You all know that I am a Disney fan! I live, eat, sleep and breathe Mickey Mouse. But I did find five things that I loved about Universal Orlando. I know, I know it's a shock it's okay we'll all be okay.
So see, I can love Universal and Disney! Universal is just different. They say Disney for for kids until they are pre-teens and then you can move over to Universal. Um, I don’t know if I agree with that, I mean I’m older than pre-teen age and love Disney World!! But Universal is different, in a good way. Give it a try, but book with your travel agent for additional benefits!
Sometimes this “job” gives me goosebumps. I’ve helped clients celebrate last vacations because cancer is ugly and takes mom or dad away soon after. I’ve helped clients get away after dad passed and mom, kids and grandchildren can’t handle being home during that time the following year. You see, travel is so much more than just going somewhere. It means many things to every person we help every year.
I love when clients share their story with me. We are all living a story. Yesterday I had the pleasure of booking a trip for a client with an amazing story. I know that travel is expensive. It’s not a true necessity like water or air, but it is very therapeutic and for some of us is a necessity. But not everyone is as blessed to travel every year or whenever they want.
This trip is one of THOSE trips. It’s one I do every single day. 6 nights at Walt Disney World. Resort, tickets, memory maker and dining plan. I can do this in my sleep. I’ve done it on my phone. I’ve booked this very type of trip waiting in line for rides while at Disney! I know how and what to do. But this story is the most beautiful story and my client graciously granted me permission to share it.
Greg and his beautiful wife Karen are high school sweethearts. They have been married over 30 years. A couple of years ago I got to send them to Disney for their milestone anniversary. I’ve known Greg since I was probably 10 years old! I know his voice immediately! Its a smooth radio voice! His sense of humor is sharp and on point always. I know this couple.
Greg shared his ‘WHY’ for this trip with me. I nearly cried when he did. Greg has had health issues over the years. He has to be mindful of his diet because of diabetes, he’s battled cancer. But his attitude is everything! He is a fighter physically and mentally! When they made their 30th anniversary trip, their only son and daughter in law had just had their very first granddaughter. Greg said Mia, it’s a love you never imagined. He said it’s complete and full. You can love without responsibility. You don’t have to worry about where her next meal is coming from, you don’t have to buy her clothes. Now, if he needed to, he most certainly would, but his son and daughter-in-law are awesome parents and take care of his granddaughter’s every need very well.
While, Greg and Karen were at Disney, missing their new granddaughter who was a newborn, they noticed more than ever little girls. Everywhere they turned were little Princesses running up to hug a character. Or holding an ice cream while it dripped down their chin. The sight was sometimes overwhelming for Karen who would say, I hope one day I can come with Isabella and see her excitement as she hugs Minnie Mouse for the first time! This didn’t go unnoticed by Greg, who told me he even took pictures of his wife with tears streaming down her cheeks at the thought of such an amazing sight.
He said, “Mia, I made a decision that no matter what I had to do, I would make the money to take my wife and my granddaughter to Disney together when she turns 5”. He continued that they aren’t wealthy. They don’t struggle but they make the money they need to make to live a comfortable, happy life. Another trip to Disney wouldn’t be easy but he was determined.
In the fall of 2019 I got a message from Greg asking me about costs for a trip in 2020. I explained we won’t know until June of 2019 but this is what it is right now. He said ok, I will be back in touch when we are ready to do it. They are ready! Greg knew he needed to create income to pay in full without debt for this trip. He could easily get a loan or credit card, but that isn’t how he lives a happy life. Greg found things he could sell on Ebay and set out to raise $5,000 (what he figured would pay for the trip and give him Minnie Mouse ear money). In two months with a lot of determination and apparently great products to sell, Greg had his Disney money raised!! He thought it would take longer, but he is a determined grandpa!! (I think he’s a poppy but not sure lol)
Disney (or any vacation) doesn’t have to be filled with debt. We don’t use credit cards for our trips. I start paying on ours as soon as I put the deposit down. I figure out how much I need to pay monthly and it becomes part of the budget. If I happen to have a better month than projected I pay earlier. But it’s not something we have to pay off when we get home. In fact, when we get home we are planning the next one!
Find your why and you’ll find the money. We don’t all have a 5 year old Isabella with big brown eyes looking at us saying Poppy when do we get to meet Mickey? We may have a big brown eyed senior getting ready to step out into the world for their first adult job. We may have a parent that has a not so stellar diagnosis and memories we want to make while we can.
One thing that is certain in this world is life is uncertain. I tell people every single day, every trip is different. You went 2 years ago when the kids were 6 and 8? A trip today when they are 8 and 10 is totally different! A 10 year old is completely different than an 8 year old. Attitude is different. Their understanding/knowledge of the world is different, expanded. Their likes, dislikes have changed.
I will celebrate my 30th High School Graduation on June 10, 2019. That is the hardest thing in the world to say. It’s even harder when you find out I have a niece that was born in July of 1989. She will be 30. I was with her the first time she went to Disney World. At the end of the month I’ll be at Disney with her and her 8 year old twins! The old timers were right, it goes fast!
Our world hasn’t been perfect. We’ve had our share of downs but boy we’ve had some pretty good ups too. We have a passion for something in Orlando, Florida. It has nothing to do with rides! It has everything to do with the transformation it creates in our entire family! We become our best us when we are on Main Street U.S.A. When we are standing on the edge of a tulip field in Amsterdam, we hug a little tighter. When we watch the the sun rise with your 17 year old and realize we have more blessings than we deserve.
Your WHY is important to me. It’s why I LOVE WHAT I DO! Tell me your why! Tell me who you love and why you want to do this for them. I can’t wait to help Greg celebrate Isabella and Karen in my favorite place on Earth. I can’t wait to see his pictures, hear the stories and just cry tears of joy upon their return home. We are more than someone that simply books hotels.
We just returned from an amazing trip to Los Cabos. We had an amazing time as a family and an amazing time individually!
I want to explain why Los Cabos is referred to by so many names. There is San Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos, Cabo. They are all a general area, like a city (although, more the sizes of Lagrange than an actual city), each of the other names are the burbs if you will. So Los Cabos is the general area and Cabos San Lucas is the marina area, and so on. So when you hear anything including Cabo, it’s the same general area.
The first question anyone ever asks me when I start talking about my travels is, do you feel safe? I want to start this blog by talking about how safe I do feel in Mexico. One of the questions someone asks was how did they treat you since we're talking about building a wall?
I will just say this, we were greeted by every single person that we came in contact with, whether at the airport or transfer drivers, at the resort, in the marina, on our taxi ride to another Resort, everywhere we went, we were treated with nothing but respect and love. We saw a t-shirt that I wish I had bought! It said “Congratulations you made it to the FUN side of Trump’s wall!” Haha, sense of humor is always needed in politics.
No matter what your politics are, no matter what you feel about people or a situation, try to broaden your horizons and live and visit as if you were going to live in that location. I promise if you will vacation to places you've only dreamed about, you will be a different person. My number one goals as a parent is help my children understand we are all fundamentally the same and travel helps me share that with them.
Enough about politics! We arrived in Cabo about noon and got through customs extremely quick. I don't know if our plane got there early, maybe they don't have as many coming in on a Monday, who knows I don't care, I was excited! When we got to our transfer, they greeted us with a nice wet hand towel to freshen up after our travels. It smelled like lemongrass it was amazing! We had a little Coke Lite and maybe a Corona and made our way to the resort. Cabo is in the desert it is extremely dry and extremely sandy and dusty. At first I was turned off and thought why did I come here? But as we pulled into a resort it became much more lush and much more green and definitely much more beautiful! Cabo has long been a golfer's Paradise but now it's also a sport Fisherman's dream! As we found out from our Taxi Driver, it's the second most visited destination based on sport fishing next to Australia.
We were not there to fish. We were there to soak in the sun, sit on the beach, lounge by the pool, go see the Arches, enjoy some great food and just be with each other as a family on vacation enjoying ourselves. We very much accomplished our goal!
I don't really have a lot to add or say about the actual destination, it is gorgeous the pictures speak for themselves. But I do want to mention a couple of things about traveling with your children. Sometimes it's hard to get into the groove of vacation, we're busy, we have very busy lives, sports, Scouts, drama, so many things that we have to deal with on a daily basis that sometimes it can be very difficult to unwind and be in the moment. I worked very hard on myself to make sure that I was in the moment as often as possible on this trip.
I spent a lot of time giggling and laughing on the beach at the resort. I have a video that I have embedded below because you have to see the water the water was gorgeous! I love the little fishies. I wanted to bring them home, I wanted to protect them and I wanted to play with them. Being in that moment with my daughter meant the world to me. She absolutely loved taking video of me acting silly, laughing and giggling with me, and acting like we've never seen fish before. Those are the moments that you can't predict. You can't create or Force. They just happen organically and magically. That is why we go on vacation! That is why we work hard so that we can play hard. We want to make sure that our children have fond memories of us, fond memories of their childhood, and learn a little bit about the world.
My kids would have adopted my attitude if I didn't love Mexico. They were little leary, they weren't exactly all excited about going other than getting the all included part of the package They were just going because it was somewhere fun to say have been. Oh and Mom and Dad paid for it! But they were just going with the flow. By the end of the first day, they realized that the Mexico they've been hearing about on TV is not the Mexico they visited. Yes there are bad parts, we drove through some pretty shady areas. We saw apartments that I wouldn't want to be in at night. But they saw the people who place their hand on their heart to say hola every single time they saw them. They greeted them with a warm smile they offered them towels when they needed it, they offered them food when they needed it. They showed the grace and the hospitality that I want my children to know and to show to other people.
I know they work at the resort and it's their job. I get that. I'm sure in some capacity my children know that, but probably not as black and white as you and I know. What it taught my children is that you can be different, you can visit, you can go to the beach, to the mall (yes we went to a mall, we had my daughter didn’t I?). We walked around the marina. They got to see panhandling first-hand. People of every age selling trinkets from the marina. They would walk up to us all the time asking us to buy this or that. They approached us while we were dining on a pier at the marina. They saw that when the band came over and play for us we tipped them when they were finished. This taught them that you treat people with respect, you pay for what you get and you appreciate every single moment of every single day.
I saw so many smiles on their faces, I will never forget a single one. My children are amazing! My husband is amazing! To have us all together in one place, where we could relax, be with each other, and not have to worry about budget or expenses was absolutely priceless. Sure, we could go to the beach in Florida. We could go to the beach in Georgia and we can have an amazing time. A trip is what you make of it. But to take the part of a trip (finances and ‘I want’) away from the actual trip, makes it so much better! It also helps that when you're sitting at the pool and you get thirsty,sweet little waiter comes over and asks if he can get you anything. He also brought food. You're really can't beat that with any type of relaxation!
So if you ever ask me for a price for an all-inclusive resort vacation, you have to keep in mind that it's going to sound higher than when you rent a condo and drive yourself to a beach in Florida. You also have to remember that everything, I mean every single detail, is included. The only time we spent money, was for tips, when we felt like we got extra service and of course when the Bellman moved our luggage for us. You have to experience it to understand it.
Hopefully I've given you a little taste of the freedom that an all-inclusive resort vacation can give you, because it is the most freeing vacation you will ever take! Oh and I don't want to be home! I miss Cabo terribly!
It has been a few years since we visited Amsterdam, Holland. I was young, just 16. We had studied world history in the 10th grade. Which is bad, because I wasn't as interested in history until after we went to Europe! Seeing history alive and all of the places we had read about made it really jump off the pages of the history books!
Our first stop on our European tour that summer was Amsterdam. Like I mentioned, I was 16 and traveling with my parents, my grandmother, my aunt, uncle and 2 young cousins, so it wasn't a fun teenager kind of trip. But boy was I wrong! Being with my family was an absolute blast and we look back fondly to those memories often. We visited all the typical tourist sites, including the Tulip factory and fields, took a boat ride down the canal, the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam and of course the Dam Square. But my absolute favorite was visiting the Anne Frank House. The secret annex her family and others hid during WWII.
The building is normal-looking, it looks like all of the other buildings on the canals. You enter the building without a lot of ornaments or decor. The illusion is to take you back to the 1940s to understand the isolation and condition of where the family lived. It’s hard to imagine living in such tight corners. Never to be allowed to go outside. Having read the book the year before in school made it a much more chilling experience. One, I highly recommend you experience. If you do plan a trip to Amsterdam, read the book before you go. Even if you’ve read it in the past.
The museum itself is very sparse. Otto, Anne’s father, didn’t want a lot of things taken into the annex. He wanted the experience to be chilling not realistic. Most of the annex part of the museum is empty except for display cases holding things that the families kept with them while hiding. Chilling is the room Anne shared with Fritz. You see her posters hung up, the posters that showed she was in touch with Hollywood and all things teenagers love to follow. Reminders of a life she had and a life she dreamt of.
Walking through the annex as a 16 year old with a car sitting at home, all the luxuries of the late 1980s (far different than today), air conditioning, cable television, cordless telephones, malls to shop in, extra curricular activities for school and so on, was humbling. I can’t tell you how moving it was because it was just that intense. Knowing that what you were looking at was their hope of a new life after the war. The hope of long lived life that would not be. The hope that they would escape the horrors they had only heard of. Knowing that they didn’t survive. That their annex was found, they were taken to camps and ultimately all but Otto were killed. It’s a chilling experience at any age, but especially young.
This is why I love travel. Why I love to introduce new and different things and places to as many people as possible. To see history come alive that I had just read was inspiring. We read about Europe, other countries, other states and sometimes we get a glimpse into these worlds through television and movies. But at a time when news wasn’t 24 hours and the internet didn’t exist, seeing history alive and in person was truly an amazing experience.
I get asked a lot of times about Park Hoppers. When should you get Park Hoppers and when you shouldn't. It is completely up to you when you get them. You can get them every time or you can never get them. We play it by ear based on what kind of trip we're going to be taking.
You see on a short trip where we may only have four days so I wouldn't spend the money on Park Hoppers. Because you need to get as much done as you can and spending time hopping from one park to another (usually an hour at least!) isn’t a good use of park time. Instead of going from one park to another go back to the room and rest or find somewhere in the first park and take a little quiet rest.
On longer trips when you're going to be doing two and three days in a single Park, it might be worth having Park Hoppers especially for dining! We used to do dining every night at Epcot. But now that all of the Parks have nice restaurants and the resorts have even gotten some good choices, it's rare that we change parks for the evening.
Another instance where park hoppers were necessary was when Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios had very little stuff to do and you spent literally a morning in each Park. Then you would spend your afternoon and evening over at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. That's how we've gotten to try so many good restaurants at Epcot. But both parks are really getting full and have become full day parks, so hopping to another park isn’t as necessary as it used to be.
Now another theory is if you start at the early morning hours Park and then end your evening at a different Park then you will have less crowds. The early morning Park always becomes busy in the afternoon. People see that it's the early morning park and yet they don't get there when the gates open. Making the afternoon and lunchtime crowds swell pretty good. That makes it convenient to be able to change to a different park for the afternoon and evening.
So like I said if you're going for a short trip and you're going to do one Park per day I don't recommend having Park Hoppers. I also don't recommend it unless you've been for 5-10 times and know the Park's very well. Because you'll spend quite a bit of time navigating out of the first park and into the second park and lose valuable touring time at both parks.
I have clients that love them and will not go without them. And I have clients that go quite often that never ever get Park Hoppers. So it is completely up to you how you want to spend your vacation. I can give you guidance, I can tell you the benefits and I can tell you all sides but I can't make that decision. Next time you take a trip to Disney, make sure you book with Mia so that you know you're getting the best advice possible!
I have been to Hawaii before, so I knew what the flight was like. The last time I flew to Hawaii I decided to have a layover. Well the price of the flight decided it for me! My flight took off from Atlanta and landed in San Francisco I was to have about an hour delay and then I would be on my way to Honolulu. We landed in Atlanta with no problem, but as our flight was scheduled to take off we all noticed we weren't preparing to board the plane. That's when it started!
I'm not sure if you have been to Hawaii. Most of the flights that go across the Pacific are in a jumbo jet. That means you have two seats on each side and six seats in the middle. It's a very large plane! Probably four exits on each side I don't even know how many people it can hold. It's a very big plane.
Our flight from Atlanta was on a normal plane, not very large so we had to change planes. As everyone started getting into the gate you can tell just how big this plane was. The first gate agent tells us that the plane hasn't arrived yet so are boarding would be delayed by a few minutes. 30 minutes later the same agent comes on and says the plane hasn't arrived yet and we're going to need time to service the plane so we're going to be an hour behind schedule.
Now, this would not be a problem normally but I need to be in Honolulu at my Resort for a 6:30 welcome dinner. Where I would be introduced to the other agents and to the people who would be showing us the resort over the next three days. I decided to go ahead and get to the other gate, because our gate had already changed once. When I got to the next gate we were told sorry, wrong gate! Go back across the airport do this third gate. At this point I was not very happy that I had a carry on.
We get to the gate that would finally be our departure Gates, and we're giving the news that the plane that arrived had some engine issues so they were waiting on a new plane to come in. It should only be 30 minutes, they said. After 30 minutes they came back on and said our flight crew that was supposed to go with us to Honolulu, has now gone over the FAA legal hours that they could work so we would have to wait on a new crew. At this point all 350 people in the gate we're not happy! They brought out snacks and Beverages and gave them out to everyone to try to calm people down. I'm not sure what the angry people thought they could do, I personally don't want to go on the plane with engine trouble.
After a two and a half hour delay for our departure we start boarding the plane. Because of our delay they had already announced the entire plane would have free internet and they were sure to stop at full of plenty to eat and drink. With the free internet, would be free movies. On the seat back in front of you there was an individual screen that we would be able to watch movies for the six and a half hours it would take to fly from San Francisco.
After getting in the air, people started trying to go in to the internet and watch movies. The flight attendants discovered that people were not able to get the movies to come up. So the pilot decided to make an announcement that after being in the air about an hour, they should be able to pull up the satellite and the movies would be able to start. An hour after his announcement, he comes back on and says I'm afraid our internet is not going to work. Now, we are in a very large plane oh, did I mention that? We have just been told that the internet is not working. My immediate thought was what else is not working? How are the pilots communicating with people? It was a very long flight!
I will tell you on a flight to Honolulu generally you fly during the day you may arrive late in the evening but remember it's five hours behind our time zone. So it's likely that you will land while it's still daylight. We did on this day, but by the time I got to the resort it was dark. By the time we landed that plane every single person had been to the bathroom 12 times and drunk at least four bottles of water. The air is extremely dry for some reason going over the Pacific. If you ever fly to Hawaii, make sure you stand up and walk around, and make sure you drink a lot of water. I also suggest taking socks to put on your feet to walk around in the cabin and a lot of lotion. My skin felt like I needed to drink the lotion it was so dry.
Also remember, when you're making plans for your first day, the day you arrived, remember anything can happen and sometimes it does.
Just me doing what I do. Today Delta had a power outage causing all flights worldwide to be grounded until they could resolve the issue. It has been resolved but flights across the world (Delta only) are delayed and will be for at least today. It is very important when you are traveling to do 2 things.
First, consider travel insurance. Travel insurance is a small price to ensure your vacation runs as smoothly as possible. Travel insurance can be purchased with your vacation or as a separate policy. A good travel advisor can help you pick the correct one.
Second, flying in the day your cruise departs is a risky plan any time of year! A delay like the one Delta had today causes an avalanche of delays which could cause you to miss your cruise!! Fly in the day before (night if you really don’t have any intention of seeing the sights in port) so that you can rest assured your cruise cabin is waiting for you and you’ll make it to the ship on time!
Delays during travel are no fun, they happen. They can’t be controlled. But a good travel agent will help you plan to make sure your vacation isn’t interrupted too much. Have a fabulous cruise and above all else…..keep traveling!
How old should your child be before you take her/him to Disney? That is the million dollar question these days. Disney isn’t cheap. You’re afraid they won’t remember it. You don’t want to be changing diapers all day in a busy park. If she doesn’t get her nap we all pay. These are just a couple of the concerns parents have when taking their child to Disney for the first time.
First, I always tell parents of young children, GO! These are your memories! You get to create the trip your way (with a few accommodations for their schedule and needs of course). But you will remember how their face lights up, you will be able to recount memories of all the firsts for the rest of your lives!
Second, they are free until they are three! That’s right, until they are three (3) you won’t pay for admission and you won’t pay for food (if sharing a plate with you on a buffet). That can add up, especially if you are going during a high season or with more than one child. Take advantage of the freeness of your little before you are paying adult prices for a 4 year old!
Third, you will never have the flexibility to travel whenever once they start school. School calendars create havoc with the family vacation. I’m not one of those parents that insists that we never take them out of school for travel, I’m a travel agent, I am fully invested in travel! But there are many activities that come along with school aged children. Sports, extra curricular activities, projects, tests. It all happens fast and makes you keep pushing things off.
Finally, even if your child will never remember, they will remember! We camped when our oldest was young. She was too young for many of our trips, but she remembers the bond it built. She loves looking at her albums (I know we are old school!) of herself holding bunnies, playing in creeks, dancing at the luau. Again, memories you can’t re-do and memories that aren’t the same as they grow.
I’m a firm believer in go now and go often! Disney is an investment. I’m asked all the time why do you like it so much? A lot of times I can’t put words to the feeling. It’s simply magical and something I love sharing with my children and family.
Time to Plan 2016!
It is time to start planning your 2016 Walt Disney World vacation. Disney World will be releasing the pricing and availability for 2016 rooms and packages on June 22, 2015.
What do you need to do? First, decide on dates. When is the optimum time to go to Disney with your family? A lot of that can depend on your own vacation plans, likes and dislikes. For low crowds you will want to plan during “off” season. Disney has gotten very good at planning events that make it virtually impossible to plan a Disney vacation during the slow season. But some dates still exist where it’s not packed.
Slower dates include:
Once you have your dates in mind, think about your resort. Most people consider it just a room and while it is, it can be so much more. If you are planning a week long vacation you will want to take a day and relax, enjoy the pool and get some R&R before returning to reality. Deluxe resorts offer a fabulous stay. You have nice large rooms, perfect for families of 4 or 5. Amazing pools with lots of amenities making that rest day perfect. Plus you have lots of dining options right at your resort so you don’t have to leave for a thing. Moderate resorts give you a wonderful option for families of 5 with upgraded pools. All of the moderate resorts offer great dining and some even have nice sit down restaurants. Value resorts are perfect for that active family on the go. Don’t plan on a leisure day by the pool? Would rather keep going and going and just literally need a place to sleep and shower? Value resorts deliver big on budget and big on theme!
There is a lot to planning a Disney vacation. With every single family on a budget, it’s best to consult a Disney Travel Professional. A Travel Professional can help you make the most of your stay in the most magical place on Earth while keeping your budget in tact.
Mia is a Disney Travel Professional with decades of Disney experience. We are geared up and ready to help your family have the most amazing magical vacation at Walt Disney World ever!! Email me today: email@example.com.
Certainly by now you have all heard the horrible news that Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World will be closing. The official dates are May 11 - September 25, 2015. That is an extremely long time for such a classic and must do to be closed.
Many rumors are flying, but I can tell you from first hand experience it does get "stuck" a lot. There are many times people are evacuated and that just isn't good from a guest experience standpoint or for safety. We were stuck on the same ride in California for well over 10 minutes and I can tell you it's quite bad on the nerves! Alex was scared to death and cried the entire time we were on there. He wouldn't ride it for a long time after that and didn't ride it in California again, only recently in Florida and after a lot of coaxing to get on!
So if you are traveling during this May 11 - September 25, 2015 period you will miss this awesome classic. I don't think much will change in the interior hopefully just an update of technology. Anytime Disney messes with a classic us old timers get a little unsettled and they quite frankly don't like it. Keep your ears open and let us know what you hear!