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Disney World Trip Reports - 2006 to 2012

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#1 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:55 PM

Disney World - 2006

Fifty-six parents and children traveled to Disney World in early September (the week of Labor Day). Everyone made their own transportation arrangements and hotel reservations, but we all shared deeply discounted park tickets. These special tickets included behind-the-scenes educational programs for our students, five park-hopping days, and three visits to DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Park, Blizzard Beach Water Park, and Typhoon Lagoon Water Park (any combination).

There were several benefits to going during this time of year. Crowd levels were very low in all four parks. We were able to walk on most rides (even the headliner attractions), with little or no waiting throughout the day.

Another plus was Disney's dining plan - those of us who stayed in one of Disney's resorts were able to get the dining plan for free for the length of our stay. (Disney has offered free dining to their resort guests for the past two years during hurricane season.) We were treated to wonderful meals in many world-class restaurants. The bills for these meals were often well over $150 for a family of four, but the free dining plan covered the entire cost of the meal (appetizer, entree, and dessert), plus gratuity. The plan also covered one counter service meal and a snack each day. It provided so much food that my family (as well as others I've talked to) were never hungry.                                 

 And the final benefit to going this week was that parents didn't have to take as many days off work - Labor Day was already a holiday.

The only drawback for this time of the year was the heat. It was in the 90's all week, with high humidity. It rained a little while we were there, but not nearly as much as I expected. I welcomed the rain as it tended to cool things off for a while.

The educational programs had good reviews from almost everyone. The facilitators were friendly and informative, but I felt Disney didn't take full advantage of all the unique learning experiences they could offer students. There were paper and pencil activities, discussions, and the children were taken on rides that demonstrated the topics under discussion, but there weren't enough behind-the-scenes, hands-on, unique-to-Disney experiences (in my opinion). The children seemed to enjoy the programs, however, as did most parents, and those I've talked to would like to enroll their children in more programs next year. It seems my opinion was in the minority.

The cost of this trip varied, depending on number of family members participating, cost of hotel, and meal arrangements. The special park tickets we received, however, had a great discount - they're the least expensive tickets that Disney offers. Families who go to Disney often have told me that this trip was very inexpensive compared to what they're used to paying. And the free dining was just icing on the cake.

Due to the great feedback I have received from our travelers, I'll make plans for us to go back to Disney next year. Thanks to everyone who traveled with us!
 



#2 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:56 PM

Disney World - 2007

This trip was similar to last year's but we doubled the number of travelers and was introduced to the Showbiz Magic educational program. It was the best out of all the programs offered so far, with students describing it as awesome," "amazing," "fun," and "exemplary."  We went during the same time of year, so it was hot, but with low crowds, and free dining.



#3 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:57 PM

Disney World - 2008

We traveled during Labor Day week again, so the trip was similar to past trips. Our group has grown so large, however, that we were able to reserve more educational programs.The children enjoyed the variety, with some programs getting better reviews than others. We found that the programs for high school students (Making Waves with a Marine Career and Keepers of the Kingdom) and the Showbiz Magic program we repeated from last year received the best reviews. As with previous trips, we had low crowds and hot, humid weather.



#4 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 07:58 PM

Disney World - 2009

We had better reviews of all the educational programs this year. Disney has been working to enhance their classes and they received higher ratings from our families than in previous years. The higher level programs received the highest marks, but the classes for younger students weren't far behind. The heat this time of year is finally getting to many of us so we're going to shift our dates to the end of September next year. We hope also to be able to participate in Disney's International Food and Wine Festival by switching dates.



#5 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:03 PM

Disney World - 2010

We had more travelers this year than last, which surprised us because of the bad economy. Instead of going during Labor Day week, as we have in previous years, we went the last week of September. The weather was a little cooler most days, and the humidity was lower, so it was more bearable than usual.

There were only two negatives to going later in September. It seemed more crowded, but it was still very manageable. (The better weather made up for the small increase in crowds.) And we encountered the "love bugs." These are small flying (and happily mating while they're at it) bugs that come out during the end of September. In mass. Everywhere. During the first day or two, they seemed to congregate wherever we went. My 8-year-old daughter loved it, but she's really into bugs. Then either we got used to them or they actually lightened up the rest of the time and they didn't bother us anymore. Neither of these negatives were a big deal for most (if any) of my families, though, from the reports I received.

Almost every review of the educational programs was positive. Both children and parents seemed to enjoy them, with parents reporting that their children brought up what they had learned throughout the rest of their trip.

We made it in time for the beginning of the Food and Wine Festival, but it got mixed reviews. Those who went earlier in the day seemed to enjoy it more than those who went later. Several families commented that participants seemed to be "drinking around the world" instead of "eating around the world" - and their behavior reflected it. My family enjoyed seeing what each country's kiosk offered, but weren't able to sample the food (we didn't want to eat before a planned dinner engagement). We're looking forward to spending time sampling the food at the festival next year, but will follow the advice of other families and go earlier in the day.

Although the weather was better this year, it still wasn't cool enough for us, so we're planning to move our dates yet again - to November 12-19. The weather is typically in the 70s and 80s during this time, so we can still enjoy the water parks, but we won't melt the rest of the time. We also plan on enjoying the seasonal decorations and festivities that Disney has going that time of year. We hope you can join us!



#6 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:06 PM

Disney World - 2011

All I can say about Disney this year is... wow!

 

Okay, I guess I can add a little more than that. ;)

We had almost double the attendance this year than last, which made for a very large group. We had a group block of rooms at the Contemporary (a Disney deluxe resort), All Star Movies (a Disney value resort), and Port Orleans (a Disney moderate resort). The vast majority of our families stayed at the Contemporary or off-property (at time-shares, condos, rental houses, campgrounds, etc.) I think everyone enjoyed the wonderful discounts our  group was able to get.

The weather was much, much better than in September. It was even a little warmer than expected a couple of days (mid-ish 80's). Our Canadian families thought it was too warm most of the time, but those of us who were used to September's 90+ temps thought it was very pleasant. To top it off, we had zero rain the whole week - a first for our group, I think.
 

The crowds levels were good - not as low as September, but very manageable, and worth the trade-off for the better weather.

I received positive feedback about all the educational programs this year, so we'll probably keep all of them on the list next year, and add a few new ones for variety.

We'll probably go around the same time next year, but I think we'll shoot for December to take full advantage of the Christmas festivities and even cooler weather. I've been in December before, and the weather was beautiful, and still warm enough to swim (although a little chilly when getting out of the pool).

A big thanks to all of the families who joined us this year. It was great meeting you at the classes, hotel, and group events!
 



#7 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:08 PM

Disney World - 2012

 

We had another great trip to Disney World this year, especially with the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations (we went in December this time). The weather was a little overcast the week we were there, and got a little cooler toward the end of our stay, but most of us still went swimming anyway.

 

The week we went is usually not crowded, but the opening of the first wave of the new Fantasyland expansion coincided with our dates and caused a big increase in crowds. Although many of my families said it was the lowest crowds they've experienced, families who've been on my Disney trip before felt the increase.

 

The majority of families who stayed at our group hotel (the Swan) this year enjoyed it. The location is one of the best in the park, and the staff is wonderful. It's a conference hotel, and a little dated, but they do a great job of maintaining it.

 

This year we added optional side-trips to SeaWorld and Universal at significant discounts. Both were rated highly by most families, and I'm working to add behind-the-scenes tours/programs for Universal for our next trip. We also added the Kingdom Keepers Quest as an optional activity (for children who've read the Kingdom Keepers books), and that also received good reviews.

 

Due to the cooler weather, we're going to move our dates back to November in 2013, when it's usually warm enough to swim, but not enough to melt, and when Christmas decorations and lights start to fill the parks.

 

Thanks to all of the families who traveled with me this year. I'm already working on next year's trip and will announce the details soon!
 



#8 Dianna

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:35 PM

Friend me on Facebook to see pictures of these trips: http://www.facebook....inahomeschooler

 

(I'll try to add them in our private gallery soon!)







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