Originally created for the 1964 World’s Fair, it’s a small world officially opened at Disneyland on May 28, 1966. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the song that will never leave your brain! iasm was the brainchild of Mary Blair, Marc and Alice Davis, and Rolly Crump, 4 legendary Imagineers. Mary did the styling and coloring, while the Davis’s dressed and designed the dolls. Good ‘ol Rolly designed the exterior and the toys. In Rolly’s book “It’s Kind of a Cute Story,” he describes the process of installing the ride and pushing Walt Disney through the ride in a boat on wheels. (I highly recommend this book. Rolly is a fabulous storyteller, and he has tons of them!)
The façade of it’s a small world at Disneyland is 60 feet high and 300 feet long, and the load area for the boats is outside. From there, riders enter the show pavilion under the clock and begin the happiest cruise that ever sailed through different countries and regions of the world. Riders will see animatronic dolls, representing the Children of the World, dressed in traditional clothing singing along to it’s a small world (after all) for 15 minutes in their native languages. Controversially, the Disneyland version was restyled, and dolls were replaced by Disney IP, in their “native” countries.
The exterior is the result of Rolly Crump’s imagination. Inspired by Mary Blair’s designs, Rolly designed the façade with cutouts featuring world icons, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower. Walt Disney asked Rolly to design the iconic clock that we all know and love, featuring a smiling clock that rocks back and forth. Fans of the ride at every park will note that the clock chimes every 15 minutes, replicating an old European automaton clock. The Disneyland version has a parade of wooden dolls that comes out to an instrumental toy soldier version of the song, and as the last doll returns into the clock, the parade doors close and the large central pair of doors open to reveal two giant toy blocks. The large block displays stylized numerals of the hour, the small one displays the minutes. Large and small bells toll to count the hours and quarters.
Some small world fun facts:
Disneyland boats seat 15 passengers
there are 437 animatronics
in the 2008 refurbishment, the fiberglass boats were reinforced with more durable plastic
there are 29 Disney characters that were added in the refurbishment, each in their own land
every holiday season, Disneyland gives iasw a holiday overlay, called “it’s a small world holiday,” and holiday decorations are added to the ride’s interior
Walt Disney World has 27 resorts, but none of them feel like home to me quite like Disney’s Wilderness Lodge! Nestled on the shores of Bay Lake, this resort evokes the peace, beauty, and quiet of the Pacific Northwest. The Lodge is just secluded enough to feel like a peaceful oasis amidst the chaos of Disney! But this is not the campgrounds. Fort Wilderness is actually an entirely different resort, though they are basically right next door to each other, and you can take a bus to the campgrounds. Not only do you have regular resort room options, but this resort also has two DVC properties. The first, in a separate building, is the Boulder Ridge Villas. In the main hotel, you will find the Copper Creek Villas and the Cabins are located down on Bay Lake.
Wilderness Lodge Rooms
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge literally has room types for everyone! When you book a room at Wilderness Lodge (not Boulder Ridge or Copper Creek, which are the Lodge’s DVC Properties), you have standard rooms and club level rooms to choose from. All of the standard rooms, Standard View, Courtyard View, Nature View, and Nature Fireworks View, all have room options with 2 queen beds or 1 king bed.
In addition to concierge-level service and access to the Old Faithful Club on the 7th Floor, Club Level rooms are available to sleep 2 (Standard View King Bed), 4 (Standard View 2 Queens), or 6 (Deluxe 2 Queen Beds and Queen Sleeper Sofa). At the Club Lounge, you get access to not only amazing views, but FREE Continental Breakfast, afternoon snacks, evening tea, and desserts and cordials.
At Boulder Ridge Villas, located in the building next to the Wilderness Lodge, you will find a Deluxe Studio as well as 1 and 2 bedroom villas. Copper Creek Villas, located inside the main Wilderness Lodge building, offer Deluxe Studios, Deluxe Studios with walk-in showers, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom villas, and Cabins. The DVC properties are available to book as long as a DVC member has not already reserved them, and you’re willing to pay for them!
boulder ridge villas
Deluxe Studio: Sleeps 5 (Queen Bed, Double Sleeper Sofa, and Single Pull-Down Sleeper)
1-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 4
2-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 8
copper creek villas
Deluxe Studio: Sleeps 4
Deluxe Studio with Walk-in Shower: Sleeps 4
1-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 4
2-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 8
3-Bedroom Villa: Sleeps 12
Cabin: Sleeps 8
Every guest at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge receives free wifi, microwave and mini refrigerator, in-room safe, soaker tubs, and phones. You will also get a coffee and tea set up and flat panel televisions in every room, too. Heading to the pool? No need to pack your towels, they’re available as part of your stay! Each room will have a patio or balcony, hair dryer, and basic toiletries, etc. Your basic resort amenities. The rooms in the Wilderness Lodge are all located in the main building, so there isn’t as much walking as staying at a larger resort, like Caribbean Beach.
When you opt for the Club Level, you also receive Complimentary Health Club Access, key access to the Club-Level Lounge with daily refreshments, and free Concierge Service.
The DVC rooms have a bit more to offer, and the Studios will give you everything the main hotel offers, plus a kitchenette. All Villas will give you a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and 1 to 3 full bathrooms, depending on the size of the villa that you reserve. The Cabins sleep 8 adults, with 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen with an island, and a private porch and hot tub.
In addition to room amenities, the resort offers a number of amenities for on-site guests to enjoy as part of their reservation at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. You will enjoy both watercraft and bus transportation. The buses take you to all 4 theme parks, Disney Springs, and Fort Wilderness. You can take the boats to Magic Kingdom, or Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary. Enjoy Sturdy Branches Health Club or a Spa Day at Salon by the Springs. Daily Mousekeeping is available (except for DVC members, who receive full service on Day 4 and Day 8), as well as online check in and laundry and dry cleaning services.
There are very awesome pools at the Wilderness Lodge. The first is the Copper Creek Springs Pool, a heated pool surrounded by nature. There is a 67-foot waterslide in the middle of the pool and a hot and cold spa. You can grab a drink or a meal at the Geyser Point Bar and Grill, and eat either at the restaurant or at your lounge chair. You can also find a water play area for the guests under 48″. Right beyond the pool is the replica or Old Faithful and it goes off every so often, going along with the theme of the Northwest U.S. Lodge.
If the hustle and bustle of the Copper Creek Pool doesn’t appeal to you, head over to the Boulder Ridge Cove Pool for a more quiet and relaxing pool experience. This pool is a zero-depth entry pool, nestled in the quiet of the Boulder Ridge Villas. It has a whirlpool spa and 6 shaded seated areas that are first come first serve.
Hungry? Stop by one of four dining locations. For higher-end table service dining, you might try dining at Artist Point. Here you will join Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and the Evil Queen for Storybook Dining! For a quick service dining opportunity, stop by Roaring Fork, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This is also where you will find the drink refill station, for those of you that purchase the refillable drink mugs. Out by the Copper Creek Springs Pool, grab a bite at Geyser Point Bar and Grill. This is also available as a To-Go Mobile Ordering location.
Great food and hijinks await at Whispering Canyon Cafe! Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they specialize in all-you-can-eat skillets at every single meal. I’ve yet to not leave fat and happy!
Looking for some fun on your non-park days? Head to Teton Boat & Bike Rentals, where you can rent everything from surrey bikes to pontoons and even private fishing excursions!
Stay healthy by visiting the Sturdy Branches Health Club! Or go for a run on the jogging trails! You can even book a massage or a full spa day at the salon! There is plenty to do to help you relax!
Looking for some fun on your non-park days? Head to Teton Boat & Bike Rentals, where you can rent everything from surrey bikes to pontoons and even private fishing excursions!
Don’t forget the kids! There is plenty to keep kids from shouting “BUT I’M BORED!!” Catch a nightly campfire, watch a movie under the stars, watch the Electric Water Pageant and Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach, or blow off some steam in the Buttons & Bells Arcade!
A spot not to be missed, don’t forget to stop into the Boulder Ridge Villas and see Walt Disney’s Trains and other memorabilia in a relaxing Northwest Lounge setting. A great place to relax and take in some of Walt Disney’s personal property? Sign me up.
Are you ready to book your stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? Let’s chat!!
You may be picking up on a theme here, but I really like food. Today, let’s take a look at Hollywood Studios and all the food it has to offer.
We’ll start at Mama Melrose, which, in my whole family’s opinion, is the best dining available at Hollywood Studios. No disrespect to the Brown Derby, but Mama’s has something for everyone. Pizza, pasta, chicken tenders, adult beverages, ice cream, you name it.
Located near the exit to MuppetVision 3D and the Christmas Shoppe, Mama Melrose is a table service restaurant that serves lunch and dinner.
Cons: the lobby area is quite small, so it gets quite crowded. Also, even with a reservation, it gets pretty busy, so you may still end up waiting a long time for your table.
Pros: the food is fantastic. Sure, it’s not anything special, it’s just really good Italian food. We like to double up on appetizers, which saves a boatload of money. Personal favorites include Caesar salad, flatbread pizzas, and tiramisu. BONUS: if and when Fantasmic returns, keep an eye out for the Fantasmic Dining Package. You get a full meal plus center stage seating for Fantasmic without having to wait in the standby line for hours.
Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater
Sci-Fi offers possibly the most unique dining experience in all of Walt Disney World. You can dine in “cars,” as if you’re at a drive-in movie theater. The front of the room features a really big movie screen that plays commercials and old science fiction movie clips. The food is not the draw here, though it is pretty good classic American food, but you have to try some of the drinks! You can also get vegan and vegetarian entrees here.
Cons: It is dark so it’s kind of hard to see the menu. And the cars-seating can make it pretty hard to talk to the people not sitting on the bench with you.
Pros: It’s a really fun experience and the food is great. Kids will love the cars and the movie while eating on great kid staples like chicken tenders and burgers. Bonus: great milkshakes.
Hollywood Brown Derby
Head back to 1920s Hollywood for this classic replica. Enjoy the sights and sounds, including caricatures of celebrities hanging on the wall.
Cons: CHA-CHING. This place is not cheap.
Pros: There is something for every type of eater, from hot dogs to filet to the famous Cobb Salad. Personal recommendation: get The Brown Derby Signature Burger.
Use mobile ordering and head back to Toy Story Land to eat at Woody’s Lunchbox.
Cons: Not a ton of seating and the wait times can be long, even with mobile ordering.
Pros: TOTCHOS!!! Tots+chili+fritos=awesome-ness. Plus the price is fantastic. The location is great, too, right in front of Alien Swirling Saucers, next to the bathrooms and the pathway to Batuu.
Speaking of Batuu, head to Ronto Roasters and enjoy a nice Ronto Wrap. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is a fun, unique, totally Star Wars themed dining location, accepting mobile ordering.
Cons: Not a lot of options, so may not be good for super picky eaters.
Pros: vegan and vegetarian options available plus a unique setting Star Wars lovers are going to fall in love with.
Hollywood and Vine – table service, character dining
50s Prime Time Cafe – table service, themed dining, great milkshakes
Docking Bay 7 – quick service, mobile ordering, Galaxy’s Edge
Hollywood Scoops – quick service, ice cream delicious-ness
Rosie’s All-American Cafe – quick service, American staples
Where is your favorite place to eat in Hollywood Studios? Did it make the list? Ready to book your family’s vacation? Contact me today!!!
Walt Disney World Resort is MASSIVE, and there is plenty to do, both inside AND outside of the parks. You’ll want to have a down day or two, if for no other reason than to just relax. Here is just a sampling of cheap and/or free things to do on your down days.
1. Take a Scenic Ride
Hop on the Skyliner and just go for a ride. Or the monorail. Or take a boat ride. You can take a free boat ride on the Friendship Boats or the boats between the resorts with water access, or you could rent a boat from one of the hotels with Marinas.
Beach and Yacht Clubs
Old Key West
2. Resort Hop
You don’t have to stay at the resorts to visit them, though with COVID, it may not be allowed during busier times. But you can easily hop on the monorail, and explore the Deluxe resorts on the monorail line. If you’re there are Christmas, you will DEFINITELY want to explore these resorts to see the decorations!
You can also visit the Skyliner resorts and take a free drawing class at Art of Animation, or take a walk around the Boardwalk and explore the resorts that surround Crescent Lake.
If Port Orleans ever reopens, take the boats from Disney Springs to explore, and don’t forget to get yourself some beignets!
Head to the All-Star resorts or Pop Century for some fun photo opportunities with all the massive Disney props around those resorts. Note, though, while you can explore the resorts, the pools are only open for the guests staying at each specific resort.
For an incredibly relaxing and unique experience, head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for some great dining and a relaxing view of the Savannah and all the animals. Grab a drink and enjoy!
3. Play Mini Golf or Golf or Foot Golf
Walt Disney World is home to four full size golf courses, one foot golf course, and two miniature golf courses. You could purchase the Water Parks and Sports tickets to have access to these courses, and work them into your non-parks day. If you purchase a vacation package, you will receive a voucher for 4 people to play 18-holes of miniature golf for free, too! Currently, only the Fantasia Mini Golf Course is open.
4. Nightly Movies and/or Campfires
On most nights, the resorts offer nightly movies outside, either at the pool or at some dedicated spot on the resort grounds. Check with each resort for times and movie schedules. Some resorts also offer campfires. You can purchase marshmallows there, or bring your own. A very popular campfire that I hope comes back very soon is Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long over at Fort Wilderness. Check individual resorts for more information!
5. Visit Playgrounds and Splash Pads
The Moderate and Value Resorts almost all offer playgrounds for the kids to run around and burn off some energy while you sit and relax, maybe with a coffee, maybe with a cocktail. You’re on vacation, too, so live it up! Some resorts also offer splash pads. Disney Springs has TWO!
6. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant
The Electrical Water Pageant happens every single night in Seven Seas Lagoon. It’s completely free and it’s honestly something that you have probably seen a million times and just not thought about what you’re seeing.
Approximately when and where you can see it:
8:45 pm – The Polynesian
9:00 pm – The Grand Floridian
9:30 pm – Wilderness Lodge
9:45 pm – Fort Wilderness Campgrounds
10:00 pm – The Contemporary
7. Hunt for Hidden Mickeys
Hidden Mickeys are not just a thing in the theme parks. Each resort has their own Hidden Mickey. You can also look for them around Disney Springs!
8. Running/Walking Trails
Not a runner? OK no problem. You can walk around the trails, located at several Walt Disney World resorts to push the kids in the stroller or just walk around and explore the resort. Or get your morning run in before a day in the parks!
9. Explore the Boardwalk
Disney’s Boardwalk area is modeled after a classic Atlantic Ocean-area Boardwalk. There are food kiosks all along the way, to stop and have a snack or even a meal. There are carnival-style games to play (for a cost, of course), bars, restaurants, a dance hall, and more. Or just sit on a bench and watch the Friendship Boats come and go.
If and when EPCOT and Hollywood Studios has firework shows again, the Boardwalk is a great spot to watch without park admission.
10. Visit Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a good place to walk around and waste time! There are, as I said, two splash pads, a carousel (for a small cost), cheap food, and tons of shops to window shop or actually shop. Head over to Jock Lindsay’s Hanger Bar and walk around it, exploring all the amazing details the Imagineers worked into the decor.
It can be hard for large families to find accommodations at Walt Disney World Resort. But beginning May 23, 2021, that is all going to change! Why? Because you will now be able to book Margaritaville Resort Orlando and have access to Walt Disney World!!
This resort offers cottages that are bigger, and perfect for large families or extended families traveling together. They offer 2 to 8 bedroom cottages, with amenities available like daily housekeeping, full kitchens, washers and dryers, pet friendly accommodations, and more!! Some places even have a private pool!
Staying at Margaritaville Cottages Orlando will give you access to everything at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, including the lagoon-style pools, onsite dining options, the fitness center, and more. Just steps away, Guests can also enjoy the shopping and dining at the Promenade at Sunset Walk. Please be aware, though, that entrance Island H2O Live! water park is a separate attraction and requires its own admission.
Margaritaville will transport you to the Transportation and Ticket Center at Walt Disney World, and, from there, you will have access to the free WDW Resort Transportation. Contact me today for more information about these accommodations!!!
What to Know About Disney Photopass, Memory Maker, and Magic Shots
I’m going to tell you why you MUST consider adding Memory Maker to your vacation package! Memory Maker is a photo package available at Walt Disney World and, to a certain extent, Disnelyland. In simple terms, it is pre-ordering all of your Disney Photopass pictures. But first, let’s talk about what all these words mean, and the pros and cons!
Quite simply, Disney Photopass is simply the Disney Lingo for “photography.” It is the term used for not only the photographers with fancy cameras that you will find all over the park, but the ride photos, special photos, etc. PhotoPass itself is “free,” in that outside of private photography sessions, you don’t have to pay for the photographers to take your picture. But you DO have to pay for the photo itself. After you take your photo, the photographer will scan your magicband, plastic ticket, or magicmobile on your phone. You will then be able to open your MyDisneyExperience app and see the pictures. Simple as that. Now here is where things get confusing for guests.
You will not simply be able to look at your photos and download them for free. Disney is actually smarter than that. Unless you purchase Memory Maker or the photo itself, all of your photos, including ride photos, will have a watermark over them. You can purchase only the photos that you want to keep, but they can run about $15-$17 PER PHOTO. So if you like to have a lot of photos of your whole family, where one person isn’t constantly missing because they’re taking the photos, you may want to just go ahead and purchase Memory Maker.
Explaining Memory Maker
Memory Maker is a single purchase you make to get access to all of your photos for your entire trip. I mean ALL your photos. Ride photos, magic shots, special photo experiences, photos at iconic park locations, private photo session photos…ALL OF THEM. You will have access to them for 45 days from the date they are taken, and you can link up to 25 family members and you can all share the same Memory Maker. Everyone does not have to buy their own.
Breaking it down, if for some reason, you are only able to go for one day, you can purchase a one day Memory Maker for $69. Now for the big one. Memory Maker is $199 UNLESS you purchase it at least 3 days in advance of your trip. Then you will only pay $169. But that isn’t saying much. Still seems like a lot of money, right? So then, breaking it down even FURTHER, on a trip I have had as many as 700 photos (we do not skip photographers!), and that makes it $.24 per photo. Here is just an example of some of the photos you can receive from your Memory Maker purchase.
Along with photos, there are ANIMATED photos and ride VIDEOS available, too!
Should You Get Memory Maker Then?
So is the Memory Maker worth the purchase? ABSOLUTELY. I have received the most amazing photos of my daughter’s reactions to characters, photos of myself that AREN’T selfies, great ride photos (we constantly discuss what we are going to do on rides), and so many other irreplaceable photos. So yes, it is worth every single penny.
Disney now lets you book your OWN PRIVATE PHOTOPASS PHOTO SESSION. For $79, you get a 20-minute one-on-one photo session in a special location (location is chosen when you meet with your photographer). And with Memory Maker, you get all those photos included. This is a GREAT option for proposals, graduation announcements, senior pictures, pregnancy announcements, and more! These sessions are now available to book as part of Enchanting Extras at all 4 Walt Disney World Theme Parks!
Longue Vie a la France! Let’s Visit the France Pavilion
Let’s take a stroll around the streets of Paris, shall we? At the very back of World Showcase in EPCOT, France is an easy pavilion to miss. This is because the highlights are all tucked back behind the restaurants you see out front. But let’s take a nice stroll and see what we find.
Can You Go To France and NOT Eat?
Let’s start with food. It’s France, so there’s bound to be a lot of it! Right up front, you’ll find two fantastic table service restaurants, Chefs de France and Monsieur Paul (MP is currently still closed). Monsieur Paul is way too fancy for my theme park dining taste, but if fancy French dining is something you are looking for, this will be the place for you (once it reopens). It is only open for dinner. Chefs de France is kind of an overlooked hidden gem. Here, you can overlook the “streets of France” while you dine on French cuisine.
Tasty Pastries and Gluten Free Macarons!
Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, aka “the French Bakery,” is THE place to go for fresh pastries. Croissants, eclairs, mousse, quiche, soufflés, cheese trays, sandwiches….and all of it accompanied by French Roast coffee. You can’t Visit France without a croissant, right?!?! A great stop for breakfast! This is a great hidden gem in World Showcase, though, so don’t tell anyone.
L’Artisan des Glaces is an Artisan Ice Cream and Sorbet shop. Sixteen different flavors are made in house, all with fresh ingredients – 10 ice creams (chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, caramel fleur de sel, cherry, coconut-white chocolate, coffee, and profiterole) and 6 sorbets (strawberry, mango, lemon, pomegranate, and mixed berry). Desserts are sold by the scoop either in cups or cones. Kids over 21 may also add a liqueur to their ice cream, giving guests the option of hundreds of flavor combination possibilities. Read more about this AMAZING ice cream stop here!
Brand New EPCOT Eats!
La Creperie de Paris, an authentic French creperie that brings more authentic French cuisine to the France pavilion in World Showcase. You can find this quaint little dining spot by Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Inspired by the Brittany region of France, the Creperie will have both a to-go area that serves homemade crepes, and a sit-down table service option. Reservations can be made for lunch and dinner up to 60 days in advance!
France – Shopping in World Showcase
You can’t visit France without shopping. I don’t make the rules. The France Pavilion has got you covered! Want some French parfum? Plume et Palette. La Maison du Vin, kids 21 and over can sample wines for a fee and then purchase their favorite French wines and accessories. Souvenirs de France has typical French souvenirs, like a berets, and Eiffel tower souvenirs, and t shirts.
Entertainment – EPCOT World Showcase
Back in the Palais du Cinema, you have TWO entertainment options. The first is Impressions de France, an 18-minute film that travels through France. Unlike the films in China and Canada, this theater has seating available. You will see the palace of Versailles, winemakers, hot air balloons and the celebration of Bastille Day, all set to a beautiful soundtrack of French composers. At the very least, an air conditioned seated place for a nice 20-minute nap. And alternating with Impressions de France, you can also attend the Beauty and the Beast sing-a-long.
New to France: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Chef Skinner will be chasing guests through Gusteau’s Parisian restaurant on a trackless ride system. The EPCOT version is, of course, modeled after the 2007 film Ratatouille, and will be very similar to the Disneyland Paris version.
The France pavilion is full of hidden treasures and street carts and kiosks (don’t miss the Grand Marnier slushies!!!). Take some time and explore! A lot of people just walk past all the countries without exploring. Take some time! You won’t regret it!!
Not sure where to stay at Walt Disney World? Learn more about all of the resorts here!
Pandemics and Other Disasters: Why You Will Want Travel Agents Helping You With Your Vacation Planning
Using a Travel Agent is a hot button issue. Some people don’t want to think about anything other than arriving at their destination and relaxing, so their first inclination is to always use a travel agent. Some people want to control every aspect of their vacation, and they think using Travel Agents means they have no control. These are the people I’m specifically speaking to right now. Let’s talk about WHY you should ALWAYS use Travel Agents!
Travel Agents Are Already Built Into the Price of Your Vacation
My services are 100% FREE to you. Naturally, I cannot speak for other agencies, but I can tell you unequivocally that I will never charge you a cent over what your vacation costs. All of the companies that I deal with pay me directly when you travel. Why? Because the cost of using Travel Agents is built into the price of your vacation, whether you use one or not. So, why WOULDN’T you use a travel agent? You get what you pay for, right?! So there will never be a worry about how you’re going to pay me. You only need to pay for your vacation. Period.
If There is An Emergency, Travel Agents Can Handle All the Details for Cancelling and/or Rescheduling Your Trip
Sometimes, Pooh happens. And when it does, who doesn’t love a smackerel of honey? But unfortunately, poo also happens. And when it does, I am here to take care of everything for you, so you will have one less worry. When emergencies happen, the last thing you want to do is sit on hold trying to figure out something that, depending on the situation, may truly be the least of your worries, even if thousands of dollars are involved. I will sit on hold so you don’t have to.
Travel Agents are Up-To-Date on Current Travel Requirements and Restrictions
It is literally my job to keep up with not only travel restrictions via the US, but also the world. I wouldn’t want to plan a whole vacation, only to find out that the country I’m planning to visit is not currently open to me! That’s why you need a travel agent! I am always reading what is happening in Disney Parks and all Disney Destinations, Universal Studios, Cruising, International Travel, and more. For example, I recently had a client inquire about a Mediterranean Cruise, but they were concerned about whether or not Italy would let them into the country. I happen to know that Italy IS letting Americans into the country, and what the requirements are. They didn’t have to look anything up, because I already knew!
If You Use a Travel Agent, You Deal with The Same Person EVERY TIME
Speaking of calling someone, if you need to contact Disney or Universal or Royal Caribbean or Beaches/Sandals, etc, during the entire pre-vacation phase of the vacation planning, you will talk to several different people. If you go with a Travel Agent, you get me each and every time. This not only gives you a better sense of security, but it also lessens the chance that Bob gave you a piece of information that Janice now says is wholly inaccurate.
Travel Agents Have to Train Every Year, So Travel Agents Have all the Latest Information about Your Destination
I can help you make the tough decisions. Not only should you choose Pop Century or Caribbean Beach for your family, but also really important decisions like “do I really need travel insurance?” or “should I pay for this cruise in full even though it won’t happen?” I am here for you, and I will help you every step of the way.
As a Travel Agent, Your Family’s Needs are My NUMBER ONE Priority
I will get to know your needs and help you plan everything that your family SPECIFICALLY will want, not just a bland vacation full of basic stuff that you may not want. You’re more than just a commission to me! I LOVE to plan vacations for people, and I love to help people discover new destinations! And for Doubters, nothing makes me happier than the “I told you so!” after someone completely falls in love with their vacation!
Travel Agents have an Enormous Catalog of Personal Experiences
I have been to Disney several times and stayed at different resorts, eaten at tons of restaurants, and I’ve ridden every ride. I can give you advice and opinions! Again, something you won’t have to Google! Just ask me! I have also visited many other locations (believe it or not) and cruise ships. And if I don’t know, I know someone who does, and I will get your that information!
Not Only am I A Travel Agent, I’m a Travel Agent with Knowledge of Special Needs, Disabilities, AND Food Allergies!
I have experience traveling with an amazing autistic human with sensory processing disorder and severe anxiety. It IS possible to have amazing vacations, and I have the information to help set your mind at ease! I also have experience dining in the parks with food allergies. I know how Mamas and Papas can panic and worry about their small humans that have these extra challenges and I am here to help guide you through it.
Travel Agents Are Like Walking Guidebooks
I can help you save time by giving you little tips and tricks to get on that ride you REALLY want to ride (get in line for it before the park closes and stay there til you ride it!!). I have navigated through tons of scenarios and I can help you get to everything you will have time for. Not sure if you should get off the ship in Nassau or just enjoy an empty ship for the day? I can help! Trying to choose between Jamaica or Barbados? Want to know the best time of year to visit Alaska?
Travel Agents Can Find the Deals
I can help you save money. Yes, it’s true! I PROMISE! You can start booking your Disney packages 499 days out, but that doesn’t always mean discounts will be available. I will continue to monitor your reservation, and if a discount pops up that will save you money, I will go ahead and just apply it to your trip, and BAM! Money saved! It really is that simple! I have a few other tips and tricks up my sleeves to help you save money.
The same goes for other destinations, too! If you book a Royal Caribbean Cruise and the price goes down before you embark, I will get you the best price. You never have to worry about spending too much, because a GOOD Travel Agent will track prices and discounts!
People are always looking for ways to save money on trips to Disney. Here is one of the easiest and often most overlooked ways to do just that: grocery delivery. You can have groceries delivered right to your resort, and then maybe you won’t have to pay for a meal or two in the parks. Not only can you save money with grocery delivery, but you can also save TIME! By having pop tarts or individual cereal boxes, or even Lunchables, you skip waiting to order, waiting for pick up, and all of that!
This is the most popular route for many people and has probably been around the longest. This service is much like Instacart and Amazon Fresh, in that you order what you want and someone does the shopping for you.
Step 1 is to create an account (this part is free). Then you order your groceries. Finally, you checkout and pay. Unlike many other services, you just need to enter the name of your resort, and they will populate the rest. You do not need to meet your delivery person at the resort. Bell services will hold and refrigerate your items for you, at no extra cost, until you either arrive at your resort or return from the parks. Plain and simple!
Garden Grocer – Cons
Now for the fine print, and unfortunately, there is a bunch of it for Garden Grocer.
For starters, there is a $14 delivery fee for all orders under $200. If your order is over $200, there is no fee. I mean, we usually go for 10 days and I order about $40, so that’s not gonna get the fee waived. And while I like having some food and drinks available, I’m not on vacation to cook. So I doubt I’ll ever order $200 worth of groceries.
Yacht/Beach Clubs, Boardwalk, and Campgrounds only accept deliveries after 4 pm, so keep that in mind.
They require you to order at least 2 days in advance. If you order the day before, expect to pay an extra $20 fee. Same-day orders run an extra $30 fee. They do offer discounts via their website for orders 180, 90, 60 days, etc in advance so if you know exactly what you’ll be ordering and that sounds great to you, visit their site and order whenever you’re ready!
Formerly known as Amazon Prime Now, this is a quick, same-day ordering service. It does require an Amazon Prime Membership and, quite honestly, if you’ve made it through the last two years without having a Prime Membership, just skip ahead to the next option, because there is no reason you should start now.
Amazon does own Whole Foods, so this option also allows you the opportunity to get more healthy and/or special dietary options, such as gluten free or vegan, than some other places. And it’s very convenient. I have ordered from the jetway before and it arrives at the resort around the same time as I do.
Like Amazon, Shipt requires a membership, and it’s $99/year. However, they do offer a 1-day Shipt pass, prices vary, so it may be something to look into if you’ve been on the fence about becoming a Shipt member in your own city and want to give it a try on vacation. They offer same-day delivery.
Currently, you can shop at Publix, Target, and Winn Dixie for Walt Disney World delivery.
Started in 1999, this is billed as “the original personal shopper.” The original way to save money with grocery delivery, if you will! They shop from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Publix, and Winn Dixie.
WeGoShop – Cons
Unfortunately, they have A LOT of fees, and it’s all dependent on who does your shopping for you.
Walt Disney World Resort Hotels – Grocery-Storing Basics
Every Disney hotel room has at least a mini-fridge, so you will always have the opportunity to keep things cold, like milk for cereal, bottled water, etc. Family Suites, available at Art of Animation and All-Star Music, and DVC Deluxe Studios have kitchenettes. Villas, Cabins, Bungalows, and some suites in Deluxe hotels come with full kitchens, as do the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
If you get nothing from this, just trust me that you will want to buy your own water. You can get a case of water for the price of 1 bottle of water in the parks! Again, this reduces both spending AND wasting time waiting in line. As I mentioned in my piece about surviving the summer-in-Florida heat, it’s a smart idea to bring your own water bottles. You can fill up in your room with your bottled water before leaving for the parks, then fill up as needed! Snacks and drinks are good to have to fend off the late night urge to snack! (or mid-day or all day, I don’t judge!)
Of course, there are also grocery items for sale in your hotel gift shop, and while they’re not exactly $27 for one banana, it’s not cheap. Kind of defeats the point of trying to save money with grocery delivery! Depending on which resort you’re at, you may be able to just walk to Speedway but, I mean…..it’s a gas station.
Groceries and Where to Find Them
You can also Uber/Lyft/Taxi to a grocery store (or drive yourself, if you have a car). Should you choose that route, here’s some more helpful information for you:
Whole Foods (8003 Turkey Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819)
Publix (Regency Village Shopping Center, Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL)
SuperTarget (4795 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746)
Trader Joe’s (8323 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819)