Food and Wine around the World!

The 2018 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is right around the corner, starting on August 30, 2018 and going through November 12, 2018. There is always so much to do and see, (not to mention taste!) at this staple Epcot festival.  One of my favorite things to do is to check out all the various food booths that circle World Showcase, not only to look for returning favorite dishes (hello Belgium Waffles!) but also to look at what new tidbits are being offered. This year’s new offerings including the Impossible Burger Slider, with wasabi cream and spicy Asian slaw on a sesame seed bun (A vegetarian dish), as well as a New Brunswick Slider, which is a “Pot Roast Style” beef brisket on a potato roll.

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The Impossible Burger Slider – hooray for a Vegetarian Dish! 

In addition to the new food, there’s over some exciting new events being offered, including Sunday Brunch With the Chef. This experience includes a brunch buffet followed by a conversation with some of the most recognized chefs in culinary television. I’m a big fan of both Chef Art Smith and Chef Carla Hall, who will both be a part of this event.

One of the other things I always look forward to at the Food and Wine Festival is checking out the new merchandise, and this year is no exception. I can never resist the trash can shaped salt and pepper shakers that are released each year, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to my collection again with this year’s cute design. Figment is once again the honorary mascot for the Food and Wine Festival, and is being featured on various merchandise including coffee mugs and the exclusive Dooney and Bourke purse.

Of course, no visit to the Food and Wine Festival is complete without checking out the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, which has over 30 different acts performing at the America Gardens Theatre.  Along with some traditional returning favorites like Sugar Ray and Tiffany, this year has some fun new acts coming to the stage, including 98 Degrees and Vertical Horizon.  Don’t forget you can always book an Eat to the Beat Dining Package where you can you can eat at select restaurants and have reserved seatings for the concert being offered that night.

What event are you looking forward to the most at the Food and Wine Festival? Will you be watching for a certain band at Eat to the Beat? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to contact Adventure is Out There Travel for all your Food and Wine booking needs.

Disneyland Visit Part 1-Arrival and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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Our family traveled to Disneyland over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Ideally, we would have chosen a different time to visit, but several personal factors impacted our travel dates.  We flew out of Midway, located in Chicago, IL, on Tuesday morning.  The flight lasted four hours.  We have only flown as a family of four on one previous trip.  Our five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter fly a lot easier than their anxious father.  My wife, Tracy, is definitely the “team captain” when it comes to flying, and dad just plays pack mule.  Moving the kids through security and other congested areas is definitely a team effort, but Tracy handles most of their needs throughout the airport.  Additionally, she flies with a child on each side of her, which demands a great deal of energy and effort.  My primary duties are hauling the luggage and assisting our son to and from the restroom.  The first time we flew into LAX, we obtained a rental vehicle with AVIS.  (Remind me to create a short post on how big of a nightmare getting the vehicle was.)  This time we used Disney-contracted transportation.

As expected, the contracted shuttle service in L.A. is much different than that of Orlando.  In L.A., there are no cast members to make your luggage magically appear in your resort room.  You have to gather your luggage and haul it out to a waiting area.  The area is labelled and identified with green markers.  The pickup area at LAX is a step above (as in worse than most) the cluster most airports are.  It is setup in a giant “U.”  (See the graphic below.)  We waited in one of the first stops, which meant it took nearly an hour for the shuttle to make its way around the entire pickup area.  It was miserable.  After completing the tour of the pickup area, the driver announced that we were on our way to Disneyland which could take up to an hour and a half.  Luckily, the traffic was not bad and we made it in about 40 minutes.  This commute was a stark contrast to our drive to Yorba Linda in the summer of 2016.  The round trip cost our family slightly less than $100.  I don’t recall the exact dollar amount.  Here is a link to Disneyland transportation site:  https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/transportation/

We arrived at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa mid-afternoon.  The resort is incredible.  Upon arrival, cast members welcomed and asked us if we needed anything.  They also directed us to the lobby’s check-in desks.  The cast member was efficient and friendly.  He also was quick with valuable information about getting to our dining reservation and utilizing the extra magic hour the next morning.  He also shared information about the resort.  Overall, the cast member was a great introduction to the Grand Californian.

The lobby and atrium of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa are magnificent.  The theme is described as “Craftsman-style Elegance” by Disney.  It is so much more than that.  The color is a dark wood, which comforts guests with a cozy feeling.  Within the atrium is a very large fireplace with a sitting area near it.  We were there while Christmas decorations adorned the area.  The decorations featured an extremely large tree and a magnificent gingerbread house.  The decorations had a classic feel without going over the top.  This trend continued throughout the parks.  Our first day in California was the warmest, but we did not swim.  However, the pool area is extremely nice and offers enough space for a vast amount of guests.  The Grand Californian offers two amazing features, which no other Disneyland resort can offer-an entrance to California Adventure and Downtown Disney.  The resort also has multiple dining areas highlighted by Napa Rose and Storytellers Café.  Both offer wonderful dining experiences.  There is also a snack area called White Water Snacks and two lounges.  Overall, we decided we would stay at this resort when we return to Disneyland.

Come back to enjoy the rest of our Disneyland trip.

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

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com                  Twitter @JAEggenberger

Surviving Disney with Small Children

Traveling to Disney World with little ones can be the most magical (and exhausting) trip you will ever take!  The first time we took our little princess, she was 2.5.  At that point, I had only traveled to Disney as a child and as an adult with no children, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into!  After asking friends and scouring the internet, I found lots of good tips and tricks.  We have now taken Princess L to Disney at 2.5, 3.5, and just two weeks ago for her 5th birthday.  Every trip has been different because of her age and interests, but I have used a lot of the same tricks to keep myself sane throughout our trips!  So here are my top tricks and tips for traveling with little ones to Walt Disney World!

  1. Schedule around your child’s “magic” time. This is the time of day your child is most agreeable/best behaved.  When Princess L was 2.5, her “magic time” was morning.  Anywhere between 7am-Noonish, she was almost always in a great mood and the most cooperative.  As soon as lunch time would hit, she would turn into a hangry beast and NOTHING was going to happen until she ate something and took a nap!  disney-tiredWith that in mind, I scheduled the majority of our character meet & greets and fast passes during those hours and planned to head back to our resort at lunch time to get her fed and down for a nap.  Once she was well rested, we would take her back to the park and figured anything we got done between then and bedtime was a bonus!  It worked out great and we had very minimal meltdowns.  We still do this, but our resort time is getting shorter and shorter.  She hasn’t taken a regular nap in a couple years, but Disney tired is a special kind of tired!  Also, going back to the resort for a break gives your kids a break from all the excitement, which can get overwhelming and lead to more meltdowns!
  1. Ziploc bags & Take n toss sippy cups are your friend! Seriously!  We used Ziploc bags for everything like leftover food because Princess L is a grazer (and takes forever to eat), dirty clothes, snacks, etc.  We took a gallon Ziploc bag to the park every day with a full change of clothes (shirt, shorts, underwear, socks) just in case.  You never know when spills or accidents will happen and this will keep you from having to spend Disney prices on a new outfit!  Bonus, the mess can be contained in the Ziploc until you get back to your resort.  In 3 trips, we have had to use our change of clothes twice.  Once for a potty accident and once because of a spill!  Plus it’s easy to just grab the bag and toss under the stroller.  We also bring a few take n toss sippy cups.  My kid loves chocolate milk, but they are always in a bottle that she can’t really drink out of.  Animal Kingdom does not have lids and only paper straws because of the animals, so a sippy cup comes in handy there!  They are great on the plane as well.  If you don’t want to wash them out, you can throw them out when you’re done.  They’re fairly cheap and come in all sorts of Disney prints!
  1. I guarantee you will LOVE and HATE your stroller at Disney! Having a good stroller is key!  A cheap umbrella stroller is okay, but you will appreciate something that rolls a lot nicer (and has storage) when you’re pushing around a child (and their gear) all day.  We have a City Mini stroller, which we love.  lila-strollerIf you don’t have a nice stroller, there is really no need to go out and buy one just for vacation.  There are several companies that rent strollers out in the Orlando area and they will deliver to your resort.  The majority of rented strollers are Baby Jogger City Mini or City Mini doubles.  You will see them all over the parks and for good reason!  They push easily, fold one-handed, and have a decent storage.  There are other options for rented strollers as well, but the Baby Jogger brand in particular is my fave.   Bonus, they’re fairly easy to fit on a crowded bus, because they fold almost totally flat.
  1. Yes, there are TONS of things to do at Disney, but I’m talking about waiting in line and waiting for food.  Those are the times Princess L struggles with.  Not only at Disney, but in our regular life I always have a play pack in my purse.  You can find them at Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, etc.  They’re a little Ziploc pack that includes a small coloring book, crayons, and stickers and they’re usually around $1.  There are loads of Disney ones as well!  I also keep a couple games on my phone that I know she likes but that I don’t let her play often.  When the coloring book isn’t going to work and she’s burnt out looking for hidden Mickeys, I whip out my phone with her fave app open.  I also bring a few power banks to charge my phone.  (There are also fuel rod kiosks at the parks!) Between taking a million pics, looking up fast passes, and letting the kiddo play with my phone, my battery doesn’t last long!
  1. Expect nothing, appreciate everything! Taking a little one to Disney can feel (at times) like walking around with a ticking time bomb!  i-hate-akToddlers can be so unpredictable and you never know what they will like/dislike!  Don’t be afraid to switch up plans because your kid just isn’t having it!  Maybe s/he is afraid of characters.  Don’t force it because that isn’t fun for anyone! There are photopass photographers everywhere, with and without characters.  We have our share of pics where Princess L did not cooperate (see the Animal Kingdom picture!)  It’s ok!  Maybe they just want to ride Carousel of Progress six times in a row.  (L’s was Haunted Mansion over and over again!) Maybe they want to watch the ducks swim around the ponds at Epcot for 30 minutes.  Flexibility is key and sometimes you just have to roll with it!  If you don’t force a hectic schedule, it will make for a happier trip for everyone.  And no, you won’t get to see and do everything, but that is ok!  I guarantee that your kid won’t remember that they hated Elsa or didn’t get to ride a certain ride.  They will remember the little moments like riding on the “Mickey Bus”, eating a dole whip for breakfast, and Mickey waving to them from the parade float!

Not all these tips will work for every family, but hopefully one of two will help your family have a more magical vacation!

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Disney Trip Crafting

 

One of my favorite hobbies is crafting for Disney trips. I’ve made shirts for my kids, my best friend’s daughter for her band trip and most recently, for myself and my best friend on our girls’ trip for Wine and Dine weekend. We received tons of compliments on them; especially, the ones we wore the first day, the white shirts pictured below. I also used the white shirt to surprise her that she was going with me to Disney World where I was running in the Wine and Dine half marathon.

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I really think matching shirts can be lots of fun! They can be practical as well. June 2015, we went with my brother and his family. We were a group of 12, all had matching shirts for each park day. This made it very easy to keep sight of our large group. It was easy for the cast members at the rides to see how many was in our group.

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Our trip this past June was to see our daughter dance with Dance the World! Our mothers joined us along with our great friends and neighbors. I did not make group shirts for this trip, as we had shirts from the studio we had ordered. But, I did make all the kids shirts, even though they didn’t match.

After purchasing two autograph books for my daughter’s first trip, I decided I would make them for the kids. I bought sketch books with 100 pages of good thick paper and decorated the covers with their favorite character. For each trip, I just create a new trip page to divide up the trips. These are also big enough that a picture of the character can be placed opposite of the autograph page. I made my kids for our 2015 trip, and my friend’s children this year.

Another fun item, for the kids to do, in the parks is the pressed penny machines. I use mini m&m tubes to hold our change for those. I decorate those, as well, with their character of choice. Now, of course, you need something to carry the books and penny holders in so…backpacks it is! Drawstring backpacks are great. Lightweight and a good size for most kids! My little guy is kind of small, so we have to shorten the string up for him. But, it’s certainly doable when mommy and daddy aren’t carrying it, of course. An added bonus, they can be thrown in the washer when they get dirty!

There are so many crafting possibilities for a Disney trip that can make your trip even more magical. If you are not a crafty person or have time for that sort of thing you can always check Etsy or your favorite crafty Disney loving friend.

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

 

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.

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

 

 

Disney’s Castaway Cay-A Great Place for Adults!

Castaway Cay has an adults-only area!  My wife and I have been to Castaway Cay four times over three Disney Cruise Line voyages.  (and we have another “double-dip” booked for Summer of 2017.)  We have only had an opportunity to visit Serenity Bay one time.  We think all adults need to visit this adult-only beach!

First, Castaway Cay is everything that you have heard/read (and possibly a lot more).  Castaway Cay is one of our family’s favorite vacation spots.  There are a vast amount of amenities only steps away at all times.  Furthermore, the Port Adventures available at Castaway Cay offer incredible enhancements and a tremendous value.  Castaway Cay itself is, in my opinion, an incredible value for families.  Just imagine if Disney could build a resort here…

Map of Castaway Cay

Getting to Serenity Bay is a little more challenging to get to than the other areas of Castaway Cay, but it is not difficult by any means.  The tram picks passengers up near the ship.  This tram stop is just past Marge’s Barges.  On the map, the tram stop is called Kargo Handling.  There are two family beach tram stops.  The first is at Scuttle’s Cove.  Scuttle’s Cove is basically the Oceaneers Club/Lab of Castaway Cay.  Parents may drop off children there similar to dropping them off at the clubs on the ship.  The second is Pelican Point.  Pelican Point is a stop right in the middle of two very vast family beaches.  The two beaches are divided by a protruding land mass that would otherwise be a very large lagoon.  However, on this peninsula, is the Heads Up bar.  It is a great place to have a beverage and take some great photos.  We got off of the tram at Pelican Point to wait for another tram to take us to Serenity Bay.  I believe the second tram would go between Pelican Point and Serenity Bay for a majority of the day.  The second tram picked us up within five minutes, and the ride to Serenity Bay was brief.

Serenity Bay is a wonderful place where adults may relax without the hustle and bustle of family life.  The biggest difference I remember is how tranquil the environment is.  It felt slow, spacious, and quiet.  This is much different than the family beaches which are very busy.  Great seating is abundant.  It was a short walk for my wife and me to find multiple lounge chairs with an umbrella.  Shortly after finding “our spot,” a server came by to check on our needs.  The service on Serenity Bay is terrific!  Our beverages were delivered quickly and our server checked on us often but not too much.

 

The beach at Serenity Bay looks like what you see on an advertisement for tropical resorts.  I am not referring to just the white sand and crystal blue water.  Those two features can be found at hundreds of locations.  The really cool thing about the ocean at Serenity Bay is how far out one can walk.  It tapers similar to most beaches.  However, there is a sandbar out a little way which is neat to hang out at.  The beach also has two key features that allow adults to stay secluded if they wish.  1.  A bar.  2.  Serenity Bay BBQ.  I really, REALLY like Cookies and Cookies Too, but my experience at the Serenity Bay BBQ was amazing.  I do not know if it was timing or luck, but my food was prepared to order which is much different than both Cookies locations.  I need to stress that the food is good no matter which location you are eating at on the island.  Another advantage that I noticed was there was a little less wildlife around the seating area.  If you have eaten at Castaway Cay, you have noticed the birds around the seating areas.  There seemed to be significantly less birds there.  Float and tube rentals are also available for pickup at The Windsock Hut, located at Serenity Bay.

Serenity Bay is a remarkable, relaxing place for adults to enjoy the tropical ecstasy, Castaway Cay.  My wife and I recently went on a Disney cruise without our kids.  Being in our low 30’s, numerous friends and family questioned why we would go on Disney Cruise Line if we are not travelling with our children.  We have several reasons why Disney Cruise Line offers a wonderful experience for an adults-only experience.  Serenity Bay is a dazzling highlight of the experience.  Please comment below if you agree or disagree.

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

justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com        Twitter @JAEggenberger

Traveling With Children Adventures

 

Wild Adventures (also known as travelling with children) ~~

I was about to write a bland blog about How To Travel With Children.  About 420 words in, I thought ‘this is boring ~ anyone could write this’.  So I decided to share the “fun” of some of our family travel experiences.

My husband and I did not have many opportunities of travel when we were growing up.  We decided, when the kids were young, that we wanted to give them as many traveling adventures as we could. If you read my first blog, you know that I have 2 grown children.  We are blessed enough to be able to say that we have traveled in all of the “Lower 48” with them. (I admit that sometimes the visit to a state may have been just a few miles in, so that we could at least say we had been there.  Is that cheating?)

Travel by car hint:  On a road trip, DO NOT give your 18-month-old son SweeTarts after breakfast in an attempt to keep him happy & quiet.  You will find yourself – I happened to be pregnant at the time – on the side of the road, cleaning up a mess after he gets sick all over himself, car seat, blanket, and back seat.  Your son will be crying.  You might also have a grumpy husband if yours is like mine and feels the need to “Make Time” while on a road trip.

Travel by air hint:  DO NOT give your 3-year-old daughter gum right before takeoff in an attempt to keep her happy & quiet.  The theory is that it will help alleviate ear pain from change in air pressure.  You will find yourself cleaning up a crying, sticky child’s face, hair, clothes, hands and a sticky airplane seat.  You might also notice that your fellow travelers are grumpy.  Your flight attendant might be on the grumpy side, too.

Additional hint:  DO NOT forget to pack your health insurance card.  That way, when your 5-year-old son splits open his chin from jumping into the hotel pool while turning to catch himself, you will have it handy for your trip to the emergency room.  If I close my eyes, I can still see what the inside of his chin looks like.  Also, be prepared.  You will have a grumpy 5-year-old as he watches his 3-year-old sister swim and he is not allowed in the pool because he can’t get his stitches wet.

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Sad about the stitches.

While I shared a few of the not-so-fun experiences of our family travel, there are many, many more happy times.  We will never regret any of our family vacations and, instead, we are thankful that we had the means and opportunity to take our kids on so many adventures.

Claudia Eggenberger

Co-owner/Agent

Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC

Running in the Castaway Cay 5k

Disney Cruise Line has leased their own island from the Bahamian government.  Various aspects of Castaway Cay definitely deserve their own posts, but I will only mention that the island is my wife’s favorite vacation spot now that we have children.  The focus of this post is the Castaway Cay 5k.  My wife and I traveled without our children aboard the Disney Magic in early March 2016.  This opportunity allowed us to experience a LOT of things we were unable to on our previous two cruises.

Before jumping into my discussion about the Castaway Cay 5k, I would like to share a bit more about my relationship with running.  The Castaway Cay 5k is truly for ANYONE.  It doesn’t matter if you walk, jog, or run the race.  I witnessed people running a very impressive pace and some folks casually walking and taking in the beautiful Bahamian scenery.  I run, but I do not consider myself a runner.  This doesn’t make sense, but bear with me.  I run six days a week; usually four to six miles at a time.  I do this more for alone time/therapy rather than the fitness.  I do not consider myself a runner because, up until our recent Disney Cruise, I have never participated in an organized run.  Honestly, I would not have done it without the persistence of my lovely wife.  Now, she thinks she has a shot at turning me into a runner.

Registering for the Castaway Cay 5k was extremely simple.  We needed to go to Guest Services for a couple of issues, and were not sure where registration for the race was.  We had thought registration was either at Guest Services or Port Adventures.  The cast member was able to register us for the race within seconds.  When you register, the cast member will give entrants a ticket for participation.  Here is the first thing to keep in mind if you are interested in participating in the race:  Register before the day of the race.  There were people turned away the morning of the 5k for not pre-registering.  123 people were registered for the race.  Another thing to remember is participation in the Castaway Cay 5k is included in your cruise fare!  You read that correctly.  This is a runDisney event that is free!  If you have looked into pricing for runDisney races and challenges, you know how expensive partaking in those events are.  I consider the Castaway Cay 5k an opportunity to maximize the tremendous value of a Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Participants (and some of their family members) met in Fathoms before the race.  There is a brief presentation about the island and course for the 5k.  A map of the race is provided to each participant and projected on a large screen.  The course is discussed, but several people did not follow the course during our run.  See the map of Castaway Cay 5k below.

Disney Cruise Line runDisney Castaway Cay 5k DCL
Map of runDisney Castaway Cay 5k. Getting there (and back) is half the fun!

As you can see, the beginning of the race is near the middle of the island.  Prepare yourself for a nice walk, which is about a mile long.  The cast members jokingly called this a bonus mile.  I feel like it was actually a nice walk, as I have always taken the tram to the beaches.  It was nice to slowly take in some of the island.  Also, there are some terrific photo opportunities along the walk.  The race is loosely organized.  Once it seems like everyone is near the starting point, the timer is started and the race begins.  The course begins on a bike path and moves on to the runway.  During the pre-race presentation, the hosts emphasized staying on the side of the runway multiple times.  After participating in the race, I understand the need to do so.  I need to preface my next comments with I rarely have criticisms of Disney and generally trust their brand and process for distributing their entertainment.  But, Disney has some intense and sometimes distracted drivers for the trams and golf carts.  I don’t know how much it would cost to provide hands-free technology to each driver, but I’m sure it would be a minimal and necessary investment.  That being said, I personally followed directions and had no negative interactions with said vehicles.  However, I witnessed an interesting interaction.  After the runway, racers turn into a bike path loop.  The loop is kind of neat during the first trip.  A lookout tower is located near the back of the loop.  I have never been to the top of the tower, but I have read and heard that there are good views from there.  I guess that’s an excuse to return???  After one complete loop, participants turn right to head toward Serenity Bay.  At the entrance of the bike path loop, there is a drink station setup.  Cold water is available.  If I remember correctly, the station was not established on my entry of the loop but fully functioning when I came out of the loop.  Serenity Bay is at the opposite end of the island as the ship.  Racers turn around near the end of the runway and repeat the course in reverse.  I found the loop to be much more monotonous the second time around.  It is probably my fault as I was beginning to push my pace a bit and just kept thinking about how BIG that bike path loop is.  Again, the water station is setup at the entry/exit to the bike path loop, which participants pass four times.  In typical Disney fashion, there is a shop with runDisney merchandise near the end of the course.  There are Castaway Cay 5k specific items.  They are unique.  If you are a collector, you may want to check it out.

I ran with my cinch sack on.  Don’t make that mistake.  I ended up running with my right hand on the strings for the entire run!

Please email me if you are interested to know how my run went!  justin@adventureisouttheretravel.com (I thought I did well for my first organized run.)

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