Disney · Disney Cruise Line · Travel · Vacation

Free gift with your Disney Vacation booking!

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Gift with Purchase!

I love a good gift with purchase! While supplies last (and I have a good amount) you will receive this Mickey Bottle Opener Key Chain with your purchase of a Disney vacation. This includes: Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, Adventures by Disney and Disney Cruise Line.

I am a fee free travel agent meaning the companies pay me to book your trip. It’s the same price to book with me as booking on your own. You can still ‘control’ the booking, I just make the payments. I have extensive knowledge with Disney vacations; I travel there often and I am a “College of Disney Knowledge graduate,” (Disney’s training program.)

You can book with a travel agent and still use your Disney rewards or Disney Visa to receive benefits offered by each of those programs.

I am a full service travel agent/planner. Which means I can (and do) book any type of vacation. This promotion is solely for Disney vacations at this time. Get your free gift while supplies last. Your item would be ‘earmarked’ for you and would be sent with your vacation documents.

ps- I have other gifts that are a surprise for more substantial bookings that you would receive in addition to the key chain. (While supplies last.) Contact me for your quote!

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Gluten Free Travel · Travel · Travel with kids · Vacation

2016 Travel Year in Review 

A recap of where I went and what we thought of it in 2016.

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January

Paris, France. My husband had to be in Europe for work and it saved his employer significant money for us to be in Paris for a few days before his work meeting. It was a remarkable adults only trip. While it was only 3 days, we hit all the major landmarks and really had a terrific time.

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Disney Cruise aboard the Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean. We had a great week. Traveling was my husband, son, and mom. We all really enjoyed ourselves. We upgraded our cabin to a concierge 1 -bedroom suite at the pier and really enjoyed the concierge benefits and service. If you’re interested in upgrading at pier, here’s the information on how to do that. This cruise was originally booked as a Royal Caribbean Cruise with some extended family. But the family members had to cancel and we moved our cruise to Disney. I just picked the week with the least expensive 7 night cruise on the Fantasy. We had a terrific time and were glad we made the switch. Disney offers so many activities for kids under 3.

February/March

Cozumel, Mexico. Secrets Aura.  I have friends that married on Leap Year. Each Leap Year they celebrate their anniversary with a bunch of their friends at a new destination. Most of the group stayed a week, while we were there 3 nights. It was a terrific short getaway for my husband and I that included a lot of book reading at the pool.

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May

He’s free before he’s 3 Walt Disney World Vacation. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The premise of this trip was that it was the last time my son could enter the parks for no charge (free) and could eat buffet meals for no charge. It was an amazing trip. However, it was our most challenging at Disney World with our son. He was one month shy of 3 and was very opinionated, plus a bit all over the place. I.e. one day he wanted to ride the train over everything else, until the train arrived, then he wanted nothing to do with it… But the trip overall was great. At some point you have to make a deluxe king room at the Grand Floridian work, even if it’s just a couple days. If you get one of the corner rooms you can hear the band and piano player play while you are in bed. It’s one of my favorite vacation memories of the year.

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Disney Cruise aboard the Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean. (Yes, we did this itinerary twice in 1 year.) This cruise was immediately following the DW vacation. That was the first time we combined both a land and cruise trip together and we really liked it. My mom joined us for the cruise and we all had a great time. We booked this cruise as a 5 year anniversary vacation for us and we were booked in a 1 bedroom concierge cabin. The concierge hosts really make it a remarkable cruise.

June

Fort Lauderdale. The Westin Beach Resort. I attended the Signature Travel Network regional meeting and spent 2 nights here. I had a whole 3 hours to myself before the start of programming and I did my best to enjoy my time. I was not overly impressed by the size of the pool for this “resort”, but I was very impressed with their gluten free offerings. I ate a convention meal, as well as 2 meals at the pool and a breakfast from room service. They even offer gluten free bread here. Anyone who eats gluten free knows this is a fun find.

July

Jupiter Beach, Florida. Jupiter Beach Resort. We were invited to a wedding for one of my husband’s friends. We honestly had such a good 24 hours at this hotel.  The food was great- very gluten free friendly. The beach was awesome, as was the pool and bar service. We really packed in a lot during this quick night away. I would definitely return here for a family vacation in the future.

August

Disney World. The Swan & Dolphin, and Disney’s Grand Floridian. I was thrilled to be selected to attend Disney’s Agent Education Program which is a 3 day training program held at their resorts. My husband and I added on an adult only quickie trip the 24 hours before my programming began. We really crammed in the fun. Our day included fun at Epcot where I was able to ride the new Soarin’ Around the World, as well as Frozen Ever After, plus we enjoyed the Dessert Party for the Star Wars Fireworks at Hollywood Studios. We never spent so little time in a hotel (the Swan.)  The next day we hit Downtown Disney – Disney Springs, which was all revamped before I began my training that afternoon. It was such a great trip. Part of our programming included dinner at Tiffins, in Animal Kingdom. It was a remarkable and memorable meal- I want to return here for sure.

October

Disney World. Four Seasons Orlando. I thought that I needed one more flight in order to secure gold medallion status with Delta Airlines for the year, so we booked this trip about 3 weeks prior to departure. Hurricane Matthew ended up pushing us back a day, but it still turned out to be an incredible 2.5 days away. We managed to enjoy some pool time at the adults only pool at the resort, spend the day at Epcot, have an amazing birthday dinner for my husband at Yachtsman Steakhouse, and catch Wishes (the Magic Kingdom fireworks) from the rooftop balcony at the Four Seasons. This truly is a luxury property. Their attention to detail puts them at the top of the list of Orlando hotels. No one compares.

November

Beaches Turks and Caicos. Sometime during the summer I decided that I needed one more family vacation for us. I booked us at this family resort and didn’t regret it. It is a large property, and they move a bit like they are on an island with no where to be, but we really enjoyed our 5 nights here. The resort offered many activities but we didn’t participate in many really. It was my goal to scuba dive here as it is included, but I had a nasty chest cold that wouldn’t go away. I did register though in case I was better, but it didn’t work out. We swam. For 5 days and nights, we swam. We loved the many pools and swam in 4 of them.  When we weren’t swimming, we were eating or napping. We really enjoyed this trip with just the 3 of us.

Wow, what a year. It looks like the only months we didn’t have a trip was April, September, and December. (And I’m guessing my husband may have traveled some of those months for work- I don’t track his trips, just my own.) This was a record year of travel for us. Check out more of our vacation photos on Instagram and on Facebook.  How did your year pan out??  What was your most memorable vacation memory or trip?

Disney · Travel · Travel with kids · Vacation

Disney Pre-Trip Report – A Last Minute Trip

 

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The Happiest Place on Earth!!

On a cold cold miserable day in Michigan in mid-December I decided that I needed to get out of town. (And prior to my next family vacation at the end of January.) It so happened that my husband had to travel out of the country for work in early January. That’s when the idea was formed to escape to Disney World for a few nights. I decided that if I had to solo parent what better place to do it than the happiest place on earth! I am cheating a little on ‘solo parenting’ though because my mom decided to join me.

Disney was so kind as to help me with my plan by having a 13 months for the price of 12 months annual pass offer for all passes purchased through January 3rd, 2017. This really helps because my family has a plan to travel to the World for short trips around cruises in May & June, plus a week long trip in November. The plan is to then return at the end of January 2018 to get another week of use out of our AP. Since I could get 13 months for the price of 12, all of these trips, including my late January/early February 2018 trip, would be covered under the same pass. Disney math makes things feel like a deal!

Since we were planning to purchase AP’s we then searched for Annual Pass Room discounts offered in January 2017. Fortunately there were plenty of options to choose from.

Money saving tip: Do some math to see if it makes sense for at least one person in your party to be a Disney Annual Pass Holder before a trip. We were able to save $100 on the price of the hotel for the 3 nights we have planned to be at Disney World. We also will save 10% on several dining locations where we plan to dine during our trip, and finally they are currently offering 20% off merchandise purchased at Disney World with your annual pass. Those savings can really add up, especially over a course of a week and with a larger family.

So we had the park ticket secured, I had purchased plane tickets, and now it was on to planning the rest of the trip. I needed to decide where to stay, followed by which parks to visit on which days, followed by where to eat, and what fast passes to select.

Deciding where to stay. I was looking to do this trip a little more affordable, and I also wanted to check out the Cars section of the Art of Animation Resort. My son is truly addicted to the movie Cars right now. I also liked that it had a dedicated bus for the property, a coffee maker, and kitchenette in room, plus 2 separate sleeping areas. I’m curious to see our thoughts.

Our plan. The next step in our planning is to decide what to do each day and where to eat. We figured we’d go to 2 parks during our stay. All 3 of us love the Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I also love the safari. So we decided we’d do the Animal Kingdom one day and Magic Kingdom the other. I used the Touring Plans crowd calendar to decide which park to go to on which of our available days. The calendar advised us to hit the Magic Kingdom first and then Animal Kingdom.

After deciding which park to spend what day, it was time to pick our dining and fast pass + selections. Fast Pass + would be selected within 60 days of your trip, and since mine was in 3 weeks- it was time to select. Fortunately the only option that we weren’t able to choose is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the MK, but my son wouldn’t ride that right now anyway. (He was a little scared on Barnstormers on our last trip.)

For dining we went with our favorites. Since I’m celiac (medically need to eat gluten free) there are certain places that I love and that aren’t my favorite. I’m really into anything with gluten free gravy at the moment. So I have a reservation at Liberty Tree Tavern for our Magic Kingdom day. Their gravy is amazing!  We have also reserved lunch at Tusker House on our Animal Kingdom day. I made a late breakfast reservation here with the plan that we will start with breakfast, and then if someone wants lunch, that will be out eventually too! Plus it is a little less expensive to dine here for breakfast. We are usually back at our hotel at dinner time so we will likely eat a couple of meals at Landscape of Flavors at the Art of Animation. We will also probably head over to Disney Springs for dinner one night as well.

Overall I’m pretty happy and excited about the trip that I threw together in late December over the course of 2 hours on an, “I’m cold,” whim.

Disney Cruise Line · Travel Tips · Vacation

Using Uber at Disney World (or anywhere)

How oh how was my last trip to Disney the first time that I had used Uber?! IT IS THE BEST!  I will for sure be using Uber for future trips! It was just so easy to use.

My husband and I had a date night at Disney World during our last trip. Uber made us very efficient without much out of pocket expense. We started our date night taking a private car from our close but offsite hotel to the Grand Floridian for some drinks and appetizers to start out the night. That fee was either $20 or $25 plus tip. Then we used Uber to travel from the Grand Floridian to the Beach Club Resort (with our ultimate location being Epcot for some Food & Wine snacking.) That trip would have cost about $12. It was free for us because he used my referral code, and he received a free ride. (The travel tip section goes into how that works.) We then used Uber to go to from the Beach Club back to our local offsite hotel which was another $12 no cost to us trip.

Travel tip- This works for everyone- your first Uber ride will be free with a referral code. And you and your spouse/partner/friend can each have your own accounts. So the first person uses a referral code for a free ride, like this one. [https://www.uber.com/invite/christyp325ue] Then once you have an account, you refer the other of you to get an account as well. You will get another free ride each. (The free ride is up to $20, so you may not get a free ride, you may just get $20 off depending on the trip charge.) It is a beautiful thing!

What is Uber? Uber is like a taxi but with drivers driving their private cars. We found that our drivers were actually Disney World employees using Uber to earn a little extra money when they weren’t working. You know when you book the car what the cost will be and it is charged right to your credit card that you have stored with the company. We used the app to indicate where we needed to be picked up from and where we wanted to go and Uber tells you which drivers are available, how far away they are, and how much the fare will be. You then pick a driver and head out to your designated pick up at that time.

What the request a ride screen looks like. It is showing you all the available cars and how far away they are.
Uber App

Uber is safe. No money exchanges hands. You pay with your free rides, or with the credit card that you have saved in your account. You aren’t even supposed to add money for a tip, it is all taken care of. Could people lie? Yes. But so could your taxi driver, or your magical express driver, etc. Anyone can lie and be a thief. But Uber does have banking information on the driver and does some background checks, which makes it safer. There are also ratings on each driver. So you can see if someone didn’t like a particular driver.

Travel tip – the easiest and most efficient way to get to Epcot from a Disney hotel is taking Uber. So, yes you can take a bus or the monorail, and it will take you somewhere between 20-40 minutes to get to the front of the park. And that does not take into account waiting time for the bus. Or you can take Uber to the Beach Club, and take the 7 minute walk to the back of Epcot and enter at the International Gateway entrance. There are less people here and if you are going out for just a few hours in the evening, it is the perfect place to start your night. The International Gateway entrance is located between the France and Great Britain pavilions.

Updated again July 3, 2017: You currently can now use all forms of Uber to pick you up at the Orlando airport. Uber from a Disney resort will run you about $25! That is a steal. And the best part is you don’t have to sit on the magical express bus for an hour and a half and then trek through the airport to get to your airline. For a quick link with details on where to pick up your Uber at MCO, click here. If you get the Uber X or XL (which are the standard everyday cars, or the standard everyday SUV), then you get picked up in arrivals on level 2.  I will be using this service for my upcoming adults only trip in September 2017.

And now you can request a car with a car seat in Orlando. You do this by selecting Uber family on the app. It will cost an additional $10 for this service.

Will I always use Uber instead of Disney transportation? No. But it is great when you don’t want to spend what time you have on getting from one place to another, or if you have dining planned at a different resort than you staying.

Do you have any questions about Uber? Have you tried Uber? Do you love it as well?? If not- sign up, it’s great. You can likely use Uber in whatever city you reside. It is all over now. Friends of mine use Uber when they have had a night out locally but have had too much to drink. Uber is WAY cheaper than a DUI.

Happy Travels!