STILL Planning During A Pandemic

Well, here I am again.

Not the easiest time to be a travel planner- especially one who specializes in family travel, located in the Northeast of the Unites States where basically if we travel to another area of the country we are required to quarantine for two weeks once we get there or upon returning, we have to quarantine for 2 weeks.

Good times.

Just to keep you up to speed, this is where I stood back in April:

The Global Travel Marketplace West conference in Tucson, AZ has already been postponed until September 2020. I am uncertain this will take place for me- if nothing else because of the quarantine rules effective around the country. AZ is a hotspot right now and if I travel there- I will have to quarantine for 2 weeks once I return home, unless something changes.

I have been selected as one of the exclusive Travel Agency Owner positions to attend the first annual Travel Agent Forum: Owner’s Edition, set to take place at Moon Palace Jamaica, Ocho Rios Jamaica in November. Which might get complicated too- Travel Authorization are required and can be applied for up to five (5) days prior to the intended date of departure to Jamaica. Travellers residing in high risk states – Arizona, Florida, New York and Texas are required to upload a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited medical laboratory when applying for travel authorization. The test must be taken within 10 days of the travel date. The exceptions to this are business travellers and children under 12 years of age. All business travellers regardless of their origin will continue to be tested on arrival and must quarantine while waiting for their test result which may take up to 48 hours. Approved Travel Authorization for residents from high risk states will be valid for eleven (11) days from the test date. For regular travellers, the validity will remain at 7 days from the date the application was approved. High risk state applications will take up to two (2) days for completion of assessment for approval or denial. While all other applications will continue to receive an almost instant response. Travellers from high risk states, in addition to uploading negative test results are also required to bring along and present the original test result to the health officer on arrival as part of the risk assessment process

We chose to reschedule our cancelled Virgin Voyages cruise to January 2021. I am truly not sure how cruising will look then, if the sailing will be cancelled, or if we will be comfortable cruising on a brand new cruise line. I truly don’t know. The ship looks amazing, the itinerary is exactly what we are looking for, and by then- I will need an escape. Truth is, I need one now. 😉

We still have not rescheduled our Royal Caribbean Cruise Line vacation- still waiting on our Future Cruise Credit and then we can look at our options. Next summer we have a weeklong sailing booked on MSC- but we are still waiting on that Future Cruise Credit from our cancelled cruise from March as well. Cruise Lines are all backed up and I understand that, selfishly it is hard to plan when there is so much uncertainty on so many levels- especially with cruise vacations.

As it was before, our Walt Disney World vacation that we cancelled for May, then rescheduled for later this summer, that we just decided to reschedule for next May- is just the hardest for me to grasp right now. Walt Disney World vacations have been our family vacation staple, ol’reliable for lack of a better word. The quarantine rules are just too much for us to overcome. Kids heading back to college, younger kids not sure what their schooling will look like in the fall, and the Covid 19 cases are spiking all over the country higher now as they were in the Northeast this past Spring, truly helped aide in that decision. We are hoping to still celebrate birthdays then, attend the Flower and Garden Festival, enjoy being together and learn something new at the same time.

It is still so strange that we won’t be taking a family vacation this year. It is just something we always have done- even pregnant/with infants, which was hard- but the memories made we were worth it. I feel so selfish feeling the way I do about losing this time with my family. Not everyone is so fortunate to travel as often as we do, and I know that. I am grateful for the memories we have, our health, and that we do live close enough to local beaches and recreation that we certainly don’t have to be bored at home, in our house. Traveling was just something I took for granted we could always do- and I will never take that for granted again. So, we continue to plan and look forward to traveling again- where that might be we can only hope right now. I will continue to help other families plan and reschedule their trips as well.

It is an interesting time being a travel planner right now.

Our industry has been rocked, some of us can plan and travel immediately and some cannot. We would like to travel ahead of our travelers, experience the safety protocols, etc- but depending on where we live or our personal circumstances, we can’t. Some travelers can and will travel- and some will not and will cancel vs reschedule. Some travelers are like me and my family- we would like to travel, but the hurdles are just to big to overcome now- so we will reschedule and hope for the best. It will just take time- which is so easy to say and so very hard to live through.

Those of us with Wanderlust will travel again… we just have to be patient.

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Cast Member Preview Day at Magic Kingdom

We are so excited a very special Castle Dreams Travel Planner was invited along today for the Cast Member Preview of Magic Kingdom!

As soon as you arrive to the Transportation and Ticket Center, tents are set up for temperature checks before entering- anyone above 100.4 is denied entry to the Disney theme parks.
Bag check is a rack of plastic bags for electronics or any metal. And you walk through metal detector with your bag/backpack.

We walked right on to a monorail, no trams. Monorail has added dividers between the benches as seen here.

Are you castle dreaming? Cinderella Castle is just beautiful today- fully repainted to glisten in the beautiful Florida sky !

First family on Buzzlightyear’s Space Ranger Spin this morning!!! How do you think we did? What will be your first attraction when you return to the parks?

Every other table in all the quick service areas have these stickers to aide in social distancing as well. Plenty of shaded seating to enjoy all of your favorite Disney theme park snacks!

Some Cast Members are wearing plastic face shields over their masks. All lines are marked with these signs to aide guests to comply as well.

Such a magical day! Spent most of it exploring Fantasyland- with plenty of social distancing.

Lunch inside Liberty Tree Tavern is still delicious, even if some of their safety protocols have changed.

Cast Members sanitizing one of our favorites .. and the freshly sprayed boats go empty, and get filled with guests on the next go-round so they have time to dry!

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is always a family favorite- even if the interactive queue is disabled for now.

Lots of stores and even some attractions are closed. No characters for meet and greets but they occasionally appear from afar like on the castle’s back balcony. Wildlife is alive and well. Saw lots of ducks and geckos.

Hand washing stations and Hand sanitizer is available everywhere!

Knock, Knock… Who’s there? … Safari. … Safari Who? … Safari, so good. You’ll be on the Jungle Cruise in just a few minutes (with penny of social distancing)!

Tiki Room fun and safety measures too!

There are three “comfort stations” set up inside Magic Kingdom, like this one in Tortuga Tavern. Here you are allowed to sit in the cool and remove your mask and relax.

Time for some shopping! Even the stores have social distancing reminders for guests!

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks officially open this weekend on July 11th. Epcot and Hollywood Studios open a little later on the 15th. If you have any questions or concerns, or are ready to book your next Walt Disney World vacation, please reach out to Castle Dreams Travel:

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2021 Walt Disney World Resort Vacation Packages Now Available

Have you been dreaming of planning your 2021 Walt Disney World vacation? At of this morning, vacation packages are now available to book for select Disney Resort hotels!

Vacations can be reserved through September 26, 2021 and once there has been a deposit made, guests can even go ahead and make there park reservations as well. Park hopping can still be added to park tickets- and if the ability is still disabled, the cost of the park hopper will be refunded. Disney Dining packages remain unavailable at this time.

In 2021, Disney will introduce features of a MagicBand to your smart devices via the My Disney Experience app. With this in mind, there will no longer be complimentary MagicBands offered to Disney Resort hotel guests for new reservations with arrivals beginning Jan. 1, 2021. That said, Disney Resort hotel guests will continue to have the option to purchase new MagicBands at a discount, Disney has said they will be offering new colors and designs in 2021 as well. Guests who prefer not to purchase a discounted MagicBand will be able to use the My Disney Experience app or a Key to the World card during their visit. As always, you can still purchase MagicBands in Disney retail locations and on, and guests can always use their MagicBands from previous vacations as long as they are still active.

Magical Extras will still be offered, with a few changes. You will find new discounts for Surrey Bikes on the discounts, plus discounts at Kipling and Melissa Shoes. More discounts can be found at Paddlefish, Paradiso 37, Terralina Crafted Italian, Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop, and at The House of Blues. You will receive the Magical Extras Savings Card with your luggage tags in a separate mailing, directly from Disney before your arrival.

By June 28, all guests will be able to purchase new Disney Resort hotel packages and theme park tickets and make their park reservations for arrivals starting in 2021. Guests will be able to view park reservation availability prior to purchasing their park tickets. 

Masks will be required on Walt Disney World Property and social distancing will be encouraged and enforced. Cleaning procedures have been increased as well as hand washing and hand sanitizer stations for guests to use as well.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, or are ready to book, please reach out to Castle Dreams Travel at

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Reopening the Magic of Walt Disney World- More Details!

It’s almost time for magic as we prepare for the reopening of Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, starting July 11 with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and followed July 15 by EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney is taking a deliberate approach that includes limits on attendance and controlled guest density to align with guidance from health and government authorities on physical distancing. They are also using technology to power creative solutions as they develop new ways for guests to visit The Most Magical Place on Earth in this unique environment.

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All We Know About The NEW A Taste of EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival and Other Changes Coming This Year

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Reopening the Magic of Disneyland

July 17th is a magical date for Disneyland fans- it is the very first day Disneyland opened its gates for visitors. July 17, 2020 is the first day the Disneyland will reopen after being closed due to Covid-19. Continue reading

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Reopening the Magic of Walt Disney World

It has been one week since Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs has slowly begun reopening with even more stores and eateries opening today. Some stores, like World of Disney, are using a virtual queue, limiting the guests who can enter at any given time – helping with capacity limits and social distancing.

The big news of the day came from the Orange County Task Force where reopening plans were presented and approved by the task force for both SeaWorld and Walt Disney World. Now we wait on the Governor to sign off of their plans.

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Planning During A Pandemic

Never would I have ever dreamed that this would be a topic I would be blogging about.


But, here I am. Continue reading

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Taking the Time to Smell the Flowers AGAIN, A Trip Report- Still Planning and Hoping

Yup, despite all the doom and gloom on the news- we are all still planning on going and have picked up 4 more travelers with us too. We all seriously need this for our sanity at this point. Two are also Castle Dreams Travel planners and the other two are one of the planner’s teenage sons. Continue reading

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My Cruise Was Cancelled… How We Coped and Moving Forward.

Last summer my husband and I started talking about taking a cruise, just the two of us. I had attended the Global Travel Marketplace earlier in the summer, and Castle Dreams Travel vendor list was growing… now seemed like the best time to venture out of our comfort zone. Continue reading

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