Monday, December 9, 2013

Commication is the key

I know I said I was going to do a series on our recent cruise but there has been something that has been on my mind.  Communication.  Every travel agent wants their client to have the best vacation possible.  We strive to make your vacation what we would want our vacation to be.  From the second you enlist the services of a travel agent until you get home, we want you to just relax and know the details are taken care of.

We can't do that if you don't talk to us.  We have no idea what is important to you on your trip.  We do ask questions to determine what we THINK you like.  We plan with you in mind.  With your kids in mind.  But we are not mind readers.  If you don't like something we suggest please tell us.  We will change it to make it what you want.

Keep in mind if you book last minute, whether it be a cruise, a trip to Disney, Universal or anywhere, we may not be able to get EXACTLY what you want.  We will do our best to accommodate your request but there are no guarantees.  Booking a cruise 3 weeks out means you may not get the dinner seating you want or the excursions you have your heart set on.  Booking in November to go to Disney in December means you probably won't get breakfast at Cinderellas castle or dinner at Be Our Guest.  There are planners out there who book a year in advance for the hotel/cruise they want.  They know with Disney that dining reservations have to be made at 180 days out to get the most wanted restaurants or times.  I have been known to call 3 or 4 times a day to try and get what my clients want but I can't always do it.  I hate to disappoint anyone .  I want everyone to have the  vacation they dream of.  That is my job.  I like things to be magical no matter where my clients are going.

The next step. When you get to your destination and you encounter a problem, tell someone. Do not wait till you get home to let your TA know.  There is not much they can do at that point.  If you are at a resort and there is an issue with check in ask to talk to the duty manager.  Give them specifics.  If there is an issue with a meal, or Magic Bands(if at Disney) talk to someone at the park or the hotel concierge.  No matter the destination the management wants you to have a great time.  They want you to come back, they want you to tell your friends.  In addtion to talking to someone at the resort/on the cruise, let your travel agent know at once.  Be specific as to what the issue is.  In my case I will follow up with the resort to ensure you are taken care of.  I know most travel agents are the same way.  Don't send a text or email saying - things are not magical we will talk at a later date.  We can't help you if we don't know what the problem is.  We want to help you.  I have had clients send the text above, I all the hotel to ask management what the issue is and they are not aware of anything.  There is nothing I can do in that situation.  If you send an email that says, We booked XSXXX view and got YYYY view or our dining reservations are not showing up, a travel agent can get on the phone and correct that problem right away.

Communication is the key both with your travel agent as well as your resort or cruise staff.  IF you don't tell someone the issue no one can fix it.

Where does the time go?

Yes I know I went MIA again.  I have no excuse other than life and vacation and holidays took over my life.
I am going to do a series about our recent Disney Cruise.  We spent 7 nights on teh Disney Wonder.  We are planning on going again next week during Thanksgiving week. Taking my oldest and his wife as well.

All I can say is WOW WOW WOW! Here are a few pictures until I get things written up.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Always go LEFT and other things I learned

In May I got to do some thing totally amazing.  I boarded a plane by myself and flew to Orlando.  I boarded the Disney Magical Express by myself.  Checked in to Pop Century (with another agent for 2 nights) then checked in to Disney Yacht Club technically by myself but I was there with 49 other agents for a week of learning, tours and fun and making life long friends.  It honestly like going away to camp for a week.  I don't remember the last time I had that much fun and learned so  much. I did miss Scott and Drew but this week gave me the chance to experience Disney and all it had to offer in a totally different light.  I was able to think about how different groups of clients could experience Disney and how I could help them.

I did learn to ALWAYS go to the LEFT when entering the park.  It is human nature to go right so if you go left you will avoid a lot of the crowd.  This proved true at all places EXCEPT Animal Kingdom late in the afternoon.

Over the next few days I will talk about specific places I saw, things I learned and how I can help you experience Disney.

Below are a couple pictures of me enjoying Disney

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Best time to go?

I am often asked when it is the best time to go to Disney World or take a Disney cruise.  Some agents answer anytime.  I disagree. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding the best time to go.  first and foremost  what is best for YOUR family. Do you mind crowds?  Do you care about taking your kids out of school?  Do you want to see the decorations for a certain season? Do you have a set budget? What are you celebrating - is this a surprise for Christmas, a birthday, a honeymoon?

I have some clients who can't take their kids out of school due to state laws or they feel school comes first. They usually travel during more busy times of the year - spring or fall break, summer - times when the ships and parks are busier and more expensive.

If you are not a crowd person and don't worry about removing kids from school I always suggest the from mid October to mid December (excluding Thanksgiving week) and then again from Jan 3 to mid January.  This is my favorite time to travel and do anything Disney.  The prices are lower, the decorations are up for Halloween or Christmas (even the first week of January you get the decorations at a Value price) Cruise ships during this time have a difficult time filling the ships and there are price drops galore.

There is always something going on at Disney.

Another benefit to October and early November, especially if you are a foodie is Epcot's Food and Wine Festival!   A great chance to drink and sample foods from around the world as you travel your way around the world   This year there are 25 International kiosks offering food and beverages.

 In October, Disney celebrates Halloween in style with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.   A hard ticket event that limits the number of people in the park for the ultimate Halloween party.  The Villains take over, there are special meet and greets, parades, and trick or treating around the park.  Guests are encouraged to dress up and visit the candy kiosks and fill their bags to the brim.

November and December ushers in Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party. Sip hot chocolate and eat sugar cookies while it SNOWS ON MAIN STREET!  The characters are dressed in their holiday finest.

This year I was there in May and got to take part in Epcots' Flower and Garden Show.

Topiaries abound during this time. 

 I was also there for the beginning of STAR WARS WEEKENDS

Disney is divided in to seasons that determines the prices for resorts.  Holiday Season is always the highest price. That is the time when the parks are the the most crowded.  I can't think of anyone who hasn't dreamed of being in the Magic Kingdom on Christmas morning.

Peak Season is the next most expensive time at Disney.  This typically runs Mid February to mid April. It coincides with Spring Break.  The crowds are very large but not as bad as during Holiday season.

Regular season is when there is average attendance in the parks usually April 18 to August 28 for Value and Moderate Resorts or April 18 to July 4 for all other resort types; and September 30 to October 30.  

Value season is when the crowds are historically at the lowest and Disney offers the best rates to try and fill the parks.  Value Season runs from January 1 to February 11, August 29 to September 29 for Value and Moderate Resorts or July 5 to September 29 for all other resort types and October 31 to December 19.

Ultimately, you have to decide when it is the best time for your family.  There is no BEST or WORST time to do anything Disney.  It is about what is BEST for your family. 

Contact Destinations by Cathy - 720-387-8279 to discuss the BEST TIME for your family and let us make your MAGICAL dreams come true.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

VISA Stay Play and Dine offer just released!!!!!

Call me 720-387-8279 or email me at for the details on the new Disney Promotion. Currently only for Disney VIsa Card Holders. We can't guarantee it but we may hear in the near future of this being open to the general public.  STAY TUNED

New Disney Visa Promos are out today for travel January through Mid April. 

Stay, Play and Dine
Discounts room. tickets and dining plan..must have tickets for length of stay to get that portion discounted (staying 4 days/3 nights must have 4 day ticket..etc)
For Most Stays January 5-March 5 2014
3 Night Minimum Stay Required
Excluded: ALL OF ART OF ANIMATION, Grand Floridian Villas and Campsites

Room Only Discount -
Travel dates January 5, 2014 -April 12, 2014
The week of March 6 - March 13 (discount is 5% less than what is listed below)

All Star Sports, All Star Music, Pop Century - 20%
Art of Animation Family Suites - 15% (Little Mermaid Rooms excluded)
All Star Movies - 5%

Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resort, Port Orleans Riverside, Cabins - 25%
Port Orleans French Quarter, Junior Suites at Coronado Springs - 5%

Wilderness Lodge (Standard and Woods View), Animal Kingdom Lodge (Standard and Pool View), Beach/Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Polynesian, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Contemporary - 35%

Wilderness Lodge (Club Level and Courtyard View), Animal Kingdom Lodge (Club and Savanna View) - 25%

Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Boardwalk Villas, Beach/Yacht Club Villas - 35%

Bay Lake Tower - 5%

Deluxe Suites - 5%

Excludes - Campsites and Villas at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

The Past Year - changes to GAC

I am sorry dear readers that I went missing for a year.  My agency was still around and it is growing but life got in the way of my favorite thing - letting you know about the goings on in the travel world.

There are any changes going on at the Mouse House.  Some that have caused great distress for families of children with disabilities.  I can understand the worry because I have a child with a disability and we have used the GAC many times to lessen the stress on our son.  We are keeping an open mind because we know any change like this will require tweeking on the part of Disney.  It will also take some adjustments and patience on the part of visitors.  If everyone works together this should be a better system and should lead to less abuse by those who don't need the pass.

Here is the latest on what we are being told. - thanks to Mousekeerz for this update

After getting a DAS card, guests will approach the attraction they wish to visit. Each attraction will have a cast member at the entrance to assist you. (Not a kiosk as first reported)
§  If the wait is less than 10 minutes, they are admitted through an alternate entrance or Fastpass queue.
§  If the wait is more than 10 minutes, they are issued a return time on their DAS card. The return times will be based on the current posted wait time minus 10 minutes.
§  Only 1 (one) active return time can be written on a DAS card placing you in a virtual standby queue. Just like a regular guest in a standby queue, you can’t be in multiple lines at once. You are free to go stand in line for another attraction, go shopping or eat.
§  The DAS card holder (photo and name) does not need to be present to receive a return time which allows families with children with autism a chance to stay clear of the attraction while a member gets the return time to avoid potential meltdowns by not getting to ride right away.
§  Once the return time has arrived, you will arrive to the attractions alternate entrance or Fastpass line to redeem.
§  Once a return time has been redeemed it is crossed off and no longer active allowing you get a new return time.
§  Crossing off a return time also voids or cancels it to the equivalent of getting out of line.
§  Fastpass & Fastpass+ are not tied to this program and can be used in conjunction. So you can technically be standing in two lines at once.
Here is a difference between a DAS & a Fastpass
DAS Return Times have the same policy as a Fastpass when it comes to early arrivals, but they do not expire at a certain time of that day allowing those with special needs to not be restricted to returning back by a specific time if it doesn’t work for them. The catch however is that it will still remain active and additional return times can’t be gotten until it is used.
§  The DAS card holder (photo and name) must be present and experiencing the attraction in order to use the return time. If the person isn’t present or choose to sit out and let their family ride, they will be turned away and potentially have their card revoked. After all, the card is designed to assist the card holder and a few other companions or family members, but it is not designed to solely assist the family or companions when the card holder chooses not to or can’t ride.
§  If an attraction is broken, they can’t give you a return time. If you return and it’s broken, they will accommodate you by giving you a Fastpass to come back later and clearing your DAS return time to allow you to get another.
§  If all your return slots get filled, you have to return to Guest Relations for a new one. This would likely only fill up for someone that is staying on property for all 7 days.
Additional Procedures
§  Attractions that are not fully accessible through the standby queue may also have return cards. These are only for guests with wheelchairs, scooters, & strollers acting as wheelchairs who do not have a DAS card. Space Mountain is an example of a place that already does this, but additional attractions will soon be getting a similar procedure. The return times for these are just like DAS, but because they are attraction specific cards verses a global DAS card, you are able to grab multiple at once if you visit attractions that require it. Not all attractions will have this.

I promise I will be back tomorrow.  I have to share my incredible experience at an advanced training at Disney World this summer.  And I have to talk about my upcoming cruise on the Disney Wonder and I have to talk about the new dining changes. Oh yea, there will also be a new give away and a little bonus if you book with Destinations by Cathy and a way you can help charity by booking with us as well.  WOW everyone stay tuned lots coming up!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gift card offer with Disney reservation

Everyone wants to spend the Holidays at Disney.  I know I do.  Right now if you book a WDW package, Disneyland Getaway or a Disney Cruise I am offering up to a 50.00 Disney Gift Card to help enjoy your vacation.  Restrictions apply and offer expires October 15, 2012.

Contact me via the button in the right hand corner or email me at