Family Vacation 2015 – Preparation Has Begun

My family is still about 2 months out from our big trip to Florida but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at working preparing for it.  This job I volunteered for encompasses a wide range of tasks, but to be honest I’m loving every second of it.  My mother is getting concerned we are making this a heavily schedule trip so there is a thin line I’m traversing to try and please everyone.  We want to make sure and see as much as we can, but don’t want to be confined to a set schedule and not be able to enjoy the time together.

Initially I was I was in charge of setting up the dining reservations which seemed like it would be an easy thing to do.  But as I quickly found out it’s not just a simple as “Oh let’s do this place”.  First I did some research on crowd level predictions for the week we are visiting so I could make up a preliminary schedule of which parks we should visit each day.  The purposes of this was to try to have us attend a park that would hopefully have the smallest crowd each day.  Then I would check out different places we wanted to have a meal or the characters we wanted to visit and would send an email to each of my family members to see what they were interested in doing.  After a few emails going back and forth debating we made our final decision where to go and I was able to book of the restaurants and character meals we were interested in.

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In a few days I’ll be able to book our Fast Passes and we went through the same procedure.  I made a list of rides that we could book a fast pass for, and sent them out to everyone to get their feedback.  These were much easier to agree upon and at this point I have all the information ready to go and just need the day to come so I can get those setup.

While I waited for that day to come I felt we were close enough to out trip that I could start working on my pressed penny schedule for the trip.  As I mentioned in my previous post about this trip it’s our first big family vacation with all the grandkids and I want to make sure I don’t hinder the time together by having them follow me to each penny machine.  To help make this as organized as possible I started planning out which coins I needed and where they are located.

First I used my vacation schedule to see which parts we were visiting each day and then got the list of penny machines I needed to visit.  On a side note this schedule is what I use to keep track of all our information.  I usually include not just the park for the day, but the restaurant reservation time and confirmation number.  This way I have one piece of paper to carry around incase I need it for anything.  I also take a picture of it with my phone for the rare instance I leave it behind somewhere.

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Some machines I already have the coins from either from a previous visit, through friends, acquaintances or eBay.  These machines I just need to get a picture of the machine and the corresponding marquee for my website.  The other machines that have a new design I need to press the new coins and get a picture of the machine.  My next step was to create a checklist of all the machines I need to visit.  On this list I have the machine location, design description, coin type (penny, quarter, dime, etc) and what is needed (Picture Only or Coin & Picture).  This way at a glance I can mark off the machines I track down.

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My last step is was to create a map for each park that I can use to know when we are approaching a machine.  This way I don’t take our group in multiple directions and possibly waste time backtracking to areas we have already visited.

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I usually just do a Google search for the latest version of the park maps to use.  However this year I found a great site called Kenny The Pirate.  He is known for gathering information about all the available characters you can meet through the resort and parks.  His website has a lot of great information beyond that, and he has created his own maps with the character locations listed on it.  This was something I was already looking at creating myself and Kenny saved me the time.  We wanted to make sure and see as many characters as we can during our trip and this map was just what we needed.  To simplify my needs I tweaked Kenny’s map to include the penny machines I needed to visit.  I color coded them so I could see at a quick glance which machines I needed to press a coin at or just get the picture.  I was pretty impressed with my final result and think this will really help out during my trip.

I just repeated this process for each of the parks, and we even have a pool day half way through the week that I will instead use to visit a few resorts to collect new pennies.  I made a similar map of the entire Disney resort property and listed the resorts on it just as I did above.

From now until we visit all I need to do is update these lists and maps should any additional coins go one stage before (or during) our trip.  I always save the files on my computer and back them up multiple times so I always have a copy that can be updated easily.

Usually about the week before we leave I will ensure I have the appropriate number of quarters and pennies to press all the designs needed.  I also make sure to bring a few extra rolls of coins just in case we come across a new machine.  The cast members at the parks are always really great to make change when needed for the machines, but there are some other places that aren’t so accommodating so it always pays to come prepared.

Am I obsessed?  Of course and I don’t shy away from it but I’m also very passionate about my hobby.  I want to make sure my family vacation is as great as I know it can be, and want to ensure that my daughter, niece and nephew get to see everything Disney has to offer.  But I also want to collect some coins along the way.  Our vacation can’t get here soon enough.

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