Family Fun when cruising to Key West

It’s no secret that Florida is my absolute favorite state to visit; from the historic towns, beautiful beaches and theme parks, to the multi-cultural experiences, nature and the clear blue and turquoise water traveling through the Keys. While my family does spend a lot of vacations in Orlando, I was excited when we took a Carnival Cruise that had Key West as a port of call. The hubby and I had visited Key West a few years before our daughter was born and fell in love with the island vibe that the people and scenery give off. We had been anxious to go back and were excited to share Key West with our daughter.

Being the southernmost point in the continental U.S., and only about 90 miles from Cuba, it is a town brimming with energy, beautiful colors, gorgeous waters and history. There is so much to do whether you are traveling with adults or a family with kids. Duval Street is full of shops, bars and restaurants. Stop by Sloppy Joe’s Bar and hang out in one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite places. You will hear music pouring out of the many bars and restaurants as you walk up and down Duval Street. Since we were on a cruise, we only had a few hours to explore but here are some of our favorite places to visit in Key West when you are only there for a short time.

Key West Aquarium – Don’t underestimate this aquarium based on its size, it may look smaller than some other aquariums but it is one of the best aquariums we have been to. They have some unique sea life that that we hadn’t seen anywhere else and the staff members are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. My daughter spent over thirty minutes talking to a staff member about a rare sea animal they had on display. She was so excited that the staff member never made her feel rushed, took her time in answering questions and gave her so much information about the waters surrounding the keys. This was definitely one of her favorite places to visit.

Key West Shipwreck Museum – If your kids, or you, are fascinated by shipwrecks then you will want to make time to stop at the Key West Shipwreck Museum (located near the aquarium). Here you will enter a recreation of an 1800’s wrecker’s warehouse and see some incredible artifacts discovered in the waters near Key West. If you stop here, don’t forget to climb the stairs to the top of the museum, the view is breathtaking!

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum – This was the actual residence of Ernest Hemingway for more than 10 years. Take a guided tour through this beautiful home that was built in the 1800’s. Explore the lush gardens and don’t be surprised if you see a cat, or several! There are more than forty cats that call this their home and are believed to be the descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s cat. You may also notice something a little different about these friendly felines, many have 6-toes due to a gene called the polydactyl gene which causes cats to have kittens with 6 toes. Sailors believed these cats to be good luck and are they still roam the grounds of Ernest Hemingway’s home today.

Before you head back to the ship, don’t forget to take a few pictures at the iconic landmarks. The Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S. Monument is located at Whitehead St. and South St. This iconic buoy is popular so give yourself time to get your picture and get back to the ship. This monument is located at the far end of the island on the opposite side from the cruise ship docks. Head over to Mile Marker 0 on Whitehead St. and take a picture to show you made it to the end of the highway. If you happen to be staying in Key West overnight, you will want to head to Mallory Square to catch the sunset. This waterfront square is full of shops and restaurants and is the most beautiful place to watch a breathtaking sunset. There are plenty of street performers and people watching to do as you wait for the sunset (you may even see a chicken or two).

Unfortunately we only had a few hours to explore Key West this last time so we didn’t get to enjoy the festive environment of Mallory Square at sunset or a lot of other activities but we know we will be back! Key West is truly a one of a kind destination and there is so much to experience that I hardly scratched the surface with this post. If you haven’t been to Key West yet, now is the perfect time to plan, you’ll be happy you did.

“Gypsy Chickens” roam free in Key West. It is common to see chickens and roosters roaming around the city.

Have you visited Key West? Drop me a comment on your favorite place or activity that you experienced.


Disney World Resumes 2020 Ticket Sales TODAY!

Cars section at Art of Animation Resort

It’s an exciting morning in our household because Disney World has resumed both ticket sales and Disney Resort bookings for 2020! Earlier this year, Disney put a temporary hold on ticket sales and resort bookings while they implemented their new Disney Park Pass System, which requires guests to have both a park reservation as well as a valid ticket to enter the theme parks. When Disney released the bookings for 2021, they did not reopen bookings for 2020 so that they could give guests with existing reservations time to book their theme park reservations. This morning, I am happy to say, we can start booking for 2020 vacations again!

I was already on the site this morning and was able to choose between value resorts, Pop Century and Art of Animation. There were several moderate resorts showing availability such as Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach Resort as well as deluxe resorts such as Animal Kingdom, Contemporary, Riviera Resort and more! This is great news because that means no matter which level of resort you prefer (value, moderate or deluxe), there is availability for 2020.

If you are booking your own Walt Disney World Resort vacation, be aware that they are expecting high volumes online so you may be directed to a virtual waiting room to help manage the volumes. Once you book your vacation, or purchase tickets, don’t forget to log into the Disney Park Pass System found in your My Disney Experience account to reserve your days in the parks.

I also highly recommend that you check out the “Know Before You Go” page on to find information and tips related to the new safety guidelines. Even though experiences may be different now then in the past,there is still so much to see and do at Walt Disney World this year!

If you would like help booking a future Walt Disney World Resort vacation, I am an authorized Disney Vacation Planner and would be happy to assist you! With so many changes surrounding travel at this time, I’m here to help guests navigate the changes as related to the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland as well as book their vacation packages, I sit on hold or in virtual waiting rooms so you don’t have to. Send me a message if you would like a free,no obligation quote for a vacation package.

Have a magical day!


Disney’s Splash Mountain to get a Princess Makeover

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog

Today, Disney unveiled new concept art for a reimagining of one of the park’s most popular rides, Splash Mountain! The ride, located at both Disneyland and in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, will be updated with an exciting adventure featuring characters from The Princess and the Frog. Guests will join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure as they get ready for their first Mardi Gras performance.

The backdrop of Tiana’s story takes place in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou so it will fit perfectly into the theming of New Orleans Square in Disneyland. New Orleans Square was the first new”land” that Walt Disney himself opened, so it almost makes it even more magical. At the Magic Kingdom, Splash Mountain is located in Frontier Land so it will be interesting to see how Disney’s Imagineers tie the rethemed ride into its surroundings.

The Princess and the Frog is one of my all time favorite Disney movies and I am super excited to see how the Imagineers bring it to life. I can’t wait to enjoy the music and go on this adventure with Tiana and Louis. Stay tuned for more details!


Revised Disneyland Reopening Update

It was announced yesterday morning that Disneyland submitted a proposal to reopen and by yesterday evening plans have already changed. It now appears that the State of California will not be issuing theme park opening guidelines until after July 4th. Due to the work involved with bringing back thousands of cast members and getting their business up and running, Disney feels the most responsible choice at this time is to delay the reopening of the Disneyland theme parks. Once the State of California gives a better indication of when they will release the guidelines Disney can then communicate a reopening date.

The Downtown Disney area will still open as planned on July 9th. Downtown Disney’s reopening falls under the guidelines of restaurant and retail reopenings in California. Guests will still see the planned heath and safety protocols in place at opening.

While the added delay may not be what guests and cast members wanted to hear, Disney is working hard to ensure the safety of their guests and cast members upon reopening. Be sure to follow my blog for up to date changes and reopening information on Disney Parks and more.


Walt Disney World opens up 2021 reservations!

This morning, June 24th, the Walt Disney World Resort officially opens up their booking system for 2021 reservations through September 26, 2021! While June is typically the month that we can begin booking resort packages for the following calendar year, this year seems even more special since it’s been so long that any of us could enjoy the magic of Walt Disney World. There is so much to look forward to over the coming year, but there are also changes to how we enjoy the parks and resorts with added safety features in place as well as how we plan and navigate the property.

In 2021 we will see a lot of changes to how we experience the parks and resorts. When we start booking for 2021 today, there will be no park hopper passes or dining plans to be offered. This is still partly due to the response from Disney for the handling of safety measures for COVID-19 and the new Park Reservation System. When guests are booking their 2021 vacation packages, they will need to log into their My Disney Experience account and link their reservation so that they can go in and select their park reservations. While it may be difficult to know which park you want to attend a year from now it is extremely important to do this immediately so you can be sure to have a reservation, the good news is that those park reservations can be modified at any time, based on availability. Disney is expecting to bring back park hoppers and dining plans at some point in the future when they can safely accommodate them, until then we need to make plans without them. Disney will also be proving a “Know before you go” link with up to date information for guests before they travel.

We will also see an upgrade in the My Disney Experience app which will move some of the functions of the Magic Band into the app! With the upgrade, guests will be able to by pass the front desk at check in with the online check in process, unlock their resort room (at Disney resorts), chat with a guest services cast member, check in for dining reservations and order food online at select dining locations, scan their park tickets and check out from their resort without stopping at the front desk. With this upgrade, Disney has announced that they will not be providing complimentary Magic Bands for guests with check in dates January 1, 2021 and later. Now, if you are like me, you may have several Magic Bands and might be wondering what to do with them! The good news is, Magic Bands will still be available for purchase and any Magic Bands that you have linked to your My Disney Experience account will still work, they just are not sending out complimentary ones in 2021. For guests that don’t have a Magic Band and don’t want to purchase them or guests not wanting to use their smartphones for everything, Disney will be providing a free Key to the Kingdom card which will act as your park ticket and room key.

October 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of Magic Kingdom and while details have not been released at this time, we are all excited to hear what Disney has in store for this celebration! Currently we are not able to book past September 26, 2021 so packages are not available yet for this celebration, but they will go fast once they open for booking so it’s going to be important to watch for announcements.

Travel over the next year will look different than it has in the past with mandatory face coverings, social distancing, recommended cashless transactions by using credit cards, gift cards etc as well as how we book and navigate the Walt Disney World Resort. It is important to stay up to date on all of the guidelines and changes happening with the Walt Disney World Resort for your upcoming stay. Now, let’s start planning and RETURN TO THE MAGIC!

Be sure to follow my blog for continued updates and send me a message if you would like help booking your next Walt Disney World Resort vacation!


Disneyland working on Phased Reopening Plan

Disney has announced a planned phased reopening of Disneyland starting with the reopening of the Downtown Disney District on July 9th. Just like it’s Orlando counterpart Disney Springs, Downtown Disney located in California’s Disneyland property, will reopen in phases. On July 9, 2020 guests visiting Downtown Disney should expect limited capacity, parking and operating hours. Guests will be directed to self-park in the Simba lot, with operating hours from 10am to 8pm.

Pending state and local government approval, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park will reopen on July 17, 2020. Again, this is still pending approval so the date is not yet fully confirmed. In addition, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel are planned to begin reopening on July 23, 2020.

It feels like forever since we have been able to enjoy some Disney magic but we are getting close to returning to the magic! What’s the first thing you plan to do when Disneyland reopens?


Disney Unveils New Park Pass System Today!

Today Disney unveiled their new Park Pass System which will help to manage the park capacity when the Walt Disney World theme parks open in July. With the new Park Pass System, guests will be required to make a park reservation once they have purchased their park tickets or resort packages. Disney’s Park Pass System will be located in the guests My Disney Experience account and once guests link their park tickets, they will see a menu option to select their park reservations. Check out the steps below to learn how to use Disney’s Park Pass System and start planning your return to the magic!

Step 1: Link Your Admission to Your Disney Account

  • First, you will need a My Disney Experience account, which is where your Walt Disney World plans are stored and managed. Create an account or sign into your existing account.
  • Then, link your valid ticket or reservation number your Disney account. All Guests in your party must also have valid park admission linked to their profile.

Once your admission is linked to your account, you can begin to make a park reservation.

Create your party using your Family & Friends List in My Disney Experience

Step 2: Create Your Party
When you begin to make a reservation, you will be prompted to create your party from your Family & Friends list.

Simply select the family and friends you would like to include, then select “Continue”.

If you do not see someone in your travel party, select “Add a Guest” to include them.

Staying in a Disney Resort or other select hotel with a package that includes tickets? Everyone in your party must also have a hotel reservation. If this varies, you will need to make separate Disney Park Pass reservations.

Step 3: Select a Date and Park
Choose the date and the theme park that you would like to visit from the available reservations. Please note that dates and theme park selections are limited and subject to availability.

After creating your party in the Disney Park Pass system, you will be prompted to:

  • Select a Date: View a calendar and choose one of the available dates for your visit.
  • Select a Theme Park: Park hours will be displayed for your convenience.
  • Select a Time: This is the time that you can visit the park.

After selecting your date, park and time, you can confirm your reservation.

Step 4: Review and Confirm Your Plans
Carefully review and confirm your selected park and date.

If you need to make any changes, select “Back” to revise your selections.

Before confirming, you will need to agree to the Terms & Conditions, including the COVID-19 liability waiver. Then, select “Confirm” to complete your park reservation”.

Once you confirm the reservation it will appear in My Plans, both in the online and My Disney Experience App versions.

You will need to do this step for each day of your ticket.

If you need to cancel a reservation, view your daily itinerary in My Plans, then select “Reservation Details”. Reservations can be done via the Disney website or you My Disney Experience App and can be done even after you have checked into the resort.

There are a few important things to keep in mind. Due to reduced park capacity, park reservations will fill up so it is highly recommended that guests link their park tickets as soon as they purchase them and reserve their park days immediately. Guests without a park reservation will not be allowed to enter the theme park, even with a valid ticket. Due to the park reservation system, park hopper tickets will not be sold at this time, all tickets are one park per day.

Disney is requiring that the guest books the park reservation due to a COVID-19 acknowledgment form that must be accepted. This means if you book using an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, like myself, they will not be able to book your park reservations for you. Your Disney Vacation Planner can help you navigate the system and walk you through it if needed but you, as the guest, will need to be the one to book the reservation.

With all that said, if you have booked a FastPass or a dining reservation in My Disney Experience, then navigating this should be very easy. The steps are extremely straightforward. Park reservations can be made now, with a valid park admission, from July 11, 2020 through September 26, 2021.

If you don’t have a reservation yet but are looking to book for dates between January 1, 2021 – September 26, 2021 and would like an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to help book your vacation package and navigate all of the changes at the Walt Disney World Resort, send me a message and I’ll be happy to help get you booked on your next magical vacation!


Returning to the Magic!

Whew! It’s been a whirlwind of updates regarding Disney travel over the last 24 hours, I’m going to do my best to cover as much as I can at this point. All of my information comes from Disney and I alway wait to hear confirmation before posting so that there are no rumors. I’ll start with the newest news to break (in the last few hours) which is, the CDC is recommending cruises sailing from the US through September 15, 2020 be suspended. Disney Cruise Line has agreed to uphold this decision from the CDC and while Disney is still working on their official update on how we (as travel planners) need to proceed to help our guests, they have not yet released how refunds or rebookings will be handled. We should hear something over the next few days and I’ll update everyone at that time. Disney Cruise Line had previously suspended cruises departing from Canada until September 14, 2020 and Europe until October 2, 2020.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, MNSSHP for us Disney fanatics, has been officially cancelled for 2020. This is an incredible and fun event that Disney puts on at Magic Kingdom and I personally have several disappointed travelers that were looking forward to attending this year. Disney’s main priority during this time is safety for their guests and cast members and unfortunately MNSSHP was not able to move forward for this year. Guests who had already purchased tickets through Disney for this 2020 event will be refunded by Disney.

As an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, the biggest question I have gotten lately is when can we change or book reservations for end of 2020 and 2021 at Walt Disney World? Well the good news is that we can start this all very soon! Next week will be a big week for bookings as well as seeing a lot of changes to the current way guests experience Disney. When the Walt Disney World Resort reopens in July, guests will not only need to have a park ticket but also a park reservation to enter a theme park. This is due to the limited park capacity that Disney will have in place at the theme parks, the capacity will be managed with the reservation system located in your My Disney Experience account. Any guest that currently has a resort and ticket reservation for 2020 (from July – Dec 2020) will be able to book their park reservations on Monday June 22, 2020. On Wednesday, June 24th, packages for January 2021 – September 26, 2021 will be available for booking! Then on Friday June 26th, Disney Annual Passholders can book their park reservations as well.

While there will be changes for the safety of guests and cast members, this still is very exciting news! Things may look and feel different when Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line reopen, but we can be sure that the MAGIC will still be there. I can’t wait for my guests to start arriving and for my family to start planning our next visit. I will be sharing more about the park reservation system and process, as well as other information, in the upcoming days so be sure to follow my blog for more details.


Walt Disney World Announces Reopening Dates!

Walt Disney World Reopening July 2020

Get ready to head back to the magic! In a meeting this morning with the Orange County Economic Task Force, Walt Disney World announced their planned reopen dates as well as safety measures they are putting in place to keep guests and cast members safe. The Walt Disney World Resort will do a phased reopening with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks opening on Saturday July 10, 2020 and then Epcot and Hollywood Studios opening on Wednesday July 15, 2020. Prior to these opening dates, Disney will welcome cast members into the parks to allow the parks to launch, learn and adjust their procedures as needed so that guests can have the best possible experience when returning to Walt Disney World.

When guests return to the Walt Disney World Resort on July 11th and 15th, there are a several things that they should expect such as masks being required (they will be provided if a guest does not have one), social distancing throughout the parks, restaurants, shops as well as reduced capacity and temperature screenings. In addition, Disney is expanding their mobile ordering opportunities for restaurants, encouraging cashless transactions with Magic Bands, Apple Pay and Google Pay options and Disney gift cards. We will see enhanced cleaning and sanitation throughout Walt Disney World especially in high touch areas.

In order to reduce gathering of large groups, Disney will be suspending parades, fireworks, character meet and greets as well as closing play areas and water effects. While the suspending of parades, fireworks and character meet and greets will be difficult for many guests, me included, this is the safest way that Disney could implement social distancing in high volume gathering areas. We will also see reduced capacity throughout the parks and prior ticket purchase requirements. More specific details should be released as we get closer to reopening.

Disney also debuted their new “Social Distancing Squad” with the opening of Disney Springs last week and you will see them throughout the Walt Disney World property. These cast members will be helping guests with the new requirements. Signs will also be found throughout as soon as you enter Walt Disney World Resort property notifying guests of the requirements and keeping them informed.

With the rules being released, how do you feel about going back to the theme parks?

Contact me if you would like help planning your next Walt Disney World vacation as we Return to the Magic! I’m also on Facebook and Instagram so be sure to follow me there for the latest park and resort news.


Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line update.

Today the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland began contacting guests scheduled to arrive between June 7th through June 13th to notify them that their planned vacations have been impacted by the resort and park closures. This comes just days after the Disney Cruise Line cancelled cruises through July 28th. Here is what we know on each of these based on information released from Disney.

Walt Disney World Resort guests have been impacted through June 13th at this point. Disney has been assessing the situation weekly and, for the foreseeable future, we expect this to continue as a weekly update. Walt Disney World resort guests that were booked for arrivals during this time have the option to either receive a full refund for their resort and park tickets or they can rebook their vacation for later this year with no penalties. Currently Disney is offering for these guests to rebook for July 1st and later.

Disneyland has also begun to notify guests booked through June 13th that they are eligible to either receive a refund or rebook for a later date. Eligible guests of the Disneyland Resort Hotels may receive a $50 per night resort credit (for future stays between July 1, 2020 and December 31,2020). In addition, guests who had booked a stay at a Disneyland Resort Hotel during the period of March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2020 may be eligible to take advantage of a special Disneyland resort offer to save up to 35% (for stays most nights July 1, 2020 through October 3, 2020). This is not valid for room reservations cancelled prior to March 1, 2020 or for multiple rebookings of the same reservation.

Disney Cruise Line, earlier this week, announced that they were cancelling all sailings on the Dream, Fantasy, Magic and Wonder through July 28, 2020. Guests that have been impacted are eligible for a refund or have the option to rebook. Guests that choose to rebook for a future cruising date may be eligible for a 25% credit of their original cruise fare if rebooked to sail within fifteen months of their original departure date. Please check out the official Disney Cruise Line website for more details.

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Universal Studios Orlando Proposes Opening Strategy

Today, Universal Studios Orlando submitted their reopening plan in the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force Meeting. The county approved Universals plan and had completed a walk through this morning prior to the meeting. The next step is for the governor of Florida to approve the plan. If the governor of Florida approves their plan, we can expect to start seeing guests back at Universal as soon as June!

Here is a breakdown of what was proposed and what to expect.

June 1st and 2nd the parks would open to select team members so they can vet the processes and procedures that had be put into place.

June 3rd and 4th a limited number of guests would be welcomed, including annual passholders.

June 5th the theme parks would open to all guests, with a reduced capacity.

  • Temperate checks will be done at park entrances for guests. Employees will also have daily temperature checks.
  • Masks must be work by employees and guests. Disposable masks will be available to guests if they do not have one.
  • Limited capacity for all parks, shopping, restaurants, and queue lines.
  • Parking lots will only utilize every other parking space. Valet parking will not be available.
  • Virtual queue lines (as used at Volcano Bay waterpark currently) is being incorporated throughout the theme parks.
  • Single rider lines have been eliminated and queue lines will have spacers marked on the floor to allow social distancing.
  • Interactive play areas will be closed.
  • Elimination of water and mist elements around the park and in attractions where possible.
  • No post show meet and greets after the live shows will occur at this time.
  • Menu’s at the restaurants have been converted to paper so they are single use.
  • Contactless payment options will be available within Universal’s App as well as other options such as Google pay and Apple pay. Cash will be accepted however extra precautions will be in place for cash transactions.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance and exit of attractions as well as throughout the parks.
  • Signage has been placed throughout the parks, starting at the tollbooth entrance and including signage at attractions explaining how the queue line for that attraction will work.

This is exciting news as we are slowly starting to see Orlando venues open back up to visitors! The new Margaritaville resort in Orlando has recently opened as well as earlier this week we saw the opening of Universal’s CityWalk and Disney’s Disney Springs area. Be sure to follow my blog to stay up to date on Universal and Disney travel as well as other openings. Updates are also posted on my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Interested in planning your own vacation to Universal Studios Orlando or Walt Disney World? Message me and together we can get started planning your next vacation!