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!

Staying Cool at Disney World

I often have people asking me how we survive traveling to Disney World in August, which is when we always go. For various reasons, school, work…it really is the only option we have. Yes, it’s HOTTER than the surface of the sun most of the time!

Channel your inner Olaf!

But, with some strategic planning and accessories it can still be a very enjoyable vacation.

Beat the summer heat at Disney World with these tips!
  1. Rope Drop – I hear you, you want to sleep in on your vacation, but getting to the parks early at opening, or even Extra Magic Hour opening even better is really one of the best ways of beating the heat. The coolest part of the day, relative to the heat of Florida in the summer of course, is before noon. Which leads right to the next tip.
  2. Schedule a midday break – If it’s a short trip it might be difficult to schedule downtime, but a midday pool break will save your sanity and hopefully prevent those kid meltdowns when they’ve just been pushed too far. Doesn’t matter how hot it is, being in the water or under an umbrella with an icy drink will keep you cool.
  3. Stategic FP and Queue Planning – Choose the longest queues that are outdoor for your Fastpasses in the afternoons. Become familiar with the queues as many are inside and have a/c or even outdoor ones have fans and are shaded. It helps…a lot. Outdoor ones that are kept fairly cool are Rock n Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Expedition Everest. Inside queues where you might enjoy a slight wait to cool off include Test Track, Soarin, Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania and Dinosaur.
  4. Plan those WET attractions – There are rides that you WILL GET WET on in most of the parks. Plan those for afternoon, noon – 4pm. It’s amazing how even a little bit of water can make a difference, and you’ll dry quickly. These include Kali River Rapids which will get you soaked. Splash Mountain and even a little splash on Pirates of the Caribbean is possible.
  5. Water Parks – If you have any interest in the water parks, summer is the time to explore those. If you have a long enough trip 1-2 afternoons at the water parks is a great way to stay cool.
  6. Accessories – Cooling towels like Frog Toggs or iCool Towel will keep you cool and misting fans can be bought in advance from Walmart for less than the ones they sell in the parks.
  7. Showtime – Shows such as Mickey’s Philharmagic, Turtle Talk with Crush, Finding Nemo the Musical, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Indiana Jones (although outdoor it’s covered and there are fans) are another great way to cool down and rest, mingle them into your schedule.
  8. Use Disney transportation – Nothing is worse than getting into a hot car that has been baking in the Florida sun for hours. Use the air conditioned monorails, buses, boats to get from A to B.

Disney actually did a very good job of creating waiting areas and queues to ensure the least amount of time out in the heat and sun.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses!

With a little bit of strategic planning which I am happy to help you with if you book your trip with me, you can prevent melting in the hot Florida summer sun.

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Top 5 Shopping at Disney World

Shopping at Disney World is fun! So many interesting things, not just gifts but for the home as well.

Here are my favorites:

5. The Lego Store at Disney Springs. My boys really enjoy this store and so do I. Lego is fun. They have things you’ll never find anywhere else and the Lego creations are incredible.

4. 365 Days of Christmas at Disney Springs. Do I even have to say why? Because it’s Christmas… always. Christmas is the best.

3. World of Disney at Disney Springs has everything which is fitting as it is the largest Disney Store in the world. Even the decor is amazing to see.

2. MouseGear at Epcot smack dab in the middle of Future World. I particularly love the selection of t-shirts and hats here. I could spend hours in this place!

1.The Emporium on Main Street. This store runs almost the entire length of Main Street and it’s a great way to beat the crowds and heat by walking through it instead of the street! You can find anything and everything here and if you don’t want to carry your purchases, have them sent to Guest Services to be picked up on your way out or if you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort, have it shipped there. And let’s face it, there is just something special about shopping right inside the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA.

Be sure to take some time to check out these fabulous shops on your next visit to the House of Mouse!

Top 5 Digital Kits for Disney Scrapbooking

You made the plans, took the trip and made treasured family memories. Now what? You’ll want to preserve those memories somehow and one of my favorite days is by making a photo book of the trip.

Shutterfly does have a Disney themed photo book option which is great, but if you are a little more hands on then perhaps these digital scrapbooking kits are more your speed. Easy to download and then use in Photoshop Elements.

5. A Frozen Heart by Studio Flergs

A digital scrapbooking kit by Studio Flergs. A frozen heart was inspired by a Norwegian Princess named Anna. Striking bold colours, rosemaling patterns, and filled with beautiful elements. A Frozen Heart is perfect for fans of the other sister! But also great for winter pages, sisters or more. **Coming soon is the sister kit to match**

4. Animal Kingdom by Digital Scrapbook Ingredients

Whether you are going on safari, spending a day at the zoo or just like wild animals, this beautiful kit Animal Kingdom by Digital Scrapbook Ingredients will help you capture your adventurous memories!

3. Pieces of Eight by Studio Flergs

Avast ye scallywags. Look no further! As I have the perfect kit fer scrappin’ those pirates of yers. Grab yer dubloons & pieces of eight or be sure to walk the plank into Davy Jones’ locker.

2. In My Imagination by Studio Flergs

“Something very magical can happen when you read a good book” -J. K. Rowling.

Calling all book lovers! Celebrate your love of books with this magical kit. Fairytales, fiction, whatever your favourite genre or book is, In My Imagination is perfect to help you scrap about your love of books.

1. Believe in Magic  Collection (multiple themed kits)

Believe In Magic consists of many kits themed for different princesses, stories, etc… all created by Amber Shaw and Studio Flergs.

Mouse Tales by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Sundown Spectacular by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Tomorrow World by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Tangled Up by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Wonderland Adventures by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

First Kiss by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Bayou Belle by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Inner Beauty by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Twisted Love by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Fish Friends by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Galaxy Wars by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Glass Slipper by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

Mermaid Dreams by Amber Shaw & Studio Flergs

There are many more, visit Sweet Shoppe to see them all.

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Golfers Paradise

Do you have other couples that you and your significant other enjoy hanging out with and say, “We really should travel together!”…??? Well, here’s your chance! Travel to any Sandals all-inclusive resort between September 1 -December 25 2017 or September 1 – December 25, 2018, and with 5 paid rooms, the 6th room is FREE! 🙂 Yes, a free vacation for the “hub” person who organizes the adult getaway! *You can also share/split the free room value between the 6 couples.

Visit my Golfers Paradise page for more information.

 

 

Volcano Bay Rises

Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort is set to open May 25, that’s just a month away!

And as details emerge I am more and more excited to visit! Here are my top 5 things I am looking forward to at Volcano Bay. In no particular order.

1. Kopiko Wai Winding River™

Yes, that’s right. I LOVE me a lazy river. It’s my favorite thing to do, just lounge and float along.

2. Premium Seating

For a very reasonable price, just $29.99 + tax you can have 2 padded loungers with an umbrella and a lockbox in an area with food and drink service. Umm, yes please. Sign me up.

3. Tapu Tapu

This is Universal’s new virtual line system, so no waiting in long lines for  rides. You tap the totem pole by the ride entrance with your wearable Tapu Tapu bracelet ( similar to Disney’s Magic Bands), and get a return time. Then come back at that time and tap and enter.

4. Express Pass

Even better, most rides will also offer Express Pass options to bypass even the virtual line system.

5. Dining

The dining at Volcano Bay looks incredible. Imaginative options in-keeping with the South Pacific Island theme.

Volcano Bay is going to be a fantastic addition to an already exciting vacation experience at Universal Orlando Resort. Read more about a Universal vacation here and here.

To start planning your EPIC Universal Vacation, contact me at Barbara@ATimetoTreasureTravel.com

Disney Cruise Line Itineraries summer 2018

Open for booking today!

In summer 2018, Disney Cruise Line will sail on new itineraries and to new ports, including first-time visits to destinations in Italy and Ireland. Disney Cruise Line takes Guests on a grand tour of Europe with visits to the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Norway and Iceland. Plus, adventures continue with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

New sailings from Rome and Barcelona
For the first time, Disney Cruise Line Guests can experience more of the rich culture of Barcelona and inspiring history of Rome in a single cruise. In Rome, Guests can explore the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican, and sample authentic local cuisine. Barcelona offers beautiful beaches, the market streets of La Rambla, the artistic architecture of Gaudi and the famed Sagrada Família church.

On June 16, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome). Ports of call include Marseilles and Villefranche, France; and Genoa (Milan), Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Naples, Italy.

On June 23, 2018, the Disney Magic will sail a seven-night itinerary from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Barcelona. Ports visited on this cruise are Naples, Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Genoa (Milan), Italy; and Cannes and Marseilles, France.

First-time visits to Milan, Italy
Disney Cruise Line will call on Genoa, Italy for the first time in 2018, as part of three special sailings from Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome). The historic port town of Genoa, located on the Italian Riviera, is a gateway to the beautiful metropolis of Milan and the picturesque locale of Portofino. Milan is a global capital of fashion and design, featuring top-name designer stores, boutiques, open-air markets and art galleries.

A 10-night Mediterranean itinerary sailing from Barcelona on July 7, 2018, calls on Genoa, as well as other popular ports in Italy, France and Spain.

First-time visit to Cork, Ireland and first seven-night British Isles
The Disney Magic will call on Cork, Ireland for the first time as part of a first-ever seven-night British Isles cruise, departing on September 2, 2018. Additional ports visited on this sailing include Dublin, Ireland; Greenock, Scotland; and Liverpool, England. Cork is home to a vibrant culinary scene and a plethora of pubs, shops and cafes. It invites visitors to connect with Ireland’s ancient past, with historic sites like Blarney Castle, where visitors can kiss the famed Blarney Stone.

Throughout the summer, the Disney Magic will continue to tour Europe with engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, British Isles and the Mediterranean.

Return to Alaska
In 2018, the newly re-imagined Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season, opening up a world of breathtaking natural vistas, magnificent glaciers and awe-inspiring wildlife. A variety of five-, seven- and nine-night itineraries will depart from Vancouver, Canada, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm Fjord.

Southern Caribbean Special Sailing
In 2018, the Disney Fantasy will embark on a special 11-night southern Caribbean itinerary departing June 30, visiting tropical destinations renowned for beautiful sun-kissed beaches, including Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and the Disney private island, Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay – More Opportunities to Explore Disney’s Exclusive Private Island
Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, is consistently a top-rated destination. In 2018, the Disney Dream will sail a series of cruises that include two stops at Castaway Cay so Guests can have twice the fun in the sun and enjoy even more of the pristine island paradise.

 

A Beauty of an Offer

You can Play, Stay, Dine and save up to $500* on a 5-night 6-day Walt Disney Travel Company room, ticket and dining plan package for a family of four at select Walt Disney World® Resort hotels for stays most nights Jan. 1-March 7, 2017 when booked Oct. 3-Dec. 21, 2016.unnamed

*The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Savings based on the non-discounted price for the same package for 2 adults, 1 junior, 1 child in the same room. Tickets valid for one Theme Park per day and must be used within 14 days of first use. Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. Advance reservations required. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms.

Excludes alcoholic beverages and gratuities, Children ages 3-9 must order from children’s menu, if available. Some Table-Service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.

Full List of Disney Resort Hotel Exclusions:
Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

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Trattoria al Forno Dinner Review

Trattoria al Forno is located on Disney’s Boardwalk outside of Epcot’s International Gateway. Also known as the exit between the U.K. and France pavilions.

Disney's Boardwalk

This restaurant replaced Cat Kora’s Kouzzina 2 years ago. Another lesser known restaurant that consistently has excellent food and service. This was our second visit, we visited last year as well.

Trattoria al Forno

Trattoria al Forno

We started with ordering drinks, water for the boys, a Peach Bellini for me and an Italian beer for my husband. Next, we shared an appetizer of Fried Calamari – with Balsamic Agrodolce $11.99. I normally don’t eat more than a bit or two of calamari, not a big fan, but this was very good and I had more than I normally would.

Trattoria al Forno

For entrees I chose the Seasonal Risotto $18.99. I cannot remember everything that was in it, but it was very tasty. The rice was not over-cooked and the sauce was not overpowering.

Trattoria al Forno

Hubby chose the Braised Short Rib Bologonese – with smoked bacon, tagliatelle, and roasted mushrooms $21.99. He was a bit jealous of my short ribs last night at Captain’s Grille. These were just as wonderful, I had a taste. I did not get a picture, but click the dish name and it will bring you to a photo of the dish from All Ears.

The kids are too old for the kid’s menu and Matthew has very much looking forward to the Giant Meatball he had last year. He talked about it for months leading up to the trip asking if we could go eat there again.  It was changed a bit from last year, but he had the Polpetta Gigante – beef meatball, spinach ricotta canneloni and Sunday Gravy $19.99. It was not quite as big, but still pretty large. Spinach and ricotta not being items he would normally eat, but he wanted that giant meatball and ordered it anyways. He said he didn’t even notice the taste of the spinach although you could clearly see it and he liked the ricotta cheese.

Trattoria al Forno

Eric chose a pizza of course, it was quite large, but he finished off the entire pie by himself, including the crust, saying it was very good pizza.

Trattoria al Forno

Service was great and we were seated within minutes of arriving despite being early for our reservation. It was busy, but not completely full and with the open kitchen, it makes for a fun lively atmosphere even though it’s more formal than most.

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This is another one of my favorite restaurants on Disney property.

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Captains Grille Dinner Review

Captain’s Grille is one of the most under-rated restaurants at Disney World in my opinion. Having had breakfast here twice, both excellent, we decided to try it for a “date” dinner one night on our recent trip.

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We arrived without a reservation on a rainy evening and were seating immediately. Our waitress was wonderful, she took our drink order and went over all the specials and then returned to answer any questions we had and make recommendations on things we were considering.

For an appetizer, I had the House-made Potato-Cheese Gnocchi – toasted walnut breadcrumbs, julienne pears and truffle butter $9. It was excellent. I am used to homemade, by my father and mother, gnocchi and they can be difficult to get right. These were perfect. Not too soft, but not hard either. A very nice texture. Hubby had the New England Clam Chowder – creamy chowder with clams, potatoes, and vegetables $8. I didn’t get a picture. He said it was very good though.

Captains Grille

Hubby chose beer and I chose a lovely glass of Riesling.

Next was the entrees. Hubby went for the crab legs as this is something he rarely gets to eat. Snow Crab Legs – New Potatoes and Corn on the Cob $31. They are a lot of work, but he enjoyed them.

Captains Grille

I chose Tagliatelle Pasta – braised short ribs, fennel, cipollini onions, veal jus, shaved parmesan, and seasoned greens $23. The braised short ribs were a menu item on their own as well and came recommended, but after a week of very little pasta when we eat it quite often at home, I was craving a little. The waitress did say they use the same braised ribs in this dish so it was a good choice. This was so good. The ribs were like butter, so soft and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente.  There was a good amount of short ribs in this dish, they are mostly covered by the pasta in the picture.

Captains Grille

We did not indulge in dessert as we were quite full with all this food, the portions are  just right.

The atmosphere in this restaurant, located just off Disney’s Yacht Club Resort lobby is upscale , but not overly so. Still casual enough to feel comfortable with kids and there were several tables of families as well as couples and a few small groups when we were there.

This was one of my favorite meals at Disney World, ever!

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Spirit of the Swamp Adventure

Our recent trip to Florida included this wonderful first for us.

Air boat adventure on Spirit of the Swamp Air Boats

We drove out to Kissimmee and Lake Tohopekaliga to the address from the website. We were a little worried as it was raining most of the way and a hurricane was bearing down on Florida.  We didn’t know what to expect and we arrived to a park with a playground, a restroom, a dock area with the air boats and the address was a private residence. You check in right at the dock and they use the private house address so your GPS will get you there, it was a tad confusing when we first drove in, but it worked. There appeared to be another air boat company there as well.

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We met Captain Lynne from Spirit of the Swamp and boarded our boat after she put the canopy up since it was sprinkling. It was a small boat and it was just our family, which was really nice. We booked a 1 hour ride. We got on and were told about the headsets, we could hear the Captain and we could all speak as well without pressing anything and we could all hear each other. The boat is quite loud especially when going fast so the headsets are a must. As we were making our way along the canal out to the lake, Captain Lynne told us safety features and how the boat works.

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Once we arrived onto the lake, we immediately started spotting wildlife. Mainly birds, interesting birds everywhere. Vultures and egrets I believe were the first we saw. Captain Lynne was full of information about the birds, the lake and the alligators and she was funny too. We very quickly found our first alligator, it was hatchling season, so there were mama gators guarding their nests and babies in spots and Captain Lynne knew them all. We got to see several nests and the babies are hard to spot, they are so tiny, but at one nest we saw tons of them. Unfortunately, the mother was nowhere to be seen. Captain Lynne said she hadn’t seen her in days and was afraid she had been caught as hunting season had started 2 weeks earlier. It seemed really wrong to us that they would allow hunting of female alligators right during hatchling season. Now those babies will probably not survive much longer without their mother.

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We were not sure what to expect, but we had a really good time on this excursion and am so glad we did it. It sprinkled a bit, on and off, but we were covered and stayed dry.

I had been on an air boat once when I was a child in the everglades, but I barely remember it. I do remember it being a big boat with lots of people. This was so nice because it was just us, we all had a great view, Captain Lynne would turn the boat around so we all got a great view.

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From Disney World, it took about 40 minutes to get there with some traffic. It took us under 30 minutes to get back.

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I highly recommend this “off the beaten path” adventure while in the Orlando area.

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