Walt Disney World Day 4

Friday kicked off with the first RunDisney event of our trip: the Walt Disney World 10K. For me this technically counted as a warmup for the marathon, but it was Chelsea and Sammy’s first RunDisney event and it was really great. We stopped to meet Ralph and Vanellope, Chip and Dale as the Rescue Rangers and Jiminy Cricket, and I’m so proud of how they did and happy with how they paced me.

After we’d showered, changed etc, we went back to Epcot in time for our lunch reservation at Teppan Edo. It was my fourth time eating there and it never fails to disappoint! After eating, we went round to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa and then used our fastpass for Frozen Ever After. When we came out from there, we saw that Soarin had a 25 minute wait time so we bombed over there, but actually I don’t think we waited more than 15 minutes to ride. We then hit some Epcot walls, then went to Starbucks and Club Cool for drinks, then went to meet Baymax and Joy and Sadness, and then went back to Mexico to meet Donald.

With our little legs all feeling the long day, we finished up the day in Epcot at Mouse Gear before catching the monorail back to the resort for an early night and the best nights sleep of the trip so far!

Walt Disney World Day 2

This morning we got up bright and early so that we could get to Animal Kingdom. Due to not booking our fastpasses at the 60 day mark, we didn’t have a Flights of Passage fastpass, so we were attempting to rope drop it, and it was actually a success! Although the queue looked scary as we walked all the way down to Harambe Theater, we hardly stopped moving and actually did the ride in under an hour – plus as I’ve only ever done fastpass for it before, it meant I got to see the cool inside queue for the first time.

Once that was done, we could relax a little and got breakfast at Creature Comforts, then we took some photos at the Tree of Life before going to meet Russell and Dug. It was possibly the cutest meet I’ve ever had, and as it was my first time meeting Dug I was really excited, especially as they loved our Wilderness Explorer outfits. After that, we went over to Expedition Everest and rode it twice, once as single riders and the second time using our fastpasses, then we wandered around for a bit before settling on having lunch at Yak and Yeti (QS).

We ended up sitting at Yak and Yeti for quite a while, just enjoying some shade and time off our feet, and then from there we went over to Africa for Festival of the Lion King, then went back to Dinoland and practically walked onto Primeval Whirl, then met Donald in his Dinobash outfit, before going to meet Micky and Minnie, which we had fastpasses for.

After that, we happened across Pocahontas meeting near the Tree of Life while we were heading back to Africa, so we stopped to meet her, and then went on to our final fastpass of the day at Kilimanjaro Safaris – although our ride was somewhat delayed due to the animals blocking vehicles on the roads – but we did get to see the lions really clearly and hear them roar!

Once we were off the ride, we had a mad dash back to the hotel to meet Chelsea who had arrived while we were being held up by rhinos or whatever was delaying the safari! We headed into Magic Kingdom for some dinner, a quick spin on the Peoplemover and a look through some shops, and then got the monorail back to the resort ready for some rest and recovery!

Tomorrow we’ll be hitting the RunDisney Health and Fitness Expo as well as the parks, so stay tuned!

Walt Disney World Day 1

Well gang, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged a Disney trip, but would you believe in the last few months I’ve done two trips that I haven’t blogged? So unlike me, right?

Well, I’m now back in Walt Disney World for some magic and some running, and I’ll be back blogging the whole thing, starting with today..

So we’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, our DVC home, which meant that this morning was far more chilled out as we only had to hop on the monorail to get to Magic Kingdom, and did security at the resort so didn’t have to queue at the park. There had been an early morning magic event on so the park was already a little busy, but we went down to the castle for the welcome show, and then Sammy wanted some breakfast so she grabbed a Mickey waffle at Sleepy Hollow, took a trip to the Tangled toilets and then went for our first ride of the day: Pirates of the Caribbean.

On our way from there to Fantasyland, we met Mary Poppins and the ugly stepsisters, and then met Rapunzel and Tiana in Princess Fairytale Hall, and then headed for Haunted Mansion for our first fastpass of the day. By that time it was pretty much lunch time – Sarah and I hadn’t eaten breakfast either – and we ended up going to Pinocchio Village Haus so that we knew there would be vegetarian options for Sammy.

After lunch, we had to spend a little bit of time at guest services sorting out our annual pass magic bands, and then headed back to the castle to watch Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and from there grabbed a parade spot. Once the parade was over, we grabbed a quick Starbucks, and then did our second fastpass of the day, Buzz, and also did a lap of the TTA Peoplemover.

The My Disney Experience app was telling us that Big Thunder Mountain had a 35 minute wait time, so we headed over there, but unfortunately so did everyone else in the park.. The cast member said the queue was at least 70 minutes when we got there, so that was a no, and instead Matthew and I got in the queue for Splash Mountain, but after a while we realised that the queue was going to be too long and we would miss our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fastpass, so instead we grabbed a Mickey waffle and headed over to Fantasyland.

I’ve never done Mine Train in the dark before and it was so good!! Because most people were camping out for Happily Ever After by this point, the queue for Big Thunder had dropped to only 20 minutes, so we practically ran back to Frontierland, and had the best time riding the back of the wildest ride in the wilderness. With a little bit of time before HEA, we got some food at Cosmic Ray’s, and then got our spot to watch the show – despite showing up just as it was starting, we got a decent view!

On our way out of the park we hit the shops and Main Street Confectionary, and then we decided to forgo the monorail in favour of the ferry back to Poly, and the Electrical Water Pageant was going so we got to see a lot of that while we were waiting which was really cool because I never stop to watch it when I’m leaving Magic Kingdom.

We’ve got day 1 feet right now, so we got back into quickly and are just spending the evening chilling in the room ready for Animal Kingdom tomorrow!

How Disney Vacation Club Actually Works

So back in November I shared the massively exciting news that on our recent trip to Walt Disney World, Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, and since then there’s been a lot of interest in me writing this post, so here goes!

Simply put, DVC is a timeshare, but its so much more than your typical 2 weeks in Spain every summer kinda thing. Yes, its a proper deed so officially you own the land and there’s a lot of official documents to sign, but essentially what you pay for is points.

Points

Getting points

So the price you pay for your membership depends the number of points you get. We own Disney’s Polynesian Resort, so this becomes our ‘home resort’, and our contract is for 130 points, which means every year we get 130 points to use within its allotted timeframe.

Using points

Every room at every DVC resort has a certain number of points, which varies based on the resort, the room size and the season – typically the bigger the room, the more expensive the resort if paid cash, and the higher peak seasons = more points. We chose 130 points per year as that’s the number of points it takes to have Deluxe Studio in Poly for 1 week during the season that we would typically travel, which is Oct-Nov time, but for the same amount of time in a Savannah View Deluxe Studio in Animal Kingdom Lodge, its only 88 points, so there’s a lot of variation which means we can be really flexible too.

Points do not have to be used every year, but if you aren’t going to use them, you have to ‘bank’ them by a certain time within your use year, and that means that if you want to do a longer or more expensive trip in 2 years time, you could bank this year’s points, and then use them on top of next year’s. You can also borrow points from the following year, for example, for our Aulani trip this April, we’ve borrowed 10 points from next year’s allocation, and then if you do need any extra points on top of banking and borrowing, members have the option of purchasing up to 24 extra points for a cash value.

Selling off

Your contract length varies depending on when you buy it, but if you’re purchasing direct from Disney, you’re looking at about 50 years. However, if its not working out for you, you can sell your contract back to Disney or sell it privately, as well as being able to transfer it into other people’s names, for example if you wanted to pass the contract onto your children.

Resorts

DVC covers every Deluxe resort or villas in Walt Disney World, plus Grand Californian in Disneyland, and also Disney’s Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island and Aulani resorts, so you can use your points at any of these places, plus they also have the RCI Network of thousands of hotels all over the world that you can use your points to pay for.

Booking resorts

Earlier I mentioned Polynesian being our ‘home resort’, and not only does this mean that this is the resort we actually own, but it also gives us the opportunity to book this up to 11 months in advance, while every other resort becomes available to us at the 7 month mark, and vice versa, those members who own other resorts cannot book Polynesian until the 7 month mark, so we sorta get a head start. Booking can be done directly through the DVC website, similar to the WDW website, or over the phone with DVC cast members.

DVC members can also book stays for anyone, so if for example we weren’t going to go one year, but my parents wanted to go, we book the stay for them using our points and our name doesn’t have to be on the booking at all, so gifting points is really easy. A lot of members also use this perk as a way of renting points out for monetary value, and there are a lot of Facebook groups and pages dedicated to point rental.

Staying in resorts

There’s no real difference between staying in a resort as a member or a regular guest, however while the rubbish is collected daily, the rooms are only serviced every 4 days, although you can request extra visits for a surcharge. However, DVC members do have the added perk of being able to use the pools in any DVC resort, even those that are normally off limits to guests not staying at that resort.

Paying for DVC

Membership cost

The cost of membership can be paid in full or Disney also offer financing, although there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from finding finance elsewhere. For US residents, finance is offered depending on credit searches, but if you’re from the UK, you’re automatically approved for finance through Disney at a rate of 12.5%. One of the great things about this, however, is that while it is a loan, because they cannot set up a direct debit with a UK bank account, the payments have to be made from a credit or debit card, and this means that it will not show up on any credit searches done in the UK, so this loan will not affect your credit score or affect your ability to get other loans of mortgages.

Dues

On top of membership fees, every year members pay resort dues, which is a one off payment in January that goes towards the upkeep of your home resort. Again, the amount of these dues varies depending on your resort, and typically the newer resorts have higher dues, but the dues also vary from year to year based on the work that’s predicted to need doing.

Member benefits

There are a tonne of perks that come along with being a DVC member. From the moment you sign your contract, you have access to a digital membership card to keep you going until your real one arrives, and that means that you can start to take advantage of the 20% discount off all WDW merchandise, 10% off dining and access to the exclusive DVC lounges such as Bay Lake Tower’s Top of the World Lounge straight away.

There’s also a whole bunch of other discounts available at other shopping and dining locations in Disney Springs, discounted park tickets, DVC exclusive events such as Moonlight Magic, and exclusive merchandise, plus early registration to RunDisney events.

Don’t worry folks, you’ve come to the end of my ramblings now! I hope this has been informative to anyone curious about DVC, but I’ll leave you with one little nugget of wisdom before you go. If you’re considering Disney Vacation Club, I thoroughly recommend that you go to a DVC open house and hear all this again from the experts – I’ve been to two open houses and I can honestly say that there is no one more knowledgeable or passionate about what they sell than the DVC reps, plus they do not pressure you in any way. If you have any more questions for me, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

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Lottie and Matthew Do Disney: Day 11

Waking up this morning was particularly difficult for some reason, but when we did drag ourselves out of bed, we were off to Magic Kingdom!

Cutting it close to the end time of our first fastpass, once we were in the park we hightailed it over to Big Thunder Mountain, and once that was done and dusted, breakfast was had in the form of a Mickey pretzel, and then we also decided to try a park snack I’ve been wanting to try for years now, the orange equivalent of Dole Whip: a Citrus Swirl. Matthew has just a plan swirl cup, and I had the float, he hated his, I thought it was ok but nothing to particularly write home about.

After that I dragged him on a customary It’s a Small World ride, and then I went to buy something very exciting (haul post when I’m back!) in Fantasyland before we made our way back to Adventureland for lunch at MK’s newest table service, Skipper Canteen, where despite us both being a little underwhelmed at the menu on first glance, we both had excellent meals and I absolutely would recommend!

Lunch took us nicely up to pre-parade time, so we snagged a spot on Main Street for Matthew’s first ever Festival of Fantasy – I was Disneybounding as Rapunzel as she spotted me out of the crowd, in dead. The park was much busier today than it was on our last day in MK, so queues were a bit of a nightmare, so we decided to do Mickey’s Philharmagic, and even that was packed! Being a Christmas party night, the park was really filling up so we decided to do some resort hopping, and caught the monorail to Contemporary first, meaning we got to see the Christmas gingerbread castle and do a little bit of exploring, and then we went round to the Grand Floridian to do the same, with the addition of hitting Basin White!

From GF we got the monorail across to Epcot for a quick look in a few shops (making final shopping decisions as we’re coming to the end of the trip!) and then got the bus back to our resort, where we decided to actually try out the food options here for dinner!

I’ve got some really nasty mosquito bites that have been giving me grief over the last few days and today has been particular horrible, plus I think I’m starting to come down with a post-Disney cold a few days early, waa!

Lottie and Matthew Do Disney: Day 1

Well here we are folks, another Disney trip has begun!

Courtesy of the time difference, we were awake well before our alarm, and on the bus to the Magic Kingdom just before 7am. We got to MK at about 7:25, and waited in the area reserved for those with breakfast reservations, getting let in at about 7:50. Our breakfast was at Be Our Guest, and wasn’t actually until 8:50, so we took our time getting castle photos, and even had a ride on the carousel before going to the restaurant. Despite being about 30 mins early, they let us straight in, and we were actually finished with our food before our actual reservation time.

After breakfast – which was so good by the way – we had planned on Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was closed, so instead we headed to Big Thunder Mountain and got on the first train out, plus I asked the cast member if we could be in the last row and she let us! From there we did Jungle Cruise, then Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and our first fastpass of the day, Space Mountain.

The park has been so nice and quiet this morning, and after Space Mountain we managed to do Dumbo, The Barnstormer and The Little Mermaid ride in quick succession, and then made our way round to do Haunted Mansion. Next on the agenda was sorting out a few bits and pieces; Matthew needed to reset his MagicBand pin and my memory maker wasn’t working properly, so we went to Guest Services, via shopping on Main Street USA. We went to City Hall but as there was a queue, the cast member directed us to Liberty Square Ticket Office, a lesser known guest services spot, and thanks to the wonderful Javier, we got everything fixed and he even gave us 3 free Fastpasses by way of apology for the issues I had with my memory maker.

To use them up, we did Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then Tomorrowland Speedway and Space Mountain, and then we did a lap of TTA Peoplemover and had a sit down in Carousel of Progress, which took us nicely up to our early dinner reservation at The Plaza Restaurant. The food was nice, but I wouldn’t rush to eat there again, and had we not been on the dining plan I don’t think I would have liked to actually pay what we should have done.

After dinner the lack of sleep from the night before was really kicking in, so we finished up with our last fastpass of the day, Pirates of the Caribbean, and headed out from Magic Kingdom for the night – we would have been kicked out later due to the Halloween party anyway! 
Back to the resort, and we picked up our refillable resort mugs, and as we started to walk back to the room I noticed a furry friend was just outside the reception area, and in the cutest outfit too so I just had to have a cuddle! So we just spent the evening at the resort and ended up falling asleep nice and early, which was definitely needed!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day!

February Disney Trip Day 2

Still can’t really believe we’re actually here, and still can’t get over yesterday, but today is an Epcot day!


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We got into the park just as it opened, and after a quick chat with guest relations regarding my failing Memory Maker, we headed to meet Baymax – and waited probably all of about 30 seconds – and then jumped into the shortish queue for Sadness and Joy! Three characters under our belt, we made our way to The Land so Sarah could do Living with the Land, which she’s never done before, and then grabbed some breakfast in Sunshine Seasons. Then a wild Milly appeared!

It was so lovely to see Milly after so long, and we sat in Sunshine Seasons for ages having a catch up before she left to go to work, but we’ll see her later in the trip! After buying ponchos, courtesy of the now pouring rain, we headed out and to the World Showcase – first stop Donald, I mean Mexico..


If you didn’t know my love of Donald, I planned my whole outfit for today around him, and he was so sweet! I’m so happy I got to take photos with him inside the temple because it was too wet for him to go outside! After that, we did the Gran Fiesta Tour, then headed round to Norway and met Anna and Elsa in the Royal Sommerhaus with only a 15 minute wait! Then it was time for our fastpasses for Frozen Ever After, which was cute, but I definitely wouldn’t queue as long as some people were in standby!

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With the rain dying off a little, we headed round the World Showcase towards Japan, where after a wander around the big Japanese shop, we stopped for our lunch at Teppan Edo. Despite having already eaten here before, I was still blown away by the meal. Our chef was super funny and really talented and the food was, of course, incredible!


Tummies full of food, we headed back towards Future World via the rest of the World Showcase, and had our fastpasses for Character Spot, meeting Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, then courtesy of the awful rain, Snow White was also meeting by the exit to Character Spot, rather than her usual place in Germany, so we saw her, then dashed to China to meet Mulan inside the Great Temple.

After meeting Mulan, we practically waded back to Spaceship Earth. NB: drainage in Epcot sucks after bad rain! We had Spaceship Earth fastpasses, then headed over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends, then did Turtle Talk with Crush, which was hilarious as usual cos some kids say the stupidest things..


I always have to say hi to the manatees of The Seas when I visit Epcot, so we did that, then wandered across to Journey into the Imagination with Figment, which we walked straight onto, then dashed quickly into the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival to avoid the rain which had started yet again, and that got us both feeling pretty sleepy, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel for the rest of the evening!

Today:

– Total characters: 12

– Total steps: 12,574

– Total distance: 5.25 miles

Tomorrow we’re gonna hit the RunDisney expo first thing so I can collect all my race gear, then we’ve got another busy day so stay tuned!