A vacation fit for a Princess

What could be better for a princess-loving six-year-old than a surprise trip to Walt Disney World with mom, dad and grandma?! Lucky little VIP Mary Frances enjoyed a fabulous “escape”, complete with fireworks, parades, water slides, and breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle — and from the photos, I think Grandma loved it too!

Hi Ann,

We had the BEST time!!  Thank you so much for all of your help getting us there 🙂  I honestly don’t know who had more fun – Mary Frances or my mom!

Flights were super easy and it was so nice going direct – thank you!  We took advantage of the Magical Express and one of the rooms was actually ready early so we were able to check in upon arrival which was so nice.  We grabbed a bite at the hotel and then took the water taxi over to Magic Kingdom for the afternoon [definitely encourage people to use the water taxi – you go through security right when you get off the boat and avoid the lines with the masses of people getting off the monorail – it’s a big time saver because you can then go right to the entrance] Our biggest challenges were being slightly overwhelmed by the crowds [I’m amazed at just how many people are there even in the “slow” season] and the heat.  It was super hot but we powered through!  We did Frontier Land and Adventure Land and even got my mom on Thunder Mountain.  It was great!

We had dinner at Chef Mickey Sunday night which was perfect.  I didn’t realize just how much fun and well received the character dinners would be.  We saw all of the main Disney characters so then we weren’t tracking them down for meet and greets at the park.  It’s expensive [it’s Disney…] but totally worth it for the time saving factor.  We didn’t it plan it, but we then watched the fireworks from the monorail on the way home and MF thought that was awesome!

Monday we headed over to Hollywood Studios which was awesome.  We did the Toy Story ride, Frozen Show, Movie Ride, Ariel Show, another character lunch at Hollywood and Vine which was great, and took in the sites.  There’s a Storm Trooper March that happens about every hour which was impressive but super loud which was slightly bothersome to MF but again we just worked through it [I mention it only so you can warn people with younger kids who may not like it].  

We then went back to the hotel and spent the afternoon at the pool.  This was easily the highlight of the resort.  We spent equal time at the fun water slide pool and the quiet pool.  MF loved it!! Carter and I enjoyed the water slide just as much as she did 🙂

We went over to the Happily Ever After dinner at the Grand Floridian that night by way of the water taxi – it was our favorite mode of transportation!  They had a new chef at this restaurant and they seemed to be a little out of sorts but it didn’t matter.  MF was beside herself as all of the Cinderella people came around to the tables.  The step mother and step sisters stole the show for us – they were great!  Food was good and we had a really good time.  We went back to the hotel and then Carter and I went to the Grotto at the Polynesian for a few drinks – an absolute must if you’re staying there!  So fun.

Tuesday Carter got up and just took a taxi to the airport and he made out just fine.  The girls headed to Cinderella’s Castle for breakfast.  This was the highlight of the trip for me.  I would recommend breakfast for sure because the room is full of stain glassed windows and it was so bright and fun!  It was the first meal that we had that we actually ordered off a menu instead of a buffet which was a treat and they truly treated MF like royalty.  it was awesome.

We then spent the day in Fantasy Land.  The Peter Pan ride was a big hit and It’s a Small World is still the absolute best [we did it twice!].  We then did a Fast Pass for Belle’s Library which was amazing.  The kids all participate and they’re a part of the act – we loved it!  We then went on the Under the Sea ride which was really fun and then had a Fast Pass to meet Ariel in her Grotto [Little Mermaid is MF’s favorite so that was a big deal for her].  From there we went back to the entrance and watched the Parade from the top of the train station.  The new parade is amazing!  They went all out with the floats which are all really tall so watching from a higher perspective was really cool.  MF had started to melt at this point [it was really hot and humid] but we stuck it out and I’m so glad we did.  As soon as the parade started she felt much better and it was one of her favorite things.

We went back to the hotel and spent a few hours in the pool again which was perfect.  I didn’t make reservations for dinner that night and we ended up at the first come first serve side of the Kona restaurant.  We basically had it to ourselves and it was a great meal – definitely recommend that.  We ended just before 9pm and strolled down to the beach and watched the fireworks which is a HUGE perk of staying at the Polynesian.  I can’t imagine the crowds and noise at Magic Kingdom so we were happy as can be!

Wednesday we just took it easy and took advantage of the Magical Express service to the airport.  We weren’t able to check our bags at the hotel which was a bummer [it would have been nice to avoid the lines at the airport] but supposedly Southwest is revamping their system and it was a glitch on their end?  It wasn’t a problem but just something to warn future guests that it’s not a guarantee.  It was another easy flight home and here we are, back to reality.  Overall it was a great getaway and something we’ll all remember!!

Thank you again!! It was great that we didn’t have to contact you but so nice to know that you were a phone call away if anything did happen.

We’ll be in touch for our next adventure 🙂


(Aqua)duck, (Aqua)duck, dolphins!

And here is why cruises are such a great option for families:  My client, Karen, took a Disney cruise this winter with her 11-year-old twins (and without her husband) and all three of them had a wonderful time! Plenty of onboard activities to keep them busy — separately — but great opportunities for family time when they all wanted to be together. All in all, fantastic memories made, and they’re already looking forward to the next trip. But maybe they’ll bring Dad this time 🙂

Hi Ann,
We had a great time!  We had no trouble traveling out of Westchester Airport other than a little delay.  (The Delta flight that was supposed to leave about the same time was delayed even longer because they had to dig the plane out of the snow!)  I’m sure you saw my FB post about winning 25,000 JetBlue points.  The COO of JetBlue was on our plane and raffled off two prizes, which I actually won the first one.

The night at the Animal Kingdom Lodge was good.  We got there too late to see much outside of our room but the morning brought a parade of zebras and some birds.  Breakfast at Boma was amazing as always.  The kids decided to swim before we headed off to the cruise.  The pool is heated so they were happy.  We had plenty of time since our bus left at 11.  They took the luggage from our room while the kids were swimming and the bus pick up was handled well.

view on the deck of a Disney Cruise ShipWe were on the ship just after 12:30 and had a quick lunch before the rooms were ready at 1:30.  Then the kids swam again and Kyle did the Aquaduck five times.  After the emergency drill, we got ready for dinner.  Our tablemates were a family of five who used to live in Brewster but now live in Hopewell Junction.  Their daughter was a year older than Kyle & Jenn and the boys were younger.  We had lots of fun with them during the week. Check out what the waiter brought when I said I wanted “nothing” for dessert!

a plate of "nothing" with nothing written in chocolateTrip highlights and recommendations: 

Stingray City and the Turtle Farm in the Cayman Islands.  Amazing to see all the turtles and swim with the Stingrays.  The rays acted like dogs, bumping up against you to be fed.

Dolphinarus in Cozumel was great!  Their photographer was very good, and being able to kayak, paddleboard, and snorkel after the dolphin swim was a bonus. The included lunch was okay.  Photos were pricey but when I selected a basic photo CD package, I got a very good “family” deal that included the DVD and some prints.  I wasn’t crazy about the gauntlet of vendors getting off and on the ship but I know it’s like that in most places.

dolphins leaping out of the water in a pool

Rainforest Room – wish I had more time to just lay on the warm loungers and use the facilities.

Aladdin production and a show by “Buckets & Boards” were both great.  I would skip “Believe” next time and we didn’t see the other shows.  We actually missed the Pirate night!  We stopped at the room to watch some cartoons after dinner while waiting for the activities to start.  We all fell asleep!

It turns out Jennie wanted to hang out with me for most of the cruise.  I had to help her find activities before I headed off to a wine tasting and the rainforest room.  Kyle was happy to ride the Aquaduck, play basketball, and he enjoyed several of the Edge programs.  He took the room wave phone and was able to text/call me if he needed.  Jennie had the phone a few times too and was better at getting in touch.

children in a water filled tube at a water park on Disney Cruise

The car service was great.  They took our bags and put them in a mini trailer.  We were too tired to hang out at Seaworld until pick up time and they were there within 30 minutes when I called for an early pick up.  I’m glad I picked Seaworld for the day because it turned out to be rainy and there was one thunderstorm when they had to close the outside rides.  It was also empty due to the weather so we didn’t have to wait for one ride.

Thank you for all your tips and for the OBC.  I stayed with a “cash only” room charge for the first half of the cruise and used gift cards I had gotten through BJs and my Disney card rewards.  Then I switched to my credit card.  It helped me keep track of my purchases because I picked up a print out every two days from Guest Services.

Now I’m a little lost.  For the first time in years, I don’t have a trip planned!  I’m going to have to do some research for some long weekend trips in August.  We have DVC points to spend so I’m going to start with their other holdings.  Any suggestions?

Have a good day and thank you again for your help!


A 30th Birthday Surprise

One of my clients recently surprised her boyfriend with a 30th birthday “escape” to Orlando, and they had a blast!  What could be better than a milestone birthday AND a vacation, all rolled into one?

Hi Ann,

So sorry for the delay, but attached are a few pictures from our trip.

Kenny and I had such a great time, and you made it completely stress and worry-free!  Our flights were great, our arrival at the hotel went without a hitch and within 30 minutes of getting to the hotel, we were on our way to the parks!  Even with spending a few days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and a few days at the Disney Parks, we were still able to enjoy some mornings and afternoons at the hotel pool.  The atmosphere was great, food at the hotel was great and we really enjoyed every moment.

Kenny’s surprise destination 30th birthday gift was a true success, thanks to your knowledge and excellent planning!

Thanks again, Ann! 🙂

A Fantastic “Family-Moon”

What do you do when you’re getting married, and want to enjoy a romantic honeymoon afterwards, but you already have a family, and you don’t want to leave your kid(s) behind? Why not plan a two-part getaway, like my clients Brian and Pam!  Part one (the “familymoon”) was a kid-friendly trip to Walt Disney World. Part two (the adults-only “honeymoon”) involved leaving their daughter behind with Grandma and heading off to St. Lucia for a more private celebration. The result?  The whole family was happy!

Hi Ann,

Happy New Year! How are you? I hope this is better (very) late than never:

Our thoughts on Disney:

  • We had a really great time. Isabel loved Disney (no surprise)! We can’t thank you enough for setting us up with the meal plan – HUGE savings! We saved about $90/day in snacks and meals. We made reservations for a Disney Princess Lunch at Cinderella’s Castle and I HIGHLY recommend this for anyone with children who love Disney Princesses. We had to pre-pay and the menu is limited (and expensive – approx. $150 for the three of us including gratuity), but the food was very good and the experience for Isabel was priceless! Additionally, early October is a great time to visit Disney – we hardly waited for any rides (especially at Magic Kingdom). The All Star Movies resort was very nice – I thought we had selected the Toy Story section but we ended up in the 101 Dalmatians section (I don’t know what the difference is). We spent most of our first day at their beautiful pool. We were really pleased with the food court at the hotel as well. The Disney Transportation was very convenient and reliable – until the last day. Our bus back to the airport never came so they hotel had to scramble and find another bus for us (and a few other parties) to ride. It didn’t affect us as we were still more than early enough for our flight to Miami. Overall Disney was an amazing experience!

Our thoughts on St. Lucia and Sandals La Toc:

  • We thought the Island and the resort were beautiful! I definitely recommend a Sandals vacation for any couple as the resort has the right mix of relaxation and fun. We took advantage of the ‘stay at one; play at three’ by spending a beach day at The Grand. The food at all the resorts was very good and our favorite restaurants were La Toc and Kimonos (Japanese hibachi – we ate there twice!), and The Pavilion had a great breakfast buffet every day. We scheduled three excursions; our first was a Sunset Cruise. This was okay – I think Pam liked it more than I did. It was very nice to take a boat ride at sunset, but I thought it was a bit long and not really worth the money ($144 for the two of us). We totally loved our other two excursions! We went zip-lining and took the Soufriere Jeep Discovery Tour (all three through Island Routes). Zip-lining through the rainforest was such a fun experience – neither of us had ever done it before and we can’t wait to do it again! The Jeep Tour was probably my favorite. It was the right mix of fun and education about the Island. We toured the Island’s volcano, stopped for a hot mud bath, and washed off at the Toraille Water Fall. We had lunch at a local eatery with a wonderful view of the Pitons and a banana plantation. We loved Sandals La Toc and St. Lucia and thought it was the perfect choice for our honeymoon!

I’ve attached a few pictures that you can feel free to use on your website. Thanks again for all your help with our trip! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Brian and Pam

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)