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Brian Bennett

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The Military Honeymoon

In my Notes From the World column, I posed the following scenario. Then I challenged the MousePlanet community to read through the situation, then either answer the questions I'd posed, provide suggestions, or put together an entire trip itinerary.

Here's the scenario:

23 year old "Kevin" and 23 year old "Melissa" are getting married on the first Saturday in March next year. They would like to have their honeymoon at Walt Disney World. Kevin is an enlisted man in the U. S. Army. He has never been to Walt Disney World, but really wants to visit because his family had a great trip when he was in basic training last year. Melissa has just finished college with a business degree. She has been to Walt Disney World once, with her family, about five years ago. They would like to arrive in Orlando on Sunday, flying in via commercial airline early afternoon. They need to leave Orlando the following Sunday. Kevin has budgeted $3500 for the trip, but as newlyweds, they really would like to whittle that down as much as possible. Questions:

  • Where should Kevin and Melissa stay? They would like to stay onsite. A romantic resort is preferred. They were planning on spending a couple of hundred dollars a night, but anything they can save can pay for setting up their new household.
  • What do you suggest about ground transportation? Is a rental car necessary or is a shuttle service preferred? What company do you recommend in either case?
  • What do you suggest Kevin and Melissa do for admission media?
  • Melissa would like to see Universal Studios. What do you suggest on how to get there or even whether or not that is a good idea?
  • Do you have any suggestions about attractions, restaurants, or activities that Kevin and Melissa should consider?
  • What other ideas do you have about how to make this honeymoon a special trip?

I'll put my own comments in this "normal" text type. Comments by MousePlanet readers will be done in this "quotation gray bold italics" text type.


First off, in addition to giving Kevin and Melissa my own congratulations, several readers did so too... and with some interesting comments to go with them:

  • Julie writes, "Congratulations Kevin and Melissa! Disneyworld is a great place to honeymoon. In fact, that's where my husband and I honeymooned nine years ago. Next year, we'll be returning to Disneyworld to celebrate our tenth anniversary. If I only knew then what I know now about Disneyworld..."

  • Sarah writes, "My husband (also a Kevin!) and I went to WDW for our honeymoon last December, and had an incredible time... Please feel free to pass these tips along to Kevin and Melissa! Also, I wanted to thank you for this great resource on WDW, it was invaluable in planning our perfect Disney honeymoon!"

  • Kevin kindly writes, "Feel free to have them email me directly (parmy1@bellsouth.net)... My wife and I were just married at the Wedding Pavilion and Grand Floridian this past December 2, 2001. We were living in NY at the time and planned it from afar (but we now live in the Orlando area:-)

    "Both of us were integral in the planning and could really help steer them in the right direction or let them know some options before contacting Disney. (Though, Disney was wonderful about the whole thing and helps out a lot, they can't conceivably go over every option available." I think Kevin's help would be best used by someone that is actually planning a wedding at WDW."

  • James writes, "I am in the midst of planning my own WDW Honeymoon for May 2003 and we have answered some of these questions ourselves. These are the same issues that we have encountered. We have not decided on the Universal Studios question and it will be interesting to see what others have to suggest. According to our own budget, $3500.00 should be able to provide a very romantic Disney Honeymoon that would include a long stay moderate or shorter stay deluxe hotel, an expensive dinner, a dinner show, passes and other goodies and souvenirs."

  • Jenny writes, "When my husband and I married we were too poor for food, so the honeymoon had to wait a year. When we did go, we went to WDW! We have been back 6 times in 8 years. $3500 is enough for a very nice honeymoon at WDW. For hubby and me (both nondrinkers), we spend $1500-1800 for the two of us for one week. That includes one buffet per day and the rest counter service."

One reader provided a completely different solution:

Dreslaine writes, "I think your couple should go to WDW on their first anniversary. (And all future anniversaries.) After planning and executing a wedding - large or intimate - they are going to be emotionally and physically exhausted. They deserve some down time where they can recharge and recuperate. As you well know, even with a midday break, WDW is not relaxing. No one can "vacation" at the World without making decisions constantly. Walking three to seven miles a day is draining - especially if the couple should experience early heat and/or summer-type rain. Finally, crowds diminish the intimacy a honeymoon couple is anticipating. Send the honeymooners off on a seven day Disney cruise. Minimal decision making."

Travel and Transportation:

My own personal opinion is that Kevin and Melissa would be best suited by flying into Orlando's McCoy International Airport (MCO), then hiring a shuttle service to take them to their hotel. I would use WDW Transportation to move around within Walt Disney World property. The page on air transportation, here in the WDW trip planning guide, has some additional information.

Here are some reader-supplied ideas for transportation:

  • Caren writes, "If at all possible, fly so that you're staying over a Saturday night gets you a significantly lower airfare."

  • Wade suggested that Kevin and Melissa reduce their air fares by buying two sets of round-trip fares, but using only the front half of the first and back half of the second.

Of course, it would be necessary to see what the airlines would say about that. I don't think that such a plan would be illegal by any means, but I wonder if airline policy could make things sticky for the newlyweds when they embark on the return leg?

  • Wade also suggests using Tiffany Town Car for ground transportation. He says it would cost about $80.00 then goes on to say, "I would normally recommend a rental car. But in the interest of saving money the town car and Disney transportation is produces a savings of about $270. If you can find a rental car deal for under $200 that would be a better than the resort's transportation system. (7 day Rental Car est. $350)"

  • Lynnette writes, "By [ staying on site ], the monorail and buses should suffice for the on world transportation. If they want to do Universal Studios, they could rent a car for a day and visit Universal Studios and then have dinner offsite. I am not very familiar with offsite romantic places, but I bet you get some good suggestions."

Ironically, I didn't get many suggestions for offsite activities (other than some specific feedback about Universal Studios, which I'll cover in a later section of this page.)

  • Danny writes, "I think they should take a rental car since I don't think they want anyone to interfere with their honeymoon. Any company would do, but I think Hertz is the better one."

Personally, I would use a taxi or shuttle if any area side trips are planned. Although using a taxi or shuttle is far from convenient, I just don't think the cost of a rental car is justified for a just one or two runs off-property.

Several readers agreed with me:

  • Stew writes, "NO DRIVING NECESSARY! For a "family of 2", there is a lot less need for the rental car. I would suggest one of the limo services (Tiffany Town Car?) to and from the Airport. Disney Transportation is very good (especially from the "Monorail" Resorts), and would be fine for a couple."

  • Marc writes, "I don't see any need to rent a car if they only plan to leave WDW once for the visit at Universal. I would compare rates between a taxi and Mears. Maybe Shades of Green has special airport transportation or they offer a voucher for a discount at Mears, like Disney does (or at least used to do). Transportation inside WDW is very good and I never had a cause for complaints."

  • Sarah writes, "Don't bother renting a car unless you specifically plan to go off property. We only rented a car because we'd been able to get significantly cheaper tickets by flying into Tampa (something else to check out), but we still felt that we hadn't really gotten much use out of it.

  • Robin writes, "I would definitely recommend getting a towncar for transportation to and from the airport- so much nicer than sharing a shuttle and not that much more expensive. Plus, some of the towncar services offer a stop at the grocery store, and they can get champagne, crackers, cheese, chocolates and other fun honeymoon goodies to keep in their room. And tell the reservation person or the front desk that it is your honeymoon! Never know how they may acknowledge that. :-)"

  • Maus writes, "I highly recommend Tiffany Towncar. It would be a great honeymoon splurge. Since it's direct from airport to hotel, you don't have to pick up anyone else. A time-saver to get them to the resort more quickly! I have never used a rental car, resort transportation only, and don't find that problematic."

  • James writes, "Mears shuttles are most economical but can take very long given all of the other stops that must be made. If they want romance, they should rent a town car. This would be faster, again romantic and many Disney Info web sites offer discounts for the their favorite limo/town car services."

  • Art writes, "Mears Shuttle at $56 for two adults round trip. Then Disney internal transportation while at the resort."

  • Jenny writes, "TIFFANY TOWNCAR hands down! No contest. If you decide to go to Universal, you can use Mears or Tiffany again. We did not have good experiences with Mears, and frankly, we have ZERO desire to get in a car and drive while on vacation. WDW transportation is convenient, free and great."

  • Terri writes, "I recommend shuttle service from airport to Resort (round-trip, Mears). Unless you want to do something different (like make a quick drive to the beach) the Resort has shuttles to take you where you want to go. Vacations/honeymoons are to be as stress-free as possible. Let the pros do the driving (more time to cuddle)."

However, if Kevin and Melissa decide they just can't live without a rental car, I must say say that I've always had good luck with National both at MCO and other locations across the nation. Alamo tends to be very inexpensive in the Orlando market, but has the disadvantage of having an off-airport facility which requires using a shuttle bus. National is located right at the terminal, so only a short walk is required. I don't know specifically where the other rental car companies are located, since I've only used National and Alamo from MCO.

  • Tifany writes, "As far as transportation goes, we have always driven down to Disney or have rented a car. (We like the freedom of going at our own times & we don't worry about paying for parking.) Also, if they want to have a nice meal out in town then they will have the ability to come and go as they please. Since they are starting out and Kevin is likely to be a low grade soldier, they probably don't have a credit card and will be using either a check card or cash. Since they are under 25 they will have the additional cost of $25 a day so the rental car would be out of the question. The only rental company that I know of that would rent to under 25 is Alamo. I would look into the cost of hiring Tiffany Town car for a little romance & ask for a stop at the Publix to get some water and maybe some other items that they might like. The cost of hiring Mears or Tiffany will still be cheaper than what they would pay for a rental car."

Also, I would like to point out that MousePlanet has a Disney Maps section that has maps of the area (including the drive from MCO to Walt Disney World) that may be helpful. The pages on airport transportation and rental car considerations, right here in the WDW Trip Planning Guide, may be helpful as additional information is provided there (including contact information for many of these transportation companies).

Part of the scenario that we laid out, though, was that the couple really wanted to consider a side trip to Universal Studios. I'll also point out that National has a satellite facility right at WDW, so a car can be rented from National for just a day or two for those offsite runs, if Kevin and Melissa choose to do so.

Robin and Marc shared their thoughts on transportation for such a "side trip":

  • Robin writes, "I would suggest they rent a car for one day at their resort to head off to Universal, but otherwise Disney transportation is great."

  • Marc writes, "To get to Universal, I would call Mears, they offer a reasonably priced transfer between WDW and Universal. If they feel a bit more adventurous, they could take the Lynx bus from the TTC to Downtown Orlando and change there to the Lynx going to Universal. It's only $1.50 each way, but takes about 2 hours."

Accommodations:

When I put this scenario together, the very first thing that I thought of for Kevin and Melissa's accommodations was the military resort on Walt Disney World Property, Shades of Green. Shades of Green is the old Disney Inn (and previous to that, it was simply called, "the Golf Resort." How it is under a long-term lease by the Department of Defense for use by military and DOD personnel.

There are two drawbacks to Shades of Green. First, and this is only temporary, the resort is undergoing a complete renovation, so folks that book there are actually setup to stay at the Contemporary Resort (but at the same prices). The second drawback is that the resort is really unthemed, so it doesn't have as much charm or romance as the other Disney resorts. The same is true for the Contemporary, in my opinion. So, the price is awesome, but the atmosphere, although very nice and extremely comfortable, is a bit less romantic than some of the other options onsite.

Many readers agreed:

  • George writes succinctly, "Have them try and get reservations at The Shades of Green Resort. It is run by the military, for military families. The nightly rates are based on his rank."

  • Lynnette writes, "...The going rate for E-5 and below (since he's 23, I am betting he's still at E-5 or below) is only $66/night."

  • Stew writes, "If Shades of Green is available, it's a GREAT place at a GREAT location (I stayed there when it was the Disney Inn).

Several readers provides a ton of information about Shades of Green itself. I'll leave it here because the comments will be helpful for other future military and DOD guests, but due to the renovation timing, it's not that helpful for Kevin and Melissa.

  • Terri writes, "...Since Kevin is military a wonderful option for them is the Shades of Green! My husband is DOD employee and were there last year and will return in February. Such a pleasant resort. First, all prices are according to his rank. Cost of room, hopper passes to Disney events, Universal, etc. even a souvenir shop... Second, it has some nice amenities. One of the best is being located in the WDW park, yet 'off the beaten track'. Surrounded by golf courses, it is quiet yet a pleasant five minute walk to the Polynesian Resort and the Monorail system to the Magic Kingdom or the Shuttle service to the other parks picks you up at the Shades of Green door. There is a nice onsite restaurant or Bar and Grill near the pool as options for some of the meals, and of course the pools, etc. Romantic has to do with the company you are with and your attitude of soul. Prices at Shades of Green will give them savings to buy a special keepsake from their trip and save money for a stress-free beginning. The staff is wonderful, too. There is also a number to call where they can get assistant with their flight arrangements."

  • Tifany writes, "Since Kevin will be enlisted & recently out of basic training, his rank should be about E-3 by the time they leave next year. Since he will fall in the category of E-5 & under he should contact Shades of Green (they are currently booking into the Contemporary) and he will pay a rate of $63 (not sure what the rates will increase too). If they are booked at Shades of Green, then he can ask for an overflow rate and request Port Orleans (should be about $75 -$85).

    "My husband is Active Duty Enlisted and this is one of the best programs that the MWR has around for military. If Kevin & Melissa are really serious about saving money, then they should stay at the Contemporary through Shades of Green Also, it will be value season still, but I believe the prices for Shades of Green& the accommodations you get can't be beat. Also, if they mention that it is their Honeymoon, sometimes Shades of Green will be able to get a preferred view without the additional cost of $10 a night."

  • Allison writes, "As a DOD civilian and after staying at Shades of Green twice I would urge them to check it out. Sure, they book 53 weeks ahead, but the room rates will make their on-property stay MUCH more affordable (rates are based on military ranking). Plus - Shades of Green is quieter and more inaccessible to the WDW guests than any of the other resorts, so they'll be assured of privacy - plus I can't say enough about how pleasant and polite the other guests are."

  • Robin writes, "Since he is military, I think he should definitely take advantage of the Shades of Green deal. We are going for 9 nights next February/Mar and it is only $62 a night + tax to stay at the Contemporary. The Contemporary isn't as romantic as other resorts, but they would be pocketing at least $100 a night vs. staying at a moderate or other deluxe resort."

  • Art writes, "Kevin should arrange to stay at Shades of Green. This is a onsite property that is currently under total reconstruction, (formerly the "Golf Resort" and the "Disney Inn"). You list March 2003 as the visit date. While the official reopening published is Fall 2003 you never know as the construction is aggressive. They "might" open earlier, (my guess only - nothing official). However, since savings is a consideration and Kevin's ranking is probably somewhere between the E-1 through E-5 group Shades of Green would place him at the standard room rate of $66/night + 11% state-local tax or $76/night + tax for a ground floor room with a view of Bay Lake. Since Shades of Green is under reconstruction and the logistics of off-property parking, noise and dust disturbance, safety hazards, force protection, and just general guest discomfort where a concern Shades of Green guests are being booked into the Contemporary Resort, North Garden Wing. Comparable Disney room rates are between $234 and $370 per night plus tax."

  • Marc writes, "...The hotel is not that big and a bit secluded, so this should qualify as being romantic."

  • Rod writes, "Being military our happy couple have the option of staying at a military run hotel located on the WDW grounds called Shades of Green. The hotel is located along one of the Disney run golf courses within a long walk of the Polynesian Hotel and tied into the Disney bus shuttle. But it gets even better for a while. The facility is currently being renovated and Shades of Green is running/booking a block of rooms within Disney's Contemporary Resort during the construction. Assuming Kevin is an Enlisted E1-E5 (very likely if he completed basic only a year ago) their rate will only be $76 for a room with a view of the Lagoon!"

  • Maus writes, "I would have to suggest Shades of Green. I don't know if it qualifies as “romantic,” but it would save them lots of money. I am not familiar with the property, but maybe there is a secluded area perfect for honeymooners. I suggest Kevin call the resort for suggestions. (Unless there is already something on MousePlanet) There are plenty of other romantic options available to them at WDW. "

  • Sharon writes, "First, since Kevin is in the U.S. Armed forces he is eligible to stay at the "Shades of Green" resort (http://www.armymwr.com/shades/index.html)... What? Under renovation you say? Well, Shades of Green is putting guests up at the Contemporary Resort North FOR THE SAME PRICE!! The price for Shades of Green is based on the rank of the guest so, since "Kevin" (assuming he's enlisted and a "low" rank) could stay at the Contemporary for as little as ... $66.00 per night (plus 11% Florida State Tax).

    "Now, if the honeymooners want to save a little more money they could also use the Armed Forces Vacation Club (www.afvclub.com) to find a "Space A" vacation accommodation at an RCI resort ... accommodations are booked from Saturday to Friday at a price of $249 (for the WHOLE WEEK). NOTE: We've booked a 2 bedroom, 2 bath accommodation with a full kitchen, dining room, living room and washer / dryer in room for $249 from 13 - 20 September. Guests must be willing to be flexible on dates so this may not be ideal for a vacation as important as a honeymoon."

Now if Kevin and Melissa just decide that Shades of Green is too secluded, too unthemed, or just isn't available... well, our readers provided alternatives for that situation too.

My own ideas on which WDW resorts are the most romantic can be read on the Romantic Trip page here in the WDW Trip Planning Guide. I'll cite that page again later as it also includes several other thoughts that any couple celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary - or any other romantic occasion - may like to consider.

  • Stew writes, "...I'd suggest the Grand Floridian, Polynesian or Contemporary first -- then the Wilderness Lodge, Yacht and Beach Club -- then Port Orleans (though I'd really try to stay at one of the "higher end" choices in this case."

  • Robin writes, "(If they want to spend the money on a different resort, I recommend the Wilderness Lodge- we loved it for our honeymoon destination).

  • Wade shared a bunch of thoughts on this issue, "For Lodging: There are many options. Shades of green being down for construction here is what I consider the best two options.

    "Option #1: Recommended Upon arrival 4 Nights at Disney's All Stars Music Resort. Comfortable well themed motel style rooms. Close proximity to Animal Kingdom and Disney Studios. Rate: Standard Room $109 per night. Total $436.

    "Move to: 3 Nights at Disney's Wilderness Lodge Deluxe Hotel with maximum theming. This is my personal favorite. Two Hot springs(hot tubs) fax spring fed pool and creek, boardwalk and beach. Ease of access by bus to monorails and TTC, and Fort Wilderness Camp Ground with Hoop Dee Do Revue. Water Mouse rentals and nightly water pageant. Be sure to register for the flag family at time of check in and to take the free afternoon "Eating Tour" of the smoke house and restaurants. Rate: Standard Room $275 per night. Total $825. Total Lodging: $1261

    "Option # 2: ALT 7 nights at a Disney Moderate Resort of choice. Based on comments of my travelers, Disney's Coronado Resort is recommended. Beautiful South western theme with plenty of romantic walking space. Rate: Standard Room $180 per night Total $1260"

  • Danny writes, "I think they should probably stay at the Polynesian because it really sends out those Honeymoon vibes. If that's too expensive for them, then I think Coronado Springs would do just fine considering that they wouldn't want something that reminds them of 'home' back in Michigan."

  • Sarah writes, "For some reason, nobody thinks of staying at the Polynesian resort anymore--perhaps because it's been around for so long, and there are bigger, newer, and flashier places to stay on property. However, we stayed there and loved every minute. The atmosphere was romantic, tropical, quiet (once you got away from the volcano pool) and completely perfect. With your budget, I don't know if spending the whole trip there is very practical, but if you can swing one or two nights at the beginning or end of the stay, the extra money is more than worth it. And keep an eye out for the flamingos strolling around the property. :-)"

  • James writes, "Because it is peak season they can get the romantic and luxurious feel of the Grand Floridian but avoid the heavy cost, by staying in a Mansion Room at Port Orleans Riverside. (We decided to take the plunge and stay at the Grand anyway!)"

  • Jenny writes, "A moderate, Caribbean Beach Resort, remains our favorite, DXL is nice too. Haven't stayed at Coronado Springs. While we DO stay at AS, I would not consider it to be much of a Honeymoon resort."

Park Admission:

I would definitely suggest that Kevin check into the military discounts for park admission. A six-day park hopper plus would be my suggestion, as it would give the couple full access to the parks, as well as allow a few extra side trips to the water parks. I haven't done the research on the actual prices for the military passes, but many of the readers did. They also provide many other thoughts on admission media:

  • Lynnette, "I am going to suggest using the military discount for 7-day Park Hopper Plus with 4 PLUS options. The 8 days-7 nights would make it worth it and using the military discount the cost is only $300 each which would save $52 for both. I thought about the the Annual Pass, but they would have to buy the Premium which even with military discount is $457 each."

  • Tifany writes, "As far as media goes, they should go ahead and purchase their tickets at the local ITT on his post and have them in hand when he gets there. If they purchase now, they won't have to worry about paying the price increase that we will probably see in January. Also, they could get the 6 day hopper plus passes (currently $269 at ITT per adult) if they don't include a trip to Universal." (As the extra day's admission would be wasted.)

  • Sharon writes, "As for admission media ... Shades of Green again! They have a ticket sales office that has been relocated to the Contemporary during renovations and sell tickets at reduced prices (to eligible personnel only)."

  • Art writes, "Shades of Green offers discounted prices on military attraction passes including attractions other than Disney, i.e., Universal Studios. The relocated ticket office is at Disney's Contemporary Resort in the North Garden Wing, room 7346."

  • Stew writes, "Since I don't know where they are coming from, and if they have future plans of visiting again, I would suggest the following: If there are return plans, especially within the year, I would purchase AP's for each of them. If they enjoy water parks and nightclubs, then I'd get the Premium that includes those options. If there are no immediate plans for a return, I'd compare the 5 day hopper to the cost of the Length-of-stay pass. If they use enough of the options on the LOS pass, then it might be worth it. Also, check with the DOD Recreation Office -- they have discount ticket packages that are not available to civilians -- can save a few more $$ there for some better dining options!"

  • Wade: Park Admission: 4 Day Park Hopper Includes 4 days of unlimited admission to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Studios and Animal Kingdom. Can go from one park to another on same day. Unlimited use of Disney World Transportation System $192 per pass. Total $384.

  • Robin writes, "I would go with a 5 day park hopper plus- they can go to a water park or pleasure island on one of their off days."

  • Marc writes, "Since they probably couldn't use full day park admission on the arrival and departure day (plus the day away at Universal), a length-of-stay pass would be too expensive, a five day park-hopper would be all they need. (I think there is a discount for admission media at Shades of Green for Military personnel.)"

  • Maus writes, "5- or 6-day Park Hopper Plus, because they will want to take a midweek break from the parks to just reconnect and relax. This is a honeymoon after all! On that day I would suggest a splurge of dinner at Victoria and Albert's—arguably the most romantic dining experience at WDW. This would also give them the option of the water parks, which may work out in March, and Pleasure Island for evening fun when the parks close early."

  • James writes, "If they do not buy an annual pass avoid wasting a precious day of admission given the fact that they won't be arriving until afternoon time. Spend this time by the pool or explore the resorts. As in our case we made a PS for the California Grill at sunset time -Ultra romantic and no wasted park admission!"

  • Jenny writes, "If you are staying 6 days or less, I would get Length of Stay, or whatever they are called now. If the trip will be a full week or more, buy an annual pass."

Meals:

My own ideas on which of Walt Disney World's restaurants are the most romantic can be read on the Romantic Trip page here in the WDW Trip Planning Guide.

Here are the thoughts that MousePlanet readers shared:

  • Todd writes, "Our honeymoon couple will have to make reservations at Victoria and Albert’s. This is a once in a life time (for most of us) dining experience at the Grand Floridian Resort. This will add something very special to our couple's honeymoon."

  • Lynnette writes, "The big money they save [ by using the military discounts and Shades of Green to best advantage ] could go to having some really nice and expensive dinners, such as California Grill, Victoria and Albert's, Restaurant Marrakesh, and other wonderful places.

  • Danny writes, "Maybe they should have a romantic dinner at the Grand Floridian, preferably Victoria and Albert's."

  • Robin writes, " With the money they save [ by using the military discounts and Shades of Green to best advantage ], they can splurge on nice meals at Cal. Grill or Victoria and Albert's."

  • A MousePlanet reader writes, "Be sure to dine at Cinderella's Royal Table at the Castle, Breakfast at Tony's Town Square on Main Street, fast food at Columbia Harbour House across from Haunted Mansion, California Grill at the Contemporary Resort (Great view of park), Be sure to see Hoop-Dee-Doo-Revue."

  • Sarah writes: "Forget California Grill. If you want to have a romantic, delicious dinner at a spot where you can catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks, Go to Narcoosees. It's on a pier in the lagoon at the Grand Floridian, and almost exactly opposite Cinderella Castle. We stuffed ourselves on the best lobster we'd ever had, watched the fireworks, and waddled off to catch the bus to pleasure island in a great mood. We'd spread our priority seating arrangements around the park, but there were several dinners where we wished ourselves right back at Narcoosees."

  • Robby writes, "Kevin & Melissa have to make plans for dinner at the California Grill. They should be sure to request a priority seating during the fireworks display, and while making the arrangements, they should be sure to request a window table!"

The Universal Side-Trip:

My own personal opinion on the Universal Studios side trip is that the couple should skip it. Frankly, I think it adds so much expense (the transportation and admission costs) and hassle that it just isn't worth it for a one-week trip. Many readers agreed with me:

  • Maus writes, "On a 7-day trip I would not bother with it. There's too much to see and do at WDW!"

  • Stew writes, "...Well, this 'complicates' things a little bit -- but not much. Let's see what they have as time and itinerary already: Since Kevin has never been to WDW before, they should try to spend at least one day per major park (though I've found that both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom can take extra days). If there are plans for water parks and any other Disney-based recreation (boating, riding, golfing, etc.) then the time is more limited.

    "Now, she did say Universal Studios, not Islands of Adventure. The thing is that Universal Studios is very similar to the Disney / MGM Studios. Attractions at US are a bit "edgier" though with the Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Star Tours, Disney / MGM Studios is no slouch in the category of thrill rides in my opinion. Sure, you could fit it in, but I'd really look at the rest of the schedule to see how well it would fit in. Sorry -- I'm not a big fan of Universal Studios myself..."

  • Tifany writes, "From personal experience, I was not impressed with Universal and neither was my husband; IOA was the best of the two, but I don't know if they like roller coasters.

    "If they do decide on Universal, I believe there is a ticket that they can purchase at the local ITT that offers admission after 3 p.m. with free admission the next day. I would highly suggest that they rethink the Universal portion because of their Mardi Gras extra celebration that they usually have during that time. Also, since it is their honeymoon, Universal is not very romantic!"

  • Jenny writes, "Hubby had wanted to go for years, and his best friend raved about it. We were VERY disappointed in the park. The only good thing I can say is that someone else paid for it. The attractions were lackluster, employees indifferent, and theming was virtually nonexistent. The only exception was 'Men in Black.' With that said, if you are thrill ride junkies, you will enjoy Islands of Adventure. I barf on anything wilder than Big Thunder Mountain, so there was no real point to my even being in that park. IF money is a consideration, I would wait and just enjoy WDW on this trip. There is more than you can possibly see in one trip."

Other readers disagreed:

  • Danny writes, "[ Going to Universal Studios ] is where the rental car could come in handy. It lets them make this their honeymoon and they can decide where they want to go. This is a good idea if you really wanna explore the Orlando area and do everything in Orlando. But if you really want to experience the Disney Honeymoon atmosphere, stay on the Disney Property."

  • Robin writes, "I think Universal is a great idea for a young couple- they will be up to the thrill rides."

  • Art writes, "With Spiderman and Men in Black II hot movies this year and The Hulk an upcoming movie release how could you not "ride the movies?" See above paragraph about admission media. Also shuttle transportation can be arranged through Shades of Green's front desk services."

  • Todd writes, "Our couple will need to make a decision about which Universal they want to experience. The first Universal park that is movie based and full of different rides and experiences or the second, Islands of Adventure that is full of thrill rides. Both have their good points and target different groups."

Other Ideas:

I have provided quite the "speech" as well as a list of romantic things to do at WDW on the Romantic Trip page here in the WDW Trip Planning Guide.

Here's the input from our readers:

  • Lynnette, "Overall, for the best bang for their buck, they need to use your site, http://www.mousesavers.com, and http://www.armymwr.com/shades/index.html. The military discount should be used to best advantage."

  • Danny writes, "I think they should just do whatever they like to do. Remember, different people like different things. Some like to be adventurous, some are more romantic than others. It depends on the personality of the people that decides what to do and where to go."

  • Terri writes, "For Sunday check in (3:00) get settled in and about 6:00 walk over to Poly, catch monorail to the Contemporary Resort for a 7:00 dinner at CA Grill (Kevin has called ahead for priority seating.) A wonderful meal and a great view of the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle is THE way to start your stay. This was fun. I am getting excited for our own trip!"

  • Tifany writes, "As far as not to miss activities; Fantasmic!, Illuminations, Fantasy in the Sky; also, Kevin should go ahead and contact Guest services & let them know that they will be there for their honeymoon & see about being Grand Marshall's for the parade! Just remind them that WDW can be as romantic as they make it; a nice picnic in the gardens of the UK is very romantic!"

  • Art writes, "With the savings on hotel room and tickets here's where spending to make it memorable pays off. The suggestions:
    • "Wherever they are they are not to be bashful about letting cast members know they are on there honeymoon. There are opportunities Cast Members can come up with that aren't even predicable that will make it special.
    • "California Grill at the Contemporary for a formal dinning night/wine tasting and view of the fireworks. While the dinning room is not especially intimate once in the Wine Room the two glass doors cut the noise and adds to private surrounding considerably.
    • "As an alternative, Emeril's at Universal City Walk when they are at Universal. But make reservations well in advance as even the locals frequent this eatery.
    • "You would have to spring extra for the transportation unless you go the rental car route, but Medieval Times has a romantic tale of it's own. Before the show see if you can get an audience with the king to acknowledge your recent wedding. It's a simple short affair but puts you at the center of attention of the waiting crowd. Also, spring for the "royal" seating at the show. Royal = front row.
    • "Having their fortunes told at the Mystics of the Seven Veils within the Islands of Adventure theme park.
    • "A picnic lunch prepared by a Disney restaurant, followed by an afternoon on the lazy river at Typhoon Lagoon.
    • "An IllumiNations cruise for two on the Breathless, the Yacht Club's 1934 speedboat.
    • "A moonlight stroll along the sandy shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
    • "A private photo session with a Walt Disney World photographer who'll capture a couple's journey through the theme parks."

  • Maus writes, "My not-to-be missed suggestions: Tower of Terror, Rock 'n’ Roller Coaster at MGM; Lion King and the safari at Animal Kingdom; World Showcase and IllumiNations at Epcot; Splash and Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom; Ohana, Biergarten, Teppanyaki and Garden Grill for meals; hotel hopping on the monorail... In addition to Victoria and Albert's, I would suggest letting EVERYONE know it is a honeymoon trip. WDW folks will go out of their way to make special moments. Make sure they ask others to take pictures of them everywhere! That way they won't have to purchase all the official photos. $3500 is really quite a large budget (especially if they stay at Shades of Green), so they won't have to scrimp on much. The most important thing is to plan ahead—and write a trip report of course!"

  • Another MousePlanet reader provided a whole list of ideas:
    • "As for attractions, personal choice, plenty to see and do and besides they are NOT going to see it all in a week anyway. So just have a Magical Time.
    • "Take a stroll from the Polynesian Resort, by the Wedding Pavilion to the Grand Floridian.
    • "Take LOTS of pictures and movies. Try not to rush to much and enjoy the parks, not just the rides and shows.
    • "Have a Magical Life together."

  • Sarah writes, "Buy the Bride and groom mouse ears. You can get them at the gift shop on the ground level of the Grand Floridian near their wedding pavilion. That was our first WDW souvenir purchase, and we wore them the whole time. They more than paid for themselves in complimentary deserts and glasses of champagne at dinner. They also served as great conversation-starters with cast members, "queue-mates", and, most memorably, a certain taking trash can in Tomorrowland. They only cost about $25 dollars for the set, but they made for some of our favorite honeymoon memories."

Various wedding themed items can be purchased in the parks.
Various wedding themed items can be purchased in the parks.

  • Todd agrees, "The pair must also get bride and groom Mickey ears to wear during their stay. It will let everyone know they are on their honeymoon."

  • Pat writes, " Further suggestions about attractions/restaurants/etc.: At age 23, enjoy the nightlife and live it up a little. I'd definitely have cocktails at Jimmy Buffet's Margarittaville, and stay until the volcano blows. Then spend a minute in the early evening standing by the Universal globe. I'd consider a surrey ride around the Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club Resort area. I'd have a late dinner at San Angels in Mexico (Epcot). Later on in the evening, especially after 8:30, traffic here dies down. It's quite romantic.

  • As for ways to make this honeymoon special, they've already done it by going to WDW! But I'd start by making sure everyone everywhere knew it was my honeymoon. The folks at Disney have a way of taking care of people!

Full Itineraries:

Some readers provided more than just answers to the questions I posed in the scenario. Here's a more complete "brain dump" from those folks that got a little more carried away!

Wade shared this:

"Tip: Upon check in find out if there will be an E-Ticket night during your stay. If there will be, then trade any other evening park itinerary so that you are in the Magic Kingdom that night well before the commencement of the E-Ticket event. Read MousePlanet for more on this event.

"Sunday 3/2 Arrive at MCO Tiffany Town car to Disney's All Stars Resort. Check in, eat. Do Downtown Disney. Option: Do Pleasure Island. $$ Option: Cirque de Solei. $$$

"Monday 3/3 AM: Option: Do a water park.$$ Rest , pool, and do what honeymooners do! PM: Mini golf, $ Romantic dinner in Downtown Disney. $$ Retire early and do more of what honeymooners do!

"Tuesday 3/4 AM: Animal Kingdom: Take first available bus in the morning - until 1:00p.m. Tour tip: At opening go straight to Africa and do the Safari ride, then the trail. Do the Raft ride in Asia last as you will get wet and may get soaked! Lunch. Tip: Flame Tree Barbecue has awesome Key Lime Pie! $$ Take an hour at the hotel to rest. PM: Disney Studios until closing. Dinner *Tip: Save time by eating at the Sunset Market 90 minutes before Fantasmic. $ Its right across from the theater. Enter the theater and relax. Eat some ice cream while waiting for Fantasmic. Sit off center in a back row. This is a great decompression time from the thongs of people and will help you enjoy the show. Do what Walt would do and people watch. Return to hotel.

"Wednesday 3/5 AM: Take first available bus in the morning to Epcot. Future world. Lunch: Fish and chips in front of the Crown Pub. $ PM: Epcot. World showcase Dinner: Tip: Take the Epcot monorail to the TTC. Eat at the Polynesian hotel. $$ Take the monorail back to Epcot and stake out a place to watch Illuminations. This helps to relax you into the evening. Return to hotel.

"Thursday 3/6 AM: Sleep in. Check out. Option: Do a Water Park. $$ PM: Arrive and check into Disney's Wilderness Lodge Tip: Ask about the Flagpole Family at time of check in. Take the afternoon tour. Do laundry after the tour. Get refillable mugs and lunch Roaring Forks Cafe while waiting for laundry. Eat Dinner at Whispering Canyon or Artist Point. (I recommend the Ribs or Salmon.) $$ Take a walk, watch the Geyser and then rest on the beach, watch the Water Pageant. Option: Do the Hoop De Doo Review dinner. Just a short bus trip into Fort Wilderness. $$$

"Friday 3/7 AM: Take first Boone/Crocket bus to TTC. IF they won't let you board the Monorail then...... Walk to Polynesian Hotel (10 min) Take Monorail to Magic Kingdom. Arrive at gate about 1/2 hour before opening. MAGIC KINGDOM. Lunch: Return to Wilderness Lodge by water taxi at 1:00p.m. and eat at Roaring Forks. Rest. Return to park of your choice. Dinner: In park. Return to Lodge. Pool/hot tub/ fireplace.

"Saturday 3/8 AM: Take first water taxi to Magic Kingdom. Lunch: Return to Wilderness Lodge at 1:00p.m. and eat at Roaring Forks. Rest & pack. Return to Magic Kingdom. Dinner: In park. Fantasy in the Sky fire works. Tip: Watch them from the gardens in front of and to the right of the castle. Return to Lodge. Pool/hot tub/ fireplace.

"Sunday 3/9 AM Early breakfast at Roaring Forks. Sit in front of fireplace. Raise the flags! Check out, Tiffany Town Car to MCO.

"The Rest Of Your Lives Enjoy a long and wonderful marriage with fond memories of your honeymoon at Walt Disney World."

Stew provided this list:

"I would suggest the following:

  • "Magic Kingdom: Train; Jungle Cruise; Riverboat; Pirates; Haunted Mansion; Space/Splash/Thunder Mountain; Hall of Presidents; Small World; Pooh; Alien Encounters; Tomorrowland Transportation Authority; Buzz; Carousel of Progress(if Open). Lunch or Dinner at Castle (**ultra Romantic when not a Character Meal).
  • "Epcot: Everything in Future World; plus Maelstrom; American Adventure; El Rio Del Tiempo; and if there is time, the various movies, and other nation pavilions. Have an early lunch and a later dinner at one of the nicer restaurants (this depends on your taste). The Mexican restaurant is VERY ROMANTIC.
  • "Disney/MGM Studios: Try to see and do everything (exception -- some of the stage shows are geared for the younger set, these can be skipped -- also, avoid the "playground" areas -- these are kiddie lands). Brown Derby -- best dining in the park. Fun dining can be had at the Sci-Fi Dine-In and the Prime Time Diner (if you don't mind a little kitsch -- but hey, it's Disney -- it's supposed to be Kitschy!)
  • "Animal Kingdom: NO DATA AVAILABLE -- HAVE NOT BEEN

"OTHER: California Grill; 'Ohana; VICTORIA AND ALBERT'S!!!!!; (in other words, check out the fine dining options at the various resorts too!

"Well --- that's my $0.02. Hope it's a great trip."

Julie provides this trip plan with cost estimates:

"Airfare:

"Check the web sites such as Travelocity and Expedia to find a good airfare. After that, check the airline's own web site - sometimes the airline can beat the travel web sites I don't know where you're traveling from so I'll estimate airfare at $200 each.

"Subtotal: $400.

"Rental Car vs. No Rental:

"Since you want to visit both Disney and Universal, I would highly recommend that you rent a car. Renting a car will also allow you to visit the outlet malls - Character Warehouse has steep discounts on Disney stuff.

"Dollar Car Rental is at the airport. I've gotten the best deals with them. Go to their web site, Enter promo code KISS or FVG (those consistently work the best for me) and you should get a weekly compact rate of $159.99 or intermediate rate of $179.99 before taxes, etc. (You can get other promo codes at www.mousesavers.com)

"The alternative to renting a car is Tiffany Towncar (1-888-838-2161). Round trip from the airport will run you $80 to $85 before tip. There's a $5 Internet coupon at However, you're then going to be at the mercy of a cab (very expensive) to get to Universal.

"Subtotal: $200 for an intermediate sized car.

"Hotel:

"You're enlisted military? Lucky You!!! Shades of Green is an onsite resort only for military and DOD personnel. Shades of Green is a nice hotel in the deluxe category.

"Now for the bad news and good news.

"Bad news: Shades of Green is being renovated through September, 2003.

"Good news: You can book the Contemporary (an onsite resort) for the same rates as Shades of Green.

"How much will it cost? That depends.

"E-1 through E-5 is $66/night

"E-6 through E-9 is $89/night

"This is an amazing deal. The Contemporary is a deluxe resort on the monorail line. The time you're going to be at Disneyworld has been designated peak season so rack rates for rooms at the Contemporary start at $309.

"Telephone Shades of Green at 1-888-593-2242.

"If Shades of Green/Contemporary is sold out, they should offer you an overflow rate at the other Disney properties. The rates won't be as good as this, but they are some of the best discounts you'll find. Lastly, you can always watch like the rest of us for discount codes.

"Assuming the amount listed above is before taxes and that you're an E-6 through E-9:

"7 nights times $100 = $70

"Subtotal: $700

"Park Tickets:

"You want to spend one or two days visiting Universal Studios Orlando. That leaves you with either four or five days at Disneyworld. What do you want to do at Disneyworld? Do you want to just visit the four major theme parks? Or do you also want to visit a water park? Since time is short, I would suggest skipping the water parks and only visiting Universal one day (that means you may have to choose between Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure).

"Disneyworld: A Five Day Park Hopper Pass costs $230.02 before discounts. This allows you to enter any of the four theme parks and hop between the parks on the same day. Unused days never expire.

"If you want to visit a water park or Pleasure Island (PI has a bunch of nightclubs), get a Five Day Park Hopper Plus Pass which costs $261.84 before discounts. You get the same as above and two plus features (pluses get you into water parks or PI). Again, unused days never expire.

"Military/DOD get the best discounts on park tickets. I believe you save at least ten percent. Purchase your tickets on base at your exchange shop.

"Two Five Day Park Hopper Plus Passes ($523.68) minus ten percent ($52.37) = $471.31.

"Universal Studios Orlando: A one day/one park ticket costs $52.95 before discounts. A two day ticket which allows you to park hop costs $100.65 before discounts (no expiration date). AAA gives a $4 discount on the two day ticket. Universal has a counterpart to the Disney Club called Fan Club - it's free - you can pick up a membership card at the federal credit union. Fan Club has similar discounts to AAA. Another good source for cheap tickets is the official universal web site, www.universalstudios.com But beware!: Some Universal Studios tickets expire (for example, 5 days after first use). Universal has been experimenting with various ticket options and it is very hard to keep up. Read the fine print before you purchase your ticket.

"Two two day tickets $100.65 minus $8.00 = $192.65

"Subtotal: $663.96

"Other memorable moments that cost money:

  • "Watch IllumiNations (laser/fireworks show at Epcot) from a pontoon boat: Cost $120 + tax. It's just you and your driver. Bring your own bottle of wine and some fruit/cheese. How romantic is that? Make reservations 90 days ahead by calling 1-407-WDW-PLAY.
  • "Victoria and Albert's at the Grand Floridian for dinner: My husband and I enjoy fine dining and have been to some of the best restaurants around the world. We both agree that Victoria & Albert's is in the top five. The menu changes daily but you can see sample menus at www.wdwig.com. (Cost is $85 + tax and tip per person. You can get a wine pairing (a different wine with every course) for $35 + tax and tip per person. Make reservations 120 days ahead by calling 1-407-939-3463.)
  • "Hoop Dee Doo - a dinner show -- the show is a western musical review with songs, dancing, and corny jokes. Dinner is fried chicken and ribs. Cost is $47.80 per person. Make your reservations now by calling 1-407-939-3463.

"Subtotal (if you do all three): $400

"Meals, Etc.:

"Minus two dinners if you do Victoria & Albert's and the Hoop Dee Doo, five sit down dinners ($60 for two = $300), six counter service lunches ($20 for two = $120), seven counter service breakfasts ($10 for two = $70) = $490

"Add in $200 for a couple of T-shirts and some small gifts.

"Subtotal: $690

"Grand Total: $3053.96"

Rick writes:

"A couple's honeymoon is the true beginning of their life together. After the stress leading up to the wedding ceremony itself, the honeymoon is more than just a vacation. It is a chance to get away together but away from family and friends, to unwind and to get to know each other better. As such, it's my opinion that couple's shouldn't skimp on their honeymoon. More than most indulgences, it's worth going into a bit of debt to have a honeymoon whose memories will truly last a lifetime. Going to Walt Disney World is a good start, both on the memories and for going into debt!

"I have presented here my recommended trip plan, with an estimated budget of right around the $3,500 that Kevin originally planned. After that, I will describe a couple of magical but unessential upgrades that would bump that figure to about $5,000. Finally, I will describe a perfectly acceptable but somewhat more frugal plan that runs less than $2,500.

"The trip starts with a nonstop Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit to Orlando that arrives at 2:23 PM on Sunday. Maybe they can convince a frequent flying relative to use their miles for a first class upgrade as a wedding present! They will be met at the baggage claim area by their driver, who will whisk them in privacy to their bay view room at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Since their whole trip will be on Disney property (Universal can wait for another, less special trip), there is no need for a rental car. After checking in, unpacking, and getting settled into the room, they will probably be both excited and a bit tired. They will proceed to the Shades of Green ticket center on the lobby level to pick up their 7-Day Stars and Stripes Tickets. Dinner at the Fiesta Food and Fun Center downstairs followed by some video games and friendly air hockey matches will quench their hunger and burn their remaining energy. They can also watch the Electrical Water Pageant from the Contemporary's beach before calling it a night. What a wonderful prelude to the magic they will be experiencing over the next week!

"After sleeping in a little bit, there's no better way to start your first full Disney day that with room service breakfast. Then, it's a short trip around Seven Seas Lagoon on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Since Kevin has never been to Disney World, he really should start there. The beginning of March is typically a fairly slow time of year, so they should be able to see all the attractions they want, taking their time to enjoy the ambiance, each other's company, and the little touches that make Disney so special. One way they will keep meal costs down is by eating lunch at counter service restaurants or even just snacking during the day. Besides, they need to save room for the fabulous dinners, like tonight's at Cinderella's Royal Table. Since they mentioned their honeymoon when making their priority seating reservation, they have a table right by the window where they can see the sun go down and the lights of the park turning it into a different kind of beautiful sight. Rather than riding the monorail back to the hotel, they can "Walk Around the World" on the commemorative bricks, holding hands and reliving the magic of the day.

"Tuesday will be dedicated to the Disney-MGM Studios, home of two of the best and most recent thrill rides on property. After a light breakfast at the Starring Rolls Bakery, they will have all day to explore and enjoy the park. Of course the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster are absolute musts, but they probably have time to see and do everything here, including the shows. Dinner tonight is at the 50's Prime Time Café, not the most romantic spot but definitely a lot of fun.

"Now that their feet are tired from two days of theme parks, it's probably time to change the routine. After eating breakfast at Chef Mickey's, Kevin and Melissa will board the bus to Typhoon Lagoon for a day of water park fun. After splishing and splashing all day, they will be ready for a nice dinner, so the California Grill on the Contemporary's 15th floor is in order. There's no way to skimp here, so they should just enjoy the phenomenal food, outstanding service, and a great bottle of wine.

"Thursday will be a busy day, so starting off with another room service breakfast will save a little time. Then it's back to the bus stop to head over to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Even after seeing all the attractions and shows (don't miss the Legend of the Lion King!), they should be done by late afternoon. They can head back to the room to dress up for another special meal, this time at Wolfgang Puck's Grand Café Dining Room at Downtown Disney. Having called ahead and requested the special Chef du Cuisine meal package, they will be pampered with a gourmet seven course meal tailored to their special food requests, served by their own chef, and paired with wines selected by the general manager. This is one of the least-known spots for romantic fine dining on property. The best thing is that they can walk over to Pleasure Island after dinner! Thursday is cast member night, so the Island is crowded but has a great party atmosphere. 8 Trax becomes "80s Trax" and Mannequins has "DV8 Night" where they play more progressive dance music. They will of course take in a show at the Comedy Warehouse and catch the New Year's Eve countdown that happens every night at midnight. After closing the Island down at 2 A.M., they can ride the bus back to their hotel (no need for a designated driver) for some well-deserved sleep!

"On Friday after sleeping in, they will ride the monorail over to the Polynesian Resort for Tonga Toast at the Kona Café. This classic Disney dish will put them in the right frame of mind to enjoy Epcot, the only theme park they have not seen. They can walk from the Polynesian over to the Transportation and Ticket Center where they will ride the monorail to Epcot (hopefully getting seats in the driver's cab for the best view). Although it takes much more than a day to see all Epcot has to offer, they will have planned their must-see attractions in advance in order to make the most of their time. Dinner is at L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante, the best Italian restaurant this side of the Atlantic. The strolling musicians, attentive waiters, and unbelievable food will make this a meal to remember. If they're feeling up to it, they can spend another night at Pleasure Island, otherwise it's two monorail trips back to the hotel.

"Saturday is the "cats and dogs" day to see whatever they want to see again or regret missing over the rest of the vacation. This could include theme park attractions or shows, visiting Blizzard Beach, spending time at DisneyQuest, playing some miniature (or regular) golf, or just lounging around the pool. No matter what, they have to save appetite for the most special meal of the trip: their dinner at Victoria & Albert's. It's only three monorail stops over to the Grand Floridian Beach Resort and Spa, and they will look spiffy with Kevin in coat and tie and Melissa in a formal dress. After that amazing meal they may just want to head to bed, but Pleasure Island will be beckoning once again for a final night of dancing and enjoyment!

"There will be a couple of hours Sunday morning to hit one last park or do some last-minute shopping before the town car will take them back to the airport for their 3:20 P.M. nonstop flight back to Detroit. Just writing about this trip has made me jealous enough to want to plan MY next one!

"If Kevin and Melissa want to splurge and go over their budget a bit, one way to do so would be to book a Shades of Green discounted room at the Grand Floridian This is the finest hotel on Disney property, and even a garden view room would add to the romance and pampering of their experience. There is also lots of room for spending more money on meals by having larger breakfasts and lunches, getting expensive wine with dinner, etc.

"If, on the other hand, money is really tight and they need to cut some corners, there are ways to do that too. Spirit Airlines also offers nonstop flights from Detroit to Orlando, although the flight times are not as convenient. They could ride a Mears shuttle van rather than a private towncar, and they could opt for the standard view room at the Contemporary rather than springing for the bay view.

"Here is a table comparing costs of each of these plans:

 
Normal
Nicer
Frugal
Airfare
656.00
656.00
444.00
Hotel
504.00
1248.00
438.00
Ground Transport
122.00
122.00
56.00
Park Tickets
560.00
560.00
560.00
Breakfast
175.00
240.00
105.00
Lunch
240.00
300.00
120.00
Dinner
600.00
900.00
300.00
Souvenirs, misc.
500.00
1000.00
250.00
TOTAL
$3,357.00
$5,026.00
$2,273.00

"Any of the three options will provide a fabulous honeymoon. As the costs go up, so does the level of service. Also, the nicer plans will allow Kevin and Melissa to really let go and enjoy themselves. After all, don't they deserve to start their new life together as wonderfully as they can?"

So there you have it. All kinds of suggestions and ideas for planning the ultimate honeymoon, U.S. Ranger style.

I'm just bursting, though. I just have to let the cat out of the Bag. Kevin and Melissa are not a fictitious couple. They are both "kids" that grew up in our church youth group while Barb and I were working with the youth group a few years back. Melissa is the girl who's family joined ours in a trip to WDW back in 1997. Ironically, as I write this I'm sitting in the living room of the house that Barb and I bought from Melissa's folks last year.

My personal message to you is simply this...

"Congratulations, Kevin. You've chosen a very special young lady to be your wife. Treat her well, young man.

"Congratulations, to you, too, Mel. You've accepted the proposal of a fine young man. Never take him for granted!

"I know you both will do well together IF you keep the right focus and strive always to remain selfless. Remember that the preciousness of others is more important than your own self-importance, and that is nowhere more critical than in a life-long commitment.

"I would urge you to read through my "speech" on romance on the Romantic Trip page here in the WDW Trip Planning Guide. Try to apply those principles in your marriage... even long after you've returned home from your honeymoon.

"I'll be praying for both of you -- not just that you have a great wedding, honeymoon, marriage, and life together... but that you'll be safe and protected, especially during the conflict that our nation is facing and in which you are both fighting in the front lines for all of the rest of us."

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