All posts by Barbara Ryan

Travel agent specializing in Disney vacation planning for Walt Disney World Resort, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, Aulani and Adventures by Disney. Also specializing in Universal Studios, Cruises, and Sandals resorts. The benefits of 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 promotions, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part? It’s totally FREE! I’ll take away the stress and confusion (it's a big place!) of planning a Disney vacation!

Resort Review: Sandos Caracol Eco Resort

A truly unique resort in the heart of the Mayan jungle!

IMG_5094

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort stands apart from the myriad of resorts lining the beautiful beaches of Riviera Maya. What sets it apart? They didn’t clear land to build this resort, they built around cenotes, mangroves, Mayan ruins. It is literally built in the jungle.

All about the experiences!

This family friendly resort in Playacar boasts 40+ activities that you won’t find anywhere else by simply walking out of your resort room. Eco tours across suspension bridges where you learn about the wildlife and trees of the jungle around you. Snorkling in a beautiful large  cenote, a river through a mangrove with various fun experiences, sensory experiences offered by the spa, exploring Mayan ruins, a waterpark,  a lovely beach with all the usual water sports, tennis courts and several pools of course. The main pool has a swim up bar and another pool in the family section has entertainment and music during the day and the adult only section has a large quiet pool.

A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse 
of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

Wildlife!

The mission of this resort and the entire hotel chain is about preserving nature and the culture of the locations their resorts sit in. They built this resort in the jungle and the animals that called the jungle home, still do. In addition to the animals native to the land, spider monkeys, iguanas, birds, coatis, turtles and more… the resort rescues animals that are in danger. They have donkeys, pigs and other rescues. Helping the caretakers feed the animals is one of the activities kids can partake in.

Nature!

My favorite experience at this resort was swimming in the cenote. We took and snorkel tour then were able to just lounge in the cool water. This water is refreshing! The resort boasts 7 cenotes, but only 4 are considered swimmable.  Honestly, you’ll want to stick with the main cenote off the lobby, it’s large and maintained to keep the water circulating. A sacred cenote is off towards the ruins and hidden away, the spa uses it, but we did find people in it one day. A cenote in the Select Club section by building 60 is also swimmable.

Culture!

The resort has entertainment nightly and is focused on the Mayan culture. You can watch fire shows and ceremonies and participate in a survival game too. It’s great for the whole family. For something romantic, couples can take a private boat ride in the Jade river or enjoy a couples massage surrounded by the jungle.

IMG_5085

Accommodations!

You’ll find the best of both worlds at this resort with a family section and their adult only section called Select Club. On my trip, my room was in the Select Club close to the adult only pool and restaurant. There is also a Select Club area on the beach with some special amenities.

Newly renovated Eco superior and family rooms feature bunk beds and are very nicely appointed.

Royal Elite is family friendly, but offering perks as well with their own beach area and private pool and restaurant.

Time to Eat!

There are plenty of options for food at Sandos Caracol. The usual buffets, an Italian restaurant, Teppanyaki, Brazilian, Mediterranean, and a Steak & Fish restaurant. Of course the usual snack bars and options. A favorite of mine was the restaurant catering to the Select Club, great breakfast here too, mix of buffet or a la carte.

A special feature of this resort that is unique is their vegan restaurant. I am not vegan, nor will I ever be and normally would never have chosen to eat here, but I have to say, it was really good. It a great choice for something different and of course, it’s all-inclusive so you have nothing to lose. Don’t feel full, go somewhere else and eat more! I will say, this was a meal I did feel full from, more so than any other. It was surprisingly delicious. Give it a try!

Kid Friendly!

There is plenty for the kids to keep them entertained. A massive waterpark, all the animals and fun eco activities, a kid’s club, pools, beach… By the center of the resort, you walk through another great spot for kids to get to the main pool and beach. Here you’ll find a bar and pool tables, ping pong, tv’s with sporting events, etc… and while the kids are having the time of their lives…you can hit the spa!

Sandos Caracol Eco Resort is a truly unique resort where you can swim in a cenote, explore Mayan ruins and culture, view wildlife in the wild and still enjoy the usual all-inclusive resort benefits of the pools and beach and kid’s club, etc…It’s the best of both worlds! I am looking forward to bringing my kids here as I know they will love it.

 

Advertisements

Transformation of Pixar Pier

In addition to the newly reimagined Incredicoaster and all-new Lamplight Lounge, you will discover new experiences – both big and small – throughout the newly reimagined Pixar Pier.

In 2019, Jessie the yodeling cowgirl will invite you for a rootin’ tootin’ spin on Jessie’s Critter Carousel. Inspired by Jessie’s wilderness friends in the “Woody’s Roundup” television show from “Toy Story 2,” this newly reimagined attraction is a classic boardwalk carousel with a whimsical spin. Saddle up on one of 56 adorable friends, choosing from a turtle, snake, buzzard, armadillo, bunny, deer, raccoon, ram, skunk and two cozy logs inhabited by a family of owls.

And when Pixar Pier opens June 23, 2018 at Disney California Adventure® Park, you will find transformation around every corner.

Just past Lamplight Lounge, you will find Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats. Inspired by the lovable and not-at-all-abominable monster from “Monsters, Inc.,” this will be your go-to for frozen treats.

In the “Toy Story” neighborhood of Pixar Pier, big appetites and small fries alike will love the Poultry Palace. This giant fun meal inspired by Pixar’s short, “Toy Story Toon: Small Fry,” even comes with a Fun Meal Zurg!

You can also stop by Señor Buzz Churros, where Buzz has switched into Spanish mode to offer this quintessential Disneyland Resort treat.

Further down Pixar Pier, Angry Dogs will be serving up some hot items – which is the perfect place for Anger from “Inside Out.” The more he burns with rage, the hotter the dogs get!

It’s the perfect time to come discover these and many more newly themed experiences throughout Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure Park!

TICKETS ON SALE FOR MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY AND MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY AT MAGIC KINGDOM PARK

This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will transform Magic Kingdom Park for a sweet 34 nights.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Dates

August 17, 24, 28, 31

September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30

October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31

Returning treats include the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular stage show in front of Cinderella Castle featuring the mischievous Sanderson sisters from the hit Disney film “Hocus Pocus,” Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade and “Happy HalloWishes,” the fall spectacular led by the infamous Disney villains!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets start at $75 in advance or $85 at the gate, if available.

When the seasons change, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will transform the Magic Kingdom Park into a winter wonderland for the most magical 22 days of the year!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Dates

November 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30

December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21

Returning favorites for the holidays include Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade; “Holiday Wishes,” fireworks spectacular; “A Frozen Holiday Wish,” featuring Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom—transforming Cinderella Castle into a sparkling, icy centerpiece for the celebration; and the jubilant show, “Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.”*

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets start at $95 in advance or $105 at the gate, if available.

PIXAR PLAY ZONE AT DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT

Starting April 13 and available nightly, kids, ages 4-12, will be transported to a world full of excitement and adventure with their favorite characters from Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles!” While the kids play, parents will be able to enjoy their own getaway throughout Walt Disney World Resort.

In Bonnie’s Play Room, children will find a variety of toys. Around the corner, the Living Room will be the center for most of the action, starting with Space Ranger Training where a Space Ranger will teach kids what it takes to become a Jr. Space Ranger of Star Command, including how to identify enemies, like Zurg, and finally, the call of the Space Ranger, “To infinity and beyond!” Then, Woody and Jessie will show them the ropes of the Wild West during Woody’s Roundup – complete with a sing along for a rootin’ tootin’ good time!

Next to the Living Room will be the Radiator Springs Racetrack where youngsters will be able to build their own racecars and take turns sending them down a soapbox derby racetrack for Piston Cup Derby Races.

Finally, they will learn some sweet dance moves during the Incredible Dance Party with Mr. Incredible and Mrs. Incredible – complete with a party host.

The evening will also include arcade games, dinner and dessert!

The nightly getaway for kids, ages 4-12, will open doors for check-in at 5 p.m. The experience will begin at the welcome desk, a stop at the “Monsters, Inc.” handwashing station, then Boo’s Closet Door, where youngsters will be able to store any belongings before taking a couple of steps into an action-packed evening of Pixar fun. Programming will run from 6-10:30 p.m. for a fee of $65 per child (plus tax). Children must be fully toilet-trained. Parents will be required to be physically present to check children in and out of the experience.

Disney Cruise Line Summer 2019 Itineraries

In summer 2019, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries to seven new ports in Europe, including a first-ever round-trip cruise from Rome and first-time visits to destinations in Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark and Northern Ireland. Disney Cruise Line will take Guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean in early summer and northern Europe in late summer. Plus, adventures continue with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, including new cruise lengths aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Also in the summer of 2019, Disney Cruise Line Guests can enrich their experience by combining a cruise with a package from Adventures by Disney®.

New in 2019, Adventures by Disney will offer a pre-cruise guided experience in Rome. These 3-night Short Escapes, also offered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Barcelona, allow families to experience memorable icons in ways that few can, such as a private, after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome. Plus, activities like ziplining, flamenco dancing and preparing local cuisine immerse families in the culture of the region.

And, you can also enhance select European sailings with an Adventures by Disney package during the cruise. Adventure Guides lead travelers to experience the best of each port, helping them unlock the wonders of the destination through immersive excursions and off-the-beaten-path adventures. In addition, you will enjoy exclusive receptions onboard and have access to concierge service from these dedicated guides throughout the voyage.

These Adventures by Disney offerings are open for booking. A Vancouver Short Escape will open for booking later this year.

AN INCREDIBLE SUMMER AWAITS – SAVE UP TO 25% ON ROOMS AT SELECT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT HOTELS

Save up to 25% on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights June 11-Aug. 1, 2018 when they book by May 22, 2018. Plus, discover other savings for stays most nights May 28-Jun. 10, 2018 and Aug. 2-30, 2018.

Staying in the middle of the magic will help make a Walt Disney World Resort vacation even more super—especially when there are new and exciting experiences debuting at all 4 parks.

With this offer, you can save on rooms at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights June 11 through August 1, 2018:

• Save up to 25% on rooms, when you book by May 22, 2018.

• Save up to 20% on rooms, when you book by August 1, 2018.

Ask about great rates for stays most nights May 28 through June 10 and August 2 through August 30, 2018.

This special offer is valid for the Disney Resort hotels listed below. View the chart to explore savings within each Resort Category.

Resort Category

Resort Savings

Select Disney Deluxe Villas

Save up to 25% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s BoardWalk Villas

Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village

25%

20%

Disney’s Beach Club Villas

Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Studios only

15%

10%

Select Disney Deluxe Resorts

Save up to 25% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

25%

20%

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

15%

10%

Select Disney Moderate Resorts

Save up to 20% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

20%

15%

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

10%

10%

The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

20%

20%

Select Disney Value Resorts

Save up to 20% for stays most nights
6/11/18 to 8/1/18

Book now through 5/22/18

Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18

Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

20%

15%

The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room. Length of stay requirements may apply.

See Important Details.

Note: Moderate and Deluxe suites may be available at a lesser discount.

Important Details:

• The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited.

• Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same room.

• Additional per adult charges may apply if more than 2 adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts.

• Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.

• Advance reservations required.

• Offer excludes the following room types: campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Cabins at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalow

The number of rooms allocated for the offer is limited. Length-of-stay requirements may apply. Additional per-adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room at Disney Value, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes 3-bedroom villas, campsites, Cabins at Disney’s Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid standard rooms. 25% savings based on the non-discounted price of the same room for select Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts. Lower savings may be available at other select Disney Resort hotels.

Pixar Characters in Toy Story Land at WDW

Meet some of your favorite characters from the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” films, including Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl, at Toy Story Land – opening June 30 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®.

Woody, Buzz and Jessie will be greeting guests throughout Toy Story Land on a daily basis. And each character (along with the rest of the gang) will be joining in on the fun in a land where you “shrink” to the size of a toy. Take a ride on Slinky Dog Dash, a roller coaster Andy has assembled from his Mega Coaster Play Kit, or take a spin on Alien Swirling Saucers, a galactic play set that Andy won at Pizza Planet.

In Toy Story Land you also walk through a new carnival game box to experience Toy Story Mania!, which has been a favorite attraction at the park since it opened in 2008. Take aim at 3D objects – using everything from baseballs to cream pies – in a variety of whimsical, fast-paced games.

Top 5 Hidden Gems in Magic Kingdom

5. Main Street Windows

Look up! Above the shops, the windows host a variety of names of people who were influential in creating Disney World. Along with the company names Walt Disney used when he was first creating the “Florida Project” as it was called. Incredible attention to detail.

4. Totem Poles

Just at the entrance to the Jungle Cruise, you’ll find water spritzing Totem Poles. A perfect little refresher as you walk by on a hot day.

3. Tangled Restrooms

The prettiest restrooms in all the land! Here, just through the arches from Liberty Square into Fantasyland near It’s a Small World are the Tangled Restrooms. Rapunzel’s Tower and beautiful lanterns that glow at night make this area a unique picture spot. It’s also the site of the very popular floating lantern pictures offered by Photopass photographers.

2. Excalibur’s Sword

Have your kids tried to remove the sword from the stone? Every once in awhile a little Disney magic and pixie dust causes a tiny guest to pull the sword out, it’s exciting…you never know when it will happen!

1. Dumbo Playground

At Dumbo the Flying Elephant a playground in the queue with child entertainment and a place for parents to rest. Kids may forget there is a ride there!

So be sure to spend a little time taking in these special gems on your next visit!