Merely booking our Disney vacation was no small feat.
If you ask around, everyone has an opinion and approach to vacationing at Disney. It's a lot like talking politics. Countless angles, desires and considerations.
We have a friend who is a Disney travel expert -- an actual travel agent who specializes in Disney. So in-the-know and head-over-heels about Disney that she drives a VW Minnie bug. And Bryan's company offers discount travel deals with pretty significant savings. And Groupon always has Orlando hotel deals, and so on.
How do you weed through all the information, discounts and packages?
I am not a lover of options. I prefer that someone else read my mind, figure out what I want, and bring me the few options that meet my needs...I can take it from there. But that is not how vacationing at Disney works.
Add in the fact that Bryan and I weren't exactly looking for the same thing in a Disney vacation...and it was complicated.
Ultimately, we did agree on a few key points. We wanted lodging that allowed us to spread out and eat in. Not one member of our family was interested in eating out 3 times a day for 6 days. So, we need a kitchen. In a condo. And three of four of us are not terribly interested in all of the character stuff. GASP! I know, this is Disney we're talking about, and three of us do not want to be fully immersed in the Disney
I hate facing loads of options, but was at least gifted with the ability to verbalize what I'm looking for - that at least helps to narrow things down!
We'd heard great things about Costco Travel, so we checked them out. Along with our Disney travel agent friend. And Bryan's work travel perks. And direct bookings... And anything else friends advised.
As we were looking at the Costco hotel options - which looked gorgeous! - I happened to notice a tiny box that was unchecked that said "condo". I checked the condo box and it came up with TWO OPTIONS. I must admit, I loved that there were only two. And they were the exact same price as their swanky hotel options, which were the same price as the Disney on-property options (that did not include a rental car)!
The rental car... Those families who are going to Disney for Disney only do not need a rental car...but we have friends and family in the area that we'd like to see. And we're also going to the beach. A FREE rental car with unlimited miles? Yes, please, and thank you very much!
When we found the package we wanted - 6 days in a 2 bedroom condo, rental car, and Disney World park tickets for 5 days - we shopped around for the best price. Costco saved us over $1,300...which more than covered our airfare.
We're going to Disney World! On a budget. On Weight Watchers. With arrangements that fit the needs of our entire family.
Did I mention that the condo place has something like five pools? The kids are thrilled.
They have been watching Disney movies every day this week - from newer releases to classics. And reading Disney books. And scouring Walt Disney World websites and movies about the parks and attractions.
As my kids plot, plan, squeal...and even insist that they are not riding certain rides...I can't imagine surprising them at the airport with this trip. Watching them excitedly plan and anticipate our vacation has already been worth every penny we'll spend. And our trip is still nearly four months away!
The other day, Luke climbed up on my lap, wrapped his arms tightly around my neck, and said, "When I'm a dad, I'm going to tell my kids all about my trip to Disney World. And I'm going to buy them Disney movies." How could we ever have thought that Disney wasn't for us? (Confession: Bryan and I can both be quoted as having said we'd rather stick a fork in our eye than wait in the heat, in long lines, with our kids at Disney. Bad, bad parents.)