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Old 01-12-2019, 05:00 PM   #1
MamaB24
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Default "In this family we don't hide crazy..."

"We put it on the porch and give it a cocktail..."
Or in this case, take it to Disney.

Cast of Characters: Me (MamaB24), Waldo (DH), DSs (15, 13), DDs (10), and Nana


Dates of Trip: 12/27 (travel day)-01/05


Digs: HGVC Tuscany (first stay at this property) & Old Key West (requested Building 27)


Plans: This is our second Christmas/NYE trip to the World. Our first was a pre-Christmas trip that ended before NYE, so this was our first NYE experience. We had high hopes for doing many things while balancing the chaos of crowds. We arrived just before the Christmas celebrations in Epcot were ending, so this affected our park planning. We also gave the kids Christmas presents of Disney experiences. These were opportunities for them to have one on one time with a parent or grandparent doing something extra. For DS (15), he visited Kennedy Space Center with Nana. DS (13) had an entire day with Waldo at Typhoon Lagoon, and both DDs had tickets (on separate days) to Early Morning Magic at Hollywood Studios. These events also affected park planning. We kept in mind that this trip was going to be moderately planned to manage the crowds, and we were perfectly ok to ride only three FPs per day and find other things to enjoy.


Dining: We had intermittent dining plans for this trip, strategically used over multiple reservations. These allowed us to eat some bigger meals that cost a fortune for 7 people. The hope was that four bottomless pits would never complain of being hungry (I know, high hopes).


Some other Factors: We found out after our October trip that Nana needs a new hip (not surprised). She conceded to using a manual wheelchair for this trip which would enable her to enjoy the parks with minimal pain or limitations. We had a few return dates as Waldo had to return early for work, and DS (15) decided he wanted to play at a volleyball tourney in Indy instead of staying for the entire trip. DH, Nana, and I visited on our current APs, and the kids had 8 day park hopper plus tickets that I hoped to change into APs before returning home. This was up in the air until the end of the trip, but the girls are returning with DH and I in April for the Star Wars half….so it made sense.

Alright, with that….we are off.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:09 PM   #2
Shewill
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Where HGCV Tuscany ?

I looks like this will be a fun trip report
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:32 PM   #3
MamaB24
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Default Departure Day

We left December 27th with an ETA of late morning or early afternoon. The goal was to leave at a time to avoid rush hour both in Cincinnati and Atlanta. (Lessons learned from leaving too early, just to take 3 hours to get to Kentucky.) I left work early to pick up the van. We reserved a 12 passenger because our initial plans included my stepdad, Doc. However, his plans changed about two weeks before the trip, and he stayed home. We could have fit in a regular mini-van, but I have come to appreciate the space in the big vans for both luggage and people. We ended up getting a Chevy this time instead of the Ford Transit. I was unsure at first of this because it seemed a bit smaller, but as we have owned Chevy trucks and cars, it turned out to be a much easier drive.

We had the van packed and ready by 6 and headed to pick up Nana. Doc was gracious enough to take our departure picture.




The normal drive time for us without stops is 14 hours. We made a few pit stops for gas and potty breaks as well as a run through Chik Fil A for a late meal before everyone tucked in for the night. Typically I drive through Atlanta before switching with Waldo, but my new position has taken my late night driving ability away. I made it to Knoxville before my eyes started getting heavy, and Waldo took over. I woke up south of Atlanta to switch with him again. We switched a couple more times and rolled into Orlando around 10 am making it a 15-hour drive. I think this one was the quickest we have managed, which says a lot with all four kids and Nana as passengers.

Our first three nights were at HGVC Tuscany because I was unable to get OKW for the entire trip by the time we decided to book. We generally enjoy our stays at our other homes, but this stay fell a little short of expectations. Despite our early arrival, we did not end up getting a room until nearly 4 pm. I realize check-in is later, and I know the season was busy. However, all of our previous stays at a Hilton property, no matter the season, we have managed to get our room within a few hours. We had no requests, just first available. We spent time at the pool, visited the game room, played cornhole, and ate lunch. With a 6 pm dining reservation at Trail's End, I reallllly wanted a shower before then, and we ended up finally talking to a manager who magically found us a room within 5 minutes.









The drawback? There was no hot water. After navigating a rather inept front desk to speak directly with the manager again, we found out that they were in the process of replacing the boiler which could take two days. (Sigh) Soooo, it was a quick and cold wash up before heading out to Ft. Wilderness. We ran a little late by the time we hopped on the internal bus to the Settlement, but we enjoyed looking at all of the decorated golf carts and campsites on the way.




The plan was for an easy arrival day with dinner and a wagon ride to look at Christmas lights. We were not disappointed. Trail's End has grown on us as a family with a decent buffet and a very allergy friendly approach for DS (13). It cracks me up that we have so many items to choose from, and they routinely return to pizza, chicken, bread, and gummi bears.





Not on the dining plan, these buffets are a bit spendy for such a large party. However, we have fond memories here and return frequently to build on them. The decorations at Pioneer Hall were pretty, and we enjoyed people watching while we waited for our wagon ride.









I did not take many photos on the ride because, as I realized during my October trip with Nana, sometimes it is better to just soak in the experience. We tried to do the sleigh ride during our last Christmas visit, and it was rained out. I have to say the decorations are over the top and so amazing to look at in the campground. I think I saw the biggest collection of Mickey decorations on one site really close to the Settlement. The wagon dropped us off right at the bus stop which was a bonus because Nana had no wheelchair, and she really is having difficulty ambulating for any distance. We hopped right on and headed back to our room for the night (still no hot water) and managed some really good sleep. Up for Park Day One was Epcot to see the Christmas decorations, storytellers, and watch the CP with a dining package at Ale & Compass.
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Last edited by MamaB24; 01-12-2019 at 05:40 PM. Reason: Adding photos
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:43 PM   #4
Jedimom3
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woohoo, looking forward to the TR. That's really crazy about the cold water!!! Yikes!
I keep telling DH I want to try Trails End. he's not enthused, but I'll add this TR recommendation . Just watched a vlog about the Christmas decorations, and they were incredible. What a fun way to see them with a carriage ride.
Thanks for sharing all the fun (and the not so fun. )
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:45 PM   #5
MamaB24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shewill View Post
Where HGCV Tuscany ?

I looks like this will be a fun trip report
Thanks! It's right next to the outlet stores on Vineland. We usually book at Sea World because it is very familiar to us, but this was available and gets great reviews. I'm sure our troubles were related to season, but I am one of high expectations...if you perform well at your busiest, then that speaks volumes. When you fail to empower your staff to solve problems, it frustrates me. The beds were still amazing...a favorite of my stays at Hilton.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:49 PM   #6
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I was just thinking that I hadn't seen a TR from you! Following along! We are doing our first driving trip to Florida in April before we go on a Disney Cruise. We're breaking the trip into two half days from Columbus leaving after school one day and then hopefully getting us into Orlando with enough time to do something fun so that day isn't completely wasted too! I commend you for all your driving!
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:51 PM   #7
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Love the title of your report!

I'm in!!
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:53 PM   #8
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Following love your trip reports
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:02 PM   #9
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So happy to see a report from you....can't wait to read more!
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:26 PM   #10
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I'm in!
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