Who: Myself, DH, DD23 & DD11
Where: Beach Club Villa – 1BR
Why: To Celebrate DD23’s Graduation from College (12/09)
Background: When DD was accepted to nursing school, I told her we would take a family trip when she graduated. For the past 4 years, her summers have been busy with a semester abroad, an internship, a boyfriend, etc. She'd been on a couple of tripswith us, but we haven't been anywhere with just the 4 of us since our Disney Cruise in 2004! When her last semester began, I asked her where she’d like to go and I was thrilled when she said WDW. She has been once since she began college and the rest of the family has been several times, but she hadn’t been with her little sister for several years. We decided to pull DD11 out of school for a week (hoping that there might be some snow days during that time). This is her last year in elementary school and I figured it might be our last shot. As it turns out, DD23 got engaged a few months ago, so I knew with getting married and starting a new job, this might be our last opportunity for a trip with just the 4 of us. So, the planning began. DD11 and I already had a trip planned with friends for her 10/09 fall break; so I purchased APs for the 2 of us taking advantage of the DVC discount. I booked a 1 BR at BCV – this is older daughters favorite resort; found a great deal on airfare through SW, direct flights both ways and after deciding against using the dining plan this trip, booked reservations at some of our favorite spots as well as a new choice.
Travel: We hadn’t flown SW in awhile and it went great. I decided to pay the early bird booking for 2 of us so we could be sure DD11 would be seated with one of us. For the other
2, I did the online check in at 24 hours out. This worked great. DD11 and myself were in the A group, with DH & DD23 with low numbers in B. On the flight back, I booked the early bird for DH and DD11. On the return flight we all got to sit together. Our flight was smooth and on time. When we arrived in Orlando I was amazed at the number of travelers in the DME line, way more than there were in October, maybe because we arrived right about noon?? No worries, we were checking in at the Beach Club within about an hour and a half from landing.
Resort: The resort was as beautiful as always, the staff was courteous and helpful. We did miss seeing Art! We saw him just before he retired in October. Our 1 BR was ready when we arrived, a nice bonus. It had been a while since I reserved a 1 BR, we’ve found we prefer to spend our points coming more often or inviting friends and booking a couple of studios. That being said, it was really nice to have the extra space this trip. With the parks closing relatively early, we spent more time in our room and enjoyed having the extra space and 2 TVs and it was so convenient to have the washer & dryer in the villa. And Ahhh, the comfy bed and wonderful linens
. Late in the week, there was a convention of Sherwin William employees at the Epcot area resorts, including BC. There were a LOT of those guys! The only problem was that they all seemed to be smoking: on the walkways, in doorways, everywhere, not really a big deal, but they didn’t seem to acknowledge the designated smoking areas. 1 comment about the 1 BR, they need more hooks in the bathrooms! I am totally on board with being green and reusing the towels - but with 4 people, there's not enough places to hang those towels. I have some large hooks on suction cups that I keep in my travel bag, unfortunately I couldn't get those to stick on the wall this time. I think I'll look into some kind of over the door hooks prior to my next trip.
Dining: When I didn't book the DDP this trip, I decided to track our food expenses and compare the cost. With my AP, I had the option to purchase the Tables in Wonderland card and was able to use it at all of our table service meals and a few others; I used Garden Grocer (a 1st for us) and had a few groceries brought in: bottled water, beer, sodas, some breakfast items, sandwich supplies and snacks. I actually prefer to eat breakfast in the room, but hey – this is vacation, I’m not interested in cooking full course meals!! Bottom line: when I added the cost of the groceries (including delivery fee & tip – but not the beer); the cost of the TIW card, TS meals, CS meals and snacks, we saved about $300. This might not have been comparing apples & apples – we did not have 7 table service meals and I don’t think we ever ordered desert with a CS, but we had more than enough to eat. I think this is the route we’ll take in the future. I love dining at Disney, but the past few trips, I have felt like our days revolved around where we had to be for dinner. I’ve summarized our meals on the dining board.
(Cont on part II)