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.
By Mary Shah
Traveling with food allergies can be particularly stressful but with the right guidance and preparation before your trip you can sit back and enjoy your vacation. I have firsthand experience with this. My son developed severe food allergies when he was 2 years old and he is now 13. We have travelled to Disney many times in addition to Universal and other destinations.
Disney pays great attention to special dietary needs and will go above and beyond to not only accommodate the guest but to make them feel special. My son was even able to participate in Trick or Treating at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Disney chefs and staff have always made my son feel like a Prince!!
But Disney isn’t the only destination that can accommodate those with food allergies.
Universal continues to improve how they handle food allergies. From the resort to the parks and City Walk we have encountered knowledgeable chefs and staff that work hard to assist you to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable meal.
Sea World provides Allergen Information cards with tips and information regarding how they handle food allergies in the park. They also provide an Allergen Chef Card where you can list your allergies and hand it to a Chef, so they fully understand your needs.
Sandals has a culinary concierge at every resort to handle allergies and food preferences. At the culinary concierge desk, you can find menus from each restaurant. In addition, there are designated preparation stations for modified orders, and special ingredients available for guests with food restrictions.
Here a few tips :
Always speak with a chef or manager
Request an Allergy Menu
Disney owned restaurants at Epcot are more accommodating with allergies
On the Plane:
Pack your allergy meds in your carry on
I would love to help you navigate through your next trip!
By Mark Donaldson
Hey friends! Up until recently my family had never purchased the Disney PhotoPass add-on. I had always wanted to try it out and was jealous of all the fun magic shots I would see online, but it was hard to bite the bullet and pay the extra fee. But then we took a trip to Disneyland Resort. We added MaxPass so we could fully take advantage of their Fastpass system but we also got the benefit of PhotoPass added in! It was my first time using PhotoPass and I fell in love! The package you purchase in Walt Disney World is called Memory Maker, which gathers all of the PhotoPass photos and adds them to your account.
I travel with family and friends most of the time but I often find myself alone at the parks. After the nieces and nephews have tuckered out for the day I stick around and play in the parks until Mickey kicks me out. As a solo traveler in those moments, it's so nice to not have to ask other guests to take my photo. A Disney PhotoPass photographer is often nearby with a smile and a camera to satiate all my Instagram needs. And they especially come in hand to get fantastic and tricky nighttime shots. I've never gotten a great nighttime shot in front of an icon on my own.
Can you tell I have a favorite pose? And outfit?!
Well after that trip to Disneyland I was a PhotoPass convert! I added it on to my family's next big trip to Disney World. We got some wonderful family shots that are hung up on our walls. And my nephew and I had a blast running to all the photographers and getting as many magic shots as we could. Disney's photographers will almost always add in a few magic shots without asking, but feel free to inquire which ones they have so you don't miss out on any! And don't be afraid to be silly, have fun, be a kid...it's Disney after all!
You also get some incredible action packed on ride photos!
Another perk of PhotoPass in our current global situation is the benefit of not having to ask other guests or cast members to take your group photos for you with your personal camera or phone. Disney's photographers will take your photos and transfer them to your account all without contact!
After two trips using PhotoPass I know I will definitely add it on to my next Disney vacation. It's so nice worrying less about getting the perfect shot or if a flash is needed. If you have any questions about the details or how to fabulously pose with animated Disney balloons in front of the caste, send me a message.
By Mark Donaldson
What am I dreaming of today? My time spent in Japan working at the Tokyo Disney Resort! I had the privilege of living in Japan for 7 months and dancing on stage at Tokyo DisneySea. I absolutely loved every minute I spent in Japan. I will never forget the people, the culture, the food, the history, and of course...the parks!
Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea
Everything you've heard is true! The parks in Japan are simply beyond compare. Impeccably clean, infinitely immersive, and with the nicest cast members you will ever encounter. And do not miss the parades! If you ever plan on visiting the parks in Japan I highly recommend talking with someone who has experience visiting, like me! Things work a little different over there and you want to plan your visit accordingly. But don't worry, with a little bit of knowledge and planning you can easily see everything this spectacular resort has to offer!
Don't Forget Japan!
While the parks are spectacular, the country of Japan offers so much more to explore. In my 7 months I traveled extensively across the country. Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kyoto and of course Mt. Fuji are all easily accessible via Japan's high speed railway, the shinkansen. Every city I visited offered an array of historic temples, peaceful shrines, impeccable Japanese gardens, imposing imperial castles, and all of the sushi and sake you could want! Japan is not to be missed and I cannot wait to take family and friends to visit this country that has such a special place in my heart.
So, if you've ever dreamed of a vacation to Japan, like most Disney Parks fans have, I'd love to chat! I've planned many trips for my friends and I know lots of tips and tricks! Send me a message at Mark.Donaldson@magicplustravel.com.
By Mark Donaldson
Hi friends! Have you been fantasizing about an incredible vacation like I have? One of my favorite ways to travel is by sea. Today I thought I'd highlight some ports of call full of adventure, beauty, and memories. Let's take a look at a few of my favorite cruise ports.
Kotor is one of my absolute favorite ports of call. I even prefer it to its much more popular nearby cousin Dubrovnik. Kotor is a small town with fortified walls located on the fjord-like Bay of Kotor. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a well preserved walled-in old town, al fresco cafes on cobblestone streets, charming churches, and a not to be missed zigzagging hike up the mountain walls to the fortress of San Giovanni.
Juneau is the capital of our 49th State and a stop on almost every Alaskan itinerary. There is so much to do in this port of call! You can take a gondola to the top of a mountain or fly high above the glaciers in a seaplane. My greatest adventure though, was a hike to Mendenhall Glacier and its ice caves. This was one of my all time favorite days of travel in my life! While the ice caves I visited have melted, Mendenhall Glacier is also accessible by adventure tours or its visitor center right next to Nugget Falls.
Last but not least for today's post is the magical city of Lisbon. With it's cable cars traversing the hilly streets and a giant red suspension bridge, you might think you were in San Francisco! But Lisbon offers an old world charm with nooks and crannies to explore around every corner. Some of my favorite sights here include the Jeronimos Monastery, the Castelo de São Jorge, and a ride on the cable cars. But the best part of Lisbon is simply strolling the black and white tiled sidewalks as you stop to sample a glass of port wine, view some street art, or munch on the famous pasteis ne nata custard pastry.
If you have any questions about these or any other ports of call, email me at Mark.Donaldson@magicplustravel.com!
Hi MPT followers, Disney has released information related to the upcoming holiday season at Disney World.
The celebrations will run from November 6th through December 30th.
Detailed changes include:
* no icicles on the castle (holiday projections instead)
* no Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
* no Candlelight Processional in Epcot
* no gingerbread displays at the resorts
* Modified character meals with Santa Goofy and friends
* Christmas trees at Disney Springs around the complex
* Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (beginning Nov 27th)
And one of the agency's favorites, you can still catch a glimpse of the Toy Soldiers as they march through Magic Kingdom with the Main Street Philharmonic!!
Keep in mind:
Masks and social distancing will still be required with lower crowds based on park reservation system.
Magic comes in all shapes and sizes. While it will be much different from the past holidays, it will still be magical. If you haven’t seen the projections on the castle in the past, they are simply amazing! These are the times to create new memories with new traditions!!
Contact us for a quote today, there are still rooms available and promotions that are active.
By Linda Kelly
About 3 hours from Philadelphia is Ocean City, Maryland. This is a popular seaside destination. This town hosts miles of free beaches and amazing restaurants.
Close by is Assateague island. When traveling through the island, keep your eyes open and you may catch a glimpse of a wild pony!
If Ocean City is not in your summer plans, they also have an event called Winterfest of lights. From Thanksgiving to January 1st, you can ride the tram through a holiday light display. Many hotels offer tickets to this event in their packages!
By Linda Kelly
Going along with our road trip theme, 90 mins outside of Philadelphia is Cape May. Cape May, NJ is a great destination for fun. Cape May is the southern most point of New Jersey. This is a town full of quaint victorian houses and has an outdoor mall called Washington Street Mall. This seaside resort has many restaurants in addition to historical lodging.
The views are breathtaking and the sunset is mesmerizing. There is a beach called “Sunset Beach” where you can go and watch an unobstructed view of the sunset over the ocean.
Like to ride bikes? There are bike rentals throughout Cape May or bring your own and ride on the many bike trails. Some of the bike routes will take you on the Cape May promenade (their boardwalk) or down Sunset Boulevard to Cape May Point.
Have little ones that need a break from the beach fun? Visit Cape May County Park and Zoo. This zoo has free admission (they do ask for a donation) and a beautiful park. The monkeys and giraffes are waiting to meet you!
By Linda Kelly
Continuing on with our road trip adventure, we are going to visit Mt. Pocono. Roughly a 2 hour drive from Philadelphia, Mt Pocono can host many breathtaking views.
Although known for its ski resorts, there are many activities to do outside of the winter season. Need to get away and want to go to a water park? Yup, you can do that here. Want to go on a hike and reach the top of the mountain? Go for it! Not into water parks or hiking? Try out the Mountain Coaster and zip lines!
By Linda Kelly
The next stop on our road trip adventure is Gettysburg. What a town! Full of architecture and history. Many of the homes in Gettysburg are historical homes and still showcase the bullet holes from the Civil war. We have taken a road trip here a few times as a family.
National parks are a great place to visit. Most of the parks are geared towards teaching history/nature and can host family fun. They are also a great place to get out and enjoy hiking.
You can go through the battle in your own car while listening to the audio tour on an app (Perfect for social distancing and access to your car’s AC in the heat.) At each monument you can get out and look around. There are so many things to discover. Did you know that all the monuments were placed on the field where the units or states entered into battle?
You can tour the park via guided tour bus also. This is great because on the tour, you will get the basic history of the battle but each tour guide adds a little extra. We had a tour guide that went into detail about monument placement, direction and posture whereas another tour guide went in detail about the artillery that was used and where it was used.
There is so much to see and do in Gettysburg. If this seems like something you would be interested in, plan a weekend trip. It sure is beautiful in the fall!
Pictures from the Dobbin House Tavern (Yum!) and Little Round Top.
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