Archive for March, 2013

Are You Dopey?

Editor’s Note:  Today’s blog is from our running friend, Todd Carrier.  Todd will be doing a series of blogs for us as he prepares for several races in the next 9 months.  Thanks Todd!

RunDisney recently announced their new ultimate race event, The Dopey Challenge.  This will consist of four races (totaling a staggering 48.6 miles) and if you complete them all within the required time limits will net you six medals.  Why would someone want to get up well before the rooster crows for four consecutive days while on vacation at Walt Disney World to run nearly fifty miles?  I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but I can give you my reasons.

  1. I never thought I would say it, but I like to run.  It’s cathartic.  I know folks who golf to relieve stress or use scream therapy to feel more balanced.  For me, I take to the road.  It’s just me and my shoes and Mother Nature.  Running relaxes me, I feel better after doing it and sleep through the night after a run.
  2. Doing an event with runDisney is pretty spectacular for a Disney fan.  Most distance events take you through at least one of the theme parks.  While you are passing through, you are one of very few people in the park.  And the on course entertainment is pretty hard to beat.
  3. I like medals. RunDisney has some high quality ones, too.  The Dopey Challenge will produce six medals for racers who successfully complete the challenge.  A medallion for the Family 5K Fun Run, a medal each for the Minnie 10K, Donald Half and Mickey Full Marathons, a medal for doing the Goofy (Donald & Mickey) and a Dopey medal for completing the series.

So what will it take to reach this lofty goal of runDisney’s Dopey Challenge?

  • Training.  Physical preparation is obvious, but mental is required, too.
  • Perseverance.  When it’s chilly and rainy out or hot and humid miles need to be logged.
  •  Time.  Running a long distance endurance event doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Dedication.  Often people compare training for a marathon to be the equivalent to a part time job.  Being prepared will take more than the occasional jog around the block and exercise routine.

I look forward to sharing my journey and some insight with you over the next nine or so months until Marathon Weekend 2014 (January 8-12, 2014) when I take on the Dopey Challenge.

Registration opens on Tuesday, April 9th at noon EST at rundisney.com.

Marathon Weekend 2014 will consist of five days of race centered events. Here is a look at some of the events for Marathon Weekend:

Wednesday January 8 Thursday January 9 Friday January 10 Saturday January 11 Sunday January 12
Health & Wellness Expo Health & Wellness Expo Health & Wellness Expo Health & Wellness Expo
Kids Races Kids Races Kids Races
Family 5K Fun Run Minnie 10K Donald ½ Marathon Mickey Marathon
Pasta in the Park Pasta in the Park Pasta in the Park Cool Down Party

I would expect the Minnie 10K to sell out quickly along with the Dopey Challenge, as new events have had a recent track record of doing just that with runDisney.

Which Side is Better? Forward, Midship or Aft?

I get asked this question all the time.  Which side of the ship is the best side to book your cabin on?  The answer is not clear and is not necessarily the same for each person.  It all depends on what you want to see, where your cabin will be located and personal tastes.

I’ll start with personal tastes.  On some ships in suites generally, the decor may be different from one suite to another.  For instance, on the Disney ships, the Roy O. Disney Suites are decorated differently than the Walter E. Disney Suites.  The classic ships are the same and the new ships are the same, but on the ships themselves, the two rooms are different.  On the Celebrity Millennium, the Sky Suites have different color schemes.  If you have an aversion to Azure, you will want to make sure that your room is not decorated in that color!

Next you’ll need to take into account what is around the room you are interested in.  If there is a galley above my room on the starboard side, but a hallway on the port side, I’ll take the port side for my room (or switch decks!).

Finally, I think about the itinerary – what you might see while cruising but, more importantly, what you might see in port.  The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t count on the ship berthing a certain way in the ports.  While most of the time the ship you are looking at may “back in” to a port, there is the chance that they could do things different based on the sea conditions, the dock they have to use, any number of factors.  You can look for which side most likely will be facing the way you want, but don’t set your heart on that happening.

Also keep in mind that on a roundtrip itinerary, you are covering the same area so one side is not going to be better than the other (you’ll face one way on the outbound and the other on the inbound).  Of course this is something to keep in mind with one way or repositioning cruises.  A Transatlantic Cruise may not matter because you have ocean on both sides of the ship for many days, but an Alaskan Cruise may make a difference.  When going through the Panama Canal, some people wanted to face the side where the webcams are or where the welcome center is located while others wanted it more quite and also to face the other ships going the opposite direction through the canal.

Also asked a lot is where is the best place on the ship to book, forward, midship or aft.  Again, this is a personal question, but it also depends on the ship.  I have had many clients over the years ask me for an oceanview stateroom midship on the Disney Magic at least deck 5 or above.  That simply doesn’t exist!  As with most ships, the higher decks only have balcony cabins midship.  Some will have ocean view rooms on the ends of the ships.  Likewise, you can’t get a balcony room too low on the ship.

Midship rooms, lower on the ship, are theoretically the best for minimizing motion.  After that, I would say aft is better than forward, but that is my personal opinion.  I do have a tendency to get a bit seasick at times and have found this to be the case.

I recommend deciding which is more important to you – location on the ship or type of cabin.  Let your travel agent know and tell them what your choices are.  Many times you can have both, but in case you can’t, at least your priority is known.

Juneau: The Alaska for Everyone

When I fall asleep at night, I don’t think about the homework I neglected to do, the dishes I left unwashed, or the looming threat of the zombie apocalypse. My mind is far from school, sanitation, and the walking dead. Instead, it’s in a town approximately 961 miles north of my current location. It’s in Juneau, Alaska, my adopted summer home and the only place that has ever managed to capture the majority of my waking thoughts and lucid dreams.

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Like most towns in Southeast Alaska, Juneau has no system of roads that connect to other parts of the state. If you drive far enough to the northern or southern ends of town, the roads simply end.

My fascination with Alaska first manifested itself in my fifth grade state report. I distinctly remember gluing pictures of polar bears to poster board, feeling satisfied with my perceived knowledge and skill. At the tender age of twelve, I read Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, prompting me to seriously consider visiting the Great North for the first time. My fanciful daydreams consisted of a tween version of myself roaming the foothills of the Alaska Range, amidst moose and mountains, lost in the wild like Krakauer’s protagonist, Chris McCandless.

A few years later, I made my Alaska dream come to fruition, while combining the necessity of making money during my summer break from university. In early 2012, when I was offered a job in the capital city Juneau, I immediately accepted, ensuring that my dream of visiting the state would be memorable.

When I fully realized I would be spending three months in the Last Frontier’s capital city, my hopes of living out some Arctic, Jack London fantasy were dashed. Within ninety minutes of my arrival in town, however, I found myself staring at the terminus of the Mendenhall Glacier, the antithesis of urbanity and the epitome of the natural Alaska I originally sought.

You could say that Juneau was quick to prove me wrong.

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Just outside of downtown, the Perseverance Trail winds its way into the mountains of the Coastal Range.

It didn’t take much longer for me to understand that Juneau was unlike any other place I had ever visited. From downtown, it’s possible to walk past the Governor’s Mansion and wander up into the mountains on the state’s oldest road, Perseverance Trail. In less than twenty minutes, it’s possible travel from sea level to nearly four thousand feet upwards onto the side of Mt. Roberts via the Mt. Roberts Tram. In the course of a day, it’s possible to enjoy the rich history only found in state capitals and the insane natural beauty only found in Alaska.

I spent three months in Juneau, and when I wasn’t working, I took advantage of everything the city had to offer. I saw glaciers calve at the South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm, I serendipitously met Governor Sean Parnell at a community picnic, and I spent days climbing the mountains that surround the city. As a result, I returned to the Lower Forty-Eight with three months’ worth of memories that are sure to stay with me for the rest of my life.

As you read me wax poetic about my extended stay in Juneau, you may feel excited about the prospect of seeing glaciers, overwhelmed at the amount to see and do, or even bothered that your visit to Alaska is significantly less time than my gratuitous summer break. THIS IS NATURAL. Yes, Juneau has a lot to offer, but the good news is that if you plan carefully, you can experience a lot of it even with the strictest time constraints.

One year ago, I foolishly thought my chances of seeing Sarah Palin were greater than seeing a bald eagle scoop up a salmon from the Gastineau Channel (note: I saw the latter at least twice during the summer). And fortunately for me, the only Sarah Palin sighting I had was her likeness in the form of a cardboard cutout on the steps of the Alaska T-Shirt Company on Franklin Street.

Downtown Juneau and the Gastineau Channel

Downtown Juneau and the Gastineau Channel

It’s one thing to read a book, write a glorified book report, or watch a Travel Channel special about a place, but to experience it firsthand is entirely different and infinitely more valuable. Travel in all forms allows for an enhanced understanding of the world, and to spend even a week in a place as unique as Southeast Alaska is treat for any traveler. Regardless of the fast-paced nature of your itinerary, know that the Alaska you always dreamed of visiting is well-within reach!

Join ToaD For An Alaska Adventure!

When we first decided to have a group cruise, we asked ourselves, why.  There are many reasons to have a group cruise.  Some are theme cruises where everyone has a common interest – I have clients that have been on Precious Moments cruises.  Some have real celebrities onboard which is supposed to be the draw – maybe sports figures, musicians or authors.  For both of these types of groups the destination is not as important as the activities offered onboard.  For us, we decided that the destination was the most important aspect of the group.  Many of our clients have on cruises to the Bahamas or Caribbean so they wanted something different.

Sometimes it’s hard to check out something new with so much uncertainty.  On my first cruise, I wasn’t sure if I would like cruising so we selected Disney Cruise line because I knew I would like Disney, even if I didn’t like cruising.  29 cruises later, we are preparing for another first on Oasis of the Seas next month.  We have taken time to get to know other cruisers on our sailings in advance so even new destinations were a little less intimidating.

One of the most popular cruise destinations is Alaska and it’s no surprise why.  I am not a fan of the cold and snow.  Never have been, even though I’ve lived in Wisconsin all of my life.  I went on the first Disney Cruise to Alaska for a couple reasons.  First, I really wanted to be on the first Alaska cruise with the repositioning up from LA.  Of course the second reason is that I had a lot of clients looking at Alaska or booked and I wanted to get to know the itinerary better for them.

When we left Juneau, I told my husband that I could move up to Alaska.  Yes, the girl who curses the first and every snowfall of the season was volunteering to move up North!  Wouldn’t you with this scenery?

I quickly selected Alaska as my favorite cruise itinerary and gave up the notion of moving there.

So many folks have told us they want to go to Alaska so we decided we needed to have a group trip up there.  We selected Celebrity Cruises because I find their service to be equal to Disney Cruise Line’s service and the food was great as well.  I found with Alaska we were so busy watching the world go by that the entertainment really did not matter.  Additionally, we wanted a cruise that would allow us a few extra days on one end to tour Alaska itself and Disney does not offer that.

On August 1, 2014, we will embark on the Celebrity Millennium for a 7 night sailing from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seward, Alaska.  We will be looking into optional post cruise activities as well for those that want to stay on and see Denali or maybe Mount McKinley.  Some may choose to go to Fairbanks as well then fly home from there while others will fly home from Anchorage.

This cruise will start in Vancouver and sail through the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, followed by stops at Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Skagway before cruising to the Hubbard Glacier and finally arrive in Seward.  From Seward, we will have options for the train or bus to Anchorage where some will choose to head home and others will continue on to explore Alaska.

Group space is available on this date, which is currently pricing lower than opening pricing.  Here is the pricing for the group space we have held:

Category 11 – Inside – $869 per person

Category 08 – Ocean View – $1149 per person

Category 2C – Balcony – $1674 per person

Not included are taxes of $157.45 per person.  Other categories are available for group pricing, subject to availability at the time we book it.  Deposits are $500 per cabin.  We can hold space for you without a deposit, but you won’t be guaranteed a room number until the deposit is received.  We only have a select number of rooms in the group so I recommend reserving yours as soon as possible to get the best choice of cabins.

Regardless of how you book, we are part of a group, however, being in the group rooms will get you some extra bonuses in addition to our onboard credit offer.  If you want to book a room that is not in the group space, we can bring you into the group once you have paid the full deposit of $500, subject to availability.  In addition to the room types held, there are concierge class, Aqua class and several suites available.  Your deposit amount, regardless of whether you are in the group space or not, is fully refundable up until May 18, 2014.

Previous Celebrity cruisers may be entitled to an additional discount based on the date of booking.  Be sure to let me know if you have cruised with Celebrity before (or if you are Platinum or above with Royal Caribbean).  Contact Tracy at Tracy@travelonadream.com for more information or your quote today.

Two Exciting New Facebook Groups

Today we are launching two new Facebook groups for our Travel On A Dream fans and followers.  The first is a group for everyone to mix and mingle!  This group can be found at http://www.facebook.com/groups/4ToaD/ and is an open group for everyone to share and get to know each other.  This is a place for you to ask questions, help others, get to know others and just have fun.  Everyone is welcome as long as you are respectful to each other.  You are welcome to read on the group, however, if you wish to post, you will need to join the group.  This is an open forum so profanity is not allowed.  No solicitation please.  Violators will be removed from the group.

Our second group is a closed group, however anyone is welcome to join.  We have been enjoying participating in 5k races but more importantly following many of you in your races.  It is for this reason that we have decided to form a Travel On A Dream running team.   Of course, walkers are welcome (they have to or I couldn’t be a member!).  Our team will work on getting team entries for various runDisney events.  This will help those of you who don’t get your individual entry in before the races fill up.

To kick off this group, we have started a Facebook group and have our very own logo for the team.  What do you think?

ToaDRunners

Initially, membership in the group will be complimentary.  Any group events however may have an entry fee.  The Facebook group is a closed group, but anyone is welcome to join and all members can add other members too.  Check it out http://www.facebook.com/groups/ToaDRunners/.  This group page will be a great place to find out who is participating in various events (not just Disney!), get to know each other and help each other with their challenges and goals.  This is a closed group which means that non-members can see who is in the group but cannot see the content posted without joining the group.  While it is not open for everyone to see, we still request no profanity or solicitation.

We hope to see you in one of our groups and to meet you at upcoming events!

PHOTO TOUR: Fantasy Faire Debuts at Disneyland

Disneyland’s Fantasy Faire is a charming new village located just off the Hub, giving the Disney princesses a much needed permanent residence inside the park.  Small in space, but rich in detail, there’s much more to this area than just your standard character meet & greet, ensuring that Fantasy Faire will be a hit with the whole family.

Panoramic view from  Fantasy Faire to Sleeping Beauty Castle

Panoramic view from Fantasy Faire to Sleeping Beauty Castle

Looking into Fantasy Faire from the Castle bridge.

Looking into Fantasy Faire from the Castle bridge.

Continue reading

Last Chance for Extra Onboard Credit From Disney

Are you thinking about cruising on the Disney Dream this September?  If so, now is the time to book your stateroom!  Not only is pricing fantastic right now, but through March 15, 2013 if you book a three or four night cruise on the Disney Dream in a balcony or higher, you will get up to $100 in onboard credit from Disney Cruise Line.  This is in addition to Travel On A Dream’s loyalty program.

Rates on three night sailings start at just $499 per person and four night sailings start at just $599 per person.  How can you go wrong?  Remember, your deposit is fully refundable up until 75 days prior to this sailing so if you think you might want to cruise, book now to take advantage of this great offer.

Availability is limited.  Restrictions do apply so contact us today for details.

 

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