Mickey Mouse made from bath towels, by Mousekeeping at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
Why Disney? Why Now?
1. 40. This is my birthday trip. I’ll be 40. I’ve actually had to get used to it already, because triathlon events categorize athletes by age and to make it simple, your age is considered to be how old you will be on the last day of the year. So since January 1, USATriathlon has considered me a 40 year old. That doesn’t make it better. Anyway, back to 40. A long time ago, when I had no money I decided that on my 40th birthday I would eat at Victoria and Albert’s. Well, its here. And while it’s still expensive, I can now make the splurge and with careful planning not worry about next months bills.
2. USATriathlon Long Course Nationals/Tri Club Nationals are being held on October 2. That’s the weekend I chose to start my birthday trip. I hadn’t planned on going again. See, last year I qualified for World Championships, but opted not to join Team USA and go to Germany because Jake and I had already planned a trip to Italy that conflicted. Really, I didn’t feel bad. Team USA makes you pay to transport your bike, buy the sweatsuit, use the team hotel, etc and its becomes insanely expensive. Not to mention that I qualified by the skin of my teeth and would basically be going to Germany to get my ass handed to me. Flash forward to this winter’s newsletter from USAT. Nationals are at Myrtle Beach. It’s the only qualifier for Worlds. And Worlds? In Las Vegas!! That means if I qualify I can totally go!!! Then I realize that October 2 is the first day of the Disney trip. No worries…here’s the skinny: I fly to SC on Friday AM, rent a car to Myrtle Beach–all my equipment etc will be in a team van already on site, race on Saturday AM, barring really bad bike wrecks, I’ll drive back the airport, fly to MCO at 4PM ish, Mr. J will fly in to MCO that evening as well, we get our car, and into BWV by 8PM. Late dinner at Jiko is likely. See, totally fine. I do feel really bad for whoever gets to sit next to me on the plane though, I won’t have time to shower and I might still be in my race shorts…
3. In case I didn’t mention it, I’ll be turning 40.
Last fall Jake and I went for a free dining weekend and hit the Food and Wine Festival. Being foodies and winos, this was a great weekend!! We upgraded to the deluxe meal plan so we could do all signature restaurants (you pay $25ish more–but with the base plan free, it’s a bargain!) and used the snack credits for the FWF booths. We had dinners at Jiko, Yachtsman, and Citricos. We ate just about everything in Epcot. We drank untold amounts of wine (markup anyone?). We went to some seminars. In short, we had a great time and decided to return to do it again.
We are fortunate to have two Disney Visa’s that are used for personal and business expenses. Jake can often charge 5-8k a month to his visa when working with multiple customers (he works on very expensive heavy equipment and when something needs fixing, he pays for it and bills them…) so our Disney points have really racked up in the last two years, making a return to FWF and dinner at V&As very reasonable.
First task–rent me some Disney Vacation Club points for Boardwalk Villas. After last year’s stay at a value resort we decided that while it was inexpensive, the travel to Epcot would be easier from Boardwalk. By renting points from a DVC timeshare owner we paid only a bit more than a value resort would cost and we would be able to walk (okay, stumble) back to our room after a tour of the world and its wine. and beer. and those really yummy frozen vodka things….
I thought I’d give you a little background on renting points, in case anyone is interested in trying this angle. I’ve never had bad luck with this and have done it many many times. I’ve got three or four people I typically work with, finding all of them on disboards.com. The basics are pretty much the same for each of them, but I will say I like one of my rental providers better than the rest, Mr. D is super nice and helpful! Usually DVCers will rent some points to you for $9-$11 per point, with 50% due at booking and 50% due 30 days out. I’ve paid that way, I’ve paid it all at once. You get a reservation sheet from them first, with a number and use paypal or a check and boom, its done. The down side is that you are pretty much tied to that reservation then. Changing or canceling isn’t going to go smoothly or make anyone happy. So know what you want and know that you can go and know that you will probably lose your money if some tragedy befalls your family and you have to cancel your trip at the last minute. Those are the down sides, oh, and you don’t get the free dining kind of deals either, but I considering you have to buy a package to get the free dining, I still think I make out okay.
The up side is that you get a fancy pants room for a great price! A studio at Boardwalk Sunday-Thursday nights will end up running you about $100-$130 a night and you’ll have a kitchenette (I love that I can bring my leftovers from restaurants home and eat them for lunch the next day—heating them in the microwave, having actual silverware and glassware to use). I’ve stayed in a one bedroom as well, and it is a fair amount more, but you get a full kitchen and washer/dryer. I have very seriously considered joining DVC and almost did last year until I got an unexpected tax bill that ate my deposit. We are still considering it, but the points rental prices haven’t really changed and Jake and I take vacations to other destinations too, so I’m not sure I want to commit yet. I have thought about the idea that my family can benefit (imagine giving a room at Disney as a Christmas gift!!) but I can’t pull the trigger. It’s not really a money saver, it’s a way to get a big girl room on a regular basis for a reasonable price. I’m pretty sure we would end up spending way more money on Disney if we bought, simply because we would have an excuse-the room is paid for, let’s just go for a long weekend…
Knowing that DVCers snap up standard view studios I contacted some folks I’d rented from previously and managed to snag one for four nights. We rented the points upfront in November and it now feels like we never even paid for it! I love planning ahead.
Backstory Part 2: Food (oh, and parks, but mostly food)