We had a good, albeit completely exhausting, time.
We managed to stay on budget food-wise ($440 for all 9 days... 5 at Disney, 4 on the road).
We did Disney like we've never done it before.
The kids were really into it, in a different way than they have been before.
No rest for the weary style... but a couple of awesome apple turn-overs from the Main St Bakery to keep Mr F & I going.
Character meals, unless you have Disney Dining... are just not worth it. The end.
Our hotel did NOT have bedbugs (in case you wonder about stuff like that).
5 hours into our first day of driving Baby strongly suggested we should drive straight to the nearest airport and fly to Disney.
The 2nd day of driving was easier with the excitement of Disney looming.
How many billboards for one strip joint can there possibly be?... apparently HUNDREDS.
The weather was mostly perfect. Only one hot day, and we really maxed out the comfortable evenings.
Driving home was a lot more tedious, both days took 3-4 hours longer than they should have.
10-12 hours in the car is hard, once you step over 13 hours?... it's kind of Hell.
We we're stopped up on the highway for more than 8 major multi-car accidents (and, no, it was not snowing)... it was crazy.
Oh, I didn't mention that Kid woke up yesterday (drive day two of our return) and threw up in our hotel.
Awesome. On all counts. I wasn't sure how that was going to go down with a full day of travel.
But that girl is some kind of a soldier. She never even complained, kept trying to weakly pretend she was okay.
She just dealt with it, even though she must have felt like HELL, and the trip was over 13 hours.
As soon as we got home she admitted how sick she was and went to lay on the bathroom floor.
Okay, that's the wrap up.
I'm not feeling too hot myself...
The Take Away....
Next time we're switching back to staying on-site, with the meal plan, and we are going to FLY. If you are going to max-out Disney, and apparently my kids have reached that age, it just makes it more of a vacation IMO to have everything you need as easily as possible, without having to stress about how much everything is EVERY time you try and eat, park, etc. AND we really missed having the sit down meals, and character meals that are just cost prohibitive without the meal plan, now. As long as Disney keeps giving the meal plan away for free, next time we'll plan our trip for their deal dates and take advantage of it. For me, in the end we only saved a couple hundred dollars, and in return I had to make up the difference (personally) with work and planning, which effected my vacation enjoyment. I'd rather wait until we can afford to fly and use the meal plan, just because I'd like a vacation that's completely fun & relaxing for me, too. Which is not to say we didn't have a great time. But 4 days of car travel with kids, and trying to manage food on the cheap, was just a lot of work for a vacation. Last time we stayed off site the kids were much younger, needed more downtime, didn't eat as much, and we lived a full days drive closer! ;)