I had written a while back that we had gotten tickets for the Pan Am Experience, an event where you relive the magic of flying onboard a luxurious Pan Am 747, complete with full meal service. We had made the reservation back in May (it’s very limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. I’m really good at snagging those) and, truth be told, part of our vacation to the southwest was planned around attending the event. Well, that and seeing Hamilton (for the 5th time. Don’t hate me). It was a LONG 6 months, but October 21 finally rolled around and we were on our way!
From hotel promotions to American Airlines’ listeria problem to Starbucks’ upcoming co-branded credit card, here are some stories we saw this week that we thought were interesting. We hope you will, too:
If you’re ever traveling near or through Tijeras, New Mexico, you may want to make a pit stop (or, more appropriately, a drive by) for this, just because it’s different…and, dare I say, music to your ears.
In September 2016, while on our way to Desert Trip music festival to see some of the best and certainly the largest concert we have ever seen in our lives, Joe and I stopped at an over 40-year-old roadside attraction just off the I-10, about 13 miles west of Palm Springs: the Cabazon Dinosaurs!
Continue reading “Because Everyone Should Walk Up A 65-Foot-Tall Dinosaur, Right?”
As you guys may have figured out, Joe and I like to travel. But we like to think our travel is different from that of most people. Oh sure, some people like to go to the Caribbean, or to Italy or to go hiking. And some of those are nice sometimes (well, except the hiking. I’m not a hiking sort of person). But for us, especially for me, the more unusual, the more different, the more of an adventure, the more off the beaten path, the better. And if you can add a little kitsch to it, well, THEN my life is just complete. So when a friend posted an article on Facebook about the Pan Am Experience, my eyes perked up. I did some Continue reading “We’re Going To Do The Pan Am Experience!”
I’ve already documented the difficulties I came across when trying to book a room at Disneyland with my DVC points in a previous article and now it was time to start looking at Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. Now, I don’t have much experience with booking hotels in and around Disneyland. We’ve stayed in the Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel several times. Going back many years ago, we stayed at the Sheraton Anaheim Hotel (now renamed the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel) with a group discount from a theme park message board we helped moderate. On our most recent trip, we stayed at the Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort (that’s a mouthful). It wasn’t my original choice, but I was lucky enough to win a free night during a online contest that had to be Continue reading “Staying at Disneyland – Backup Plans (DVC Points, Hotel Points or Citi Prestige 4th night free)”
As mentioned in this post, we are proud owners of Disney Vacation Club (DVC), which is Disney’s version of a timeshare. My family bought our membership back in 1992, when there was only one resort, called Old Key West (OKW). Since this is where we purchased our membership, it is considered our “home resort.” DVC has expanded exponentially in the past 25 years, and now includes 13 resorts in Florida, South Carolina, California and Hawaii.
Because Old Key West is my home resort, I can book reservations there up to 11 months in advance. If I want to book at any other DVC resort, I have to wait until 7 months before my trip before booking. This system gives priority to members of the resort to book where they bought their membership. This was less of a problem when DVC was still developing and had inventory that was not being used, but that’s no longer the case.
If you’re interested in booking at a popular time, you better take advantage of your home resort booking window of 11-8 months. If not, you may not find your preferred room type or even any room at your resort. So if you wanted a room at Boardwalk or Beach Club Villas during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, for example, you might be out of luck.
We don’t need to book a room at Walt Disney World that much anymore, since we live about 15 minutes away. There are the occasional times we book for a night or two but nowhere long enough to use up our annual point allotment. That’s when we started hosting an annual “Point Burning” party, where we would rent a high-point grand villa or treehouse and invite a bunch of friends over for the evening.
Since we bought our membership directly from Disney, we can also use our points at other Disney resort hotels, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney or at several other resort options. We’ve gone on several Adventures by Disney trips with our points but the value in trading over points has gradually decreased over the years. Recently, I’ve started selling my excess points through the DVC Rental Store. I first read about the process in 2015 from this Pizza in Motion article about the Treehouse Villas. I’ve used them several times with no complaints. The procedure is straightforward and payment is always prompt.
So, I told you that story so I can tell you this one. We finally have a need for our DVC points because as part of our Southwestern U.S. vacation this fall, we are ending the trip at Disneyland. We were planning on staying for 4 nights and that would be a perfect use of points to stay at the The Villas at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. We’ve stayed there using DVC points in the past, but that was before the Vacation Club addition was completed.
Here’s the problem. I had to wait until exactly 7 months before our trip would be starting to book the room. I marked the day on the calendar and even planned to have Sharon be ready to book the room at exactly 8 AM, the opening time for reservations, since I would be at work. I checked the day before and the room was still available. On the night before we could book the room, I was showing Sharon how to make a reservation and…the rooms were gone. Nothing available for the first night of our stay, only the last 3 nights. I still had Sharon put the reservation on a wait list, which will book the room if someone cancels. I looked that night and the remaining 3 nights were still available. So we figured we could still book those the next morning and stay somewhere else for 1 night, if necessary. Guess what happened the next morning? No rooms. Not only the first two nights, but the third night was booked out as well. This wasn’t for just for our size room, but all rooms (1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and grand villas). Eventually the whole week of our stay was totally booked before anyone from any other resort could make a reservation, while it was fully available just 7 days before.
Was there a big rush of people making reservations before the booking window closed? Possibly. As long as you cancel far enough in advance, there are no penalties to cancel your reservation with DVC points.
I do have another idea. I’ve read about where people can “walk” their reservations. Since DVC lets you book for up to a week from the beginning of your window, you can essentially lock in your date before your booking window opens. If you make a reservation for the 7 days before you want to stay and ending on your arrival day, you have locked in your first day of your stay. Then every day, you need to cancel the first day and add on the newly available last day until you have booked all the days of your trip. While some people think this is being “crafty,” I’m personally against doing something like this. It keeps people from being able to make reservations for a stay because the room is being held by someone who has no intention to use it. The loophole being used is necessary to allow people to book longer stays and so they can cancel if necessary without penalty. It just smells funny to me, so I didn’t do it.
I did wait list the room we wanted so if the people did make the reservations for our nights didn’t have an intention to use them, I’ll be first on the list to get a room. When things like happen, my brain goes into overdrive, looking for options. I’ve already got a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. That’s the luxury of knowing miles and points and having multiple alternatives when the best laid plans fall through. But which one to choose? Well, went into all of that in this post.
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