Disney World Vacation 2014 Planning

disney planning

Since I still am not feeling 100%, Boo Boo is just giving over some random 24 hour stomach bug, and we are still trying to pick up the house from parties and Easter I decided to start writing some blogs about our last family vacation.  We went to Orlando in September for vacation, my hubby, the kids and my parents.

I know – tons of people probably just read that and said – “Wait!!! your parents???” but I honestly love traveling with my parents and especially to Disney.  My mom and I LOVE just about anything Disney – while my husband and dad really don’t.  My husband goes to the parks now because he enjoys seeing the kids reactions – its like being a kid again yourself – but he reaches a point where he is Disney-ed out whereas my mom is like an energizer bunny at the parks.  When my husband reaches his Disney capacity my mom takes over as a second pair of hands and we have a blast together with the kids.  My husband and dad share a lot of the same interests so they hang out together doing non Disney activities – this last trip they rented Harley’s one day and went to Daytona.  Typically we can also convince my dad to do at least one day in Disney and usually its at Epcot.

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The first step to planning our trip was booking airfare.  Hubby, the kids and I flew out of Portland on JetBlue to Orlando.  We had a layover at JFK – we decided this would work for us as the kids could stretch their legs between flights, and bags and snacks were free.  My parents waited a big longer to book and ended up with very similar rates flying out of Bangor on Allegiant to Sanford.

Next I booked a rental car – we got a mini van so we would be able to travel as a big unit when we choose too.  I got the lowest rate for the van at Avis with my husbands USAA discount.  My parents also rented a car which allowed them to do things on their own when they wanted and left my dad with a car on the days we were in the parks and he didn’t go.

After the dates were finalized I started looking for places to stay.  Since we were traveling as a big family we decided hotels were out and that we would try renting a house for this trip.  It ended up being right around $140 a night – way cheaper than staying on Disney property with multiple rooms.  Growing up we always stayed in timeshares which was great with two bedrooms for a family of four – once you start getting more than that you are starting to pack in like sardines.  My husband has the “mom” ears in our family – he hears everything so when we travel if he is going to get quality sleep at night we typically need to be in separate rooms from the kids.  The kids have been fine together in the same room but by renting a house they had the opportunity to have their own rooms just like at home.

I found the house we ended up renting on Homeaway.com.  It was in Kissimmee and roughly 3 miles to the back side of Disney property.  It was a little bit further down in Kissimmee than we had ever stayed but it turned out to be a pretty awesome location.  It was easily accessed from major highways and close to Disney – good selling points to me!  We rented a 6 bedroom house – see the listing for it by clicking on the photo below:

Orlando villa rental

(photo from the VacationRentals.com website)

The house worked perfectly for us – it had two masters and bedrooms for the kids plus a few additional family members who came and stayed with us a few days.  We had our own pool, a BBQ and game room in the garage.  It is nice to have the comforts of home (plus some) when you travel.  The only issue we had was that the coffee maker was broken (who can live without coffee?? not me or my family!) – we called the maintenance company and they had a new one delivered that same morning.  We had an amazing experience and would definitely stay there again.

We were in Florida for 10 days on this trip.  I love Disney but didn’t want to have that be the only focus as I know that my husband would get tired of it quickly plus I knew my dad wasn’t doing much Disney so I didn’t want him to be left out.  I also know that trying to do Disney back to back days with little kids is exhausting – I wanted us all to have fun and not be cranky!  So we tried to do the big Disney parks every other day with trips to the beach, pool days, hot air balloon rides, shopping and other small things in between.

We bought 4 day park hopper plus tickets for everybody except my father prior to going on our trip online at:

The tickets are slightly discounted and mailed to you at home prior to your trip.  I would highly recommend using them – they also provide good information on their website like crowd calendars and special events.  They provide apps that you can download and use while you are on your trip as well.

While planning our trip I also purchased tickets for me, my mom and the kids to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), booked Buddy at the Pirate’s League and Boo Boo at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, booked a dinner reservation at Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney and a hot air balloon ride.  Everything else I roughly planned out but left dates flexible as you never know how weather will be or if anyone gets sick.  Since we stayed off Disney property we could book our fastpasses 30 days out – I booked them as soon as I could based on my rough schedule but realized things might change.  I love to plan (probably courtesy of my event planning background) this is another reason my mom loves going on vacation with us because she knows she will not have to plan anything!

I had so much fun planning our trip – I love Disney and I love planning so it was a happy time for me.  Over the next few weeks I will post blogs about our park days and our hot air balloon experience – I will leave you for today with our group picture up in the air!

hot air balloon

(photo courtesy of Thompson Aire)

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