Our 2017 Travel Preview

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I’m pretty excited about the adventures that we have planned for 2017. We have some cruises, some Disney World (well let’s be honest, a lot of Disney World) and hopefully some other fun mixed in. I would definitely say this is the year of Disney vacations for us.

January
Disney World – Art of Animation. Our first trip is actually behind us. My son, mother and I spent 3 nights at the Art of Animation in Walt Disney World. This hotel is impeccably themed.  This trip was the result of my being cold with below average temperatures in southeast Michigan and my husband needing to be in Europe for almost a week for work. I decided that I didn’t want to parent alone for the week here in the cold so we asked my son if he’d rather be in Disney without Daddy, or home without Daddy. Fortunately he chose the right answer. We were off to Disney World 3 weeks after I started thinking about it.  Disney was kind enough to offer an annual pass deal that allowed for 13 months out of the annual pass for the price of 12. This worked out perfectly for us as our Disney trip started January 11th, and we intended to take another Disney vacation in early February 2018. Both of those outlying trips, plus as many as we put in the middle, will be covered under that AP.  As for the trip, I was really excited for my son to experience the Art of Animation. He is really into the movie Cars, and all things Lightening McQueen.  We stayed in a Cars Suite and it was a big hit for my kiddo.

End of January/early February
Carnival Vista cruise to the Southern Caribbean. From the moment Carnival Cruise line released information on the Vista I was intrigued and knew that I needed to find a place for it in my vacation schedule. It has so much to offer.  This is a ship for families or those without kids. There’s just so much to do. It’s a ship that has something for everyone. I’m really excited to visit new ports of call (Grand Turk and Aruba), and I just can’t wait to see what this ship has to offer. During this cruise we plan to take our son to the water park area and swim in the pools (this is the first cruise we will go on post potty training), we are planning on going to the aquarium in Curacao, checking out a beach in Aruba, and will probably stay on the ship in the Dominican Republic. We are all looking forward to this cruise and hopeful that we will enjoy ourselves during these 8 nights.

March
Disney Fantasy to the Western Caribbean with a Star Wars day at Sea; and Saratoga Springs Resort at Walt Disney World. My husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and we as a family are huge Disney Cruise Line fans. We picked this cruise based purely on price. I looked for the least expensive 7 night cruise from February through April, and this one came back the winner.  I can’t wait to cruise concierge once again on DCL. We plan to have a beach day in the Cayman Islands, visit a resort for a day at the pool and beach in Cozumel, and we may do a beach day in Jamaica or just stay on the ship. We will also spend the day at the beach on Castaway Cay.

Prior to the cruise we are spending 3 nights in a 2 bedroom villa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. I’m excited that we can walk, boat or quickly bus to Disney Springs. There are so many dining opportunities there and I’m looking forward to checking them out. We will for sure eat at my favorite, Raglan Road at least once during our stay as well. They have the most amazing gluten free options. Besides eating in Disney Springs we plan to visit the Magic Kingdom one day (those annual passes will come in handy) and we plan to swim with our son as much as possible.

June
Disney Dream, Castaway Cay Double Dip; and the Polynesian Resort in a DVC studio. Disney’s Castaway Cay is my absolute favorite Caribbean location. They did such an amazing job with that island, it is always my favorite part of a Disney cruise.  During the summer I turn 40 (in August to be exact) and when Disney was releasing their schedule for the summer I was hoping that it would include some double dip cruises! I was geeked that they offered several choices of cruises 5 nights long and several 4 night cruises. I knew I wanted to do a 5 night, and since one of the cruises overlapped my son’s 4th birthday, I was hoping that would end up being the least expensive week, and it was! That cruise is all about the island. We will try and secure cabanas for our days on the island. I haven’t decided if we will do a day pass at a resort in Nassau or just stay on the ship; my son will be staying on the ship with his grandma either way.

We are then spending 3 nights at the Poly. I have always wanted to stay here, especially during a time where we would for sure be able to have pool time. Well early June is sure to fit that bill. I decided that since we have AP’s and since our cruise is over on a Wednesday that it would only cost us 2 more vacation days and we could get another half week at Disney in during the year. It seemed like a no brainer. I’m really excited about this whole trip!!!

November
Disney World- Beach Club Resort. Back in the fall this was our only planned trip for the year at Disney World, the rest of the trips just sort of happened. We are looking forward to enjoying mild weather (hopefully) and the Food & Wine Festival. We picked this resort so we could easily walk to Epcot via the International Gateway to enjoy food booths and yummy restaurants. It’s awesome that Epcot is just a quick 5 minute walk from this resort. This will be our longest trip to the World for the year. We plan to spend 6 or 7 nights here.

That’s what’s scheduled for the year. My husband will have to travel for work more and if he goes somewhere cool then I can tag along, or I suspect that we will sneak in an official adults only 40th birthday trip for me sometime this year. But first we have save money to pay for everything we have planned already.

Any questions about any of my travels? What do you have planned for the year??? Feel free to comment below.

Happy Travels!

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Disney Pre-Trip Report – A Last Minute Trip

 

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The Happiest Place on Earth!!

On a cold cold miserable day in Michigan in mid-December I decided that I needed to get out of town. (And prior to my next family vacation at the end of January.) It so happened that my husband had to travel out of the country for work in early January. That’s when the idea was formed to escape to Disney World for a few nights. I decided that if I had to solo parent what better place to do it than the happiest place on earth! I am cheating a little on ‘solo parenting’ though because my mom decided to join me.

Disney was so kind as to help me with my plan by having a 13 months for the price of 12 months annual pass offer for all passes purchased through January 3rd, 2017. This really helps because my family has a plan to travel to the World for short trips around cruises in May & June, plus a week long trip in November. The plan is to then return at the end of January 2018 to get another week of use out of our AP. Since I could get 13 months for the price of 12, all of these trips, including my late January/early February 2018 trip, would be covered under the same pass. Disney math makes things feel like a deal!

Since we were planning to purchase AP’s we then searched for Annual Pass Room discounts offered in January 2017. Fortunately there were plenty of options to choose from.

Money saving tip: Do some math to see if it makes sense for at least one person in your party to be a Disney Annual Pass Holder before a trip. We were able to save $100 on the price of the hotel for the 3 nights we have planned to be at Disney World. We also will save 10% on several dining locations where we plan to dine during our trip, and finally they are currently offering 20% off merchandise purchased at Disney World with your annual pass. Those savings can really add up, especially over a course of a week and with a larger family.

So we had the park ticket secured, I had purchased plane tickets, and now it was on to planning the rest of the trip. I needed to decide where to stay, followed by which parks to visit on which days, followed by where to eat, and what fast passes to select.

Deciding where to stay. I was looking to do this trip a little more affordable, and I also wanted to check out the Cars section of the Art of Animation Resort. My son is truly addicted to the movie Cars right now. I also liked that it had a dedicated bus for the property, a coffee maker, and kitchenette in room, plus 2 separate sleeping areas. I’m curious to see our thoughts.

Our plan. The next step in our planning is to decide what to do each day and where to eat. We figured we’d go to 2 parks during our stay. All 3 of us love the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I also love the safari. So we decided we’d do the Animal Kingdom one day and Magic Kingdom the other. I used the Touring Plans crowd calendar to decide which park to go to on which of our available days. The calendar advised us to hit the Magic Kingdom first and then Animal Kingdom.

After deciding which park to spend what day, it was time to pick our dining and fast pass + selections. Fast Pass + would be selected within 60 days of your trip, and since mine was in 3 weeks- it was time to select. Fortunately the only option that we weren’t able to choose is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the MK, but my son wouldn’t ride that right now anyway. (He was a little scared on Barnstormers on our last trip.)

For dining we went with our favorites. Since I’m celiac (medically need to eat gluten free) there are certain places that I love and that aren’t my favorite. I’m really into anything with gluten free gravy at the moment. So I have a reservation at Liberty Tree Tavern for our Magic Kingdom day. Their gravy is amazing!  We have also reserved lunch at Tusker House on our Animal Kingdom day. I made a late breakfast reservation here with the plan that we will start with breakfast, and then if someone wants lunch, that will be out eventually too! Plus it is a little less expensive to dine here for breakfast. We are usually back at our hotel at dinner time so we will likely eat a couple of meals at Landscape of Flavors at the Art of Animation. We will also probably head over to Disney Springs for dinner one night as well.

Overall I’m pretty happy and excited about the trip that I threw together in late December over the course of 2 hours on an, “I’m cold,” whim.