Travel Blog

About Our Agent Bloggers

All Agents are College of Disney Knowledge graduates, with some also holding additional specialties like:   Accredited Cruise Counselor, Universal Specialist, Sandals & Beaches Specialist, as well as other destination specialties.   Our Agents are experienced travelers.  If your specific agent hasn’t experienced “it”, there is someone in the Agency that has; so you have access to first-hand, experienced advice.  That’s how we can provide you this experiential based travel planning service!  We are an entire Team working together!

Our Agents will ALWAYS, without fail, no exceptions – tell you the truth and do what they say.

Trained. Traveled. Trusted.  It’s Who We Are.

 

Share Button

Pack it up, I’ll take it!

Posted by on 8:45 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Pack it up, I’ll take it!

Missy Ryan
April 25, 2017

So you have packed your suitcases, planned your days and you are ready for the parks! Or are you?  The planning days are long, while the vacation days are short. What do you bring to the parks? Where do you start? You may ask yourself “Am I taking too much? Am I taking too little? What mishaps should I plan for?”

So what should you pack in your “in park” backpack?  By “in park” backpack I mean the backpack you are going to carry all day. This is a very important part of your planned day as it will be your “everything but the kitchen sink,” but yet you do not want to pack as if it feels like you are carrying the kitchen sink.

Backpacks should not either be too large or should not be too small.  When going with my family, we use an average of 12-by-15-inch with right amount of compartments.

*Keep in mind that your bag is checked by security at each park and all zippers must be opened for the search *

1. A small wallet: If you do not have a MagicBand, you’ll want a small wallet for carrying around your tickets and cash. Do not waste space by having a wallet that can also carry all your other cards including reward cards. Keep it simple. (Wristlets are great for in the parks.)

Pack42. Cell Phone charger with portable battery charger: This is probably one of the most important things for me. I love to take videos, go live, snap, post and comment. This will drain a battery real quick!

3. Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Florida sun can be brutal. Make sure you have enough for each day and store in a Ziploc in case of spills.

4. Snacks: My family and I love the dining plan and use it to its fullest. However, sometimes in between meals when we may have used our snack credit for that day or would like to save others for future park days during the week, we bring an assortment of snacks and goodies. Some easy snacks to carry in your backpack are Goldfish, granola bars, pretzels and other easy pre-packaged snacks.

5. Hand Sanitizer: I love the small bottles at Bath & Body Works or Target by the check out. They come in a portable that has an adjustable strap that allows you to hang on your back pack.

6. Sanitizer Wipes: Along the same lines of sanitizing, I like to throw in travel wipes. Being at the parks and on the go, you are not always by a bathroom or washing station. If you are taking a snack break, you want to eliminate park germs so you can continue a healthy trip!

7. Water Bottles: The best way to do this is to bring an empty sports water bottle. Preferably a Sport Water Filter Bottle.  Quick Serves will provide a free cup of ice water at any counter serve location. This is a great and easy way to keep your water bottle filled and your body hydrated.

8. Hat & Sunglasses: The sunglasses are a must for me. I usually bring hats for the little ones, but getting them to wear them is not always a success. This is where the added sunscreen applications are needed!

9. Rain Poncho: Yes, you will need these! Sun showers are very popular in Florida, so being prepared will keep you dry in the long run. Dollar stores are a great place to purchase ponchos. They are light and easy to pack.

10. Autograph Book and Pen/Sharpie: A fun experience for all!! You can make your own book or buy one in the park, just be sure to not to forget as this is a sweet memory to be remembered.

11. First Aid: There are small kits that can be found at local stores that do not cost that much. I like to add adult and kid Advil in case the heat or rides cause headaches. Disney does have first aid stations but having some on hand can make it a bit easier so you can keep the flow of the day going.

12. Extra Gallon Bags: I like to keep my electronics in these for added protection.

13. Hard copies of your itinerary: It is always a great idea to have a backup. As we all know, we cannot always count on technology. As your agent I will always make sure you have a detailed itinerary to print prior to your travel.

14. Mist Bottles, fans, cooling towels: Keep cool as much as you can, your mood will thank you!

Having the essentials will make your park days more enjoyable and more cost effective. Being prepared will keep your day on a magical path of pixie dust.

If you would like to learn more about planning a WDW trip please feel free to contact me at missyr@wishesfamilytravel.com.

You can also follow me on Facebook

I would love to share more tips and look forward to planning with you!

Share Button

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Posted by on 8:56 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Sarah McClure
April 20, 2017

Living in a real life castle is one of my dreams!  Since I can’t truly live in a castle, I love to visit one any chance I get and I can do just that in Magic Kingdom.  Not only can I visit and ogle the beautiful décor, I can actually dine with Princesses in a Disney castle.

CRT_Sign

Cinderella’s Royal Table is a Fine Dining experience that is absolutely worth getting up early 180 days prior to your Walt Disney World vacation to make a reservation, and it is certainly worth the menu prices (two Disney Dining Plan table service credits) to dine with royalty!

CRT_CastleBack

Upon entering Cinderella’s Royal Table, located on the Fantasyland side of Cinderella Castle, you will be amazed at the décor surrounding you.  Keep an eye out for our little friends, Jaq and Gus.  Cinderella will greet your family in this reception area, where you can pose together for photos and she will sign autographs.  If you have purchased Memory Maker, the photos will be uploaded to your account.

CRT_decor_Jaq__Cinderella

When your table is ready, you will be escorted upstairs to a jaw-dropping dining hall where elegant banners hang from vaulted ceilings.  Take time to walk through admiring the exquisite mosaics, chandeliers, and pieces of armor and family crests.  Floor to ceiling stained glass windows allow for a stunning view of the park.

CRT_Dining_Room

Cinderella’s Royal Table is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If you schedule your Advanced Dining Reservation before the park opens for breakfast, you will have a rare opportunity to take pictures down Main Street and in front of Cinderella Castle without anyone else in your photo.  Scheduling your dinner reservation for later in the evening will possibly allow you the unique opportunity to watch the fireworks from inside the restaurant.

We chose an early dinner reservation.  Yes, the restaurant’s ambiance is exquisite and the service was right in tow.  We were treated wonderfully well and my girls were given special attention by the staff and Princesses.  Each Princess took her time as she chatted with my daughters about her Prince, dragons, dwarfs, human things and our world.  They also each signed their souvenir bags and posed for beautiful pictures.

CRT_Princesses

I began my meal with a refreshing Castle Salad.  The greens, fruit and cheese were nice after a long day in Magic Kingdom.  My husband chose the soup of the day, which was tomato basil, his favorite.  My youngest daughter ordered off the kids’ menu and was presented with a nice bowl of fruit and cheese.

We each sampled the “Royal Tasting of Cheese”.  Some samples were simply delightful, while others were suited for a more sophisticated palate.

CRT_Appetizers

For the main entrée, we ordered the steak and shrimp platter and pan-seared chicken.  The meats were perfectly tender and flavorful.  The steak was served with a delicious garlic mashed potato, while the chicken came with a baked macaroni and cheese.  Because all of our dishes were so well prepared and scrumptious, I look forward to trying the pork tenderloin and the fish of the day on our next visit.

CRT_Entrees

As full as my belly was after a salad, entrée and bites of my family’s dishes, I am never one to pass up dessert, especially a royal treat!  My daughters fell in love with Cinderella’s S’mores with its crunchy base and gooey marshmallows on top.  My husband enjoyed his cheesecake, and I was most looking forward to the famous Clock Strikes Twelve.  This flourless chocolate cake has a berry compote and chocolate ganache served on a beautifully decorated dish.  Dessert doesn’t get any better than this!

CRT_Desserts

Whether you have little princes and princesses or you are seeking to spend a bit of time dining in a castle, I highly suggest Cinderella’s Royal Table.  Click here for a video of our experience.

I would be honored to be your travel professional and assist you with all of your dining reservations, FastPass selections and a personalized itinerary.  All of these services, and so much more, are complimentary when you book your next Disney vacation with me.  I look forward to hearing from you soon!

sarahmc@wishesfamilytravel.com
801-231-9038

Share Button

Staying Club Level at Beach Club

Posted by on 8:51 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Staying Club Level at Beach Club

Juli Russ
April 18, 2017

While planning our most recent trip to Walt Disney World I thought it would be fun to splurge and surprise my husband with a Club Level room at our favorite resort, The Beach Club. I chose The Beach Club for several reasons: the proximity to Epcot where we planned to spend much of our time, Stormalong Bay is the absolute best pool at Walt Disney World, and the restaurants are among our favorites. I was really excited with my little surprise, especially since we had never stayed Club Level at Disney.

The first benefit of Club Level was skipping the regular check-in line, which can be quite long at times, and going right up to the Stone Harbor Club on the 5th floor. The staff greeted us warmly as we stepped off the elevator and directed us right to our room. From the minute we arrived on the Club Level floor we felt special. As soon as I opened the door I noticed how beautifully decorated the room was in pretty pale blues and seaside colors. The room was very spacious and included two queen beds, a desk, dresser and mini fridge. When I looked inside the closet I found two comfy robes for our use during our stay. My favorite feature of our room was the balcony that overlooked Stormalong Bay. The balcony was big enough for a small table and two chairs, perfect for coffee in the morning or cocktails in the evening. The darling French door to the balcony kept any noise from the pool to a minimum.

The Stone Harbor Club was just down the hall, very convenient to our room and easy to grab a snack on our way to the parks. The club offers complimentary wine

and beer all day, a continental breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, hot hors’ d oeuvres in the evening and dessert at night. There were plenty of tables for dining or relaxing, even kid sized tables and a TV for the little ones. The staff went out of their way to make us feel pampered and relaxed while we took a break from the day’s activities.

beachclub3

Breakfast was served from 7am-10:30am every day. The breakfast options were perfect before heading out for a day in the parks: pastries, fruit, oatmeal, bagels, hard-boiled eggs, coffee, tea and juice. During the afternoon, we found snacks from 11:30am-4:00pm. Several varieties of cookies, trail mix, chocolate covered pretzels, fruit punch and ice water awaited guests taking a mid-day break. From 5:00pm-7:00pm a fabulous selection of hot hors’ d oeuvres were available and changed nightly. A couple of our favorites were the sirloin baguettes and the tomato mozzarella salad. For a sweet treat, desserts were offered from 7:00pm- 10:00pm. Many yummy desserts including rice krispy treats, brownies, cookies and tarts tempted guests as they returned from a fun day. There were even chocolates waiting for us on our turned down bed every night!

beachclub4

The Concierge Staff was available to take care of any needs that we had. When we were wondering how many snack credits we had left on our dining plan, they were happy to print our dining credit balance, helped us rearrange a dining reservation, and answered many, many questions. It was wonderful to see a smiling face greeting you as you arrived on the 5th floor.

Kevin and I would most definitely stay Club Level again at The Beach Club or any of the Walt Disney World deluxe properties. Our luxurious room, the Stone Harbor Club and the Concierge Staff that pampered us for our entire stay was well worth the extra money that we paid for Club Level.

I would love to help you plan a luxury stay at The Beach Club, contact me at julir@wishesfamilytravel.com

Share Button

Garden Grill: A character meal worth falling in love with

Posted by on 8:55 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Garden Grill: A character meal worth falling in love with

Allison Flynn
April 13, 2017

If you’re a fan of food and all things Mickey Mouse, then look no further than Garden Grill.  This character meal is as pleasing to the palate as it is to your love of meeting Mickey.

Garden Grill is located inside Epcot’s Land Pavilion, and it is the only rotating restaurant in the World! While you dine, the restaurant is slowly making its journey – and along the way you’ll be able to catch some of the scenes from the ride Living with the Land.

Garden Grill was the first character meal we enjoyed during our fall 2016 trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. After a day in the car to get there, I knew we’d all be hungry. As I’d promised my youngest son he’d get to meet Mickey, it was a great way to combine filling our bellies and fulfilling his request.

Chip and Dale’s Harvest Feast at Garden Grill is served family style – which means platters of food are brought to your table for you to serve onto your plates. The main platter included our meats – chargrilled beef, turkey and Italian sausage – as well as green beans, mashed potatoes and stuffing. A salad, dish of macaroni and cheese (topped with Goldfish crackers!) and rolls rounded out the meal.

My husband and oldest son chowed down on the beef, while I preferred the turkey. Turkey typically is dry and doesn’t have much flavor, but this was not the case at Garden Grill. The bacon and leek stuffing was great paired with it.

My favorite part of the meal, though, was the salad. Made from veggies grown in the greenhouses in the Land, it was colorful and crisp. I don’t normally like radishes, but the flavor paired nicely with the lettuces.

Shortcake with fresh berries and whipped cream is brought for dessert, and as we were celebrating two birthdays, we also got small cupcakes with dessert. We weren’t able to finish dessert because the food was so good we ate it instead!

As we were eating Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto made their way around to each table. Garden Grill feels more intimate than other character dining spots because you are in half-moon shaped booths. This design makes you feel like the character is just there for you, which my family really enjoyed. My youngest son didn’t know how to react when he met his hero Mickey for the first time – but by the third time Mickey came around he was definitely calling out to him!

Lunch and dinner offerings are the same at Garden Grill, but if breakfast is more your thing, then there is a family-style breakfast offered as well. Advance reservations are recommended for this character dining experiences – we saw several families get walk-up reservations, but don’t count on that being an option, and book early.

If you would like other recommendations for intimate character experiences or unique dining, please contact me at allisonf@wishesfamilytravel.com. You can also follow me on Facebook at Facebook.com/aflynn.wft.

Share Button

Driving Around Walt Disney World Resort

Posted by on 8:47 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Driving Around Walt Disney World Resort

Anna Trosper
April 11, 2017

Walt Disney World is a popular destination and unique in many ways; one very notable one is the size. Most people do not realize how big Walt Disney World is until they are on property. Once at your resort you realize you have to get around and that walking is not an option.  Many guests utilize Disney transportation to get to the theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, Disney’s Boardwalk area and Disney resort hotels. For the guest that rents a car or drives their own, I recommend a little preparation for driving around Walt Disney World before you arrive. This will help you much more than you know.

blog_pic_7

Walt Disney World is conveniently located off of major interstates. So no matter what direction you are coming from, you will not miss the signs for Walt Disney World. Driving around The World is fairly easy if you pay special attention to the signs. Getting to the parks is the easiest. Simply follow the signs to the park you are going to (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollow Studios, and Animal Kingdom). They are everywhere!

However, if you are headed to your resort this is where looking at a map before arriving and knowing a few things can help you out a lot! It will help you figure out what park is closest to your resort. Once you know this, you can follow the signs that say “Magic Kingdom Resorts” or “Animal Kingdom Resorts”. If you do not know what park is near your resort, you could be driving around in circles. So let’s not let that happen. Here is a list of resorts and what park vicinity they are located.

Magic Kingdom Area Resorts

  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resortblog_pic_5
  • Wild World of Sports Area
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort

 Epcot Area Resorts

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

Animal Kingdom Area Resortsblog_pic_2

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village

Disney Springs Area Resortsblog_pic_1

  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs and Spa
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Remember to look over the map of Walt Disney World before you arrive.  Click here for map. Drive slowly and pay attention to the signs. You are not the only one on the road that is unsure of where they are going. I try to stay in the middle lane until I am sure of what direction I am turning. At night it can get a little harder to see the signs so take your time. If you have navigation on your vehicle or phone, use it!

If you are visiting a park and not staying on Disney property you will have to pay parking. The current parking rate is $20.00* for most vehicles, but if you would like preferred parking the rate is $35.00* per day. Once parking is paid, you can visit any of the four parks on the same day and not have to pay again. If you are a guest staying on Disney property, theme park parking is free. You will be given a parking pass to keep in your car when you check into your resort.

If you are driving to Walt Disney World this is a must know! Walt Disney World has a Car Care Center. If is located near the Magic Kingdom and is a full service operation that provides most emergency services (except towing). You can reach them by calling 407-824-0976. Hours are weekdays from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturdays from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm and Sundays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Also good to know is that when on Disney Property and you need help, flag down a security guard. They can assist with minor emergencies like a flat tire, a dead battery, running out of gas or contacting someone if you need a tow.

There are three Speedway Gas stations on Disney property. All three are easily accessible for those driving around Walt Disney World Resort. One is located on Buena Vista Drive across from Disney Springs and another is located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios area near the entrance to Boardwalk Inn. The third one is located on the right side of World Drive as you exit the Magic Kingdom. Over the years I have learned that Speedway gas stations are very competitively priced and at times they are less than off property. As an extra convenience, they are open 24 hours a day.

Getting around Disney with your own car is not that hard; by the end of the week you will be a pro. Having your own car does offer a few perks.  You will not be on a bus making four or five stops before getting to your resort. You can get to places much quicker. And, if you have your own car you can drive to the beach for a day or get out and see what Orlando is all about. You have the freedom to come and go as you wish.

If you are thinking of planning a trip to Disney I would be happy to help you book and plan your vacation and help you find fun things to explore on your vacation.

Please visit my Facebook page for great travel tips and for all the latest promotions. If you would like to talk about your next vacation, email me and we can set up a time to talk! You can visit our main web page for other great travel information and join our Facebook group Disney Conversations with Wishes.

Have a magical day!

 

*cost as of 12/02/16

Share Button

Staying Onsite vs Offsite at WDW

Posted by on 8:47 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Staying Onsite vs Offsite at WDW

Rebecca Jones
April 6, 2017

As a travel professional, one of the most-asked Walt Disney World questions I get is, “Should I stay on Disney property or off?”  There are a lot of factors that go into planning your Disney World vacation, and I’d like to share with you some of the reasons I recommend staying on property.

Transportation

From the moment you fly into Orlando International Airport, your transportation needs are taken care of, free of charge.  Disney’s Magical Express is a free service that provides your family with roundtrip transportation between the airport and your Disney hotel, both at the beginning and at the end of your stay.  You will board a motor coach and be entertained with videos and cartoons on the 45-minute ride to the resort.

Are you driving to Disney World? That’s okay, because parking is complimentary for you at both your resort hotel and at the theme parks, if you are staying in a Disney-owned hotel.

Once you are onsite, there are busses, boats, monorails, and walking paths that will help you get wherever you need to go. There is no need at all to rent a car while you are at Disney World. Each of these modes of transportation will drop you off as close to the front gate as possible in each park.  When you use a Wishes Family Travel agent, we will assist you in determining the best route to get from Point A to Point B using Disney transportation as part of our free concierge services.

If you are staying off-property, you will either have to drive your own vehicle and deal with traffic, plus parking fees and a long walk to the park entrance, or ride a shuttle bus from your hotel location, that will drop you either in the far reaches of the parking lot, or at the Ticket and Transportation Center, where you will then ride a ferry boat or the monorail to your park choice.

The convenience of using Disney transportation to get around the property, with no traffic to deal with, no parking fees, and less walking, is a huge benefit to all guests staying at Disney hotels.

OnsiteVsOffsite-DiningDining

A big part of any Disney World vacation is the food.  There are a couple of advantages to staying onsite when it comes to dining. All dining reservations have a 180-day mark that opens up your window for making reservations.

When you are staying onsite, you are able to make all your dining reservations for your vacation 180 days from the day you check in to the hotel, for your entire vacation (up to 10 days).  So, whether or not you need a reservation on your first day, you are still eligible to start making your reservations on that 180-day mark from your vacation check-in date.  Your Wishes agent will discuss your dining requests with you ahead of time, and will make your reservations for you, as part of our concierge services.

When you stay offsite, you can still make your reservations 180 days ahead of time, but it’s 180 days from the day you want the reservation for.  You also have to call in or log in to your My Disney Experience account and make them each day, instead of doing your entire vacation in the same sitting.

This can be a big deal when you are trying to get that difficult reservation, like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest.  Onsite guests have an advantage when making their dining plans.

FastPass+

A new experience when planning your Disney World vacation is scheduling your FastPass+ times.  At WDW, you can reserve times to visit up to three attractions in the same park, per day.  When you are staying on Disney property, you are able to reserve your Fastpass+ times for your entire stay, at the 60-day point.  And, you guessed it, your Wishes agent will help you plan these choices and then make the reservations for you.

Guests who are staying offsite may start making their FastPass+ choices at 30 days out, and must do them one day at a time, 30 days before the day they want the reservations.  When your children really want to ride the new “Frozen” ride in EPCOT without standing in line for hours, this could be a big deal.

OnsiteVsOffsite-Fastpass+

*****

So, as you can see, there are several logistical reasons to stay on Disney property.  You definitely have an advantage to planning the vacation you always dreamed of, versus settling for the vacation you can get with what’s left over.

I would love to work for you, and help you plan a magical family vacation to Disney World.  I encourage you to contact me via email, Rebecca@wishesfamilytravel.com, or use our Quote Request Form and put my name, Rebecca Jones, as the agent and I will be in touch very soon!

Share Button

Your kids will be drawn to this Disney resort!

Posted by on 8:52 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Your kids will be drawn to this Disney resort!

Allison Flynn
April 4, 2017

Larger than life characters, art lessons in the lobby, an arcade and a Big Blue Pool! With the amenities and theming, it’s no wonder that your children will be drawn to Art of Animation Resort.

aoablog1Art of Animation Resort opened in 2012, and the resort’s theming is all things animated. Both standard rooms and family suites are available on the property, and each area is divided by movie theme. While standard rooms are all Little Mermaid, family suites are themed as The Lion King, Finding Nemo or Cars.

You’ll never have to wonder what area of the resort you are in because the grounds match the theming of the rooms in that area. You’ll feel as though you just stepped into Radiator Springs when you go to the Cars area. Fans of Finding Nemo will be thrilled to see a larger than life Squirt hanging out by the Big Blue Pool. And if you found Scar menacing in The Lion King …. Well, you might want to avoid that area!

My boys found the Big Blue Pool to be their favorite area of the resort. The pool – which is the largest found at any of the resorts – features a zero-entry depth flanked by jellyfish waterfalls. This was where my youngest son was most comfortable playing. He could be in the water, but felt secure. As a mom, I liked that it was just steps away from Schoolyard Sprayground, which is a splashpad.

We stayed in a Cars Family Suite, and I was excited to try out the table bed. When in the upright position, it is a table with seating for four. But when you pull the handles, the table folds underneath itself and a double bed is created. Neat!

The double bed was plenty of space for my oldest to spread out with his stuffed animals. We considered letting his younger brother share the bed, but because the bed is a little bit off the ground, we opted to put him in his pack and play instead.

Family suites also have microwaves and dorm sized refrigerators, which my youngest son loved. Finally, he could get a drink all by himself!

aoablog3A food court and gift shop are located just off the lobby, and those were a hit with my children as well. At Ink & Paint, there were toys, pins, pencils, MagicBands, snacks and more. A short walk through, and you were inside Landscape of Flavors, the food court. Landscape of Flavors offers a selection of foods for a variety of palates, including kid-friendly fare like pizza and chicken nuggets. (And Mickey cupcakes, which both boys devoured.)

Art of Animation is very kid-friendly while also allowing mom and dad somewhere for quiet time. Each family suite has a master bedroom with bathroom – and let me say, it was nice to unwind alone at the end of a long park day!

For more information on this resort or other family favorites, please contact me at allisonf@wishesfamilytravel.com. You can also view my video tour of Art of Animation Resort on my Facebook page at Facebook.com/aflynn.wft.

Share Button

A Weekend on the Savanna

Posted by on 9:04 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

A Weekend on the Savanna

Tiffini Hensley
March 30, 2017

AKLSavanna-ResortYou know that song at the beginning of the Lion King?  Well, that’s the song that plays through my mind every time I walk into Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  To say this is a beautiful resort would be a vast understatement!

My family had the pleasure to stay at this unique resort for a short visit in August.  We decided to splurge on a Savanna View Club Level Room, and we were so glad we did!

When you stay club level, there are many perks you can enjoy in addition to the amenities the resort already has to offer.  The first perk we were able to take advantage of upon arrival was the check-in process.  As soon as we walked in, we were whisked away to the Kilimanjaro Club for a separate check-in process, where we were immediately offered a cool beverage while they explained the various tidbits of information to us, and gave us our special folder full of fun information.  Once we had the process down, we went to check out our room.

AKLSavanna-RoomOur room was well appointed with a queen size bed and set of bunk beds in the sleeping area, small table and chairs to eat at, beverage cooler and Keurig, double vanity in the bathroom area, and a lovely balcony over-looking the Savanna!  We had a hard time deciding what to look at first.  The amount of detail added to these rooms was overwhelming, from the faux mosquito netting over the bed, to the wallpaper with a map of Africa.  Even the lamps looked like they were made of tree branches!  Even though the room was amazing, it was the Savanna that took our breath away.  Every time we stepped out onto our balcony, we were able to see a new animal resting or grazing.  In our room there was guide that listed all the animals that were available to see.  Throughout our weekend my son had an absolute blast marking off each animal he saw.  Even three months later, he still can’t wait to go back to try to find the elusive wildlife he didn’t find on this trip!

AKLSavanna-PoolWe briefly unpacked, then my kiddo and I left my hubby in the room to take a nap, while we went to check out the pool.  The Uzima Springs pool is huge (11,000 sq. ft.)!  The pool itself is reminiscent of the huge watering holes where the animals come together in the African Savanna, with the pool free formed in shape and surrounded by animal viewing locations.  If the Uzima Springs pool seems a little intimidating, there is also the Samawati Springs pool, located in the nearby Kidani Village (a short walk from Jambo House).

After our swim, my son and I gathered up my husband and we went up to the Kilimanjaro Club for a snack before dinner.  The Kilimanjaro Club is located on the sixth floor of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and offers beautiful views of the resort.  Throughout the day, there are various food and beverage offerings.  I highly suggest taking the time to sample the warm hors d’houevres that are offered in the evening.  These items are prepared by the chefs from Boma and Jiko, and are delicious!  While enjoying your snack, you can watch a Disney movie from the comforts of a comfortable couch or the various tables and chairs in the lounge.  After enjoying our snacks we decided to freshen up for dinner and see if we could spot any animals from our room.AKLSavanna-Offerings

Animal Kingdom Lodge has many dining options, including three quick service options (Mara, Uzima Springs Pool Bar and Maji Pool Bar), two table service options (Boma and Sanaa) and one signature dining option (Jiko the Cooking Place).  For dinner we had reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, Boma, which is a buffet filled with many delicious foods with an African flair.  For picky eaters, there are still plenty of things on the buffet to eat, such as macaroni and cheese and pasta.  For the more adventurous eaters, some of my favorites on the menu include the coconut curry soup, the spice crusted strip loin and the couscous.  After sufficiently stuffing ourselves, we found we were too tired to take part in a fun activity we were hoping to try.  After sunset, guests are welcomed to borrow night vision goggles from the resort to watch the animals on the savanna after dark.  The activity is fabulous, but we were just too tired that evening, and wanted to get a good night’s sleep before heading to Magic Kingdom the following day.  Upon arriving back in our room, we were pleasantly surprised to find that our room had been turned down in the short time we were away, complete with an entire box of chocolates on our bed.  On my son’s bunk, they had also placed a small bag of chocolates.  He was thrilled!

The following morning we took advantage of the bus transportation and spent the day at Magic Kingdom.  The new computer screens at the bus stop were great, and let us know how long our wait was for each bus.  Although this resort is further away from most of the theme parks, than the other deluxe properties, we never felt like the transportation was a hassle, and never waited more than 5 minutes for the bus.

On our final day, we had a late afternoon flight and were happy to spend most of the day enjoying the resort.  We were able to take advantage of more of the resort’s activities, enjoy breakfast at Boma (breakfast is just as wonderful as their dinner), take another swim in the wonderful pool, and hear from some of the animal guides about the wonderful animals.

Although our trip was brief, we had an amazing time at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and place this magnificent resort among our favorites of the Walt Disney World resorts.  The resort offers many unique experiences that can’t be found at any other resorts in the United States, while still keeping up to Disney’s standards of magic and excellence.

If you’d like to see additional pictures and videos from my visit to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, please check out my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thensley.wft.  If you’d like more information about taking a vacation to any Disney Destination, please contact Tiffini@wishesfamilytravel.com

Share Button

River Belle Terrace at Disneyland

Posted by on 8:23 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

River Belle Terrace at Disneyland

Sarah McClure
March 28, 2017

Looking for a bit of Southern hospitality and fantastic BBQ fare?  Take a closer look at River Belle Terrace in Disneyland’s Frontierland.  Located next to Pirates of the Caribbean and across from Rivers of America in a quaint white building with tall columns, green shutters and intricate wrought-iron railings, you can’t miss this table service restaurant.

f-26-14-9961684_McdMhzYe_DL_River_Belle_Terrace_Outside

River Belle Terrace is open for lunch and dinner and we found the service to be top-notch from the moment we walked up.  After a warm welcome by the host, we only had to wait a moment before our table was ready. You may have the option to dine in the beautiful dining room with lush greenery as a centerpiece.  The attention to detail is amazing in River Belle Terrace; the décor is similar to the Dream Suite with the blue ceiling, elaborate chandeliers and delicate wallpaper.  Or, if it is a lovely California day, you may opt to dine on the spacious patio with a view of the Rivers of America and Mark Twain Riverboat.  The white wrought-iron work is carried through in the chairs and each table has a shade umbrella for your comfort.

f-26-15-9961684_ORRIS0Yq_DL_River_Belle_Terrace_Dining_Room

Oftentimes while dining at Disney restaurants we will ask for menu suggestions from our server with the hopes of not wanting to miss out on the best dishes that are unique to each establishment.  Our server was attentive and offered suggestions that we loved.  The Tater Bites are not to be missed!

My husband ordered the Spare Ribs and we found them to be very meaty with a delicious sauce.  The coleslaw was cool and crisp with a delightful, tangy flavor.  I probably had more than my fair share!  The baked beans reminded us of Thunder Mountain BBB and we both loved them.

My pulled pork sandwich was just wonderful!  I loved that the coleslaw was mixed in with the meat because it proved to be an amazing mix of flavors.  And yes, the tots were perfectly seasoned and had just the right amount of crunch!

f-26-19-9961684_mUGTbdlN_DL_River_Belle_Terrace_Food

I am always one for dessert, however, this meal really left no room for a treat.  So we decided to save the sweets for later in the evening during the parade.  Though, I do believe I will go for the Fried Cheesecake on my next visit!

River Belle Terrace will take walk-ups, however, reservations are highly recommended.

I would be delighted to be your travel professional and assist you with all of your Disneyland dining reservations and a personalized itinerary.  These services, and so much more, are included when you book your next Disney vacation with me.  I look forward to hearing from you soon!

sarahmc@wishesfamilytravel.com
801-231-9038

Share Button

Eating Healthy at Walt Disney World

Posted by on 9:16 am in Thoughts and Opinions | Comments Off

Eating Healthy at Walt Disney World

Juli Russ
March 23, 2017

Many people are trying to eat in a healthier way. My husband, Kevin, and I are no exception. We have changed our eating habits over the past five months opting to not eat processed food, white flour and sugar. When our recent Walt Disney World vacation arrived we were wondering how we would continue to eat the way we wanted to.

The first night of our trip was spent at the All Star Movie Resort. When we arrived we walked in to the dining area to see what was available for dinner. We noticed the usual burgers, chicken fingers and pizza, but then discovered a cooler containing a great selection of fruit, salads, cheese, yogurt and hard boiled eggs. Kevin and I were both pleased to see we had multiple options that worked for us.

f-26-14-9768329_gnldyKwc_JR_Blog_Food_2

Magic Kingdom was the first park we visited where some of our very favorite treats can be found! Dole Whips and Mickey Bars are two treats we always enjoy while at Magic Kingdom, but were going to skip on this trip. As much as we wanted a Nutella Waffle, we thought it would be best to look around for a healthier lunch. Have you ever seen the giant turkey legs in Frontierland? We had seen them over the years, but never sampled one so we gave it a try. The turkey leg was delicious and enough to share. As we walked through Liberty Square we found the perfect food stand! The Cast Members were grilling corn and there was a large variety of fresh fruit. The grilled corn was delicious, a good compliment to the turkey leg.

The International Food and Wine Festival had begun at Epcot just prior to our arrival. The Food and Wine Festival is one of our favorite events at Walt Disney World where every country has sample-sized food and drinks to try. For Kevin and me, this was the best place to eat many of our meals because we could choose the food that worked best for us. Our favorites were the filet in Canada, the beef skewers from Morocco and sweet & spicy shrimp that we found at the Australia stand.

While we were at Epcot we had dinner at Teppan Edo in the Japan Pavilion, a wonderful sit down hibachi style restaurant. Our chef was very accommodating and gave us extra veggies instead of rice to go with our steak and shrimp. The food was incredible and the experience was very fun.

One of Kevin’s favorite meals of our whole trip was a salad at Wolfgang Puck Express which is located at Disney Springs. Again, the staff was very accommodating and offered fruit in place of the dessert which accompanies a quick service meal on the Disney Dining Plan. Kevin found the salad to be delicious and big enough to share.

f-26-15-9768859_KKlvtgmB_JR_Food_Blog_8

Buffets are another ideal place to dine when you are looking for healthier options. Our breakfast buffet at Cape May had so many delicious items to choose from that we were stuffed when we left. There were several types of eggs, which were all very tasty. The meats like bacon, sausage and smoked salmon, along with the fresh fruit rounded out our breakfast nicely. We discovered that the chef will make gluten free Mickey waffles for those who cannot have gluten.

On our last night we had dinner at the Cinderella’s Happily Ever After buffet at 1900 Park Fare in Grand Floridian. We both ate way too much while we waited to meet Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Step Family. I gave the famous Cold Strawberry Soup a try and loved it, it was incredible. Kevin and I both thought the Mongolian Beef was very good, as was the prime rib. There were many salads and a very nice variety of veggies. It was hard to walk past the desserts, they looked wonderful.

Overall we found the selection of healthy food options to be extensive at Walt Disney World, especially if you ask questions of the Cast Members before ordering. Everyone was happy to substitute vegetables for potatoes and fruit for dessert. If you are looking for healthier options I would love to talk to you about our experience and help you plan a healthy trip to Walt Disney World. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter, or contact me at julir@wishesfamilytravel.com

Share Button