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2014 Disney Food and Wine, Wine, and Wine Festival-PreTrip

I don’t think I started (let alone finished) blogging our family trip to Disney in May. I’m sorry. Really, I am, but honestly, I can’t even remember what we did, other than the room was great and Adam loved the slide at the pool. But I’ve got one piece of advice from that trip that I’m going to try to follow on this one: don’t drink so much wine!

Now that you’ve stopped laughing and have wiped the tears away, I’ll remind you (did I tell you this then?) that we went to the Jiko Wine Tasting at 3PM one day, left Rad with my parents, then had two before we left for dinner at CG and so instead of going to our room went to the Bay Lake Towers Top of the World bar…where I’m pretty sure I was over served. Then we went to dinner and we asked for the waiter to choose wine pairings for our apps and entrees, which he did. And then it gets very fuzzy and much money was spent and food may have been enjoyed and my kid wakes up at 6AM. So, you know, suckage.

This is a kid-free trip for FWF, so I feel less bad about Mommy’s overindulging on this trip (really, don’t do that thing I did above, it’s not cool). Some great stuff is on the agenda including Party For The Senses and French Regional Lunch-Champagne!! And we are using up three days on old tickets because we’ll get new annual passes for our family trip for all three of us in April, so this feels like we can relax and not try to get the most bang for the buck out of our park days.

It’s been said that Epcot is the world’s greatest bar with the world’s largest cover charge and I’m about to find out if that’s true. We have to use a day of our tickets just to get into Epcot for PFTS which is also bunch of money for the separate ticket and another day to get to the FRUNCH plus paying for that meal. You can do math, you can figure out what’s invested. I swear if I didn’t have DVC or a boatload of Disney Rewards I’d gag on the amounts.

We’ve typically done Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival on weekdays and have never done the events other than the booths and one or two cooking demos, so this will be very different: the weekend crowd, the party and meal, the FP+ that I’m booking but probably not using.

We leave Saturday, 1PM, Southwest direct flight. Rad goes to Baca and Mimi’s house. Quicksilver is picking us up. I considered Magical Express but for a short trip it seems like a waste of time;  we land at 3:40 and PFTS is at 7. I know ME can be as little as 2 hours or as much as 3 from airport to resort, but this level of good-looking takes more maintenance time pre-party then ME could provide for me.

So far some very good things have happened for us regarding this trip. The first was a resort change. I booked Animal Kingdom Villas (its my home resort–you book where you own at 11 months, and others are allowed at 7 months) at 11 months out but then decided to waitlist for Boardwalk Villas at 7 months. Then I forgot completely. I logged in one day in July to see how many points we had left and if it was worth renting them to someone or banking them and found that we had gotten BWV! The next day a letter came in the mail confirming.

I also took advantage of being a Disney Visa card holder and booked my FWF experiences (or wallet emptiers, you be the judge) before the general public. I was concerned as there was confusion last year with CMs who didn’t know that Visa card holders could book, a closed reservation system, and people saying they didn’t get either their perk or their desired ressie. But no problems; Disney Food Blog is certainly the most comprehesive resource on FWF, booking, perks and the like. 

Plans as they stand:
SAT-Fly, QS to BWV, get fancy, go to PFTS (yes, I’m dressing like I paid as much as I paid to go to this thing; dressing well is about politeness to the other guests, the chefs, and my wallet. And honestly, I like dressing up), possible hit MK for late night after (yes, still dressed for the evening…) but maybe just BLT bar to see 11PM Wishes…We’ll see.

SUN-Lazy morning, maybe the pool, certainly coffee. FRUNCH at noon, til 3:30!! Then leave Epcot (gasp) because I’ve heard about you drinkers on the weekends and the bad behavior (read the DIS thread on this, I’ve never seen what people are describing, but then maybe I’m too busy enjoying myself to notice middle aged drunks at Epcot) and head to HS for some thrill rides. I’ve got FP+s for the biggies, but again, I’m not married to any of this, perhaps we’ll sit by the pool and relax. Take a nap. Oh, sleep, I miss you so.

MON-Soaring at 10AM FP+, then FWF around the world. That’s it.

TUE-sleep some more, pack, go home at 1PM. Pick up Weeman and love on him a ton. How can you not love all over this?

Making “Daddy Bread” (and very excited about flour…)

See you when I get back!!!! 
I’ll be instagramming and tweeting tons too: @onafullstomach


Welcome Home!

I’m not sure if we’ve lost our marbles or found them; we finally bought into Disney Vacation Club. After umpteen trips to the World, most of them on rented points from DVC members or from dvc-rental.com we bought a resale membership in Animal Kingdom Villas from Resales DVC. We now have 200 points to use every year until 2057! Depending on when we go, that number of points allows us to take at least two week long trips per year for the three of us in a studio villa or we can get a two bedroom villa, bring some friends or family and stay for over a week.


So today I made our first booking to go “home.” The contract we purchased is a resale and the previous owners did not use all the 2012 points when they sold it to us, so Jake and I are going a grown ups only trip for two night to (what else?) the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!  That uses up the remaining points for 2012. I also learned today that Airtran takes Paypal; we have one customer who pays us via Paypal and I generally forget that we have a balance to use and then end up with a good chunk of money when I should have been using it to pay for tons of other online crap, so almost like free plane tickets. Plus we have Rewards Dollars on our Disney Visa ($400ish) and one day left on our old 10 day passes. Really, its practically free. Except for the whole buying a 45 year time share part.


Feeling pretty good about things I also booked a trip for the three of us and my parents. A two bedroom villa for four nights in May. We took my parents last May and it was awesome! Built in baby sitter and extra love for Raddy G. He was only 15 months old that time, I think 26 months will be even more fun for him.


I’ll have to look into that first haircut thing at the Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom, but first, FOOD and WINE (and more WINE!).


Upcoming Disney Trip; Backstory, Part 1:

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)