Fast forward a couple weeks, to last Thursday. The same Disney buddy who helped me figure out the pin codes, fellow Disney Geek Jen Iapalucci, sends me a text early in the morning asking if we have a Disney Visa. We do, I say. Well, she says, it seems a Free Dining offer is being extended to cardholders and it covers exactly the time we plan to be at the Dis! This was the deal I was hoping and waiting for! Free Dining is sort of the Holy Grail of Disney discounts. It can save a family a huge amount of money, or allow them to stay at a resort they otherwise couldn't afford. The Dining Plan is a bit complicated and it isn't for everyone (I'll talk about it more in a future post), but when it's free I think you'd be a fool to pass it up. My momma didn't raise no fool, so we were on board!
I'd been having reservations about staying in a tent for a seven-night trip. My son and I have camped quite a bit, but my wife, not so much. I was worried she'd be uncomfortable or something would flood in a Florida thunderstorm, or blow over. I just wanted our trip to be as stress-free as possible and I worried that I was tempting fate a little too much. I'd decided that if I could find a Free Dining deal, I'd move our reservation to a Moderate resort. I had done the homework on the Disney reservation site and found that with Free Dining, a room at a Moderate would be about $100 less than staying at the campground and paying for the dining plan. I was torn between wanting to give my son the Disney camping experience and wanting to be SURE everything would be stress-free all week. I was waiting for a sign. And Jen gave it to me.
Our minds were made up that we would stay at one of the Moderate resorts now, but which one? We'd stayed at Coronado Springs the last time we spent a week at Disney and loved the place. The last trip we made, we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, and loved that as well. We looked at the French Quarter's sister resort, the next door Port Orleans Riverside, and found it to be nice, but not our style. The only Moderate we haven't seen is the Caribbean Beach Resort, but Jen stayed there a couple times and gave it a thumbs up.
|Caribbean Beach Resort's Pool|
That was decided Thursday evening, which turned out to be a good thing. Friday morning the Disney fan pages on Face Book started reporting that rooms for the Visa Free Dining deal were going fast. I was sent into a near panic. I feared my "sign from above" deal being ripped from my fingers. Luckily, I have some flexibility as to work hours and this is our very slowest time, so I got home at lunchtime and called the Disney Reservation line, with fingers firmly crossed.
After a short hold time, a very friendly woman came on the line and asked me a few questions. She was able to bring up all the info I'd put in the Disney website and seemed very happy with how many times I'd been to Disney World in my 40+ years and especially how many times we'd visited in the last 5 or 6. I have no idea if this helped me get the room I wanted or not, but after a few minutes we were booked into the resort of our choice in the room type we wanted for the dates we wanted and for about $150 less than we had planned to spend camping. Others seemed to be having trouble, but perhaps they wanted different resorts or room preferences, who knows? The important part, for me anyway, is that now our Disney vacation is a reality, booked and reserved and deposit paid and accepted.
All this has just reinforced my belief in the Disney Magic. As Jen said when she was telling me about the deal, it's like they put it out JUST FOR ME!! And it's made it more obvious that Disney Magic is even better when shared. Our family are all believers in the Magic of the Mouse. Finding another family who shares that with us just multiplies the happy. Jen helped bring the magic home for us, and that's magical in itself. She's the best sort of friend and we are lucky and blessed to have her and her whole family in our lives.
Now, it's time to sort out dinner reservations!!!!!