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Houston / Galveston Fun (Rodeo photo Reba concert)

Houston/ Galveston Fun

 

The Houston/ Galveston area has so many wonderful things to see and do. This year Houston is host to Super Bowl 51 Patriots Vs Falcons. Annual events for the area include Galveston, Mardi Gras in February this is the 106th year for the island.  Mardi Gras is tons of fun plenty of live music, drinks, and parades they do offer family events, but this is mostly an adult event.  In Houston one of the favorite annual events is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this event established in 1931 occurs annually usually in March. This event has brought families fun for generations with carnival rides, fabulous Texas BBQ, shopping, great headliner music entertainment, pig races, etc. it’s fun for hours.  Baytown, host a yearly NHRA race around April.  This event is lots of fun for the whole family with nitro cars going head to head in a quarter mile at 300+ mph.

Year round entertainment is plentiful in the Houston area. The Downtown Aquarium, features carnival style rides, larger than life aquariums, and a restaurant. Houston has many museums to choose from Science, Health, Children’s, and Holocaust Museums just to name a few.  Houston, boast a great theater district with theaters both inside and outside. The Houston Zoo is not to be missed it’s truly Texas sized at 55 acres. The Houston Space Center has many great exhibits and hands on actives for the young and old alike. Be sure not to miss seeing the Apollo control room and the future of Mars exploration spacecraft.  The USS Texas BB-35, it’s notable for being the only remaining World War I-era dreadnought battleship. A short drive from the USS Texas you have the San Jacinto Monument at 567.31-feet-high this monument is 12feet taller than the Washington Monument. Houston, is also the home of many professional sports teams including football, basketball, baseball, and soccer just to name a few most of the facilities offer stadium tours also. Houston also has Wet’n’Wild SplashTown its a great sized waterpark guaranteed to cool you off on those hot Texas days.  Opening in the Spring of 2017 Gilley’s after many years the old Houston icon is coming back to Houston in a new location.  If Gilley’s sounds familiar to you that was the dance hall used in the filming of the Urban Cowboy.

Galveston Island is a great place to have a fun and relaxing time. The Sea Wall & The Strand are extremely popular places to be with food, live music, and fun abounding.  The newest adventure is the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier (amusement park) its built out 1,130 feet over the Gulf of Mexico built in the same location as the original that was destroyed during Hurricane Carla. After that the original was replaced with the USS Flagship Hotel that was destroyed during Hurricane Ike now the new Pleasure Pier stands in its place. Moody Gardens is also great family fun with 4D theaters, a rainforest, aquariums, a beach, and a flight museum. The Island of Galveston is very rich in Texas history and American history many immigrants that where moving to America came to Galveston from overseas the area has  many old home tours that are great to see.  Schlitterbahn Galveston Island it’s an indoor water and outdoor water park for guaranteed fun even in the winter. Last but not least The Galveston cruise ship terminal, Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean Cruise lines have 4 to 7 day trips to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Within a short drive of the Houston / Galveston area are some places that you may want to visit also. The Blue Bell Ice Cream factory (in Brenham, Texas) and Shiner Brewery (in Shiner, Texas) these Texas originals are sure to please.  Surfside Beach is a great little beach that allows you to drive and park on the beach unlike Galveston were you have to park on the Seawall.  A Casino is now located just north of Houston in Livingston, Texas, called Naskila Gaming. Lake Conroe (near Conroe, Texas) is a great place for boating fun.

 Lodging is vast in the area from 5 star hotels, hotels with a view of the beautiful Houston skyline, or a relaxing view of the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston.  Whatever your heart’s desire it’s here for you.  Food is also plentiful in this region.  Although, I have to say I’m partial to the shrimp, BBQ and Mexican food in the area.

 

Did You Know Volume #1: Valet Parking

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This past September, my family spent a weekend at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for a joint celebration of my son’s 16th birthday and my 40th (wow, that hurts to type).  When we pulled in on Friday morning, I decided to use Disney’s valet service.  Outside of Tables in Wonderland, this would be my first time using Disney’s valet service.

I am that guy that likes to drive myself around Disney property; nothing against Disney transportation, I’m just a control freak!

After we checked in and had a bite for lunch, we called upon the valet to retrieve our car so we could head over to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours before closing out the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  While waiting for our vehicle, an attendant asked if we needed any directions or help.  Being a Disney Super Dad, I said, “No Thank You.”  The attendant then asked where we were headed, and I replied, “Magic Kingdom.”  This is when I learned, thanks to another great Cast Member, that once you pay the daily valet fee (currently $25.00) at any of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts, you can also use the valet service at any of the other Deluxe Resorts (on the same date) without having to repay the fee.

Upon hearing this, I immediately felt like a schmuck, after all, I know everything, I’m a Disney Super Dad, remember…

Much to my surprise, we were able to drive into Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa; use valet service, then hop the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom (I’m a simple guy and am easily impressed by the little pleasures, lol).

Now, anyone who’s visited the Magic Kingdom knows that getting from the parking lot to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) then over to the Magic Kingdom, can at times, be a bit arduous; especially if you’re carrying little ones.  Well…  Here’s your tip of the day: you can utilize valet parking at one of the monorail resorts, and then hop the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

Now, I must throw out a disclaimer…  You are going to have to pass through security to get into any Disney resort; however, security at the monorail resorts can be especially “picky” (especially during peak times).  Therefore, you will need a “reason” to be at the resort (i.e. dining reservation, spa appointment, etc.).  In our case, we were already staying at a Deluxe Resort and had paid for the valet service, so security let us in.  In the past, you could simply say that you wanted to “look around” or “visit” the resort.  That is not always a guarantee now…

When using valet parking, it is important to remember that the fee you pay goes to Disney and not the valet attendant; so please, please, please remember to tip the attendant.

Another point to keep in mind, when you pay to park at a Walt Disney World Park, you can use that receipt to avoid paying the parking fee at another park on the same day.  This does not apply to valet parking and park hopping.  If you paid for valet service at a resort (and you are not a resort guest), you will still need to pay the parking fee at the park.

Well, that’s enough out of me for this month!

ALASKAN CRUISE 2016

My husband and I went with a group of friends on a 7 day cruise to Alaska in July aboard the Carnival Legend.  We flew to Seattle the night before our cruise was scheduled to leave port.  We walked around the city until all of our party had arrived.  Then some of us went to Pike Place Market.  The Market had vendors set up, selling flowers, crafted jewelry, fruits, vegetables, and fish.  It was fun to watch the fish vendors throw the fish!  We also saw the gum wall.

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One of our friends insisted we all chew bubble gum and leave our own addition to the “art”.  After that, we walked down to the water and ate dinner at The Crab Pot.  When we finished our delicious dinner, some of us walked back to our hotel, while the rest of our party went to a Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox ballgame.  Since we live near Chicago, it was fun to see the Sox play in another ball park.

The next morning, some of us walked to the Space Needle and went up to the top.  It was a clear day and was very scenic.  We could see our ship while she was waiting for us to board!

Once we boarded our ship, we took time to eat lunch, unpack and familiarize ourselves with the ship.  Then it was time for muster.  It was very hot and took a long time but is a requirement before the ship leaves port.  Muster is when the ship’s crew instructs the passengers where to go and what to do in case of an emergency evacuation of the ship.  Good to know.

At dinner time, we were all seated at three tables close together (there were 18 of us).  We ate at the same place every night and had the same servers.  We got to know each other very well by the time our cruise was finished.  In addition to the excellent service and delicious food, the servers would entertain us with a floor show.  They would sing along with a different song every night and dance a choreographed dance.  Lots of fun.  After dinner, we usually went to the theatre for a live show then went to the comedy club.  Finishing off the night would be a visit to the casino and/or bars or shopping in the onboard shops.

The first day was a day at sea.  There are many activities when you are aboard a ship, so we all did whatever we chose.  I enjoy getting a massage on sea day whenever we cruise, so I got a hot stone massage.

The second day we sailed the Tracy Arm Fjord.  The best adjective I can use about the Fjord is: magnificent!  It is a rain forest, so it was overcast and a little cool but no one stayed inside on that day.  The beauty was breath taking.  We saw whales, seals, eagles, icebergs, and a glacier.  It was all so amazing and beautiful.

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The third day, we docked at Skagway.  Some of us had booked the White Pass Railroad Summit Excursion.  We boarded a vintage passenger coach, which retraced the original route to the White Pass summit.  We passed Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch.  We saw beautiful mountains, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, and trestles.  We saw the original Klondike Trail worn into the rocks.  After the excursion, we walked, shopped, and ate in Skagway.

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On the fourth day, we docked at Juneau.  It rained most of the day.  We figured we would never have the opportunity to visit Juneau again so why not make the most of it?  After lunch at the Red Dog Saloon, the weather cleared up a bit and we were able to see the beautiful area surrounding the city.

The fifth day was our stop at Ketchikan.  We explored the city and saw many interesting totem poles.  We walked over a plank bridge and saw salmon in the stream below.  We were told that we were lucky we were there when we were because, a short time after we left the bridge, it was closed because a bear had decided to find his lunch in the stream!

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Our final day of the cruise was mainly on ship.  We made port around 7:30 p.m. at Victoria, British Columbia.  Some of us went to see beautiful Butchart Gardens.  Our only regret was that it turned dark shortly after our arrival.  Our excursion by bus also included a narrated tour of the city.

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What do we have planned for our next adventure?  We are going to Epcot Food & Wine Festival!  We are looking forward to that, as we have talked about going for the past several years.  We also got tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!  I am very excited about it.  I hope to have lots of stories & photos for my next blog.

Claudia Eggenberger

Co-owner/Agent

Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC

 

Disney World trip Reveal

     So you have made it to the reveal of your Disney vacation now what? There are many ways to reveal your surprise. I am going to tell you about my reveals first.

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     On our first trip we left Christmas Day my kids went and stayed with their grandparents on the 23rd to have Christmas with them before we left. This allowed for my husband and I to get everything packing and ready without them seeing it.  On the 24th we picked them up with a truck full of luggage and headed toward the airport. We lived about 1.5 hours from the airport at this time so we wanted to stay closer to the airport to help make our 6AM flight Christmas Day much easier. We told the kids that we were going to stay at a hotel with an indoor pool as part of their Christmas gift. They did not think anything of it they were so excited like most kids they love hotels.

      When we checked in my husband took the kids down to the pool. I used this opportunity to unpack the luggage from the car for our Disney World trip and hide it around the room.  I hid suitcases behind curtains, in drawers, and wrapped in blankets that I borrowed from the front desk on top of the make shift closet rack.  Boy what I would have given for this hotel room to have had an actual closet. Then, I joined the rest of my family at the pool.

    Later after we read The Night Before Christmas the kids were fast asleep I drug out all of our luggage into view and the BIG gift boxes for each child that had all of the Disney reveal information in it. The boxes contained: lanyards with pins, autograph book with sharpies, T-shirts that said “I’m going to Disney World,” disposable camera, Disney gift card, new DS with a new game for the plane ride and line waiting amusement, and a letter from Santa telling them they were going to Disney World.

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      The second reveal was a bit simpler.  About 6 months before our trip my husband had a major surgery and we had to take him back and forth to the doctor often.  So we used this to our advantage. We told our boys that we needed to get up early to take dad to see the doctor.  While the kids played with their friends the days before the trip I was busy packing privately in our bedroom.

    So the day of the trip my husband and I pack our car before waking the kids. We get them up and in the car a few months before bought a new house this time we are only 15 mins from the airport. We make the exit to the airport to throw off the kids I say “I need to use the restroom.” So we exit and we head to the park and ride, as we are entering the parking ride.  The kids are looking around like what’s going on. We find our parking spot and tell the kids to get out of the car.  We go back and open the trunk to reveal the luggage with my husband saying. “Hey, let’s go to Disney World.”

      The tips I can pass from the reveals are simply this use what you have. The first trip we got the grandparents involved to help and used the pool to divert their attention from the bigger picture. On the second trip we used the fact that we had visited the doctor’s lots to get them out the door early and not suspect much.

    Other reveals I have seen:

  • Scavenger hunts

  • Mickey shaped food pizzas, pancakes etc.

  • A Disney puzzle with the message on the back.

  • Character phone calls

  • Santa phone calls

  • Disney stuff as a gift

          Just remember to have fun with it. For more ideas I highly recommend going to YouTube. As always you can contact me at: amanda@adventureisouttheretravel.com or any of our agents at www.adventureisouttheretravel.com. We would love to make your Disney dreams come true.

 

Have Your Best Disney Cruise!-22 Tips for a Disney Cruise

This post was originally going to be a top ten, but the list ended up being a bit longer than intended.  Most of these tips are for cruisers with a limited experience aboard Disney Cruise Line.  Hopefully, you find at least one tip helpful.

Choose the right Itinerary.  I made a mistake on our first Disney Cruise.  At the time, our family consisted of my wife, two-year-old son, and myself.  We were nervous about how we would handle a cruise.  We were uncertain about how we would react to the ship’s movement and entertainment while onboard.  We cruised aboard the Disney Dream for a four-night itinerary.  After multiple Disney cruises and an additional family member, I have been able to determine the perfect duration for our family–365 nights!  Seriously though, I would not hesitate from taking my family on an extended cruise.  We have two young children and I still would not hesitate to take a long cruise.  However, my wife and I recently went on a three-night cruise aboard the Disney Magic.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but we both missed our children.  We agreed that we would be willing to take another short cruise without our kids, but we could not be away from them any longer than that.

Choose the correct stateroom and location of your stateroom.  There are countless websites, blog posts, and videos that can give you an endless amount of detail about staterooms aboard a Disney ship, and I cannot do the topic justice in a brief paragraph.  So, please do your homework or work with a good agent that will ask about the people you are travelling with to get a good fit for your stateroom.  After selecting a stateroom category, location of your stateroom can be specified.  Is quick/easy access to certain venues important?  How close would you like to be to elevators and stairs?  Are multiple staterooms necessary?  Etc.

Princess meets are fantastic.  Our family was able to meet Belle, Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, Anna, and Elsa in under an hour!  Here is the tip you need to know:  You have to get tickets for two separate events at the Port Adventures desk.  I went to the desk immediately after we boarded the ship.  I obtained tickets for the Princess Meet and Greet and the Anna & Elsa Meet for ideal times for our family.  It worked out very well.

*Please Note:  Disney just announced scheduling for cruises of 7 nights or longer.  Be sure to discuss this with your agent as I am unaware of the details at this time.

Kids’ Clubs offer kids/tweens/teens a wide variety of supervised entertainment.  There are multiple kids’ clubs that are divided into age ranges.  Beginning at age 3, the service is included in your voyage fare.  We took advantage of the services during one of our Palo reservations.  Drop-off and pick-up are easy and secure.  There can be a line so keep that in mind if you have reservations.  Also, be sure to pre-register your children to save time on your vacation.

Pirate Night is bigger than what I expected.  On our first cruise, we took Pirate Night for granted.  We did not dress up and did not expect the overall theming throughout the ship.  Although dressing up is not necessary, it makes the evening a lot more fun.  We dress our children up in pirate garb more than ourselves, but my wife and I wear subtle nautical themed clothing.  Make sure you arrive to the deck party early to obtain a good viewing area.  Fireworks can be viewed from a lot of different areas of the ship.

Know when to book your cruise (or move your placeholder).  Generally speaking, cruisers need to book early for popular itineraries and the busy season.  By early, I mean immediately when itineraries are announced.  This is usually well over a year in advance.  This will likely be the best pricing you will be able to get.  There are times of the year and less popular itineraries that do not require booking this far in advance, but I still recommend making a reservation as soon as you know your party will be able to take a cruise.

The first Navigator is obtained upon boarding the ship.  Each evening, a new Navigator will be delivered to your stateroom for the following day.  The Navigator provides detailed information about all areas of the ships and the day’s activities onboard.  The Disney Cruise Line smartphone app is even better.  It has the information provided on the Navigator, detailed information about the evening’s dining, chat/text feature, etc…  And, the app can be downloaded in advance to provide a cool countdown.

Book your next Disney cruise while onboard.  The easiest way to get a discount on your next Disney cruise is to book during your cruise.  This is something I try to take care of by the end of the second night.  On our last cruise, I ended up waiting in line for 45 minutes to book our placeholder because I waited until our last night.  The benefits at the time of this post are a 10% off prevailing cruise fare, onboard credit from Disney, and a reduced deposit.  You DO NOT have to select a specific cruise in order to do this.  For example, I always book a placeholder.  The placeholder needs to be used within 24 months from the first night of the current cruise.Castaway Cay Family Beach

Carry-on luggage is very important.  Staterooms are not available until early afternoon.  On our last cruise, we were able to get into our rooms at 1:30.  We boarded the ship around 11:30.  So, it is helpful to pack anything you may need during that time in your carry-on. Also, any alcohol is supposed to be brought on the ship via carry-on.

Bring a cup, mug, or tervis.  Complimentary beverages are available.  However, the cups are relatively small.  If you bring your own cup(s), this may save you several trips to the top of the ship!

Skip this if you don’t drink coffee.  I enjoy strong coffee mixed with a specific flavored creamer.  This creamer is unavailable on the ship.  And, the coffee at the drink station is not the best.  Bringing my creamer helps me start off the day I normally do and probably most personal tip here.  The creamer I drink does come in single-serving sizes, so it was easy to bring aboard.  There are very good coffees available at Cove Café.

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Coffee at Cove Cafe

Bars aboard a Disney ship are underrated.  They are very well themed and the servers are amazing.  If you are up late, please do yourself a favor and hangout at one of these places.  I am NOT advocating drinking alcohol.  Other beverages are available and are actually very good.IMG_6375

If feasible, bring a case of water with you.  We drove to Port Canaveral for a couple of our cruises.  I placed one of our luggage stickers on a case of water.  The staff delivered the case of water to our room just as the other pieces of luggage were.  I have heard rumors that this is not allowed anymore, but I will continue to do it even after it doesn’t work the first time!  Having the water available in the room is very convenient.  **Summer 2018 Update** We stayed at Walt Disney World prior to our cruise.  We used Amazon Prime Now to get a case of water delivered to our resort.  We were able to use DCL transfers, and DCL transferred our case of water with our luggage.  The case of water was delivered to our stateroom.

Adults-only restaurants, including Palo and Remy, offer a wonderful dining experience.  Make no mistake, I thoroughly enjoy dining in Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden, and other dining rooms.  And, I love grabbing food at some of the “quick-service” spots.  But, dinner at Palo and Remy or Palo Brunch are special opportunities.  And, for the surcharges, I feel they offer an incredible value.

Disney Cruise Line is great at offering activities for every age.  If you enjoy an alcoholic drink, I highly recommend trying an alcohol tasting.  The event is a great opportunity to try something you have probably not experienced.  More importantly, this may be a great opportunity to meet some new people as well.  For that reason, I suggest making your reservation for this activity early in your itinerary.

On our first Disney cruise, my wife and I wasted valuable packing space on beach towels and a lifejacket for our son.  Lifejackets and towels are provided at the pools and on Castaway Cay.  Save your luggage space for the speedo.

If you have the opportunity, reserve a cabana on Castaway Cay.  Getting a cabana is nearly impossible for most cruisers as they go quickly.  However, they may become available if some cruisers change their mind.  So, check occasionally to see if one becomes available.

Getting up early or staying up late will provide you an opportunity to see a sunrise or sunset you will remember forever.  This is one of my favorite things to do on any cruise.  I am an early riser, so this is an activity I do easily, and I am very happy that I take advantage of this.  My favorite place to do this is on the highest deck.  I was able to go to the very front of the ship one morning.  It is amazing.  On our first cruise, my wife and I, by strictly luck, enjoyed a sunset in Palo.  Wow!

Fish Extender groups are so much fun!  FE groups deserve their own post, so I will try to be as brief as possible for the purpose here.  These are groups that exchange gifts with one another via hanging pouch(es) next to their cabin door.  There is a sea creature that can hold the pouch(es).  People place gifts in the pouches throughout the cruise.  This is a HUGE hit with our kids.  They are excited to check the FE every time we come back to our stateroom.

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Our FE

Doing laundry is never fun but can be necessary aboard Disney Cruise Line.  We book-ended out Disney Cruise with stays at Walt Disney World.  We did several loads of laundry aboard the Disney Dream.  We were lucky with the location of our stateroom.  We had laundry located just steps away from our door.  You use your stateroom key to charge the fees for using the washer and dryer.  We brought detergent packets and dryer sheets, so we didn’t have to purchase them on the ship.  Here is something I found interesting-it was cheaper to do laundry aboard the Dream than doing it at The Polynesian.

Watch the live shows in the Walt Disney Theatre.  These stage productions are spectacular.  If you want prime seating arrive early.  However, most seating offers great views of the stage.

Book your Disney Cruise Line reservation with a travel agent.  Travel agents offer obvious services like booking with Disney.  In addition, agents will send reminders about making payments and when final payment is due.  They also offer insight on current company policies such as documentation requirements or bringing alcohol onboard.  Agents can also link multiple reservations if families are travelling together, or agents can link Walt Disney World packages with Disney Cruise Line reservations to provide a seamless experience.  Most agents or agencies offer perks as well.  Some give gifts and others credit your stateroom account with credit to spend however you like.  The best part is most agents charge you NOTHING for their services!cinch sac

Cruising with Disney is a terrific experience.  Disney takes service to another level, and we all know and love their entertainment.  Please comment or email me your Disney Cruise Line tips.

Justin Eggenberger, Co-owner of Adventure is Out There Travel, LLC

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com

Twitter @JAEggenberger

Morimoto Asia

wp-1468260241656.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity to dine at the newly opened Morimoto Asia located in Walt Disney World. This restaurant is more specifically located in Disney Springs and is a collaboration between Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group. Having been a fan of the show Iron Chef and a foodie by self-proclamation, I was excited to visit! The cuisine promised to borrow from various regions of Asia (more on that in a minute), yum!

My family and I arrived at Disney Springs a little early andMorimoto Asia meandered to find the restaurant. We had a 4:30pm Advanced Dining Reservation. As we dodged a few raindrops, we quickly came upon a beautiful shining gray and glass building. There was a vertical sign on the side which read “Morimoto Asia” (found it!) and on top of the building, large letters spelling out “Springs Bottling Co.” This sign keeps the building within the theming of this newly remodeled area.

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Upon entering, and just in time as the skies opened up, we were greeted by beautiful Morimoto Asiainterior decor. It consisted of glass, silver, and red tones. We were seated quickly, but I couldn’t stop looking up and around at all of the breathtaking decorations. Just stunning. and a little odd in some places. One wall sports very unique black and white photographs of many interesting individuals.

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Now for the good stuff. The menu had a little of every kind of
dish from various regions of Asia. Noodles, rice, egg rolls, sushi, sashimi, stir-fry, pad-thai, soups, salads, duck, the list goes on wp-1468260245094.jpgand on. We ordered a few things to share. First up was the Hamachi Tacos. These “tacos” were in what I think are a fried wonton wrapper, with yellow tail tuna, kalamata olives, lime, cilantro, and avocado. Wow! Then we dined on a spicy tuna roll. After this we shared pad thai and the Wok Fry Shrimp. wp-1468259260696.jpg

It was all very tasty. If I had to offer a criticism it would be they small size of the shrimp dish. Three medium shrimp with about a cup of stir fry vegetables didn’t strike me as a good value, though again, it was very delicious and pretty.

After dinner we couldn’t wait for dessert. The majority of their wp-1468260251763.jpgdesserts are “for two”. Oh my goodness, I’m so glad we did not forgo dessert. We ordered the MM Parfait. Two chocolate cream puffs, vanilla gelato, nutella, hazelnut chocolate crunch, and sesame mochi (I could have done without the mochi). One of the best desserts I ever had and will get me to return! My son had a Churro Fondue – three mini churros with nutella sauce. Good as well.

Morimoto Asia

 

Of course I had to check out the restrooms. They stayed within the style of the restaurant and were very modern. The photography on the walls of the restroom was very interesting and may leave you puzzled. I’m still puzzled (I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you can’t contain your curiosity, send me a message on Twitter).

Overall, I found this restaurant to be a welcome addition the renewed Downtown Area, Disney Springs. It is visually beautiful, all of it. The decor and the food. I would definitely return on our next visit, even if it was just for the dessert (oh, the dessert).

by Rebecca

@fitmousepodcast

thefitmouse.com

How to Plan a Surprise Disney Vacation

Ahh! The surprise Disney World Vacation! Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.

I have planned two surprise trips for my children. The question I always get asked is. HOW did you do it?  Disney requires a lot of planning and it can be a bit tricky, but it is totally worth the extra effort. I mean who does not enjoy seeing a child’s little face when a surprise is revealed? So with that being said, I have a few tips to help you with your surprise Disney World trip.

  • Be sure to let anyone you tell know that this is a surprise vacation. People love to talk about Disney and the cat can be let out of the bag well before you want it to be. So you may want to limit or selectively chose whom you tell about the trip.

Now as you progress with your reservation there are going to be things you will need or want to discuss with certain members of the traveling group. Like dinner reservations those are going to need to be booked 180 days from the first day you arrive and FastPass+ reservations these should be booked at 60 days before the first day you leave for the trip. Provided you’re staying on Disney property and yes you will want to stay on property.

  • When possible try to discuss trip details when the children/person is not around. I know this is not always possible so that’s why I included the next tip.
  • If you should need to discuss the trip while the children/ person is/are around. I highly recommend using a code word for “Disney and Disney World”

When we were planning our trips we used the code word “ceiling fan.”   The reason for this is because if my kids hear the word Disney or Disney World they would have started listening to every single world we said.  So get together and pick a code word. Remember to stay away from using anything that they will be interested in.  Examples kitty, puppy, and any toys things that they may want it could lead to a meltdown especially if you’re dealing with small children. Also, they may end up upset they did not get that item instead of being happy they are going to Disney World.

  • Avoid using the names of characters when discussing the trip while in the presence of the children/ person these names will draw attention to your conversations and it could send up a hint.
  • Be careful when you’re working on your computer like on My Disney Experience and booking your air travel. Kids love to try to sneak peaks at what you’re doing and some of them can spot the Disney header from a mile away.

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So these are just a few pointers for getting thru the planning process of a surprise Disney World trip. Stay tuned for my next post about how I revealed the trips. As always you can contact me at amanda@adventureisouttheretravel.com  like me on Facebook” Travel Agent Amanda.”  You can also contact any of our other agents at www.adventureisouttheretravel.com . We would all love to help you plan the perfect vacation for your family.

Norwegian Getaway one of the best

Many people love cruising and I know why. It took me 31 years of my life until I got on one. Since then I have 2 under my belt and a 3rd one on the way March 2017 with 7 other friends abound the Norwegian Getaway. First it was the Eastern Caribbean St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands); Tortola (British Virgin Islands); Nassau (Bahamas then the Western Caribbean ); Great Stirrup Cay (Bahamas); Ocho Rios (Jamaica); George Town (Grand Cayman); Cozumel (Mexico). Now were heading to  Roatan, Bay Islands (Honduras); Belize City (Belize); Costa Maya (Mexico); Cozumel (Mexico)

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enjoying Grand Cayman

 

The Getaway is the second newest ship Norwegian has put out, with a new ship the Escape which was being released in 2015 and a new ship coming in 2017 Joy for Asian Cruises.  The first thing you notice when getting to the port was the size of the ship, it’s so big they board from 2 different terminals. As we bored the cruise staff is singing and dancing making us feel right at home. One of this ships clam to fame is that there are 23 bars located around the ship, everything from the Sun Set bar witch is our favorite to the Bliss Bar to the Mojito Bar.

A huge bonus on Norwegian is when it come to meals everything is “Free Style”, which means you don’t have to eat with anyone, you can sit where ever and can eat at different times there are no set rules.

The food … You all know my wife and I are Foodies, well I have to tell you the food was Amazing. We ate many times at the Noodle bar, best egg rolls and dumplings, you better get there early it fills up fast. There are 3 Main Dining rooms on this ship and they all serve the same food on the same night. Beef Wellington, Steak Diane, Salmon, Scallops and  Mahi-Mahi just to name a few, and off course the 24 hour restaurant, that came in handy a few times on the ship.

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Margaritas at Wet Wendy’s
Enjoying the island is one of the best part of the cruise, we get off to enjoy the local offerings. We tried Cronk we tried local fish and off course we tried all the local beers

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Drinking the local beer in Margaritaville Jamica on the beach

But I think what made the Cruise was the Amazing Norwegian Getaway Staff. Form the bar tenders to the wait staff and to our house staff service was first class. Anything and everything was right at out finger tips. The boat was immaculate, and the crew were always on top of cleaning even the littlest detail. Plus AIOTT can help plan all you Norwegian needs.

 

Tips and Experiences with European Travel

First step: Get a passport.  Word of advice here:  DO NOT get so anxious when signing your passport that you sign your maiden name and not the married name that is on the passport.  –  Yes, another one of my bloopers!  Luckily, my trip organizer noticed it & there was enough room on the signature line to sign my married name after my maiden name.

Things to pack:  travel documents (including properly signed passport), medication, sunglasses, rain gear, and personal items.  Be sure to pack good walking shoes.  And don’t forget your camera.  This is the trip of a lifetime for most, and photos are priceless.  We each packed a small journal and wrote in it every night before bed.  I have read mine numerous times, as the journal obtains details of experiences I never want to forget.

Money:  One member of our group had her purse stolen and another had her wallet removed from her purse.  Be vigilant and don’t think that it can’t happen to you. Bring some cash but also your credit card.  Be sure you tell your credit card company where you will be traveling.  One lady on our trip was purchasing a birthday gift for her son who was with us and his birthday was that very day. Her credit card company denied payment because she hadn’t notified them. It ruined her day and she ended up in tears.

Souvenirs:  if you see it and can afford it, buy it.  When will you ever get the chance again?  For me, the answer is simple.  I do not expect to have the opportunity to go there again.  Another word of advice:  leave room for souvenirs while packing.  I ended up buying a piece of luggage because I didn’t allow enough room in the luggage I had!

My first European trip was to Italy.  We went to Verona, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Siena, Vatican City, and Rome.  Women are required to wear dresses in some of the establishments (churches especially) and to have their shoulders covered.  I wore a dress over comfy clothes and then peeled the dress off when finished touring churches.  I am just not a dress-wearing-while-touring kind of gal.

Gelato:   mmmmm.mmmmm.mmmmm.  Get some.  Every night.Giletto

My second European trip was to France.  We went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower light up at night, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Bastile, the Louvre.  We also went to Rouen, Etretat, Normandy, Omaha Beach, St. Malo, Chartres, and Giverny.  Here is a photo of me & my sister on our last day at an outdoor café on L’Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris.

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Bucket list:  My bucket list has Ireland & Scotland on it.  If you have European travel on your bucket list, contact one of the friendly travel agents at Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC and we would be happy to help you plan your European adventure.

Claudia Eggenberger                                                                                                                                          Co-Owner/Agent                                                                                                                                                Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC