By: Tiffany Morse
September 7, 2017
I have been to Walt Disney World Resort several times, both with and without my kids. Naturally with the kids , things get a little more complicated. For us, that also means life threatening. Daniel has a life-threatening peanut allergy. If you have been to Disney or any public place think about how many peanuts and peanut butter you see. It is everywhere. Daniel’s allergy is so severe that if anyone has had or touched peanut butter and touches him that will set it off. Sometimes it makes me want to keep him in a bubble and never let him go anywhere.
Daniel has had six peanut butter exposures, each one landing us in the hospital and completely terrifying. He says “I feel sick,” then he throws up, breaks out in head to toe hives, with his face and throat swelling and finally has breathing problems. We start with Benadryl, which usually does enough to get him to the hospital, and if that is not enough we typically have 4 EpiPens on hand, just in case.
With all of this you can imagine how scared I was at the thought of taking him somewhere full of potential threats. I started by researching and found on many food allergy websites they all loved Disney and said they did a great job. Then I called Disney to make our reservation. After I made the hotel reservation, I explained about Daniel’s allergy and severity of it and to please put a note on our reservation for the Mousekeeper’s and anyone else that we come in contact with us or our room. Then they sent me to dining and I went through the same procedure with them.
When we arrived at Disney months later, I began to feel anxious. They had the allergy on our room reservation, and at each place we went to eat the allergy was noted. At each restaurant they would seat us, and then the chef would come out and talk to us about the menu and what we wanted to eat. If they did not have what Daniel could or wanted to eat they would make something special for him. The special attention was great and made Daniel feel special instead of bad about the things he could not have.
As for the parks, I wiped down each que line and every ride before he sat on it. The Cast Members loved this and offered me a job. Daniel was two the first time he went to Disney knowing he had the allergy. I only mention this because he licked everything on that trip, even I’m embarrassed to say, a toilet seat . Seriously gross!
So even with him licking everything in sight, we never had a problem. The cast members were very knowledgeable about the food and what every item contained and where it was packaged. They were very careful when they cleaned our room and there was no cross contamination.
We have traveled to many places and often have problems. Most recently we went to New York and had to rush Daniel to the hospital from a cross-contamination from an ice cream scoop at an ice cream store. You do not want to be racing through Manhattan during rush hour traffic on Friday night trying to get your child to the ER.
When we go out in public anywhere Daniel has a small backpack that he carries with his Benadryl and EpiPens. It has a patch on it like this one. It also has my name and phone number on there incase someone finds him and he cannot talk. He also wears a bracelet on his wrist to alert everyone.
The people at Disney are wonderful. They understand and are extremely gracious in helping to keep Daniel safe and give him a sense of normalcy. It is a magical place where we are not scared and we feel safe taking Daniel. The chefs are wonderful at going above and beyond to assist you. Disney is amazing and they truly do rock food allergies.
Why My Travel Professionals Earned Respect Today
Working through Irma
By Shellie Wylie, Owner
September 6, 2017
The devastation of Irma has been, and unfortunately continues to be profound. Our hearts are breaking for the people in her path. She has already claimed 3 lives as she churns through the Caribbean, Bahamas and then the US…
As an Agency, each of us had to put our personal fears aside today to assist our clients who have travel plans being ruined by this nasty, dangerous storm. Our work day has not ended yet. Tomorrow will be another long day for the Wishes Family Travel professional travel planners.
I am writing this essay to speak of their honor, devotion and worthiness: To also describe what today was like so maybe, just maybe you will understand why I respect them and hopefully for you to gain some understanding of their value.
Each client with travel plans needed to be contacted. Decisions had to be made after many discussions regarding what travel insurance may or may not cover; cancelation policies; flight changes; hurricane policy; when the hurricane policy takes effect. Do the clients wish to reschedule or cancel? What are the differences in pricing, and availability? And there are potentially several more DOZEN questions to be answered FOR EACH VACATION.
What does this look like? Picture one woman with her cell phone and landline. One phone she has been on hold for 2+ hour waiting for a supplier, getting bounced from department to department as each of the problems is solved; while simultaneously texting her client the progress and making decisions. This goes on for hours, client after client ALL DAY LONG and into the night.
It won’t stop at just changing the dates and all travel arrangements. Now the Wishes Travel Professional must reconstruct the dream vacation extras like shore excursions, dining reservations, and stroller rentals. All the items she completed once before she is doing again. After all, the rescheduled vacation still needs to be magical and what the client dreamed it would be.
That’s the part I want you to know. They did all this work, under extremely difficult circumstances and time constraints, only with the client’s best interests in mind. They did what needed to be done to serve their clients. No less. They fought for their clients. They advocated for their clients. They WORKED.
Devotion from a True Travel Professional
What happened today to people who didn’t use a travel professional? See that photo? That’s ONE phone call.
Sometimes I just want to scream on a day like this when I get an email or call that questions our value as a profession. Today that was like getting kicked in the gut by a mule.
My response was this is an intensely personal business that cannot be conducted solely online. Our value as travel professionals is found in our experience, advice, architecture of the vacation experience, concierge services, and ADVOCACY. A single 9-hour phone call proves my point perfectly.
I value and respect each of the Professional Travel Planners who work for me. They EARNED that respect today.
Official Statement regarding Hurricane Irma Advisory form Gary Sadler, Sandals Resorts
Sept 5, 2017 11am Eastern
Guests on resort
- Unable to depart: The distress rate for guests who cannot depart our resort will be charged $450.00 per night. The first night will be complimentary.
Guests yet to travel
- Revising stay: Guests will be able to revise their stays to arrive within 7 days of their original arrival date with no penalty. If guests have to shorten their stay as a result, they will be given a credit for unused nights. For bookings beyond 7 days of their original arrival date the guests will need to pay the prevailing rates.
- Postpone: Guests that wish to postpone their trip will be given a credit of their land stay.The credit is valid for one year from their original departure date. Current rates are applicable to new travel dates.
Airfare booked with UVI
- Reservations will verify with the Leisure Air Department available options for guests to revise. The Leisure Air Department ext. is 4580.
Airfare booked by others
- Guests will need to contact the Airline directly.
Guests that have purchased trip insurance need to contact the service provider for their coverage.
If you have any questions, please contact your Wishes Family Travel professional travel planner.
May God keep you safe.
By: Corrie Krpejs
September 5, 2017
There are so many reasons to celebrate while at Walt Disney World. Whether it’s a birthday, reunion, graduation, anniversary, 1st visit, or just being together. Here are my top 10 ways to celebrate:
1. Celebration Buttons: These are free and you can find these at Guest Relations and select retail locations.
2. Order a Celebration Cake: Create a custom cake for your celebration! These are available at most Table Service Restaurants. 6-inch chocolate and vanilla cakes are available as well, no advanced notice needed for those. Custom cakes require advanced reservations and are not available at Magic Kingdom
3. In-Room Celebrations: From Pirates to Princesses. Frozen to Star Wars. Disney Floral and Gifts will decorate your room! There are lots of themes to choose from, including a Holiday theme.
4. Specialty Cruise: These cruises allow up to 8-10 people. Snacks and drinks are included. Wanting more? They can decorate the boat and you can order from the Private Dining menu – Champagne, strawberries, desserts, or fruit and cheese platters.
5. Mickey Ears: You can find these all over the Parks or can even order these online. Just married? They have Bride and Groom ears! They also come in a variety of characters and colors.
6. Book a Character Meal: Celebrate your special occasion with their favorite character!
7. Book a tour: There are about 60 different tours to choose from. There’s something for everyone.
8. Order a Gift Basket: Have a themed basket delivered to your room.
9. Take a Carriage Ride: Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage ride at either Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside or Disney’s Fort Wilderness.
10. Design a t-shirt: Head to Design-A-Tee at Disney Springs. Here you can customize a T-shirt with over 400 images to choose from.
Email Corrie to celebrate your next special occasion in Walt Disney World!
By: Erica Kocher
August 31, 2017
I made a revelation this week that has honestly blown my mind! After planning frequent Disney vacations for my family, I never took advantage of the Park Hopper Plus Add-On Option because I didn’t want to put something extra into our already busy days and miss out on theme park time. I really wish that I would have read more about what the Park Hopper Plus Add-On really offers because it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
For first time Disney visitors, I’ll first explain the ticket options before I share this exciting fact. The main ticket option is the Base Ticket. This ticket will get you admission into any of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom) for one day. While purchasing the Base Ticket you are given two options that you can add-on for an additional cost. The first option is the Park Hopper Add-On. This add-on option will allow you to visit more than one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks. You could visit one park in the morning and a different park in the evening. If you are really adventurous, you could go to all four theme parks in one day if you choose. (This is a must-add for our family as we like to jam pack our Disney vacations while taking a short break in the afternoons for swimming or a nap.)
The second option is the Park Hopper Plus Add-On. This ticket adds more options than just visiting the four theme parks. You also have admission to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, a round of golf at Disney’s 9-hole Oak Trail Golf Course (tee times are required), ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, and Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course. This add-on is the one that is often misunderstood, but very beneficial to have. Note: all ticket purchases must be used within 14 days of the first use.
Now on to better explaining the Park Hopper Plus Add-On, that I must admit has me super excite to share with you! Popular belief is that if you have a 5 day ticket with the Park Hopper Plus Add-on that you have to go to the parks and “plus” locations in 5 days out of the 14 days after first use. (For example, you could be at a Walt Disney World Resort for 7 days and take a break in the middle of the week just to relax at the resort pool.) This is not how this add-on works at all. For each day of theme park tickets you purchase, you get the same number of admissions to one of the “plus locations” that I mentioned above. What this means is that you don’t have to visit a water park the same day as a theme park, if you don’t choose to. You could essentially turn your 5 day Park Hopper Plus ticket into 10 days of Disney fun if you choose to. You would have 5 admissions to the fun locations to use as you wish, as long as it is within the 14 days of the first use. You could also use two of the extra admissions on the same day, but that would count as two admissions not just one. Park hopping only counts at the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks not the plus locations.
How you could use a 5 day Park Hopper Plus ticket for a spring break visit to Walt Disney World:
Day 1: Visit Magic Kingdom in the morning and hop to Epcot in the evening
Day 2: Visit Hollywood Studios in the morning and hop to Animal Kingdom in the evening
Day 3: Visit Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon in the morning and afternoon & visit Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course after dinner (this will take two of your plus location admissions)
Day 4: Visit Epcot in the morning and hop to Hollywood Studios in the evening
Day 5: Visit Animal Kingdom in the morning and hop to Magic Kingdom in the evening
Day 6: Fit in a round of golf at Oak Trail Golf Course in the morning, shopping at Disney Springs in the afternoon and catch your favorite baseball team is playing the Atlanta Braves in a spring training game at the ESPN Sports Complex in the evening (this will take two of your plus location admissions)
Day 7: Visit 3 parks in one day to ride your favorite rides at those parks and catch your favorite evening firework show (my family often does this because we all get to choose our favorite rides and we make sure we ride them on our last day at the theme parks)
Day 8: You leave in the evening, but still have one plus location admission left, so you decide check out Disney’s Blizzard Beach…the hotel bell service will hold your luggage for you while you go and the water park has showers and changing rooms so you can freshen up before your travels home
By buying the 5 day Park Hopper Plus ticket, you have just turned your vacation in to 8 full days of Walt Disney World fun!
Like that wasn’t enough great Walt Disney World ticket knowledge to learn, here’s the best news. If you purchase the 5 day Park Hopper tickets, adding the Park Hopper Plus Add-On Option is only $15. That’s correct, if you do the math that is only $3 per admission to the plus option locations. I will definitely be adding the Park Hopper Plus Add-On Option to all of our future Disney vacations!
If you would help finding the best way to get the most out of your future Disney vacations, I would love to help you! Feel free to email me at Erica@wishesfamilytravel.com or call me at 618-514-5536. Please visit my Facebook page for all the latest promotions, travel tips and information. You can visit our main Wishes Family Travel page for other great travel information and join our Facebook group Disney Conversations with Wishes.
By: Becky Mullinax
August 29, 2017
My story begins many years ago when I first noticed that I suffered from travel sickness whenever I rode in a car. This became so debilitating for me that I could only drive, rather than ride in, vehicles. In late 2013 my symptoms became more severe, and I noticed that something odd was happening with my hearing. After many visits to ENT’s, MRI scans, motion tests, allergy tests and hearing tests I was given the diagnosis- Meniere’s disease.
When the ENT delivered the news to me, time slowed down and I could not grasp what he said. I was thinking that this couldn’t be happening to me. I had to witness my aunt deteriorate from this disease for years, and now that would become my fate.
For those of you who are unaware, Meniere’s disease is a relatively rare condition that causes spontaneous vertigo and may result in spontaneous hearing loss. I have lost 40% or more of my hearing; I have a fear of turning my head too fast, any rapid eye movement, watching very vivid and bright screens and waking up with a severe case of vertigo.
Now, why am I writing about this? I want anyone with this disease to know that you can still travel, only with limitations. My particular limitations are that I can’t fly for longer than 2 hours due to the pressure on my ears, and long road trips must be taken in stages. I can no longer go to a movie theater due to the noise and vivid colors, ride any of my favorite roller coasters, experience loud and bright attractions, boat rides, riding passenger in a car, listening to music, etc.
How can I travel never knowing when vertigo will strike? I get prescription patches from my doctor and they have become a lifesaver for me, even with the side effects I have from them. I always apply one patch behind my ear a day before I travel and then every third day I remove it and apply a new one. When I fly, I also use special ear plugs that help release the pressure from my ears during the flights. My experience with this disease has helped me learn my limitations, and how to live with this disease as well as the dietary restrictions I have to reduce the chance of a vertigo attack.
This is very difficult for me. My favorite places to be are either on a cruise anywhere or seeing Mickey at Walt Disney World! My disease has turned me into quite the people watcher; my joy is watching other people express excitement over their vacations.
Currently, my bucket list includes a cruise to Alaska, Hawaii, a trip to Disneyland and Jamaica. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to experience these due to the distance, but I still am capable of dreaming.
If you would like more information about traveling with Meinere’s, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to talk with you.
By: Sari Palmeri
August 24, 2017
I am what one would consider a “picky eater”. My kids have taken after me in this department, so when we go to Disney World we have our “safe restaurants” that we visit to every time. We know there is something for everyone, and we rarely venture outside of our restaurant comfort zone. However, on my recent adult only trip to Disney with some friends for a runDisney race, I decided it was time to shake things up and try something new!
My first night I went with friends to Yachtsman Steakhouse. I had the 10 oz. filet mignon and I almost finished the entire thing! I was so full, but I couldn’t stop eating it because it was so good. I ate too much of the steak and forgot to leave room for dessert!
The next night we went to another restaurant new to me. Big River Grille & Brewing Works is on the Boardwalk in a more casual setting. We shared crab artichoke dip as our appetizer and I was very impressed! That is not something I would normally try, but I had made the decision to try new things and it was paying off. I had an enormous side salad and a cheeseburger with mashed potatoes. The cheeseburger was cooked perfectly, and the mashed potatoes were a great consistency. I cleaned my plate and once again was left too full for dessert. I had been eyeing the chocolate cake on the menu, so I told myself I will just have to come back again!
Our last night for dinner was at Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. WOW! I think that word sums up the entire meal. For appetizers we had that night’s special which was a sample of a risotto, and shared a margherita pizza. For my entrée I had the Polpetta Gigante, a beef and spinach meatball, Ricotta Cannelloni and Sunday Gravy. It was delicious and I was stuffed! I was very impressed with the quality of food at Trattoria al Forno and have placed the new breakfast at the top of my Disney dining bucket list.
My next trip is another adult only trip for work, and we have already made some exciting reservations at restaurants I have never been to! I can’t wait to try even more new restaurants and experience the amazing food Disney World has to offer.
Dining is a huge part of a Disney vacation and with all the amazing character meals and signature restaurants there is never a shortage of new things to try. As part of my concierge level services I can recommend restaurants and book your reservations to ensure you get the best that Disney offers! Contact me at email@example.com.
By: Christina Szewczuk
August 22, 2017
One of the frequent topics of conversation with Walt Disney World clients is “What should I bring to the park with me?” This is especially true for those who have never traveled to Walt Disney World as an adult or with children or have never visited at all. Using my own experiences, here are some general supplies you will need in your park bag.
In general, I include:
- Lip balm
- Hand wipes
- Smart Phone
- Cash or gift cards
- Travel size sunscreen
- Charger cord & portable battery pack
- Mints or gum (no gum is sold in Disney parks)
- Water bottle – self-filtered water on bottles are great to have. You’ll always have fresh tasting water!
If inclement weather is expected, I will include:
- Extra socks and shoes
- Plastic bag to hold potentially wet items
- Small towel (either for yourself or to wipe a possibly wet seat)
- And most importantly, a positive attitude!
A fun extra: Bring Pre-sorted change for pressed penny souvenirs – M&M mini containers work well to hold easy-access spare change for this purpose. Stack two quarters and a shiny penny and your change is already separated. No fumbling with change!
Now that we have touched on basic needs for the contents, here are my recommendations and tips for what type of bag to use for your park bag.
Tips & Bag Type Recommendations:
Infants/Toddlers/Young kids: Backpack
If your kids are toddlers or infants, you will probably treat your park bag like a modified diaper bag. For infants, you’ll most likely want to have a small cooler bag with their food (bottle/baby food/snacks, etc) unless you are solely breast feeding. These bags people usually store in the bottom of their stroller or in a locker. (A good tip about strollers: bring something like a bright cloth or colorful bandanna to tie around the handle. This will make your stroller stand out to you so it doesn’t get lost in the sea of strollers at stroller parking lots. A luggage tag with your name and phone number is also helpful in case someone accidentally grabs your stroller.) Diapers, wipes, and extra clothes are always a must as any parent of a tiny human knows. Should you run out or forget to pack these things, there are Baby Centers in each park where you can purchase a few supplies. This came to my rescue once with my daughter!
Older Kids: Small-Medium bag or backpack
Now that the kids no longer need a diapers, bottles, etc you’re carrying a much lighter load! However, now that they are out of stroller age, you are losing some storage space. This is why I recommend a bag or backpack of some type. They still need you to carry things for them and if they are anything like my kids, in the bag it goes. Bringing an extra shirt and a stain remover pen or wipe is a good idea to add to your bag for this age group. Spills happen. Especially when ice cream is involved! Although there are first aid centers throughout the parks, I recommend throwing one of those small first aid kits in your bag with a few band aids and an antiseptic wipe.
Teens and Adults: small pouch/bag
I have a very small backpack that I use when I am at the park without my kids. I like to have my water bottle with me, so it is small, but big enough to hold my water bottle. Now I know “fanny packs” have been the butt of many jokes, but they are a nice hands free storage option. There are some styles that are more like an athletic pouch that work well too.
These are general suggestions of what to include in your park bag – and perhaps some items you hadn’t thought about before! I would love to hear you include in your bag, so send your lists to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to follow my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CSzewczuk.wft for more updates and information!