WDW Trip Report March 2016

It is no secret that Disney World is one of my favourite places to visit so it was no surprise to anyone in my entourage when I announced our destination for our upcoming trip. However, Disney was not our first choice this time around. We were actually supposed to go to Hawaii, my dream destination.

It was going to be our first time visiting and we had even planned to renew our vows with the kids on one of their many spectacular beaches. What changed our minds, you ask? Well it came down to money and distance. With the unexpected drop in the Canadian dollar last summer and the terrible exchange rates, our dream trip would have cost us almost double of what we originally had planned.so Hawaii was a no-go!

Good-by Hawaii, another time maybe!

With much disappointment, we decided to scrap that plan and do the next best thing: go back to Disney World. Since it is only a three hour flight from Montreal to Orlando, I was able to book the flight on points. I had to pay the taxes on ea. ticket but it came out to $100 a ticket which is much better than the $500 price tag we would have paid if we had not used my points.

This time around we decided to extend our usual 7 day trip to 10 days so that we could really take advantage of the parks but still plan some rest days. With two days lost on travel that really gave us 8 days of vacation. Since the kids only had a week off for spring break, they would miss the first 3 days of school back which I found reasonable.

With our flights booked (Feb 29 - March 9), the next step was deciding on which resort to stay at. We usually stay at one of Disney's moderate resort. It fits our budget and offers all the convenience and amenities we need but because of my cancelled plans for Hawaii, I was hoping to stay in one of Disney's deluxe resort this time around. My husband and I had stayed at Disney's Polynesian Resort for our 10 year anniversary trip 4 years ago and I fell in love with that resort but after looking at the prices and calculating the exchange rate, there was no way we could afford it this time around.

So instead we decided to book our favourite moderate resort: Port Orleans French Quarter (POFQ). We love that this resort is smaller in size than all the other resort on WDW property and that it has only one bus stop. Plus the grounds are beautiful and it has a boat transportation to Downtown Disney. We noticed, however, that the moderate season pricing usually offered at this time of year was increased to high season pricing which was terrible for us because of the exchange rate but we were able to nab a room discount which at least made the price more reasonable.

Port Orleans French Quarter
Even though I was longing to stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort, I had kind of given up on the idea until I stumbled on a trip report on the DIS boards describing how they got a great deal on a room at a Deluxe resort by renting points from a DVC owner. DVC stands for Disney Vacaction Club which are Disney's timeshare properties. I began to do some more research and realized that it was not that complicated to rent from a timeshare owner. (I will try to post an article in the near future about renting points). I came to the realization that I could get my Polynesian Resort if I went about it this way.

After discussing it with my husband, we decided to give it a go. We ended up keeping our Port Orleans stay for the first six nights and trying out this rental system for the last 3 nights of our trip. I was little wary at first because we had to deal with a private owner who could potentially grab our money and run off, but in the end we had a great experience. We worked with an owner who had a long history of renting her points and who provided references. We ended up staying in a studio apartment at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows for almost the same price as our room at  POFQ. Score!

Studio at Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Our View from the Studio

As for park tickets, we decided to add an 8 Day Magic Your Way ticket to our POFQ stay. At first we were going to take a 6 day so that we could reserve 2 days for pool days but then we were worried that we might get bad weather. On our last trip in March, it had drizzled the whole time we were there so it was not worth taking days off. So we figured for $40 more a day, it was worth taking a ticket for each day and, at the worst, using the tickets to go to the parks in the evening for the fireworks.

A week before leaving my mother announced that she would be joining us along with my dad for the first three days of our trip. As you can imagine, my husband was a little than less excited to hear the news that his parents-in-law were tagging along but he was a good sport about it and made the best out of it. She wanted to surprise the kids so we kept it secret.

"Not my mother-in-law"!
I helped my mom book the same resort as us POFQ and called Disney reservations to ask for 2 adjoining room. I also inquired about a scooter rental for my Dad who cannot walk long distances because of his herniated discs. I found out you can rent one from Disney at each park for $50 a day but they do not guarantee availability and he would not have a scooter for the resort so I checked with an outside vendor. We ended up using Buena Vista Scooters which cost $30 a day with delivery right to the resort's bell services. We did however run into a few issues with them as you will see later on in my trip report.

Dad on his scooter

I always check crowd calendars before deciding which park to do on which day. Once I have a tentative plan, I book all my restaurant reservations according to where I will be. This year, for the first time,  I booked my restaurants around the 180 day mark to ensure I got all the  reservations I wanted. That worked out great! I usually always have a couple of restaurants that I never get to try because they are fully booked but I got everything on my list this time. Yay! I made some changes along the way but at least I was able to secure my favourites.

I also had planned to eat breakfast in our rooms most days so that we could save a little money to be able to splurge on some nice restaurants for lunch or dinner. I always use Garden Grocers for grocery delivery and have never been disappointed. Their produce is always fresh and their service has always been impeccable. I ordered cereal and bread as well as some fruits and yogurt about a month before leaving. We got it delivered on our travel day to our resort and it had arrived an hour before we got there.

I was able to booked all my Fastpasses in advance. I grabbed the rides with the longest line like the Seven Dwarf Mine Train and was able to organize my days around those. I have to say that Disney really cleaned up their Magic Your Way system. It seems to be working much better than on my last visit which made our trip more pleasant overall. Plus now, we not only get to choose three Fastpasses in advance but once you we used those Fastpasses, we were able to add more using the Fastpass kiosks located around each park.  Oh, and we got to customize our own bands before arriving so that each family member got to choose their favourite coloured bracelet.

Overwhelmed yet? I know, I am kind of neurotic when it come to planning vacations but at least I am relaxed once I get there. Hey, what can I say, I enjoy planning these trips almost as much as I enjoy the place itself.

Read on for my full trip report:


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