Next year, my little guild in World of Warcraft turns 10 years old. Lasting that long in a video game is notable. We need to do something as a guild, something big and splashy. So I put this to the guild's Facebook page. Things were suggested but what stuck was a Walt Disney World vacation.
I started talking with a guild member, Liz, who goes to Disney 3-4 times a year. The more we talked about the things we wanted to do, the more we explored resort properties, the more confusing the options became. It seems, with Disney, why have 5 options when you can have 45. Liz suggested we should look into Disney travel agent. Enter Hollie. She is paid by Disney so even if we don't have a huge number of people coming along or, if it was just me, she would still be paid to help with a trip. She helped me price out a vacation and, at the July meet-up, I gave a presentation.
The one thing we needed to decide was when did we want to go. The cheap time is January, the week after New Year's through the end of February. But, if we want to spend a bit more, we could go in March, when the Flower and Garden Festival is, or go in October, when the Food and Wine Festival AND Halloween run concurrently. Well, when presented with these options, it became a decision about how fast you could save the money and we decided October of 2017 was the best time.
The big attraction is the two festivals going on at the same time. You know that Disney will do Halloween fantastic. When I went to BlizzCon last year, Halloween was only at the Haunted Mansion. Christmas hadn't quite wandered in but Halloween had wandered out. We will be going at the height of the holiday. It's going to be exciting to see the decorations. We're going to do Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Rides. Trick or Treat. A special parade and fireworks and the Magic Kingdom all to ourselves and anyone else who buys a ticket to the party.
And then there is the Food and Wine Festival.
Located at Epcot World Showcases, this is a celebration of food. The World Showcase part of Epcot is my favorite place at Disney World. Even with a lot of people in that section of the park, it is peaceful. I love to wander through all the countries and see what they have to offer.
During the festival, each country has food carts and special food indicative of their culture.
Having been to Disney World 4 times, one of the things I've wanted to do is "Eat Around the World", stop at each country and eat something at each country. With the festival going on in October, I can do this just by eating at the food carts stationed around the lagoon.
It took the summer to figure everything out on what I thought I would want. Hollie and I met in mid-September to go over possibilities, and, after looking at everything, she gave me a price and I put down a deposit. Now comes the saving.
I have to say I'm excited. A year ago, I was excited to go to BlizzCon. I spent a whole summer and most of a fall, saving for that trip, which included 2 days at Disneyland. This is going to be a whole week. I'm going with guild members; people I respect and whose company I relish. I'm going to be sharing a room with Liz. I admire and respect her and her company will make this that much more fun.
We will be going for a week in the middle of October. We looked at going as a group, but the group discounts didn't amount to much and Hollie said there are usually always discounts on things which we wouldn't be able to take advantage of if we're a group. So, we picked the days and then let everyone decide where they wanted to stay and what kinds of additions to their vacation they wanted.
In case you are wondering, WDW shut down this month for only the 7th time since opening, due to Hurricane Matthew. People who couldn't use tickets for events slated for Thursday night through Saturday morning, received compensation and/or had their tickets rescheduled for other days. The price of the resorts in October is one step above the base rate and two steps down from "We're going tomorrow and it's Christmas" rate. We were told this is primarily because October still has the potential for hurricanes raining, literally, on your parade. I told guild members Hurricane Matthew is a good example of why trip insurance is a very good idea.
Liz and I are going to stay at the Port of Orleans, French Quarter resort.
It's a moderately priced resort and the theme is New Orleans French Quarter area; heavy on the jazz. I can't wait. They serve beignets at the cafe in the main building.
They won't be the Mickey beignets that the restaurant in the French Quarter of the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland had, but, beignets!
I've needed to make some decisions with regards to what we're going to do so people can plan. I'm arriving on a Saturday, so I've decided my "Eat Around the World" at World Showcase can start then. Liz assures me there will be ample credits from the middle priced food plan and I will be scrambling on the last day to use them up. I remain unconvinced, but, several of us are going to Epcot and will take turns buying snack items to share. I'm planning for needing cash for meals.
We're going to the Halloween party on Sunday evening, to give people a chance to get to WDW. A Halloween party ticket acts like park admission so we can go to the Magic Kingdom as early as 4 pm and get in. Costumes are encouraged, within reason, so we'll have to see what we can do about that. Eighty percent of the rides are open so I expect to cross most of my "must ride" off the list then.
I want a Character Breakfast and a final meal. Those were things I felt were important to me. What people did with the guild wasn't as important as those two things, such as going to the same parks or eating at the same restaurant. But people were coming in and leaving on different days so trying to schedule within those constraints was hard. I finally decided, as guild leader, I could pick the dates we'll go, as a guild, to breakfast and dinner and then hope that people can fit those things into their schedule. I also made the decision on where we're going to eat breakfast. Guild members decided they really wanted Goofy at our breakfast so I've settled on the Tusker House in Animal Kingdom on Monday. Look! Goofy!
Dinner is going to be a majority vote decision. Liz and I have looked at a wide variety of places. We're going to pick 4 and offer them to the group, with plusses and minuses for each place. Then, we'll let the group decide and that's where we'll go. We're going to do that on Friday night. I leave a week after arriving.
Also in my sights are a foot and leg massage, a Steam Train Tour, a fireworks cruise and game night on Wednesday night, where everyone will come to the French Quarter, if they aren't already staying there, and we'll play games. My feeling is that it's their money and outside of a few suggested things, they should spend it however they want. They don't have to come to anything I arrange. I hope they do, but it's not required. I feel requiring things takes all the fun out a special vacation like this. Ben and Natalie are engaged and may use this as their honeymoon. If they do, we have plans, oh boy. Wendy is going to rent a scooter as she has an issue walking a lot and you will walk, a lot. We've already decided to trick out her scooter.
So, that's the current savings goal. It's been kind of an expensive year so I'm very glad we decided to do this in October of next year. It's going to be such a fun time.
Beverage: Cookies and Cream hot cocoa