Don’t Stay Home This Summer

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Don’t stay home this summer when you can be out exploring the World!

3607-sandals2017 is flying by!  The big question is do you have your summer vacation plans yet?  If your family is like mine, planning too far in advance is difficult with all the summer activities taking place.  There are sports to consider, summer jobs and family get togethers.  So when it comes to vacations, they take a back seat until all the calendar is organized and then there may only be a few weeks or even days to steal some time away.  As travel professionals we often hear, “I know this is kinda late, but we are so busy!”  And to that we say – no problem!  

Your travel professional can help steer you in the right direction, find you the best deals and save you hours of research and planning to get you and your family on that much needed vacation.  There is no need for you to spend precious time.    Here are three quick tips to keep in mind before discussing your trip with your travel professional to get them started and to expedite the process.  

 

  1. Budget:  Be able to communicate a budget for your trip.  If you don’t have a travel budget set aside, take some time to think through what you will feel comfortable in spending for your vacation.  Even though there are promotions and last minute deals, your travel professional can give you a better idea of where and what you can do if you know what you can spend.  
  2. Flexibility:  Even though you only may have a few weeks or days, offer your travel professional some flexibility.  Sometimes departing for your trip during the week can offer you the best prices.   Be open to suggestions.  
  3. Information:  Because last minute travel often requires full payment, be willing to provide your travel professional with your travel parties names, birthdays and addresses so they can expedite the booking process.  Prices can change very quickly, so with this information many suppliers will allow travel professionals to place a short hold on the trip until they can discuss it with you and gather the proper payment information.  Often this will lock the price for that short time depending on the supplier.  (Always check your passports to make sure they are current before planning a trip out of the country. Passports must be active 6 months post travel. )

With these tips your travel planner can tap their resources and find you the perfect vacation for you and your family.  Last minute trips can be exciting and just as relaxing as planning a trip a year in advance.  Don’t rule out locations like Disney World in Florida or Universal Orlando.   We are the experts and know how to make the most of those world class locations as well.  

 

It isn’t too late!  Don’t stay home this summer when you can be out exploring the world!

 

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Art Smith’s Homecoming – Lunch

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As I stated in our first post about our dinner visit to Art Smiths, having grown up in the south, and having a mom who I consider one of the best southern cooks whose table I’ve ever had the joy of sitting dining at, I knew this restaurant had to be visited.

One of the newer locations in the renovated Disney Springs, it’s located in the Town Center Section of Disney Springs, roughly behind STK Steakhouse.

 

 

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Thigh High Chicken Biscuits – Three biscuits topped with Chef Art’s famous fried chicken thighs and bread and butter pickles. Drizzled with hot honey

This time we started out with the signature chicken & biscuit sliders, it was a mistake to have not had these the first time we were there, I see that now and won’t make that mistake again  😉

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Shrimp & Grits – Pan-seared shrimp with tomato gravy and Tasso ham served over creamy Bradley’s grits

We did have to go back for the shrimp and grits again though, yes, they were that good!

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Big Fish Sandwich – Grilled fresh Florida fish of the day, hot sauce aïoli, iceberg lettuce and tomato served with house-made barbecue chips drizzled with icebox dressing with a side of Momma’s Mac and Cheese

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Big Fish Sandwich  – Same one as above except this time with a side of biscuits, just what every big fish sandwich needs  😉

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Hummingbird Cake – Chef Art actually puree’s the fruit into the batter so it cooks up just right

600-131Dessert doily’s, it’s a southern thang!

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Check out Art Smith’s the next time you’re in Disney Springs, you won’t be dissappointed!

Posted in Dining, Disney Springs, Restaurants, Restaurants, Walt Disney World

Vivo Italian Kitchen

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Vivo Italian Kitchen features fresh pastas made in house, great sauces and the meatballs were fantastic!

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House-made meatballs in marinara – these were really good!

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Squid Ink Seafood – shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, white wine, basil, black spaghetti

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Risotto – slow braised short ribs, arborio rice, mushrooms, asparagus

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Of course there’s a great wine list to compliment the wonderful menu, we enjoy a Chianti Classico

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Tiramisu – Lady fingers soaked in espresso, creamy mascarpone, chocolate shavings

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Posted in City Walk, Dining, Restaurants, Universal Orlando Resort, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Packing Tips

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packing004April showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. For me, April means spring break and summer vacation planning. Your planning may be in full swing or not even started yet but have you ever thought that part of the planning is packing? If you’re like me, then packing is usually last minute. My family looks at me like I’m a lunatic because I’m always finding myself running around for those last minute things that are always forgotten. I admit, I’m the girl who went to Mexico and forgot to pack the sunscreen. Let’s just say lobster red is not a pretty shade for me unless it’s on my nails. So, take a look at this little snip it on packing tips. Better to have some packing tips than to be all red like me!

Here’s some things I do when I’m packing to head on out:

  • Roll your clothes rather than fold them. It’s saves on space and causes less wrinkles. I also turn them inside out to help keep the wrinkles down and keep them clean.
  • Add dryer sheets to the mix to keep things smelling fresh.
  • Put shoes in shoe bags, shower caps or plastic grocery bags to keep them from getting things dirty. You can also use shoes to put small things in and save more space that way.
  • Rolling luggage – put the heavy stuff closest to the wheels that way the lighter stuff doesn’t get crushed.
  • Got breakables like you favorite perfume? Pack those in your socks.
  • Anything that can leak should be put in a plastic bag. If it’s in a plastic bottle, I squeeze a little air out of it so it has room to expand and not explode everywhere.
  • Pack a tote bag to put the dirties in and keep them away from the clean things. This is especially important if you are going to multiple destinations. (It’s also where the dryer sheet come in handy again.) Also, having an extra zip lock bag for wet swim suits is handy.
  • Save space by packing 2 tops for every bottom. Seriously, you can wear those pants, shorts and skirts more than once!
  • Use travel size toiletries. You don’t need to cart that whole big bottle of shampoo and conditioner. If you use high end products that don’t come in travel size, buy the little refillable bottles and use those. Less is more and big heavy bottles could put you over the weight limit of your luggage.
  • All those charge cords and earbuds and crazy wires everywhere can be contained in either snack size ziplock bags or eyeglass cases.
  • Medicines go in your carry on luggage always!!!! You do not want to get to your destination and find that your luggage is lost and now you don’t have that medicine that you need to take at a certain time.
  • Don’t stuff it full to the brim. Let’s face it you know you are going to buy stuff on vacation. Make sure you leave space in your luggage to bring those things home.
  • 008Make sure you do something to your luggage so that you recognize it from the hundreds of others coming around the belt. My in-laws have big homemade pom poms on theirs along with a strip of caution tape. Me, I picked a teal color bag (instead of the standard black or red that I see everywhere) and added a bright green luggage tag. Be creative.

Posted in Articles, Road Trips, Travel with Rick Vacations, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , , ,

Pandora the World of Avatar

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Pandora – The World of AVATAR is set to open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park on May 27, 2017 at Walt Disney World® Resort. In this video, hear from AVATAR Creator/Director James Cameron as he offers a sneak peek at what you can expect form this new land and one if its major attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage, which will allow them to ride a Banshee over the world of Pandora.

In addition to Avatar Flight of Passage, this new land will be home to the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey, an experience that will send you through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. You will also be able to dine at Satu’li Canteen, grab a drink at Pongu Pongu, shop at Windtraders, and much more.
 

Posted in Animal Kingdom, Disney News, Disney Resorts, Walt Disney World Tagged with: , , , ,

Paddlefish – Disney Springs

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Last week we had an opportunity to dine at Paddlefish, a brand new restaurant taking over the Empress Lily, which was once home to Fulton’s Crab House.

It had been years since we’ve eaten at this location, back when it was Fulton’s Crab House, which has actually always been one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World.

We enjoyed a great night of seafood, some nice wine from their extensive wine list and the wonderful atmosphere aboard a reimagined, modern and luxurious steamboat.

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We started out with a couple of appetizers, first the Crab Fries, Handd-cut potatoes, lump blue crab, Louie dressing

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Next we had the Fried Green Tomatoes, Elote, pickled watermelon, queso fresco, remoulade

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We tried three different entrees, this is the Lobster Risotto, Poached Maine lobster, saffron, Meyer lemon oil

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We also tried the Scallops, Brown butter, cauliflower puree, crispy brussels sprouts, bacon

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Here is the Faroe Island Salmon, Crispy skin, heirloom beets, kohlrabi-green apple salad

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An ample dessert menu from brownies to Key Lime Pie was tempting, but we passed.

We can’t wait to get back here and try more things on the menu. Our server said there really wasn’t anything bad on the menu, and I actually do believe her. I particuarly am looking forward to coming back for the Lobster Corn Dogs appetizer and from the entree list the Jambalaya and the Branzino for 2 sounds great!

Posted in Dining, Disney Resorts, Disney Springs, Walt Disney World Tagged with: , , , , ,

Hard Rock Hotel Orlando with Gracie the Traveling Cat

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Meet Gracie, our traveling cat.

While Gracie doesn’t always travel with us, she does make the summer trip with us up to our retreat in Maine, and Leslie thought it would be nice to let Gracie join us at the Hard Rock since Loews Hotels are pet friendly.

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The Hard Rock welcomed Gracie and she had a wonderful time there.

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The Hard Rock Hotel provided some welcome gifts upon Gracie’s arrival, a water bowl, complimentary water, and food all in her own pet-friendly bag. There was also a litter box set up for Gracie in the room.

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During the day while Leslie and I played in the parks, Gracie enjoyed hanging out on the bed.  There was a special tag we hung on the door to let housekeeping know Gracie was home so they wouldn’t open the door and have a possible pet escape.

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She also enjoyed gazing out the window and passerby’s on their way to the park, and waiting for her mommy to come home.

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The Hard Rock also provided Gracie with her very own scratch post in the room.

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Room Service anyone?

Posted in Universal Orlando Resort, Vacation Planning Tagged with: , , , ,

Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort

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Posted in Uncategorized

Brooks Lake Lodge – 2017

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Every year around our anniversary in late January  / early February Leslie and I take a trip to one of her favorite places in the world, Brooks Lake Lodge in Dubois, Wyoming.

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The lodge is beautiful and remote at the base of the Pinnacle Mountains, and always gets lots of snow!

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There’s plenty of time for riding sleds around in the snow…600-289

Or for making snow angels

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And there’s always great food being served up for dinner like this tasty duck…

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or maybe trout suits your taste more?

 
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Thru the woods

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Posted in Off the Beaten Path, Travel with Rick Vacations Tagged with: , , , ,

Star Wars Day at Sea – Disney Cruise Line

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We recently had the opportunity to sail on the Disney Fantasy for a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise.

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Early in the cruise, the first day actually for us, an experience request card will be placed in your room for you to choose which characters or experiences your group would like to participate in.  You’ll turn those in and be notified as to what you’ll be doing on the Star Wars Day at Sea, you’ll receive tickets similar to excursion tickets with your times and meeting places for your experiences.

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Later in your cruise, for us it was the last sea day, the ship transforms into all things Star Wars, all the music around the ship, all day will be Star Wars music, characters will roaming around the ship, and the special experiences will begin taking place.

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This ships crew have some of the coolest costumes too, this is Jimmy, our cruise director.

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The crew even changes out their name tags for the day!

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There will be great photo opportunities with your favorite Star Wars characters

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Some characters roam the ship and are happy to pose for your photos

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You may be questioned as to your intentions and alliances

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And of course there is lots of Star Wars merchandise

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Lots of Star Wars merchandise

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Lots of Star Wars merchandise

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Even the coffee in Cove Cafe is transformed for Star Wars Day at Sea

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We met Chewy for one of our experiences with “Trusty Companions”

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Darth Vader questioned our loyalty and tried to lure us to the dark side

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Lots of characters will be found all around the ship

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Some of the coolest characters are the guests, these three with Vader are actually cruise guests

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Special talks and presentations happen throughout the day, this is  Leland Chee, whose formal job title is Continuity database administrator, but who is known as Keeper of the Holocron by Star Wars fans

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Star Wars movies are shown throughout the day up on deck and in the theaters. We saw Rouge One in the Walt Disney Theater for our evening show

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As always with Disney Cruise Line, your personal navigator is your guide so you won’t miss a thing.

We thoroughly enjoyed our Star Wars Day at Sea and would highly recommend it for all Star Wars fans, young and old no matter how strongly the force resides within you!

Happy Sailing!

 

Posted in Articles, Cruising, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy, Special Events, Travel with Rick Vacations Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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