The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror—Be Afraid … Be Very Afraid!

My favorite Disney ride is at Hollywood Studios – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

It’s a great attraction to ride either day or night and is based on a haunted hotel in old Hollywood. We love the queue up to the actual ride. In true Disney fashion the excitement builds as you get closer and closer to the elevator. My kids love it and look forward to the ride photo every year – they even know where to sit now (and will wait for that seat) so they can pose for the best shot. I do recommend warning everyone it is a thrill ride and it’s going to be a bit scary and dark – you must be 40″ tall to go on the attraction. They do offer a FastPass+ which I highly recommend.

Will you make it back or will you stay forever at the Hollywood Tower Hotel . . .

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Rum!

What is my favorite ride at Disney World? Easy- Pirates of the Caribbean!! I can’t pinpoint what it is about this ride that makes it my favorite but it is a must do with every Disney visit.  You set sail on a voyage to a time when pirates ruled the high-seas and will escape through a shadowy grotto past the ghostly catacombs of fallen pirates. This ride is for everyone, any age and any height. There is one small drop down a waterfall towards the beginning of the ride so be prepared but after that just sit back, enjoy and sing along with the drunken buccaneers. Jack Sparrow pops up throughout the whole ride so be on the lookout, you just never know what he is going to be up to. When you are at Disney World next, head to Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom and try this ride out, you won’t be disappointed!!

My Journey from Madrid to Lisbon

I just took a fabulous trip with Insight Vacations to Spain and Portugal. We began our trip in Madrid, then on to Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Lisbon. We had a tour director on the bus with us all the time, as well as local guides in each city we visited. The tour director and guides were a wealth of information and added so much to the trip. The coaches that they use only have 45 seats, so there is much more legroom and you are able to stand up and move past the person sitting next to you. Even if you have short legs, not having the seat in front of you so close to your face was really nice.

We visited the sites in each location which was included with the tour as were all breakfasts and most dinners. In Madrid we took a city tour to see the sites and visited the Prado Museum. The food was excellent – we tried many tapas and churros with chocolate dip. The Alhambra Palace in Toledo was very interesting sitting on one of the many hills of the city. In Cordoba, we visited The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. This was fascinating to have a tour and see the church within the mosque. Seville showed us the buildings from the 1929 World Expo, a horse carriage ride to dinner, tapas emphasizing the local delicacies, and a flamenco show. In Lisbon, we visited Christ the King statue, the monastery and cloister, sampled Pasteis de Belem custard tarts and had fantastic food. We also attended a Fado, which are songs that women sang because their men did not return home from the sea. The Fado is now on a Unesco list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Toy Story Midway Mania by Melissa (almost an expert)

My favorite ride at Disney World and Disneyland is Toy Story Mania!!!

At Disney World, this ride is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  At Disneyland, this ride is located at Disney’s California Adventure Park.

I’m such a nerd that I researched and read up on how to get more points on this fun little ride!!!

Here are a few of the things I have learned about the ride and how to improve your score:
(Most of the high scores involve uncovering the secret targets on each screen)

  1. Hamm & Eggs screen – shoot the fox and the hens, while also shooting the two pigs above the fox.  When the two pigs go down, a cat appears.
  2. Green Army Men screen – in the beginning, two 2000 plates will shoot up in the valleys, hit them both before they disappear.  Higher value plates appear.
  3. Woody’s Shooting Gallery screen – this one is a team effort, Hit the 100 point target to open the 5 more targets, then you have to hit them all.  When you do, the targets pop open worth 2000 points each

Yep, I love this ride and am just a tiny bit competitive….ha ha ha!!!

  

Pandora – The World of Avatar is now open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

Explore Pandora

Exploring Pandora – The World of Avatar – is a must see experience now open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The land itself serves as an amazing attraction for you to explore and interact with, and the area’s two experiences – the thrilling Avatar Flight of Passage and the family friendly Na’vi River Journey – are already wowing Guests. But did you know there are actually many other ways you can have fun throughout Pandora – The World of Avatar?

Here are seven must-do suggestions on how you can have the most immersive experience possible during their next expedition to Pandora – The World of Avatar.

1. Match With A Banshee – Already a favorite experience, the land’s Windtraders Merchandise shop is home to the Rookery, a nook where banshees reside, waiting to be adopted and brought home with you.

2. Visit at Swotu Wayä (“Sacred Place of Song”) – Located in the heart of Mo’ara Valley, you can interact with a collection of instruments fashioned by the Na’vi. They are connected into the moon’s root system and as Guests play the instruments, the area just may respond with music and light.

3. Test Out A Na’vi Translator – Also found in Windtraders, this fun device helps you learn Na’vi words.

4. Dine at Satu’li Canteen – Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Satu’li Canteen offers one of the most interesting menus at the Walt Disney World® Resort. Featuring international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations, it’s the ideal place to refuel on an expedition through the Valley of Mo’ara.

5. Help Regrow the Flaska Reclinata – One of the largest and most fascinating plants on Pandora, your Clients can help this rare plant “re-seed” itself on Pandora simply through touch.

6. Channel Your Inner Na’vi – Windtraders offers a selection of Na’vi inspired merchandise. Here, you can buy your own set of Na’vi ears or a Na’vi tail. Or get a Na’vi inspired look over at Colors of Mo’ara.

7. Get Camera Ready – Pandora – The World of Avatar is chock-full of unbelievable photo opportunities – from towering floating mountains, to surprising water falls and much more.

Must Have Apps When Flying

Mobile Passport

Do you travel internationally? Have you checked out the Mobile Passport app? You still need to have your passport with you when you travel but having this app will save you time at the airport! It is pin protected so you can safely store your passport information.

TSA APP

The TSA App will keep you informed of airport delays, checkpoint wait times, along with a list of your favorite airports. The app also provides guidelines for liquid rules, identification requirements and travel tips. They even have daily hours you can chat with them via messenger or twitter.

Also, don’t forget to download your airline app.  Having your airline app saved on your phone will be helpful to get updates, gate changes and more!

My Favorite Travel Apps 2017

I simply remember my favorite things….. oh yes my friend, let’s take a look at a few of my fav’s for the year.
If you have not ever tried these, now is the time.

Rebtel — Phone calling
Facetime, Skype and Whatsapp are all good options when you want to make calls, but a WiFi connection is always needed to use the.  Let’s talk about the app Rebtel.  The app works by basically hijacking local phonelines and gives you the best available calling rates.  Check out the recently launched Rebel calling deal for friends and family free calls if they are also using the same app. (looks to be valid only until 2018)
— rebtel.com

Packpoint — Packing
This app generates a great packing list for your trip.  You enter the destination, date of travel and length of stay along with a bit of detail on the activities you’re planning.  Once generated, it’s easy to tweak if you want to add/subtract due to your personal packing style.
— packpnt.com

Rome2rio — Transit Connections
Route planning, when traveling globally, can get more complicated these days.  When figuring out how to get from point A to point B this app is pretty amazing.  With route info from over 4,800 transport operators in over 158 countries, this app instantly displays flight, train, bus ferry and driving options with estimated travel times and pricing.
— rome2rio.com

 

 

 

 

Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

While honeymooning in Costa Rica, Matt and Jessica stayed at the beautiful Secrets Papagayo.  They drove through the countryside and enjoyed the stunning views. As an added adventure, they hiked through the rainforest which ended with a romantic swim underneath the waterfalls. The butterfly gardens were exceptional … a must see. Matt and Jessica also swam  in the natural hot springs which was absolutely amazing, an unforgettable experience!

Day trips from Auckland New Zealand when stopping over

In August 2015 I had a 2 day stopover in Auckland and I found many opportunities for day trips and excursions from the city of Auckland. If you find yourself with the chance to stop over, I highly recommend it. Even better plan an entire trip just to visit New Zealand.

Hobbiton

Experience the Lord of the Rings movie set to take in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Middle Earth. Hobbiton is a must see for travelers to New Zealand where they are given an opportunity to see the living movie set and immerse themselves in the wonders of the Trilogies.

Wonder the paths of the Shire, escape into a Hobbit hole and attempt to recreate your favorite scenes. The land Sir Peter Jackson loves so much comes to life as your guide shares details of moving making and famous movie sites.

They even have a banquet room on site and opportunities for dining after your tour.

I had never even seen the movies before experiencing Hobbiton but I still found the tour the be very interesting and a great introduction to the countryside of New Zealand. This is only a 2 hour drive from Auckland.

My time as a Hobbit

My time as a Hobbit.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are another must see when visiting New Zealand. The glowworms radiate luminescent light that illuminate the caves with historical and geographical interests.

Enjoy the tour by boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history. While on the boat ride you cannot have any light and must stay extremely quiet or you will scare the light out of them. You are guided through the caves by a pulling system lead by a professional glowworm dude.

I wish I had more opportunity to explore here but it was pouring rain and the caves had flooded. It is very rare that this happens so I will plan it to go back because what I did see was worth every minute. This is only 2.5 hours from Auckland.

America’s Cup Sailing Adventure 

Enjoy the thrill of sailing on the America’s Cup sailing ships. With no sailing experience necessary, you can still be involved in all things sailing. It takes more than you think to get these ships race ready. As the wind hits the sails, the professional crew shares their experience with you while letting you feel the exhilaration and power of a sailing regatta.

Not only did I enjoy the race I also enjoyed seeing the contrast of natural landscapes and city skyscrapers that line the harbour from the best view in town. I was given the opportunity to steer, use the grinders to raise and trim the sails and try not to fall off the ship. Located in Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

I specialize in travel to Australia and New Zealand. Use my insider knowledge and experience to help you plan your bucket list vacation.

Disney Dancing Queens

Disney Dancing Queens

The ASU Dancing Devils is a sports club at Arizona State University. Their club was started 15 years ago and they haven’t traveled outside of the valley (Phoenix/Tempe area). This was a huge step for their club to not only travel, but to travel across the United States to Florida.

“Tammy was a huge part in the success of this trip! We definitely couldn’t have done it without her. She worked with us on finding the best deals for both flights and hotels. Tammy made my life a lot easier by staying very organized, and being able to answer any questions I had!! We appreciate everything that she has done for our team in order for to travel to Disney World!!”

– Megan Bonesteel, President of the ASU Dancing Devils


Choosing the Right Destination

When you are planning a destination wedding choosing the right destination is the biggest decision in the whole planning process along with the budget. These two go hand-in-hand but cost should go to the top of the list. Figure out what you can realistically afford and don’t forget to factor in gratuities, dress alternations and the bridal emergency fix-it-kit.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and write down the top three requirements for your wedding experience. Have your partner do this as well and compare your lists. Do you want beach? Or would you prefer a grand ballroom? Is a formal dinner a priority or do you want to experience the local cuisine?
  2. Next outline your ideal destination. When you picture your wedding do you picture barefoot on the beach, an underwater ceremony or in a jungle locale? Much like couples, countries, islands, states and resorts have distinct personalities. Take into account travel time and accessibility for you as well as your guests. Also make sure you know the legal requirements for getting married in another country. Some may mandate waiting periods and on-site medical tests so these should be factored in to your budget.
  3. Choose a resort that speaks to your wedding vision as a couple. Send out e-mails to the wedding coordinators and ask basic questions. Find out if your date and wedding location are available. What is the cost of the wedding? Does the resort offer a free wedding package? What is the weather plan if your beach wedding gets rained out? Some resorts even offer a site inspection trip where you and your partner can visit the resort and see if it is the right fit.

Sandy toes and salty kisses, whatever destination you choose I can help you plan your perfect destination wedding.

Client Review of Grand Velas Vallarta (Riviera Nayarit)

 

I meant to email you earlier this week. It was FABULOUS! We loved it. The beach was amazing, the food was fantastic and the service was totally awesome. It will be hard for us to go anywhere else. It was a bit smaller which was a nice change. Grounds and rooms were very nice as well. Even the transportation was seamless this time! We loved the adjoining rooms as well – that worked out perfect. They had a really cool fire show one night and live music on other nights. Really hard to pick on anything. I can’t say enough about the food. Wow – for all inclusive, blew every other place away by far – Chateau briand, sea bass, steak – all fabulous. Poolside fajitas – amazing. Even the “non-reservation” restaurant changed it’s menu and options in the buffet. They had a bbq night one night which was really nice too. We can name at least 4-5 staff members by name who were exceptional but everyone was so friendly and helpful. Just awesome. We had a fabulous time. Thank you!!!

Sherri B.
Plymouth, MN

Get Your Honeymoon Right

If there’s one trip you *must* get right, it’s your Honeymoon. For fifty percent or so of us, this is the only one we’ll ever get. For the rest of us, well that’s another story. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty darn important trip.

What comes to mind when you envision your perfect honeymoon? Adventuring in New Zealand? Relaxing at a luxurious, couples-only beach resort? Sampling culinary delights throughout Europe? Although we all may picture our once-in-a-lifetime journeys differently, we can all agree that if not planned carefully, things can look very different than that romantic getaway playing in your head. Think lost hotel reservations, hours spent in car, waiting around wondering what to do next, or being confined to your hotel because it’s storming. Every. Day.

Long ago, before I entered the fabulous industry of travel, I was married in October. When selecting a honeymoon destination, my then husband and I both agreed that we wanted something exotic in the Caribbean. The BVIs? St. Lucia? We were both very busy with wedding planning so we contacted a Travel Agent. She informed us right away that we were traveling in the peak of hurricane season and advised that we go instead to Aruba, which is out of the hurricane belt. Her expertise saved us from a humid, wet, rainy honeymoon. Her recommendation was spot-on and we had a great time.

I guess the moral of this story is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Your honeymoon is such a special trip and most of us want every detail considered and an overall seamless experience! Take the stress and guess-work out of planning and contact a Travel Agent. We’re here to make sure every base is covered – from planning through post-trip follow-up.

My kind of honeymoon includes adventure!

Romance in Tahiti

Tahiti is simply one of the most romantic destinations on earth, who wouldn’t want to get married here? It was only a few years ago that laws changed in Tahiti and now weddings on these beautiful islands are now legally binding for Americans and Canadians.

A Tahitian ceremony has a Polynesian influence, which makes for an unforgettable ceremony. You can even have a Tahitian Priest perform your ceremony. Exchange your vows in the sugary white sands with beautiful tropical petals surrounding you amongst the palm trees. If you’d rather wear heals instead of flip flops or bare feet you may consider the over water glass-bottomed chapel, located in front of Mount Otemanu. 

Best yet, if you want to go on your honeymoon immediately following your nuptials French Polynesia has multiple islands you can visit. You can easily escape your guests and experience the beauty and romance of Tahiti. If you’re looking for adventure there are great experiences such as feeding rays & sharks, snorkeling with tropical fish in crystal clear waters unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! There are plenty of hiking trails, jet skiing or 4WD adventures. If you’re looking for romance, adventure and culture … Tahiti has it all!

I would love to help you plan the dream wedding for you!