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Unread 11 Apr 19, 09:28 AM  
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#1
The Fatadder
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Join Date: Jan 13
Going back a year early? Yes Please. 4 Swim with Dolphins

I shouldnt be writing this yet, we were not supposed to be going back until October 2021 or May 2022 when our youngest will be over 5 and tall enough to ride a lot more.

However a chance conversation with my parents while on holiday in Spain the day before the free DDP promotion was announced has seen the timescale bought forward.

The main reason for this was Imogen starting school in September 21. While we have a 2 week half term in October which minimises the time out of school, thinking back to how tired Evie was after her first half term of school Imogen needs a rest in Oct 21 not a manic trip to Florida.

So that leaves us with three potential times, May, Aug or Oct 20.
May was rejected as its only a 1 week half term as ideally we would like a 3 week holiday and that would mean 2 weeks out of school. In addition Imogen would only be 3 and a half, and likely between 1 and 2 inches shorter.

August has the down side of extra heat, more rain and more humidity. Its also budget setting time at work (although to be honest it feels like that drags on most of the autumn as well), which may impact on the ability to get that third week. She would be a month short of her 4th birthday.

October was the ideal choice, with the 2 weeks of half term plus the week before (the benefits of private schooling). It also gets me back in time for month end. The weather is cooler and drier, and less risk of hurricanes. There is a massive down side in that this year the free dining promotion ends on October 3rd, so potentially the cost will go up massively when factoring in the cost of DDP.


What do we want from the trip:
The core of the holiday will be 2 weeks with my wife and I plus our two daughters (who will be 6.5 and 4 in October), along with my parents and brother + sister in law. In addition we want some extra time on our own at the start of the holiday, we have found the children struggled to deal with the change after they left last time (when we tagged 3 days onto the end of the trip). It will also make for a lovely surprise when nanny and granddad turn up unannounced in Florida.

As ever it needs to be on site accomadation, with a big preference towards a 1 bed and a 2 bed delux villa resort (likely to be OKW but depending on price the other villa resorts would be very tempting.)

We will certainly need more than 2 weeks to fit in everything we want, with lots of repeat visits to the Disney parks plus both water parks. 3 days at Universal to do both parks plus a first visit to Volcano Bay, SeaWorld, Acquitica and a first return to Bush Gardens since 2014. The plan is to do a dolphin swim at Discovery cove for Evie and I (hopefully with Helen able to bring Imogen in for the photo at the end). There will possibly even a visit to Kennedy. As I say, its really looking like being a 3 week trip...

I am pricing up various options, both booking with DDP (Free and paid for) and booking direct and via rented DVC points. Potentially even a split stay between onsite and a villa, though Id prefer not to.

To compound it is the week before the holiday, getting DDP coverage for the first week without having to pay for a 2 bed for the extra week which will be out of budget. I like the idea of a week in a different resort...

First of all I need to talk to work and see exactly how long I can manage to get away from work. Along with getting the pricing spreadsheet up and running to see how it fits into the budget.

There will be a lot more planning to come (while I hope the trip doesnt slip back into 2021)
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Unread 11 Apr 19, 01:35 PM  
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#2
The Fatadder
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Whos going

Me, working in Finance, funder of trips, maker of spreadsheets, will potentially have my 36th birthday during the trip depending on when we travel.

Helen, in charge of arranging ADRs and FPs, sorting out the girls many many Disney dresses and ensuring

Evie, currently 5 going on 15 and will be 6 when we travel.
Loves reading, princesses and posing (unless there is a camera present). Cant wait for the rollercoasters, and hoping for a growth spurt. Her favourite character changes daily...


Imogen, will be travelling either one month before or after her forth birthday (after being in Florida for her first birthday). Loves her food, Olaf and more food. Hates the camera... hopefully will be tall enough for Splash / Thunder...


This will be family trip no 4, my 8th trip, Helens 6th, Evies 4th and Imogens 2nd.
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Unread 11 Apr 19, 04:59 PM  
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The Fatadder
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Unless it turns out to be crazy expensive we will be flying Virgin or BA, given I dont fancy the 3 4 3 arrangement on a 777 I would prefer to go Virgin (especially in the slim chance they have started flying A350). But I suspect the fact we have a ton of points to burn with BA will swing the decision.

As usual our plan will be to use Disney buses wherever possible, and certainly will be taking the Magical Express to and from the airport.
A hire car will be needed for a big part of the holiday to get to Universal, Busch etc. So we will be needing a return of the trusty 8 seat full size SUV we had in 2017. At the moment rates for a years time are a lot higher than Id like so hopefully will fall by the time we book...
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Unread 24 Apr 19, 10:42 AM  
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#4
The Fatadder
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Accommodation thoughts:
Back in 2017 we paid 8.5k for a 2 bed villa at OKW for 18 nights with free dining plan and tickets.
For 2020 it is clear things are going to be a lot more expensive, with the combination of the falling value of Sterling, Disney adding a 25$ a day parking fee in resorts and the fact that there is no free dining for October. However I wasnt expecting it to be quite as bad as it is looking, with ATD quoting 16.5k for the same!

As a result, I am preparing 3 options, a price for a moderate (3 rooms) at CCR, a price for 3 studios at a DVC resort and a price for a studio plus a 2 bed at a DVC resort. Everything will be priced for August and October (depending on the response I get to my holiday request), and for the latter two options a price direct and a price via Daves DVC Rentals.

Which moderate to look at was a tough decision between Coronado Springs and Port Orleans. CSR looks to have much nicer rooms, and better facilities in general (more akin to a Deluxe lite). But PO has that closeness to Disney Springs. In the end the extra space and food & drink options on site + the Pool mean that it will be CSR that we price up as a moderate.

It had looked to be a coin toss between Old Key West or Saratoga Springs (both of which we have stayed in previously). And if we end up booking directly with Disney this will likely still be the case (based on availability at release). However should we go down the DVC rental route, I am tempted to have a look at the Boardwalk Villas (which are available at a similar price to OKW).




So far I have been updating my planning spreado, with prices taken from ATD (which look fairly comparable to DTC prices). Daves DVC Rentals was used to price the DVC options, while the dining plan prices and Disney tickets were lifted off the official website. For flights I have used the available Thomas Cook info, which I think should be within 200 of BA or Virgin.
Booking direct August is looking to be approximately 3k cheaper than October (that is comparing Room + Dining + Flights, less the 10% discount on Room.) However when comparing a DVC rental, October is circa 3k cheaper than August. While 3 studios can be had at OKW for a similar price to 3 rooms at CSR.
All this said the price is still coming in at a scary large number, so I am going to start some contingency planning for half onsite and half off. Roll on tomorrow and being able to start crunching some real prices (although of course that doesnt really help with OKW!)
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Unread 5 May 19, 10:45 PM  
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The Fatadder
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Well that has been a difficult couple of weeks.

First of all the prices being quoted were a lot higher than we were expecting, so there has been lots of back and forth planning trying to work out the optimal way of arranging the holiday. The loss of free dining for October (coupled with the need to try and keep the time the girls are out of school as low as possible) has made things a lot more difficult.

In the end we settled on a split stay, with a week in Port Orleans French Quarter which may yet be upgraded to OKW depending on the price differential followed by a week in a villa. I have currently increased our part of the holiday to 10 days on site so that we get a repeat of last time's 18 days. This ensures that we get the required Disney time whilst still managing to get to Busch, Kennedy and Universal.

Tonight I booked the Disney part of the trip (via Quidco of course), so now have 1 room for 10 nights from the 10th October and 2 rooms for 7 nights from the 14th. Including park tickets and full dining plan.

Villa research is progressing and we are down to a shortlist of 3 Dibb villas, which are now with my parents & brother for review.


This has all needed a couple more changes to the plan, first of all for car hire, we will not bother with a car at all until check out day (at which point the plan is to go to the park (leaving our bags in storage at the resort), pick up the cars and then drive to the villa.

Of course this will need a different approach to the planning, with the intention to cover off all major Disney attractions in week 1 to take advantage of the 60 day fast passes. 2 days at Universal, a day at SW, DC and Busch, + a day at Kennedy in the second week. (This may still be cut back, depending on whether or not we keep the booking for the extra days).

We all agreed that there is no way one car in a villa will work, so we will have to get one each. So having satisfied the need for a giant SUV on the last trip, I fancy having a Mustang / Camaro.
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Unread 7 May 19, 10:02 PM  
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#6
smithlane
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I can't believe how big the girls are now, I remember Evie being a baby!
Your plans look great, I can't believe how much Disney are charging for a 2 bed villa . POFQ looks like a lovely resort though.
Looking forward to hearing about any updates!
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Unread 4 Jul 19, 04:11 PM  
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The Fatadder
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After weeks of 'discussion' back and forth with the others who are travelling we finally got the villa shortlist down to two options, one at Reunion and the other at Emerald Island. I preferred the former, the majority preferred the latter so last night we booked at Emerald Island for the final week.

We have gone for a large 6 bedroom villa, which should give ample space for 6 adults and 2 children.

That's it for now, until planning starts picking up pace in the autumn when flights and car hire is ready for booking (and we start having to finalise our decisions on extras). At the moment the extras list is looking very long (Including MNSSHP, a dolphin experience at SeaWorld for Imogen, the Shamu experience that we had booked in 2017 but was cancelled by Irma, Kennedy Space Centre, Giraffe feeding at Busch and various others.)

The restaurant list is also coming along (and far exceeds the number of days on dining plan), but slimming that down is a job for next year once they release the 2020 DDP list.
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