By the time our “once in a lifetime” October 2010 trip to Walt Disney World was coming to a close, it was clear that we would be returning again. But after pulling out all the stops for that trip, we were going to need some time to save up – we set a target date for December, 2012. I had just started doing some price estimates for a December, 2012 trip to Walt Disney World when my supervisor at work stopped by my office. It seems that there was a conference coming up that she wanted me to attend. It was scheduled to run September 19-23, 2011. Oh, and by the way, it’s being held at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Downtown Disney.

Woo hoo! Luckily, I had some leave saved up. Now, instead of the 18 months I had to plan a December, 2012 trip, I had 80 days to put together a September, 2011 trip.

This trip was definitely going to be different than the October 2010 trip. This trip had a MUCH tighter budget. Instead of staying Concierge Level at the Polynesian, we’d be at All-Star Music. And while we weren’t going to be paying for the standard Dining Plan out of pocket, luckily we were able to book the quick-serve dining plan on our package for free. And we told the kids we were going this time, so that they could be included in the planning, while last trip had been a surprise. The one planned splurge for this trip was a return to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, as the first thing out of my son’s mouth when we told the kids we were going to back to Disney World was, “are we going to the Halloween Party!?!”

Red LimoAs the date of the trip approached, I decided there had to be SOME kind of surprise involved. So I arranged for a stretch limousine to pick take us to the airport and return us home at the end of our trip. The last few days before we were to leave were a whirlwind of activity trying to get ready. How is it possible that it seemed much more hectic getting ourselves packed up for this trip, out in the open, as opposed to our last trip, where all of the packing was done completely in secret?

Here are a few tips that we used and found particularly helpful: 1) Pick up a mesh pop-up laundry basket at a Dollar Store. It made it much easier to keep a small Value Resort room with four people in it organized. 2) Pack the kids’ clothes in ziplock bags, one outfit per bag. We took this one step further and labeled the bags with a Sharpie with the child’s name and the date the outfit would be worn. It made getting dressed and out of the room in the morning go faster – no wasting time figuring out which shirt goes with what pair of shorts, etc. 3) Bring an over-the-door shoe caddy. We hung ours from a hanger next to the sink. We used the pockets to hold the various toiletries and medicines that would normally go on the sink counter or in a medicine chest. Again, especially in a Value Resort room, space is at a premium. I don’t know how we would have kept all of that stuff organized otherwise.

I’m not entirely sure how we got it all done in time, but somehow, on September 19, 2011, we managed to be all packed up and ready to climb into that gaudy red surprise limo at 8:00 a.m. We’re going to Disney World!!

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