“You’re going to Disney AGAIN?”

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It’s a question I receive a lot. Melissa, you’re really going to Disney again? Don’t you get tired of it? Isn’t it all the same? I have clients that actually give me a run for my money in number of trips in a year so I’ll answer for all of us instead of just answering for what I do.

YES!!!!! We are going again. And sorry I’m not sorry about it! It’s my magical home away from home. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about the troubles of the world or my life at the time. It’s a place where magic happens around you every single day (if you are in the positive mind frame to look for it). It’s a place that has given me some of the best memories of my life and given me strong ties to family and friends! It’s where I’ve made new friendships and a place I can bond with people like ME. The generally bright, shiny, happy-go-lucky, Disney lover. It’s a place where dreams come true.

Everyone has their own memories of Disney and what is important to them. Listening to the music of Main Street Electrical parade for one last time reminds me of that first time we watched as a family. A sweet family allowed my then 2 year old daughter to sit on the curb while they stood behind their kiddos. She feverishly waived and blew kisses to every single character that walked by (even those who she had never seen before). It was absolute joy and delight. That smell of walking into Wilderness Lodge will always make me feel like it’s “home”. For others it’s Beach Club that and that flowery aroma. For others, it’s that taste of Dole Whip or a special dinner you do on your first night.

The best part about our Disney adventures is that no two are the same. There is always something JUST a little bit different about each adventure and a special moment about each adventure. Some of it is the anticipation and excitement of Disney and knowing I have something to look forward to. I definitely feel like something is “missing” when there’s not something in the future.

“But Melissa, you have perks by being an agent.” Well, yes this is true but doesn’t everyone have some sort of job perk or benefit that they get to take advantage of? Yes, I have some nice benefits but I’ve earned them by working hard and staying on top of everything that is up and coming with Disney. I use our trips to continue my knowledge and pass it forward to other guests. So I work on vacation, I wake up at 5 am to book dining and then have to stay away until 6 to do FastPasses for someone else. I work weekends and late night and my house is a mess because clients come first. But all of that is 10000% worth it when it comes to being able to say, we’re going to Disney World! or Disneyland or a Disney Cruise or even Universal Orlando! I love it all. I love what I do and I L-O-V-E Disney!

So don’t let anyone tell you that you’ve done Disney too many times because there’s never a too many for me!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

If you’re ready for your next adventure, let’s start planning! Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, and Universal all have rates through the end of 2017, so we can start the magic now! Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

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My travel “resume”

I consider myself a Disney World expert. Do I know everything? No, but who can with everything there is to know! But I know A LOT about Walt Disney World – theme parks, dining, on site resorts, and more. It’s something I pride myself on and continue to keep track of current trends crowds and trends as well as reviews of dining and resorts to help my guests make the best decision possible and make a fully informed decision. So what does my travel resume look like? Well…a LOT of trips around the US for training (both agency and advanced training by Disney), Familiarization trips with Universal, and family adventures (because we still learn together as a family, try new things, and nothing stretches the limits like traveling with a young child)!

Since 2012, I’ve stayed in 11 different Disney World resorts and thanks to Disney, toured 4 additional resorts and I am just two resorts shy of staying in every single Walt Disney World resort. (a bucket list item for me!)

By the end of this year, my family will have traveled to THREE Disney destinations – Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland.

This spring, I was given the pleasure of touring Universal Orlando’s on site hotels and will be going back this fall to take more time to explore the theme parks in more detail as well as checking out Sapphire Falls since it was still under construction during the time of my last trip.

This fall will be my second trip to Disneyland since 2014 (which is a difficult thing for me living in the midwest).

MOST of this travel is on my own dime because I find it incredibly important to know what each Disney Destination has to offer guests, keep an eye on what is new and upcoming, and explore new experiences so I can give guests first-hand knowledge!  I have been blessed with a supportive husband and Disney loving family (like they had a choice) to experience many adventures with them!

Both Disney and Universal provide online training as a part of their authorization/certification process which is wonderful and a great reference point, HOWEVER it is vital to my success and I believe the success if most travel professionals to be immersed in the destinations they work with. This is one of the many reasons I’ve chosen to work with the wonderful group I do as we are a Disney and Universal ONLY agency. We can stay focused and dedicated to our craft and what we believe in and stay as experts in our field!

I’d love to learn about your family and what your travel wants and needs include! I love what I do and the best part is that it doesn’t cost my guests a single cent. Everything I do is F-R-E-E to traveling guests as both Disney and Universal see us as travel “partners” to help inform and aide guests in answering questions, being their “go to” person, and making memories. It’s a big job and sometimes a challenge, but the countless thank you emails, letters, and referrals I have received over the last several years make me feel validated in all of the work, time, and money I’ve put into my craft! I can’t wait to further my resume and extend my knowledge in the coming years and see what travel holds for 2017!!

Getting to know Universal Orlando – a multi-part series

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I’ve touched on Universal Orlando in a few really basic posts, but now it’s time to go in depth a bit more. Over the course of the next few weeks, there will be several posts dedicated to Universal Orlando, their hotels, on site benefits, and how you can enjoy this “other” Orlando theme park destination. (Don’t worry, Disney fans, I’ve still got info for you, too). Over the last few years, Universal has become a bigger player in the Orlando tourist market with the addition of Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which now spans both theme parks), immersive experiences, and spine tingling thrill rides. It’s a thrill seekers paradise but has something for everyone.  I have been noticing that it is becoming it’s own vacation destination and not just a quick 1 day adventure while you have a full Disney World vacation. I’ve also seen families split time evenly between Disney World and Universal. You can very easily spend 2-3 days in Universal parks and not see everything.

We’re going to start off easy today with the two theme park basics and go in depth with each park in a future edition of the series….

Universal Orlando is comprised of TWO theme parks (and a third water theme park is coming June of 2017). These theme parks are Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. These two theme parks are seated right next to each other and you can go from park to park in an easy walk or a quick ride on the Hogwarts Express.

At Universal Studios, you can be a part of the movies or feel like you’re in the movies with amazing experiences from walking IMG_6865into Diagon Alley and having lunch at the Leaky Cauldron or help Harry and the gang Escape from Gringotts. This park also has the well themed Simpsons area with beer and donuts (would you expect anything else)? There are some very well themed rides like Revenge of the Mummy and Terminator (which are 3D/simulator rides by move on a track).

If you’re traveling with kids, there are a handful of family friendly attractions – Men in Black Alien Attack which gives you the opportunity to shoot at targets (and is insanely fun and competitive), Shrek 4-D, and an old favorite of my family: E.T. Adventure (not much left from the original attractions that many of you 30 and 40 sometimes probably remember from traveling as kids).

With younger kids who don’t meet height requirements of many attractions, are prone to motion sickness, or who might be scared by some of the experiences inside these major attractions, grab a wand and explore Diagon Alley and Knockturn alley to hone in your magical skills!

When you’re ready to take a trip over to Islands of Adventure, hop the Hogwarts Express where you’ll become a part of the adventure and be dropped near Hogsmede. Here you can enjoy a meal at Three Broomsticks, stock up on Wizard Supplies, IMG_6813and send letters from the Own Post (with a unique post mark). You can also explore Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle (for those like me who are not the adventurous type, ask about a castle walk through so you can see the amazing attention to detail throughout the queue to make you feel like you are really inside Hogwarts). To show your inner Hufflepuff, check out the store at the end of the attraction for house gear from socks to scarves to robes. Before you leave Hogsmeade, explore Olivander’s and get your own wand, ride Dragon Challenge, and for kids of all ages, take the Flight of the Hippogriff.

This theme park has a little bit more kid friendly fun with Seuss Landing and with family friendly fun (and my style of attractions with no big loops, swoops or drops!)

If you’re looking to get wet, you’re in luck with THREE attractions inside this park with 3 different themes – my favorite is Jurassic Park! Remember to check height requirements for each attraction. While they are family friendly, a 42 or 44 inch height requirement applies.

For thrill seeking enthusiasts, The HULK is coming back this summer which will be an amazing update (the little teasers of the new ride vehicles are amazing and I can’t wait to see the updates). You can also experience the Amazing Spider Man (and notice that the track is the same as Terminator but the visual is very different), and free fall on Doctor Dooms Fearfall.IMG_6856

For families with younger kids, there are some great play areas here to let the kids run out their energy and create memories – Camp Jurassic, Jurrasic Park Discovery Center If I ran the Zoo, and Me Ship, the Olive.

Don’t forget all of the great shows available. Check upon arrival for show times and live demonstrations in BOTH theme parks!

That’s a great overview to get you familiar with each of the two parks. Next Universal post, I’ll review all things Wizarding World of Harry Potter to give you an idea of what you’ll need to know and how to get around the two theme parks for the ultimate Harry Potter day!

Did you know that in addition to being an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I’m also a Universal Orlando Resort Specialist so I’m here for your every need! Whether it’s reviewing resorts, finding the perfect package, or understanding Express Pass and how to maximize your experience, I’d love to talk more about your adventure! The benefits of using a certified travel agent like me is the comfort of Universal’s best price guarantee – if you find a better price outside of Universal web site directly, they will honor that price (and I’m here to help facilitate that experience) and the best part is everything I do for you is FREE! It’s a worry free vacation to know you have everything you need planned ahead of time but allowing you the flexibility and spontaneity in your adventure as well as insider tips and a way to tour the parks effectively! So what are you waiting for? Let’s plan today!