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Keane and PiC's and Keane and Jenny's May 2011 WDW Disney Up North, Not A December Trip Report -- Part 1 of 9 (Planning)


(Note there are no pictures in this part. If you want to see pictures, go to the next part.)

Destination D
The D23 event "Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th" was the primary excu...reason for this trip.
Who: Me, Keane. The person who actually writes this drivel.
     PiC, Partner in Crime. Travelling companion and hanger on.
     BYPT Jenny. A substitute PiC, only shorter.
What: Not a December vacation
Where: Walt Disney World; Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary Resort
Why: D23 Event - Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th
When: May 9-16, 2011

1) Much of what is here is fact, mostly fact, or complete figments of my imagination remembered as fact. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
2) Yeah, this is mostly innuendo and sarcasm. Anything else is a bonus.
3) If you take something in this report seriously and get offended, I will laugh at you. I am not Disney. You will not get free park tickets, food, fastpasses or guest assistance cards.
4) Please remember to take all your personal belongings, and have a magical Disney Day!

Thank you.

Ah, here we go again...


After a really, really crappy trip in December, I try to forget that trip by going on another. It's the first time staying in not one, but two Magic Kingdom resorts (if you don't count my trip in 1977,) and it's the first time I take a spring/summer vacation to WDW in 6 years. (Intervening trips were a trip in September 2007 and four in December: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010). So starts my Disney Up North, Not A December Trip Report...


Well, I don't think it was any secret that my last trip wasn't the best trip that I had to the World. The weather sucked, my mom was hospitalized while in Disney Hollywood Studios, and...well, a couple of other things. (No, those two other things were not Jenny and Cathy. But if that's what you thought, congratulations on paying attention!)

So rather than having a bad experience as my most recent memory of the World, I started eyeing that "D23/Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th" anniversary event (herein known as Dest D) to be held in May. (The event itself was announced in early December.)

While waiting for D23 to announce when tickets would be on sale, D23 held a screening of Bambi in Chicago on the big screen on Feb. 2. I attended, and was able to learn from the Disney Geek himself there would be 1300 seats available for Dest D in May.

I tell PiC (might have been at Bambi, they announced the date a couple of days before that event) that D23 has finally announced the day Dest D tickets go on sale, and if I get a couple, we're going to the World in May. At least for the days of the event, plus a couple more on either side. She says okay. She'll mark it on her work calendar.

D23 set the date of Feb 24 at Noon (local) for ticket availability. Well, you really don't get a ticket, it's more just an electronic confirmation...

Never the less, I was online at noon, and had confirmation e-mail by 12:07pm on the 24th. After thinking about it, just in case those who're going to the event might want to stay at the place where the event was going to be held, I made reservations at the Contemporary Hotel (Garden View - Garden Wing) by 1:21pm. [Postnote: I don't think the event sold out. Which was okay with me...]

All set for the event, right? Easy, right? What makes you think anything in my life is easy these days?

*After* I get the tickets, PiC realizes that she has to be in town one weekend in May for personal reasons, but can't remember which one. Guess which one? She might be able to go down earlier in the week, but she still doesn't know yet. So I have an extra non-refundable ticket...

Non sequitur:
Jenny is doing a BYPT trip in May with her SiL. (See her trip report. I'm sure she's going to write one. (And she did!)) SiL is leaving Friday morning. She was going to solo through the weekend. She plans on leaving Sunday night.
So, Jenny's going to be solo at WDW the same weekend PiC bugs out on me and I have an extra ticket to Dest D. Send some e-mail, and she can attend, and take an early flight home Monday instead of Sunday. (I would point out that she would indeed mistakenly book her flight out on Sunday, but it was caught early and corrected.)

If both events weren't planned months ago (and if either knew how to contact the other), I'd smell a rat. (I don't know what kind of a rat, but if Mickey just sprang to mind, shame on you.) So Jenny gets to go to Dest D, and PiC's happy that I'm not PO'd because I have to find someone else who can go...

Now, Jenny, PiC and I have hung out at WDW a few times now, and they know and like each other, so it's not like I'm asking a completely strange chick I met on the 'net. (Though Lisa has pointed out that guys would cheer if I took a strange chick on the net, but I digress again. Oh, it's the animals and the farm. PiC wants to go see Jenny's farm... :-) We're going to do a RADP meet there sometime.)
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So the timeline went something like this:

December 3, 2010. D23 announces "Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th", to be held May 14 & 15, 2011.

February 6, 2011. (or it might have been the 8th, but it was still in 2011), D23 announces Dest D tickets will be on sale Feb 24.

February 24. Buy 2 tickets to Dest D. Since Annual Pass (AP) rates haven't been announced, I make Garden Room/Garden view reservations at the Contemporary Resort with the standard 30% discount rate.

I will note here in case anyone from Disney is actually reading... If you're a totally clueless Disney newbie, and you go to the WDW web site and look at the resorts and try to book a room from there, you're rewarded by being quoted full rack rates. Sticker shock. Close the window, go to the beach.

If, on the other hand, you just click another tab, you'll find a discount page, and can book many of the same rooms at a discount, which is much more palatable to the wallet. It would be easier for the totally clueless Disney newbie to be sucked in. Just sayin'.

March 5. Annual Pass rates are announced. I try to convert my Garden room to an AP rate, but I can't. Only Tower rooms are available with an AP rate. A Bay Lake view is only $100 more for all three nights (a park view is $200 more) due to the standard discount of 30% off vs. the AP discount of 40%. Should I upgrade? A query to RADP has half the responses saying no, and half the responses saying yes. Thanks for the help, guys...

March 6. PiC tells me she can't go to Dest D, I send email to Jenny, who accepts and wants to go. Suddenly, I'm planning essentially two different vacations with two different people. I think. One is mostly at the parks and Wilderness Lodge, the other mostly at the convention, but we have Friday the 13th to do a park (I did mention that Friday was the 13th of May, did I not?), and a visit to Magic Kingdom during the breaks at the convention is certainly a viable option...

March 14. Look at the Dest D schedule, make reservations at The Wave, 6:45 Sunday Night. Haven't been there. Jenny has, said the food was good, the service not. But there you are. (And we will be right there, with the Richard Sherman concert after that, and did I mention Magic Kingdom is open until 1:00am?)

Also make have reservations for Jiko Friday night. (These are later cancelled when I find Jenny is a parrothead and instead plan a night at City Walk: Dinner at Margaritaville, and a Blue Man Group show.)

March 18. I finally hear back from D23. My guest's name has been changed to Jenny. I send her e-mail: "There's no turning back now..."

March 20. PiC finally decides the can arrive on Monday May 9. She cannot be gone for mother's day. On the other hand, I'm going to be gone for not only for mother's day, but my mom's birthday. (I'm going to pay for this, I think...) PiC is going to leave Thursday, May 12.

March 21. I start a search on WDW's AP site for a room from May 9 to May 13. In my December Trip report, I said one day I would stay at Wilderness Lodge. That day will be May 9 and continue through the 13th.

For a couple of reasons, I call up Disney and pay off both my rooms (one of which is to get those Disney Reward Dollars pre-trip), and on a whim upgrade my Contemporary Resort reservations to an AP rate in the tower with a park view. I figure if this is my stay at a monorail resort, I may as well have the view, right? RIGHT? I figure Saturday night would be my best bet to tape wishes from my balcony. :-)

Jenny is going to stay in my room at least one night (Sunday, since I'll be taking her to the airport early Monday morning), and so long as I have Disney on the phone, I'm going to change my guest's name at the Contemp to Jenny's. The CM asks if PiC will be staying in the Contemp, and I tell him, "Nope, I'm changing blondes mid-trip, too." We laugh over that, but I do check to make sure I'm not a subject on stupidguesttricks.com...

In the end, we agree it would be stupid for her to keep her room at ASMu, and stays in my room at the Contemporary. The gentleman in me (why do I hear laughter every time I say that?), could see me giving her a ride from and to ASMu every day. Any other option for transportation is less than ideal. The dirty old man in me, however, is cackling, cheering and giving high-fives. In the end, the constant threat of cattle prods and rusty pliers keeps dirty old man in check...

So lodging is all in place. Four nights at Wilderness Lodge, and three nights at the Contemporary. This is already becoming my most expensive trip yet, and I'm not even there yet!

April 5. Decide since PiC wants a "nice" meal every trip, to make reservations at Artists Point on Tuesday. Sort of an in-house meal so to speak, and so long as we're going to be at Wilderness Lodge, we may as well live Wilderness Lodge...

April 10. PiC finally makes her plane reservations, and will arrive 11:00am on Monday. I don't expect to hit Orlando until about 12-1pm. I could be later. PiC says it's worth the $100 she'll save by taking this flight, rather than a later flight.

I wonder what my baggage fee will be.

May 4. PiC begins to change her mind about waiting at the airport for what could be hours, and asks what it would take to get on a Magical Express Bus. What, do I look like a Disney Expert?

May 5. I call Disney and ask how to put PiC on a Magical Express Bus. After speaking numbers and punching a bazillion buttons on my phone, an voice tells me I'm going to get to talk to a live person. Less than a minute wait after dealing with the automated pre-show, I get a real human and find all I have to do is give 'em the date and her flight number, and just for the inbound trip. (I'm taking her back to the airport.) Since she won't have any luggage (yes, I'm charging her a baggage fee) she doesn't need any tags. Just a photo ID, and get on the right bus... That was easy. I think it was even during my free long distance window.

So as soon as she gets off the plane, she'll call me, and I'll know whether to take the 429 tollway or I-4...
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Day -1, May 7 (cue Peter, Paul and Mary...or not)
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

My previous five trips to the World were during colder months (excluding that Dec 2008 trip) so sweatshirts, pants and long-sleeve tee's were in order. Weather.com says this trip would be in the low 90's every day I was going to be there. (Earlier reports in the week had temps in the high-80's and low 90's, but they added three degrees per day today.)

I'm going to go from whining about the cold last trip, to whining about the heat the next. No, I can't be satisfied. Like Goldilocks, I want just right. Where the heck is the mama-bear weather? I am whining, and I'm not even there yet. (Truthfully, I expect to enjoy it for the first couple of days. It has been abnormally cold in Chicago, and an increase of 40 degrees would be okay for a while...I think.)

So I'm exchanging shorts for long pants and eliminating the sweatshirts (except for one, which eventually earns me points from Jenny), and I'm packed, yet have all this room in my roller duffel. Because of this, I have two other bags I normally take are eliminated (they're actually inside a larger Eastpack). I keep looking it over thinking I'm missing something, so instead of going through everything one more time, I take it out to the car. Out of sight, out of mind.

Also make sure my floppy green hats (I have two), tripod and monopod, are all in the car. I have forgotten these things before, and regretted it. Also my folding two-wheeler, pop, snacks, and Lisa's potato chips are in the car, things I won't have to do tomorrow morning.

PiC drops off her Eastpack. She thinks she's sick. I hope she's comfortable sleeping in the lobby at Wilderness Lodge.

Last minute things to get together is the cooler (I have four 20oz water bottles frozen and all the ice trays full), the camera stuff that I don't want to leave in the car, and my laptop. And GPS. And MP3 player. And phone, Bluetooth and chargers for both, and...

And then I'm gone.

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End May 2011 Trip Report - Part 1 of 9.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9

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