Once again, it’s a new month. HELLO SEPTEMBER! (Seriously, where did August go?!) Just like the end of last month, I am slacking on the updates. I don’t know what it is about the end of the month, maybe it’s a summer thing, but I have been lazy when it comes to end of the month blogging. This time though, I have an actual excuse: I’m obsessed with Disney blogs.
Last week, as I was taking the dog out, I had an outrageous idea. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to go to Disney for a few days while Jim is on leave?” We are planning to leave Korea around mid November and we are not planning on reporting to Maryland until the second week in December; that gives us about a month to do whatever the heck we want to do! I thought, why not go to The Most Magical Place on Earth and start celebrating Christmas early?
Two years ago, Jim was in Korea for Christmas, while I was spending our first Christmas as husband and wife back in the States. Last year, our “first” married Christmas together was spent in Korea and to be honest, it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit. We missed our families, we couldn’t drive around and look at Christmas lights, and I didn’t have a radio station to put on in the car so that we could listen to non-stop Christmas music from before Thanksgiving until after New Years Day. I had already warned Jim that this year was going to be non-stop Christmas cheer. Little did we know, at the time, that this meant going to visit my favorite place on earth, Disney World.
I have been to Disney at least 13 times. I have tried counting, but I always end up forgetting a trip or two, so I always say “about” 13 trips. One of these trips was with Jim, and my parents, back in summer 2010. We have not been back since then, and I have been itching to do back, since the day we left. I did have the the chance to experience Christmas time is Disney in November 2007 with my parents, for Thanksgiving week.
Back to the present, I walked back into the apartment and said to Jim, “I know this is a crazy idea, but let me finish talking before you say no.” Jim likes Disney, but he isn’t obsessed like me. He could go years and years in-between trips, and not even care. I could go multiple times a year, and still not be satisfied. He keeps saying our kids won’t go until their 8 (YEA RIGHT!) I knew I would have to tell him why it would be dumb NOT for us to go to Disney this year. Christmas in Disney is a no-brainer reason, at least for me, but I was prepared with more hard facts.
I brought up the fact that Disney gives the Military AMAZING discounts, which is 100% true. Disney’s Armed Forces Salute Military Discount has been renewed for another year starting on September 29, 2013 and will run until September 27, 2014. This program started after 9/11 and has been available every year since for active Military, retired Military, 100 % service connected disabled, spouses, and unremarried widows (of active, retired, and 100 % service connected disabled Military). Each year, each eligible person (single soldier and/or family) is able to purchase up to 6 (per family) discounted 4-day park hopper passes, and stay at any of the Disney Resorts for a discounted rate. To find out prices, discounts, and more information, head on over to Military Disney Tips.
With that all being said, PLUS that fact that it’s CHRISTMAS IN DISNEY WORLD, we will be heading to Disney in December. We will be getting two, 4-day park hopper passes for $169 each (almost half of what you would normally pay) and we will be staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for 40% off their normal room rates. I didn’t have to put up too much of a fight for him to say yes because I also have a Southwest credit card and my flight will be free with points.
Originally, we were going to stay at a value resort. But when I called to book All-Star Sports, they told me the food court would be closed while we were there. I asked if any of the other Value Resorts were available (they told me no because there are only a certain amount of rooms available to book under the Military discount). I even went as far as asking about the Moderate Resorts, and they also told me no. Reluctantly, I told them to just book us in All-Star Sports, because it wouldn’t be the end of the world without a food court, we could have easily walked (or taken the provided shuttle) to Movies or Music. Although, in my Disney crazy mind, I knew this would be a HUGE time killer. I don’t even know why they even bother keeping the resort open, I have heard it’s pretty bad over in the Value Resorts because of the food court being closed in Sports. Everyone from Sports goes over to music and movies, making it even busier during morning and evening rushes.
After a few days thinking about the lack of food court fun at All-Star Sports, we really just use it for breakfast, I thought of another crazy idea. I thought, this could be our last trip without kids, and we have never stayed at a Deluxe Resort, so why not go for it. So we did. I called Disney, which is a pain in the butt from Korea because I don’t have a ton of phone minutes and because of the time difference, and priced it out. It was obviously more than our previous package, but you only live once and as my Grandpop always says, “You can’t take it with you, so just spend it!” But really, we would have never picked a Deluxe Resort if it weren’t for the 40% off Military discount, my free flight, and our oh-so-cheap park hoppers.
We chose Animal Kingdom Lodge because my parents stayed there before and loved it, we also really love animals and wanted to be able to see them roam outside of our bedroom. We splurged even more and booked the Arusha Savannah Room where we can see giraffes and zebras; go big or go home, it is Disney after all. Jim is also really into photography and I knew he would love it. I have eaten at Boma (African buffet) before and fell in love with the hotel, myself. And now that we switched hotels, no more worrying about our lack of food court (which is a huge relief because I was losing sleep over this). This will definitely be a one time splurge and it doesn’t hurt that we are only staying four nights, at the beginning of December, when room rates are (surprisingly) at their lowest.
I am having so much fun planning our first trip to Disney, alone. I have booked some restaurants we have been to, and some we haven’t (more on those another time). For the first time since it was introduced, we are NOT doing the Disney Dining Plan. We always eat WAY too much and I just think the price of it has become way too much. We don’t need all of that food and we don’t need to feel pressured to eat the most expensive thing on the menu, just to make the most of the plan. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom. I’m hoping to be able to try the new “fastpass” lunch reservations, but I’ll have to wait and see if I get an email about it before we go.
Since we booked the trip, I have become obsessed with Disney blogs. I was already obsessed with The Disney Food Blog, even though I always get SO hungry after looking at it, and I have found two more Disney blogs to obsesses over, Disney Tourist Blog and TouringPlans Blog. I have spent at least 4 hours a day, every day, for the past week and a half researching Disney, it’s becoming unhealthy.
The Disney Food Blog reviews food and more at the Disney Resorts and Parks. I have researched restaurants and counter service food locations until everything started to blur together. Yes, I have eaten at many places in Disney, but this is the first trip I am picking all of our dining locations, with Jim’s input, of course. I wanted to make sure we were getting different types or food, great experiences, and getting the most bang for our buck. I also wanted to make sure we were eating in the parks that we were planning on being in on those days. You have to plan ahead if you want to have the best Disney vacation possible. Don’t worry, I worked in a little bit of nap time, too.
Disney Tourist Blog is awesome. On this blog, you can read endless Disney trip reviews, as well as food reviews. I read the authors’ (Tom and Sarah) entire honeymoon review. It’s fun to read what other people have to say about my favorite place because it’s their favorite place too. I actually did learn some stuff from reading Tom’s blog for a few days. I even reworked some of our park days so that we were maximizing our ride time. I also sent this blog to Jim because Tom loves photography and has some awesome photos tips, like staying in the park after it closes to shop and take photos when the park is nearly empty; I’ll be doing the shopping, Jim will be taking the photos, it’s going to be awesome. Tom’s photos are fantastic!
Tom and his wife, Sarah, also really love Christmas in Disney. I read about their Christmas decorations tour and found out a few more fun Christmas facts. We had already planned on going to many of the sports mentioned on his list, but it’s really well thought out. I could go on and on about how awesome this blog is, but I feel like I’m starting to sound like a creeper, since I don’t actually know them, so I’m just going to stop right here.
TouringPlans is a site that offers specialized tour plans to Disney guests, for a minimal fee. I really don’t too much about that aspect of the site, but I do love the blog that gives a lot of current Disney information about what’s going on around the parks and upcoming events. I learned some unfortunate information, like how Snow White’s Scary Adventures is closed (I am devastated). How did I NOT know this closed, I know a lot about the New Fantasyland, but not that my precious Snow White was leaving. Just like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, it is dead, RIP! We are going to have to head on over to Disneyland soon (we were supposed to drive to L.A. for a day on our honeymoon in San Diego, but it rained!) to see some of the classics, maybe next year for Christmas decorations (HINT, HINT, JIM!)
I keep telling Jim that he is going to be BLOWN away with Osborne Christmas Lights in MGM (I refuse to call it Hollywood Studios) and the Candlelight Processional in Epcot. (We are going to see Neil Patrick Harris as narrator!!! We have the dinner package for reserved seating.) We will not be going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, mainly because I have been to it before, it’s kind of expensive, and Jim isn’t a huge parade fan. I figured, since we’re not going for long, we could skip that this time around. But don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome, and if I hadn’t been to it before, we would have went this time. (Side note though: they do have Military discounts for certain dates in NOVEMBER for the Christmas party. I actually thought about getting these tickets, but then found out they were not available during our trip. Disney also offers discounted tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, for certain dates in SEPTEMBER, an event that is still on my Disney bucket list!)
As you can tell, I am over the moon with happiness. I can finally focus on something other than moving from Korea to America. I have been stressing about house hunting, packing, and Toby flying under the plane as checked baggage (my poor puppy!!!) I am learning more than I ever knew about Disney (and I really thought I knew it ALL) and I am getting more and more excited as the days go by.
We have about 71 days before we leave Korea. I can not wait to see family and friends, celebrate Thanksgiving, eat at Chic-fil-a, and shop at Target. We have a few very exciting months ahead and I can not wait to start the next chapter in our lives, until then I’ll keep planning our trip and counting down the days until we see Tinkerbell fly across the sky once again. Every once in a while, we all need a little pixie dust in our lives.