa 1 each and Greg, Terry and Denise all being virgins. You'll get to know us better by the time you hit page 3 :)
We began planning this trip in October of 2000. We all meet on Fridays at the local pub to grouse about the past week and to relax. Well Pat and I got to talking about a WDW trip and since we all have real jobs now and can afford it, well what the hell. We've taken many DL trips together so we know we can travel without killing each other. That's all it took to get the ball rolling and Kel and Melissa have been driven completely buggy by us ever since. I set up a mail-list on our server so we could easily email all who were going. We asked our kids if they wanted to go (daughter and son-in-law are sorta adults so the no kids rule doesn't apply :) ) but they are in the middle of building an addition and can't quite fit a trip into the budget. Another friend whose joined us on other trips isn't interested, so the group is 4 for awhile. Greg signed on in mid November, Terry just after x-mas and Denise made us 7 the first week of January.
For several weeks in October, Pat and I spent much work time doing research on where to stay. We sucked as much info as we could find off of a half-dozen websites we frequent and picked up a copy of the most recent Unofficial Guide. Kel and I stayed on property for our honeymoon back in '89 at the Grand Floridian, but we couldn't afford to do that again. We definitely wanted to stay on property again however, as I always feel like I'm missing part of the party when I stay off-site. We looked at the Wilderness Lodge which was my fave pick due to it's theming, the Contemporary due to it's Monorail station, the Port Orleans and the then Dixie Landings for the theming and the price, and the Yacht and Beach Club for its proximity to Epcot. We weighed all the pluses and minuses and finally decided on the Port Orleans. WL, YandB and the Contemporary were all a bit too pricey for what was basically just a place to sleep and to keep our stuff in. The value resorts were not an option, they are IMNSHO ugly and likely to be teeming with children. On Nov. 1st we booked 2 rooms for a 7 night stay at the Port Orleans. Each room came to $1225, thru the Disney Travel Co. It wasn't a package (those are a rip-off unless you LIKE burning money), but included travel insurance. Our room cost jumped slightly when we added Denise to it, to $1376 but then was split 3 ways so our cost went down. It bumped up one more time after we bought our air tix...
From October thru December we were fairly bouncy about the trip, and annoyed with all the holiday stuff distracting us from it. We talked about stuff we definitely wanted to do, stuff we could skip etc. In January we got tix for Cirque. About that time Pat and Melissa got their air tix on United. Greg got his using Priceline.com in December. We were waiting for the price to drop a little bit but I got impatient around Feb 1st. I contacted a friend of ours who is a travel agent and she scored us a flight on Frontier Air for $278 round trip each. The only fly in the ointment was that the available flights leaving Orlando on Thursday the 24th were all $200 more than either Wednesday or Friday of that week (aren't Thursdays supposed to be less???) Well cutting our trip short was NOT an option so we snagged the Friday night flight. Had to call the PO to add an 8th night to our reservation, then let the rest of the group know.. So at this point, Greg and Terry would be arriving at midnight on Wednesday the 16th, Pat and Melissa on Thursday afternoon and Kel, Denise and I a little later that afternoon. Then everyone would be leaving Thursday morning the 24th except for Kel, Denise and I who'd be leaving Friday night at about 6:00.
The first week of February I set up this area of my website as a hidden section where I could post a bunch of helpful links to check out, a schedule-bot we could all edit with stuff as we thought of it, and the all important Count-Down! OK we went overboard but it WAS really cool to see how many seconds there were before our plane took off :). Kel did the programming work for the Schedule. It allowed everyone to add suggestions for what we wanted to do each day, what restaurants we wanted to try, and when our flights and stuff were. By the time you are reading this, much of the stuff has been moved off to an archive and this section is now the trip report. Check it out It's still here!
May 8th: I began writing up this Intro/Pre-Trip section. The 2 week mark was last Thursday and we're all really excited about getting down to Florida! Between February and now we've done a bunch of planning. I made reservations with Tiffany Towncars for Kel, Denise and I. Pat did the same for Melissa and him. We made a couple of priority seatings, Rose & Crown on my birthday (20th), Teppenyaki on Saturday night. We have decided which parks we are going to when, but are leaving lots of wiggle room. Basically we've set it up so that we'll be able to see all 4 major parks + time in Downtown Disney and a half day at Blizzard Beach. We've set in stone the parks we'll go to first thing in the morning and will play by ear the rest of the day after that. A few of the other "set-in-stones": Greg and Terry doing the "Keys to the Kingdom" backstage tour that first Thursday (before the rest of us arrive), Kimonos at the Swan then Fantasia Gardens on our arrival night, Cirque on Friday night,Teppenyaki on Saturday night, RandC + Illuminations Sunday night, E-Ride night at the Magic Kingdom Tuesday night, Epcot Garden Discoveries tour Wednesday, and Kel, Denise and I going to see Iggy Pop playing at the House of Blues Wednesday night (whoda thunk it), while Pat and Melissa have a special evening at Victoria and Alberts.
A couple of things occurred between last October and now that affected the trip. We had planned on see Fantasmic's late show on Saturday, but in April Disney announced shortened hours at the Studios for May, canceling the late show. Decided to try to see it on a weekday instead. They also announced the closure of the Timekeeper attraction which was one of my faves the last time we were there. Seriously bummed me out but didn't really change any of our plans. The E-ride night thing was an edge of your seater for awhile. We kept watching for the posting of the May dates so we could adjust things. Lucky for us they followed history so our Tuesday night plan became a set-in-stone.
Last Saturday we all got together mostly to get psyched up, but ostensibly to touch bases and confirm all our plans. We all met Terry for the first time (except Greg :) ) We were convinced up until then that Terry was Greg's little imaginary friend and that we'd have to ditch him in Fantasyland once in Florida :). We sat around, ate, drank, hot tubbed (this IS California after all) and since it was Cinco De Mayo, we watched Saludos Amigos, Walt Disney's WWII propaganda film for South America. Greg and I had both ordered Disney's free WDW planning video sometime last year and they arrived a week or so ago,after we'd pretty much gotten everything done. We watched it for yuks anyway. (Where do they find these hosts???)
As for what is to come... I have a to-do list with about 20 items on it, and probably 6 other items I've forgotten. Some involve the big Mother's Day BBQ we've gotta do the weekend before we leave... the same weekend a friend from New Zealand is staying with us on his way to Canada. Distractions distractions. This Friday, our friend who opted not to go, is lending me his new digital camcorder. I was really hesitant about bringing it.. I always enjoy watching the videos later but hate having to carry the dang things around all the time. We've got our digital Elph for snapshots which we can throw up on the site much more quickly than in the past and we're bringing a couple throw-away cameras. For the most part it's just the little stuff left to do.
After Mother's Day it will begin being hard to sleep :-)
The waiting is finally over! We survived Mother's Day and our friend Dan is busily unpacking in Ontario. We are scurrying aroound getting all the last minute junk done. I've recharged all the camera batteries, checked and double-checked all my notes for the house sitter (Thanks Chris!), packed, and made sure there was enough cat food. I confirmed our shuttle pick-up for the ride to the airport tomorrow morning, then they called us at about 7:00pm to confirm again. Cool. I'm ready to go by 6:00pm. Denise is supposed to be here by 8:00 so she can spend the night. We have a 3:45am shuttle to catch and don't want her to be late. She ended up not making it over until about 10:00. Right before bed I listened to a brand new CD I ordered from Mouse Shoppe. The new Disneyland 2001 that Jim Hill reviewed on Laughing Place. It's great! It'll be fun for parties :) Anyway, if I've forgotten anything we'll just have to make do. We leave in morning!
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