Free Travel Expo This Weekend In Philadelphia!

Have you been cooped up in the house all winter dreaming of that warm and sunny destination?
The snow is gone and it’s time to get out! (Of the house that is!)
If you’re within driving distance of Philadelphia, Pa, you can explore vacation destinations at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. The event will be held Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.
FREE parking, FREE admittance, FREE vacations being given away every hour!
And if that’s not enough FREE, there will also be FREE seminars, FREE vacation planning assistance from vacation experts!
Get the information you need to plan your vacation, at no extra cost!
Bring the children to get their picture taken with a character. And bring your vacation dates because you will be able to take advantage of exclusive deals and book your vacation on the spot!
Here’s the address:
The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Hall C

100 Station Avenue Oaks, PA 19456

Sunday April 6th, 2014

10AM – 5PM
Stop and see me in the family vacation area of the Expo. I’ll be near the Disney booth helping families plan their Disney vacations!

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF TAKING A VACATION

1. It relieves stress!
2. It gets you free Vitamin D!
3. It gives you something to look forward to – who doesn’t countdown to vacay?
4. It provides bonding time for couples and families!
5. It creates a lifetime of memories!

Top 10 Things You Need To Do Before Your Disney Vacation

1. Make dining reservations! Yes, it’s vacation and you don’t want it to be scheduled but I’d you wait till you arrive you will have very little to choose from!
2. Pre-register through My Disney Experience. You can download the app for your smart phone or go to http://www.mydisneyexperience.com. Or both! From here you will order your Magic Bands and choose the color. If you don’t register, you’ll get a grey Magic Band when you check in to your Disney Resort.
3. Make some Fast Pass + reservations! You can reserve up to 3 a day. It’s a great way to get in the short line for popular attractions!
4. Do some walking to get your feet and legs ready for all the walking you will do. We don’t pay much attention to how much walking we do in Disney but it really adds up!
5. Wear supportive sneakers or sandals and alternate them throughout your trip to avoid blisters. If you get a blister anyway, the Band-Aid Blister strips work well.
6. Complete your Online Check In with your Disney resort. That way if it’s full at check in, you can go in the line for guests who have done the online check in and it’s a shorter line!
7. Pack light! If you’re flying, the baggage weight limit is 50 lbs. All of the Disney resorts have laundry facilities if you need to do a load of laundry while there. It’s much cheaper than the overweight baggage fee airlines charge.
8. Find out what attractions are closed due to refurbishment during your trip! There’s nothing worse than looking forward to your favorite ride only to find out when you get there that it’s closed for refurbishment!
9. Countdown to your vacation! There are many apps to countdown to your vacation but you can make your own too! We used a small dry erase board on the refrigerator and the first person up each day would change the number of days (and sometimes add some art work!)
10. Plan to take a break mid- day, especially in the summer. Go back to your resort and take a swim. You’ll feel much more refreshed afterward!

Disney Cruising

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Taking a Disney Cruise is the natural progression for those who have made a trip or two (or 17) to Walt Disney World.

In the fall I  had the opportunity to take a Disney Land and Sea vacation  and spent a couple of days in the Disney parks while staying at Disney’s Yacht Club resort and then on to Port Canaveral where I boarded  the Disney Dream for a 3 night Bahamas cruise.

Many people think Disney Cruises are just for families with children, but I traveled with adults and there was plenty for us to do including some adult only areas of the ship!

A self-serve soda station offers free soda on the pool deck.

They also have an ice cream station near the pool – a great way to cool off after swimming.

I  purchased an adult beverage in a souvenir cup for $9.99 and that cup could be refilled with the drink of the day for $4.85. I had to ask the Cast Member to repeat the refill price because I couldn’t believe there could be a drink under $5 on a cruise ship!

As we all know, Disney knows how to entertain! And the Broadway-style shows - Golden Mickey’s, The Villains, and Believe – were all excellent and I recommend you don’t miss them.

The easy access to characters on the Disney Dream was another real treat! There were character meet and greets set up on the ship and when we got off the ship at Castaway Cay, there were no lines to get pictures with Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale and Donald Duck!

A signature attraction on the Dream is the Aqua Duck, the clear-tubed water coaster with Disney’s signature drops and turns. The line for this attraction can get long but if you ride it when you board the ship or closer to dinner time, you can have it almost to yourself! Disney has rotational dining in its restaurants on the Dream. You’ll be assigned a restaurant each night and your serving staff will follow you to those restaurants. Remy and Palo are the adult only restaurants you can choose to go to but reservations are a must.

Room service was complimentary so I woke up every day to my fresh pot of coffee.  I would pour a cup and sit on the balcony and watch the sun rise and the ocean go by.  I also enjoyed the view from there watching the ship docking at the port. I don’t think there’s anything  more relaxing.

The Disney-themed kids clubs on the ship such as “Andy’s Room,” made me almost want to be a kid again. And I loved the hand-washing station where children just insert their hands and the washing (via spraying with soap and water) is done for you!

Another feature that Disney Cruises have is their fireworks show that tops off Pirate Night on the ship – another not-to-be-missed night-time spectacular. Didn’t bring any pirate-wear? No worries! Everyone gets a pirate bandana for each person in your cabin!

My only regret on this cruise was that I hadn’t cruised on a Disney Cruise sooner, and that I’d wished the cruise was longer. But taking the 3-day cruise was a great way to try a Disney Cruise and to determine  that I definitely want to take another (longer) one!

Getting My Disney Legs On (And Feet Too!)

I think it’s easier on the legs if you’re taking a Disney vacation in the fall rather than the Spring!
Why?
Because I’ve spent the winter wrapped up in a warm blanket watching TV and making excuses not to go out into the cold for that 10 minute drive to the gym. And now it’s crunch time (not to be confused with crunches time because that’s a whole different blog post!)
So as most of you who have been to Disney know, there’s a lot of walking done in a Disney vacation.
How much?
Well, our daughters took pedometers during one trip and we averaged out the miles we walked that week and it ranged between 11-14 miles a day!
I’ve heard runners say they’re still not prepared for all the walking even with all the running they do!
But I do try to get some extra walking in ahead of time so I don’t have sore leg muscles in addition to my sore feet!
The feet are a whole different problem with a stress fracture twice before, forcing me to have to wear really supportive and very expensive shoes.
I don’t like sneakers when it’s hot so that means I need to find a good pair of sandals before I go. I naturally gravitate to something flip flop-ish but dear old foot doctor thinks I need heel support!
Crocs are out of the question because they “are like having your feet in marshmallows.” (More foot doctor advice!)
I’ve previously worn Clark’s, they worked well. But now I’m looking at Keen Sandals.
Arch support, keeping my feet cool and comfortable are most important. And they at least need a strap around my heel.
So if you have any recommendations please share them!

To Fly Or Drive Down I-95

For most of my Disney trips the decision to fly or drive is an easy one….FLY!
But this year the airfare is so high (over $400 per person!) that we’ve decided to drive.
The last time we drove to Walt Disney World was 2004, right after hurricane Charlie hit Orlando. Our flight was cancelled out of Philly because the terminal in Orlando was damaged from the hurricane. And they told us we wouldn’t get on another flight for days. I looked at my husband and said, “do you know how to drive to Florida?” He said, “two roads, I-95 and I-4.”
Next thing we knew, we were in the car, driving to Walt Disney World.
We had nothing prepared for a driving trip but a stop at a Wal-Mart in Virginia fixed that.
Looking back on that trip, it was one of our most memorable ones!
This year is a little different. We are actually planning to drive so we will be more prepared with cooler, snacks, and even better technology than the last trip! Did you know there’s an I-95 Exit Guide app? It gives you details on what restaurants, hotels and gas stations are located at each exit!
Another benefit to driving is no limits on luggage! Not that I would take too much, it’s always what I want to bring back!
I’ve made advance hotel reservations for an overnight on the way down and the return trip, based on where we expect to be. And even that was easier to plan with maps that show construction locations and estimated arrival times.
While there’s not really a need for a car in Disney ( since they transport you everywhere) it will be nice to see more of Florida than the road from the airport to our Disney resort.
Driving does add 2 days to our trip but it will be our 10th anniversary celebration, so driving will make it more of an adventure!

You Need A Plan…A Dining Plan

You Need A Plan…A Dining Plan

Everyone likes to save money when planning a Walt Disney World vacation. But something you should never leave home without (when heading to Disney) is some sort of dining plan. And by plan I don’t mean “meet us at noon at Pecos Bills for lunch.”
I’m talking about a Disney Dining Plan. The kind you can only get if you stay on-site at a Disney resort.
There are several dining plan options to choose from, the most popular one includes a sit down restaurant meal, a quick service meal, and a snack for each night of stay. All of the meal plans include for each person in your party a resort refillable mug that has unlimited refills at your resort food court for the duration of your stay.

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And did I mention you get dessert with lunch and dinner?
The only drawback I see to this particular plan is that you need to make advanced dining reservations for your table service meal which means you need to set up a time that you’re going to dine each day.
If you don’t want to commit to a sit down restaurant each day and you wait until you arrive for your vacation to make dining reservations, you will be very limited to what restaurants have available times as most people do make the dining reservations 6 months in advance.
If you want a meal plan without the restaurant reservation commitment, try the Quick Service Dining Plan. That plan gives each person 2 quick service meals and one snack per night of stay. And just because you choose the Quick Service Plan, doesn’t mean you have to live on hamburgers and hot dogs for the week. Disney does a fabulous job of offering many varieties of quick service meals including salads, wraps, spaghetti, and even roast chicken and mashed potatoes! (At Cosmic Rays in the Magic Kingdom…delicious!)
And if you want to dine at several Signature Dining restaurants which include some of the character dining that requires 2 table service credits, I recommend the Deluxe Dining Plan. With this plan you would get 3 meals and one snack for for each night of stay. And what makes this plan unique is that there is no distinction between Quick Service meals and restaurant sit down meals, so you can use those meals however you choose. Most people choose the Deluxe Dining in order to plan more character dining experiences during their stay.
The question I get asked most by families considering the dining
Plan: Is there a limited menu that you choose from. And the answer is no. While there are a few small restrictions, pretty much what you see on the menu you can order.
The biggest question: will a dining plan cost me more or save me money?
In my opinion it will save you money. If you keep the receipts of all your dining while on vacation and add them up, the total will be much higher than the cost of the meal plan. And who wants to worry about how much money to budget for meals on vacation?
Keep in mind that your dining plan must be added before you check in at your resort!
So make your vacation a true vacation and include a dining plan!

It Even Gets Cold In Disney

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in January or February, be sure to check the weather forecast for Orlando before you go!
It’s currently 35 degrees in Walt Disney World and is forecast to only reach a high of 47 degrees today. And while this weather isn’t quite the norm, it can throw a monkey wrench into your vacation if you’re not prepared.
Fortunately for those in Disney this week, today’s chilly weather is short-lived and temperatures will be back up near 70 tomorrow.
But keep the weather in mind no matter when you plan to go to Disney!
I made a quick trip there over my birthday weekend in November and despite seeing “showers” in the forecast, I failed to take a raincoat. So when we had a full day of that light misty rain, I had no choice but to buy yet another Disney rain poncho…. For all four of us!