Travel Blog

About Our Agent Bloggers

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

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

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

 

Share Button

VIDEO: SoundSeeker: Behind the Science of Creating a First of Its Kind AI-Powered Tool

Posted by on 7:00 am in Thoughts and Opinions, Video, WFT Specials | 0 comments

VIDEO: SoundSeeker: Behind the Science of Creating a First of Its Kind AI-Powered Tool

Royal Caribbean teamed up with experts from Berklee College of Music, and technologists from around the world, to create the unique song generator. More than a year in the making, SoundSeeker entailed more than 600 hours of machine learning, reviewing hundreds of music tracks alongside 10,000 photos and matching each of the 2.5 million combinations to one of 11 moods. The AI-powered tool is set to redefine the modern vacation album.

Share Button

A Resort Like No Other

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

A Resort Like No Other

By: Erica Kocher
8.16.18

Have you ever wanted to stay at a resort that makes you feel as if you are visiting a whole different place? If so, Animal Kingdom Lodge is the choice for you. It consists of two different resorts, Jambo House & Kidani Village. As you drive up to the resort, you can tell it’s different than anywhere you have ever stayed before. If you happen to be arriving during the day, you will see the hustle & bustle of bell services, but what is most surprising is the sound of live African drums welcoming you.

Walking into the lobbies of both resorts is absolutely breathtaking. They have open ceilings and a giant glass wall in the back so you can see out to the savannah. The décor definitely transports you right into the heart of African culture. Located in the lobby is Bell Services, Check-in, Concierge, and a gift shop.

Johari Treasures is the gift shop located at Kidani Village. In this shop you will find snacks, a refillable drink counter, essentials that you may have left at home, along with a few souvenirs. For a full size gift shop, I recommend checking out Zawadi Marketplace, located at Jambo House. Zawadi has a larger variety of Disney themed souvenirs, as well as African art, instruments, and apparel. At times, you will be lucky to find an artist inside the Marketplace creating one-of-a-kind African art for you to take home.

f-26-15-12224118_w5usMDOe_IMG-2192

Kidani Village is a Disney Vacation Club resort, so chances are you would be staying at Jambo House when visiting. Personally, I prefer Jambo House because of the larger gift shop, the larger pool, and more restaurant choices. When choosing your room at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can choose from standard view (sometimes the parking lot or foliage/other times obstructed views of the savannah), pool view, and savannah view. There are different types of rooms to choose from: standard rooms have 2 queen size beds, 1 queen bed & 1 bunk bed, or a king size bed & a daybed. These rooms fit 4-5 adults. For larger groups, you can get a 1, 2, or 3 bedroom villa complete with a full size kitchen & living room. At Jambo House, the entire top floor is reserved for club level guests. No matter which resort you stay, there is a shuttle that can take you to the neighboring resort for pool hopping, shopping, and meals.

Of the room choices, I definitely recommend the savannah view rooms. Animal Kingdom Lodge has a 33-acre wildlife reserve that is home for over 30 species of African wildlife. You can find a Wildlife Field Guide in your room or obtain one from the lobby concierge. Jambo House is home of Arusha Rock, an elevated savannah viewing area where at night you can hear stories from cast members and borrow night vision binoculars to view the wildlife. If you are a fan of hidden Mickeys, there are three giraffes carved into the side of Arusha Rock, one of them includes a hidden Mickey.

If you are like me, you enjoy trying new meals while on vacation. Animal Kingdom Lodge has three table service restaurants, one quick service restaurant, and two pool bars where food can be ordered. At Jambo House, you will find Jiko and Boma for table services meals and The Mara and Uzima Springs Pool Bar for quick serve meals. At Kidani Village, you will find Sanaa (it is a quick service restaurant for breakfast & table service for lunch and dinner) and Maji Pool Bar for quick service meals. There are also specialty meal choices, Wanyama Safari (which ends with a meal at Jiko), Private Dining (room service) Jiko Wine Tasting, and Dine with an Animal Specialist. If you like to enjoy a cocktail to wind down, there are three lounges to choose from, Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar, Sanaa Lounge, and Victoria Falls Lounge. Over 10 years ago, I found a desert/snack that was little known then, but is now a fan favorite. It’s called Zebra Domes and can only be found at Animal Kingdom Lodge. They are a great choice for a snack on the meal plan, but can also be found on the dinner buffet at Boma.

Each resort is home to their own unique swimming pools. Uzima Pool is a 11,000 square foot zero-depth entry that was built to represent a natural watering hole with lots of trees and vegetation surrounding it. Uzima Pool also has a waterslide, a children’s wading pool, and 2 whirlpool spas. Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village has a thrilling waterslide and 2 whirlpool spas. Another feature at Samawati Springs Pool that is worth hopping over to Kidani is Uwanja Camp, a water playground for children with squirting Venus flytraps, a rope bridge, and water cannons.

f-26-14-12224118_ybL01LhG_IMG-2191

There are a few other amenities that are worth checking out, Zahanti Spa & Fitness Center, Simba’s Clubhouse, Hakuna Matata Playground, & Pumba’s Fun and Games Arcade. Zahanti is a full service spa where you can go to relax or fit in a quick workout before heading to the parks. Simba’s Clubhouse is a children’s activity center where kids can come for a fun evening while you have an adult only evening out (there is a fee of $15 per hour with a 2 hour minimum for this service). Hakuna Matata Playground is a 24-hour outdoor playground located at Jambo House for children can go to monkey around. Pumba’s Fun and Games Arcade is located next to the pool and The Mara at Jambo House. Disney’s activity cast members host games, crafts, and parties around the pool during the days and in the evening, they stay on hand to host evening campfires and movies under the stars. We have made lifelong friends with some of the Disney activity cast members.

As with any Disney resort, by staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you will also be able to take advantage of Disney’s Bus Transportation, Disney’s Magical Express, resort wide Wi-Fi, and Resort Airline Check-in. By using the bus transportation and Magical Express, there is no need to rent a car and have to pay the $24 per night fee to park at the resort. My favorite bonus is the Resort Airline Check-in. If you are flying to MCO via Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, you can check-in for your flight right in the hotel lobby. The best thing is you won’t have to carry luggage around the airport and wait in the long check-in lines.

As you can see, there are many reasons to book your stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge! You never know what you are going to see from your hotel balcony.

Are you thinking about a visit to Walt Disney World? I am an agent with Wishes Family Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  As your agent, I’ll be on hand to help you with everything from finding your perfect package to grabbing those hard-to-get dining and FastPass reservations. I work with all Disney Destinations around the globe. Best of all, my services are absolutely FREE. You can contact me at 1-618-514-5536, by email at erica@wishesfamilytravel.com or through my Wishes Family Travel – Erica Facebook group.

Share Button

FIRST LOOK: BAR 17 BISTRO FOOD AND DRINKS AT UNIVERSAL’S AVENTURA HOTEL

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

FIRST LOOK: BAR 17 BISTRO FOOD AND DRINKS AT UNIVERSAL’S AVENTURA HOTEL

 

Maybe you’ve heard? There’s a little something coming soon along with the opening of Universal’s Aventura Hotel on August 16th. Our first-ever rooftop bar and grill – Bar 17 Bistro. And I’m here to tell you what all the buzz is about!

Perched up on the 17th floor of this stylish and modern hotel, Bar 17 Bistro will be the place to see and be seen. This bright, open-air venue will be surrounded by glass panels, giving you stunning views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks. Personally you’ll catch me up here during sunset – the most gorgeous time of day to take in the view.

But the real showstopper here will be the delicious food and unique cocktails. Reminiscent of the small plates and craft cocktails found at trendy hotspots in cities across the globe, Bar 17 Bistro will offer all of this at Aventura Hotel’s Prime Value price point.

Here’s a sneak peek at a few of my favorites.

Complex Frozen Drinks Aventura Hotel

 

First up, our complex frozen drinks. These are freshly-made frozen drinks (no pre-made mixes are used) with unique flavor profiles like rum, matcha and lime or bourbon, maple and grapefruit. They’re a modern take on the traditional frozen drink and we know you’re going to love them.

 

Bao Buns Aventura Hotel

 

We’ll have an entire section of our menu that features bao buns, with fillings that range from braised pork belly to lamb satay to tempura baby vegetable. My favorites are the braised pork belly and the firecracker shrimp bao buns. Why so many baos, you ask? They’re easy to share and ours will feature lots of textures and colors. They’ll be delicious and they’re pretty to look at too.

 

Firebird Aventura Hotel

 

Another favorite on the drink menu is the Firebird. Our Firebird is made with tequila, jalapeno, strawberry and cilantro – a refreshing cocktail with just the right amount of kick. Since Aventura is more of a lifestyle hotel, we wanted to bring refreshing ideas to the food and drink offerings, while still keeping the stylish vibe of the hotel.

 

Summer Beet & Glazed FIg Salad Aventura Hotel

 

Speaking of refreshing, our salads will showcase some of the best Florida-grown produce from the region. We wanted to have something light, refreshing and citrus-inspired on the menu. These salads are pretty food that’s easy to eat and best of all – this is a guilt free indulgence!

 

Pineapple Turmeric Lemonade Aventura Hotel

 

Not into alcoholic beverages? We got you. This pineapple turmeric lemonade will be a featured mocktail on the menu. The flavors come together for a thirst-quenching and revitalizing beverage that’s perfect for a rooftop bar in Orlando.

Wagyu Beef Sliders Aventura Hotel

 

My final sneak peek item is the Wagyu beef sliders. This is our take on burgers. They’re gourmet sliders that will be easy to share. You’ll love the locally-made brioche bun and French cheese. With horseradish mayo, gruyere cheese, roasted pepper chutney and watercress, served with a side of pomme frites, these burgers are something special, and just a little bit adventurous.

 

Almost Sangria Aventura Hotel
Braised Pork Belly Bao Aventura Hotel
Devil's Umbrella Aventura Hotel
Dew Point Hooligan Aventura Hotel
Wagyu Beef Sliders Aventura Hotel
 Don’t forget – Bar 17 Bistro will open daily at 4:00 pm. Be sure to book your roomsoon so you don’t miss out on our limited time offer! If you book a four-night stay or longer, you’ll receive a free $50 hotel dining credit, which can be used at Bar 17 Bistro.

Let me know what you’ll be eating and drinking when you take in these epic views. See you at the top!

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

Originally published: https://blog.universalorlando.com/whats-new/bar-17-bistro-reveal/

Share Button

Winter cruise getaways with Wishes

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

Winter cruise getaways with Wishes

Winter 2019 doesn’t have to mean snow and cold. It can mean warm water and white sands, especially when you join Wishes Family Travel on a group cruise from Charleston, SC!

allisonboat

Wishes Family Travel is blessed that our “home base” is just a few short hours from one of Carnival Cruise Line’s ports, Port of Charleston. There are sailings that depart year-round onboard the Carnival Ecstasy, a Sensation class ship with casino, lounges and nightclubs, Carnival WaterWorks and more.

f-26-13-12154666_ioJnZp1G_Ecstasy_Deck_Plan_JPG_1

Wishes will offer two group sailings leaving from Charleston during the winter 2019. The first is to the Bahamas, leaving on Jan. 22 and returning Jan. 27. During this sailing guests will visit both Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

f-26-14-12154666_AJ3siNzY_Half_Moon_Cay_0002

If you’d like to join us, then you’ll need to have a deposit ready by September 18, 2018. The remaining balance is due in full by November 23, 2018.

I recommend arriving a day or two prior to your sailing or extend your vacation a few days to enjoy the Southern hospitality you’ll find in Charleston as well! There is so much to see and do in this historic city – so much, in fact, that it is covered in a blog post of its own!

 We hope you’ll join us as we warm up winter! You can request a quote via email to info@wishesfamilytravel.com with the subject line January Carnival Group Cruise or March Carnival Group Cruise.

Share Button

Book by: 12.31.18 Fairmount Southampton in Bermuda

Posted by on 7:00 am in Special Offers, Thoughts and Opinions, WFT Specials | 0 comments

Book by: 12.31.18 Fairmount Southampton in Bermuda

Gogo-Bermuda-Fairmont-BB12.31
Book by December 21, 2018

Share Button

Horsin’ around at Walt Disney World

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

Horsin’ around at Walt Disney World

By: Corrie Krpejs
8.9.18

Have someone in your family that loves horses? Walt Disney World has plenty to offer outside of the parks for your horse enthusiast. From carriage rides to trail rides, be sure to take some time to “horse” around.

 

f-26-19-12164070_5JspK5qF_Blog_3

 

Carriage Rides

                  Take a 25-minute ride on a horse-drawn carriage ride. You have your choice of two beautiful resorts. At Port Orleans Riverside you will travel along the Sassagoula River. Or if you prefer a wooded trail, consider boarding your carriage at Fort Wilderness Resort.

Holiday Sleigh Rides

During the month of December at Fort Wilderness Resort you can enjoy a decorated “sleigh” ride. Rides are 25 minutes long.

 

f-26-15-12164070_Vvtz2wUu_Blog_1

 

Tri-Circle-D Ranch

                  Head on over to the stables to see a variety of horses! You might even see Cinderella’s ponies. You might also see some of the horses being prepared for their trip down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. Here at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch is where you can enjoy trail rides, wagon rides and pony rides. Some of the activities here do have a cost but it is free to just visit the ranch.

Trail Rides

Take a 45-minute guided trail ride and enjoy the beauty that surrounds Fort Wilderness Resort. Riders need to be 9 years of age and up to enjoy. This is perfect for beginners and intermediate riders. More experienced riders might find the pace too slow, but still might enjoy riding at Walt Disney World.

Pony Rides

                  Perfect for your little ones! Pony rides are offered daily from 10:00-5:00 pm. Riders must be over the age of 2 years, under 80 pounds, and no taller than 48 inches. Cost is $8 (cash only) and reservations are not required.

Wagon Rides

                  How about an activity that you can all enjoy together? Experience a 25-minute wagon ride that departs daily from Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness at 6:00 pm and 8:30 pm. Current cost is $12 for ages 10 years and up, and $8 for ages 3-9 years. This is on a first-come, first-served basis. Have a large family gathering? Consider a Group wagon ride for 30-35 guests at $300 and is available with a 24-hour notice.

 

f-26-14-12164070_RZOw8gNA_Blog_2

 

Resorts for Horse Lovers

                  Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground – There is so much to see and do at this resort that you could just spend an entire week here. Offering four different types of campsites that include tents to large RV’s, include a picnic table, grill, water, electrical, and cable hook-up. These sleep a maximum of 10 guests. Or consider staying in a Cabin. These accommodate six people and have a full kitchen.

Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa- This resort is themed to represent the love of Horse Racing in late 1800’s Saratoga Springs, New York. You’ll enjoy the Victorian beauty of this Deluxe Resort and Disney Springs is only a boat-ride away! Spread out in Studio Rooms, or villas with full kitchens. Or else consider their Treehouse Villas that sleep nine. There is also so much to do at this resort, from enjoying the Paddock Pool and it’s 146-foot-long waterslide, to golfing, or just relaxing at the Senses Spa.

Be sure to contact me for more information on any of these add-ons or resorts! Also, be sure to follow my Facebook page for daily updates.

 

Corrie Krpejs

336-682-8538

corrie@wishesfamilytravel.com

Share Button

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Confirms Orders for Fifth and Sixth Ships in Next Generation of Newbuilds for Norwegian Cruise Line

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

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Confirms Orders for Fifth and Sixth Ships in Next Generation of Newbuilds for Norwegian Cruise Line
By: Norwegian Cruise Line Blog 
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Confirms Orders for Fifth and Sixth Ships in Nex

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: NCLH), (together with NCL Corporation Ltd., “Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings”, “Norwegian” or the “Company”) today announced it confirmed its previously announced options for the fifth and sixth Project Leonardo Class ships with Fincantieri S.p.A. for Norwegian Cruise Line for delivery in 2026 and 2027.

“These orders extend our disciplined and measured newbuild program and strong growth trajectory well into the future and will further drive long-term returns for our shareholders,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.  “Our six-ship Leonardo Class fleet will allow us to broaden our deployment into strong performing and mature unserved and underserved markets and offer new experiences to our guests.”

At 140,000 gross tons and accommodating approximately 3,300 guests, this next generation class of ships will build upon the highly successful offering of freedom and flexibility found across Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, including the most recent Breakaway Plus Class ships, and feature a host of inventive designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience.  A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. The smaller footprint will also broaden deployment opportunities around the world.  Details on the many innovative guest-facing and first at sea features will be announced at a later date.

“Following the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful class in our Company’s history, the highly anticipated Leonardo Class will fuel future growth with exciting and innovative offerings that will meaningfully drive demand from new and loyal returning guests alike,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

With today’s announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has seven ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line and one for Regent Seven Seas Cruises for a total of eight vessels for delivery through 2027.  The Company will take delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in fall 2019.

The effectiveness of these orders is contingent on the Company’s entry into committed financing arrangements.

About Norwegian Cruise Line 

Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 51-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising.  Most notably, Norwegian revolutionized the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise vacation on their schedule with no set dining times, a variety of entertainment options and no formal dress codes. Today, Norwegian invites guests to enjoy a relaxed, resort- style cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea with a wide variety of accommodation options, including studios for solo travelers, connecting staterooms, spacious suites, in addition to the exclusive The Haven by Norwegian®, a luxury enclave with suites, private pool and dining, concierge service and personal butlers. Norwegian Cruise Line sails around the globe to nearly 300 destinations, offering guests the freedom and flexibility to explore the world on their own time and experience up to 27 dining options, award-winning entertainment, superior guest service and more across all of the brand’s 16 ships.

About Fincantieri S.p.A.

Fincantieri is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups and number one by diversification and innovation. It is a leader in cruise ship design and construction and a reference player in all high-tech shipbuilding industry’s sectors, from naval to offshore vessels, from high-complexity special vessels and ferries to mega-yachts, ship repairs and conversions, systems, and components production and after-sales services.

Headquartered in Trieste (Italy), the Group has built more than 7,000 vessels in over 230 years of maritime history. With almost 19,000 employees, of whom more than 7,800 in Italy, 20 shipyards in 4 continents, today Fincantieri is the leading Western shipbuilder. It has among its clients the major cruise operators, the Italian and the U.S. Navy, in addition to several foreign navies, and it is a partner of some of the main European defense companies within supranational programmes.
www.fincantieri.com

Originally published: https://www.ncl.com/travel-blog/norwegian-cruise-line-holdings-confirms-orders-fifth-and-sixth-ships-next-generation

Share Button

Jedi Training: A Memorable Experience For Any Young Star Wars Fan

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

Jedi Training: A Memorable Experience For Any Young Star Wars Fan

By: Shania Brainard
8.7.18

Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers one of the most unique, exciting experiences for the youngest of Star Wars fans: Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. This exhilarating experience allows children between the ages of 4 and 12, to join the league of Jedis and train to use both the force and lightsabers to battle the villains of the Dark Side. And currently, this amazing opportunity is included in the price of your park ticket.

 

f-26-15-12197486_GG0xgAnR_JEDI_2

 

On a recent family trip to Disney, my son was able to participate in this amazing experience, and he still claims it to be the highlight of his trip. There are some important things to know when considering adding Jedi Training to your Hollywood Studios touring plan.

Participation in Jedi Training availability is first come, first serve. There are only a certain numbers of spots available each day for children to take part, so it is important to arrive early and sign up for a spot. My son and I arrived about twenty minutes before the park opened, and there was already a line of people ready to sign up. Upon entering the park, cast members were standing along the path with signs directing the crowd to Jedi Training sign-ups. This is something to consider if you plan on “rope dropping” any other rides on your morning at Hollywood Studios, because sign-ups took us about a half hour.

 

f-26-14-12197486_kJmgQkIV_Jedi_Training_1

 

Jedi Training is strictly for children ages 4 to 12, and they must be present with you at the time of sign-up. When we were there they were very strict on ages. Before assigning a child a show time, they asked each child their age directly. Before signing your child up for this experience, please take into consideration if your child has stage fright, a true fear of masked characters, or may be too overwhelmed to participate, as I saw a few children crying before show time.

Jedi Training takes place throughout the day. There are multiple showtimes and cast members assign children a return time to come back and participate. They did allow us to give preference as to our show time when we asked, but as spaces fill up options become very limited.

When you return for your time slot (at Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost), they take attendance and children are assigned spots to stand in line with all of the other children participating in the show. One parent must remain at the outpost with the child, but if there are other adults visiting the park with you, I would encourage them to go find a spot near the stage.

While at the outpost cast members have fun with the kids, telling Star Wars jokes and funny stories while they fit children for Jedi robes and pass out lightsabers to borrow. When all the children are ready to train, they march the children over to the stage area while Star Wars music plays loudly over speakers, setting the mood. Children gather on the stage and the show begins.

Children are led through different exercises using the force and their lightsabers. Once children learn a short routine, each child has a chance to show off their skills. They are each brought to the center of the stage and walked through the routine, this time facing none other than the most despised villains of the Empire, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The build-up to this is monumental and I had goosebumps watching my son battle Darth Vader.

 

f-26-19-12197486_9DqMBbvm_JEDI_3

 

The show itself lasts about twenty minutes, but from arriving at the outpost I would plan for an hour. It was well worth the time spent that day, as it was certainly a fun adventure for my son, and so memorable for me. I am a huge fan of this unique experience for any young Star Wars fan!

I would love to help you plan a trip to Hollywood Studios so your young Star Wars fan can become the next Jedi. Follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/shainabrainard.wft or email me at shaina@wishesfamilytravel.com so we can start planning your magical vacation!

Share Button

Book By: 10.7.18 Fall into a season of fun at Walt Disney World!

Posted by on 7:00 am in Current Disney Specials, Disney Specials, Special Offers, WFT Specials | 0 comments

Book By: 10.7.18 Fall into a season of fun at Walt Disney World!

WDW-18-319837-FY18-WDW-Resorts-Q1-Fall-&-Holiday-RO-Offer-Web-Page_1Book through 10/7/18 for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights 10/8–11/8/18.

Book through 12/24/18 for stays most nights 11/11–12/24/18.

Share Button

#BeattheHeat – Vol 2 Disney Pools

Posted by on 12:30 pm in #FotoFriday | 0 comments

#BeattheHeat – Vol 2 Disney Pools

Photo Credits:

Share Button