Archive for June, 2013

Halloween Horror Nights Review

Editor’s note:  We welcome another blog from our Italian friend, Alessandra.  Thank you for your review of Halloween Horror Nights!  Tickets for this year’s event are on sale now. 

Disclaimer: Prices are from 2012, I don’t know if Universal is actually raising them or are the same.

Halloween Horror nights, to do or not to do? A crucial question for a lot of people traveling to Orlando. To begin with Halloween Horror Nights is an event held by Universal Studios at selected dates throughout September and October. I will be reviewing the event of Universal Studios at Orlando, I know there is also the same event in California but I’ve heard that is quite different.

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Photos From Around “The World” Part III

Our friend Leo DeCandia recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World for the Flower & Garden Festival.  I wanted to share a few shots with you that he took.  This is Part III, so watch for more and in case you missed them, here are Part I and Part II.

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Happy Birthday ToaD (and Tripp)

June 20, 2010 we booked our very first reservation as Travel On A Dream.  Three years later, we are still going strong, stronger than ever, thanks to all of you.  Thousands of cruises and travel packages later we have grown from just a dream of mine to ten agents.  We cannot thank you enough for putting your faith and trust in us to take care of your travel plans.  Your personal bookings and your referrals of us to your friends and families mean more than words can say.

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Referrals mean the world to us.  When you go to a restaurant and the service is sub-par, you don’t tell your friends to go there.  In fact, you tell them NOT to go there.  When you refer people to us, you are saying that not only were you happy with the service, you are willing to put your reputation on the line by telling others about it.  To thank you for these referrals, we offer referral rewards and have from the beginning.  We have paid out hundreds of referral credits and gift cards.

Double Referral Credits!

As a birthday gift to all of you, we are doubling our referral credits for the next month!  For all new referrals with bookings deposited by July 20, 2013, we will give you double referral credit.  For example, if your friend books a $2500 package, on your next trip booked with Travel On A Dream after they travel, you normally will receive either a $25 gift card or onboard credit.  With our double referral credit promotion, you will receive $50!

We also love groups!  As you may know, we have cruise groups going to the Bahamas this October, Southern Caribbean next October and Alaska in August, 2014.  There is still room for more so come join us!

Groups Bonus!

As another birthday gift to all of you, any new groups booked and deposited before July 20, 2013 of at least five rooms will receive a bonus.  Groups can be organized tours, airfare/hotel packages, cruises or Disney packages.  The group coordinator will receive double onboard credit for their cabin on the cruise or $100 gift card for packages.  Adventures by Disney packages may qualify for an additional bonus.  Get your group of friends or family together and contact us today!  Please note, this cannot be combined with the referral credits for the group leader, but your agent will give you the better of the two promotions.

Itinerary Planning Changes

Over the years we have handled a variety of travel plans for you.  We have done so in many cases without a service fee to you.  We want to continue to serve you without fees and will do so with most cruises, tours and Disney Destinations.

Effective June 20, 2013, Super Saver rates on Carnival and any stand-alone hotel and airfare reservations will be subject to a service fee.  For one night stays or airfare only reservations, the fee will be $50.  For longer stays or Carnival Super Saver rates, the fee will be $100 per room/cabin.  More detailed vacation planning may be subject to higher fees.  We are finding that we are working harder for the great rates and many of the travel suppliers are putting limitations on what they will pay us (with many of the lowest rates, they won’t pay at all).  These fees will allow us to continue to give you top quality service.

Thank you!

Thank you again for helping us achieve this milestone.  Without your support (and bookings!), we wouldn’t be here today.  We look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with all of you.

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2013 Chris Smith 5K Challenge Review

The Chris Smith Memorial 5K Challenge was hosted by Cedar Point on Sunday, June 16, 2013 in Sandusky, Ohio. Here is my review of that race event.

A few months ago, a serious runner friend of mine, Frank, contacted me about this race because he knew I was close, liked running (although at about half his pace) and thoroughly enjoy Cedar Point. Due to some scheduling issues, I wasn’t comfortable registering right away. However, with some assistance from Frank, I received answers from the race director’s staff that satisfied my needs. My friend, Daniel,  and I registered and planned on making a weekend vacation out of it.

ImageI wondered about the namesake of the race. Christopher Smith was a highly involved teacher, mentor and community philanthropist. Part of the race fees are given to local area schools and community groups in his name to continue with his passion for making the world a better, happier, safer place.

The biggest concern I had was about packet pick up. Due to work, we would not be able to arrive during the official race packet pick up times, which were Friday and Saturday early afternoons at one of the Cedar Point owned hotels. We were assured that we could pick up our packets the morning of the race, as long as we arrived early enough, without issue.

Early registration was $35 (after June 1 was $40) and included:
• Free parking at Cedar Point the day of the race ($14)
• Discounted admission and early entry to the park, starting at 9 a.m. ($9 off gate price)
• A Tech performance T-shirt (guaranteed to all who register by June 1)
• NEW THIS YEAR: A collectible race medal for ALL participants!
• A souvenir photo with Snoopy and his pals
• Race packet and refreshments
• Disposable chip timing system

Cheaper than a runDisney event, but still more expensive than a 5K around town. I felt the perks and swag and medal (of course I want a medal) were worth it. We registered and booked a hotel room, using my travel agent.

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Saturday morning I laid out our race clothes. Good thing I did. I decided to forgo my normal Vibram Five Fingers and utilize my runDisney New Balance shoes. I had forgotten to get out my running socks until I double checked my outfit. Running in shoes without socks isn’t enjoyable. Saturday afternoon we made the two and a half hour trek to Sandusky, Ohio. Once checked in at the hotel, I laid out the race clothes on the desk and we decided to see the quaint charm of “Historic Downtown Sandusky”.

I’m not entirely sure why, but we did not practice advice that most people give. Needless to say, we stumbled back to the hotel a little after 2am. The alarm went off at 5:20, but I was already up. There was hail and thunder and lightning outside the window. Grand. Would they cancel the race? What was their policy? I didn’t read one. Ugh. We got dressed and went anyway, half-heartedly hoping it would continue to lightning and they would call the race so we could go back to sleep.

We arrived and picked up our “packets” at 6:02am. They couldn’t find my bib. After a bit of searching, I was assigned a random back up extra bib. Runner 409. They didn’t have any parking passes, either. It wasn’t a huge deal, as the parking gate attendant let us through with our registration and I had my platinum annual pass if that didn’t work, but it was listed as being included with race registration. They looked at Daniel’s bib for his shirt size and asked me what my size was. I had requested a medium, Daniel requested a small. We were both handed mediums. Why ask what size if you only have mediums? Why did you have us request sizes if you weren’t going to have the size we ordered? There were still at least two dozen race participants check-in after we did, so we weren’t the only ones who got a medium, one-size-fits-or-you-don’t-get-a-shirt, tech shirt. The volunteers were friendly and tried to be helpful, but weren’t able to answer many questions and once someone more official came over, she was rather artful at dancing around a specific answer for anything.

The weather was gradually clearing, yet we still decided to return to the car, about 15 feet from the start line to get out of the rain and have our breakfast juice (apple, strawberry, kiwi, pineapple for that day). About 6:50 we made sure to use the facilities, check the race course and walk back to the start.

Without much fanfare (I am sure I am spoiled by runDisney starts), we were off. There were about 165 people in our wave and 180 in the second wave, following us 30 minutes later. Crossing a bright green line of tape put across the roadway while we were drinking our juice. Almost the first mile was in the parking lot. If you’ve run a 5K at Walt Disney World, this will be rather familiar to you. So much so it was a running joke until we entered the park. (Yes, the pun was intended.)

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Image courtesy of Cedar Fair

The rest of the course and finish were inside the park. I wish I could tell you it was memorable. We ran past rides, games and attractions. None operating, of course. There was one character on the course. Franklin, from Peanuts, was in the Camp Snoopy area of the park. He had a character attendant, but she was rather aloof and wasn’t receptive enough to use my camera for an on course photo.

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There was a Cedar Point employee posted about every 50 yards to ensure the racers were staying on course and that Cedar Point property wouldn’t be defaced. Of all of these people, one—one single woman—cheered. Except for her, nobody smiled or clapped. Nothing. It was like running past East German guards along the Berlin Wall.

Much slower than most folks, we crossed the finish line. The photographer had stopped taking photos. The person handing out medals was about two strides past the finish line; which meant we came to a dead stop right away. Even at the slower pace which we were keeping, we still had momentum and physics to fight in order to stop. Frank was waiting at the finish as well as some other friends from home, which we hadn’t known were going to be racing.

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Our times. Daniel and Unknown Participant 409 (me)

By now the sun was peeking out through the clouds and the puddles were starting to shrink. However, due to the rain and the puddles, we were soaked head to toe. We only found the post-race refreshments because we happened to stumble upon them. Never saw Snoopy for a photo op. Even though our race registration would have gotten us in the park an hour before general opening (9 instead of 10), we decided to go back to the hotel and freshen up to play in the park.

ImageIn my opinion, it was a decent event. There were some logistical issues, as is possible with every event. It was a safe and clean course. That being said, I am not sure I would repeat this event. If I had friends running it again, I would join them; but, I wouldn’t do it solo.

Updated Disney Cruise Line Schedules for 2014

We have compiled a list of all the schedules for the Disney ships next fall, following the changes in the last couple weeks.  These sailings are available to book at this time.

Disney Magic®

  • October 4, 2014 – Southern Caribbean out of San Juan (no change)
  • October 11, 2014 – Southern Caribbean out of San Juan (no change)
  • October 18, 2014 – 3 night Repositioning cruise from San Juan to Port Canaveral (Day at Sea, Castaway Cay)
  • October 21, 2014 – 5 night from Port Canaveral (Castaway Cay, Nassau, Key West, Day at Sea)
  • October 26, 2014 – 7 night Eastern Caribbean from Port Canaveral (Two Days at Sea, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Day at Sea, Castaway Cay) – Also November 9, 2014
  • November 2, 2014 – 7 night Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral (Key West, Day at Sea, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Day at Sea, Castaway Cay) – also November 23, December 7 and December 21, 2014
  • November 16, 2014 – 7 night Western Caribbean from Port Canaveral (Day at Sea, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Day at Sea, Castaway Cay) – also November 30, December 14 and December 28, 2014

Disney Dream®

  • 3 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Nassau, Castaway Cay –  October 2, 9, 16, 31, November 14, 21, 28, December 5, 12, 19, 26, 2014
  • 3 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Day at Sea, Castaway Cay – November 7, 2014
  • 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Nassau, Castaway Cay, Day at Sea – October 5, 12, 19, 27, November 3, 17, 24, December 1, 8, 15, 22, 2014
  • 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Nassau, Castaway Cay, Castaway Cay – October 23, 2014
  • 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Day at Sea, Castaway Cay, Castaway Cay – November 10, 2014
  • 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral – Nassau, Day at Sea, Castaway Cay – December 29, 2014

Disney Wonder®

  • October 1, 2014 – 5 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral (no change)
  • October 6, 2014 – 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Port Canaveral (no change)
  • Transit to Miami (not for sale) October 10 – 11, 2014
  • October 11, 2014 – 6 night Western Caribbean –
  • October 17, 2014 – 5 night Western Caribbean from Miami – Day at Sea, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Day at Sea – Also October 31, November 14, 28, December 12, 2014
  • October 22, 2014 – 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Miami – Castaway Cay, Day at Sea, Key West – Also November 5, 2014
  • October 26, 2014 – 5 night Western Caribbean from Miami – Day at Sea, Cozumel, Day at Sea, Castaway Cay
  • November 19, 2014 – 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Miami – Castaway Cay, Nassau, Key West – Also December 3, 17, 2014
  • December 26, 2014 – 4 night Bahamian Cruise from Miami – Day at Sea, Nassau, Castaway Cay
  • December 30, 2014 – 5 night Bahamian Cruise from Miami – Castaway Cay, Nassau, Day at Sea, Key West

There are no changes at this time to the Disney Fantasy® scheduling.  With this schedule, unless Disney cancels some of the dates already for sale, there is not going to be a dry dock opportunity for the Disney Wonder or the Disney Dream in 2014.

Don’t forget about our onboard credit offer, available on most sailings.  Also we currently have two promotions for our birthday – one giving you double referral credit and the other with a bonus for groups.

Photos From Around “The World” Part II

Our friend Leo DeCandia recently returned from a trip to Walt Disney World for the Flower & Garden Festival.  I wanted to share a few shots with you that he took.  This is Part II, so watch for more and in case you missed it, here is Part I.

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Disney Magic 2014

The schedule won’t be released for another week but here is what we are hearing.

October 18, 2014 – Disney Magic will sail from San Juan to Port Canaveral.  This itinerary will be San Juan, day at sea, Castaway Cay, Port Canaveral.

October 21, 2014 – 5 night Bahamian cruise.  This itinerary will be Port Canaveral, Castaway Cay, Nassau, Key West, day at sea, Port Canaveral.

October 26 and November 9, 2014 – 7 night Eastern Caribbean sailing with stops at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay.

November 2, 23, December 7, 21, 2014 – 7 night Western Caribbean sailing with stops at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West and Castaway Cay.

November 16, 30, December 14, 28, 2014 – 7 night Western Caribbean sailing with stops at Falmouth Jamaica, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.

In addition to the Magic, also for sale next week are sailings on October 11, 2014 on the Disney Wonder which will be a 6 night sailing from Miami to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay and on October 17, 2014 which will be a 5 night sailing from Miami to Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

If you are interested in these dates, contact us right away to get on our list for next Tuesday.

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