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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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Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom

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Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom

By: Amy Baranek
6.28.18

Being an animal lover, I am always drawn to visit Animal Kingdom anytime I visit Disney, whatever the length of my visit. During a recent visit, I decided to dig deeper into some of the special tours that are offered at the park. My eye rested on Wild Africa Trek which is advertised as “thrill to close encounters with exotic African wildlife.” Cost is $189-249 per person and the tour lasts for 3 hours. Don’t forget, if you have a Disney Visa you can get an additional 15% off the price of your tour!

 

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The tour started with us meeting near Kilimanjaro Safari; there is a special area where you check in here. Our happy tour guides greeted us there and started to get us situated. There are lockers that you put all personal items in….if you decide to bring your sunglasses and phone or camera with you, the staff will help to secure your items for you with a clip for your phone and cord for your sunglasses, as you will be walking close to the animals, the last thing they want is for your personal items to fall in with them! We were dressed in our equipment — a safari vest with many pockets, a personalized name tag, and our own water bottle. We were also secured in a light harness which comes into play later in the tour. At this point we were ready to go! One of the great things about this tour is that your tour guide also takes pictures the entire tour which is all included in the price of the tour.

 

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After a group picture we were off! We were lead to a back entrance on an uneven path to start trekking to the hippos. On the journey there, we got a peak at some zebras and busy birds building their nests. When we arrived at the hippos, we were all secured on a tracking system that takes us out on the ledge to get a close up view of the hippos being fed. There we met one of the caretakers who was feeding the happy hippo. We learned some fun hippo facts as well as that the food they get is the same food that you get to eat while on property at Disney. In fact, depending on the route the food is being delivered, it often is fresher than what you get in the restaurants! Our tour guides went around and took pictures of everyone with the hippo in the background and we were on to our next adventure!

Our next destination was the crocodiles, which entailed the 2 crocodile bridges! You may recognize these bridges as the rickety looking, plank missing rope bridges you can see on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. This is not for the faint of heart, as you are pretty high above the crocodiles and while the bridge is completely secure, it is living up to its adventure name by having planks missing all across the bridge. Before we traveled across the bridge, we were told not to panic if our foot slipped as there is a rope to catch your foot and while it doesn’t look strong it holds you just fine. The extra security blanket is the harness you put on is now attached to a rope. We crossed the bridge one person at a time and there was no rush to cross…you could take as much time as you needed. Photographers were on hand to document your crossing. Once you finished one bridge, you continued across to the second which is where you’ll get your best picture of you with the crocodiles below. It was a bit of a frightening journey. My husband had no problem with it, nor did several younger kids who were on the tour as well. They happily walked across the bridge without a care in the world….moral of the story, I think I may be a bit of a chicken!

 

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At this point, there was a spot to refill our water bottles, and we were then met by a safari vehicle and wonderful cold towels. We parked for awhile in the middle of the giraffes and got some great pictures together while the animals wandered around us. From here, we continued on for our lunch overlooking the savanna. This was so good after all our exploring. It was an all cold lunch with things like hummus, pita, tandoori shrimp, pancetta, fresh fruit, and chicken curry salad. There was a beautiful view of the savanna here and the photographers were on hand to take some more pictures of you. Once we were done here we were back in our safari vehicle for further exploration including some time observing the lions, elephants and rhinos.

 

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I really enjoyed this tour. It was such a unique experience and we learned so many fun facts about the animals. The caretakers at Disney really care and love these animals and it makes my heart happy to see such wonderful care given to these amazing creatures. I would caution that this tour is not for anyone with a fear of heights. Children can go on this tour as long as they are 48” and 45 pounds or over (with gear on), but know they must walk across that long bridge by themselves, so if your child doesn’t want to do that, perhaps this isn’t the tour for them. I would also caution that there is a lot of uneven ground walking so if you have bad knees, ankles, etc…consider this carefully before booking this tour. At the very end of the tour, we were given a paper with our code to claim our photos from the tour….they all turned out amazing and were such a great memory. We also got to keep our water bottle and name tag as a souvenir. This unique experience books most days of the week with multiple tours throughout the day. There are some height (must be at least 48”) and weight requirements (45lbs-300lbs with equipment on).

If you have any questions about this tour or anything Disney related, please contact me. Please visit and like my Facebook page for more fun pictures and up to date information on all things Disney and travel!

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5 Amazing One-Way Cruises for Summer & Fall

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5 Amazing One-Way Cruises for Summer & Fall

One Way Cruises for Summer & Fall

Every summer has a story. And some of the best stories begin with a journey. A journey to someplace new, someplace full of wonder and excitement, of corners and trails begging to be explored. As summer begins to beckon with its usual wanderlust, let’s go beyond the basics. Here, we’ll explore one-way cruises, itineraries for summer and fall that begin in one port and open up to so much possibility.

These summer and fall cruise vacations are a great way to extend your time away for a unique vacation you’ll remember for decades. Vacation on your terms. Begin your journey with Norwegian and explore beyond. Go off the beaten path. Stay a little longer. The choices are all yours.

Cruise to Alaska This Summer with Norwegian

Alaska Cruises

7-Day Alaska Cruise from Seward – Your adventure begins in Seward, Alaska where you’ll embark in the evening, giving you plenty of time to explore before your cruise vacation even begins. This journey onboard Norwegian Jewel stops in some of Alaska’s most scenic destinations, making for plenty of photo ops of famous glaciers and wildlife. Explore Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, plus bear witness to the Inside Passage, before concluding your cruise vacation in Vancouver.

Cruise to Canada This Fall with Norwegian

Canada & New England Cruises

11-Day Canada Cruise from New York – Few things are as visually stunning as the turning of the leaves along the Canada and New England coastline. This 11-day voyage offers cruisers the opportunity to experience some of the most romantic cruise ports in the Northeast. Embark in New York and make your way to eight stunning ports, including Newport, Rhode Island; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, before arriving in Quebec City, one of the highest rated ports in the western hemisphere.

7-Day Canada Cruise from Boston – Board Norwegian Dawn for a week’s worth of sweeping views along a picturesque coastline. Begin your cruise itinerary in Boston before sailing toward Maine. Your journey will take you along Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and Saguenay, Quebec before concluding in Quebec City. Once there, you’ll want to make time to explore the fascinating history of Quebec’s legacy, the first French City in North America.

Take a Transatlantic Cruise This Fall with Norwegian

Europe Cruises

14-Day Transatlantic Cruise from Copenhagen – This is one for the books. Enjoy fourteen days of stunning ocean views and exotic port stops along the way as you cross the Atlantic Ocean and make way for New York. Your journey begins in Copenhagen with one of the most colorful skylines in Denmark. Stops in Sweden, England, Ireland, and Azores make for bucket list photo ops before arriving in New York.

15-Day Transatlantic Cruise from Miami – Explore Miami’s exciting nightlife and colorful Art-Deco architecture before embarking on this transatlantic cruise to Spain. Arrive in Ponte Delgada for the first port stop on your voyage where you can admire Gothic architecture in the capital of the Azores. Continue to Madeira and Spain, with port stops in Seville, Granada, Cartagena, and Palma before concluding your itinerary in Barcelona for a truly visually stunning journey.

Where are you cruising this summer? Have you decided to make fall your new vacation favorite? Share with us in the comments!

Originally Posted: https://www.ncl.com/travel-blog/one-way-cruise-summer-fall-itineraries

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Disney World Shines After Dark

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Disney World Shines After Dark

By: Rebecca Jones
6.26.18

For most guests, they are up early to be at park opening when they are at Disney World. However, there is something to be said for sleeping in and tackling the parks after the sun goes down. Each of the four theme parks has a special nighttime show for guests to enjoy, and I’d like to share a bit about each of them.

 

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The newest of the shows is “Rivers of Light” in Animal Kingdom. This celebration of light, water, and nature runs for approximately 15 minutes, and is often shown twice nightly. Arrive early for the show. There are images projected onto the nearby trees, and the storytellers make an entrance through the audience on their way to the boats used in the show. Rivers of Light features floating, glowing animals, water effects with visual images, and an original musical score that will inspire you. There are surprises throughout the event, and you will have an opportunity to take photos at the end. There are Rivers of Light dining packages available at Tiffin’s and Tusker House that will give you tickets for seating. You can also Fastpass this show. If you choose to wait in the standby line, arrive at least 30 minutes early. If all the seats are taken, there is a standing-room-only area, as well.

 

HappilyEverAfter

 

“Happily Ever After” is the latest fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. Shown nightly, this show utilizes much more projection technology than any offering in the past, and thus, is best viewed from the center of the castle, rather than to one of the sides. It features images from 17 beloved Disney animated features, including some that are hard to find anywhere else: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and WALL-E. Happily Ever After has fireworks, projection, lasers, and music, and is truly worth staying up for. As there is no reserved seating , guests start lining up and reserving their seats up to 2 hours before. I recommend getting a snack, or even dinner, and finding a spot along Main Street USA about 45-60 minutes before the show and relaxing while you wait.

Magic Kingdom is also home to another projection show called Once Upon A Time. This is purely a projection show on the castle, and is often shown either before, or after, Happily Ever After. Often, when it’s after the fireworks, guests will leave, allowing you to secure a better viewpoint if you’d like.

Hollywood Studios has several nighttime offerings. The most famous is their beloved “Fantasmic,” a battle between good and evil. It’s fought via a stage show, pyrotechnics, floats, music, and water images. You can secure seating through a dining reservation package or a Fastpass. The stadium that holds it is large enough, though, that you shouldn’t have a problem seeing the show if you arrive 30 minutes early to find a seat.

 

StarWars

 

The Chinese Theater façade in Hollywood Studios is home to the other two offerings at Hollywood Studios, “Disney Movie Magic” and “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.” Each features highlights of movies and laser lights in the sky. Disney Movie Magic is a 10-minute show that reminds you of the entire Disney movie catalog with images, film clips, and music.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular runs about 14 minutes. There are special effects and fireworks that bring the saga of Star Wars to life in front of you. You can only get reserved seating by purchasing a dessert package for this show, and those are not offered each night. Otherwise, you can arrive 30-45 minutes early and find a seat. In my opinion, the show is best viewed from a little farther back from the Chinese Theater.

 

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The final night show that Disney World offers is “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” at Epcot. This 12-minute show can be seen from just about anywhere around the World Showcase Lagoon. You will see fireworks and a grand display of earthly and human history on a 350,000-pound globe in the middle of the water. You can reserve a Fastpass to see this show, and there is a “Frozen”-themed dessert party with reserved seating, as well.

As you can see, Disney World can be better after dark. Be sure to take time to see each of these offerings during your next vacation. If you have questions about a dining package or Fastpass reservations to take advantage of reserved seating, please contact your Wishes Family Travel Agent. If you don’t have an agent, Rebecca Jones can be reached at Rebecca@wishesfamilytravel.com or (325) 733-8399.

Photos are courtesy Rebecca Jones and Juli Russ.

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Disney Trip for Adults

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Disney Trip for Adults

By: Anna Trosper
6.21.18

Disney adult trips are fun; I do them all the time. Believe me, Disney is not just for kids! I have done adult trips with my husband, girlfriends and yes, even just me. Don’t get me wrong, I love coming to the most magical place on earth with the little ones, but I also LOVE to come without them. The first time I did an adult only trip it was with my husband. At first, I felt a little guilty about being there without the kids. I got over that fast! If you have never thought about doing Disney without kids, after this you just might! Let me tell you a few great reasons why you would love to do Disney the adult way!

Well, the first reason is a no brainer; no kids! We all love the little ones but be truthful. Do a few days away from them sound good? I am not saying it has to be a whole week, but how about a weekend? One nice long weekend, you know, where you can be you! Not a mom or an aunty or a nana, but just you. Time to relax and recharge! When was the last time you had time to yourself? It’s not a bad thing, in fact, it’s a great thing! It helps us stay sane. This is not only time away for the kids, but it’s time away from the craziness of life! Even if you have no kids, life in general is hard to get through without a break every now and then.

 

Disney Springs

 

When you can travel without little ones you are not tied down to a school schedule and you know what that means, right? You can travel when prices are lower! Rule of thumb: When school is out prices are higher, when school is in, prices are lower. You are not stuck having to travel during prime seasons. This will save you money! Now how great is that? Flights are less, rooms cost less and tickets are less. That is a trifecta of great perks if you ask me!

Speaking of when you can travel, Disney has different festivals throughout the year. And taking into account the above reason of being able to travel in non-prime seasons, pick one, or all, to visit.

To get you in the mood for Spring, try the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. This is a great time of year to go to Disney World. This festival is amazing! You know Disney and that everything they do is over the top. This time of year, Disney steps into spring full force. The park comes alive with character topiaries, floating gardens, lagoon side murals in full bloom and a butterfly garden. With the abundance of activities Epcot already has for adults, adding a festival into the mix means even more great fun. Add in the Garden Rocks concert series and outdoor kitchens that offer a great variety of tasty dishes, and there you go, it’s a perfect weekend!

 

Epcot Food-Wine

 

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival offers fabulous fall fun. Again, this is a great time when kids are in school! This festival is very popular with adults and can get quite busy on the weekends. You will definitely not be the only adults at this festival! If you are wanting to go to this one I do recommend booking your trip well in advance to make sure you get the resort and room you want. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an incredibly popular annual food festival at Walt Disney World and resort rooms in the Epcot area fill quickly. Epcot guests can mix and mingle with celebrity chefs, experience hands-on culinary workshops and demonstrations, and get their gourmet groove on nightly at Eat to the Beat concerts. Traditionally the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival ran from late September to mid-November, though in recent years the start date has moved forward to begin in late August.

Fall is perfect for other reasons, too. Yes, you have the Food and Wine Festival, but you also have the Magic Kingdom all decked out for the Halloween season. On select nights Magic Kingdom has a party. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! I know your thinking you can’t do that without the kids. Oh yes you can and you will have a blast doing it! Remember, you’re doing adult Disney. I have gone to the party three times with no kids. I love to do the desert party and take my time seeing things. Not having to run from one ride to the next, allows you to notice all the details. And yes, I do dress up! Hey it’s a party so I dress to impress!

The holidays at Disney World are my favorite time of year to go! No, I am not saying go to Disney without the kids at Christmas. I am saying the first two weeks in December are a great time to go. The weather is great, prices are down and Walt Disney World is, well, adorned in Holiday décor. No one, and I mean no one, does the holidays like Disney. A long weekend to see Magic Kingdom all decked out, to see all the Disney resorts in holiday slender, is a magical experience. Have a nice dinner and take your time taking it all in. Really get to see it all not just rush all over the place. Yes, and as always, Mickey has another party for you. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Here you can again do a dessert party and really take your time and see all the small details that goes into making this truly a magical place. Oh, and yes, you will at some point have to bring the kids to see this. Walt Disney World at Christmas is a trip the whole family must do at least one time. Your family will never forget this magical time of year!

 

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So, as you can see there are many great reasons for you to do an adult only trip to Walt Disney World or, even, Disneyland. I love my trips and come back refreshed and ready to take on the world. We all need adult time now and then. Why not have a little fun while doing it? Bring out that inner kid that lives in all of us. Take your time and do what you want to do; sleep in, stay at the resort you’ve always wanted to. Eat dinner at one of the top restaurants. Have a spa day! Or, you know what? You don’t even have to do a thing; stay at one of the deluxe resorts with concierge services. No parks; just relax and enjoy the resort for the weekend. I have done this and who says you have to go to the parks? I love staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for the weekend and do nothing! Sit by the pool and be, me!

If this sound like a trip you are wanting to take or have more questions, please contact me and I will be happy to help you plan a trip for YOU! Or how about that girl’s weekend or just the guys? There’s great golfing and fishing at Disney World! Visit my Facebook page and make sure to like it so you can keep up on all the latest travel information. If you would like to talk please send me an email and we can set up a time. I look forward to helping you with your next adventure!

 

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EXPERIENCE THE BRAND-NEW “UNIVERSAL ORLANDO’S CINEMATIC CELEBRATION” NIGHTTIME LAGOON SHOW BEGINNING THIS SUMMER

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EXPERIENCE THE BRAND-NEW “UNIVERSAL ORLANDO’S CINEMATIC CELEBRATION” NIGHTTIME LAGOON SHOW BEGINNING THIS SUMMER
Experience the Brand-New “Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration” Nighttime Lagoon Show Beginning This Summer

EXPERIENCE THE BRAND-NEW “UNIVERSAL ORLANDO’S CINEMATIC CELEBRATION” NIGHTTIME LAGOON SHOW BEGINNING THIS SUMMER

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Prepare to experience a brand-new nighttime lagoon show that’s a great new way to cap off an exciting day in the parks. “Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration” will debut at Universal Studios Florida this summer and take our lagoon show experience to the next level.

Located in the heart of the lagoon, “Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration” will bring thrilling and fun moments to life inspired by characters from popular Universal Orlando experiences and blockbuster films.

You’ll witness moments from the Harry Potter series conjured to life by way of spells, ear-shattering roars from dinosaurs in Jurassic World, the adrenaline rush of speed from The Fast & the Furious, mischief by the Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me and so much more…

And, it’s all seamlessly projected on full panoramic water screens, accented by pyrotechnics and – for the first time ever – more than 120 dancing fountains with projection mapping. The entire waterfront of the Universal Studios lagoon and surrounding buildings will transform into a vivid celebration of epic movie moments and beloved characters.

We’re also building a permanent, dedicated viewing area for the show in the Central Park area of Universal Studios where you’ll be able to watch the lagoon come to life.

Get ready for an epic cinema under the stars during “Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration,” starting this summer. Bookmark the blog and sign up for emails to receive updates on the new show.

Originally Published: https://blog.universalorlando.com/whats-new/new-universal-orlandos-cinematic-celebration/

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How to become one of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom!

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How to become one of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom!

By: Christina Szewczuk
6.19.18

A few years back, I discovered a fun new interactive card game in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. It is called “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom!” You are given cards and a map (which make a great free souvenir!), you are trained (short instructional video), and then you are off on your magical adventure to save the Magic Kingdom from being taken over by Hades and his Dark Magic. You play the game all around the Magic Kingdom on cleverly hidden screens as you are guided through the park by the great Sorcerer himself, Merlin!

You can get the cards, sign up for the game, and learn how to play at the Firehouse on Main Street (to the left of the entrance if you’re facing the castle).

 

MKFirehouse

 

Here you will scan your Magic Band and a Cast Member will hand you a pack of spell cards and a Map. If you play the game at least once, you can go back and get a new pack of spell cards the next day to build up your collection. A full set is 70 cards and there are special limited edition collectible cards available at the Christmas and Halloween parties. The map will show you where the portals are located “Land” by “Land.” It uses symbols to represent each portal and this will help guide you through the mission. You can choose the land in which you’d like to begin your journey. Before you go, the cast member will “Train” you at a sample Magic Portal where Merlin will take you through a short Tutorial. And then it’s off to your first Adventure with your trusty map and cards!

 

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When you arrive at the first portal, tap your Magic Band to the keyhole to get started. You will see the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom’s “SMK” logo on a golden seal in the ground.

 

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Stand on the golden seal and watch as the portal comes to life. If you happen to be at the wrong portal, the game will tell you so and you will have to consult your map again. When it’s time to fight, choose a spell card and hold it up to the portal to activate the spell. (NOTE: It may take more than one spell, so be ready!) The strength of the spell is written along the bottom of the card. The more you use the spell, the stronger it becomes. Once you defeat the Villain in this segment, the game will show you the symbol of the next portal to go and you can locate it on the map using the symbol as a guide. The game will lead you from portal to portal until you have defeated the Villain in that land, proclaiming that you have “Saved the Magic Kingdom.” You then have the option to stop there or to continue the game in another “Land.” You can pick up where you left off or continue on the next day as it saves your progress.

 

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Does this game sound like fun to you? Try it on your next trip and let me know what you thought! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Christina@WishesFamilyTravel.com. For more travel tips and tricks, follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

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Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino – Travel thru 12/20/18

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Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino – Travel thru 12/20/18

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Travel by 12.20.18 to take advantage of this offer!

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Transportation at Disney

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Transportation at Disney

By: Susie Swanson
6.14.18

I love Disney – all things Disney! But if there is one thing that makes me a little nutty it is the BUSES!

The buses serve as a good way to move a large number of people within Walt Disney World. I understand they have to be able to move as many people as possible in the most effective way. However, I always suggest to my clients to consider staying at a resort that has access to other modes of transportation in addition to the buses. For example, I always do two days at Magic Kingdom when I visit, and so getting back and forth to this park is a big deal. My favorite way to get around Disney is on the boat system. The boats are a fun and convenient way to get around and actually enjoy yourself while traveling to different attractions at Disney. The distance to walk to the launch areas is generally much closer to the entrance of the parks than the bus stations. Also, for the most part the lines are much shorter than the bus lines.

 

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Another great mode of transportation is the monorail. The monorail is only accessible through certain deluxe resorts (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Bay Lake Tower). However, some other deluxe resorts have boat access to these resorts and then you can hop on the monorail from one of these resorts. (for example if you stay at Fort Wilderness Lodge, you can take the boat to the Contemporary and then take the monorail to Magic Kingdom). Epcot Monorail and the Express Monorail originate at the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) and offer express round-trip service to Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Riding the monorail is also a great way to see how all the different parks and resorts are connected.

 

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Although my least favorite, the buses do a great job at getting you from point A to point B. The buses are air conditioned (unless a system goes out unexpectedly) and offer a place to catch your breath among the hustle and bustle within the parks. The buses are by far Disney’s largest mode of transportation.   When using the buses at Disney I always tell my clients to ALLOW yourself plenty of time. Once getting to the bus stop there is no way of telling how crowded it will be. All Disney buses are not completely packed, but some are so bring some patience and some Disney Pixie Dust!

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If you have any questions please contact me via phone or email. 248-798-5117 or susies@wishesfamilytravel.com

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4 Things I Learned From The Rescue Team (SeaWorldCares.com)

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4 Things I Learned From The Rescue Team (SeaWorldCares.com)

Rescued Sea Lion*Photo Courtesy of SeaWorldCares.com

This one’s personal.

First off: I never, ever forget how extremely fortunate and lucky I am to work alongside SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team. I love sharing their stories of rescue, rehabilitation and return with fans just like you. Honestly, if there’s something that’s truly real amazing, it’s this team. It’s easy to see.

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A rescued sea lion rehabilitating at SeaWorld San Diego
I consider Jody, the team’s supervisor and stranded animal coordinator, as one of my mentors. Despite her impressive SeaWorld career caring for many different types of animals, she is one of the humblest people you’ll ever come across. If you’ve had the chance to meet her, you’ll know what I mean. Jody doesn’t just give it her all; she goes beyond and operates at 150 percent, always. The team is the same way.

Because of how much the Rescue Team has and continues to inspire my everyday life, I wanted to give back by way of helping out in whatever way I can. I asked Jody if I could join their team to experience what their day-to-day is like.

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All suited up

Here’s what I learned.

1. They really are the definition of “team”.

TEam
From left to right: Me, Jody, Jen, TJ and Nick

The Rescue Team is comprised of a main group of senior animal care specialists, just like Jody and Jen. During their busy season, they’re joined by seasonal animal care specialists like TJ and Nick who assist with their daily duties of rehabilitating rescued animals. One of the things I admire about the team is how much they have each other’s backs. It’s not about the “me” for them; it’s about the animals and the “we”.

2. It’s a LOT of work.

I worked with the team on what they considered as one of their slower days because they didn’t have as many animals on site, but even then, there was a lot of work to be done. After reviewing voicemails received from the public on animals that might need some assistance, and reviewing the status of the animals, the team starts the day off with their first round of feeds. There were about 20 animals on site the day I helped.

1x1-20170704_093321Preparing for the first feed of the day

Then, it’s off to cleaning all eight rehabilitation areas (or Qs, as they call them). The pool levels have to be lowered, and the mats and areas rinsed, scrubbed and rinsed again. Also, if the animals are in bad shape, it might mean even more scrubbing, if you catch my drift.

1x1-20170704_102124Eight Qs + rehabilitating marine animals = lots of scrubbing and washing

1x1-20170704_101957Elephant seal pups sunbathing while waiting for their area to be cleaned

Since there are eight Qs, this has to be done eight times. This is why team work is so important.
3. It is TOUGH.

One thing to keep in mind is that these rescued animals cannot communicate to the team what’s causing them pain. These are also injured wild animals who do not know that they’re being nursed back to health, which can be challenging to the team at times.

Throughout the day, Jody and Jen attempted to feed fish to an elephant seal that was progressing to solid foods. However, the elephant seal was having trouble because its throat injury was preventing it from fully swallowing the fish whole. Jody and Jen had been honing the style that worked all weekend, only to be pushed back to square one when the seal just wouldn’t accept the food.

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Jody and Jen assisting an elephant seal during the first round of feeds

But did they give up? No. On the next round of feeds, they tried again, and they successfully fed it a few whole fish.

Part of the day’s responsibility was to process healthy and rehabilitated animals to be returned to the ocean the next day. I’ve often watched the team do this and thought it was easy transporting animals to the Critical Care Center to be weighed. I quickly learned that they make it look easy.

We also had to make sure that the animals that were still rehabilitating were on the path to recovery. Just like Jody and Jen with the elephant seal, there are times when the team has to intervene to ensure that the animal has a higher chance of survival in the wild. Their goal is not to bond with animals so that they do not go up to humans on the beach.
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This female sea lion was not eating as well, so we had to provide fluids to keep her hydrated
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Pumping fluids might sound simple, but you need to be focused and attentive

4. It is SO rewarding.

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The team had recovered two long fishing hooks from its mouth the day before.

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Yes, these sharp hooks were in Big Boy’s mouth

They were worried that Big Boy was declining, but after much needed rest, he became more active and started swimming in his recovery pool by the end of the day. (Update: Big Boy was returned to his ocean home a few days later for his second chance at life.)

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  Big Boy active and swimming!
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Healthy elephant seals and sea lions ready to be returned to the wild
By the end of the day, I earned a whole new level of respect for our Rescue Team here in San Diego. I’m so proud to stand with them and look forward to sharing even more stories of their rescue, rehabilitation and return efforts with you.
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Originally Published at: 4 Things I Learned From the Rescue Team

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Hibachi On The High Seas

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions | 0 comments

Hibachi On The High Seas

By: Sari Palmeri
6.12.18

One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is eat. The food is amazing, the desserts are yummy and there are self-serve ice cream machines. When you are on a cruise you definitely are never left hungry.

I had a group cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway and my kids love going to the buffet. They feel “older” because they walk around and see what they want to eat. It’s a great place to get kids to try something new because if they don’t like it they just go get something else.

 

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In addition to the buffet there are main dining rooms and specialty restaurants. One of the specialty restaurants is called Teppanyaki and it is a hibachi restaurant. This type of restaurant is one that I have always loved, but the one on this ship I find amazing. The first time we cruised on the Norwegian Breakaway we ate here which is why we went again when we sailed on the Norwegian Breakaway a second time. This time is was even better than the first. The food was the same, but our chef was exceptional; he was so interactive! He was tossing food for each person to try and catch. One of my boys caught it and the other didn’t. After a few tries he said “close your eyes and try that way”. He then handed us the food to put in his mouth and when my son opened his eyes the chef posed as if he has tossed it and we all cheered. He also let my boys go behind the cook top and made it like they were helping him cook.

 

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For the specialty restaurants on Norwegian cruises reservations are recommended and are at an additional cost, unless they have the specialty dining package as a promotion. For us, this meal will always be worth the splurge because the food was delicious, we had lots of laughs and it is a meal my boys will never forget.

 

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I highly recommend dining at this restaurant when sailing on the Breakaway. I can help you with your cruise and I will make your dining reservations. Contact me at sari@wishesfamilytravel.com for more information on a Norwegian Cruise.

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