Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time to Play Catch Up & A Trip of Firsts

Playing Catch Up

Well it's been over a month since my last post and quite a lot has happened... We've had two major holidays (well one candy fest and one real holiday), It snowed back home in Washington DC before it did here in Romania, I did not continue on to Round 3 of the Disney Mom's Panel process, and we have finalized our plans for our next Disney World Vacation!

Let's go back in time a bit and talk about the last thing I mentioned there...

Shortly after we returned from our Mediterranean cruise Disney released dates for free dining. Since we were already counting the days until our next vacation in December, we decided to defy the critics and take advantage of Disney's free dinning plan offer. So in 14 days, we will be leaving Eastern Europe before the cold gripping hands of winter can get a hold of us completely, and jet off to a much sunnier place. Can't wait to get home - to Disney World.

A Trip of Firsts

Of course this is not our first trip to Disney World. In fact it isn't even our first in 2011. We went down and stayed at Beach Club Villas for a few nights before we packed up and moved to "The Carpathian Garden," (Romania). However, this will be a trip where we will be experiencing many firsts - don't you just love firsts!

First off, this will be our longest consecutive stay (8 nights) on Disney property. We have always been the type of family that chooses to take several small (3 or 4 night) trips throughout the year, rather than one really big one - who can be that disciplined? But, since we now live 4,997 United miles away from the World instead of 868 miles, we have had to change our vacation pattern. When you have to spend 19 hours to get someplace, it just makes sense to stay longer!

This will also be our first time on the Disney Dining Plan! Free dining was always something that I wanted to try (can it be as bad as some people say it is), the timing was never quite right to take advantage of free dining. We are very excited about this for a couple of reasons. One, we are going to get to try a whole bunch of new restaurants that we haven't had the chance to in the past, and two, this will really make the Disney Parks experience more like the cruise in terms of dining.

Being on the dining plan made us do a couple of things differently in terms of planning. Since we are going during free dining we knew that advanced dining reservations (ADRs) would be more difficult, so as soon as we booked our dates, we headed to the website to book our favorites. This also made us really think about where we would be on the days we were making the reservations. We spent a lot of time on the Touring Plans website referencing their crowd calendar, and looking at park hours - only then did we decide where we wanted to eat. Some of the reservations that we are most excited about are places we have never been. Le Cellier, Sanna, and Crystal Palace to name a few. But we will also be hitting some family favorites as well, like Chef Mickey's and 'Ohana!

We will be also be staying at a new resort on this trip, Port Orleans Riverside. Many of you might remember that Port Orleans French Quarter is one of our favorite resorts, but with our youngest Dis Kid no longer sleeping in a port-a-crib, we had to make the switch to a resort that was able to sleep 5 in a room, and with an 8 night stay not cut into our daughter's college fund! The rooms in Alligator Bayou offer a trundle bed which will work great for our little guy. In some ways it makes me a little nervous to be staying for so long at a resort we have only visited in the past, but after reading many reviews and trip reports, I am confident the only thing that will get old will be lugging our laundry across the resort - you gotta have clean clothes! Just a couple of days ago we read at that they have started to open renovated rooms in Alligator Bayou, so we made sure to request a room in one of those buildings. We also heeded the warnings about the buses at Riverside, and we'll be renting a car so we can avoid them.

Probably the biggest first of them all is the fact that we will be coming back to America for the first time since we moved to Romania 10 months ago! And when returning to the US after such a long time, what better place to go back to then Disney! The last two weeks can not get here soon enough!

More to come sooner rather than later... I promise.

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