Travel

Disney Springs & Universal CityWalk welcomes guests!

Today marks an exciting day for fans of Disney and Universal because we are starting to see some movement towards reopening’s! Universal Orlando’s CityWalk opened several venues yesterday to guests with limited hours and Disney Springs opened some shops and dining today. Disney Springs will open some of the Disney owned stores and restaurants next Wednesday May 27th. Here are some things to expect with each opening.

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen located at Universal’s CityWalk.

Universal’s CityWalk has select dining open such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant and Market, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen and Voodoo Doughnut, just to name a few.  Guests will also be able to shop at the Universal Studios Store and have some fun at Hollywood Drive-In Golf. The venues that are opening will be open from 4pm-10pm at this time. Temperature checks will be required as will face coverings. For a complete list of restaurant and store openings as well as Universal CityWalk’s full safety measure listing, please check out their website at universalorlando.com.

Disney Springs opened some of the third-party owned stores and restaurants today such as Basin,  Pandora Jewelry, Pop Gallery, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Vera Bradly and more. Some of the restaurants open include Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, Boathouse, Earl of Sandwich, Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co., Planet Hollywood, T-Rex, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill as well as several other places.  Next Wednesday, May 27th, Disney has announced that they will open some of their Disney owned places such as World of Disney and the Marketplace Co-Op as well as D-Luxe Burger.  There are 6 key things that Disney would like guests visiting to know before they come to Disney Springs at this time.

Garage entrance into Disney Springs
  1. Parking will be limited to the Orange and Lime garages; no surface area parking will be available. Once these garages are full you will not be admitted, this includes guests with dining reservations as Disney Springs will be considered at maximum capacity at that time. In addition to the limited parking, only four entrances will open; Orange garage entrance, Lime garage entrance, Hotel Plaza Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge entrance and the rideshare location entrance.
  2. Temperature screenings will take place at these entrances. No one with a temperature of 100.4 or high will be admitted (nor will anyone in their party).
  3. Face coverings are required for ages 3 and up.
  4. Physical distancing rules apply. Disney has placed some barriers and distancing queues around Disney Springs to help.
  5. There will be reduced hours and no scheduled entertainment during this time.
  6. Disney has increased their focus on cleaning and sanitizing including adding hand washing and hand sanitizing stations throughout Disney Springs.

As of this posting, there has not been any announcements for the opening of resort and parks at either Universal Orlando or Walt Disney World. Be sure to follow me here, as well as my travel pages on Instagram and Facebook, to stay up to date on the latest news!

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Travel

Shanghai Disney Reopening Today!

Shanghai Disney reopens today, May 11th, with additional procedures in place to help keep guests and cast members safe. During this initial opening phase, Shanghai Disney is limiting attendance with requiring advanced ticket and reservations, allowing for social distancing in queues and increasing the frequency of sanitization with additional disinfection practices.

As the park opens today, guests will see that while the majority of attractions and rides, along with some shows, shopping and dining are open with limited attendance, that other areas will remain closed. Many of the interactive areas such as play areas and theater shows will remain closed at this time. Disney characters will appear throughout the park, making appearances in the various lands however close interaction and close-up photos with the characters will not be taking place at this time. Parades and nighttime spectaculars will not be returning initially also. Guests will be able to see a special character procession, Mickey and Friends Express, several times during the day. In addition to that, the Enchanted Storybook Castle will come to life with a light and music show at dusk in Evening Magical Moments.  

Here are the guidelines from the Shanghai Disney press release outlining what Shanghai Disney guests should expect during this opening phase:

  1. All tickets must be purchased in advance. There will not be any on-site ticket sales. Annual Pass holders will need to make a reservation for their visit prior also.
  2. Guests will be expected to provide basic information including name, phone number, ID type and ID number via Shanghai Disney Resort’s official online channels after purchasing a ticket and prior to arriving at the resort.
  3. Guests will register for a Health QR Code prior to their arrival, which will be required to be presented upon entering any location at Shanghai Disney Resort. Only guests with a green Health QR Code will be allowed to enter the resort.
  4. Guests should be prepared to present a China government ID card, or valid travel document, for each guest at the park turnstiles (photos or printed copies will not be accepted).
  5. Guests will undergo temperature screening procedures upon arrival.
  6. Guests will be required to wear an approved mask during the entire visit to the resort except when dining.

While we are anxiously waiting for a reopening date for the Disney parks here in the US, what do you think of the guidelines for the opening? Are these something that you would be comfortable following if Disney utilizes this at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California? Let me know your thoughts.

Even with the parks being closed here in the US, we are still booking for Fall & Winter 2020 and now is the perfect time to lock in your vacation dates for 2021. There are so many cool things happening at Walt Disney World in 2021 that you will not want to miss it. Contact me today for a free, no obligation quote for a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest news for Disney, Universal Orlando and more!

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Travel

Disney Springs announces phased re-opening May 20th!

photo from Disney Parks Blog

We have all been waiting anxiously to hear from Disney about re-openings and yesterday we received some great news with the announcement of Disney Springs beginning a phased reopening on May 20th!  When Disney Springs begins to reopen on May 20th, they will limit the number of shopping and dining locations during this initial phase. Even though everything will not open at once and there will be limited capacity for visitors, it is a ray of hope towards all of us getting our Disney fix in the future.  

With this phased re-opening we will see increased cleaning procedures and expect face coverings requirements by cast members and guests. There will be a limit on capacity to Disney Springs as well as limited parking and operating hours for the stores and restaurants that are part of this opening.

While we are all still (anxiously) waiting for an announcement from Disney about the re-opening of parks and resorts, this is a step in that direction. Disney is continuing to monitor conditions and follow the guidance of government and health officials as they work on plans for how they can reopen Disney Parks and Resorts safely for guests and cast members.

Even with the Disney Parks and Resorts being closed, we are still booking travel for when they reopen! Visiting in fall or winter 2020 is a great way to get away and enjoy some family fun, especially for all of the essential workers who have been keeping us safe during this outbreak.They deserve a much-needed rest and vacation! In additional to this year, 2021 is going to be an AMAZING year at the Walt Disney World resort with several new rides and attractions, as well as the 50th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom in October! Packages for 2021 are not yet available BUT by booking your room now, you are locking in your 2020 room rates before the prices increase for 2021!

Contact me today and we can start planning your next vacation! And don’t forget to also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on the latest Disney news and offers!

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Travel

Walt Disney World Travel Update!

Disney has officially updated the dates that guests will be impacted with resort closures during this time. Guests that are currently booked for a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort during the dates of May 17th – May 23rd will be receiving letters from Walt Disney World letting them know that their planned stay has been impacted by park and resort closures.

Here is what we know up to this point. Guests that have been booked for a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort between the dates of March 16th through May 23rd will not be able to visit Walt Disney World at this time.

Guests that were booked for a stay between March 16th – May 31st have a couple of options to choose from regarding their planned vacation. Guests can choose to cancel their vacation and their payments will be refunded (not including any airfare or third-party reservations as these are not managed by the Walt Disney company). Guests will also have an opportunity to reschedule their vacation for new arrival dates between June 1st and September 30th, 2020.

Guests that choose to reschedule their vacation between dates June 1, 2020 – September 30, 2020 will be eligible for Free Dining! This free dining offer is ONLY for guests who had to reschedule their trip originally booked between March 16, 2020 – May 31, 2020, not for new bookings. A free Quick Service Dining Plan will be available for guests staying at a Disney Value or Moderate resort and the free Disney Dining Plan will be available for guests staying at a Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resort.  Other restrictions may apply.

At this time, guests booked with an arrival date through June 2020 will still have up to 7 days prior to their planned arrival date to pay their remaining balances.

While we are still waiting anxiously for the official reopening date for Walt Disney World, Disney is doing all that they can with planning and preparation to reopen safely for their guests and cast members. Be sure to follow my blog as well as my Facebook & Instagram to stay up to date on the latest Disney news!

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Now is still a good time to book a future Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation! Contact me today for a free, no obligation quote and we can start planning your next adventure!

Travel

Disney Cruise Line Update!

Disney released their latest news regarding Disney’s Cruise Line sailing on Monday April 27th. This latest update from Disney’s Cruise Line impacts sailings on Disney’s ships the Magic, Dream, Fantasy and Wonder.

* Cruises on Disney’s Magic are canceled through July 2, 2020.

* Cruises on Disney’s Dream and Fantasy ships are canceled through June 18, 2020.

* Cruises on Disney’s Wonder is canceled through June 30, 2020.

Disney is doing the best they can to accommodate the guests impacted by these cancellations including offering future credits for up to 15 months from their origional booked date of sail.

I am still waiting on official word from Disney regarding park and resort openings, as of this posting they are still “closed until further notice”.

Follow me FaceBook & Instagram to stay up to date on the latest Disney news! I am also still booking guests for later in 2020, contact me today for a free, no obligation quote.

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Travel

Fun in the Sun, exploring Southwest Florida

Sunset after the rain on Naples Beach

If you are looking for a vacation destination for the whole family or just adults looking to relax, southwest Florida is the perfect destination! With beaches overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, golf course galore and lots of outdoor activities to choose from, there is something for everyone in your group. Southwest Florida includes many cities but today I’m going to focus on my favorite 3 cities to visit; Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Naples.

Fort Meyers Florida is known for its beaches and family friendly attractions. You can visit Thomas Edison and Henry Ford’s winter estates that are now museums that honor both men and their work. Enjoy a day at Fort Meyers Beach and soak up the sun while playing in the warm gulf water or walk among the butterflies and their favorite flowers at Butterfly Estates. If you are visiting in January or early February you will want to visit Manatee Park and see the migrating manatee. At Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, there are miles of elevated boardwalk where you can see lots of native animals such as alligators, woodpeckers, herons and so much more. Want a mini vacation inside of your vacation, than you can book a 3.5 hour (approximate) boat ride to Key West on the Key West Express where you can hang out for the day or book your return trip a few days later and enjoy “island life” for a while.

Just a short drive from Fort Meyers is the beautiful Sanibel Island. You will soon catch yourself doing the “Sanibel Stoop” as you search for the perfect sea shell along the beach because Sanibel Island is one of the best places for shelling. This island is famous for its abundance of sea shells but also for its beautiful sunsets, lighthouse and beach. It’s a great place to stay for a week or just visit for the day with boating, fishing, shopping and lots of relaxing. Check out some of the local cuisine at places like The Island Cow with its super fresh seafood or the Over Easy Cafe for some delicious breakfast and lunch options. If you want to relax and enjoy the beauty of the island, be sure to visit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge takes up one-third of Sanibel Island and is a fun way to spend your day.

Last but certainly not least is Naples Florida, which has been a family favorite in my family for generations. Naples offers several family friendly hotel options as well as more upscale and luxurious options. Historic downtown boasts several art galleries, boutiques and shops while a short distance away is Tin City which is a more unique and eclectic shopping area with shopping and restaurants by the water (some of my favorite little shops are located here). Make sure to allow some time to visit Naples Zoo and also the North Collier Regional Park which offers nature trails, soccer & softball fields and is home to Sun-N-Fun Lagoon which is a six acre water park! You won’t want to miss catching the sunset on Naples Pier, but get there early because it is a popular place to watch the sun go down and the sky light up with beautiful purple, pink and golds.

Summer is approaching and now is the perfect time to start making plans and booking vacations for the future. No matter where you end up spending your vacation, be sure to check out some of the local favorites in addition to the traditional tourist stops. Some of the best finds are the small businesses and mom and pop shops and restaurants that may be off the “tourist”path.

I am an authorized travel planner for Disney, Universal Orlando and various cruise lines, proud to be affiliated with Academy Travel. Please check out my Facebook and Instagram pages if you are interested in more travel information.

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Life

Surprise….you now get to homeschool!

Like most places in the US, our schools have closed and we are in the process of doing virtual school….something I was completely unprepared to do. Our teachers quickly pulled together lesson plans and uploaded them online, made packets for the younger grades and without getting to say a proper goodbye to their students, sent them home to be “taught” by their parents. It’s hard to believe that this time last week I didn’t even know my child would be home for an undetermined amount of time to do schooling.

I have a 6th grader who has some amazing teachers that I have always respected but now I have an even higher level of respect for them. The level of course work that my kiddo is doing in 6th grade blows my mind when I think back to what I was learning at her age…and this is partially why I feel completely unprepared. She has almost a full days worth of school work to complete each day and I feel like some of the things I am learning right along with her (except math, she is on her own there lol).

There are a few things that I have seen during this time that I have enjoyed, like spending time with my daughter and seeing the progress she has made this year with her education. Social Media has been crazy however our school FaceBook page is full of families posting pictures of their kids new “school” day, parents reaching out to support other parents small businesses and just supporting each other as we struggle to help our kids and try not to undo all of the hard work our teachers have put into them this year. Kids have been video chatting their friends so they can still be “together”, teachers have been emailing our kids daily to say hello and check in as well as making sure they answer any questions the kids (or us parents) have on the assignments. A local group of moms started a “Homeschooling 101” social media group so we can all support each other and ask questions, bonus is that there are several teachers in there also who are willing to help answer questions or provide tips for us that are still trying to get used to our new normal.

Our virtual school could last a few weeks or maybe the rest of the school year and while it is hard for some of the adults, I think of what the kids are missing. My daughter is disappointed that they had to stop practice for their spring musical and that she can’t see her friends every day. The kids that play sports and now won’t be able to play and not to mention the 8th graders at our school who won’t finish out their final year with their friends, many of who they have been in class with since Kindergarten. I think of the high school seniors that may miss prom and graduation, two big rites of passage and the college students who worked so hard for many years to walk across that stage and now might not have that same experience.

While times are crazy now and whether you agree with the actions federal, state and local governments are taking please keep in mind that the better we treat each other and the more we support each other, the easier this time will be on all of us. Thank a teacher for all of the hard work they put into our kids and continue to put into their education as we all maneuver this together. And check in on us newly homeschooling parents, we are trying our best but many of us are tired already (especially us with pre-teens lol).

Travel

What does a travel planner do when no one can travel?

As we all know, the world is in the middle of a pandemic which is shutting down schools, businesses, travel and in some instances cities. The travel industry has been largely impacted and we have seen unprecedented closures like Disney Parks and Universal Parks, cruise lines docked and resorts closing their doors. All of these closures are not just a disappointment for families counting down to their vacations but also are costing families additional time to rebook or cancel and extra money in some cases as well as putting a lot of stress and pressure on customer service reps for the businesses trying to help accommodate guests as best as possible while still worrying and caring for their own families. So how can booking through a travel planner help in times like this? Let me share with you what I, as well as other travel planners, have been doing since rumors of closures and quarantines started (before actual closures began).

Since talk of the coronavirus began, I started watching the official announcements from all of the vendors where I book clients vacations. It’s been important to watch for official updates and not stress about the rumors, my social media feeds are still full of them and they drive me crazy because they unnecessarily cause more stress and frustration to the public. I receive official updates from Disney Travel, Universal and SeaWorld which are where all of my currently booked guests are headed. I also receive updates from my affiliated agency, Academy Travel, who has direct points of contact at each of these places and can get updates directly from them as well.

Disney Parks rarely, if ever, close for an extended period of time so news of Disneyland and then Disney World closing for several weeks was major news! Unfortunately I do have guests that were only a few days from traveling and then received the news that their vacation needed to be rebooked, I have many guests anxiously waiting to hear if they will need to rebook their upcoming vacations. The first few days after the announcement, the wait time to reach a Disney agent to rebook or cancel was over 3.5 hours and that was IF you could even get through or if the call didn’t drop after waiting an hour or so. Since my guests booked with me, they didn’t have to wait on hold for over 3 hours or keep trying to get through. All they had to do was let me know what they wanted to do and I did the rest. Please know, that once I was able to get through to Guest Relations and Customer Service cast members, they were still very helpful and I appreciate all of their hard work during this time also!

Since many people are not planning their next vacation with everything going on right now, I’m taking advantage of this time to do additional training, become certified for other cruise lines and resorts and working on additional items that will be helpful to my travel clients. I’m taking virtual tours of places I haven’t traveled to yet and finding new places to recommend to my clients. I’m also staying up to date on new announcements with the companies I work with currently on changes or offers for future travel.

I am thankful to get to do what I love as a way to not only help support my family, but to help others plan a vacation that will be meaningful to them. Even though these are difficult times, this will pass and we will be back to traveling (hopefully soon). If you haven’t booked with a travel planner in the past I encourage you to look into it, we are here to help take the work off of our guests so they can relax and enjoy! Please check out my FaceBook and Instagram pages for more information about my travel services, and please know that there are no hidden or extra fees for my services. Stay safe everyone!

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General

Please Follow me on Facebook and Instagram in 2020!

While I have enjoyed blogging this past year, the time has come for me to make some difficult decisions where my various business platforms are concerned. I will be limiting my efforts on this site at the end of 2019 so I can focus more time on my businesses on Facebook and Instagram. Both my travel and my boutique business has gotten more busy (which is a great problem to have) but it leaves me less time for blogging. I appreciate you following along on my journey and I hope you continue to follow along on my other business pages.

Be sure to Like and Follow my pages to stay up to date!

I will continue to post about travel adventures, tip and booking opportunities on my Kristie Ryan Travel sites on Facebook and Instagram. Please like and follow my travel pages to stay up to date on the best travel offers and tips.

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Be sure to like and follow my pages for the newest items in my shop!

I will continue to post items that I have created for sale on my Pixie Dust and Mermaids Boutique sites, on Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and my website. Be sure to like and follow my pages to stay up to date on the newest items in my shop and remember, I love to do custom orders as well!

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Travel

Halloween at Walt Disney World!

Watch out for the Headless Horseman at Magic Kingdom!

Tomorrow is Halloween so what better time than now to talk about one of the best special ticket events that Walt Disney World offers, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! This special event happens on select nights starting in late August and runs through actual Halloween night. At Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or MNSSHP for short, there are so many things to do that it’s hard to pack them all into this event. Here are a few of the top things to do or experience while at this party.

  • Dress in your favorite costume! This event is one of the only times adults are allowed to come to a Disney Park dressed in costume and many people put a lot of effort into their look! We have seen families themed like the Incredibles, a couple dressed as Carl and Ellie from Up! and my own family got in on the fun as Monsters Inc. If your someone who doesn’t enjoy dressing up in costume, no worries, costumes are not required.
  • Trick or Treat! It is a halloween party after all so of course you need candy. When you enter the party you will receive a map of the trick or treat stations as well as a bag to put your treats in. The lines do get long but the cast members are great at keeping the lines moving and they do give out pretty generous helpings. Since this is Disney, they are good about food allergies and offer different options to those guests with food allergies.
  • Watch the Cadaver Dans Barbershop Quartet perform in the streets of Frontierland. Their shows are entertaining as always, if you haven’t see the Cadaver Dans I highly recommend taking a few moments to watch them perform, you won’t regret it.
  • Catch the show in front of Cinderella’s Castle hosted by the Sanderson Sisters and starring their villain friends! This is one of the best shows I have ever seen at Walt Disney World, entertaining for the whole family and full of villains you don’t see onstage often.
  • Boo – To – You Parade is something you definitely will want to watch. Scope out a viewing spot early, I like to hang out in Frontierland or near the bridge where the parade crosses heading towards Main Street. Not only will you see some of your favorite Disney characters dressed in their halloween costumes, but you will also see some of the guests from Haunted Mansion make an appearance. The ghost dancers from the Haunted Mansion ballroom waltz through the parade, the gravediggers make their way through complete with shovels as part of their performance and this year the ghost bride even joined the parade. While you are watching the parade be on the lookout for the Headless Horseman, he just might make an appearance too.

What better way to spend the evening than riding some of your favorite Magic Kingdom rides while dressed in a costume, trick or treating, seeing the Sanderson Sisters, watching a parade and then you can finish off the night by relaxing and watching the special firework and laser light show that is done at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you didn’t have a chance to go to the party this year, you can start planning now for next year. This is an event you won’t want to miss!

If you are interested in booking for next fall so you can attend the party, contact me and I would be happy to help you book your family adventure! http://www.facebook.com/KristieRyan.travel http://www.instagram.com/KristieRyan.travel kristieryan.travel@gmail.com