Colonial Williamsburg {Review}

Every year the fifth graders at my daughter’s school take a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Or I should say ALMOST every year. Because of the pandemic, there was no way the school trip could take place this year. In order toensure that our curious and energetic daughter didn’t miss out on this experience, we decided to travel to Colonial Williamsburg as a family. However, we wanted to make sure that the trip was both educational for our daughters and fun for all of us. That took some planning and some research, but in the end it worked out great!

We left Columbia, South Carolina by car on the Monday morning that our daughters’ Spring Break began and made the five and a half hour drive to the famous Jamestown Ferry. Well, it’s famous to me because of the Tanya Tucker song. Our daughter Lucy thought riding in a car on a boat made the whole trip worth it already. 

Our next stop was the Williamsburg Winery. It has an amazing origin story: 

In 1606, the newly-formed Virginia Company sent three ships westward to the New World to settle a permanent English colony. Led by Bartholomew Gosnold, with Gabriel Archer second in command, the expedition sailed up the James River and came upon a point of land on a protected tributary. The ground was high, easily defended, and the soil was excellent – which foretold of the land’s later usage. Archer insisted that the expedition look no further, but he was outvoted despite his considerable experience in such matters. The expedition continued on the James River and moved on to a less hospitable spot the following day, May 13, 1607. The place was Jamestown and became the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

More importantly has delicious wines that can be tasted by the flight, and great food.

After a lovely outdoor meal, we proceeded to check in at the Williamsburg Lodge. The rooms were spacious enough for all four of us, but nothing fancy. The real attraction to staying at the lodge is that it is directly across the street from Colonial Williamsburg. We took a quick walk back in time and then came back to have a late dinner at the Lodge, where we were glad they had fire pits, because it gets a little chilly in Virginia in March.

The next day we spent walking through Colonial Williamsburg and learning what life was like in a pre-Revolutionary War American colony. We toured historic buildings, attended walking tours and we learned a great deal. While the educational aspects did reach our daughters, our youngest was most excited to dress the part:

That evening we had dinner at the Precarious Beer Project, continuing a family tradition: visiting breweries while we travel to try local beers that we may never have the chance to try again. Breweries are always so laid back and fun, no matter what part of the Country or the world they may be located in, that we love to try out new ones whenever we travel. Our daughters are still years away from being able to try any of the beers, but they love the food and oftentimes the videogames that they have there. Precarious Beer Project had the added bonus of being within walking distance of the Williamsburg Lodge in Merchant’s Square – a commercial area between the historic area and William and Mary. There was also a great grilled cheese-focused restaurant in that area where we had lunch that day.

The next day disaster struck – twice! But thankfully we were able to handle both. The first disaster was that it rained all day. We managed that by doing a driving tour of the Yorktown battle site (with brief trips out of the car to see the really important stuff, like the fort that Alexander Hamilton led the attack against as described in Yorktown from the musical Hamilton. Seeing that was worth braving the rain!

We also spent part of the day at the Colonial Williamsburg art museum, which was a great rainy day activity, but is not something I would consider a “must-see” if you are visiting. 


The second disaster struck as we completed our driving tour of the Yorktown battlefield as we punctured a tire. Perhaps the ghost of a British soldier was getting some very delayed revenge for their defeat there! Either way, while my husband went to get it patched up my daughters and I spent a fun (if soggy) afternoon at Berret’s Seafood Restaurant & Taphouse. I don’t eat seafood, but the two seafood experts I was with that day assured me that theirs was terrific.

We finished the day at the second brewery of our trip, Alewerks

The atmosphere was great, and if you ever have a chance to try their Strawberry Blond Ale, don’t miss it!

Speaking of things not to miss, the next day we toured Historic Jamestowne. This was very different than Colonial Williamsburg because it is a functioning archeological dig. 

There is so much to be learned there, and my husband only asked the archaeologists where their fedora and whips were three times (insert eye-rolling emoji). Speaking of things that make you roll your eyes, I also thought that my family’s reenactment of the teenage girl who the other colonists ate during “the starving time” was a bit much.

We took a lunch break from our tour of Historic Jamestown and just happened upon our third brewery of the trip – Billsburg Brewery – because it was so close by, but it would be worth it to plan a visit there just for the view, and the food from the Hungry Pug food truck didn’t hurt either. 

That evening we went on one of the highlights of our trip, a ghost tour! A fun and spooky time was had by all.

We went through one final walk in Colonial Williamsburg on our last day, complete with an impromptu recreation of a colonial ball:

Then it was time to drive back home, this time skipping the Jamestown Ferry in order to shave 30 minutes or so off the drive (sorry Tanya!).

All in all it was a great trip. We spent a great deal of it outside, our daughters learned a lot, we spent some amazing family time together, and we had fun. We have so much incredible history as Americans, and Colonial Williamsburg is a great way to bring that history to life. A family vacation doesn’t have to be boring just because it is somewhat educational. With the right attitude, and the proper planning, you can have a blast and learn something at the same time. 

I would love to help you plan a trip to Williamsburg, or anywhere else you might be thinking of going. Call me and lets get started!

For more practically perfect tips, contact Caitlin at Caitlin.JollyHoliday@gmail.com.

Art of Animation {Review}

Are you looking for the MOST Disney-themed Walt Disney World Resort?! If so, you will not want to miss Disney’s Art of Animation (AoA) Resort. Not only are there nods to Disney animation throughout the lobby, gift shop and food court, AoA features 4 main room areas themed after The Little MermaidCarsThe Lion King and Finding Nemo.

Photo by Marlee Marsh

This resort falls into the Value Resort category. The rooms, outdoor areas and pools are heavily themed with larger-than-lifestatues of some of your favorite movie characters! Dining options at AoA include a food court (Landscape of Flavors) and the Drop Off (pool bar) at the Big Blue pool.

Landscape of Flavors &The Drop Off

Photo from: Disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/ 

Big Blue Pool

Photo from: Disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/ 

Transportation to the parks and Disney Springs is provided complimentary to all on-site guests. A huge perk of staying at AoA is that this resort is on the Disney SkyLiner. The SkyLiner will take guests via gondola to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Large Disney buses are available to take guests to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs. 

Disney Skyliner

Photo from: Disneyworld.disney.go.com/es-mx/skyliner/

Art of Animation resort offers two room types- standard rooms and family suites. All standard rooms are in the Little Mermaid area. The rooms are recently refurbished and include 2 queen beds with lots of room for storage. The Little Mermaid area of the resort is the furthest away from the main building (5 to 8-minute walk) but is has its own pool- Flippin’ Fins!

Little Mermaid Rooms

Photos by Marlee Marsh

Little Mermaid Area of the Resort

Photo from: Disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/ 

Family suites are found closer to the lobby and buses, and as mentioned, are themed from Disney classics such as The Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo. These suites sleep up to 6 guests and have a lot of room to spread out! The suites include a bedroom with one queen bed and a full bathroom, a large living area with a second full bathroom, sleeper sofa, kitchenette, and dining area where the table turns into a murphy bed! 

The Finding Nemo suites are located closest to the food court and transportation.

Finding Nemo Family Suite

Photos by Marlee Marsh

The Cars area celebrates your favorite characters from Radiator Springs. It even has its own Cozy Cone pool. 

Cars area & Cozy Cone Pool

Outer photos by Marlee Marsh, middle photo by Disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/art-of-animation-resort/

The Lion King area has a fun play area- the Elephant Graveyard- and you will find Rafiki, Mufasa, Timon, Pumba and Simba, and yes, even Scar.

Lion King area

Photos by Marlee Marsh

The Big Blue Pool is in the center of the Finding Nemo area and is the largest pool at the resort. It even plays music underwater! The Drop Off (pool bar) is here, and you can walk up to grab some light bites and drinks. There is a great splash pad for the littlest fish here too. While you are in the Finding Nemo area, look out for Dude Crush, Nemo & Dori, and listen out for the sound of waves crashing and some pesky seagulls (“Mine! Mine!”).

Big Blue Pool Splash Area

Photo by Marlee Marsh

I have stayed at this resort multiple times – in both the Little Mermaid rooms and family suites. I highly recommend staying here with your family! Let your favorite Jolly Holiday Vacation agent book you at Art of Animation for your next trip, and you won’t regret it!

A Weekend Away at the Ponte Vedra Inn {Jacksonville Beach, FL}

Nested in the heart of Jacksonville Beach is a lovely throwback to olden beach days, The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. The Inn is located 10 miles south of Jacksonville and boasts plenty of family friendly options and activities. The Inn & Club itself is comprised of several buildings, in the heart of Ponte Vedra’s upscale neighborhood. While this club has both members from the neighboring community, and guests, there are choices for food and activities for all. 

The Inn & Club comprises several buildings, spread 1.5 miles apart. The Lodge offers all ocean view rooms, pools, and has a more intimate setting. The Lodge is the smaller of the two sides and has two on site restaurants and bars, as well as beach chairs/umbrellas, a pool with a slide, and locker rooms. 

The Inn houses the Pro Shop, 15 tennis courts, two 18 hole golf courses, and has both fine and casual dining options.  The newly renovated Peyton House is located at the Inn and is nestled right on the ocean, with sprawling rooms for two to five people, including suites. Both sides have access to the kids club, fitness center with free classes, four pools, and beach rentals. Located in the middle of the two properties is the Spa at Ponte Vedra which offers a wide variety of services. 

Jacksonville Beach is known for its powder white sand, wide beaches, and laid back feel. The Ponte Vedra Inn & Club offers the perfect place to stay for families, couples, and girls weekends. 

For more Practically Perfect Tips, contact Kerri at Kerri.JollyHoliday@gmail.com.

JUST YOUR TYPICAL AMERICAN GIRL

The other day I had a telephone call from a client inquiring about the American Girl Experience! Gosh, I haven’t heard those words lately… American Girl Doll! I remember the days of my little ones relishing the moment we told them we were headed to the Queen city of Charlotte to make their American Girl Doll purchases, make an appointment at the American Girl Hair Salon and have lunch at the Bistro! Such fun memories!

IMG_1301

I quickly grabbed a pen and paper and jotted down all details of this dynamic mother/daughter duo and went to work. There are several amazing hotels situated close to South Park Mall, where the American Girl Store is located. I really like a lot of them…The Charlotte Marriott at South Park, The Hilton Garden Inn, The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Charlotte, but none of these offer the American Girl Packages like The RENAISSANCE CHARLOTTE SOUTH PARK HOTEL! This hotel offers two different packages for the conisiuer of American Girl Dolls in your family.

Package #1 The American Girl Package includes:

  • UNSUPPORTED: UnsupportedElementincludes Grab and Go breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child daily
  • One American Girl Doll Bed
  • Cookies & Milk welcome amenity

Package #2 The American Girl Package – EVERYTHING PINK includes:

  • includes Grab and Go breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child daily
  • 1 AG Doll Bed
  • Robe & Slippers
  • Cookies & Milk welcome amenity

Pricing for both packages are pretty reasonable, but the features of each package are only for ONE child. If you are visiting with more than one child, we will need to contact the hotel, have them add extra American Girl options onto your package and there will be an upcharge for each additional child.

The American Girl Store is really fascinating! You can select the perfect doll, each one comes from a different background, and era with different features and style. They also offer a “Just like me” version of the dolls, where your child can select a doll with similar features to herself, with clothes and accessories to match (clothes and accessories are an additional cost.) It really is fun! There are so many things to see…furniture options, pets, hobbies and a gazillion outfits to select from. You can also make an appointment at the Hair Salon for your doll. I would recommend calling ahead of time and making an appointment because they tend to book up fast. This also allows you flexibility if you want to plan other activities while in Charlotte.

IMG_1302

This was such a fun vacation to work on, we discussed restaurant options outside the Bistro for lunch on their arrival day and what else they would like to do while in Charlotte. The Renaissance is within walking distance to and from South Park Mall, which is nice for sure. I have found that parking on the weekends can be a little hectic, so being able to leave your car at your hotel and head to South Park on foot is really nice and super accommodating.

IMG_1303

Depending on what time of year you plan to visit, we loved the option of taking the Dads and coordinating with the Carolina Panthers schedule, so they could watch an NFL game while the girls shopped! If you live within driving distance Charlotte is a wonderful destination for a one night stay, or a long weekend escape, with so many different things to do!

Message Jolly Holiday TODAY to book your American Girl Experience!

 

Today…we are Caymanians!

Today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite destinations… The Cayman Islands! There are three islands, Grand Cayman and two other smaller islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The Caymans are a British territory, so their native language is English and its shortest distance from the United States is 1505 miles. It is a vacation paradise and I loved vacationing here in the summers with my family!

The Capital, Georgetown is located on Grand Cayman and is a port for several of the major cruise lines, as well as the British Royal Navy. It offers elegant dining, upscale duty- free shopping, and native vendors and craftsman. Its a short bus ride from most of the resorts.

Grand Cayman is home to Seven Mile Beach, a beautiful award winning, crescent shaped beach with white sand and azure blue water! If you looking for rest and relaxation, you’ve come to the right place. This beach is a tropical paradise! Seven Mile is host to the Ritz Carlton, Westin, and Marriott resorts, along with several other smaller properties and a plethora of villa rentals.

If you’re looking for something to do… the North Sound features Stingray City. Jump on a snorkel charter and venture out where you can be up close and personal with beautiful stingrays. There are plenty of local tour operators you can arrange this adventure with, some of which can be found in the lobby areas of the larger resorts. If you want to do a little sight seeing, check out Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park or The Turtle Centre. You can see the famous Blue Iguanas or learn about the history of the sea turtles and the ongoing conservation efforts to help save them.

Grand Cayman is also one of the top destinations for scuba diving, with over 365 sights marked with moorings and over 40 operators, they can satisfy any divers thirst for adventure! You can dive the wall or explore the reef beachside. The visibility is some of the best and makes the diving experience phenomenal for even the most novice scuba enthusiast. Its absolutely amazing to see the reef and all the creatures that call it home!

The restaurants are everything you could imagine on Grand Cayman. They have it all, from The Wharf, where you can hand feed the Tarpon, to Paradise Grill, a local ocean front seafood shack! The choices are endless!!

I cannot say enough about this island, it has everything! You can reside at 5-star resort with luxury amenities or rent an island villa, and never leave your private beach. When you visit Grand Cayman, you will never want to leave!

For more information, contact your local Jolly Holiday agent!

Welcome {Safely} Back to Walt Disney World!

A few weeks ago, our agents had “boots on the ground” at Walt Disney World and learned quite a bit about the new measures the Walt Disney World parks and resorts have implemented to make guests and cast members feel safe. As you know, Walt Disney World closed on March 16, 2020, making it only the 7th time in 50 years that the parks have closed. During the 117 days the parks were closed, the Walt Disney World team was working tirelessly to find a way to reopen while at the same time making certain all the returning guests would feel safe and have zero reservation about the “MAGIC” they were known for providing.

blog1

When our team made the decision to see and experience firsthand all the new implementations, there was never any hesitation. We booked rooms and dining electronically as usual, and then used the “now required” mobile check in to receive our room number and to eliminate contact with the front desk. It is a seamless process.  Upon arrival, at our resort, we noticed all cast members with face coverings on, multiple hand sanitizer stations throughout the lobby, gift stores, hallways etc. It was very refreshing to see other guests being so compliant.

As we took the elevator to our room, we noticed they only allowed one party per elevator, which was nice and made everyone feel comfortable. Inside the resort rooms, Disney has implemented new housekeeping practices, “Enchanted Cleaning.” You will see remote controls covered with a plastic sleeve and marked “clean,” as well as the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers in the showers also. They have limited housekeeping services due to new “contactless” cleaning, meaning you will need to request clean towels and linens if needed and this can easily be done with a quick phone call down to the front desk.

blog2

Dining was fairly easy as well, if you are interested in visiting the outdoor pool or bar area, depending on your resort, you will find tables spaced 6 feet apart or in some restaurant areas, they have placed signs on the tables indicating which ones are available for seating, to keep within the 6 ft of required social distance. The servers and bartenders all adorn face coverings as well as face shields. We also noticed that the waiter would only bring one parties beverages or food at a time. It seemed to work well. They do allow you to remove your face covering while you are seated within the restaurant, but if you leave the table for any reason, you will be required to put you face covering back on. Several restaurants had the wait staff bring us the scan code, which enabled us to view the menus on our mobile devices and other restaurants had them on the tables when we were seated.  We felt very safe and this was even the first time several of us had experienced dining in a restaurant, since March.

blog4

If you are interested in using a quick service meal option, they will require mobile dining. This program has been active for a while, but it was never required. Now that it is, we found it to be an easy process and very efficient. When you place our order with Mobile Dining, you are required to wait outside the restaurant until you receive a notification that your meal is ready. Once you receive this, you proceed to the entrance, where a cast member checks your notification, verifies it on his tablet and then directs you to the numbered bay to pick up your meal. All meals are bagged and stapled with your name on the outside. There was a friendly cast member behind the table that greets all guests with a smile as they match you with your order. Once you have picked up your bag, you proceed to the dining area, whether that be inside or outside and find a table that is available. Again, all tables adhere to the social distance guidelines. After you and your party have finished, a cast member will ask you to please leave all trash, trays etc. on the table and they will clean up. I would assume this is because the table needs to be cleaned and made ready for the next guest.

If you want to visit the International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, we found they will require you to be stationary while eating and drinking.  This allows you to eat and drink, and take your face covering off. It was not any less enjoyable and because there were plenty of areas to sit, and no fast passes or fireworks to rush off to, we genuinely enjoyed sitting, eating, drinking, and talking with each other.

blog3

We visited all four parks at Walt Disney World and experienced all the modes of transportation offered. We took the Skyliner gondolas to Hollywood Studios, the monorail to Magic Kingdom, the bus to Animal Kingdom and walked to Epcot. Currently the monorail is not travelling to Epcot, so depending on your resort, you may walk, or a bus is provided.

blog7

Every single encounter we had with the transportation was first class. There were markings on the ground indicating where each party needed to stand, so you were exactly 6 ft apart while waiting to board the monorail and gondolas. We felt that everyone was very compliant, and the traffic was heavier in the mornings than in the afternoon, but it was exceptionally smooth. All guests must have face coverings on and above their noses at all time, except for, certain aged children. As we approached our vehicle, we saw several hand sanitizer stations and cast members constantly cleaning railing, trash cans and any other physical things you could touch. The cast members once again wore face coverings and face shields for their protection and ours.

blog6

The bus transportation was a little different than normal, when we approached our designated area to wait for the bus, we noticed each party social distancing and when the bus arrived the bus driver departed the bus and asked who was there first. He then counted the number in each party, directed them to which end of the bus to enter and gave them a number. Each seat is labeled with a number, our party was all told to sit in the seats labeled with a “2.” There were exactly four in our party and we noticed there were only four seats with the number “2.” The bus had several partitions installed between seats and they did not take up any additional room and allowed parties to sit next to other parties and be separated at the same time. I found this to be awesome! I like the partitions, and its so nice on the bus, I would love to see them keep these when the parks are at full capacity. There were a lot of positives about social distancing in Walt Disney World!

IMG_7084

 

Each park entrance worked the same way, you were directed towards a tent, where a medical staff took your temperature. Depending on the direction of the sun, they either scanned your forehead or the area behind your ear, this went quick and then you were off to bag check if you brought one. Again, all the medical and security staff were wearing face coverings, face shields and gloves. The security staff did not physically inspect your bags, like pre covid. They now asked that you take anything metal, such as umbrellas, phone chargers, bracelets, keys etc. out of the bag, place the bag in a bin and carry the other items through the metal detectors. Animal Kingdom has a brand-new contactless system that is now open, and you simply walk through an opening like a metal detector and that is it. Super easy!

blog3

After the bag check, we scanned our magic bands and noticed the bio metric fingerprint scanner is no longer there, it has been covered so no one can use it. It was all a very quick process.

Cast members still wave to you as you enter the park, now with face coverings and face shields, but always happy! Park maps are still available, but you will not see the traditional “Times Guide” because the parades, shows and fireworks have all been suspended. They do have spontaneous cavalcades and characters out and about, but no designated time or area to avoid people gathering.

IMG_7238

 

Each retail store offered hand sanitizers at each entrance, exit, checkout line and throughout the store. They did direct guests to enter through one door and exit through another to avoid any congestion. Depending on the size of the retail establishment, they did have cast members counting guests as they entered and there were a few times they made you wait outside until another guest exited, only allowing a certain number inside at one time.

blog5

The attractions were amazing, low wait times, fast passes have been suspended for now, and each attraction has the social distancing markers on the ground, throughout the queues. Several queues spaced out the lines, avoiding the switchbacks altogether if they had the room to do so. Others simply installed glass partitions between each switchback, so lines could move as normal, but you would have no contact with other guests as you passed them in line. The glass was marked with several stickers that said, “No touching.” This is another safety feature that I could see Disney keeping in the future. Attractions were very enjoyable, depending on the type of attraction, social distance guidelines were adhered to, whether that meant your party enjoyed “It’s a Small World,” in their own boat or parties were seated on every other row, car, cart or train. It was nice to see all guests being compliant and everyone having a good time!

blog6

We spent five days and six nights at two different Walt Disney World resorts and visited all four parks without feeling unsafe in any way.  We experienced all the WDW transportation, attractions, a signature dining, quick service and the food and wine festival without an issue. It was truly an enjoyable trip and we were able to learn a lot by experiencing all the new guidelines in person. I would tell everyone that if this is your first time to Walt Disney World, maybe wait until some of the special character interactions are back. I know there are a lot of little girls and boys wanting to hug those special characters or visit the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and so I encourage you to wait. But for everyone else, I say… “What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to ride Flight of Passage back to back without waiting more than 20 to 30 minutes total, or Seven Dwarf Mine Train with a less than 30 minute wait. Heck Ride it all and have time to spare!” I can honestly say that the MAGIC is still alive and kicking at Walt Disney World and we cannot wait to help you plan your next trip!!

How To Make Your Spring Break A Little More Magical!

We know that for many of you this was not the Spring Break that you had originally planned but don’t worry!

Jolly Holiday Vacations wants to share our tips and tricks for helping to make your Spring Break stay-cation a little more magical.

1.

Follow along on on social media pages for our Virtual Spring Break.  Last week and this week, we will be virtually traveling to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, on a Disney Cruise and exploring different countries with Adventures by Disney.  We will be posting in “real time” as we go on our various adventures.

Jolly Holiday Vacations on Facebook

Jolly Holiday Vacations on Instagram 

magicbands

2.

Make Mickey Mouse Tie Dye Shirts

We found a great step-by-step tutorial from KidsActivities.com as well as lots more wonderful activities for your kiddos! Follow that tutorial by clicking HERE.

HERE is the tie-dye kit that we found on Instagram.

IMG-0667

3.

Host a Disney Movie Night in Your Own Backyard

There are lots of movies releasing early to entertain you while you are at home!  Why not host a spectacular Disney movie night from the privacy of your own backyard!

Check out this amazing giant blow-up screen!

movie

You could even add a little more magic to movie night by recycling your old Disney popcorn buckets like Jolly Holiday’s Anne Marie Wienkamp and her family!

popcorn

3.

There is so much nostalgic, fun, and educational programming on Disney+.  Here are some of the favorites from the Jolly Holiday Vacations agents and their families.

The Mandalorian (recommended by Meredith Trobaugh)

The Imagineering Story  (recommended by Marlee Marsh)

Monkey Kingdom and Elephant by Disneynature (recommended by Misty Jordan)

La Luna, The Princess Diaries, and Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings (recommended by Laura Endera)

Be Our Chef (recommended by Gina Rodriguez)

disneyplus

4.

Kennedy Space Center has launched science lessons on Facebook Live.

kennedy

5.

If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to add some Disney magic to your day, Disney’s sharing something special – a complete series of how-to tutorials on drawing Mickey Mouse through the years…from a Disney Parks Artist!  Click HERE.

draw

6.

Our very own Gina Rodriguez (who is also a teacher in New Mexico) and her boys started homeschooling like many of you. They whistled while they worked by listening to Disney tunes and especially enjoyed their favorites from Epcot. Tune into DParkRadio in your own home for a little of that Disney magic. It can be found via Amazon Alexa and more.  Click HERE to enjoy the music for yourself.

7.

Experience Disney Magic at home with the free Disney Now app!
Not only can you stream some Disney Channel content for free you can also stream some of your favorite Disney Parks shows! Just go to Disney channel and scroll down to the Experience Disney Magic button!  “We especially love Happily Ever After,” exclaimed Jolly Holiday’s Meredith Trobaugh.

disneynow

8.

Have a Disney-centric breakfast for dinner!  Our very own Rebecca Lander made Mickey pancakes for her family and they reminisced about their favorite memories and rides! You could also create a little Mickey out of bananas for a fresh treat.  Cute!!!

banana

9.

Imagineering fans, get ready! If you’ve ever been one of many guests who’s visited a Disney theme park and found yourself inspired to dream, build and create, there’s a new online program you just can’t miss!

Imagineering in a Box’ is a free online program that brings together the diverse talents of Disney Imagineers around the world for a one-of-a-kind learning experience and is part of Disney’s commitment to helping today’s youth create the future they imagine.

The series offers 32 videos in which Imagineers share how they use a wide range of skills – from story development and conceptual design, to math, physics and engineering – to create immersive experiences. The online curriculum aims to ignite curiosity, inspire creativity, and encourage innovation in the minds of students and teachers alike, while creating fun and engaging opportunities to explore new concepts. (courtesy of DisneyParksBlog.com)

khah

10.

Check out the Disney Parks channel on YouTube.com for virtual viewing of all of the magic of the Disney Parks such as the newest parade from Disneyland.  Perfect for rainy day fun!

“We’re all looking for ways to bring a little joy, a little fun and, yes, a little magic into our lives right now. So to help make that happen, we’re bringing you the newest Disneyland Park parade, Magic Happens. Don’t worry though, you won’t need to move the furniture, rope off a parade route, or stake out your favorite spot. This is a virtual viewing direct from The Happiest Place on Earth. Sit back, relax and watch from the comfort of your couch as some of the most awe-inspiring moments from classic Disney stories unfold right before your eyes and ears—all set to an unforgettable score co-composed by singer-songwriter Todrick Hall. Make sure to check back often, because there are many more #DisneyMagicMoments like this one still to come!” (courtesy of Disney Parks)

IMG-0760

11.

You may have noticed some new notifications and featurettes in the Disneyland or My Disney Experience mobile apps recently – like Disney Parks Artist Studio or Magic Moments in History, where you can learn how to draw your favorite Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, discover fun facts about Disney Parks, or play games and trivia through the Play Disney Parks mobile app.  We’re excited to share that there’s even more to come from these series and others within the Disneyland or My Disney Experience app – and they can all be enjoyed from home!

From fun recipes inspired by Disney Parks foods and animated stories, to highlights from your favorite shows and parades, PhotoPass wallpapers and more, there are videos, games and fun facts on the way, bringing some Disney Parks magic to you. In the coming weeks, you’ll even be able to enjoy the Jungle Cruise joke-of-the-day or experience Wilderness Explorers at home through a series of short-form videos, too. (courtesy of the DisneyParksBlog.com)

mydisney

12.

Harry Potter fans!  J.K. Rowling launches Harry Potter at Home.

“Welcome to the Harry Potter At Home hub where you’ll find all the latest magical treats to keep you occupied – including special contributions from Bloomsbury and Scholastic, nifty magical craft videos (teach your friends how to draw a Niffler!), fun articles, quizzes, puzzles and plenty more for first-time readers, as well as those already familiar with the wizarding world. We’re casting a Banishing Charm on boredom!” (courtesy of HarryPotteratHome.com)

“Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic,” Rowling said on Twitter.

Check out more information on Harry Potter at Home here.

We also encourage you to participate in Jolly Holiday Vacation’s Harry Potter Challenge.  Read more HERE.

hp

13.

‘Frozen’ actor, Josh Gad is reading children’s books to his fans daily via his Twitter account.  

olaf

14.

When you can’t go to the parks, the parks can come to you!  Take a virtual spin on some of the most popular and amazing rides at all of the Disney Parks around the globe.  Click HERE to experience Test Track and to find more amazing videos.

test-track

We hope that these ideas bring a little magic to your Spring Break stay-cations.

When it is time to book your next vacation, Jolly Holiday Vacations will be here for you!

Please share your ideas below!

Disney’s Fairytale Wedding Showcase 2020

This year has been very exciting as I have started the beginning steps to plan my wedding. My fiancé proposed to me February 2018 at the California Grill located in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. When we were brainstorming ideas on where we would like to get married, we thought that Disney World would be best fitting as that is where we were engaged and we enjoy our visit to Disney World every year.

If you were ever thinking of planning a Disney Wedding, whether it be at Disney World, Disney’s Aulani, or on a Disney Cruise Line, Disney’s Fairytale Weddings Showcase is the best way to get a taste of what a Disney Wedding entails.

Disney Weddings and Fairytales holds an event every year at Disney World and Disneyland Resort in California called Disney’s Fairytale Weddings Showcase. This event allows current and future Disney couples to tour wedding venues, taste immersive menus, meet with the Disney Weddings team, and more.

Online Registration

For this year’s showcase registration opened October 1, 2019. I have only seen this event promoted on Disney Weddings Instagram and of course the Disney Wedding Website https://www.disneyweddings.com/showcases/.

This event does sells out so it is best to register for the event within the first week of open registration. Tickets are $45.00 per attendee and you can invite anyone you would like to be a part of your wedding planning. When you register you choose between a morning or afternoon showcase event time and they do ask a couple of questions:

Anticipated Celebration Date
Anticipated Celebration Attendance
What would you like to take away from the Showcase?
Guest 2 Name
Guest 2 Role

There is also a Welcome Dessert Reception that you may register for during your online registration for an additional cost. We opted out of this event but this is a great opportunity to taste an array of desserts that are available for your future wedding.

Disney’s Fairytale Weddings Showcase Day

The showcase was held at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. We arrived around 9:00am to pre-register. At the registration desk they only required a photo ID and we were given two Disney Weddings reusable bags, two lanyards with our name, a beverage coupon, and a map of the day’s events. The event did not start until 10:00am so we walked around the resort and took a look at the special merchandise store. There were water bottles, ring trays, clothing, and glasses with the Disney Weddings and Fairytales logo available for purchase. There was also a special edition Pandora bracelet that was just launched and is only available in Disney Parks for purchase. Disney also released a new engagement ring collection that was very affordable and beautiful.

image

 

image

After walking around the doors opened at 10am, everyone rushed into the ballroom and you were welcomed with a greenery and gate backdrop and the sounds of a live Spanish guitarist. To the left of the room there were tasting plates of Mediterranean, Italian, and Asian flavors. The middle of the room had dessert offerings and a beautiful photo opportunity with the Cinderella carriage. The right of the room had a dance floor and DJ entertaining attendees. There were many vendors scattered around the ballroom from photography, videography, bridal gowns, tuxedo rentals, and also many different themed table settings.

The showcase was only open for two hours, and we used almost the entire two hours to take in the sights, sounds, and tastings. Also available after the showcase was a self-guided walking tour, where Disney’s Fairytale and Weddings designed wedding venue examples to show off their talents. When leaving the showcase, we were greeted with a limo to transport us to the Wedding Pavilion to continue the day with the walking tour. Due to time we only visited the Polynesian resort but they had beautiful tropical décor set up in the sand overlooking the water, as well as a live ukulele player.

image

 

 

image

 

Conclusion

Overall I believe if you are engaged and were curious to see how Disney can make wedding dreams come true, I recommend attending Disney’s Fairytale Weddings Showcase. At the showcase there are many opportunities to speak to the Disney Weddings team and they also can schedule mini wedding sessions to speak with a representative one on one. Since I was already thinking of planning a Disney Wedding, I scheduled a session during my trip, and had the opportunity to visit venues and speak in more detail with my Disney Wedding consultant. My experience so far has been over and beyond of what I could ever imagine and I cannot wait to share more details about my future Disney Wedding!

If you would like to see live videos of Disney’s Fairytale Weddings Showcase 2020, please follow @JollyHolidayVacations on Instagram and visit their stories, Disney Wedding. Also please make sure to follow me along on Instagram @laura.jollyholiday to follow my Disney Wedding Journey.

See Ya Real Soon,

Laura

For more practically perfect tips, please contact Laura at laura.jollyholiday@gmail.com

 

 

Frozen Dessert Party {Official Boy-Mom Review}

Here’s the deal. I have boys. Two very boyish boys. They are self proclaimed “all girly thing” haters and can’t be bothered with any Disney Princesses. A little part of me cries inside everytime we pass a princess in a park and can’t stop, or another cute movie comes out and my boys snark at the mere mention of going to see it.

During a recent trip I sternly put my mama foot down and told the boys we were going to the Frozen Dessert Party, while saying in my best mom voice that they were “going to like it whether they wanted to or not”! The boys clearly began to envision having to sit on Anna and Elsa’s lap while wearing dresses and perhaps recreating the coronation. I may have told them once or twice that today “was Coronation day!” in my best Anna impersonation.

Having never done this enchanting Disney extra I really didn’t know what to expect. I hyped my boys up with the mention of endless sugar and maybe even a Sprite if all went well- hook, line, and sinker. They were able to see past the Princess theme and began to see visions of endless confections.

null

About an hour before arrival the rain started. They let me know that the event would be moved inside, thus furthering my unknown expectations. We walked the World Showcase to the Norway pavilion, where all the magic began to unfold. Cast members greeted us by name (still can’t figure that out) and directed us towards what the boys and I now call “behind the scenes of Norway, into the secret room.” We went up a spiraling staircase lined with cast members, again calling us by name, that opened up into a large room filled with tables, drinks, desserts, frozen decorations, and even Elsa’s throne!

null

Cast members immediately sprang into action encouraging us to load our plates, grab a drink, and sit and enjoy the food before being escorted to a roped off section for fireworks viewing. All in all we had about 1.5 hours to enjoy drinks and food before being taken outside.

When entering the private viewing area all was given special Frozen glasses to view the fireworks with. The glasses succeeded in making the fireworks appear to be snowflakes falling from the sky- really a cool effect. My boys loved it. We watched the firework show, with full bellies, front row seating, and no pushing or shoving from crowds.

null

Following the show, we were then escorted back to Norway where we got to ride Frozen Ever After with no lines or wait. A ticket to the party also grants access to the ride after hours. We had the boat to ourselves!

Overall, we all ended up loving the experience. The cast members went above and beyond to make every guest feel special and the food was excellent. I would highly recommend adding this on as an enchanting extra to your next trip!

The details:

Runs Select Nights throughout the week

Adults: $99.00

Children: $59.00

Food: Beer/Wine, Soft Drinks, Desserts, Fruit, Charcuterie, Light Hour’D’Herve

Includes: Private Ride of Frozen Ever After, Beer/Wine, Soft Drinks, Private Seating

Weather: If the weather holds out desserts/bar is set up outside near the Mexican pavilion. For the event of rain the party is moved inside to the “behind the scenes of Norway, into the secret room”.

See ya real soon,

Kerri

For more practically perfect tips, please email Kerri at Kerri.JollyHoliday@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First RunDisney Race

Have you ever considered a RunDisney race at one of the Disney Parks? My girlfriends and I just completed the Princess 10K over the 2020 Princess Half Marathon Weekend and wanted to share some tips! It was our first race, and we had SO MUCH FUN!

A group of people posing for the camera Description automatically generated

Post-Race at Magic Kingdom

First, Registering for Your Race

The Walt Disney World Resort hosts 4 race weekends a year

  • January- Disney Marathon Weekend (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon)
  • February- Princess Half Marathon- (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon)
  • April- Star Wars Half Marathon- (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon)
  • Fall (Oct/Nov)- Wine & Dine Half Marathon- (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon)
  • They even have one mile kids runs!

There are virtual races throughout the year as well.

Below is the RunDisney event calendar for 2020-2021:

runDisney events calendar

The 5K and 10K sell out as soon as registration opens. Many people who are logged in and ready to register do NOT get a bibs. NEVER FEAR! You CAN book a race package with an agent at Jolly Holiday Vacations BEFORE registration opens at no additional cost to you!

For those super motivated runners, there are extra medals for running all races in a weekend. Check out the RunDisney website for more information.

For the 5K and 10K races, you can select the pace you think you will be able to run. For the half marathon and marathon, you must submit a proof of time. Your pace will dictate which corral you will be placed in to start the race.

Training for the Race

A picture containing toy, doll Description automatically generated

In my younger years, I could sign up for a run, not train at all, and show up and run. Not so much these days!

Be sure to download a training plan that suits your needs! My group had an accountability and support group text where we encouraged each other and posted our runs. It was such a fun way to stay motivated and to get excited and prepared for the race weekend!

The last thing you want to do is get injured due to lack of training and not be able to enjoy the race and the resort. I was determined to be able to run the race and have plenty in reserves to tackle the parks!

You have to be able to run or walk a 16-minute mile pace. There are a group of people who cross the start line with the last corral. They carry balloons, keep a 16-minute pace, and sweep anyone off the course who can’t keep the pace. Because it takes so long for everyone to get through the start, this shouldn’t be a huge concern.

Planning Your Race Day Outfit

Many runners dress up for the race based on its theme. For the Princess Weekend, my group decided to go as characters from Alice in Wonderland. We were Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and the Queen of Hearts.

A group of people posing for the camera Description automatically generated

Alice in Wonderland Costumes

Some people go all out (there are great options on Etsy), some people buy or make a race tank, and some wear regular running clothes. Costumes are in no way required but add to the fun!

Be sure to think about how comfortable you will be running in your costume. You may even want to run in parts of your costume before the race to make sure you aren’t incumbered in any way.

Planning Your Trip Itinerary

Once you have your race registration secured, it’s time to plan the rest of your trip! Consider the number of people in your travel party, when you want to arrive, dining and park touring.

There were 5 adult members of our group so we chose a Family Suite at Art of Animation (WDW Value Resort). The Family Suites sleep 6 and most importantly, had 2 full bathrooms.

Art of Animation- Finding Nemo Family Suite

Again, you can book a travel package with an agent at Jolly Holiday Vacations in advance of the registration opening to secure your bib!

Our race, the 10K, was on Saturday. We had originally planned for a Friday early morning departure, but later decided to start the drive down on Thursday afternoon after work so we wouldn’t feel so rushed. Since Jolly Holiday Vacations can book Hilton and Marriott brands of hotels anywhere, we were able to get a great rate on a Hilton in Jacksonville (included free parking and free breakfast) to break up the trip!

We knew we wanted a one-day Park Hopper ticket so that we could spend some time in Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so we were sure to have those purchased and linked to our account 60 days prior to race day to take advantage of the best FastPass options!

We were very excited about our DINING options and made reservations when our dining reservation window opened 180 days in advance for best availability. Since this was a girl’s trip without kids, we chose signature restaurants that could really enjoy! With our plan in place, we were ready for the weekend!

Arrival at Walt Disney World & Runner’s Expo

All runners must head to the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex to pick up their race bib before the race. EACH runner must show up with valid photo ID. You cannot pick up bibs for friends. Non-runners are welcome! Parking is free at the Expo. You also get a RunDisney t-shirt with the cost of registration. The Expo usually opens at least one day before the 5K, and you will have to pick up your bib at least one day in advance of your race.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore the expo! There are tons of vendors, good food and drink, photo ops, specialized merchandise and more. It was a lot of fun and built on the excitement of the race!

A group of people posing for the camera Description automatically generated

RunDisney Expo

The RUN

RunDisney events start EARLY because they need to be mostly finished before the parks open. Be prepared to get a good’s night rest before the race! Have costumes set out and breakfast organized.

Disney provides bus transportation to the race start, which is usually in the Epcot parking lot. The 5K and 10K usually start at 5:30am, and the half-marathon and marathon usually start at 5:00am. Buses will start picking runners up around 2:30am (CRAZY, I know) and continue throughout the morning. We got up at 3:45am, headed out of our room a little after 4am, were able to hop right on a bus (there can be lines), and were at Epcot around 4:20am.

Like the Expo, there was a lot to see and do at the race start- vendors, character photo opportunities, a live DJ and more. We explored a little and then got in our corrals. It was very cold on our race morning. You can bring old/inexpensive jackets to wear in the morning, and then can shed them on the course. Disney will pick them up and donate your items to those in need.

If you want to get pre-race pictures with characters, get there early. We were more interested in getting a good night’s rest as we had a big park day planned. By the time we got to the race, the lines for character photos were pretty long and characters were headed in.

We were in different corrals, so we went our separate ways and had a plan about where to meet when the race was over.

A group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generated

Pre-Race Start

One thing I learned that I had not quite expected is that although the race begins at 5:30am, it takes a WHILE to get up to the start line, depending on your corral placement. Our group was divided into 3 different corrals. One group got through the start at about 5:50am, I got through at 6:09am, and someone else in our group got through closer to 6:30am. Disney does this to spread the runners out and to allow for more distributed opportunities to take photos with characters along the way. So be prepared to finish the race later than you might anticipate.

The run itself was SO fun. Pocahontas was the character inspiration for the 10K. She and many of her fellow movie characters were stationed throughout the race in addition to Mickey and some other characters that you typically don’t see in the parks. I never stopped for the characters because the lines were usually 20 people or so deep, but it looked like a lot of people were having fun. There was music everywhere to keep you going and lots of good people watching of all the different costumes! Our course looped out onto service roads, came into Epcot’s World Showcase, extended to the Epcot-area resorts, and back through the World Showcase to the finish. There were water stations and bathrooms all throughout the course. We all LOVED the race!

You have the option to purchase Memory Maker (photography package) for a discounted rate ($169) before the weekend to cover your entire trip OR you can purchase a one-day memory maker for ($69). This will include all of your race photos and park photos from the day. Be sure to hang onto your race bib because the code to link your race photos will be on the back of the bib!

A group of people performing on a stage Description automatically generated

Memory Maker Race Photos

At the end of the race, you are given a nice medal, a mylar blanket, water and Powerade, and a snack box. I highly recommend drinking and eating a lot after the race so you don’t get dehydrated or low blood sugar. The 4 of us met up, got a quick photo, and headed back to the bus to our resort to shower and change as we had a full park day planned!

A group of people posing for the camera Description automatically generated

Post-Race Photo

Highlights of Our Trip

Our Girl’s Trip was definitely about the RUN, but we had 3 supporters who came along so we also really wanted to enjoy all Disney has to offer. Here are some highlights and our basic itinerary:

  • Thursday: Departed for Jacksonville to break up the drive, stayed in a Hilton with a great rate, free breakfast and free parking
  • Friday: Headed to the Orland and the Expo, checked into Art of Animation, got ready for dinner at California Grill with Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing, early bedtime
  • Saturday: Run, Magic Kingdom morning with FastPasses and Be Our Guest lunch, afternoon break and cocktails and Grand Floridian Resort, Epcot afternoon and dinner at Le Cellier
  • Sunday: Sleep in, brunch at Chef Mickey’s, head home

We did the Deluxe Dining Plan since two of our meals were Signature meals, and we wanted the snack credits to explore the options at the Festival of the Arts in Epcot. We saved $100s on food using this strategy. Below are some pictures from our awesome Girl’s trip and RunDisney weekend. I hope you have enjoyed following along!

A group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generated

California Grille with Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing

A group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera Description automatically generated

Magical Day at Magic Kingdom

A picture containing outdoor Description automatically generated

Afternoon Break at the Enchanted Rose Lounge at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

AfA group of people posing for a photo Description automatically generated

Evening at Epcot & the Festival of the Arts

A bunch of different types of food on a table Description automatically generated

Maximizing the value of our Deluxe Dining Plan at Epcot

A group of people posing for the camera Description automatically generated

Such a FUN way to extend the MAGIC- departure brunch at Chef Mickey’s

See ya real soon,

Marlee

For more practically perfect tips, please email Marlee at Marlee.JollyHoliday@gmail.com.