Tough, but very needed Disney trip. Help warmly accepted.

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Hurlymcgurly's picture
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Tough, but very needed Disney trip. Help warmly accepted.

Hi all. Been forever since I've posted. A lot has changed since our last Disney trip 2 years ago. The hardest thing in the world in fact. We lost our amazing 18 year old son, Parker, to an erratic driver late last March. Sad( It has been an impossible journey of grief. He was an incredible kid. He was a kid who could charm everyone and he was known for so many different talents. One of the things that was so amazing about him was his love of Disney. He had a down pat Mickey Mouse voice! mickey He was very into theatre and was active in 3 theater groups. 5 days before he was taken, he was gracing the stage as Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He was the #1 pick of 500 given auditions for the Western Michigan Musical Theatre program for this term. We found this out the day of his wake. One of the things he wanted to do for summer internship was to join the program at Disney and play tuba for one of the roaming bands or sing with one of the Barbershop Quartets. When we were at Disney last, it was the final week of the American Idol Experience at the Disney Studios, where they selected 9 people out of the park through auditions to perform daily. He made it twice while we were there. I was so overly proud of him.
He was such a Disney fan that he was cremated and now his ashes are kept in a Mickey Mouse cookie jar. He was hugely popular and a world traveler so we put it out that if any friends who were traveling would like to take a pinch of his ashes to scatter to share the world with Parker and Parker with the world, we would be honored. He has been many places in the past 6 months including on 2 cruises, 1 being Disney and 3 times to Disney World and will be going to Disneyland later this month.
We have 2 other boys, Mitch, 23 and Foster, 15. Mitch graduated college in June and has moved back to help us move from NY to NC and to be with us as a family as we try to start healing our broken hearts. When we moved, we downsized quite a bit on our house. We have so much stuff and are needing to get rid of a lot of it because we don't fit. So we were sitting around the table the other night and I brought up the idea of instead of stuff for Christmas this year, we make memories, as memories of Parker are way more treasured than any stuff. It is time to continue making memories for us and for Parker in the form of a bucket list I am making for him. Things that we can do for him that he had wanted to do in his lifetime, to keep him close.
His plan for his Senior grad trip was to go to Japan, mainly because it has Disney Tokyo and he had been to Disney Land, World and Paris. With all the financial hits we have taken on top of our grief (yes, the fool who hit him, on a crest of a hill, passing a 3rd car in a no pass zone at over 80 mph, and who also died in the accident, was under insured...) we cannot go to Japan for him for at least a couple years, but we can do a budget trip to Disney World.
We are looking at doing a 4 night, 5 day hopper at one of the value resorts. In the past we have stayed at Coronado Springs Resort and twice at Art of Animation in Nemo and Lion King. Because it is getting close, our options are getting limited. The Pop Century is already booked so we have to stay at one of the All Star Resorts. Which of the 3 do you feel is the best? Last time we went, they were just starting out with the Magic Bands. Have they worked the kinks out of them? Is Disney Quest still covered on a Hopper pass and is it still even there? I've been reading for a while now that it was going away in 2016. Do they still have the Disney card game, scavenger hunt thing? I can't remember the name of it. If we don't get the Disney dining plan, can we still make reservations for restaurants?
I know Parker wants us to be happy, but every day has been tearful for me. I am hoping that Disney will bring some small bit of joy. I mean, it was a place he loved and it is Disney after all. The happiest place on earth, right? Any new tips we should know or things we can do to maybe enrich our trip would be so very appreciated.
Thank you all for listening.
Warmly, Kristen

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Truly sorry for your loss Kristen, I can't imagine the hurt.

Yes the kinks are all pretty much worked out of the Magicbands. We just got back and never had an issue.

JoAnn C's picture
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bighug So sorry for your loss.

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Vettelover's picture
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You have my sincerest sympathy on your loss.

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JanJ's picture
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I'm truly sorry for your loss and what a beautiful way to remember your son. muchlove

As MrHub says, the magicbands work really well now and we have never had any issues. I'm not sure about Disney Quest, but I'm sure someone on here has the answer for you. Anyone can make reservations at the restaurants - you don't need to have the dining plan for that. You can sign in to My Disney Experience and book through there. We've never stayed at the All Star resorts but I know other forum members have and I know they'll have advice for you.

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Oh my Kristen, I am so sorry for your loss. I just love the idea of honoring Parker this way!

MagicBands don't seem to have any issues at this point, even new features such as adding FastPasses with your phone using My Disney Experience, making and revising Advanced Dining Reservations and more.

I've stayed at All Star Music and we enjoyed it a lot. Never had any issues with noise and trying to sleep but then again, after long busy days I could probably sleep on Rock n Roller Coaster! laugh

I "believe" Disney Quest is still there as of right now but someone else can chime in on that one. We've never been so I have no authority on this. I know where it is... wink

The card game is Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and yes, it is still there. Just go to the Fire House on Main Street to get cards and a game started.

Advanced DIning Reservations, yes, you can make reservations even without the Dining Plan, as JanJ said, just log on, link your Resort Reservation and plan away,

If you need any help with anything or have more questions, we are all here and more than happy to help!

muchlove

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I' m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your son's wonderful accomplishments with us, Kristen. That was a lovely tribute.

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I'm so very sorry for your loss sad I can't even imagine what you're going through.

We've stayed at All Star Movies and Music. Aside from theme, they're pretty much the same. We enjoyed both and would have no problem staying at either one again.

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I'm so sorry for your loss sad

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So sorry for your loss bighug

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I am so sorry for your loss.

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So sorry as well.

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I'm so sorry for your loss, Kristen. I think this is a lovely way to honor and remember Parker. We just recently had an elderly friend pass away who was a veteran and we missed his funeral because we were on a Disney trip, but we attended the daily flag retreat in his honor. Surely no one knew why two adults were watching the ceremony with tears streaming down their cheeks, but it meant the world to us to be able to remember our friend even though we couldn't be home with other friends and family to do so. Disney is a fantastic place to deal with a loss and pay special tribute to a loved one.

MagicBands are mostly error-free now. Most of the problems that people experience are due to linking guests from one room with guests from another room and trying to plan and make reservations together. For a standard 4-in-a-room trip, you should have no trouble.

Anyone can make dining ADR's, but all require a credit card guarantee and have a $10 per person cancelation charge if you no-show. They apparently are fairly liberal about making accommodations for late arrivals, but a straight no-show will cost you.

Among the All-Stars, I would choose Movies, which incidentally is the only one where I haven't actually stayed. The big determining factor here is theme, so probably at the end of the day, you should go with the theme that would have spoken the most to Parker. I stayed at Sports in February and we had some issues with mustiness in a few rooms in the football section. I've stayed a Music and I had a perfectly fine experience there, but last week I had a family that stayed at Music and while they didn't complain about any issues in particular, I ended up making a call to the front desk to try to help them with some trouble they were having and I was a little bit underwhelmed by the cast response. It wasn't a huge deal, but to me, the interaction was indicative of a cast at Music that may be less likely to go the extra mile for guests when it matters. So if I was booking an All-Star for myself, I would opt for Movies based on my previous experiences, but I can't guarantee that it's any different there.

DisneyQuest is not an option on a Hopper ticket and I believe that it has been removed from the Water Parks Fun & More. While the building is still there and the last I heard it was still open, I would probably steer clear. The last time that we were there (fall of 20...14?) the building and the attractions were clearly in need of refurbishment. With the plans to tear it down/ reimagine the space, I don't think any money has probably been invested in things like replacing worn out handgrips on attractions, cleaning and recalibrating the sensors that keep the attractions working, and other minor maintenance issues that would be important for this type of attraction.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card game is still in full swing. There is also a somewhat lesser known Pirate Adventure that starts at a covered wagon-type cart between Adventureland and Frontierland. I think it's a better version of a very similar concept and I highly recommend it because the visual payoffs are much more impressive--especially with a 15-year-old and a 23-year-old.

Best wishes for a truly magical trip that brings your family comfort.

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Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

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I'm so so so sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine. What a beautiful and special way to honor Parker though and I definitely think you all deserve a whole ton of magic and pixie dust.

Everyone else answered your questions but I will just add a couple of things. Like Holly pointed out, there is a $10 cancellation fee on no-shows for dining reservations now. If you want to cancel you'll need to do so more then 24 hours in advance to avoid this. However, I have always had a great experience when having to cancel last minute for an emergency or something outside of our control. For example, if someone in your party has fallen ill, contact the restaurant directly and explain the situation and more often then not they will waive the fee for you.

DisneyQuest is no longer officially listed on the Water Parks Fun & More option but I have had a client purchase the Water Parks Fun & More and use it at DisneyQuest since it has been removed without any issue. I'm assuming it has been removed from the official list since it is still kind of up in the air how much longer it will be around. However, I do not recommend relying 100% on this information as things may have changed since that family was there a few months ago.

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Kristen, my heart goes out to you and your family. What a tragedy.

I love all the value resorts. At the All-Stars I prefer All-Star Sports because at times of day when the three All-Stars share buses, those buses stop at Sports first so it's easier to find a seat.

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I'm so sorry for your loss.

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Thank you all for your sympathy and replies. Parker was so amazing and it is just so hard to wrap my brain around this. When he died, the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Ted Keegan, who had performed locally with Parker, put his understudy in and came up to sing at his memorial. Parker was big into his bow ties and Ted told us that he had worn several bow ties in his performance the night of the accident and dedicated the show to him. Then he made #bowtiesforparkeronbroadway after a friend made #bowtiesforparker and a lot of Broadway and off Broadway shows honored him by wearing bow ties, including Simba from The Lion King. My baby made it to Broadway... Check out the hashtags if you're bored and you can see how he was honored and see who he was. Love
Some of the productions he did he was Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Horton in Seussical, Rapunzel's prince in Into the Woods, and Buddy the Elf in Elf. He was so much more than just an actor though. He was all State with his Tuba and played to some capacity about a dozen instruments. He raised all kinds of money for charities and gave blood every chance he could get. He loved kids and was a kid at heart, but sang in a barbershop quartet with 80 and 90 year olds and was the only "kid" that was regularly put into adult roles in the city's theatre group.
One of his favorite plays where he was the only kid in the cast was Spamalot, where he was a Knight of the Round Table named Sir Bedevere the Flatulent, a horse named Concord complete with coconuts for galloping (I hung them on his casket) and an old lady named Mrs. Galahad. He had to wear falsies for Mrs. Galahad and so he borrowed a bra. At the end of the show he returned it, covered in chocolate and stated, "I don't know how you women eat with these things!" The cast took him everywhere they went from Spamalot on and when someone would ask why they were hanging with a then 16 year old kid, they would say he's not a kid, he's Parker!
Everyone just loved him for all he did. He would leave notes for teachers that were having bad days, he would play with little siblings and hang with parents when he went to visit friends, he befriended every group out there from jocks to theatre, geeks to goth and everything in between because he saw the good in everyone, and several, including one who just had a baby last week and named him Parker, credited him for keeping them from dropping out or even from committing suicide. I didn't know one person could have so many best friends as they all claimed him to be, but he had a way of making someone feel they were the most important person in the world to him when he was with them. He was so good at spreading love and teaching tolerance and acceptance everywhere he went. He was on the football team and was a mediocre player who raced up to the sound booth to belt out the anthem before racing down to the field to play and even though he only played maybe a quarter of the game, he had the biggest cheering section tenfold of any player there and you would always know when he took the field because the stands that were otherwise relatively lacking in the school spirit department would go crazy.
All kinds of teams, music groups and classrooms from not just all over the tri county area, but over multiple States in the US and in Europe and Japan wore bow ties or bow tie stickers or his initials and football #76 on their helmets and one varsity men's lacrosse team from another school wore warm up jerseys when they played us with his number and angel wings on the back.
They ran story after story in the papers and he was all over the news not because of how he died, but because of how he lived. <3 They are still doing stories up there and it has been over half a year. I hear from people all the time who reach out to let us know how much they loved him or how through all his publicity, grew to know and love him, and our support team, even though we had to move a couple months ago has been amazing.
I'm sorry I'm running on and on about him, but he is such a big piece of my heart and I will always love that boy. I could tell stories for days, but I'm sure this is plenty long enough. We are going to do our best to honor him in what we do. Mitch and I just went to do a Habitat for Humanity build today. Parker would have loved that and it got us out of the house and doing something productive.
Thank you again for all your kind words and for your advice and suggestions. We have decided on trying for the All Star Sports to honor Parker's Football year and to pump his brother Mitch up for his future baseball umpire school. Being first on the bus doesn't hurt either. Thanks for that tip Crazycatperson! I am also going to look into the Pirate Adventure thing alicemouse. As soon as our agent confirms we are booked, I'll start looking into dining reservations. It will give us something to discuss and look forward to. I know we want to go to Liberty Tree Inn. That was one of the favorites while we were there last time. Any other recommendations? We can't think of any others that we went to that were stand outs so we must be needing to try something else for table service. I know we'll be hitting Gaston's Tavern for a pork shank and Earl of Sandwich because yum, but other than that, we are open to suggestions. Another rumor we have heard is that the Tower of Terror was being taken out. Is that gone yet? That was always a favorite. We are sad that it will be leaving... OK bored you all enough and it is almost 4:30 am so off to bed I go. Thanks again everyone. muchlove

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Wow, Parker sounds like an amazing kid. What a great loss. I love the #bowtiesforparker though. That is incredibly special.

Tower of Terror is not being taken out at Disney World, only at Disneyland, so you won't miss that. Some of my fav restaurants we've eaten at include Yak & Yeti at Animal Kingdom, Coral Reef at Epcot (just not during the Candelight Processional package...), Kona Cafe at the Poly, Turf Club at Saratoga Springs, Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom, and Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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It is so sad that Parker was taken from you at such a young age. I hope you find some comfort that he achieved more by the age of 18 than many adults ever do in a lifetime. If life was judged by accomplishment and the way someone impacts others in a positive way rather than number of years then Parker lived to a ripe old age muchlove I read somewhere "In a world where you can be anything, be kind" it stuck with me and I thought of it as I read the lovely things you wrote about him. What a beautiful, kind young man. I am a musical theatre girl myself (as I think Allie and Robyn from this board are too?) so I loved the bow ties. Your Disney trip will be full of joy and definately a few tears. I can't watch the fireworks without crying like a baby, but they are not sadness, just being overwhelmed by all the emotions that were already there. You are an amazing strong, beautiful family. Enjoy every moment of your Disney trip and if you feel up to writing a trip report, I would love to read it. I enjoyed reading all about your wonderful son so please do not apologise for telling us his story x x x

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Miss Mikki wrote:
I am a musical theatre girl myself (as I think Allie and Robyn from this board are too?) so I loved the bow ties.

Sure am! muchlove

Beautiful words, Miss Mikki!

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Kristen, My deepest sympathy for you and your family. Parker sounds like a wonderful man and he will always be with you.

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Kristen I am so incredibly sorry for your loss, Parker seems like a great kid and I will be having a look on that hastag but it's even just fantastic knowing that people did that for him my thoughts are with you and your family and I hope you really do have a magical trip to the world honoring Parker along the way muchlove