Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Here we are -- me, Julianna, Katie, and Tim (his picture is on the boat going from WL to the Magic Kingdom -- boy, can't wait to do that again!!).

Resort is Chosen!

Picture from our 2007 trip -- our room is the balcony with the white towel

I finally heard from Beci today, and she gave us two choices based on our preferences and the prize budget:

Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge

So.... we chose both! Actually, the free 5 night stay will be at the WL concierge, and we're adding on 2 nights at the Animal Kingdom Lodge ourselves. I am perfectly happy. Sure it would have been nice to be on the monorail, but to be honest I think the Wilderness Lodge has the best theming and a very good location out of all the deluxe resorts. We stayed there for 3 nights in 2007 and just loved it. The parking, theming, restaurants, pool (pool slide!), and did I mention the theming? are just perfect for us.

We are very excited for our first concierge trip... not exactly sure what we're in for, but I'm counting down the days until I walk into the WL lobby and feel like I'm home!! (...yes, I'm actually counting.. it's 292 days....)

If anyone has stayed at Wilderness Lodge (regular or concierge), leave a comment and tell me how you liked it, any secrets, etc!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dining Dreams

After I talked to Beci last week, she said that the next step for her was to look at what rooms were available. Then she'd get in touch with me and tell us our resort! Midweek I got an email from her saying the DCL 2010 cruise dates had been released and the week had been crazier than planned. No big rush for me, although I must admit to being very curious about where we're staying.

So now that I don't have to be writing emails begging people for votes, I've been using the time to think about the trip. Here's a list of the restaurants we're thinking of going to. We'll have 5 table service (and 5 counter service) with the dining plan. The last two days of our 7 nights we won't have the dining plan.

2 Table Service credits (or out-of-pocket):
Hoop De Doo Revue: This is one of Tim's choices and I agree with him. I think the kids will love the show!
Cinderella's Royal Table (breakfast or lunch): This is for Katie, our princess. Plus when else will be able to eat at the castle? :) I can't wait to see her face when she meets Cinderella...

1 Table Service credit:
Chef Mickey's or Tusker House breakfast: Gotta have a meal with the Mouse. We've been to Chef Mickey's a bunch of times, so perhaps we'll do the Tusker House breakfast before park opening one morning.

Le Cellier: Have never been, and hear that I really should. The menu over at allears looks fantastic.
Boma: Did this one last year, MUST go back. Can you say zebra dome?

We will also be going to the new T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. Julie is THE dino girl.
Other options I've thought about... either Tokyo Dining or Teppan Edo, as the only food Tim and I eat when we go out is sushi usually. I'd love to try Jiko but I think Boma is a good compromise price and kid-friendly-wise. And of course any restaurant choices will probably be tied to what resort we're staying at... we're already planning two days at AKL at the end of the trip, thus Boma. If our long stay is at Wilderness Lodge, we'll probably end up at Whispering Canyon sometime.

Only 303 more days until we check in at.... (stay tuned to hear the answer!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

First Planning Session

I talked to Beci Mahnken and Annette Owens from Mousefan Travel today! It was weird hearing both of them on the phone, as I am so used to hearing them on the podcasts (WDW Radio and WDW Today, respectively). It's great knowing that my trip is in the hands of the best, most trusted travel agents around.

We talked a little about my family, what dates we were interested in, and what restaurants we were hoping to go to. Beci also asked me about 'magical moments' that I might have seen or been a part of... I wasn't sure how to answer that one but came up with a couple, like people getting upgrades at resorts, unexpected surprises, and anything that makes my girls smile. I have a feeling this trip is going to be sprinkled with some magic pixie dust... :)

We did get to talking about where we might be staying -- I asked if we had a choice of resort and Beci said, "No, not really." She went on to say that basically there is a certain budget for the trip that they have to work within, plus the availability of the concierge rooms at the deluxe resorts. Annette said we could by all means tell her what our preferences were, but there was no guarantee on anything. So I said 1. Grand Floridian 2. Polynesian 3. Beach Club.

Beci said she would be contacting me at the beginning of the week with some preliminary ideas, and we should have the resort and dates locked in by the end of the week. I'll keep you updated as things come together!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Resort Poll

Check out my poll on Intercot to vote for what resort we should stay at:



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The prize!

So here's the lowdown:

Five nights at a Disney Deluxe resort -- concierge level!
Six day parkhoppers for 4 people
Dining plan for 4
$1000 AmEx gift card
iPod nano
Digital camera
Disney World Trivia prize pack
complimentary vacation planning with Beci and Annette from MEI/Mousefan Travel
Lots of surprises and extras on the trip!

The only thing Tim and I have figured out is that we're going next August. We tried to find a way to go in February, but the airfare ($2400) is prohibitive. Plus the fact that we'd like to go with Tim's family. Chris, his family, Jay, and his mom all want to go together, and they can't afford February any more than we can.

August also serves two purposes. We can go see Tim's dad in Tampa like usual, then head over to Disney. I hate the fact that the trip is about 310 days away, but it will teach me patience. :)

I have a phone call set up to talk to Beci and Annette on Friday. I can't wait to start planning! If we have choice of any resort, we're thinking Grand Floridian (location, location, and monorail) along with two extra nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I'm still intrigued by the Beach Club (and Stormalong Bay) but I'm not wowed by the food options there. Plus we will NEVER be able to afford a monorail resort... so this is our chance!

Let me know what you think... what deluxe would you stay in?

The Whole Story

Back in July, Lou Mongello started the Adventureland Challenge. On a Sunday night at 8pm, the first round, a trivia contest/scavenger hunt, started. Well, sort of. The server was so overwhelmed with traffic that it took over 2.5 hrs to get everything back up and running. But since it was a scavenger hunt (finding questions on sponsor websites) as I was waiting for Lou's sites to come back up, I went hunting to the sponsor sites. Got lucky -- found almost all of the ten questions, then just sat and waited for the last sites. At 10:41pm (or so) I entered my answers on the online form. The contest ran for two weeks and was a little nerve wracking for me. I didn't receive a confirmation email that my answers had been received, although I had seen the confirmation after I had entered my answers. I just crossed my fingers that Lou had gotten my answers!

And thankfully, he had. I was announced as one of the second round contestants! The second round consisted of writing a caption for a picture. The picture was of the gorillas wrecking the camp from the Jungle Cruise. I worked on my caption for days -- to the point that I would look at my ideas and NONE of them sounded even remotely funny. So I sent out my best ones to my online Disney friends, and they helped me see which one was my best work.

"Quit fooling around and help me find that darned cricket! If I hear "When you wish upon a star" one more time, I'll go ape!"

Then started the voting. Ten days of me emailing people off my Excel spreadsheet, through Facebook, and Intercot. I had SO many people writing me and saying how excited they were for me, and that they were forwarding the message to others. One of my favorite Disney friends, Amy McKean, was one of those people. What a sweetie!!

On the last day of the voting, Lou went on vacation with his family. The worst part of the next ten days was the fact that none of us knew when the results were going to be announced. Four days after voting ended, Lou posted a podcast... with no news. I can't tell you how many times I checked WDW Radio that week! And finally the next podcast came out with the three finalists names. I found out when I was at school and I hope no one saw me jumping up and down!

Later that week Lou sent the three of us interview questions. Interview!! We each got time on the show to explain to the listeners who we were and why we should be chosen as the Ultimate Adventurer. On Friday at dinner I almost had a panic attack thinking about how much was riding on the interview. And then I listened to the reasonable part of my brain and told myself that this WAS going to be fun and I would be mad at myself afterwards if I didn't enjoy this. And I was right. It was a blast talking to Lou and trying to explain who I am, who my family was in a short amount of time.

On Monday morning we were listening to the podcast at breakfast time. Julie had gotten a chance to say hello and talk about our family on the podcast, so she was thrilled to hear herself on my iPod! We also got to hear the other two contestants. Jeff DeBoer was from Indiana, recently married (two yrs), active in community theater, and had done the Disney College Program. Ashley Fischer was 19, a student at Ithaca College, and had been to Disney 28 times.

The voting for the final round started the evening after the podcast came out. I got back to my Excel spreadsheet and started to hound everyone. :) Thankfully the voting was only a week long. This time I had everyone at school voting for me (the first time we were only in school three days of the voting), plus I had Tim send out an email at his schools.

I have to say... all along, I had a good feeling about this contest. From the beginning I really felt that if I put the work into this, I could win it. I remember running outside, listening to Lou's podcast and him talking about who might be the Ultimate Adventurer, and me saying out loud, "That's me... I'm going to win this." My husband, who doesn't like to see me broken hearted (go figure), was always trying to keep me down to earth. But I was stubbornly optimistic, which if you know me, is a little bit of a stretch of character.

So when the voting ended and we had a week to wait for the results, I tried very hard to not think about the end. I waited for the podcast to come out (which was late as Lou was in WDW and came back late Sunday). I checked the website at school all day Monday to no avail. I left the house for rehearsal at 6:15pm telling my husband that I had my cell phone on 'just in case'.

I was about a minute from rehearsal when my phone rang -- unknown number. It was Lou, and of course it all came out that I had won the contest! I was so glad he taped the whole thing because after I hung up I couldn't remember a word I had said. It was amazing to hear that I had won. What a blessing!!!

I was so turned around by his call that I went to the wrong church for rehearsal. Fixed that (thankfully the other church was right down the street) and then sat at rehearsal for an hour and a half trying not to think about the contest! I did call Tim and my parents before I went in. The BEST reaction was my mom and dad -- they cheered and hooray-ed, and to hear them happy was priceless. My dad joked that Tim could stay home and he would come with us... I know he was joking but BOY, if I could bring him (and he would go) I would do it in a heartbeat. He has had it so rough these past 6 years.

The morning after the win, both of my girls climbed into bed with me. We were talking and I said to Julie, "What do I always wish for when we throw coins in a fountain?"
She said, "A trip to Disney World".
"My wish came true, Jule," I said. "Do you know why?"
"Why?" she said.
"Because I worked as hard as I could to get my wish. Wishes come true when you work to make them come true."
I don't know if she understood, but I hope that it is a lesson her dad and I can teach her in the coming years. Disney talking about wishes and dreams are all good, but rarely is the committment and work behind those wishes and dreams mentioned.

So that's all of it. Look for my next blog post and what happens after the win!