Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Disney World Vacation--Drive Home and Final Thoughts

We left Friday, September 19, at about 7:30 am local time. We ended up making good time and driving straight through. I think we got to our house at about 12:30 central time. It was a really long drive, but by the time it was late enough to stop, we were within about 2-3 hours from the house, so it seemed silly not to keep going.

We did have a really, really good time and will definitely do it again in a few years. I could have booked what's called a bounceback special while I was there and gotten the Free Dining at the same time next year, but I didn't do that. We'd rather go every few years and stay in style than go all the time and stay at the cheaper hotels. Also, we decided that as much as we like Free Dining, we're going to stick to the least crowded weeks from November through February in the future. That's most of the weeks in those months with the exceptions of Thanksgiving week and the week before Christmas until the week after New Year's. It's just very hot in September. It would be okay if that were the only week we could travel, but we can travel any time of year, so we might as well go when the weather is cool. I'd go in August if I had to, but I'm glad we don't have to. Even though they don't usually offer Free Dining in other months, they do offer hotel discounts that are almost as valuable.

Taking a 15 month old really wasn't bad at all. I'm used to carrying him in the front pack, so that helped a lot. It would be hard to hold onto a toddler who was walking around, but we kept him in his stroller or in his pack at all times. The long drive was the biggest challenge. He was okay, but we had to use the DVD player more than I would have liked. The older boys would have been fine with all of the coloring books, magnet sets, and other car toys I had packed. A younger baby would have been fine if I had just handed over a new, cheap little toy every once in a while. But Roo is at an age where he just walks around and gets into things all day, and you can't do that in a carseat. Watching TV was one of the only things he could do, so we did it a lot, and once I turned the DVD player on for him, I had to turn it on for the older ones, too.

I was worried about not having a stroller for Tigger, but he was fine. When I read other people's trip reports on the Internet, it seemed like most people take a stroller for kids up to 5. Tigger has never really liked walking, so I was really worried. When we first started planning our trip, I figured I'd just rent one of the nice, big strollers they have there on the days he got tired, but then before we left, they raised the daily rental price of the single strollers to $15/day and the doubles to $31/day, so I didn't want to pay that much money. But with the breaks we took, neither of the older boys ever got too tired. There were a few times where Tigger said, "It's getting hard for me to walk," but each time he said it, we were already on our way to either a restaurant or the park exit. When we explained that we'd be sitting down really soon, he kept going without any fussing.

We will try not to drive through a hurricane next time. I think we've had enough of that to last a lifetime.

We'll probably try to get a suite rather than a regular hotel room next time. If Roo is 3 next time, our family will be too big for a regular room at the Wilderness Lodge. We'd have to stay at one of the more expensive deluxes, like the Contemporary, which is just too much money to have us all crammed in one room. I'm not sure where we'll stay. There are suites at one of the All Star resorts, but we'd rather not stay that far away from all of the parks unless we have to. The cabins at Fort Wilderness are okay and have full kitchens, but they only have one bathroom. Ideally, I'd like to stay in the new Disney Vacation Club resort they're building at the Contemporary. I'm sure it will be really expensive, but DVC is a timeshare, and sometimes you can get rooms for a little less by buying them from someone who can't use their timeshare that year. I'd love to be able to stay on the monorail loop. Or maybe it will work out next time that we can use my parents' motorhome.

I'll definitely do Tour Guide Mike again next time. You have to pay the fee for each vacation you take, but it's worth it. For about $21, we got the equivilent of a whole additional day on our vacation.

We'll probably try to stay at least 7 days next time, unless that's just absolutely impossible. We didn't get to do much stuff outside of the main themeparks, and we didn't get a lot of time to rest.

So those are my random, assorted thoughts about our vacation. I'll leave you with a few pictures that didn't fit in with any of my posts that we took at Disney World, plus a few pictures of the boys at home playing with some of the dress up clothes we bought there.

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