By Bridget O'Connell
Hey friends! Ever think of taking a solo trip…to the most Magical Place on Earth? Going to Walt Disney World all on your own might seem overwhelming and silly to some, but it is an amazing experience if you are open to it! I am a WDW Annual Passholder and try to make it to the parks as often as I can. Living in NJ, I have access to multiple airports and can often find great rates on round trip flights. I have flown for as little as $24! Now, who wouldn’t want to go with a flight that cheap!
Sometimes juggling daily life…parenting, a career, and all life’s expectations can take a toll. Now, I love my traveling with my husband and kids but spending a long weekend, or even a one day visit, can help refresh a tired and worn out parent! One of my favorite parts of solo traveling to WDW is not having a plan. You can pack light, no lugging sippy cups, changes of clothes, and snacks. No emergency potty runs, mid day meltdowns, or naps (unless you want to take one, that is!). Enjoying EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival or Festival of the Arts becomes a new experience where you can focus on the food and beverage options and relax while perusing the merchandise and entertainment venues. Sometimes spending the day eating snacks and people watching makes for a great time! Did someone say Dole Whip and Churros for breakfast? Yum! A Mickey pretzel you don’t have to share? Yes, Please!
Sleep in late, get up early…shop all day or ride every ride twice…the choice is yours alone. How about single rider, best line ever!! Did you ever take a solo trip? Considering one? Tell us what you look forward to the most!
By Bridget O'Connell
Hiya Pal!, as my friend Mickey Mouse would say! For my family and I, our annual visits to Walt Disney World in Florida are the highlight of our year! My husband and I have 3 children, ages 7, 4 and 2. Traveling with small kids can be challenging and stressful, but it is worth it all when we see the smiles that light up our children’s faces! Over the years we have traveled to celebrate birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and many family milestones. One of our most memorable trips was a multi-generational trip that included Grandparents, Great Aunts and Uncles, Aunts, and cousins! Phew, planning for large groups can be stressful, but so worth it in the end! There is nothing more magical than boarding the Disney’s Magical Express to your resort hotel and feeling like you are part of the Disney Family! For the adults, especially the Grandparents and Great Aunts, seeing each park thought the eyes of the children gave this family vacation an entirely new meaning. We planned nightly character meals and every night it was great to sit down together and reflect on the successful day we had. My children and my niece loved being immersed in the movies and shows they love. The adults loved the rides, shows, attractions….and of course the food! Have you taken a multi-generational family trip? If not, lets start planning one together!
By Bridget O'Connell
Hi again travel friends! Ever think about heading to Ireland and Scotland? How about taking a guided tour? My then boyfriend (turned husband) and I had both dreamed of visiting Ireland and Scotland, so we decided to knock it off our bucket list! We chose a tour so that we would not have to drive (on the “wrong” side of the road no less!), we could be sit back and enjoy the scenery, and visit places we most likely may not have thought of. It ended up being 14 days of pure fun and amazement!
We started in Glasgow, Scotland and headed into the Scottish Highlands. Sadly, we were unsuccessful in finding the Loch Ness monster! We did however find the town of Inverness charming, and the food delicious! From Culloden Moor to Edinburg, Scotland’s rich history makes every location exciting. A beautiful trip through the Lake District of England, a stop at Caernervon Castle in Wales, and a trip on the ferry lands you in Dublin, Ireland! St. Patrick’s Cathedral is an impressive and marvelous site! Did you know that when you kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to hang upside down over a crevice to do so? Don’t worry, someone holds on to you!! The panoramic views of the Lakes of Killarney, from Ladies View holds special memories for me! This is where my husband proposed! We rounded out our tour visiting the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast ad many places in-between. We traveled around 150 miles per day with our tour guide telling us about every location and site! We were welcomed with old-fashioned hospitality at every location. I never believed people when they said the Irish countryside contains 50 different shades of green, but boy were they correct. The stunning views, rich history, and fascinating attractions made a lifetime of unforgettable memories! Do you have a bucket list vacation? Tell us about it!
By Bridget O'Connell
Hi all and Happy Tuesday! I am Bridget and I am beyond excited to be your Magic Plus Travel Featured Agent of the week! This couldn’t have come at a better time, as this week carries lots of travel related memories for me. 12 years ago, about this time, I was on a plane to Oahu, Hawaii for my honeymoon! My husband and I were beyond excited to experience all the island could offer! We stayed on Waikiki Beach and had amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. I never knew how breathtaking the sunrises and sunsets could be, I also never thought I would be up at 4am on vacation! Both my husband and I loved snorkeling at Hanauma Bay State Park (with sea turtles!!). We spent the afternoon at the Dole Pineapple Plantation eating Dole Whip, riding the train, exploring the Garden, and getting lost in the Pineapple Maze Garden! One of our favorite dinners was eating at Duke’s at sunset and being amazed by the kaleidoscope of colors the sunset displayed. From shopping to surf lessons, local foods to laua’s, Mai Tai’s to Diamond Head there is something to do for everyone. With 8 major Hawaiian Islands, we can surely plan a trip that will suit every family or couples needs! Hate long plane rides? Add in a stop in Las Vegas or California on your way to break up your trip and add additional experiences! We cannot wait to go back and bring our 3 children with us! How about you, ever dream of a Hawaiian vacation?
By Jennifer Quinlan
DISNEY DAY TRIP – WHY WE DID IT, AND WHY IT WORKED FOR US. (PART 2)
On Wednesday, September 23rd, my daughter and I took a Day trip to Disney – specifically to Magic Kingdom! Our American Airlines flight departed at 7:30am from Philadelphia International Airport. After parking our car, the shuttle dropped us at the terminal around 6am. Once inside, it struck me how quiet the airport was. When we go to Disney during ‘normal times’, an early morning flight is typically the time we fly, so we know what to expect as far as crowds at the PHL Airport. It was kind of eerie, but we felt more at ease because there were so few people. We were happy to see that everyone in the airport, and on both of our flights were wearing their masks.
Once we arrived at the Orlando Airport, which was equally as quiet as Philadelphia, we ordered a Lyft at around 10:25am, which we requested to drop us off at the Contemporary Resort. Why the Contemporary Resort and not Magic Kingdom? Because there is a walking path from the resort directly to Magic Kingdom, which is only a short 7-minute walk to the park. If we had requested to be dropped off at Magic Kingdom, the Lyft driver would’ve dropped us at the Transportation & Ticket Center. We would then have had to take a monorail or ferry ride to get to the park. **Full disclaimer, our Lyft driver told us that she has been recently turned away from Contemporary Resort when trying to drop off other guests. It seems this may not always work, but it did for us that day.
We arrived at the Contemporary at 10:57am, walked to the park, went through a temperature screening, and security check, which were both super quick thanks to new protocols, and entered the park a little after 11am! Mainstreet was a sight for sore eyes, and we finally got a glimpse of the repainted castle, which we thought looked great, although definitely different from what we were used to. We managed to squeeze in a 7-hour park day, and accomplished quite a lot. We rode rides (Big Thunder, Splash Mountain, and many more), snacked (Dole Whips), saw entertainers (Cadaver Dans for Halloween), enjoyed the Character Cavalcades (Pluto!!), had lunch (at Cosmic Ray’s quick service) and dinner (at Skipper Canteen sit down reservation), and managed to squeeze in some shopping on Main Street before our day was over.
Here is what we saw:
As far as we saw, the people in the parks and at the airports were following all CDC recommended guidelines. I don’t think we saw anyone without a mask anywhere that day. There was one person on our flight home, who had her mask below her nose, and was asked to wear her mask properly, which she did. It was nice to see so many people being safe and considerate of one another.
Would we do a day trip again??? If airfare and crowds stay as low as they have been, most definitely yes.
By Jennifer Quinlan
DISNEY DAY TRIP – WHY WE DID IT, AND WHY IT WORKED FOR US. (PART 1)
Going to Disney World for one day may sound like a crazy idea. Why would anyone do this? Was it even worthwhile? For us, it most definitely was.
In a normal world, pre-Covid, I had tossed the idea around of venturing to Disney for a Day, but ultimately never did it. For myself and my family, it always seemed like a better idea to plan a week-long vacation to Walt Disney World instead. But in this weird world of today, I had been really itching to see Disney in its altered “Covid Managing State”. Would the Disney World I love still feel magical and be enjoyable or even comparable to the Disney I last visited in February 2020? I had read so much online in the Disney blogs that I follow, and decided this was something I just needed to experience firsthand. So, I set a budget, made a plan, and followed it.
I decided to take my high school Junior with me. Her school is using a hybrid attendance model in 2020-21, so she is only physically in school two days a week. On the days she is not in school, she is at home doing assigned work. Wednesdays are designated as a catch-up kind of day for work and meeting with teachers, so I decided we would go on a Wednesday. I also wanted to make some memories with just she and I – which this adventure would ensure, Covid be damned! The reality is she is growing up, college is looming, and I know she is going to become increasingly busy very soon – too busy to do something like this when life goes back to normal.
Airfare is historically low, and that was another big draw to take a day trip. It ended up costing us less than $200 ($192.40 to be exact) to fly American Airlines down and back on the same day. There were less expensive options, but the flights I chose worked for our schedule, and fit the budget. Just an FYI, American is filling their planes so all seats can be booked. There are some airlines who are not filling every seat up to a certain date – Southwest is one of them. If you feel more comfortable flying with spaced seating, Southwest may be the best choice for you.
Now for park tickets and park reservations. Currently, I have an Annual Pass, but my daughter does not. I purchased for her a One-Day ticket to Magic Kingdom ($116.09), linked it to our My Disney Experience Account, and then proceeded to book park reservations.
(FYI, Disney currently requires that anyone planning to visit have a valid park ticket and make a park reservation.
This enables Disney to control the number of visitors to each park on a daily basis.)
Finally, I made a parking reservation using the Way Parking App. I booked a one-day spot with Park&Jet ($15.15). Once that was all set, we just needed to pack a day bag and be ready.
On Wednesday, September 23rd, we woke up early, drove to the airport and we were off!
My next post will detail all that we did in the Magic Kingdom on our Disney Day Trip!
By Crystal Kunzel
Mickey and Friends Returning to Chef Mickey’s in December!
It's been a long time since we’ve seen the fab 5 at Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Well get ready, because they are returning on December 16! While it’s likely that the meets will occur with social distancing in mind, it will be great to see our friends parade through the restaurant again!
Arriving alongside Mickey and his pals is an all new breakfast menu. In addition to other traditional breakfast favorites, you will be able to try the new Mickey’s “Celebration” Pancake, featuring whipped cream, celebration sprinkles, shimmering pixie dust and more.
For something a bit more savory, you can try the new “Loaded” Potato-Cheese Casserole topped with smoked bacon crumbles and chives.
Last but not least, Goofy’s Banana Bread French Toast will combine unique flavors of banana bread baked in zesty orange-scented French toast batter, topped with Espresso-mascarpone cream, toasted bananas and chocolate crumbles.
Can’t decide on which new item to try? You can taste all three as part of the all-you-care-to-eat family style feast! Breakfast is priced at $42 per adult and $27 per child (plus tax and gratuity).
Reservations for Chef Mickey’s character breakfast will open on October 17. In addition, Disney Resort hotel Guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance plus the length of their stay (up to 10 days).
By Crystal Kunzel
Universal Orlando Resort Offer- Buy 2 Days Get 3 Days Free!
Tickets On Sale Now!
You heard that right! Currently Universal Orlando Resort is offering its US guests the opportunity to buy 2-day park tickets and receive 3 more days for free! Tickets are available for purchase though January 6, 2021 and must be used by August 31, 2021. Right through the summer season! Guests will be eligible for admission on any 5 days within a 7 day period. And even better- there are no black out dates!
There are 2 types of tickets available for purchase:
Park to Park tickets allow guests to visit both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure in the same day. You can ride the Hogwarts Express between both parks. The train ride itself is an experience, and it is different each leg of the trip.
One Park Per Day tickets allow a visit to either Universal Studios Florida or Universal Islands of Adventure on each day.
Make the most of your visit by including a stay at one of Universal Orlando’s hotels. Included with your stay are exclusive theme park benefits like early park admission, complimentary resort wide transportation and more. Rates at Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites start at just $79 per night. Or consider upgrading to a Premier resort and receive FREE unlimited express passes for all guests on your reservation for your length of stay and skip the lines on many of Universal Orlando’s rides and attractions!
Gather up your wizards and super heroes, because as a Universal Orlando U-Preferred Travel Agency, Magic Plus Travel is ready to assist with all your Universal travel needs!
By Mary Shah
I will be the first to admit, I am a tiny bit of a travel snob. So when my sister-in-law wanted to plan a trip (compliments of Grandpa and Nana) to Disney World, I was a little skeptical. We did the Disney thing in 2016 and we did the Disney Cruise eleven months after that. My feeling was really, how many times can you go to Disney? Well, according to my sister-in-law, an endless amount of times. But since we really didn’t have to do anything but book airfare and show up, of course we agreed (I said I was skeptical, not stupid).
When I booked a trip for my own family to Disney in 2016, I used a travel agent who specializes in Disney (I honestly can’t remember how we found her) and I was completely underwhelmed with her services. She was nice at first but as soon as our trip was locked in I felt like she was uninterested in helping us, advising us or giving us any additional service. There was zero relationship and I never recommended her to a single person. Fast forward to our trip in May of 2019, when my sister-in-law found Mary Shah at Magic Plus Travel. Mary was so helpful and full of advice I only wish I had known about her when I booked my first trip three years prior. Mary understood we were traveling with a group that included one set of grandparents and two families with children ranging from 15 to 4 years of age. She was ripe with advice and suggestions and as a result of working with our needs and desires, we wound up having an experience that equally satisfied everyone. To me, this is what separates a mediocre travel agent from a great one.
For all of us, I think the most standout thing about the trip was that we literally never waited on one line because Mary suggested upgrading my in-laws to the Club Level at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. With only their room upgraded, all thirteen of us were able to each gain 3 additional fast passes per day (in addition to the 3 you normally get) and we were also able to access booking those passes sooner than a normal booking. This meant we were able to get on rides that almost are impossible to even get fast passes for, such as Avatar, Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. Easily the best ride I’ve ever been on, hands down, and I’ve never even seen Avatar!
We also opted for the Deluxe Dining Plan which included three sit down meals a day and free adult drink at each of those three meals. I will admit that it’s a lot of sitting down and eating (and even I have difficulty sucking down alcohol at 7:30 am) but we were able to combine a few of those meals to have experiences like Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review and Cinderella’s Castle, each which require using two sit down meal credits per person.
Other highlights included a behind the scenes VIP tour for the Dads in the group and a pirate, fireworks boat ride which I thought was going to be really schlocky but in true Disney fashion, was terrific. All of these suggestions were at the advice of Mary Shah so I reached out to her to get her top Disney tips as a jumping off point for anyone looking to go to Disney.
Q&A with Mary Shah of Magic Plus Travel
Jen: Is it possible to do Disney on all different budgets and still get the full experience?
Mary: Absolutely! Disney offers a variety of resorts, tickets and dining plans to meet the needs of everyone. As a travel agent, I take the time to get to know my clients and search for the best vacation package that meets their budget.
Jen: If budget were no object, what would be your top recommendations?
Mary: I would say a Club Level Room at a Deluxe Resort with Park Hopper tickets and the Deluxe Disney dining plan. I would also attend one of the special events or party, a VIP tour of each park and then head over to Port Canaveral for a quick Disney Cruise over to the Bahamas to relax after my days at the parks.
Jen: If you had to recommend one splurge when booking Disney, what would you say is totally worth the extra money?
Mary: A VIP tour is a splurge that will give you the opportunity to see Disney in a different light. It is a great way to maximize your time at the parks and learn about the history behind it all.VIP Tour Guides plan the perfect itinerary for you and your family. You also get VIP viewing areas for parades, select stage shows and nighttime spectaculars.
Jen: Are there any commonly held misconceptions you have to dispel for your clients about visiting Disney?
Mary: The biggest misconception is that Disney is just for kids. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! My husband and I enjoyed our Honeymoon in Disney pre kids and had the time of our lives! Epcot has festivals throughout the year that cater to adults, there are signature dining options and spas where adults can sit back and be pampered, “Disney style”. There are also activities at the various hotels, like Carriage Rides, Golf, fishing, Archery, Horseback riding and several great water sports. It’s not just the parks. Disney Spring is one of our favorite places to go. There are great restaurants and bars, with live music and shows. There really is something for everyone.
Jen: What time of year can visitors get the best deals? When are the parks the least crowded for those that like to avoid crowds?
Mary: Disney offers discounts several times throughout the year and they vary from year to year. When you book with a travel agent such as me they will be continuously looking out for any discounts that Disney puts out and will work hard to modify your vacation to be sure you are receiving the best deal. Although Disney has seen an increase in guests due to their ever-expanding parks and resorts, we tend to see the lowest crowds during the end of the summer as well as early Fall and a few other weeks throughout the year. It is important to remember that when crowd levels are the lowest, popular shows may not be shown all the time, and this is when Disney tends to do maintenance on the Resorts and Parks. With the Fast Pass system, it is possible to still enjoy your vacation with some shorter lines even during the most crowded days.
By Mary Shah
Much like travelling with food allergies, travelling with children or family members that have special needs, whether they be medical, physical, sensory, etc, can also feel quite daunting. But don’t let that stop you. Many destinations have worked hard to accommodate families with various special needs.
I have firsthand experience due to my daughter’s medical needs including Juvenile Arthritis.
I would love to help you and your family plan a vacation that is stress-free. I have worked in the field of special education for over 20 years. In addition, I am IBCCES certified . What does that mean? “A Certified Autism Travel Professional™ (CATP) is defined as a professional who has demonstrated that they are both knowledgeable and capable of providing support and travel related services to an individual on the autism spectrum as well as their family.”
Did you know that several parks are Autism Certified including Aquatica and Sea World Orlando, Bush Gardens, Sandals and Discovery Cove Orlando. At these locations, there are Sensory Guides that includes a sensory level for each attraction that we can discuss to decide the best plan for your family.
Many theme parks including Disney, Universal and Sea World provide accommodations for visitors with special needs. They have different methods in which we can assist you with to make your vacation Magical.
In addition to guiding you through the parks, I can assist you with social stories, discuss various attractions and if they may be right for your family.
Magic Plus Travel is a full service travel agency that is ready to help you with any of your booking needs! We specialize in Disney, but no destination in the world is off limits.
Delaware's largest Disney and Universal authorized agency
with Dream Consultants across the country.
Copyright © 2020 Magic Plus Travel. All Rights Reserved.