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Discussion Starter #1
Jason got an e-mail saying that Disney was offering a military special. He gets in free, and he can get up to five dependants for $99 - 5 day park-hopper tickets. We were thinking about taking the boys during their spring break week already.

Well, this week, he got another e-mail saying that Disney is also offering 40% off their rooms for military (his base at least since it was the travel office - I'm guessing all are doing this?) so that pretty much sealed the deal. We're only 11 hours away so driving is manageable, and this is just too good of an offer to pass up!

We can also get into Sea World and Busch Gardens completely free to put icing on the cake since they're running a military promotion too.

We haven't mentioned it to the boys yet (going to surprise them), but they are going to be very excited. They haven't been in a few years (Brandon was just a baby), and I think they're at the perfect age to enjoy the "magic". :D My only concern is the crowds with us going the third week of March, but this summer won't be any better, and I don't want to take them out of school for a week. I can't wait to see their faces though so hopefully even if it's crowded, the expression when they see where we are will be worth it alone!

Now a question - has anyone stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge? I think the boys would really enjoy seeing the animals walking around, and they do have rooms available on the dates we're planning on going. I don't really have any experience with Disney hotels. The time we went, Jason was there for training for work, and his job rented us a condo for two weeks. When we went to Disneyland, Jason's entire extended family lives out there so we stayed with his grandparents. We wanted Shades of Green, but they're booked solid pretty much the entire year. :surprise: Any hotel recommendations?
 

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We visited the AKL in October for a dinner at Boma (HIGHLY recommended btw). It is simply stunning. We would LOVE to stay there sometime. The lobby alone is spectacular; there's probably a three-story glass wall at the far end, where you can look out at the savanna and see animals.

It is amazing...

If the discounts are putting AKL in range of your budget, I'm fairly sure you'll be in the lap of luxury there. If it's still a little too pricey and you want to drop down a level of hotel ritz but still have a nice room and comfortable surroundings, try Port Orleans Riverside. We stayed there in 2002 and adored it.

Laurie's going to recommend the Pops or All-Stars. We were there last Oct. They're serviceable but nothing more, and the food court was a daily lesson in humility.

March, btw, should be a great time to go. Crowds will definitely be down in the pre-Easter, pre-Spring break weeks.

BE SURE TO RIDE TOY STORY MIDWAY MANIA. You'll need to either RACE for fastpasses when the Hollywood Studios first open or be prepared to wait. But it's well worth it.

Other dont-missables: Illuminations. Haunted Mansion (recently refurbed with great SPFX). Finding Nemo: The Musical. And the coasters if you're a fan, especially Expedition Everest.
 

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We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge a few years ago and loved it. We had booked a basic room, but when we checked in we asked if there were any upgrades available, and they upgraded us to a savannah view room, which was awesome. The savannah view rooms have balconies that overlook the areas where the animals are, and it is wonderful to be able to sit on your own balcony and watch the animals come and go. Definitely be sure to ask for the upgrade. The food is good there, but it is more expensive than at the mid level Disney hotels that we have stayed at prior (Caribbean, Port Orleans, Coronado Springs). The food was good, though, and very different than at the other hotels.

The hotel is big and the halls are incredibly long - I mean incredibly long. If you have anyone in your family with mobility problems you should definitely say so at the time of booking, because if you get booked into a room at the end of a hall you could have a problem with the amount of walking needed to get you to the lobby, restaurant, etc.

The pool is great, they have a few feeding stations close by, so there is often a giraffe hanging around eating lunch while you are hanging out by the pool - lots of fun!

The hotel itself is a bit more isolated than most at Disney, so your bus rides to parks other than Animal Kingdom are going to be a bit longer than if you were more centrally located, but we didn't find it a big deal.

I loved the hotel and intend to go back. I found it to be very relaxing, since it is a bit off the beaten path and the hotel sits in the middle of a savannah filled with animals.

Have fun on your trip. I'm jealous. With this lousy economy I don't have plans to go to Disney this year, and I'm having withdrawal.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
dweck said:
We visited the AKL in October for a dinner at Boma (HIGHLY recommended btw). It is simply stunning. We would LOVE to stay there sometime. The lobby alone is spectacular; there's probably a three-story glass wall at the far end, where you can look out at the savanna and see animals.

It is amazing...

If the discounts are putting AKL in range of your budget, I'm fairly sure you'll be in the lap of luxury there. If it's still a little too pricey and you want to drop down a level of hotel ritz but still have a nice room and comfortable surroundings, try Port Orleans Riverside. We stayed there in 2002 and adored it.

Laurie's going to recommend the Pops or All-Stars. We were there last Oct. They're serviceable but nothing more, and the food court was a daily lesson in humility.

March, btw, should be a great time to go. Crowds will definitely be down in the pre-Easter, pre-Spring break weeks.

BE SURE TO RIDE TOY STORY MIDWAY MANIA. You'll need to either RACE for fastpasses when the Hollywood Studios first open or be prepared to wait. But it's well worth it.

Other dont-missables: Illuminations. Haunted Mansion (recently refurbed with great SPFX). Finding Nemo: The Musical. And the coasters if you're a fan, especially Expedition Everest.
Oh, the lodge sounds great! The Savannah view is what I'm looking at right now. I need to call the travel office and see how much it actually is with the discount + taxes. They're not open on Fridays though.

Dan, we'll definitely check out those rides. Jakob loved the Buzz Lightyear ride last time we went. I'm not sure how they're going to be on rollercoasters though! lol One child is very afraid of heights. Maybe they'll have so much fun, they won't realize they're high in the air. I can't think of the name of it, but the only one that we probably couldn't get away with is the roller coaster that goes in the dark. Both kids are VERY afraid of the dark.
 

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Beach Club or Boardwalk is where my coworker always stays/recommends, and she goes at least twice a year. Have fun! Too bad that discount isn't for Army civilians...I know there would be a lot of excited people otherwise at my workplace.
 

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Melissa said:
Do you know if the discount is only for active military?
Here's the e-mail about the tickets.

Subject: Walt Disney World Salutes the U.S. Military! ...Hot Off the Presses

Disney Parks Celebrate U.S. Military With Free, Multi-day Admission to Theme Parks in 2009

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida / ANAHEIM, California (January 4, 2009)

- As Disney Parks ask "What Will You Celebrate?" and invite guests to turn their personal milestones into magical family vacations in 2009, America's military personnel will have one more reason to celebrate: Free multi-day admission to Disney's U.S. theme parks.
With the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer, active and retired U.S. military personnel, including active members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists, can enjoy complimentary, multi-day admission into Disney's U.S. theme parks, great rates at select Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort hotels, and additional special ticket offers for family members and friends.
"For so many of the men and women who serve in our U.S. military, time together with their families is cause enough for celebration," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are grateful for their service and hope 'Disney's Armed Forces Salute' will allow our troops to create wonderful, magical memories with their family and friends."

At Disneyland Resort in Southern California:
Through June 12, 2009, each active or retired member of the U.S. military can receive one complimentary three-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket valid for admission to both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure parks. During the offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel also may make a one-time purchase of an adult or child three-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" ticket for up to five family members (including spouse) or friends for the price of an adult 1-Day Park Hopper ticket.
Disneyland Resort hotels are also offering special room rates for active or retired military personnel. For example, at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, active or retired members of the military and their families may find hotel rooms starting at $119 per night during value season, with great savings during other times of the offer period. This offer is available through June 12, 2009, and the number of rooms available at these special rates is limited.
For information regarding "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" at the Disneyland Resort, or to make reservations, military personnel may call 714/956-6424.

At the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida:
From January 4 to December 23, 2009, each active or retired member of the U.S. military may obtain one complimentary five-day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options. This ticket is valid for five days of admission into the four Walt Disney World theme parks, plus a total of five visits to a choice of a Disney water park, DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park or certain other attractions. During this offer period, active or retired U.S. military personnel may also make a one-time purchase of up to a maximum of five, five-Day "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for $99 per ticket, plus tax, for family members (including spouse) or friends. Although this ticket for family members and friends does not include either the Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More options, this ticket can be upgraded to add either such option, or both, for an additional $25, plus tax, per option. All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by Dec. 23, 2009.

-more-



Page 2 -- Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Salute U.S. Military...

Ask about the great rates that may be available at select Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort hotels for active or retired U.S. military personnel during this offer period.
For information on the "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" offer at the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort, or to make reservations, active and retired U.S. Military personnel may call the ITT office on their base. Information is also available at www.disneyworld.com/military.

Other Offer Details:
* Complimentary "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" tickets for the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort may be obtained only by active or retired U.S. military personnel, including active members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists.
* Please see a participating U.S. military base ticket office for an exchange certificate for the complimentary "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" ticket for the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort. The exchange certificate will need to be redeemed for such ticket by the active or retired military personnel at a Main Entrance theme park ticket window. (maximum of 1 such complimentary ticket per service member, regardless of where the exchange certificate is obtained).
* "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for family members and friends may be purchased only by active or retired U.S. military personnel, including active members of the United States Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists (or their spouses, but not both).
* "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for admission to the Disneyland Resort can be purchased only at participating U.S. military base ticket offices. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for admission to the Walt Disney World Resort can be purchased only at participating U.S. military base ticket offices (including at the Shades of Green Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort), or at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows.
* Military personnel (or their spouses) who purchase "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets for family members and friends at participating U.S. military base ticket offices (including at the Shades of Green Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort) will receive exchange certificates to be redeemed by such military personnel (or their spouses) for tickets at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows (one ticket per exchange certificate).
* The military personnel (or spouse) will be required to present valid military identification (which, for activated members of the National Guard or Reservists, also includes orders showing active status between Jan. 1, 2008 - Dec. 23, 2009 for the Walt Disney World Resort and between Jan. 4, 2009 - June 12, 2009 for the Disneyland Resort) for all ticket transactions (including to exchange and redeem the exchange certificates for the tickets at Main Entrance theme park ticket windows). A valid ID may also be required for admission.
* "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets are limited to five per service member (regardless of place of purchase and whether purchased by service member or spouse) and all five must be purchased at the same time. Accordingly, no service member (or spouse) may purchase "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets at any military base ticket office if that service member (or spouse) previously purchased "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets (whether at that same military base ticket office or at any other military base ticket office or place).
* First day of use of "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets and "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets at the Disneyland Resort must be no later than June 12, 2009 and tickets expire 13 days after the first day of use or June 25, 2009, whichever occurs first. Last day of use on "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets and "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets at the Walt Disney World Resort is Dec. 23, 2009.
* Tickets must be used by the same person on any and all days. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute" complimentary tickets may be used only by the service members to whom they are issued. "Disney's Armed Forces Salute Companion" tickets may be used only by the friends and family members for whom they are purchased.
* This offer may not be combined with any other offer.

What Will You Celebrate?
Military personnel taking advantage of this offer will find even more to celebrate during their stay. Beginning in January, Disney Parks will embrace a newly identified nationwide travel trend called "celebration vacations," in which Americans mark special occasions in their lives with a family vacation.
In 2009, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts ask guests "What Will Your Celebrate?" and lead this growing trend with new entertainment and services that allow guests to turn their personal milestones -a birthday, an anniversary, Quinceañera or any special occasion - into magical Disney experiences.
-30-
CONTACT: DISNEYLAND RESORT P.R. 714/781-4500

WALT DISNEY WORLD PUBLIC RELATIONS 407/566-6397
 

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This is a great NON-Disney insiders guide site to give you the scoop on all the rides, restaurants and special events taking place at WDW. Be sure to check out the "Dining" guides and the "Planning" guides.

http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwplan.htm

[size=10pt]ETA the site link because I'm in outerspace today. [/size]
 

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Wow...thats a great deal. Have fun. Do you think i can squeeze into one of your suite cases? I really wont be any trouble...i promise i'll be a good girl.
 

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No clue about the hotels, but that is AWESOME! :happy:

I was 14, 15? when I went for the first time and it was still enjoyable. Busch Gardens was my favorite because of the animals.. but I am kind of obsessed with them. :embarrass: :laugh:
 

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What FUN!!!

We just got back, we went for 8 days over Christmas and my birthday (12/27), however, like Dan and many others, being a Disney nut...we have gone several times over the last few years!

We stayed this time at Coronado Springs, it was LOVELY! Even over the busy season! We visited AKL but havent stayed there (yet)!

Oh, I was also going to tell you that we TOTALLY surprised our kids!! We have three children, Noah (9), Ashlyn (7), and Brennan (4), we told them the night before we left! They were thrilled beyond belief! We told them via a scavenger hunt, which had them finding puzzle pieces. With a bit of teamwork, they put the pieces together, which directed them to open a gift under the tree, which was wrapped in Disney paper. Inside the box, I had tied "fake and personalized" Disney tickets that I had made as well to 3 seperate t-shirts, designed by members of the DIS Boards and handmade by us!! Holding out for the months of planning was hard but so worth it when we surprised them with the trip!! I highly recommend the surprise tactic!!!

Like others, feel free to ask if you have any questions....I too LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to talk Disney!!

Oh, and we this time, our visit to the Whispering Canyon Cafe was OUTSTANDING, as was Hoop-De-Doo!!

Good luck,
Deb
 

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gailatmsu said:
Now a question - has anyone stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge? I think the boys would really enjoy seeing the animals walking around, and they do have rooms available on the dates we're planning on going. I don't really have any experience with Disney hotels. The time we went, Jason was there for training for work, and his job rented us a condo for two weeks. When we went to Disneyland, Jason's entire extended family lives out there so we stayed with his grandparents. We wanted Shades of Green, but they're booked solid pretty much the entire year. :surprise: Any hotel recommendations?
I don't post a lot - but Disney is close to my heart :) And I can answer your question! We have stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge. In fact twice - first for our honeymoon and then again a year or so later. I think your boys would LOVE it! There is nothing like waking up in the morning and running out to your balcony to see what animals are out there! We stayed Savannah view both times and would do it again in a heart beat. AKL*is* a little further away from the parks - but we had great bus service the whole time we were there. The pool area is also great - and if you are quiet - they'll let you swim 24 hours a day. At night you can go out into the main savannah (even if you don't have a savannah view room) and disney employess (cast members as they call them ;)) will have night vision goggles so you can check out all the animals roaming around! They also have stories around a fire - and several other "cultural" info activities. They have 2 resturaunts and a food court at AKL- Boma, Jiko, and the Mara. Boma is an african-inspried buffet that is definitely worth trying, Jiko is more adult-orientated, and Mara is a good place to grab a quick breakfast or sandwich.

We have also stayed at Contemporary, Yacht Club, Wilderness Lodge, Pop Century, and Coronado Springs. My brother worked for them for a while so we got a good discount - we took advantage of it! Contemporary is my pick for convience - as the monorail is right in the hotel. It's not a "themed" hotel at all though - its very minmal. Animal Kingdom Lodge is my pick for a little more relaxing vacation - as the hotel itself has so much to offer! Wilderness Lodge was a good mix of both - as it has a boat that takes you to the Magic Kingdom. WL doesn't have the animals though....

We were just in Disney in December and stayed at Coronado Springs. We got a really good AAA rate - so it only cost us about $110 a night. I'm not sure I'll go back there - but I've been spoiled by all the deluxe resorts we've stayed at.

If you have any specific questions let me know! I've been to Disney 7 times in the last 5 years. I took my husband there for our honeymoon and created a monster :)
 

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Okay, so we're staying about 1/4 mile off WDW now. I found a hotel with great reviews, a complementary shuttle to/from Disney, fridge, microwave, two queen beds, etc... (and I love the sleep number beds at Raddisson) for $830. I booked it, but I found it on Orbitz for $625 earlier. Radisson had a guaranteed lowest online price sticker on the website, so I called them. They gave me the room at the $625 and another 25% off so we get our room for 6 days for less than $500! Woo hoo. I love being stingy with money! :) We won't get the early entry into the parks, but I don't really think that's worth $1000 extra.

I think the boys would enjoy the character meals and extra souveniers a lot more than a room we'll hardly be in anyway. :D
 
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