Travel

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.

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

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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Travel

Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, do I need one?

I was on a Disney Fan Facebook page recently and saw a debate about using a Disney Vacation Planner when planning your upcoming Disney vacation or if it’s better to just do it yourself. The comments ranged from “it’s great to have someone else do all the work” to “I don’t want to lose control of my trip” and even “I’m not going to pay someone else to book my vacation when I can do the same thing online myself”. This isn’t the first time I have seen or heard these comments so I wanted to share a little about how an authorized Disney Vacation Planner can help, even if you are a seasoned visitor to a Disney property. Here are the top 4 things that I typically talk to potential guests about using my services.

Training: To become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, you are required to go through Disney’s training course and pass all of their testing and criteria. You are also required to stay current on any updated training that is provided. Many of the agencies also have requirements regarding training and even traveling to the various Disney properties so that you can provide firsthand knowledge and experiences to your guests. There are many training tools and information sharing that we have access to so even if I personally haven’t run into a particular situation, I can pretty quickly find someone to help me to get my guest an answer.

 Customized Experience: An authorized Disney Vacation Planner can be as involved or as “hands off” as the guest prefers. For example, a first-time visitor to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida can easily get overwhelmed with the planning. There are multiple parks, resorts to choose from, tickets, dining, FastPasses, special events, waterparks and it’s all spread out over miles of property. This can be very overwhelming for a guest who may not know where to begin. As an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I can help narrow down all of these items until we create a vacation that is perfect for your family. After booking the package, I am available to my guests anytime a question arises. I send reminders to be sure they are aware when important dates such as dining opens or FastPasses can be scheduled. I can help with the booking of dining and FastPasses also.  For a more seasoned guest, I may only be booking their vacation package and they may choose to book their own dining and FastPasses or may just ask me for recommendations. At the end of the day, this trip is about finding what is the best fit for your family based on budget and availability and tailoring how involved I am to what the guest is comfortable with.

Advocate for the Guest: Once a guest has booked their vacation, my job doesn’t stop there. In fact, my job isn’t complete until after the guests have returned from their Disney vacation. On a regular basis I am watching for discounts that may be able to be applied to any of my guests’ packages, I will spend hours on the phone getting these discounts applied (if applicable) so that the guest does not have to make the call into Disney Travel themselves. If problems arise, I do my best to resolve the pieces in my control. For example, if a flight is cancelled due to weather I can’t change the flight but I will call into Disney and see if we can cancel that dining reservation you are now going to miss and see if we can reschedule it or what options we may have to make situation a little better.

We LOVE Disney: Disney Vacation Planners are often some of the most passionate people about Disney and Disney Vacations! This is a labor of love for many of us, we get paid from Disney via our agencies and never directly from a guest. We do not, and are not allowed, to charge guests for our services. Disney Vacation Planners are typically frequent Disney travelers themselves and stay up to date on parks, rides, attractions, entertainment and resorts so they can help you create the trip that best suites your family.We do this because we are usually the ones at the parks before rope drop, checking wait times and FastPasses on the My Disney Experience app, are always looking for the next time we can plan our own Disney vacation. I enjoyed helping family and friends make plans for their Disney vacations and I was always on the various Disney sites to find out about the latest news and offers so this is my dream job. My family has traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort over 10 times in the last seven years because we love it so much, so often that my pre-teen can navigate through the theme parks like a pro and is now starting to help me make our family plans.

For me, the decision to become an authorized Disney Vacation Planner was a dream come true and I am grateful every day that I am affiliated with Academy Travel, an EarMarked Diamond Travel Company, which is the highest honor Disney Travel gives to an agency. I am proud to be an authorized Disney Vacation Planner and helping others plan their dream vacations and make memories. Disney has so much to offer with theme parks, cruises, adventure travel options and much more so if you haven’t been on a Disney vacation before or if it’s been a while, I would love to help you plan a trip of your dreams. Contact me for a Free, No Obligation quote and let’s start creating your magical adventure together!

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