27. December 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
From 2009 12 19 WDW Vacation Day 2

I didn’t make a big deal out of this beforehand, but for Christmas the Vollmers took a vacation to Walt Disney World! We were there from December 18-23rd and the flight home on the 24th was pretty scary. Dallas-Fort Worth Airport cancelled the next flights to Omaha after ours left. We flew out around 2:40pm. Phew!

It’s rare for us to take a traditional vacation like this. As a military family, we’re typically pretty far from our extended families and Dave’s vacation time is usually dedicated to visiting our parents…the kids’ grandparents. Our last non-family vacation was 2 1/2 years ago.

But how could we resist? We were able to take advantage of Walt Disney World’s 2009 military promotions, both for the hotel room and for the tickets. So all 4 of us enjoyed 5-days of Park Hopper benefits for about the price of one 5-day Park Hopper!!

We had a wonderful time this past week, the boys were very well behaved despite getting about 90 minutes less sleep per night than usual, and we managed to fit in everything we were interested in doing in all 4 of the Walt Disney World parks. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which offered an outstanding deal for military families. Jacob and Timmy met 21 characters, we had the standard “breakfast with the characters” and I got my grown-up fix with the fantastic Spirit of Aloha dinner show on our last evening at the resort.

NOTE: We received a lot of questions about why we didn’t stay at the Armed Forces Shades of Green Resort which is near the Magic Kingdom. Dave and I had stayed there before when we were younger, but this time around we didn’t make the arrangements in time, so we could only get a suite for Christmas week (which we didn’t need), and with Dave’s rank, we’d have been paying about twice as much for the suite as what we got at the Caribbean Beach. No need for a suite, all we did in the room was sleep.

We had debated taking a trip while we were still living in NC — we’re very glad we waited, though. Timmy’s now 45″ tall and the break point for many of the more-thrilling rides is 44″. Only two of the attractions were off-limits to Timmy: The Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios and the Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom. We definitely were able to live with that. Both boys will proclaim that the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is their favorite ride. DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom ended up being quite frightening, Timmy was rather spooked afterwards….

We took advantage of the Disney Dining Plan during our stay. The link at the Disney World website is very vague about it, so I’ll include this one that provides MUCH more detail. The pricing for 2010 is a bit more than we paid, but you get the gist. For about $102 per night of hotel stay, our family (2 adults, 2 kids) enjoyed 2 complete meals plus one set of snacks each day. Do you come out ahead? Well, if you aren’t doing anything except Disney World during your visit, it’s an outstanding deal. Several Downtown Disney restaurants are included in the promotion, so we even had a great dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s one of our nights there. It would have been difficult for us to spend less than $100 per day on meals, so by having prepaid for the meals with the hotel payment, we didn’t have to make such a big deal about what our meals would cost. It’s great for budgeting the food portion of a Disney vacation.

It’s also great for things like the $36-per-person buffets — we loved the Tusker House Mediterranean/African buffet at Animal Kingdom and the boys enjoyed breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey’s — and the $60-per-person Spirit of Aloha dinner show. With the dining plan, we could choose those types of meals and definitely come out ahead! Even the “Quick Service” fast-food style meals were rarely less than $50 for the 4 of us.

It’s a LOT of food. Every quick service and table service meal (when not a buffet) included desserts for each of us, most of the time we’d save the quick service desserts for later snacks (usually cookies, fruit, or their yummy famous Mickey-ear Rice Krispy treats), thus freeing up our daily snack allowances for bagel/cereal breakfasts in the morning.

On occasion Disney World offers vacation packages that include a FREE Disney Dining Plan. They had a very generous promotion in 2009, but we didn’t travel during the inclusive dates (we missed it by a day!).

Oh, one more thing — Disney won’t come right out and tell you this, but even if you pay for kids on the meal plan, we weren’t restricted to the kids’ menu for the Quick Service fast-food style meals. This came up at a Noodle House-style restaurant (near the Lilo and Stitch attraction at Magic Kingdom). Jacob wanted noodles, but the kids’ menu was only chicken strips or macaroni and cheese. It didn’t matter for the Quick Service, Jacob was allowed to order adult portions. At the more formal settings, they’re a little more strict, although at buffets it didn’t matter, and 4 of our 6 Table Service meals were buffets or homestyle where all 4 of us ate the same thing. I was happy about this because I wasn’t looking forward to my boys eating nothing but pizza, cheeseburgers, nuggets and mac/cheese for a solid week. Other great Disney Dining Plans tips can be found here.

Which brings me to my next story. On our 2nd day at the parks, Timmy had cheese pizza and chocolate milk at Pizza Planet for lunch, Mickey Ears ice cream for a snack, then a cheese quesadilla and chocolate milk at Wolfgang Puck’s for dinner. When we went to the Lego Store at Downtown Disney, all that cheese and milk caught up with him and he barfed right on the edge of the children’s play area outside the Lego Store. Poor little guy. No, I didn’t take any pictures, don’t worry! After he got sick, he seemed fine and begged to stay and play — he also didn’t make a mess of his clothing, which was a miracle! Were it not for how, um, neatly he got sick, I probably would have packed us all up and went back to the hotel.

We found out that many of our friends were taking their Disney vacations at the same time. We were able to meet one of our Air Force friends (who I was deployed with this past year), Rose, and her fiance’ Brad and his sister Wendy, at Hollywood Studios for lunch, and we also met one of Dave’s former NC State classmates, Nicole, at EPCOT for dinner in Mexico. It was fun to catch up with friends!

Enjoy these photo albums from the trip. I’ve captioned the pictures, so they’ll describe themselves.

2009 12 18 WDW Vacation Day 1
2009 12 19 WDW Vacation Day 2
2009 12 20 WDW Vacation Day 3
2009 12 21 WDW Vacation Day 4
2009 12 22 Walt Disney World Vacation Day 5
2009 12 23 Walt Disney World Vacation Day 6