Our July 1999 WDW Trip

We went to Walt Disney World July 8-12, 1999! Wahoooo!

Many of you wrote to us about our this trip, so we thought we'd share our plans, preparations, experiences, and memories of our trip with you here. Besides, we love to talk about Walt Disney World. Who here doesn't?

In addition to the trip report narrative, which we're in the process of writing to the right, we're putting our PassPockets online for you to look through. We've got lots of details in them, including itineraries, notes, news, memories, expenses, and lists of everything we collected in them during our trip. It may feel a bit voyeuristic, but hopefully it will also be educational and interesting! Here are links to each of the PassPockets (please note that not all are up yet):

Our Journey PassPocket (front and back)
Our Lodging PassPocket (
front and back)
Our First Day PassPocket (
front and back)
Our Second Day PassPocket (front and back) coming soon!
Our Third Day PassPocket (front and back) coming soon!
Our Fourth Day PassPocket (front and back) coming soon!
Our Fifth Day PassPocket (front and back) coming soon!

A special thank you to Brian Bennett for his wonderful Disney Trip Reports collection, which helped to inspire and guide us in presenting our own trip report.

UPDATE: We are planning another trip for October 18-27 -- a three-phase vacation (WDW, Disney Cruise, WDW). We can't wait!

Updated 11/21/03

Copyright 1999-2006
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

Questions? Problems? E-Mail Us!

  Trip Information At-A-Glance
Vacationers: Jennifer (30) and Dave (44)
Dates: Thursday, July 8 - Monday, July 12, 1999

How We Got There: Northwest Airlines and Tiffany Towncar
Where We Stayed: Polynesian Resort
July 8 - Our First Day: Polynesian and Magic Kingdom
July 9 - Our Second Day: Animal Kingdom and Pleasure Island
July 10 - Our Third Day: Disney-MGM Studios, Epcot, and Pleasure Island
July 11 - Our Fourth Day: Epcot and Pleasure Island
July 12 - Our Fifth Day: Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian, home

An Introduction To Our Trip
Picture an office, overflowing with countless books and papers, five computers, four desks, two tired but happy people, and one contented dog lying at their feet. Now imagine a man who looks amazingly like Walter Cronkite appearing in the midst of this scene, pointing a mic at the two people, and saying...

Announcer: "Jennifer and Dave, now that you've successfully published your book about Walt Disney World, what are you going to do?"
Jennifer and Dave (in unison): "Go to Walt Disney World!!!"

If that doesn't say it all for you, allow us to fill in a few more blanks. We planned this trip to Walt Disney World for many reasons:

  • We promised ourselves a trip to Walt Disney World as a reward for publishing PassPorter. We've earned it!
  • We haven't been to Walt Disney World since March... time to go again and check out the new stuff. Not only is it important to do so we can pass along updates to our book readers and site visitors, but we just like checking out the new stuff!
  • We haven't had a real vacation since December, and we've needed one since January.
  • We now have lots of PassPorters to plan and organize our trip -- Jennifer no longer has to make them for each trip. Amazing!!
  • We just want to go to Walt Disney World. What can we say?

Originally we wanted to go to Walt Disney World in May, when it was a bit cooler and less crowded. Unfortunately, two unexpected book projects appeared (topic: Apple iMac) and those took precedence. As it turns out, we have yet another book project (topic: AOL) that we just began work on -- it's deadline is in the middle of August. Nonetheless, we already decided that this trip was too important to let slide for another month. Nothing will get in our way!

Planning Our Trip
First, a caveat: We've been to Disney so many times now that planning takes considerably less effort than it used to. We now know exactly what to do to get just what we want. Your results may vary.

Deciding When To Go
Because we're both full-time writers, working around vacation time and weekends isn't generally a concern for us. We do have deadlines, of course, so we generally have windows between deadlines during which we can "escape" for a few days. We knew July would be a good month (time-wise, not heat-wise or crowd-wise) because Jennifer's iMac book deadlines came at the end of June. Thus we decided on July as our target month.

Our next deciding factor in determining dates was resort availability. We noticed in our Mickey Monitor (the Annual Passholder newsletter) that Disney was offering discounts at the Polynesian Resort from July 5-August 28 ($169 + tax and up). We like to use the Annual Passholder discounts for two reasons: 1) they usually save us a lot of money, and 2) they encourage us to stay at different resorts than we might normally choose (variety is good, and helpful when it comes to writing the PassPorter). More on the Polynesian itself later.

We called and check on Polynesian room availability for the month of July. Dave called (it was his turn -- Jennifer had made the calls for the March trip) and discovered plenty of open dates for the Polynesian, placing a temporary hold on one set. Dave then checked airfare availability through Northwest Airline's Web site (http://www.nwa.com) -- we fly Northwest because they always have the best rates out of Detroit (a hub city). Dave found plenty of flights, but only a few with good rates. After some experimenting with different dates and times, we came up with a good set of flights. By good, we mean covered the right number of days (five days, four nights) and left at the right times (departed for Orlando in the morning and arrived homein the evening). We placed a temporary hold on the tickets, then called Disney to make sure those dates were available. We had to be a bit persistent, but we did get our dates. Success!

So now we could begin filling some information in Our Journey page in the PassPorter, including our departure and arrival dates/times, airline, flight numbers, reservation numbers, seating assignment, and Things To Do. We were on our way!

Deciding Where To Stay
Though the Polynesian was convenient with its Annual Passholder discount, there were other factors that helped us choose it over another (we also considered the BoardWalk and Old Key West).

  1. The Polynesian is a beautiful resort. Period.
  2. Though we've been to and through the Polynesian Resort many times, Jennifer has only stayed there once and Dave hasn't stayed there at all.
  3. Warm (even hot) weather feels "right" at the Polynesian with its tropical feel. As we going during one of the hottest times of the year, it makes sense to stay somewhere where the heat is at home.
  4. The Polynesian is on the monorail to Magic Kingdom, within walking distance of the monorail to Epcot and buses to almost everywhere else. Our trip is relatively short, so we want to make the most of our time and not wait too long for transportation.

We chose garden view rooms (as opposed to water view rooms) because we didn't think the extra expense for a better view was necessary. We'll be spending most of our time outside the resort. Besides, the gardens at the Polynesian are gorgeous.

We did make some special requests: a room with a balcony in Tahiti, Maori, or Oahu. When Jennifer stayed at the Polynesian, she has a wonderful room in Tahiti with a balcony and a view of the monorail. Couldn't have been better.

We filled in our resort information, reservation number, and room preferences on the Lodging PassPocket (click to see it).

Deciding Where To Eat
Now this is where our PassPorter comes in really handy. We know, we know.. recommending the book you wrote and published isn't particularly humble, but what can we say? PassPorter works for us, too! About a week ago we grabbed our PassPorter and headed downtown for a meal al fresco at a new Italian restaurant. While we ate, we flipped through the PassPorter for meal ideas. We decided we should eat at some of the restautants we hadn't tried yet. So we began by making a list of these in the Dining Worksheet (on page 149). In our case, this list was easy -- all we had to do was list the restaurants without ratings in the book! Then we took a closer look at those we really wanted or really felt we should try. We checked their meal times (lunch and dinner? or only dinner?) and locations (close to Epcot? too far away?) and narrowed the list a bit. Then we started matching up restaurants to days, based on the parks we wanted to visit on specific days (we took a few minutes out to discuss this, too -- see Deciding What To Do below). We had some back and forth -- we didn't always want to eat at the same place at the same time. But we came up with some good compromises. Here's what the left side of our Dining Worksheet looked like:

Day/Date Restaurant Name Preferred Time
Sunday Nine Dragons (Epcot) 12:30 pm
Sunday Saturday Bistro de Paris (Epcot) 5:30 pm
Tuesday Monday Citricos (GF) 5:30 pm
Saturday Sunday Harry's Safari (Swan) 6:00 pm
Saturday Hollywood & Vine (MGM) 1:00 pm
Thursday Kona Cafe (Poly) 11:00 am
Friday Donald's Breakfastasauraus (AK) 10:30 am
Friday Wildhorse Saloon (DD) 6:00 pm
Monday Counter-service (MK) ?
Thursday Polynesian Luau (Poly) 8:00 pm

As you can see, we came up with at least two places for each day, which is generally our limit. And for each day, our choices are generally in the same, or related, locations. This required more discussion on what we were going to do each day, of course. Once we had established where we were going to eat, we called Disney with our Magic Kingdom Club card 800 number and made our priority seating arrangements. We were lucky in that we actually got all our preferred times. We should note that we had made our Luau reservations a month ago, as we know those seats go quickly. We noted our priority seating confirmation numbers on the right side of the Dining Worksheet as we made them with CRO, then transferred our meal details to the appropriate PassPockets (we also duplicated the priority seating confirmation numbers on our PassPockets, right after each entry).

Deciding What To Do
This is always a little overwhelming in the beginning, even for vacation veterans. We were going for five days and we knew we wanted to visit each of the four major theme parks at least once. But which day should we go where?

We began as we normally do -- by checking the Early Entry schedule (in the PassPorter on page 33). As we are not early risers, we don't take advantage of Early Entry -- so we use the schedule to tell us which days to avoid the parks. This is what we came up with:

Thursday (first day) - Ok for Epcot, MGM, and AK (avoid MK)
Friday - Ok for MK, MGM, and AK (avoid Epcot)
Saturday - Ok for Epcot, MGM, and AK (avoid MK)
Sunday - Ok for MK, Epcot, and AK (avoid MGM)
Monday - Ok for Epcot, MGM, and AK (avoid MK)

We then flipped to the Touring Worksheet in the PassPorter (page 105) and began making a list of the attractions we wanted to see. There was something for each park (as usual), plus Downtown Disney (have to go to the Adventurer's Club!). We then revisited our Dining Worksheet and noted that we had the Luau on our first day. Knowing that we like to take it easy on our first day, we decided to break our rule to avoid Early Entry parks and visit the Magic Kingdom on Thursday. It would be busy, yes, but it would be easy to get to from the Polynesian too. With that decision made, the others came easier. Friday would be Animal Kingdom, since we could go to bed early on Thursday and get up earlier than usual. Saturday would be MGM (as we wanted to avoid MGM on Sunday). Sunday would be Epcot (as that was the only park we hadn't planned a day for). And Monday would be unplanned so we could do whatever we didn't get the chance to do on another day. Here's how the left side of our Touring Worksheet looks:

Activity Park Day
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh MK Thursday
Missing Quote Challenge MK Thursday
Tarzan Rocks AK Friday
Kali River Rapids AK Friday
Rock 'N' Roller Coaster MGM Saturday
Sound Show (?) MGM Saturday
Lord of the Dance Epcot Monday
Test Track Epcot Monday
Adventurer's Club DD Friday, Saturday, Sunday

(Yes, we want to see more than this, but these our the things we want to be sure not to miss!)

Preparing For Our Journey
Today is Saturday and there are less than five days before we leave. Time to start preparing for the trip! We've got our flight reservations, resort reservations, and priority seating confirmations. We do need to get and do a few things before we go, so we noted these in our Packing List (on page 23) as follows:

Sunglasses (need to purchase -- we both lost our sunglasses recently)
English muffins, peanut butter, and jelly (for quick breakfasts in-room)
Laptop (with all necessary software and files installed)
Cell phone
PassPorter notes (we have some things to check out for future editions)

The Day Before Our Journey
Only 12 more hours to go! We haven't had as much time to prepare for this trip as many others, but we feel confident things will go well. We have the essentials... now we just need to have some fun!

We'll be checking in nightly to let you know how the trip is progressing. Feel free to e-mail us if you have specific things you'd like us to check while we're here.

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