Sunday, February 3, 2013

Extreme Disney Vacation Planning

I woke up this morning at 5:30am for the 14th day in the row without a day off to go to work (weekends too) ... and still have another 7 days without a day off (my choice, my practice ... I'm not complaining) all this plus I'm on Week 2 of my partial weight-bearing on my boot and crutches (hopefully full weight bearing by the end of this week) ... and Superbowl XLVII is today ... but the order of business this afternoon is



I admit it.  I am a planner.  You must have heard about those Type-A vacation planners ... yup I'm one of those, multiple spreadsheet-creating, every-hour-scheduling, multipocketed-folder-carrying, get-up-at-crack-of-dawn-to-get-good-reservations kind of planner.  Especially when it comes to Disney.  Walt Disney World has just gotten way too crowded, and there is just so much to do, and there is so much information available on the internet, you have to stay ahead of everyone else.  Lots of fun controlled craziness in planning.

(credit to

"Death of spontaneity?"  Well, I can't deny that some of the "stop and smell the roses" aspect of appreciating Disney's attention to detail has suffered, but proper planning can save you tons of time in line ... time that can be later spent relaxing.  My family and I have not waited in a significant line in a long time ... when we plan right.  In any event, the planning process itself is part of the joy of the vacation ... for me, anyway.

So let's get down to business.

Vacations we are planning for:
1. 5-night Western Caribbean Cruise on the Disney Wonder!
2. Walt Disney World vacation 2013
3. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2014

The WDW Marathon Weekend is still about a year away, and completing that Goofy is still my goal (I'll walk it if I have to, given my current injuries), so that will be on the side burner for now.

The Disney Wonder
This will be our 5th Disney Cruise, and will put is into the Gold Castaway Club level, for what its worth.  I'm especially excited about this cruise, because it's 5 nights (we've done 2, 3, and 4 nights previously), and we booked a bunch of extras we haven't done before:

-Palo Brunch
-Palo Dinner
-Shore Excursion in Cozumel: Mayan Ruins and Discover Mexico

yes ... a cruise is first and foremost about relaxing, but I couldn't help but track down the Navigators (hour by hour schedule of the ships activities) for this trip.

So, I did a majority of the planning already for this cruise, I paid in full, (originally booked through Dreams Unlimited Travel, who I've worked with in the past, and have been great!  Thanks Merrie!), and booked usual -- limo to airport, flight, limo to hotel, limo to port, CRUISE!, limo back to hotel, limo to airport, flight back home.  I'm depressed already that it will be over.

So we'll just sit back and wait for our cruise documents and off we go.

2013 WDW Vacation
We've been going to Walt Disney World 1-3 times a year for over 20 years. I use a lot of resources, so for my own reference, here's what I can use:

Disney, to be honest not the best website, but good for Dining Reservations
Upromise, to use:
Expedia or Orbitz
Dreams Unlimited Travel
WDW Info -- truly the best overall unofficial disney vacation info site
DISboards -- truly the best overall unofficial disney forum
Touring Plans
Easy WDW
Evernote for my ultimate to-do list and packing list
Dis Unplugged podcast
WDW Today podcast
WDW Radio podcast

something new: My Disney Experience.  I haven't played around with it yet, but may be a useful part of Disney's Next Generation My Magic Plus in Theme Park / vacation interactivity, which will include controversial or not RFID tracking of your moves, purchases, etc.

(credit to

I tried making some dining reservations last night online, but the 6 month mark wasn't quite here yet.  (yes, I'm planning where to eat 6 months ahead of time).  Generally, the crowd calendars on Touring Plans and EasyWDW guide us on what park to go to ... then we plan our dining reservations around that.  We'll probably be getting Annual Passes this time around (because we plan on going multiple times in 12 months), which will qualify us to get the Tables in Wonderland card.

We definitely have our favorite restaurants, but we want to try new things each visit, here's a list of some new and old favorites we want to hit this time:

Monsieur Paul (used to be Bistro de Paris) -- listen to the famous Kevin Klose's review here.
Be Our Guest (in the new expanded Fantasyland) -- listen to the Dis Unplugged review here.
Citricos or Narcoosees
Le Cellier (mainly for the Unibroue beer they serve there)
Kona Cafe (I have yet to try the Tonga Toast)
Via Napoli
maybe Yachtsman Steakhouse

(credit to

(credit to Corey Martin)

I can't wait to eat!  I'll probably do another Walt Disney World Mini Beer Tour and Review as well, so keep an eye out for it.

Since we can't book the dinners yet, I'll look into flights today, and also look into Disney Vacation Club availability of the Contemporary Bay Lake Towers.

(credit to Disney)

So.  let's get down to business!

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