Traveling Solo Brings Wonders of the World

It’s going to be a banner year for travel, according to a new survey of American consumers. That upswing includes people who will be traveling on their own.

Travel Leaders Group polled more than 3,500 people, and 96 percent indicated that they intend to take a trip for vacation in 2019, with 76 percent planning at least two or more leisure trips. And 36 percent say that their travels, at least in part, will involve solo trips.

Solo travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, and travel advisors work with clients to tailor a trip that meets their needs. According to the survey, 40 percent of solo travelers want to travel and explore independently, while 25 percent prefer to be part of an organized group journey. Thirty-five percent enjoy participating in one or more guided tours.

The top five U.S. destinations for solo travelers in 2019 are Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Alaska. The top five international destinations are Western Europe, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom/Ireland, Eastern Europe and Australia.

Each of those destinations offers opportunities for solo travelers no matter what their style.

Travelers who want to explore on their own, and love urban spaces, will find lots of interesting neighborhoods in cities like New York, London and San Francisco. New York’s artsy Greenwich Village, San Francisco’s Italian North Beach and London’s trendy Notting Hill are just a few examples of popular places where you can browse in shops or relax in a café like a local.

Solo travelers who love to explore a culture through its cuisine, Italy is, obviously, a great place to indulge in everything from gelato to pasta to wine. But there are other destinations that many might not think about for a wine trip, like Australia. The country has more than 60 designated wine regions and almost every city there has an annual festival, like the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, March 8-24, with more than 200 events.

Art-loving solo travelers can admire the masterpieces in Western Europe’s museums at their own pace. This year’s highlights include an exhibit on designer Christian Dior, opening in February at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. In Paris, the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa, will pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death, beginning in October.


For solo travelers who love the outdoors, plan a hiking trip in a national park, like Yosemite, in northern California. It’s easier than you think to find your own little spot to commune with nature. When you don’t want to be on your own, national parks offer lots of activities, such as photography walks and strolls with a naturalist.

If you’re a solo traveler who wants the comfort and camaraderie of a group journey, cruises are a good option, whether it’s the sunny Caribbean or breathtaking Alaska. In addition to voyages geared toward singles, some cruise ships have studios that are designed and priced for solo travelers.

For help planning a solo trip, contact us today.

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!!!


Mandy goes to Disney World

In May 2016 I was fortunate enough to travel to one of my most favorite places…Disney World!! I am that girl who walks through the parks with a big smile on her face just happy as can be. I stayed at the Grand Floridian and wow, this hotel is nice! From the fragrant flower bouquets, friendly staff and being right on the monorail, this place has it all. Just a quick ride on the monorail and you are at Magic Kingdom, the happiest place on earth. While at Magic Kingdom I went on 2 of my most favorite rides- Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s a Small World.

While at Disney I also did site inspections at a few other hotels and one of the hotels was the Caribbean Beach. At this hotel they have pirate rooms and they are cool! If you have any little “pirates” in your family they would love to stay in one of these rooms. Something to keep in mind though is that if you are tall, this room type is not for you. There is no room for your feet to hang off the end of the bed and therefore you might not get the best night sleep. These rooms are also located in the last buildings at the hotel so it is about a 10-15 minute walk to the lobby.

Another hotel we visited was the Wilderness Lodge. If you like the rustic, outdoor feeling then this hotel is the perfect fit. We ate at the Whispering Canyon restaurant where they serve western fare. Be ready for a rowdy crowd and the foolish, outrageous and amusing behaviors from the wait staff.

When you are ready to plan your next Disney World vacation I would be happy to help and share of my hints and tricks with you!

Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney World Disney 019 Disney World

Laurie goes to Disney

I traveled to Walt Disney World in Florida 2016 and stayed at the Grand Floridian.
The hotel is beautiful and right on the monorail system so transportation to the Magic Kingdom was a quick breeze.  I enjoy the slower moving, classic rides and was fun to see the changes in It’s a Small World, the Little Mermaid ride, Pirates of the Caribbean and so forth.  Pooh is still my favorite character but wasn’t able to see him this trip.  Next time hopefully!

13351088_10206326331219504_1539659242_o  13340618_10206326329859470_271974793_o    13351244_10206326330019474_1345106197_o   13389014_10206326329339457_2114247374_o    13383443_10206326327339407_531088672_o   13340941_10206326327019399_1103621888_o   13383503_10206326326499386_322139384_o   13389078_10206326330819494_58616987_o



Toddler Travel … Turbulence and Tantrums Avoided

Westin Family Journey from Sunny San Diego to Disneyland

I think everyone gets a little bit of anxiety when getting prepared to travel with a toddler, as was I. Is he going to have a meltdown on the plane? Will he throw a tantrum and make a scene? Will we get any sleep? And the list goes on…

Well, let me tell you … it’s not worth it. We had the BEST trip of our lives! Sure, the 3 1/2 hour plane ride got a bit long, but with snacks, coloring books and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes on the iPad we got through it without any hitches. The only person Griffin bothered was mom (he’s almost 35 lbs and didn’t sit very still). I would suggest an additional seat for a large child under 2, we’ve got a big boy.

Renting a Car

We rented a car through National (we are Emerald Members). We got off the plane, shuttled over to the car rental and hopped right in to our minivan. We were on our way to sunny San Diego in no time. The customer service was superb! We were in and out with no problems and NO wait time! Perfect, for toddler travels.

San Diego

As we were in route to San Diego from LAX we decided it was time to take a break and let Griffin experience the ocean for the first time. We happened to stumble on San Clemente Beach and boy were we glad we did. It was a beautiful beach with large waves and tons of surfers to watch.

San Clemente San Clemente

We stayed at The Dana on Mission Bay. It was a nice hotel that was very accommodating and near the beach and downtown San Diego, perfect for our two night stay. There was a pool, a restaurant with good eats and also a shuttle service to nearby SeaWorld.


Day 1 in San Diego: A Day of Nonstop Adventures

Coronado Beach
We spent our first morning in San Diego at Coronado Beach. We stopped at the Broken Yolk for breakfast, I highly recommend this restaurant!  Coronado Beach is 1.5 miles long and super wide! We had perfect waves and the sand was soft as can be. We couldn’t keep Grif out of the water. After the beach we spent time shopping for souvenirs and they had some great little shops.

Coronado Beach

Belmont Park
After a short time relaxing at the hotel we headed to Belmont Park. There were rides, an arcade, restaurants and shops. We really enjoyed the beach views and lively atmosphere.

Belmont Park

Downtown San Diego
We had to check out downtown San Diego. We didn’t realize all the fun we would stumble upon on our journey. As we were heading in we saw a park that looked like a great place to stop for Griffin to play. Waterfront Park is the perfect place for family in a downtown setting! There was a unique play area, fountains to run through and an open play area with tall buildings and pirate ships surrounding you. It almost seemed surreal.

Fountain Park with City View Fountain Park Play Area Open Area Fountain Park

We walked to Westfield Horton Plaza which was a beautiful outdoor mall with good eats and a movie theatre.  We completed our day with fish and chips on the pier.

Westfield Horton Plaza

Day 2 in San Diego: Zoo Adventure and Anaheim Bound 

We spent the day at San Diego Zoo. This is the perfect place for a family with small children to go. There are countless exotic animals to see and there are also small play areas and animal figures for the kids to play on. Some of our favorites were the hippo, koala bears and pandas. This was a first for my husband and I too.

Hippo Koala Bear Panda
San Diego Zoo 2 San Diego Zoo Play Area San Diego Zoo

After our fun at the San Diego Zoo we were on our way to Anaheim.



We stayed at Fairfield Inn. It was a nice hotel with Disney themed rooms. It was just a short walk to Disneyland which allowed to sneak in a short nap during our Disney day.

Fairfield Pool Themed Room

Day 3 in Anaheim: Disneyland

We spent one full day at Disneyland (minus a short nap). We covered a lot of ground, rode most all the rides that we could with Griffin and saw all of our favorite characters. I would highly suggest downloading the app so you know when and where character appearances are taking place. Griffin was just about to turn 2 when we made our trip, but we found plenty of rides to go on as a family. Disneyland seemed reasonable to tackle with a toddler. Even though he may not remember the memories we have were well worth it and we will remind him with pictures. The pure joy on his face when he met Mickey was PRICELESS … had mom in tears.

Griffin and Mickey  Pluto and Grif  Mickey Minnie and Westin Family
Tomorrowland Ride  Castle  Dumbo Ride

A few take aways for traveling with a toddler:

  • They have the rest of their lives to take naps  – if they need a nap give them one, if not, enjoy your special time together
  • Don’t bring a pack-n-play most hotels have them, but ask in advance
  • Bring your own stroller and carseat – may be a drag, but they are great to have
  • Bring a blanket and stuffed animal from home to comfort them when they sleep
  • Always have snacks and beverages wherever you go
  • Take LOTS of pictures to capture the memories
  • Don’t sweat the small things and live in the moment

“Memories are Priceless. You can always make money, but you can’t always make more memories”
– Anonymous 




LaVonne visits Boston, MA

If you would like to discover history, the Freedom Trail is a great way to do this in Boston.   You will need to plan your time and what you will see.  There is a lot of walking, so a couple of days for the Trail would be the best.   I do recommend that you take a Gray Line Tour to get a feel for the area.  We took a full day tour which took us around Boston, Cambridge, Lexington and Concord.  We received a lot of information on the tour and were able to see many of the places in the area.  We also visited Salem where they had the witch trials, Rockport which is a great seaside town, and Somerville where we ate at the Boston Burger Company which was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  I tried the signature burger which was shown on Triple D, the Mac Attack (homemade 4 cheese mac n’ cheese with bacon).  It was very good.  A visit to the JFK Presidential Library while in Boston is very interesting.  We stayed in Peabody, had a car to travel around, but we parked the car and rode the T (the train) into Boston which costs $14 each way ($7 if you are a senior) and the subway.  You purchase a Charlie Card for the subway and you can add money to the card or purchase a new one each time.  Depending on the length of time in the area, you may want to purchase a pass for the T and/or the subway.  We also had a Boston Go Card, which got us into many places in Boston as well as Salem, Lexington and Concord.  There was so much to see and do in Boston and the surrounding area.  It is great for individuals as well as families.

Darla’s Son Has a Destination Wedding!

untitled-0011   untitled-0084 untitled-0123 untitled-0133  untitled-9957bgondolauntitled-0023 untitled-0327-2 untitled-0377 untitled-0403-2 untitled-0248untitled-0017untitled-9908 untitled-9919cuntitled-0308 untitled-9936  untitled-9974 untitled-9998 DSC_0111

August 13, 2015

My son and his new bride, Ashley, had a destination wedding up the North Shore at the Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountain. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the pictures, as you can see, turned out awesome. Shout out to my niece of Alyssum Photography for taking the pictures. Also a shout out to my co-worker Jennifer for making the wonderful cake. And my co-worker Kelly for doing the programs and check-in packets. I work with awesome people!

If you only thought destination weddings happened in tropical destinations (which are awesome too, don’t get me wrong), check out the North Shore here in our own ‘back yard’! Did I mention you had to take a gondola to get up the mountain to the wedding site?

Family Trip to Washington DC

David & Lynn decided they wanted to take their family of 3 young children to a safe US-based destination for around 5 days. They looked at some that had beaches; Florida, California and various cities along the East coast, but decided on Washington DC per the great price point for an August vacation. Their kids, while all under 7, had never been and they wanted something with good restaurants, sightseeing and history and easy access (non-stop flights) from Minneapolis. I chose for them a ritzier hotel on Embassy Row as the family has higher-end tastes and a good location was of high interest since travelling day to day with young children was not ideal. They also desired a room with more room for the family of 5 and enough comfortable bedding for all children..

Client Review ~ Alaska Cruise Tour

July 13 – 31, 2013

Sapphire Princess

Balcony Cabin category BF

7 day land (Fairbanks to Whittier) and 7 day cruise (Southbound Whittier to Vancouver)

Agent: Karen Malone

“Hi Karen,

We are back in town. The trip went well. The weather was good – had a little drizzle the morning we were in Juneau but we went to see the Mendenhall Glacier that morning and it was not a problem. We did not see Denali due to cloud cover, evidently we were a day late getting there. We meet a lot of nice people along the way and had a good time.

We were really pleased we got into Fairbanks very early Sunday. I think I told you previously, it gave us an extra day to orient to the time change and to see downtown Fairbanks on a leisurely basis.

The Princess lodges were all nice and their system of giving you an envelope with room keys and checkout information/times/luggage instructions was great – totally eliminated standing in any lines for those procedures. Luggage was always in our rooms when we arrived. Our individual room was still being cleaned when we got to Denali but not a problem. I mentioned the fire alarm going off in Fairbanks. The motor coach also broke down en route to Denali so we got there about two hours later than planned. They needed to send another bus up from Denali to pick us up. The train transportation went well and ran on time. The land portion was fun and we saw/learned a lot about Alaska.

The cruise was nice and followed the plan. We really enjoyed our stateroom – first time we had balcony. The weather was good so the glaciers were spectacular and we spent plenty of time there. Got closer than I had expected with a big ship. They had a full program on board, something going on all the time, and more food than anyone should eat. Again, getting on and off was very smooth.

Vancouver was an interesting city. We walked a lot and used shuttles, hop on/hop off buses and cabs to get around town and see the sites. Arranged a Victoria tour through the hotel for last Monday – that was 13 hours with a few hours at each downtown and Butchart Gardens.

Re luggage, we both sent our small airline carry on bag to the ship when we left Fairbanks. We kept our larger checked airline bag with us on the land portion. We each had a back pack in our main luggage for the flight to Fairbanks and then used them as our small carry on for the land portion. Having them handle the larger piece of luggage between hotels was not a problem as there was no restriction on size. There were bags larger than ours in the mix.

That is a brief overview. Bounce back if I forgot anything that you a curious about. We have 1200 pictures to sort through and get organized.”


Vegas Baby!

Saturday July 27, 2013

Off to Las Vegas. In 2011 I was in Vegas 3 times for work meetings and it’s been almost 5 years since my husband Dennis has been. And, as much as I hate the heat, I love Las Vegas, and we were both excited for this last minute trip.

We flew on Sun Country and splurged just a bit and upgraded to first class.  It was a great idea, Dennis was so much more comfortable. Free checked bags are included in first class…lovely not to have to carry them on the plane, and then we were given cheese and crackers as an appetizer, a full supper, wine, beer, hot towels after our meal and had use of the Digi machine to watch movies, TV, or listen to music. The seats were comfortable and the flight attendants nice and personable. It was s smooth ride into Vegas and Dennis loved the extra leg room and wider seats.

I didn’t pre-buy our airport/hotel transfers this trip so we had figured on taking a taxi after we landed in Vegas. Little did I know, Sun Country actually sells transfers on board the plane. They were $13 round trip for a strip hotel, same price we would have paid from a tour company, and a better value than a taxi so it was an easy decision. You need to use a credit or debit card (no cash sales on board the plane) and we were given a receipt and the 2 transfer coupons per person. It was fast and easy to purchase.

I have never flown Sun Country into Las Vegas before but I have to say I liked flying into the smaller Terminal 3 versus Terminal 1 where Delta and the bigger airlines fly into. Terminal 3 reminded me a lot of the Sun Country terminal in Minneapolis (terminal 2), more conveient and less hassel. Las Vegas Airport Information

Our first 2 nights hotel stay were at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas. We stayed on the 51st floor, room 5106, a 1-bedroom strip view suite. It was stunning and our room had all the amenities the Trump Web site spoke about:

  • Breathtaking views of the iconic South Las Vegas Strip
  • Expansive family-friendly, non-smoking hotel suites
  • Private foyer entrance
  • European style kitchen with appliances by Wolf, Bosch, and Sub-Zero
  • Dining area with seating for four
  • Living area with sofa seating, coffee table and flat-screen, LCD HDTV
  • Full second bathroom with shower in living room
  • Floor-to-ceiling windows in living room and bedroom
  • Master bedroom with king-size bed
  • Luxurious bedsheets and plush down comforters and pillows
  • Italian marble bath with twin sinks, spa tub, separate shower and high-tech, in-mirror, plasma television
  • iHome music system
  • Wireless internet with on-site IT support
  • In-suite safe for storing personal items

I loved the big plush bath robes they provided for our use while in the suite and having the 4 bottles of water was an added bonus. I also liked that we didn’t have to worry about “extras” within the room we would have to pay for – like so many hotels these days now have with stocked mini bars and things that are on sensors and if you move anything they are automatically charged to your room.

We received a $25 spa credit if we spent $125 in the spa (although not enough time to use it). We ate at the main eating area for breakfast. Coffee and pastries. I have to say, service was lacking, very slow, not what I expected when room services is guaranteed in 15 minutes or less – took us longer than that to get our food. I’ve never stayed at a non-gaming hotel in Las Vegas hotel before and honestly, I didn’t miss not having the casino right at our hotel in the least. Our stay was lovely, I would definitely stay at this property again.

After inspecting our hotel on Saturday night we headed across the street to the Fashion Show Mall. WOW – what a difference a day (well years) makes! The last time we were in this mall (at least 5 years ago – maybe more) it was virtually dead with very few people walking around and it just seemed desolate. Now it was buzzing with people and an abundance of shops and kiosks. From the mall we headed over to Treasure Island and explored for a while then across the street to Walgreens. We definitely do not have Walgreens like this in Minneapolis! This one was decked out. We purchased some beer, wine, and snacks before heading back to our room to relax (yes we are old).

Sunday July 27th, 2013

Dennis’s cousin John picked us up and we headed to the Hoover Damn. Having not been since before 911 it was interesting to see the changes they have made. You pass security to get into the area and they have created a new highway and walking bridge you can view the damn from. It was a really interesting way to see things. On our way back we were able to view a gathering of big horn sheep grazing in a park near the side of the road. John said for all the years he’s lived in Nevada he’s never seen a group of them grazing like that.  After a great day and wonderful lunch and time catching up with John and his wife Laura we headed back to our hotel and then off to see the Cirque Du Soleil show Mystere. The show was great and we had wonderful seats (definitely worth a little extra money for center stage seats).

Monday July 29, 2013

I decided to check out Trumps pool this morning before we checked out of the hotel. It was nothing real fancy, big rectangle pool, with cabana beds around it that had to be rented. Otherwise they had loungers around the pool you could sit at. They did “police” the cabana beds – so you were not able to use them unless you rented them. I spent about an hour at the pool reading and relaxing before we had to pack up, check out, and head over to the Cosmopolitan hotel for the next 2 nights of our stay.

Apparently staying at the Cosmopolitan in the past had not left much of an impression on me because I honestly did not remember staying at this hotel before, although I quickly remembered I had stayed here when we walked into the lobby (Travel Leaders national meeting November 2011). The place was packed! It was about 11:30am and people were everywhere. Checking in, checking out, hanging about the lobby bar, etc. I found out that the hotel was hosting a teachers convention and that accounted for the abundance of check in’s. Apparently we were VIP guests (who knew) because we were upgraded from a terrace suite to a wraparound terrace suite,  suite 1701 to be exact, a handicap accessible room, so wide open areas were easy to get around and the showers were roll-in with benches and bars. Anyone who needed assistance should not have problems with this room. The room was HUGE and the balcony with the wrap around was pretty cool with a view from our master bedroom directly out to the Marquee Dayclub pool which incidentally becomes an extension of the Marquee Nightclub at night (more on that later).

If you don’t have a problem with motion sickness, check out my Facebook page for a video tour of our room and wraparound balcony at

The fridge was fully stocked with items you “purchased” if you moved anything and they also had a little service tray with assorted snacks and yes, a “fun kit” with ….. condom, lube, and something else – I cannot remember…but the whole idea of this being placed at the back of the snack kit in the kitchen I found very comical. We were extremely careful not to touch/move anything from the fridge or snack kit because everything is placed on sensors and we didn’t want to be charged for anything (Walgreens was a much less expensive alternative).

Although having a wraparound terrace was neat a couple of things about the room were odd to me. For example. I was a bit disappointed that the room didn’t have a coffee maker in it – seems to me if I’m going to sit out on my wraparound terrace it would be lovely in the AM when it’s not as hot and I could enjoy a cup of java. Apparently the only way that is going to happen is if I order room service. I also found it very odd that the bathrooms did not have washcloths. They had big bath towels and what I consider a hand towel but no washcloths, and I found it a bit awkward using this larger towels. And when you open a bar of soap or shampoo / conditioner, can you not use it more than one day? Every time we would walk back into our room after housekeeping was in the room all the soap, shampoo, conditioner we had opened had been removed and new things laid out. It just seemed strange, especially with hotels all talking about being more environmentally friendly.

After we thoroughly inspected everything about our room we headed out to Planet Hollywood and the Miracle Mile shoppes to pick up our show tickets for the night and have lunch. V Theater is towards the back of the Miracle Mile shoppes – so we eventually got over to the box office to pick up our tickets for the shows. Then we had lunch at Cheeseburger Las Vegas, I would highly recommend it, food was great and service was excellent.  Then we headed to the strip to visit M&M World and Coke World. Well…having a foot injury (before we left for Vegas…but that’s another story) I was pretty exhausted and feeling awful by the time we made it to M&M World. So, we turned back around and headed towards Cosmopolitan.  I decided if I headed back to the suite to relax I would not go back out for the night, so back to Planet Hollywood we went. A few hours of exploring slot machines and killing time and it was off to our first show of the night.

Show # 1 – Country Superstars

Here’s how the show’s described online “Country Superstars is a fast-paced, concert style event featuring a world-class live band and tributes to some of the biggest names in country music history such as Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, and more! All ages.”

We are country music fans so I thought…sure, why not. The theater was odd. You walked into the room and it had a stage and then several rows of padded free standing padded chairs directly in front and to the side. Granted they were nice padded chairs, but cramped in with no arm rests…you better like your neighbors and not have very long legs. The live band that played for all 4 acts was excellent and consisted of a drummer, base guitarist, keyboards, and electric guitar player. The show touts “live music no lip-sync” – okay so…they have to be decent right? The first act was a guy impersonating Keith Urban. He looked pretty close to the singer but the voice…nope. It was almost painful at times listening to him, even the band members looked like they were having a really hard time listening to him. The next act was Waylon Jennigs and although he didn’t look too much like him, but he had a great voice and could sing, we didn’t mind listening to Mr. Jennings and the rest of the audience really enjoyed his act also. Next Garth Brooks. I guess if you have a beer belly, wear blue jeans and have a cowboy hat you can impersonate Garth Brooks? Not in my opinion. He was marginally better than the Keith Urban singer, marginally, and when you’re singing “Friends in Low Places” and expecting the audience to do 90% of the singing, well…you get the idea. I think the ladies sitting behind me (who were obviously well liquored up) were having the best time of all singing along with Mr. Brooks. Finally it was time to roll Big and Rich out.  The singers looked pretty darn close to the famous duo and acted like them also. The songs they sang were fun and upbeat and they had pretty decent voices; my second favorite act of the night. After the show you could do a meet and greet with the singers and and buy things – I didn’t see anyone stop to talk to them. If the band had been their I just might have walked up to them and complimented them on their skills. As it was, we couldn’t wait to head out of that room and we had just over an hour until the next show we had tickets for.

We had purchased discounted dinner as part of our show tickets so we decided to use them at the Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood. Unfortnately the line was over an hour and a half just to get a table, not enough time before our next show, so we killed some time playing penny slots and having a few drinks, then on to the next show.

V-The Ultimate Variety Show. “Comedy, magic, aerial acrobatics, dancing and some of the wildest modern-day Vaudeville acts you will ever see. V truly is the Ultimate Variety Show. All ages.

This show was excellent. I would highly recommend this show to anyone. We had great seats, left stage 2nd row. The acts all seemed to consist of former America’s Got Talent acts, or of that type of thing. The MC was an amazing juggler, 2 guys that were great tap dancers, 2 guys that were from South America that played drums and did some rope trick things, a young man and young woman who did some crazy roller skating things (kids do not try this at home stuff), and a group called MO5AIC who were pronominal, and a guy who put masks on 5 audience members and made them do silly stuff. The show was great – I would see it again and recommend it to everyone.

After the show it was a very late dinner at the Spice Market buffet and then back to our room. When we walked into our room we could hear music – that distinct loud beat of a nightclub. Dennis opened up the terrace door from the bedroom and the noise was quite loud. We could see people all dressed up and mingling around and we hoped that noise would settle down a bit. We were exhausted from our day and about 1:00am I decided to call down to the front desk and ask about the noise. I explained to the nice woman on the phone that the noise was so loud we could have been sleeping in the middle of the Marquee night club dance floor. She apologized and said they “must have a new DJ on tonight” and she would call down and ask them to check the volume. When I inquired as to how late the club was open I was told “it usually quiets down between 3:00am and 4:00am” – hmmm, you think they have had this complaint before? We tried turning on the TV and air conditioning fan but nothing could drown out the sound. We dozed in and out of sleep until about 3:30am when finally the music subsided. It was a a long day/night!

Tuesday July 30th, 2013

After a night of very little sleep, we wandered out of bed late morning and decided to relax by one of the pools. Although, before we left we did call down to the front desk and they extended our stay until noon the next day and when we inquired about the nightclub they assured us that the club is only open Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights so we should have no problems with sleep tonight.

The Boulevard Pool was a nice size with plenty of lounge chairs and pool side wait staff running around in what apparently were uniforms? (the bikinis couldn’t get much smaller). We decided to eat and have a few drinks…chips and guacamole, steak quesadilla, a frozen margarita and a frozen daiquiri….$65 later…oh my….it was pool time. The pool was not crowded and refreshing. Note…wear flip flops from your pool chair to the pool…wholly cow, we nearly burned the bottoms of our feet on the concrete (apparently concrete heats up pretty well when it’s 102 outside!).

Later on in the afternoon we explored some more…Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and hey, why not the Cosmopolitan since it was our last night their!  We did notice, as we were heading to dinner at Planet Hollywood, that people were entering the Marquee night club. Okay … you’re kidding right? After what we were told…so I inquired with the man letting people into the club and when I told him what room we were in he just smiled and assured me that the party tonight was a private event and would not be as loud as when the nightclub was open (again – do you think this is a regular complaint they get?)  Anyhow, we had fun gambling and exploring until the wee hours of the morning on our last full day in Las Vegas, might as well right…their was a party going on at the Marquee night club again…although, to be fair, the music was much quieter tonight and we could hardly hear it from our room when the patio doors were closed.

Dinner tonight…..Since the Spice Market Buffet was having a Barbecue and Seafood dinner the night before that Dennis loved we headed back for dinner tonight. We decided to try out this 24-hour Vegas Buffet pass that was offered (read more here). After tax, and since we did not have membership to the total rewards, we paid about $119 for two for a 24-hour buffet pass. We figured it out … even if you only had dinner and 1 other meal it would more than pay for itself. If we would have thought about it ahead of time we would have purchased something like this for dinner one night and then had breakfast/lunch and dinner the next day also. The pass is good for exactly 24-hours and they put a wristband on you that you have to have on to use the pass.

Wednesday July 31st, 2013

Our Sun Country flight today was around 4:00pm so our noon checkout was perfect. We had the bellman hold our bags while we headed back over to Spice Market Buffet for lunch (convenient and good food…what can we say, creatures of habit). The transfer company back to the airport was right on time about 1:30pm and checking in at the airport was easy as could be. We didn’t upgrade to first class on the return trip home (we would have to have won big … nope, didn’t happen) so we paid to upgrade to exit row seats and paid to check our bag.  The flight home was fast and uneventful and again the entire staff of Sun Country was wonderful to everyone.

Overall we had another great trip to Las Vegas, even with the 100+ degree weather every day. I would stay at the Trump hotel again in a heartbeat, and even at the Cosmopolitan, although I would happily take a room nowhere near the Marquee pool / night club. 🙂.

Disney’s PhotoPass

When I was a kid and our family headed to Disney World I remember having our photo taken by Disney photographers outside the parks, inside the parks, on rides, etc., etc. But I also remember standing in a mass crowd of people after a long hot day at the parks to view the photos the Disney photographers had taken. Back then my parents had to stand in that line to view the photos and then try to decide (on the spot) which photo’s they wanted to buy. It was never a fun experience. As a kid, I wanted to go back to the hotel and I’m sure my parents dealing with 3 kids whining about being tired didn’t help, eventually exasperation would set in and we always seemed to head out of the parks without any photo’s taken by the Disney photographers.

I learned at a young age, however, that even though my parents didn’t buy those Disney photo’s they took a ton of pictures while we were on vacation. We shared them with friends and family and as technology has advanced scanned them all into our computers so we can watch them on digital frames and our computers.  Having as many photo’s as possible to capture everything about a vacation was ingrained in me at a young age. The biggest downfall, at least 1 member of your family is always NOT in the picture (of course they are behind the camera). Unless of course you are traveling with family or friends that can take your family photo, or can find a stranger you can trust to take your photo. It’s always a dilemma, and that’s where the photo’s that Disney took were always great (too bad my parents never purchased them).

So, in November of 2008 when our family of 6 headed to Disney World for a  jam-packed, fun-filled 4 days, I was excited not only about the vacation but about all those photo opportunities! With my brand new Nikon digital camera in hand, our old digital camera (you can never have enough cameras) and information on Disney’s PhotoPass, I was ready to record family memories.

We took hundreds of pictures while on our trip. But by far, one of the best things we did was use Disney’s PhotoPass and order the Photo CD when we returned.  Disney PhotoPass started in December of 2004, and I have to say Disney has perfected the art of taking photo’s of guests in the parks. Here’s how it works.

You get a little card (like the one pictured) or a smaller version and on the back is a bar code. The Disney photographers scan this bar code, take your photo’s, and then hand you back the card. It’s so easy. Then you can use this card over and over again while your at Disney. You can also accumulate multiple cards (the Disney photographers have them and will give you a new one if you need it). Hang on to your cards, or the numbers at the very least, because they are your only link to your photo’s. I made sure to write down each card number as soon as I received it – just in case we lost one. Although with today’s technology you could just as easily take a photo with your SmartPhone so you don’t have to worry about writing down the number.

When you return from your trip you log into and enter all of your PhotoPass cards (they all have numbers on them). Then you have 30 days to decide what photo’s you want, if you want things made (mugs, photo albums, individual prints, etc), or if you want to purcahse a CD with Copyright Release to keep. We paid about $125 or so to order a PhotoPass CD and then when I received the CD I was able to get the photo’s I wanted made at my local printer using the copyright release – it was wonderful. Plus I have all those photos saved now on my computer and a CD.

Since 2008, when I last used PhotoPass, Disney has made some changes to the program. When I was there I was able to include all my Disney photo’s (including the ones taken at dining venues) in my PhotoPass CD. However, now you have to choose either the standard or PhotoPass Plus plan to get those. I took some information from my PhotoPass account to share (current as of July 11, 2013 – info subject to change):

Disney’s PhotoPass CD includes:

  • Unlimited PhotoPass photos in your account
  • The ability to customize your photos with fun Disney borders
  • Magic Shot photos

PhotoPass Plus which includes:

  • Unlimited PhotoPass photos in your account
  • The ability to customize your photos with fun Disney borders
  • Magic Shot photos
  • Photos from select dining locations
  • Photos from select attractions
  • Photos from other Disney experiences
  • Your Disney PhotoPass+ card for Photographers to recognize

You can also save if you pre-purchase your Photo Pass before you travel (at least 14-days prior to travel). You can get more information online at

In hindsight, if I could go back to 2008 and do anything differently I would have had the Disney photographers TAKE MORE PICTURES! I didn’t realize at the time that I was able to have unlimited photo’s on my CD so I didn’t have Disney take as many photo’s as I should have, in total we only took 54 (many similar pictures to make sure the photo turned out). The next time I”m at Disney we will definitely pre-purchase the PhotoPass to save money, most likely the PhotoPass plus, and we will take MORE PICTURES!

For all of you heading to Disney, Happy Memory Making!.