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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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5 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Without the Kids

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5 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World Without the Kids

By: Juli Russ
February 22, 2018

Many people believe a Disney vacation is something you only do with your kids. Of course, the kids love the Disney rides, characters and shows. Let me tell you the five reasons you should visit Walt Disney World without your kids.

1. Staying Late at the Parks

When we visit the Disney parks without our kids, we like to sleep in and have a leisurely cup of coffee. We will plan to arrive at our chosen park for the day around 11:00 am. You might be thinking, “Uh oh! Now the lines will be really long!” They often are, but we use our FastPass selections very wisely and wait for the later evening hours. Families with younger children often leave the parks early which makes the lines much shorter later at night. We also always stay at the parks when Extra Magic Hours are offered at night.

2. Park Hopping

Sometimes when you have your kiddos in tow, moving from ride to ride can be a struggle let alone moving between more than one park in a day. When we leave our darling son and daughter at home we love to park hop. On our most recent kid free trip we visited every park in one day just to ride our favorite rides!

3. Enjoying Adult Beverages

Now, alcohol is not forbidden when traveling with the kids but it can be much more fun to enjoy a few cocktails when you don’t have to keep an eye on them! Sipping a tropical drink by the pool, a glass of wine with dinner, and trying cocktails in each country at Epcot are several of our favorite times to enjoy a drink. We love to ride the monorail and visit each bar in the resorts to try the different drinks they offer. The best part is we do not have to drive back to our resort, the Disney transportation system will get us where we need to be.


4. Dining at Nice Restaurants

Dining with characters has always been one of the highlights of every Disney trip for our family. When we visit the park without the kids we like to dine at some of the more upscale restaurants that the kids would not appreciate or even find something on the menu to eat. The Boathouse at Disney Springs is a great spot right on the water. I had the one-pound crab stuffed lobster!! Another favorite is the California Grill located at the top of the Contemporary Resort. California Grill has an amazing view of Magic Kingdom and if you happen to be dining during the fireworks you will have the perfect place to see them.



5. Acting like a kid

As much as we take advantage of experiences that our kids would not be fond of, we also find ourselves acting like kids! We still run to the characters to try to be first in line, still wave to the characters in the parade and ride every single ride. At the resorts we slide down the water slides, hang out in the pool and wander around the gift shops.


A Walt Disney World vacation without the kiddos should be your next vacation and I would love to help you plan it.  You can follow along on my Facebook page, or email me at for much more information on an adult only vacation to Walt Disney World.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

By: Anna Trosper
February 20, 2018

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are two themed areas in Universal Orlando based on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series. Universal Orlando has out done themselves on this one. You feel like you have stepped right into one of the books! The detail is unreal and the interaction makes you a part of this magical world, not just a passerby.

The themed worlds include attractions, restaurants, and shops themed around a replica of Hogwarts Castle nestled inside Hogsmeade Village and the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley. The two worlds are connected by the Hogwarts Express. This train ride must be experienced both ways because each offers a different adventure.


Today let’s chat about Hogsmeade. Photos of Hogsmeade should remove any doubt you might have of whether Universal Orlando has succeeded in recreating the detailed world from the Harry Potter books and films. Here you will find Ollivanders. This is the shop where the wand chooses you. The line can be a little long to get into the store but is well worth the wait for any Potter fan.


Also in Hogsmeade you will find the Forbidden journey. This is the 3D ride inside Hogwarts Castle. Yes I said inside! The queue for this ride takes you on a journey all its own. At the start you are informed that Muggles are being let into the castle to attend a lecture. The Headmaster, Dumbledore, extends all the muggles a warm welcome. Harry, Ron and Hermione also make a small appearance. You will see the Sorting Hat and talking paintings along the way. If you pay close attention there is a story being told. The ride itself is amazing! Muggles must be 48 inches tall to ride the Forbidden Journey, but if you are under that you can still walk through the castle.


If you get hungry while you are visiting Hogsmeade head straight to The Three Broomsticks Inn. This is Hogsmeades most famous restaurant and the detailing inside is right out of the movie!

at-hogsmeade1You can choose from a wide variety of traditional English meals. Main Courses include Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, Rotisserie Smoked Chicken, Rib Platter and Turkey Leg. If you have a family of four, or are really hungry, they have the Great Feast Platter. This will feed four and includes:

* Fresh Garden Salad
* Rotisserie Smoked Chicken
* Ribs
* Corn-on-the-cob
* Roasted Potatoes
* Mixed Vegetables

There are so many shops to see you can spend the whole day just shopping! Gladrags Wizardwear sells robes and uniforms. You can stop by the Owl Post and mail a postcard to a friend and have it certified with the Hogsmeade postmark! Looking for a chocolate Frog? Then head into

One thing you cannot miss! You have to stop in the bathrooms; even if you don’t have to go. Guess who is hanging out in there? Yes, Moaning Myrtle! She can be heard speaking to guests in the Hogsmeade washrooms.

If you have an interactive wand and map you can go to various locations like shop windows and say the designated spell to activate magical special effects. We had the opportunity to do this and the kids did not want to stop!


You can spend the whole day here if you don’t watch your time. So if you are going to Universal Orlando to see the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter make sure you plan a few days to spend in the parks. You will need a Park to Park ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two worlds: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

There is so much more to The Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter that I can’t get it all in! So if you are planning or thinking about a trip to Universal Orlando, I would love to be your personal travel planner to ensure you have a great trip. You can contact me at or visit my Facebook page: I look forward to helping you plan a magical vacation!

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Working for Wishes and making your business work for you

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Working for Wishes and making your business work for you

By: Missy Ryan
February 15, 2018

It has been a little over 3 years since I accepted the position of a concierge agent with Wishes Family Travel. Prior to those 3 very fulfilling years, I was a stay at home mom who had 4 children and was a former 1st grade teacher. My years were busy raising my children but I knew we were in need of a second stream of income. I have written how the decision to work from home has changed my life in so many ways. Now I would like to follow up three years later with where I am today.

Three years ago I started with selling Disney Destinations. I was happy to serve clients visiting Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney/Disney in Aulani. Being a former teacher, I’m programmed to always want more, more learning, more teaching and more growing. To my surprise, I have had these opportunities and more working for Wishes.
My travel experience has grown from Disney and has expanded to Sandals, Beaches, Universal Studios in Orlando, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines Norwegian Cruise Lines and several inclusive Caribbean locations around the world. Not only have I grown personally through these trainings, I have grown a considerable amount professionally. Within Wishes I have also been involved with added training that has helped me to become more confident as I grow my business.


However, one of the main reasons I wanted to record my journey was to revisit my initial decision to start working for Wishes. Three years later, I not only have grown a clientele of families all over the country, I have booked/worked on over 300 families during those years. Within that time, I have also had a fifth child and a sixth one is on her way. Working for Wishes has allowed me to not only to grow my business but to also grow my family and be a part of my family’s life still.


To be perfectly clear, this job is a job. It is not just a hobby. It is not something I do on my spare time. When I work, I am working. I am giving 110%. I am growing my business through marketing, such as events outside my home, trainings online and trainings at locations during the year. I am conducting contests on Facebook and continually asking for referrals and rewarding others for word of mouth advertising.


Throughout my growth I am also able to be with my children when they are home sick, have lunch with them at school, go on school field trips and still go on vacation to enjoy the beach as I blog and work Oceanside. My business is an ongoing task that you get out of it what you put into it. Don’t get me wrong, I do take vacation days. I do have an out of office message that allows me to fully enjoy any moment of a family memory. We are a family that enjoys our time together and do a lot each year.
One tradition we incorporate is a three week family vacation to the beach. Luckily, my husband also works remotely and can take his work with him. These are the times I reflect and really think about how Wishes has blessed our family in more ways than one. As I sit 5 months pregnant and watch my children jump waves, I know God chose this path to Wishes for a reason.

For the added support of a strong management and boss, I am also able to work effectively knowing I have not signed up for something and left to fend for myself. I felt inclined to write my story because there are several moms who are in the same position I was once in. Knowing there is an opportunity that allows moms (and Dads) to be parent sand still contribute to the family financially, gives you a sense of freedom as you work your business while in return, it works for you. If you are interested in learning more and want to purchase tickets or a package at an onsite resort, please contact me at You can also follow me on Facebook.

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To Plan or Not to Plan (with a Professional) That is the Question?

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To Plan or Not to Plan (with a Professional) That is the Question?

By: Erin Buchanan
February 13, 2018




Congratulations! You’ve decided to take your family on a Disney vacation! Now should you book it on your own or place your trust in the hands of a travel professional? Here are some reasons why it would be beneficial to use the services of an agent who is affiliated with an Authorized Disney Vacation planning agency, like Wishes Family Travel.

Travel planners provide high quality, professional service when planning your vacation.

They are very knowledgeable and passionate about everything Disney!

There is absolutely NO cost to you when using a travel planner! Their commission is built into your trip and the travel agency is paid directly by Disney.
They are diligent in getting your “must-have” dining reservations and FastPasses. They set their alarms to wake up early so you don’t have to!

You have a trusted advocate if any difficult situations arise while on your vacation. Unfortunate situations like lost items, illness, issues with your resort room, as well as any other unforeseen problems can be relayed to your agent and they will do their best to right the situation.

Your itinerary is completely planned out for you eliminating stress on you and allowing you to enjoy your vacation. Your dining reservations are scheduled along with FastPasses, parades, fireworks, and special events for each park day.
Your travel planner will always be on the lookout and apply any applicable offers to your reservation, thus saving you from long hold times!

Using the services of a travel planner helps by supporting small local business.

You maybe be hesitant to allow a travel professional access to your vacation plans! Remember that you are the client, you have complete control over your reservation! Travel planners will do as much of the research and legwork as you want them to do. A good relationship and communication is key when using the services of a travel planner. Just communicate which roles you would like to play a part in!

Rest assured that you If you decide to use a qualified travel planner, you will always come out a winner!

Wishes Family Travel
Erin Buchanan-Concierge Agent
M: 601 832-1561
O: 864 649-1489

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Spice Road Table

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Spice Road Table

By: Corrie Krpejs
February 8, 2018

One of my favorite spots at Epcot would have to be Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion. You can get some amazing souvenirs here, beautiful photographs, and delicious food. During our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we decided at the last minute to make reservations for Spice Road Table. Luckily, they had availability for that same evening right before IllumiNations.

Spice Road Table is built right alongside World Showcase Lagoon, which provides beautiful views of Spaceship Earth, the lagoon, and if your table is just right you can get a great view of IllumiNations. It is also one-credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

We were lucky enough to be seated outside that night. The ambience from the hanging lanterns provided a romantic atmosphere. It would be a perfect spot to celebrate a special occasion with that special someone. Spice Road Table is known for its Mediterranean small plates and entrees, and the food and service didn’t disappoint. After spending the day snacking at the Food & Wine Festival, we both wanted something from the menu that was a bit lighter in portion size. I chose the Vegetable Platter. The platter included Hummus fries (which were my favorite), rice-stuffed grape leaves, couscous salad, and Babaganoush served with pitas. Our server also recommended an aioli sauce to dip the hummus fries in, which I highly recommend! It was delicious. My husband opted for the Yellowfin Tuna cooked medium-rare, served with eggplant, zucchini, and capers salad. Another delicious choice!

Since we had the dining plan, our dessert was included. We always enjoy picking different desserts so that we can sample them both. My husband decided on the Chocolate Pyramid with ice cream and I chose the Pistachio Crème brulee. They both were absolutely delicious! I had three different crème brulees that week, and this was my favorite. (Yes, I love my crème brulee.)

I highly recommend this restaurant for those looking for a lighter meal or for a romantic meal for that special occasion. It would also be a great location for a large group, since their menu specializes in small plates this would allow you to try multiple things from the menu.

As part of my concierge level services, I can help reserve this restaurant for you during your Walt Disney World vacation. Contact me today for more information. Corrie Krpejs  336-682-8538

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An Adults Only Trip to Walt Disney World

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An Adults Only Trip to Walt Disney World

By: Lee Gunter
February 6, 2018

Have you ever thought about an adults-only trip to Walt Disney World? A vacation without kids can be an incredible opportunity to experience many things. There is plenty of grown up fun to be had while visiting “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” In October, Colin and I spent a long weekend away without the kids.

lg_CoralReefemailWalt Disney World is home to hundreds of restaurants, even a few award winning ones. There are tons of options for the foodie in all of us. Colin and I got a chance to enjoy a meal at Coral Reef in Epcot. Coral Reef is home to the largest inland saltwater tank ever built. As we enjoyed our meal we were able to enjoy watching the 85 different species of tropical fish living there. The cast members were very knowledgeable and could answer all our questions about the different things that swam by. The food was excellent, and the view kept the conversation flowing as we learned more about the coral reef. If you happen to be able to visit in Fall you can enjoy the International Food and Wine Festival in Epcot. This year there were 75 days of great food, special guests, and great concerts.

lg_Pandora_emailWalt Disney World is home to many exciting and stimulating rides. There are plenty of fun attractions and shows to keep everyone entertained. I can find some of my favorite roller coasters and thrill rides here in Orlando. We were excited to spend time in Pandora-The World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom. This Valley of M’oara is a breathtaking new addition to Animal Kingdom and brought the film to life. The Avatar Flight of Passage Ride will make you feel like you are soaring through the air on the back of a banshee. After soaring the through the sky we were looking for something delicious for lunch. We enjoyed a shrimp flatbread at Pizzafari. We both were pleasantly surprised by how tasty the flatbread and salad was.

Hollywood studios is home to several thrilling rides including Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. This high speed ride feature the music of Aerosmith as you enjoy the loops and drops in the dark. Once we got off the ride we could hear the screams from The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. After you take a tour of the haunted Hollywood Tower Hotel you then go for a wild ride on an elevator into the 5th Dimension. We got off the ride just in time to enjoy the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. This dynamic fireworks display contained memorable scenes for Star Wars past and present.



Magic Kingdom is usually considered the park that is most geared for kids but it still has a lot of things that grown ups can enjoy. There are a few milder rides found here, including Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We used this time to enjoy some character experiences and take some one of the kind photos.

If you need a break from the parks you can lounge by the pools at the resorts. There are also tons of things to do at Disney Spring including live music at House of Blues or even catching a movie at the AMC.

Walt Disney World isn’t just for kids. Take a break from adulting and plan your next kids free trip.

If you would like more information, please contact me or 215-668-2445.  Check out my Facebook page by clicking HERE.

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Toothsome Chocolate Emporium: A Steampunk Food-venture!

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Toothsome Chocolate Emporium: A Steampunk Food-venture!

By: Christina Szewczuk
February 1, 2018

While at Universal Orlando resort, we like to dine at one of the many great restaurant choices offered in Universal’s City Walk area. We decided to do lunch at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen. I had heard about their legendary shakes so it was a must do!


Located right next to the Hard Rock Café, this steampunk inspired building is an awesome sight to see. It lights up beautifully at night, too! The impressive theming continues to dazzle inside the multilevel restaurant. Everywhere you look is very carefully themed to make you feel like it is something out of the steampunk/20s era.

We were seated in the upper level and then promptly greeted by our pleasant server. Walking around the restaurant chatting with everyone at their tables was the “founder” of the restaurant, Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome. As she strolled up to our table, my daughter was really delighted to meet her; even more so when she took her by the arm and led her to the window to check out the view. Also walking around greeting patrons was Lady Toothsome’s robot, Jaques. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to meet him, but he looked pretty cool.


We ordered the warm chocolate almond bread as an appetizer. It was served on a wooden cutting board alongside the most delicious sweet butter I have ever had. This was a delectable item- you can’t miss this appetizer! We also got the Truffle Fries appetizer. These were good, but the chocolate bread was so good, it was a tough act to follow!

My daughter got a kids meal – chicken fingers which came with a side of fries, and were also tasty. I ordered the Fork and Knife Grilled Rib Eye Steak Sandwich which came with sauteed onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula, herb shallot aioli, and horseradish cheese on a toasted Onion Brioche. It was delightfully “meh.” I wanted it to be amazing, but it just wasn’t up to my expectations after all of the other delicious food. I enjoyed it, but next time I would probably order one of the other options.

For dessert, we ordered one milkshake. Realistically, there was no way we would be able to finish two! These things are huge. My daughter selected the flavor: Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel. Now this definitely met my expectations. It was exquisite! And you get to take the plastic mason-jar looking container it comes in as a souvenir.


There is a to-go area to your right as you walk in the door where you can purchase Toothsome merchandise or get a to-go bite. We had done this one night after dinner at another restaurant. I got a sea salt caramel ganache filled chocolate cup with a sea salt caramel truffle atop the flavored cream. It was delicious, but incredibly rich. I decided it needed to be eaten in two sittings. It did pair nicely with a glass of Pino Grigio in my room!


Overall, I definitely recommend this restaurant. It has something for everyone! The food was delicious and the desserts are delectable. Even if you are just getting something on the go, duck in here and check out the scene. It is a truly unique experience all around!

If you have any questions or would like further details about this restaurant, feel free to email me at For updates, tips and more, follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

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Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom

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Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom

By: Amy Baranek
January 30, 2018

On our recent trip to Walt Disney World, I wanted to try a few new things….some were a given like Pandora at Animal Kingdom and Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. However, there was one new experience I had in mind for us all. I had read about a tour called the Family Magic Tour. There is one tour each day at 10am and meets at Town Square. It is described as a scavenger hunt through the Magic Kingdom where you will experience some extra magical encounters. This sounded interesting enough, and as one of the most reasonably priced tours available (at the time we booked $39/person)… it was completely doable!

We met inside the Town Square Theater where we were presented with name tags for everyone and bottles of water and were then told to wait over by Tony’s Town Square restaurant. There is a maximum of 20 people for this 2 hour tour. Our tour guide was Taylor who started by introducing himself and then had all of us taking the tour introduce ourselves, as we needed to be one ‘Ohana to make it through the Magic Kingdom together without getting lost.

The idea of the tour was that Mickey and his friends had lost some important belongings last night in the Magic Kingdom after it closed and were unable to retrieve them before it opened today. We, as a group, needed to solve the clues we would find along the way to lead us to these missing items. Our first clue was outside and involved a child friendly game that needed to be played in order to reveal your clue. Once we had our clue, we were off to the next location. Each location involved finding something or solving a puzzle as a group to discover where your next location was. We were led through the plaza garden where we searched the bushes for puzzle pieces, explored Fantasyland solving more clues along the way, and stopping for a break to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. After the ride we were back at it trying to discover our next item and clue only to find that Peter Pan had it! After a private meeting with Peter Pan we had a short break and then we were on to a matching game to discover our next clue. Our last big surprise was a meeting with Talking Mickey himself to return all of his missing items to him. Our tour guide was great at keeping us on track and getting us to the next location-have no fear, he will gently steer you in the right direction if everyone is having difficulty with the clues.


This tour is definitely designed with kids in mind as all the activities were incredibly kid friendly but adults have a lot of fun galloping, ice skating or roaring like a lion to the next clue along with the entire group. The adults would help with some of the clues or searching if the kids were having problems, but for the most part, it was all the kids doing the work. We got to explore a few areas you always walk by but don’t really pay attention to, which helped us find some of that hidden magic-like Maximus’ horse shoe prints out by Rapunzel’s tower. My kids absolutely loved this tour, they told me that if I have someone with kids going to Disney to tell them to do this tour! We, as adults, had to do very little but follow the group around during that time and enjoy watching the kids have fun and interact with everyone. With that in mind, this is definitely the perfect family tour, the focus is on the kids; so if you are looking for a different way of seeing and exploring the Magic Kingdom with your family, this is a fun way of doing it! You can start booking this tour at 180 days out, it must be paid in full at the time of booking but is refundable up to 3 days prior to the tour.

Please explore my Facebook page or my biography on our agent portal to learn more about me. Contact me anytime at!

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SeaWorld and the Penguin Encounter

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SeaWorld and the Penguin Encounter

By: Susan Irby
January 25, 2018

si-shamuSeaWorld in San Antonio is a wonderful place for families to visit. When you first go into the park it’s hard to know which way to go. If you go right then you head into the park which has all the live shows and the amazing rides. if a person goes left they head into Discovery Point where they can see dolphins and sharks. If they go straight they go into Aquatica which is SeaWorld’s water park.

SeaWorld offers several different types of attractions that are suitable for the whole family or individuals that they can enjoy throughout the day. A family or individual can also enjoy exciting rides, especially the newest ride of SeaWorld which is called Wave Breaker a high thrill roller coaster and your mission is to help save an animal. The other thrilling roller coasters are the Steel Eel that drops you fifteen stories and have periods of weightlessness, the Great White is a floorless roller coaster that flips the car upside down and corkscrews while swinging along the track. Then there is a family ride that is part coaster and part water ride this is Journey to Atlantis. Another great family water ride is Rio Loco, if you want to get wet this is the ride to get on. The shows at SeaWorld are wonderful and very educational. There is the Shamu show, One World that teaches about the killer whales that SeaWorld has, what is learned from them that helps the biologists and veterinarians to help the killer whales in the wild. There are many educational shows just like the Shamu show. There is also amazing food at SeaWorld, if there are dietary restrictions SeaWorld is able to accommodate most restrictions. Just speak with a supervisor and they will make sure that any needs will be taken care of.

The people that work at SeaWorld and Aquatica are very nice and helpful. When the park opened one day there were some people that were confused on where to go and one of the employees could not get the guests to understand where to go so the employee took them to the show that they wanted to go to which was the Beluga Whale show.

The last time my family had been to SeaWorld in San Antonio was 14 years ago, so we decided to go for Spring Break. We were all excited to see the wonderful animals and experience the park’s attractions.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

SeaWorld wants to make sure that their guests are well educated so they offer many add-on experiences like the dolphin swim, the beluga whale swim, sea lion swim, the penguin encounter and the dolphin encounter. We chose to boost our experience with the Penguin encounter. The current cost of this experience is $85 each for 7 years on up.

There we saw the penguins and found out that SeaWorld in San Antonio has a penguin encounter where you can go into the penguin’s habitat. It was amazing, being able to interact one on one with the penguins. The encounter takes about an hour, where you watch a 15-minute film about the penguins, and then you suit up. Each person puts on rubber boots, pants, and a warm coat to go into the habitat.

We saw rock hopper, chinstrap, and king penguins. What did you learn from the care takers?
We also had the opportunity to interact with a baby king penguin named Robin and she is only six months old. She followed us around, but we got to pet her. The people that work with the penguins did not want us to feed the penguins because their food was on the ground in small troughs and when they were hungry they were able to eat. We were able to pet the birds, and were told to sit down, they put a rock hopper on our lap, that was the only way that we were able to hold the penguin.


If you pick up a penguin not knowing what you are doing you might crush their lungs. It was such a memorable experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

SeaWorld is a great place to take your family, there are so many things to see and do at each and every park.

If you would like more information about SeaWorld vacations contact me through my e-mail or my Facebook page.

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Experiencing Universal Orlando for the First Time

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Experiencing Universal Orlando for the First Time

By: Sari Palmeri
January 23, 2018

Most people I know would consider me a “connoisseur of all things Disney”. I’ve been going to Disney World my entire life and started bringing my kids there at a young age. We have gone to Disney every year as a family, and I know all the parks like the back of my hand. After reading all of the Harry Potter books and seeing the commercials on TV, my older son asked the question I had been anticipating “Can we go to Universal?”


Leading up to this point I had thought that my kids were too young to truly enjoy all that Universal Orlando had to offer. Now that they were a little older, taller, and familiar with the Harry Potter series, we felt it was time. Now to plan for the surprise!

In summer 2016 we did a Florida trip that included a little bit of everything. We stopped in Clearwater, FL, did a few days in the Disney parks, and were ending with Universal Orlando. We didn’t tell the kids we would be going to Universal Orlando, but after my older son began begging to go, we finally told him we would swing by for a few hours on the way to the airport. He was so excited to just be stopping by, and that is when the surprise began!

We checked into Hard Rock Hotel and said we wouldn’t be going to the parks. The disappointment was unreal! Then we told them it was because we were staying for 3 nights and going to the parks for 2 full days instead of just a few hours before a flight! Now the frown was turned upside down!

sp_hpThe next morning we woke up bright and early and headed to the parks! Islands of Adventure was opening an hour early so we got there and went straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. We went on the rides and of course went to Ollivander’s for wands. We went on so many rides and truly had an amazing time! Besides the amazing rides we got to meet Transformers and agents from Men in Black. This was a huge accomplishment because my son had been avoiding characters the past few trips, thinking he was too old to take pictures with them. The characters at Universal serve a more mature audience, and were great for my “pre-tween” kid!
Our primary reason for going was to check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but there are so many other attractions, you do not have to only love Harry Potter to make this a wonderful vacation destination. Even people who are not familiar with Harry Potter can appreciate the attention to detail and theming that went into making that park. There are also Despicable Me Minions running around, a Woody Woodpecker Kidzone, Marvel superheroes, Jurassic Park attractions, Seuss Landing, and many other NON Harry Potter attractions to keep the whole family entertained!

Is Universal Orlando a park for kids who are older? In my opinion, sort of! There is a lot for younger kids too, but on this trip my younger son didn’t meet many of the height requirements for the “bigger rides”. He loves roller coasters and will go on anything and everything he can, so telling him he wasn’t tall enough for a good amount of rides made for a few meltdowns. Even with those few minor mishaps, we all had a great time and loved what Universal Orlando had to offer. Both my boys keep asking when we can go back so it was definitely a success!

I would love the opportunity to discuss Universal Orlando with you and help you to decide if it is the right trip for your family. Contact me at and please like my Facebook page so we can talk about your Universal Orlando vacation!

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