Monday, June 8, 2020

A Summer 2020 Modified WDW Vacation

Hi guys!

Wow- what craziness we’ve been living in, no? As a travel agent, I’ve been EXTREMELY busy… extremely busy cancelling reservations for cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. It’s disappointing to my clients, and it’s disappointing for me, but I just keep the thought of ‘We’re all in this together’ (I cannot even type that out without singing the song from Disney’s High School Musical).

Disney's High School Musical

Slowly though, the world is opening back up. Cruising is looking to be returning later this summer, the Caribbean is opening back up within the next months, and the Walt Disney World Resorts will begin to reopen later this month, while Disney Springs entertainment center and Universal Studios Orlando have already resumed welcoming back guests.

Banner within Disney Springs

Disney Springs from the entrance of one of the parking garages

What I would like to focus on in this post is taking a modified Walt Disney World vacation. I know that for a lot of you, this is not something you want to invest in, and I COMPLETELY understand. There will be no character meets, no parades, and no fireworks shows. This will NOT be the Walt Disney World we have come to know and love. But with a little imagination, it can still be an incredible vacation. Please come with me as I tell you what there WILL BE to look forward to if you are considering a summer 2020 Walt Disney World vacation.

The pool at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Admittedly, my husband and I did discuss cancelling our July 2020 Walt Disney World vacation. We had a dream trip planned out- a week at Disney’s flagship resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, staying Club Level, pulling out all the stops- Signature Dining reservations, a poolside cabana rental at the resort, and some character dining opportunities for our two young children. This was a trip to celebrate my husband’s master’s degree graduation this summer, which he will graduate with top honors, as he was able to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA. He did this while working full-time and raising his family- I am incredibly proud of him and wanted to take him on his dream trip. However, our dining and cabana rental were cancelled by Disney, and while our resort reservation remains intact, we wanted to discuss other options, as it has already been announced that the Club Lounges will not be open upon resort reopening.

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Club Lounge offerings

Unfortunately, as I am also a healthcare worker, we are not allowed to leave the country without self-quarantining for 14 days after our arrival back to the United States. This is understandable, as I would never want to jeopardize the health of my patients. After discussing other options, we decided that we would still be happiest at Walt Disney World, and so we are making other arrangements and do not plan to stay at the Grand Floridian this time around. We will still stay on property, though- that is an absolute must for us, as the Walt Disney World Resorts are truly a destination unto themselves!

In our happy place

What I would like to explain is that there are still a LOT of opportunities for fun at Walt Disney World this summer. We will be arriving a few days before the parks are back open, and so we will have a lot of time to soak up that hot Florida sun at the themed pool of whichever resort we stay at. Pool bars WILL be open for food and drinks (we LOVE eating lunch poolside!). We will not be staying at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, as their feature pool Stormalong Bay will not be open, and with that Hurricane Hanna’s, their pool bar, will remain closed, though guests staying here are welcome to visit the fun feature pool at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas. All of the DVC Resorts and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (these are the resorts that will be reopening on June 22) have waterslides, and so no matter where we choose, my son can enjoy the waterslide as much as his heart desires. Poolside activities will be available, though I imagine they will be modified to account for social distancing and cleanliness. Here is what else will be available:

·         Movies Under the Stars (a Disney feature film is played on a large outdoor screen in the evening)
·         Fitness centers
·         Sports courts
·         Fishing excursions at Disney’s Beach Club Villas and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
·         The Bike Barn, Trail Rides, and the Horse Barn at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
·         Poolside cabana rentals at the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian

Poolside lunch at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The fun pool and waterslide at Disney's Boardwalk Inn

Enjoying that Florida sunshine with my oldest son

While not all of the restaurants will be open during the initial reopening phase, many Disney favorites will be! The biggest disappointment to us (besides character dining remaining closed, but that makes total sense to me!) is that you will have to have a dining reservation in order to visit a resort. We LOVE popping in to our favorite quick service locations, most notably Geyser Point Bar & Grill at Wilderness Lodge, and Bar Riva at the Riviera Resort, but these will be unavailable to us unless we end up staying at one of these resorts. Same with the Polynesian- we’ve been known to pop in to Pineapple Lanai for a quick Dole Whip, and unless you are staying at this resort (or have Kona Café reservations), this location will be unavailable to you.

Here are the Table Service Restaurants that will be open:

The Wave… of American Flavors (Contemporary Resort)
Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge)
Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village)
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club)
Trattoria al Forno- no characters (Boardwalk)
Olivia’s Café (Old Key West)
Kona Café (Polynesian)
Topolino’s Terrace (Riviera Resort) **This is the only restaurant which suggests a modified character dining experience may still be available, but we know no further details
Grand Floridian Café (Grand Floridian)

Enjoying dinner at Beaches & Cream

Yummy shrimp pasta at Grand Floridian Cafe

My hope is to secure reservations at Sanaa, Kona Café, and the Grand Floridian Café, and possibly Topolino’s Terrace and Beaches & Cream (and maybe Olivia’s too for breakfast!). Resort restaurant reservations are not yet available, and we don’t know when these will open.

We do, however, have the option right now to make dining reservations at Disney Springs. There are so many wonderful choices here, it’s hard to choose, but we will certainly be visiting Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ for their famous fried chicken! We’ve also got some quick service favorites at Disney Springs, including Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy, Earl of Sandwich, and The Polite Pig BBQ. Most of the stores here are open at this time, including my favorite, Lilly Pullitzer, and my son’s favorite, The Lego Store. The World of Disney Store is now open as well.

I LOVE Chicken Guy!

At the end of the day, this is NOT the Disney we have come to expect. And again, I certainly would not recommend this vacation for those looking for a ‘true’ Disney experience. We will be taking MANY breaks, as we are required to wear masks anytime we are out of our room, excluding in the pool or eating/ drinking.  But my take on this is that we can get away for some family time, enjoy the pool, eat at some of our favorite restaurants, and just take a really relaxed pace to our week. For me, Disney has always been about spending time with those that I love most, and that is what this summer will be about. We do hope to visit the Magic Kingdom, as we wait for further instructions on how to obtain theme park reservations. The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will open July 11, and Hollywood Studios and Epcot will open on July 15.

Treat case at Disney's Contemporary Resort quick service location, Contempo Cafe

Steak dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe

One of our lunch favorites, Earl of Sandwich at Disney Springs

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Thank you for reading, and stay well!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Stay-At-Home Disney-themed Family Fun

Hello, my sweet readers!

I truly hope that you all are well, and that you are making the best of this situation and making fun memories with your families during these unprecedented times.

While we have absolutely no idea when the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland, and Aulani will reopen, and when Disney Cruise Line (currently slated to resume operations on April 13, but I expect that this will not happen) will sail again, we can be thankful that the Walt Disney Company is keeping a close eye on this situation to keep all of us safe!

It is absolutely no surprise that Walt Disney World is my family’s happy place. I say this often. Knowing that the resorts and theme parks sit empty right now is absolutely heartbreaking to me. I am longing to see Instagram photos of guests enjoying the property, and watch new vlogs of my favorite Disney YouTubers exploring the parks. I hesitate to say this because I know that there is a much bigger picture to take in here, but at the same time, mental health and happiness are important, too. See, to me, Walt Disney World is not just a place on a map. It is a place in my heart that contains 36 years of happy memories. Memories with my grandpa and uncle, who are now in Heaven. Memories with my brothers, my parents, my aunt and cousins, and friends, who all live states away from me. And more recent memories with my husband and children, where we enjoy family time without the stressors of our jobs on our minds (my husband and I are both essential employees, and we both are working many hours outside of the home right now). I truly look forward to the day when we can safely return to our favorite place on Earth.

I would like to share a few ways to bring Disney into your home at this time- most of these are things that my family and I do on the regular while we anticipate our next vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth:

1) Download the app ‘WDW Today’ to listen to the music that is currently on the main TV Channel in the resorts at Walt Disney World. This app features fun, whimsical music that is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face! When the parks are open, you will be able to view park hours on this app as well.

2) Another family favorite is ‘Sorcerer Radio’. As you can see, there are different channels that you can visit depending on what you would like to listen to at the time!

3) I have been loving Scotty Kilwein’s live shows on his Facebook page (‘Scotty Kilwein page’) at 10pm EST many nights. Scotty is a regular performer at Jellyrollls Dueling Piano bar at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. Scotty has been performing both Disney music and non-Disney music, and it’s a very enjoyable way to end your evening!

4) The Disney Family website has many cute crafts for your entire family at One of my favorite crafts is creating a Practically Perfect quote- use one of your favorite Disney quotes, print out a family photo and perhaps a photo of a character, and have your children paint and/ or color around the quote to create a beautiful and meaningful piece of art!

5) Use some of your favorite family photos from your last vacation to create a one-of-a-kind scrapbook. Or, if you have not yet visited Walt Disney World, create template pages so that when you are able to take that dream trip, you’ll just have to insert photos and you’ll then have a beautiful keepsake!

6) Decide which Disney attractions your family would most like to enjoy on your next visit. You can watch point-of-view videos for almost every Disney attraction on YouTube, and be sure to keep a list of your sure-to-be favorites for each park!

7) Create fun Disney-themed Jello jigglers with cookie cutters! I am sure you can find Disney-shaped cookie cutters online, or I found this Frozen-themed kit at Wal-Mart which includes Frozen character cutters and jello mix!

8) Make homemade Disney treats like Dole Whips, Mickey pretzels, and fun cupcakes! I have yet to perfect a Disney-style Dole Whip, but there are lots of recipes out there so you too can try your hand at making some of your favorite Disney treats!

I hope that these ideas create some fun inspiration for your family, and I truly hope that you all stay well and happy! With love, from the bottom of my heart,


Sunday, July 14, 2019

Disney Resort Fun Runs

Hey guys!

Happy Summer! I hope that you all enjoyed your Independence Day and are living your best lives, enjoying this heat we are having!

I wanted to write a quick post talking about the Fun Runs at some of the Walt Disney World Resorts that have been introduced within the past few years. Most of these runs are about 3 kilometers long, so short enough where even children will enjoy them! You are welcome to run or walk these. Currently there are Fun Runs (mostly weekly) at the following Resorts:

• All-Star Movies Resort
Theme: All Stars and Icons
When: Every OTHER Tuesday at 8+am (You may preregister at the Surf Pool at All-Star Sports for this one daily from 3pm-6pm)
Where: The Reel Spot at All-Star Movies
Swag: A finisher pin and refreshments

(The only photo of myself that I could find at the All-Stars Resorts- 2012 at the pool at All-Star Sports)

• Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
Theme: Beignet Dash
When: Sundays at 8am
Where: Between Building 5 and Doubloon Lagoon Pool
Swag: Free beignets and a Mardi-Gras themed finisher medal

(The beignets at French Quarter are out-of-this-world good!)

• Boardwalk Resort
Theme: Seaside Sprint
When: Fridays at 8am (You may preregister at Community Hall for this one)
Where: Between Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall
Swag: A finisher pin and a free Goofy’s Glacier

(My husband and I on the Boardwalk one evening)

• Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
Theme: Regatta Run
When: Thursdays at 8am
Where: Bayside Marina at the Yacht Club
Swag: Nautical gift bag filled with Resort-branded sunglasses, ear buds (a rubber ducky and candy instead for the kids) and a finisher pin

(A late-afternoon Beach Club photo from February 2019)

• Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Theme: Derby Dash
When: Thursdays at 8am
Where: Outside of Community Hall
Swag: Refreshments and a horserace-themed finisher medal

(The view from our patio during our last stay at Saratoga Springs)

• Old Key West Resort
Theme: Southernmost Point (aka Key West, Florida)
When: Wednesdays at 7:30am (You may preregister at Community Hall for this one)
Where: At the Family Tree near the Sandcastle Pool & Playground
Swag: Medal and a water bottle

(This resort is GORGEOUS- I took this photo before our dinner here in November 2017)

You do NOT have to be staying at the resort in order to run that race! Even though my family will be staying at the Boardwalk in September, I think that we will probably run the Fun Run at the Beach Club instead. You simply show up in the morning at least 30 minutes before the race start time, and the Cast Members will get you registered (there is a $15 per person fee to run, children under 3 are free).

Besides the run-specific swag, runners will also receive a race bib, and most resorts have fun photo opportunities at the Finish Line!

Please note that there is no guarantee of the above information- please check with the resort prior to making concrete plans, as Disney may change things at ANY time. Please also note that on runDisney race weeks, there are no fun runs at the resorts.

I hope that this was helpful for my fellow run/ walk lovers, and that some of you take advantage of these great events that the Cast Members work hard to put on. Thank you for reading, and Happy Travels!