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!
If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, you’re in for a treat. Not only is the park home to a variety of exotic animals and breathtaking rides, but you’ll also have the chance to meet some of your favorite Disney characters in a setting that’s truly unique.
Here are some of the characters you can meet at Animal Kingdom:
Mickey & Minnie: Join the globetrotting couple at the Adventurers Outpost as they prepare themselves for their next grand expedition. Peruse exotic mementos they’ve collected on their trips around the world before posing for a postcard-perfect picture with the pair.
Pocahontas – This beloved Disney princess can be found near the Tree of Life, where she’ll be happy to pose for photos and sign autographs.
Donald Duck – This feathered friend is a favorite of many visitors to Animal Kingdom. You can find him near DinoLand U.S.A., where he’ll be happy to take photos and sign autographs.
Kevin: Meet Kevin at the Character Landing by Flame Tree Barbeque
Dug and Russell – Fans of the movie “Up” won’t want to miss the chance to meet these two lovable characters. You can find them near the park’s entrance, and they’re always happy to make new friends.
Meeting these characters is a great way to add some extra magic to your visit to Animal Kingdom. Make sure to bring your camera and autograph book, and get ready to create some unforgettable memories.
Magic Kingdom is a magical place where dreams come to life and fantasies become reality. It is home to some of the most iconic Disney characters that have captured the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. From the classic Mickey Mouse to the newer characters like Merida, there is a character for everyone at Magic Kingdom.
Here are some of the characters you can meet at Magic Kingdom:
Mickey Mouse: Pop into Mickey’s rehearsal room at Town Square Theatre for the chance to greet Mickey! Discover props and posters from Mickey’s magical career in the theater and maybe even spot a disappearing dove or a rabbit coming out of a hat. The greatest magic of all happens when Mickey Mouse strikes a pose for a fun photo with you.
Cinderella: Cinderella is one of the most beloved Disney princesses, and she can be found at Magic Kingdom, at Princess Fairytale Hall, where she often greets her fans in front of her castle. She is always dressed in her signature blue gown and glass slippers, ready to enchant visitors with her grace and beauty.
Donald & Goofy: Step right up and say hello to the stars of this slapstick circus: snake charmer extraordinaire The Astounding Donaldo and his daring stuntman pal The Great Goofini! Share hugs, get autographs and snap pictures of your new friends—before the show’s over at Pete’s Silly Sideshow.
Winnie the Pooh & Tigger: Spend some time in a shady place deep in the Hundred-Acre Wood. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger love seeing new friends at the Thotful Spot and old to share hugs and maybe even a smackerel of honey.
Aladdin & Jasmine: Make your way into the exotic marketplace in Adventureland to meet Princess Jasmine and her prince, Aladdin. They’ll share stories of Agrabah under the shade of a colorful awning. You can recount your own tales of adventure in another magical kingdom you may know.
In conclusion, Magic Kingdom is a magical place where visitors can meet some of the most iconic Disney characters. From classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to newer characters like Merida, there is a character for everyone at Magic Kingdom. So, next time you visit this enchanting place, don’t forget to say hello to your favorite Disney character.
Disney World is a magical place where dreams come true for all ages, including toddlers! There are plenty of rides that are perfect for little ones, offering a fun and safe experience that will make their trip to Disney World unforgettable. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best toddler rides at Disney World.
Peter Pan’s Flight
One of the most popular rides at Disney World, Peter Pan’s Flight, is also a great choice for toddlers. The ride takes you through scenes from the beloved story of Peter Pan, as you soar through the air in a pirate ship. The ride is gentle and smooth, making it perfect for young children who might be afraid of faster, scarier rides.
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Another classic ride that is perfect for toddlers is Dumbo the Flying Elephant. This ride allows children to take control of their own flying elephant, as they rise and fall through the air. The ride is gentle and slow, giving young children plenty of time to take in the scenery and enjoy the experience.
It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World is an iconic Disney World ride that has been entertaining families for generations. The ride takes you through a world of singing dolls, each representing a different country and culture. The ride is slow-moving and gentle, making it a great option for toddlers who might be sensitive to faster or scarier rides.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a whimsical ride that takes you through the Hundred Acre Wood, as you join Pooh and his friends on a series of adventures. The ride is colorful and playful, with plenty of fun surprises along the way. It’s a great choice for toddlers who love the Winnie the Pooh stories.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
For toddlers who love all things Disney Princess, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid is a must-see ride. This ride takes you through scenes from the classic Disney movie, as you follow Ariel on her underwater adventure. The ride is gentle and slow, with plenty of fun music and colorful visuals.
Disney World has plenty of rides that are perfect for toddlers. From classic favorites like Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s a Small World to attractions like Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, there are plenty of options to choose from. Your toddler is sure to have a magical and unforgettable experience at Disney World.
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If you’re looking for a historic and charming place to stay in Newport, Rhode Island, look no further than the Jailhouse Inn. This unique property was originally built in 1772 as a colonial jailhouse, and it has been converted into a cozy bed and breakfast with 23 rooms and suites.
The Jailhouse Inn is conveniently located in the heart of Newport’s historic district, just steps away from some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Newport Mansions, the Cliff Walk, and the historic harbor. It’s the perfect place to stay for anyone who wants to explore Newport’s rich history and architecture.
Despite its history as a jailhouse, the Inn is surprisingly comfortable and modern. The rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Some of the rooms even have original jail cells with bars on the windows, adding to the inn’s unique character.
One of the best things about the Jailhouse Inn is its friendly and helpful staff. They go out of their way to make sure that guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay in Newport. They are happy to provide recommendations for local restaurants and activities, and they can even help you book tours and transportation.
Another great feature of the Jailhouse Inn is the delicious continental breakfast that is served every morning. Guests can enjoy fresh pastries, fruit, yogurt, and cereal, as well as coffee and tea. The breakfast room is cozy and inviting, and it’s a great place to chat with other guests and plan your day in Newport.
Overall, the Jailhouse Inn is a fantastic choice for anyone visiting Newport, Rhode Island. It offers a unique and comfortable stay in the heart of the city, with friendly staff and great amenities. Whether you’re visiting Newport for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, the Jailhouse Inn is definitely worth checking out.
One of my very favorite spots in the entire world is Lake Placid NY. Lake Placid was the town we visited when I was a child on rainy days when we were camping in the Adirondacks near Saranac Lake. Not much to do in the rain at a campground so we would pile into the car and drive to Lake Placid and walk around in the rain, spending sometimes hours inside the book store. Hey, we didn’t have English book stores near our home in Montreal.
As I got older, it became the spot to go with friends to get away from the crazy bar scene in Montreal. It’s no wonder I met my husband on one of those trips, we began dating long distance (he lived in Lake Placid) and eventually got married. We had our wedding in, you guessed it, Lake Placid.
I simply love the atmosphere in this town. It’s always bustling with people, and activities, and has great restaurants! There is a lovely path that takes you all the way around Mirror Lake. It is just under 3 miles and at the other end of the lake, you can see the actual Lake Placid. There is even a boat tour you can take to learn all about the history of the area and the ghost story of The Lady and the Lake. They are replacing the sidewalk in town and one side is complete with a beautiful smooth surface now.
One of the top places to stay is the Golden Arrow Resort. The Golden Arrow sits right on Mirror Lake, aptly named as you can see in this picture.
The resort has regular rooms, family rooms, specialty suites and is pet friendly. Many rooms overlook Mirror Lake and the beautiful lakeside lawn and beach exclusive to the hotel. They have lake toys available on the docks, beach chairs to lounge, and a sectioned-off area to swim safely for the littles. There are fire pits for nighttime fun and a beautiful spot where there is almost weekly a wedding taking place by the lake.
There is a restaurant and bar, Generations which is a great place to cap off the night before retreating to your room.
My favorite room at the Golden Arrow is the Morningside Suite. This is the suite we book every year for our girl’s getaway weekend. This suite suits us perfectly because it has a large table in the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the lake. We like to play games when we aren’t on the beach or wandering around the lake, and this is perfect for that. It also has a kitchenette and 2 bathrooms along with a king bed in one room and 2 queen beds in the other. The other fun thing about this particular suite is that it isn’t even in the hotel. This suite is actually at the back of the Alpine Mall. There is a door into the hotel at the back of the mall, on the right-hand side. Directly across, next to the coffee shop, is the door to the Morningside Suite. This means we can just get onto Main Street by a quick walk through the tiny mall without the need to deal with going through the hotel, hallways, and elevators.
On our most recent trip, we hit up our MUST DO of Big Mountain Deli and the #10 Gothic sandwich. Always a staple of mine. We also enjoy eating and a few adult beverages at The Cottage, The Mirror Lake Inn, Jimmy’s 21, Black Bear Restaurant, The Pickled Pig, Top of the Park, and breakfast at The Breakfast Club is a MUST!
In the morning I pop right outside my door and grab an iced latte to sip on my balcony before a walk around the lake. Perfect morning!
The hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub. Water trikes, kayaks, paddle boards available for use freely down by the beach.
There are of course lots of things to do in Lake Placid with the Olympic sites to visit, Whiteface Mountain even in summer is something to see. Gondola rides, hikes, the Ski Jumping complex (in the summer they jump into water!). The arena where Miracle on Ice happened and an Olympic Museum.
There is no highway that takes you into the quaint little city of Ithaca, NY. Winding country roads with very few gas stations is more the speed of things. Ithaca sits at the bottom of Cayuga Lake, one of the lakes that makes up the wine-laden Finger Lakes region of New York State. It’s home to Ithaca College and Cornell, both a stone’s throw from the downtown area.
I’ve been to Ithaca twice, both times for my son’s swimming events held at Ithaca College. On my last visit, since he was staying with his team, so I chose to book a room at a downtown hotel and enjoy some of this lovely little town we hadn’t really gotten to see before.
We stayed at Canopy by Hilton Ithaca Downtown. It was right in the small central pedestrian shopping area, Ithaca Commons, with restaurants everywhere. Amazingly though, most of the restaurants were quite small and without reservations, it was not easy to find a place to eat late on a Friday night. Note to self and all of you, make reservations. We did manage to find a table at one of the restaurants I had scoped out.
But first, the parking situation. Hotels in downtown Ithaca do not have parking. The hotel did have a little 15-minute drop-off, and pick-up area by the front door with a few spots to drop off your luggage. We missed it so brought our luggage from the garage. There are several public garages that were easy enough to get in and out of. We parked in the Seneca Street Garage just 1 block away. Some hotels had designated floors to park on and some sort of agreement with the garage, but Canopy did not.
We walked across the street from our hotel to Mahogany Grill for dinner and it was lovely. A small cozy upscale Italian restaurant. They had some interesting drink choices and the meal and service were fantastic. I dared to try gnocchi. I grew up with parents from Italy who made gnocchi regularly, and it’s hard to find a suitable substitute for my father’s gnocchi. These were good. Very good. Not my father’s good. But pretty good. Delectable desserts as well. We enjoyed our meal and ran into another swim family. It was early March and very cold so we didn’t linger in the shops, but returned to the hotel and stopped for a nightcap at the bar. It was busy for a hotel bar, nice atmosphere that night.
Rooms at Canopy by Hilton are average size and very comfortable. The sink is open to the entry hallway and then a sliding door encloses the toilet and shower. Even though the room is somewhat compact, there was ample storage. We opted for 2 queen beds because when I booked I wasn’t sure about the team situation and if our son would be staying with us.
The hotel has a large lobby area, small meeting room, full bar, and restaurant which appeared to have good food albeit a small menu.
Saturday afternoon after a morning of swim preliminaries, we had a hearty lunch at Ithaca Ale House. Also right across the street from our hotel. We sat at the bar and it was crowded with people waiting for seats even though this seemed to be the biggest place in town. We luckily found 2 seats available at the bar when we walked in so didn’t have to wait.
Saturday night, the boys wanted pasta to carb load before finals in the morning so we took them to Pasta Vitto. You guessed it, it was right across the street as well, right across from Ithaca Ale House. My impression was this was more of a fast-food-type pasta place, but we ended up eating here with another couple and all the boys from our team, just 5 of them, and it was quite good. A real sit-down Italian restaurant, albeit much more casual than most. Kudos to this restaurant for accomodating a large group of 9 of us on the fly and then adding 2 more. It was packed and people kept coming in and being turned away. We arrived just in time, and snagged the last 3 tables.
Canopy offered an a la carte breakfast which we ate both mornings. You could do a room package that included breakfast or just pay.
We enjoyed our short but sweet stay in downtown Ithaca and hope to do it again someday soon when the weather is better and we can wander around a bit more and take a drive to the lake and visit some wineries. We do love the Finger Lakes wine region.
We’ve gone through the food options on a Disney Cruise, and now you are thirsty! Let’s go over all the options for quenching your thirst and maybe a little imbibing.
Soda and water, ice tea, etc.. is included on DCL which is a #DisneyDifference. Note that is is only included on the pool deck from the beverage dispensers, at Cabanas, and in the restaurants. If you order soda at a bar or from room service, you will be charged for it.
Alcohol and Beverages
Disney Cruise Line has several options when it comes to beverage packages, but they do not offer an unlimited package like most cruise lines.
Disney Cruise Line offers a Drink of the Dayfor significantly less than regular cocktails, it’s usually a fruity concoction.
Their Wine Package comes in Classic or Premier and either 3,4,5, 7 bottle/night options. Purchasing in advance saves you about 25% and does not include gratuity.
Disney Cruise Line offers Beer Packages as well. Either a Domestic or Imported 6 pack package (6 for the price of 5! when purchased in advance).
If you prefer draft beers, there is an option to purchase a 22 oz mug and then get refills for the price of a 16oz for the duration of the cruise. If the mug is too cumbersome to carry around, there is a token option and you can turn in the token at the end of the cruise for your take-home mug.
Pop up Carts will be located throughout the ship as well and sometimes specialty pop up carts serving some interesting concoctions.
Night Clubs, Bars, etc…
Disney Cruise Line has a number of bars, specialty, and adult entertainment areas. When ordering soda at a bar, you will be charged. Usually, they will have some nuts or munchies included, evenings there may be a little buffet of snacks. Some offer menus with appetizers that can be ordered. Those will be at an additional cost.
Preludes is the snack bar outside the theater on each ship and snacks, popcorn, drinks are available at an additional cost. Servers also will be inside the theatre.
Cove Cafe is located by the 18+ area and specialty coffees are available at an additional charge. Note that pastries are available free of charge at Cove Cafe, so go ahead and pick out a pastry to go with your cappuccino!
Disney Cruise Line offers Mixology seminars. These should be pre-booked and do sell out. They also have an additional charge. But they are a lot of fun and you do get to drink your concoctions.
Chocolate and Liquor Tasting
There are a few other options, like the Frozone with smoothies and other ice cream treats available at an additional cost. The children’s clubs will serve dinner to kids if they want to stay and eat there. The teen club Vibe has a smoothie bar that is included when they open it at select times.
As you can see, there is plenty of fun beverages for the adults on a Disney Cruise and not just in the adult-only areas, but throughout the ship. Get adventurous and try something new, take a Mixology Class, drink out of a pineapple!
One of the best aspects of a cruise is the food. Disney Cruise Line is a notch above the rest when it comes to food and they know how to make a dining experience special and employee the BEST servers that will help take that dining experience to the next level.
Let’s go through the options for filling your belly on a Disney Cruise.
Main Dining Rooms
There are three main dining rooms on the Disney ships, they vary by ship, but each one has 3 main dining rooms with 2 seatings. Usually, the times are 5:45pm and then 8:15pm. Each ship has Animator’s Palette, although they are a bit different on each ship. The other restaurants vary by ship, but each will have two other themed dining rooms.
Disney operates a Rotational Dining experience onboard all Disney ships. Each night of your cruise, you and your personal wait staff will “rotate” to one of the 3 distinctly themed restaurants onboard the ship, ensuring you enjoy a delicious meal catered to your liking in a unique setting nightly. And since your servers travel with you each night, they get to know you quickly and will take fabulous care of you. This is definitely a #DisneyDifference. Servers know just how to make you feel special and entertain the adults and the kids.
There are 2 dinner seatings each night of your cruise. Although specific times vary based on itinerary, dinner is served at approximately 5:45 PM (Main Seating) and 8:15 PM (Second Seating). Once onboard the ship, check the dining tickets that can be found in your stateroom for assigned seating time, restaurant schedule and table number.
One of the main dining rooms is usually open for breakfast and lunch if you don’t want to buffet or poolside options. This is open seating so you can sit anywhere and come in anytime during the opening hours.
ProTip:Order as many entrees or appetizers as you want. Can’t decide or don’t think one portion will be enough, go ahead and order two.
Buffet and Pool Deck
Cabanas is Disney’s buffet restaurant located on the pool deck. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets and offer an incredible selection. Cabanas is also open for dinner, but the interesting thing is it has table service at dinner, it’s not a buffet.
The pool deck also offers fast food options, there is a pizza window and burgers, chicken fingers, etc…window that are open most of the day and late into the night.
Palo is one of Disney’s specialty restaurants available on each ship and is adult-exclusive. Palo is Northern Italian themed and is available at an upcharge, currently $40 per person for brunch or dinner. This does need to be booked in advance and is popular and can be difficult to get into. See more about Palo here.
Remy is another adult-exclusive French gourmet dining experience aboard the Disney Dream and Fantasy. Brunch and Dinner are available to be booked in advance, again, it is popular and reservations can be hard to come by. Why yes, that is gold leaf on the chocolate dessert!
Eye Scream Treats is the ice cream shop available on all the ships on the pool deck. Self-serve soft serve is available here.
Another #DisneyDifference is room service is available at no additional charge on all Disney Cruise Line ships. While room service is free, be sure to tip your servers.
ProTip: Mickey Bars are available at no charge from the main dining rooms and room service. All the Mickey Bars you can eat!
You certainly won’t go hungry on a Disney Cruise. Let’s get you on one soon!
Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.
Another one of my favorites! This attraction opened its doors on July 22, 1994.
The plot of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror follows the tragic night of Oct. 31, 1939, when lightning struck the building. Five people were aboard an elevator as the building was struck, causing the elevator to free-fall. The hotel was closed after these tragic events and now guests are permitted to visit the obviously haunted hotel.
The Tower of Terror is basically a drop ride with an incredible themed story around it. As for the drops, it drops 130, or 13 stories down. The first smaller drop in darkness is about 8 stories, then back to the top for the 13 story plunge doubled. The speed of the drop is about 39 MPH, and the drop itself only lasts for around 2 ½ seconds, although it seems longer!
Early on Mel Brooks was involved and it started out as “Castle Young Frankenstein” which would have featured a Bavarian village with winding streets to the castle with a drawbridge. The idea later changed to “Mel Brooks’ Hollywood Horror Hotel”. Mel Brooks eventually left the project and Disney Imagineers had some ideas of their own and brought in the idea to have a moving elevator off its track and moving down hallways. Imagineers decided on Spanish-Renaissance/Riverside Mission Inn architecture because it would fit in on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Disney also felt the attraction needed a movie reference and settled on the Twilight Zone theme making it an eerie and thrilling attraction.
The attraction uses an Autonomous Guided Vehicle. A self controlling, self contained ride vehicle, that can move without track. Although the 5th Dimension floor has guideways for traction, the vehicle itself runs on its own wheels along the floor. The AGV guides itself into the ride shaft to ascend to the boiler room (load) level, it slots into a larger elevator the VVC, or Vertical Vehicle Conveyance. This is a normal elevator car complete with cables and wheels. It is this that lifts the AGV up through the corridor scene, and to the 5th Dimension level. As the AGV transfers horizontally, the VVC returns to the basement level to receive the next AGV. The AGV then will get into another VVC for the drop portion of the attraction.
An informative video on how the Tower of Terror works.
Our Walt Disney Imagineers viewed 156 episodes of “The Twilight Zone” for inspiration when creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
The ride vehicle is an elevator car.
The storyline of the attraction sets the date as Halloween night – October 31, 1939.
The architecture of the tower was inspired by multiple Southern California landmarks, such as the Biltmore Hotel and the Mission Inn.
The building has 27,000 roof tiles.
The grounds of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were inspired by the look of California’s Griffith Park and Elysian Park.
The lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel was outfitted with antiques and furniture purchased at Los Angeles-area auction houses.
The Library room features a hidden nod to Mickey Mouse in this sheet music, which is for the song “What! No Mickey Mouse?”
The clip of film in which Rod Serling introduces the attraction was taken from a “Twilight Zone” episode called “It’s a Good Life.”
The young girl who disappears in the elevator carries a Mickey Mouse doll.
The attraction’s “Fifth Dimension” scene was inspired in part by the “Little Girl Lost” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
The drop is 13-stories.
The drop sequence for each elevator car is selected at random by the attraction’s computer system.
Measuring 199 feet tall, Tower of Terror is one of the tallest attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.
Since we cannot be at Disney World right now, let’s take a look at some of the things that make it so special.
Expedition Everest is one of my favorite atractions in all of Disney World!
The adventure begins in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, join the Expedition Everest team and embark on a trek through Anandapur. The trail leads visitors to the village of Serka Zong, which means “fortress of the chasm.” The Royal Anandapur Tea Company shipped its tea by train from Serka Zong through the Forbidden Mountain pass. The railroad was closed after several mysterious accidents, rumored to be from the hand of a Yeti. Today, the village of Serka Zong is thriving again thanks to the efforts of local entrepreneurs. The Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions company has partially refurbished the railway and now offers transportation for adventurers to the base camp at Mt. Everest.
Imagineers traveled to Nepal and surrounding areas to research local culture, architecture, food, and the legend of the Yeti. This massive feat was accomplished by building the ride track and the mountain completely independent of the other. The track and mountain never touch and were both built with superstructures that do not dependent on each other. When the attraction opened, the Yeti was the biggest, most advanced audio-animatronics figure to ever be created. He stands a whopping 25 ft tall and has the potential to move his entire body an astounding 5 ft horizontally in a few seconds flat. The figure was constructed to sit atop a 46 ft tall independent concrete base meant to hold its weight while allowing the beast to swoop down on passing train vehicles, terrifying riders and confirming the legends’ truth. Of couse, he hasn’t worked as he was meant to since that firt year, 2006. No explanation has ever been given as to why and stobe lights and fans to make his fur move have been put in place as a Plan B.
The queue for the ride is pretty incredible itself, try to take in as much detail as you can. The statutes featured outside, the flags hanging, the clothing in the cases, even the currency in the photos is all spot on with the Indian culture that exists at the base of the real Everest.
Building a Thrill Ride
Intestesting documentary on the building of Expedition Everest.
The Forbidden Mountain’s rocky peaks and distinctive face are based upon the actual northwest face of Mount Everest.
More than 2,000 handcrafted items of wood, stone, and metal supplied by artisans in Asia are featured in the attraction.
At 199 feet, Expedition Everest is the tallest mountain at any Disney park.
The steam rising from the train after it pulls into the loading area actually comes from steam vents underneath the train station! These create the effect of an actual steam powered engine but the steam isn’t water-based to prevent rusting.
Expedition Everest reaches a top speed of 50 mph!
Notice the many hairbands thrown on the mountain when you stop at the broken track! It’s a weird tradition to throw hairbands here.
Climb aboard, let’s go to the base of Mt. Everest!