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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.

 

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Take a break!

Posted by on 8:51 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Take a break!

By: Tiffini Hensley
April 19, 2018

Congrats you’re headed to Walt Disney World!! This means that you are in for a vacation filled with magic, fun and…….LOTS of walking.

Walt Disney World is made up of over 40 square miles, and it’s normal to walk many miles in one day at the parks. Because of this, I highly suggest scheduling in some downtime and breaks from the parks.

Besides the obvious ‘head back to the room and take a nap’, there are many other options to relax and unwind, while still having fun! Here are a few ideas:

• Head back to the resort and go swimming!

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o The Disney resorts are known for their amazing pools, so be sure to take advantage of the fun and schedule in an afternoon to swim. Worried that it will be too cold in winter? Don’t be! Disney keeps their pools heated to 85 degrees, so even if it’s chilly outside, rest assured the water is nice and warm. In addition to the water set to a perfect temperature, the pools also include great amenities, such as water slides, underwater music, lazy rivers and water play areas. Although the amenities vary by hotel, they each are fantastic in their own right.

• Let the kids play on one of the playgrounds at the resorts!

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o Many of the Disney resorts have fun playgrounds where kids can run off some extra energy, while you can sit on the nearest bench and rest your feet!

• Rent a boat or pontoon and spend the afternoon on one of the lakes.

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o Some of the Disney Resorts have on-site marinas where you can rent a boat by the half-hour.

• Go fishing!

o It may only be catch and release, however you’ll still have a great time fishing in the afternoon from the dock at Port Orleans Riverside Resort.

• Go to the Arcade!

o Disney resorts are known to have fun things to do, but what kid doesn’t love to play at an arcade?!

• Go see the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and grab a meal while you’re there!

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o Animal Kingdom Lodge offers up close viewing of well-known safari animals, such as giraffes, zebra and gazelle. The resort also offers some delicious meal options!

• Go shopping!

o Head to Disney Springs and find that souvenir that you forgot to pick up in the parks, or shop at some of your favorite luxury brand stores. There are also many entertainment and dining options at Disney Springs, so if you feel like making an evening of it, they have you covered!

• Head to the spa!

o Senses spa has two on-site locations at Walt Disney World, with one in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and the other in Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa.

• Go on a Carriage ride at Port Orleans Riverside Resort!

• Go ride a bike!

o Many on-site resorts offer bicycle and surrey bikes that you can rent by the hour and half hour, respectively.

Most of all, remember you are on vacation! Have fun and enjoy the “most magical place on Earth.”
If you’d like to see additional pictures and videos from my visits to Walt Disney World, please check out my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/thensley.wft. If you’d like more information, or to start planning your next vacation, please contact Tiffini@wishesfamilytravel.com

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My Grand Adventure

Posted by on 9:09 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

My Grand Adventure

By: Becky Mullinax
April 17, 2018

My grandson was eight months old when he went on his first trip to Walt Disney World with me. I had booked a 3-night, 4-day trip. The road trip was an adventure with many stops, diaper changes and his bottles. It has been 20+ years since I traveled that distance with a child.

Our grand adventure began a week before we even started our trip. My daughter had the fun part of trying to pack everything that she would need for him. If you have ever traveled with a baby, you understand what that means. Once everything was ready we packed my SUV full and off we went on our travels.

My family started our adventure a day early so we could stop for the night in Savannah before we arrived at Walt Disney World. It was an adventure trying to get a hotel because of several conventions, etc. that were going on that weekend. Once our room was secured the next fun part was trying to arrange for a crib and a microwave for our room. My daughter needed to sanitize his bottles using a microwave sanitizer and once we had everything in place we were set for the night.

006365A9-BA93-43D2-92D1-8C2C738466DAThe next morning, bright and early, everyone was up and ready to go. We traveled another 4.5 hours and then we arrived at our beautiful resort. I had completed our online check in earlier and I received a text that our Arusha view room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was ready early. This was such a blessing as my grandson could nap before we visited our first park. When I took him outside on our balcony to see the animals that were roaming on the savanna he was so excited to watch them. There is an animal viewing list in the room and when you see the animals you check them off. This became a keepsake for his memory book.

I had already arranged for a stroller to use, which was another blessing. The weather was going to be hot that week so we were prepared with a baby cooling wrap and umbrella to place over his legs where the stroller canopy did not cover. We had a small cooler to keep his formula cold and his backpack was packed for a fun day. We did not want him to get overheated or dehydrated.

Day one: We were about eight miles from Magic Kingdom so the bus ride was long for us with a baby and all that went along with him. I scheduled our first Fastpass in Magic Kingdom to meet Mickey at his theater. My grandson, even at eight months old, loved Mickey’s Clubhouse and he could recognize Mickey. I was overcome with emotion and cried when Mickey walked up to him and rubbed his foot in his Mickey shoes. The expression on my grandson’s face made the long travel worth every mile! I heard the parade going by outside the theater and rushed to get him to the door and his little feet were going when he saw the big floats go by. He could sleep comfortably in his stroller and see all the excitement around him. Our first day flew by with stops to change diapers and bottles. Disney has a wonderful baby care station for use and I highly recommend this.

486F507D-A0CD-427F-AE26-E0FE1DB3AC19The bus trip back to our resort seemed longer after a tiring day in the park. It was such a blessing to be welcomed back home by the wonderful Cast Members at the resort. When we arrived, the crib and microwave we had requested were in our room. You can make these type requests through your Concierge Agent with Wishes to be noted on your reservation. They are not guaranteed but Disney will do their best to try and have these for you. He enjoyed being outside on the large observatory deck to see the giraffes after the day cooled down. The rocking chairs there are wonderful to rock a baby to sleep.

DF802E89-00C4-4D68-97E8-7F15391BBA07Day 2: I had planned our visit to Epcot and this day was going to be hotter than yesterday. The heat was a very big concern so I took him to areas that were air conditioned and shady while the adults used their Fastpasses that morning. We did not take him to the World Showcase because of the heat so we left early. When we arrived back at the resort I took him on a stroller ride through the resort to see all the animals through the windows.

289611B0-86D9-49D7-AEEA-874E9BFB1537Day 3: Our Animal Kingdom day I had scheduled an early Kilimanjaro Safari ride so he could see the animals. I learned something that day – you can’t judge how your early morning will start off with a baby so we missed our Fastpass. The day was going to be hot again so we checked him as with the days before. We had lunch at Tusker House and I anxiously waited for the characters to stop by our table. I wasn’t sure how he would receive that many at one visit but my anxiousness was for nothing because he received Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy with joy and smiles. His little feet were going as fast as he could move them. He loved seeing all the animals, meeting people, the music and the whole experience of this park. We left early again due to heat and humidity at the park.

Day 4: We packed up to return home and I was sad to leave because this trip was so special for me to share my love of anything Disney with my new grandson. Our trip back home was long and hard on everyone but he did fine.

When traveling with a baby you need to be prepared for many things such as the packing and preparations, weather conditions where you are going and generally being prepared for as much as possible. I recommend that you purchase the Memory Maker so that you can have professional photos of your trip.

If you would like more information on my Grand Adventure please email me at becky@wishesfamilytravel.com.

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Celebrity Edge Culinary

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River Cruising on The American Empress

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Tips on maximizing your time at Universal Studios

Posted by on 11:47 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Tips on maximizing your time at Universal Studios

By: Missy Ryan
April 12, 2018

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Universal Studios combines a Hollywood movie experience with a quality theme park attractions and shows. Although, the ideal visit would include staying on site so you may get the ultimate experience, several guests opt for one day passes. Whether you are staying on property at Walt Disney World or just in the area for a day, getting a little taste of universal is what it is on the menu. With such limited time, you want to be sure you are getting all the experiences worth doing. This is where a Trained, Traveled and Trusted Concierge steps in with guided and helpful advice.

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  1. Buy your tickets in advance. The price is never guaranteed, so it is always best to get a quote and have the tickets purchased before arrival. Make sure you are getting a 1 day park to park ticket so you can ride the Hogwarts Express and take in both parks.
  2. Best time to travel to Universal? It is not always feasible, with works schedules, school and everyday life to schedule around park and vacation days. That is why planning ahead is always a great idea. There are always better days and times of the year to visit the park. However, Fall, Winter and Spring are lower peak times. Try and avoid days on or around holidays and keep the visit to a weekday.
  3. Express! This may seem like an added cost you do not want to do or can fit into your budget. However, let me tell you, how worthwhile the express pass can be to you and your family, especially for a one day park pass. What is an express pass you ask? Only the best add on you can get! Be able to skip the long lines on several selected rides. This is such a fantastic time saver that would be a shame not to add it to your tickets for the day.
  4. Arrive early. Are you familiar with the phrase, “The early bird gets the worm.”? Well early guests get the rides. Morning is key.
  5. Hit the Harry Potter rides and the Hogwarts Express first. Since Harry Potter is extremely popular and not part of the “skip the lines”/express pass, it is always best to try and get on these rides first. These particular rides will typically have the longest waits as the day progresses. Doing them first will give you so much more freedom and free time throughout the rest of your day.
  6. Bring your own water to the park. Universal does not allow outside food but you may bring water bottles and fruit to the park.
  7. Add the dining plan. Adding even the smallest plan can save you money. The Quick Service plan gives you 1 counter service entrée and a drink. Later in the day you may then redeem another drink and snack. The portions are very healthy and worth the additional $20 per adult and $14.95 per child. Eat lunch at off peak hours to avoid the crowds and long lunch lines.
  8. Do not forget to check your cell phones and backpacks at the free lockers provided near many of the rides. Universal will allow about the current wait time for the rides located closest to the lockers as free locker time for your personal belongings while you ride the rides. If you try to enter a ride with your backpack or cell phones, they will not allow you access to that ride. So do take advantage of this feature.
  9. Check out show times and parade times. The park has several throughout the day and it is a good idea to plan ahead so you can get there in time for good seating.
  10. Take advantage of the child switch feature. I love this little perk and think anyone with children should take advantage of it as well. If any of your children cannot ride a ride, an adult can wait outside with that child and when the rest of the party returns, you can switch and ride the ride without waiting in line.

A41BAA12-18FB-49B5-B1BB-C2FC60D7D67AI hope these tips have helped you to better plan your day at Universal Studios. If you are interested in learning more and want to purchase tickets or a package at an onsite resort, please contact me at missyr@wishesfamilytravel.com. You can also follow me on Facebook.

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Resort Hopping

Posted by on 8:10 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Resort Hopping

By: Becky Criswell
April 10, 2018

My family and I just returned from another amazing Walt Disney World vacation. We enjoyed 9 wonderful nights and 10 packed days of pool time, charming characters, timeless rides and endless memories. On this particular trip we also did something that we have never done before…RESORT HOPPING! We stayed at not one, not two, but THREE fabulous resorts. I’m here to tell you the pros and cons of this experience and also to tell you that if I could do it with 3 little ones and 10 suitcases, anyone can do it!

BC_Resort_Hopping_BC_photo_2We started out at the Art of Animation Resort in a Cars family suite, which we absolutely loved. The setup was perfect for our family and the kids went nuts over the décor. One thing we did not anticipate about resort hopping was the disappointment from my four-year old when we told him we were packing up after two nights and moving to a new place. In our minds, it was going to be special to move to Disney’s Beach Club Resort. My son, however, had grown attached to the brightly-colored, wonderfully themed Art of Animation Resort and was quite sad to leave. (Who could blame him!?) It makes perfect sense, but we hadn’t thought of that. Therefore, my advice would be to think about your little ones and how to prepare them in advance if you are going to be hopping to someplace new.

After explaining to my son that the Beach Club also had a very fun pool, as well as a short walk to Epcot, he was more accepting of our move and we were on our way! Disney makes this process easy for you because they will collect all of your luggage at the bell desk and transfer it for you to the new resort. We dropped off all of our bags, minus a few essentials and headed to Disney’s Boardwalk for breakfast. While it was extremely convenient for them to transport our luggage while we went about our day, I wish I would have known that the transfer process was going to take most of the day. This would not have been a problem had I known, so this is another point I want to make clear to those of you reading this. Your luggage is not expected to arrive at your new resort until at least 3 or 4pm, and in our case it was later. My advice is to take a bag along with you containing anything that you may need for the rest of the day. We wanted to spend time in the pool but didn’t have our bathing suits, and we were a bit worried because we didn’t have pajamas for our kids. It all worked out for us, but this is definitely a good thing to make note of!

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After 6 nights at the Beach Club, we hopped over to The Contemporary Resort for our final night. This was an extra special treat for us. We enjoyed a theme-park view room which is something we would not be able to afford for an entire week. We also had extended family with us and we were able to share in the cost of this spectacular room. It was truly amazing!

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Was it “work” to move my family twice during our stay? Yes, it was. Was it sad to leave Art of Animation and the Beach Club? Yes, it was, as we had made memories at each one that would last a lifetime. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! It was worth every effort to pack up our things in exchange for experiencing THREE of Disney’s amazing resorts in just one trip. There are so many amazing resorts to experience at Walt Disney World, and I feel completely blessed that I was able to stay at three of them within one week. We had the unique privilege of enjoying a variety of pools, dining locations, rooms, and beautiful views. I highly recommend resort hopping if you have the opportunity, as long as you are prepared and organized. I would advise you to organize your luggage in such a way so there are specific bags for each resort. For instance, we had two bags for our first two nights at Art of Animation and we never had to open the other 8 pieces of luggage during our stay there.

If you’d like more information about resort hopping or about any of Disney’s fabulous resorts, please contact me at beckyc@wishesfamilytravel.com!

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5 Things My Family Learned on a Disney Cruise

Posted by on 8:05 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

5 Things My Family Learned on a Disney Cruise

By: Amy Baranek
April 5, 2018

We learned to make friends.

Yes, the heartwarming part of this goes to my boys who are normally more quiet and reserved. The first day they wanted to attend a meet and greet with our group from Facebook, within about 5 minutes they were running around and playing some game that had been crafted. We could not get them to leave. And we managed to meet some parents of the kids they were running around with. It was great to run into these people later in the cruise. I also found that on every excursion we went on, my boys were making friends. When I had to get them ready to leave on one excursion their new friends didn’t want them to leave as they were playing Star Wars in the pool. Then our next excursion they started making friends with another set of kids who they then played with the rest of the time. I watched this experience unfold, and they were initiating the interaction – it really was heartwarming to see. For the adults, the most fun interaction was the mixology class we took. We sat next to a great group of people with some amazing conversation and learned to make some great cocktails for back home!

We learned to be independent.

But wait, we’re supposed to be on a family cruise right? Yes, and trust me there is plenty of family time, however, it was great to see everyone taking time for themselves. One of my favorites was after dinner my husband and older son would go off on adventures exploring the boat. They would pop into a movie for a little while, get ice cream up on deck, and at one point stopped in a store to surprise me with a necklace that I received after the cruise. I know my son really appreciated this time as he kept recounting his adventures the next day. I loved when we would go to pick the kids up from kids club and they would sometimes want to stay longer, or that they would request to go there. As the boys became more comfortable on the boat, they would race the stairs to get back to the room, and half the time be back in our room before us slow adults could make it there! Independence went for the adults as well with adult brunch at Palo, a trip to Senses for a massage, or even a nap for grandma. I felt like everyone got to have a say in how they wanted to spend part of their vacation time and enjoy quality time with each other.

We learned about other cultures and countries.

This goes on multiple levels. At our ports of call we got to see what the islands looked like… some good and bad. It opened your eyes up a bit and got my boys talking. I think the best interaction for them was with our servers, who they loved. We would have conversations about what it was like where they live, about their families, and about working on the boat. My sons could not believe that they didn’t get to see their kids for 5 months as that is the length of time they work on the cruise before a break. It really opened their eyes to how lucky they are to have the opportunities they have living in the United States. It allowed us to have a great conversation with them and hopefully they gained a better global perspective on things.

We learned about compromise.

No matter how hard you try, there is just not enough time to do everything. As everyone started to understand the cruise concept, we’d start picking our must dos. Every night dinner and the show was a must. This left time during the day wide open. We’d look at the Navigator and see if there was a must do for anyone. For example, my son really wanted Stitch’s adventure in the Kids Club while the other wanted to play the Detective Agency. I think the boys really liked being involved in shaping their day. This also helped when my must do was to have pictures on formal night (much to my boys chagrin), when the boys wanted to complain about dressing up for pictures, a helpful reminder of their choices we accommodated earlier aided in squashing the complaints!

We learned about new career opportunities.

After the stingray experience, my son has decided his new calling in life is to work with stingrays. He thought they were so cool and gentle that when he grows up he would like to take care of them. Both my boys really enjoyed this experience, but here’s the comical part….they wouldn’t get into the water to feed them. Yes, both my boys were so excited to feed the stingrays, they listened to the entire discussion on how they have no stingers, shuffle your feet when you get in, how gentle the stingrays are, etc. My one son even had all snorkel gear on to check them out after. As we started entering the water to walk out to the feeding station and the curious stingrays started swimming around our feet, they both ran back to land and refused to come in the water. I was able to talk my one son in after the tears subsided, but my other son -the one who aspires to take care of stingrays when he grows up – never went in more than his ankles!

This was such a memorable family experience, it was my boys’ first cruise and they loved it. It is such a great change of pace. Sure some days were busy, but they didn’t have to be, there was no rush to see and do as much as possible. It was as much as we wanted to do, and we could take a time out for ice cream, pool, or a movie. If you are considering a Disney cruise, I’d love to answer your questions! Feel free to email me or visit my Facebook page for more pictures and a few videos! Know that you will make unforgettable family memories that will last a lifetime!

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Disney’s Hidden Mickey’s

Posted by on 8:49 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

By: Anna Trosper
April 3, 2018

If you’re asking what a hidden Mickey is you are not alone. This is one of Disney’s hidden secrets! A Hidden Mickey is an image of Mickey Mouse worked into the design of a Disney attraction or some other Disney structure. Originally, a Hidden Mickey was the familiar shape of Mickey’s head and ears made from one large circle with two smaller circles on top. These days, however, Hidden Mickeys can take many forms.

It’s no longer just Mickey. You’ll find hidden Minnie’s, Donald Ducks, Goofys, Pluto’s, Baloo’s, Winnie the Poohs, and others. The Imagineers and Cast Members have loads of fun placing Hidden Mickeys and other characters for us to find. There is no official list of Hidden Mickey’s but there are lists that Disney guest have made up over the years.

Finding a hidden Mickey has become great fun for my family over the years. On my first trip to see Pandora in Animal Kingdom this last July I found my first Hidden Mickey in this new land! Below you will see the photo of the Hidden Mickey. This can be found on the ground by the exit path of Na’vi River ride. I can’t list all of the Hidden Mickey’s I have found over the years but here are a few more to get you started!

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When in the queue for Journey of the Little Mermaid- Under the Sea you can find this Hidden Mickey. This is a tough one if you don’t know where it is. As you are going into the queue before you get to the first cave you have to look behind you and up on the rocks. Look up high and you will see the three circles on the rock. I say it’s a Hidden Mickey what do you think?

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You never know where you will find a Hidden Mickey. We went to Magic Kingdom in 2015 for the holidays and the Castle was all decked out in lights! Stunning if you have never seen it! Anyway, what do you think I saw? Yep, you got it! A Hidden Mickey! Can you see him?

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Now don’t think you can only find Hidden Mickey’s in the parks. Oh, no! Hidden Mickey’s are everywhere. They can be outside the park, at your resort, in your Disney resort room. They are all over the place: buses, chairs, walls, badges. You just never know where you will find one.

Hidden Mickey’s are not only at Walt Disney World. They can be found at any Disney Destination, even Disney Cruise Ships have hidden Mickeys. If you are on one of these Disney Cruise ships, make sure to take a look around; you never know where you will find one. Tip: Look at the housekeeping carts, carpets, elevators, table cloths. You will find them everywhere!

Remember when I said that other Disney characters are hidden also? Take a look at this hidden Pluto! Can you see him? Pluto makes his appearance on the Disney Cruise Line buses!

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So, as you can see this can become quite an addiction very fast! You will start seeing Hidden Mickeys everywhere; even in your everyday life! This is a great way to keep the magic alive when you are waiting for your next Disney vacation. Start your own list and see how many you can find.

If you would like help planning your next adventure I would be happy to help you. I have other great tips to help make your vacation magical! Please visit my Facebook page to keep up to date on all the great travel deals and promotions.

I look forward to helping you plan a very magical trip!

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Royal Caribbean Top 5: Places To Travel With Kids

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Norwegian Cruise Line Escape

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