Disneyland Visit Part 2-First Time in Disneyland and Blue Bayou

In Part 1, I shared information about flying to LAX from Midway and getting to Disneyland via Disney’s contracted shuttle service.  I also introduced the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.  To reiterate some comments about the grounds, the G.C. is impeccable.  There are so many qualities that make it stand above the rest of your hotel options.  I will be revisiting some previously discussed and expanding further.  Enjoy, and if you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read it before continuing.

The proximity to the parks from the Grand Californian is a feature that some overlook.  The ability to be anywhere in California Adventure or Downtown Disney and return to your room within 10 minutes is a convenient characteristic.  Couple that with travelling with a five and two-year-old and it’s a recipe to enhance everyone’s moods.  I would estimate the time from Disneyland to our room was between 15-20 minutes.  This is similar to staying on the monorail loop at WDW and returning from Magic Kingdom.

We arrived a couple hours before our reservation at Blue Bayou.  We did not waste any time heading over to Disneyland.  We exited the Grand Californian by way of their California Adventure entrance.  This may have been a mistake.  It was our first time in the park, and we found ourselves engrossed with several aspects of the park during our walk.  For example, our walk took us by my wife’s and my favorite attraction, Soarin’.  It was so difficult just walking right by!  Another thing I regret was walking down Buena Vista Street from the park to the main entrance too quickly during our first visit.  I found some of us wanting to stop multiple times.  However, the Grand Californian’s entrance to California Adventure is amazing if timed correctly.  It was BY FAR the quickest/easiest entry into any Disney park we have ever completed.  The Plaza area between the two parks is very simple.  I may have been expecting more, but I feel that Disney could do a bit more here.  The Plaza seemed baron and bland.  I get it.  They want you to move into the parks, but it felt like it was missing something.  Getting into Disneyland was surprisingly quick.  It was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, so that was probably why it was so fast.

We wanted to take a few pictures on our way to Blue Bayou.

If you are looking for a place to eat in Disneyland, do a little research on Blue Bayou.  You will find that almost all reviews of the restaurant are positive.  You are also going to find that the place is very busy and can fill up quickly.  We arrived to Blue Bayou early.  We asked if we could be seated early, and they accommodated us without any hesitation.  Again, our timing was perfect because there were a lobby full of people waiting when we were done eating.  The atmosphere and theming at Blue Bayou is amazing.  The setting is nighttime in the New Orleans bayou.  Disney did an outstanding job mimicking the theme.  Additionally, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction begins floating through the outer perimeter of Blue Bayou.  Some of the best seats in the restaurant are near this perimeter.  Blue Bayou offers guests Cajun fare.  They have a decent amount of options to choose from.  Here is a link to their dinner menu: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/blue-bayou-restaurant/menus/dinner/.  I tried the gumbo and Monte Cristo sandwich.  Both items were delicious.  Below are pictures of the food.

After dinner, we decided to visit a few attractions.  Our two-year-old daughter decided she would rather wait in lines on another day.  Instead, she and mom did a little shopping on Main Street.  That left our five-year-old son and me to experience some of the attractions.  We were already near Pirates of the Caribbean and the wait wasn’t too bad.  He had been to Walt Disney World, but Pirates was down for refurbishment during his visit.  This was his first time on the ride.  It went really well for the most part.  He noticed that the first scene was in the restaurant where he just had eaten.  He got a little scared when it went dark, but, knowing his personality, I knew he would be fine.  He LOVED the first drop!  This kid likes fast and wild rides (unlike his dad), so I was not worried about the drops.  He got a kick out of the scenes.  However, the boats got backed up badly.  We were stuck near the drunk pirate saying, “Here kitty, kitty” for nearly 10 minutes.  It was awful.  I kept trying to have him look at other scenes and talking to him about other things, but we were on the right side of the boat very close to the animatronic.  After the scare on Pirates of the Caribbean, he decided he wanted to go up Tarzan’s tree.  He actually caught me off guard.  By “catching me off guard,” I mean he took off running to the attraction and up the stairs without us discussing it.  Luckily, we were close and, he’s five, so it was relatively easy catching up to him.  The wait for Jingle Cruise was surprisingly low, so I knew we had to ride it.  I think the wait was only around ten minutes.  My son was unimpressed.  I was amused and enjoyed the Christmas overlay which I’ve never seen before.  I took some pictures of the Jingle Cruise, but they turned out terrible.  Next, we headed to Fantasyland.  In Fantasyland, we visited Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and one of our favorites: Peter Pan’s Flight.  As much as I wanted to stay, I knew he would be getting tired soon, so we headed back to the room.  I snapped one of my favorite pictures from the trip on the way out of 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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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

 

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

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.

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

Family Vacation

Have you ever thought about vacationing with your entire family?  Last summer, my husband and I went on vacation with our two adult children and their spouses and their children.  What a great way to create heart-warming memories!1st day on ship

We were fortunate enough to go on the Disney Dream for 5 nights and experience a

tequila tasting.JPG
Tequila Tasting Setup

“double dip”.  We went to Castaway Cay, Nassau, back to

watching sunrise on Dream
Watching the Sunrise

Castaway Cay, day at sea, and back to port.  While on the ship, some of the adults had spa treatments, went to a tequila tasting, ran on the running deck (Deck 4), enjoyed a tour of the galley, and just took time to relax alone.

 

The kids went to the kids club, swam with family, spent time

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Finishing 5k

with grandparents and cousins, and saw Disney characters & Princesses.  We all saw several of the shows offered on the ship.  While on the island, one of the adults ran the 5K and one went snorkeling.

 

After our delightful and memorable cruise, we all went to Walt Disney World for 5 nights.  We stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort.  It was so nice to be able to hop on the Monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom and also Epcot.  In addition, there were Monorail stops at the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, and the Ticket & Transportation Center.

3 angels on Castaway Cay
Cousins Playing in the Sand

This was convenient to reach the parks, of course, and dinners & shopping at the Contemporary and Grand Floridian.  The Monorail isn’t the only transportation guests can use.  We also took advantage of the water transportation and the bus system.

Thanks to great pre-trip planning, we were all able to do & see everything we wanted.  Some days, Papa & Grandma went with daughter & family, while on other days we went with son & family.  Most nights we all had dinner together.   It was a nice way for everyone to have their own experiences and then meet to talk about them in the evening.  Papa & Grandma were fortunate enough to have visited WDW several times in the past.  This time, went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour.  This tour took us on a behind the scenes look at WDW and gave us insight into the planning and layout of WDW.  If you have the time, I recommend this tour.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  Here is a photo of me while I
was waiting for the Magical Express to give us a ride to the airport for our flight home.

goodbye vacation

Claudia Eggenberger

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

 

 

 

First Experience Using Disney’s Magical Express

Our family typically drives from North Central Illinois to Orlando or Port Canaveral.  This is for two reasons.  First and foremost, I am terribly anxious about flying and I do not want to couple that with trying to get two young children on a plane.  Second, I actually like driving.  The journey is part of the vacation for me.  I try to make it enjoyable for all of my family members.  Sometimes the love of my life reminds me about the challenges of the longer journey of driving.

My wife and I decided to take a short, three-day cruise out of Port Canaveral.  A few weeks beforehand we received our Disney Cruise Line travel documents.  This elegant booklet is always exciting to receive!  It contains a fair amount of pertinent information that all cruisers should read.  Our booklet included our luggage tags.  These magical little stickers can make your life a whole lot simpler!  Here is how it works: 1. Pack your luggage.  2. Affix the sticker to a handle on your luggage.  3. Drop off your luggage at your airline check-in.  That is it.  Yes.  It is that simple.

We flew from Midway Airport to Orlando International Airport.  At Midway, my wife and I did curbside check-in.  Each of us had a checked bag and a carry on.  Relieving ourselves of the checked bag was surprisingly efficient, and the attendant seemed very chipper for 4:15 AM.  We had a little snag while obtaining boarding passes and checking in at security, but it was very promptly remedied.  I am sure I will find some sympathizers here.  Why does it seem like whenever I fly, I get my bags searched?  Not just scanned-searched and dug around in.  The security person who rifled through my bag seemed like a cool guy though.  We chit-chatted while he admired my Ripcurl trunks and asked me why I needed two extra razors.  He also made a nice comment about my headphones.  After that, we were on our way!  The flight was uneventful.  When we landed, we took the monorail and no park admission was necessary.  A side note and possible tip: there is a Hyatt within Orlando International Airport.  If you are one of those people who likes to arrive a day early to avoid delays, this may be an option to look into.  Most people who arrived with us went to baggage claim in Terminal A.  My wife and I headed straight to Terminal B where the Magical Express check-in is located.  (There are several rental car counters located there as well.)  Disney was experiencing technology failure with one of two computers at the Disney Cruise Line Magical Express counter.  We ended up having one of our longest waits of the entire trip there, and we were third in line.  After checking in, we were directed to board the bus.  The Magical Express bus was very comfortable.  Or, the transition from the airplane to the Magical Express just made it seem like the Taj.  Similar to the plane, one could control the light and air flow directly above.  Unlike the plane, there were several televisions.  On the ride to Port Canaveral, informational videos and Disney shorts were played.  The 45-minute ride went by very quickly!  Magical Express drops passengers off very close to the terminal at Port Canaveral, and there are several porters waiting to assist any families that may need it.  My wife and I only had our carry-on luggage, so we quickly went to the terminal and through security before most of the bus was unloaded.  Here is the coolest part of Magical Express.  After partaking in various onboard activities, we went back to our stateroom.  In the early afternoon, our luggage magically appeared by our stateroom door.  We dropped our luggage curbside in Chicago and didn’t have to touch it until we were in our stateroom!

If you have ever taken a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line, you know how disheartening it is to leave the ship.  There are multiple options for handling your luggage when disembarking.  We were unable to take full advantage of Disney handling our luggage, as we had an early flight.  Disney Cruise Line encourages people in these situations to walk off the ship with their luggage.  After swiftly going through customs, we boarded Disney’s Magical Express.  Again, the buses are located very close to the terminal, so there is minimal walking distance.  The drivers of the buses are amazing.  They are quick to offer a hand with luggage and are very courteous.  The ride back to the airport continues the Disney withdrawal.  And, the sales pitches playing on the televisions do not make the emotions any better.

Unlike utilizing Disney’s Magical Express to get to Walt Disney World, there is a fee for transfers to and from Port Canaveral.  The fee can change, so if you are considering using this transportation, ask your agent how much the fee is or check online.  Magical Express is a great way to get to and from Port Canaveral or Walt Disney World.  It offers riders a simple and comfortable transfer and provides some entertainment.  If you are looking for a convenient and relaxing ride, I would encourage you to use this transportation option.

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