More Than Just Mouse Ears in the Sunshine State

The following post is written by Lori from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

For 45 years, Boscov’s Travel has made it easy to get to the most magical place on earth with non-stop flights from select local airports (Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). A majority of our clients use this convenient way to travel and decide to spend the whole 7-days in Disney, but others – like my family and I – venture to other parts of the sunshine state. Below is an overview of our vacation, my recommendations on traveling with a 6- and 3-year old, what we loved about it and why we are already planning to do it again next year.


Non-stop flight from Lancaster Airport to Orlando, FL 

So much to do, but who can go to Florida without going to Disney?

After a relatively easy trip down to Florida (hop to CVS if you are traveling with anyone who doesn’t like the ear popping from the cabin air pressure and purchase Earplanes; I’m not sure they worked or were a placebo, but no complaints from my otherwise not so happy to fly son) we hopped in our rental car (ahem, van) and headed to Animal Kingdom for the day. Our FastPass+ for the day included:
1) Expedition Everest – my 6 year old son LOVED this ride! I was surprised because he is typically timid about trying new things, especially a roller coaster, but he was grinning from ear to ear after both times riding it. And how did he ride it two times back to back? Disney has genius people who work for them and developed a Rider Swap/Switch program…. “If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem! With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!” 3 guests are allowed back per rider switch pass which is how he got to ride it twice, lucky kid! Recommendation: A+
2) Kilimanjaro Safaris – bigger than all of Magic Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris is truly a unique experience every time. Highlights this time around included a baby giraffe and an aggressive ostrich. Recommendation: A+

Kilimanjaro Safaris

3) Dinosaur – noted as being dark, scary, loud and jerky… I would say those are 100% accurate statements. My adventurous 3-year old daughter (who is surprisingly tall for her age and met the height requirements) was excited to ride it, but noted “I didn’t like that ride at all,” at the end. My recommendation would be to not use a FastPass+ on this ride. If the standby wait is under 15 minutes and someone in your party really wants to try it, go for it. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a leave-it attraction. Recommendation: thumbs down

We also all went on Kali River Rapids (check the height requirements for little ones). While in the standby line, which was about 45 minutes, we ordered some counter service food from Harambe Market with the new mobile ordering feature offered on the My Disney Experience app. Having that extra time to look through the menu – especially with picky eaters – was super convenient. And not having to stand in the long lines that can form was icing on the cake (I didn’t get cake). And we got to fully enjoy Kali River Rapids. Both of my kids loved this ride and while you do get wet, it’s not terrible. We would have rode it twice, if our lunch wasn’t ready for us already!

Kali River Rapids

With loads of shows, attractions, rides, Animal Kingdom has grown into a park you can truly stay the whole day at and never truly see it all.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 1) Gorgeous beaches

About a 2 hour drive from Orlando, Sarasota boasts diverse dining options, enriching arts and culture and last but certainly not least, the most beautiful white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters you typically find in the Caribbean. Plus, there is usually little to no waves, so the ocean becomes the biggest swimming pool and is always just the right temperature. We adore the beaches in Sarasota for free parking, free “admission” onto the beaches, concession stands that have delicious lunch options, playgrounds with shade and nice running paths for a pre-beach workout. Our go to beach is Lido Beach for all of the previous mentioned amenities, especially the lobster rolls at Lido Beach Restaurant.


Lido Beach, Sarasota

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 2) Myakka River State Park

Noted as being the “real Florida”, Myakka River State Park is full of wildflower cover prairies, wild wetlands and gorgeous pinelands. The majestic Myakka River flows though 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. I would recommend first time visitors to stop at the Visitor Center to learn about all the park has to offer including hiking, biking, camping, boat tours and more. The park rangers at the Visitor Center are very knowledgeable about the park and debunked the tale if an alligator is chasing you, run in a zip-zag pattern (do this and they’ll just get to you quicker as they can do short spurts up to 30mph). We enjoyed driving around the park, exploring and stopping at all of the “alligator sighting” spots. Although the highlight of the day was the canopy walk. “Completed in 2000, this structure is the first public treetop trail in North America. The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and extends 100 feet through the hammock canopy. The taller tower soars 74 feet in the air to present a spectacular view of treetops, wetlands, and the prairie/hammock interface. You can look down on eagles, hawks, vultures, and the tops of Live Oak and Sabal Palm trees.” Florida State Park site. 

Canopy walkway, Myakka State Park

Hammock Canopy, Myakka State Park

A pre-packed picnic lunch by the lake, enjoying the beauty of wildflowers blooming, some shopping at the gift shop and more adventures to see alligators ended our day at Myakka State Park. A definite must see in Southwest Florida.

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 3) Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Mixed reviews had us going into this adventure with little expectations, but it ended up being one of our favorite activities for both the kids and adults alike. Activities include: feed a flamingo, hold a parrot, attend a variety of wildlife shows, feed an alligator and more. The highlights of the day were obviously feeding the flamingos and holding parrots, seen below.

 

Family/kid-friendly activities to do in Sarasota: 4) Miscellaneous

Along with everything mentioned above, Sarasota offers unique shopping and dining in St. Armands Circle, boat tours, – or if you are more adventurous – boat rentals, miniature golf, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey museum, beautiful botanical Gardens, aquariums, famous sights and landmarks including the Unconditional Surrender Sculpture and so much more.

If you are looking for for a well-rounded vacation with tropical vibes all while still staying in the US, I’d highly recommend Sarasota for all the area has to offer. And most importantly, traveling the Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania made getting to Florida super convenient and stress free, a service in which only Boscov’s Travel can provide on the Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Charter to Orlando. To learn more about this feature (non-stop flights from select local airports: Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), contact your local Boscov’s Travel Specialist or call 800-755-8020.

If you’re ready to start planning your Florida getaway, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

Help! I’m Planning My First Trip to Disney. Where Do I Start?

You’ve saved for a trip of a lifetime. You’ve seen all the pics of friends and family at the happiest place on earth. You’ve promised your kids you would take them and now it’s time to plan for your first trip to Disney. There are so many facets to the vacation – from the hotel to the transportation, which parks to visit and which tickets to purchase, from the meal plan to the best time of year to go – a trip to Disney can be downright overwhelming. It’s probably one of the most research intense vacations on top of the fact that it’s not inexpensive. So how do you make your first trip to Disney the perfect vacation you’ve dreamed of? With a little pixie dust and the help of a qualified Travel Professional.

Choose a qualified Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

To be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, an agency needs to uphold Disney brand values and keep up-to-date on the latest happenings at the Disney parks. Even though your second cousin may claim to “be a Disney expert,” we recommend that you entrust the planning of your Disney vacation to a qualified Travel Agency and Travel Professional. Be sure to look for the logo and confirm the status is up to date by checking Disney’s planner site (yep, Boscov’s Travel is proud to be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner). It’s like getting free Disney advice from an unbiased source.

Choose which time of year is right for you.

If you have school-aged kids, going in the middle of the school year may not be the best bet. Still, these times of year (independent of fall/spring break and holidays) typically give you better access to the parks and shorter wait times. If you do have to wait till the summer or one of the busier holiday times, there’s still so much that makes Disney spectacular during the busier season.

Here’s a sampling of annual festivals and events throughout the year:

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – Early March through late May or early June
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – Late October or early November
  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – Early or mid-January
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – Mid to late February
  • Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side – Early to Mid-April
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – End of August through mid-November
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party- Late August through early November
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – Early November through late December
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot – Late November through late December

Budget your time and money.

Some families make a one-day stop at a single Disney park, while others spend a week at an on-site resort and make multiple visits to the parks. Talk to a Travel Specialist about your budget, “must-sees” on your list and go from there. There are so many options and combinations to get within your price range. And this year they rolled out value days giving you less expensive tickets during the off-season.

Narrow down where you want to stay.

Based on your budget and dollars allocated towards a resort, there are so many choices resorts throughout Disney (and beyond). There are benefits to staying closer to the magic – themed hotel rooms based on your child’s favorite movie, fun features including sand bottom pools, up close encounters with exotic animals, longer park access, and more. Is proximity to the magic important to you, or is access to Orlando’s other theme parks more up your alley?

Value Disney Resorts $
Disney All-Star Movies
Disney All-Star Music
Disney All-Star Sports
Disney Art of Animation
Disney Pop Century Resort
Fort Wilderness Campground

Moderate Disney Resorts $$
Disney Caribbean Beach
Disney Coronado Springs
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Deluxe Disney Resorts $$$
Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney Beach Club Resort
Disney Board Walk Inn
Disney Contemporary Resort
Disney Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney Polynesian Village
Disney Wilderness Lodge
Disney Yacht Club Resort
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Deluxe Disney Villas $$$$ 
Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney Beach Club Villas
Disney Board Walk Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney Old Key West Resort
Disney Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
Treehouse Villas
The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Sarasota Springs Resort & Spa

*Options are available through Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels. These are off-site hotels close to the parks that Disney approves and they offer transportation to/from the park. Some even allow pets! These range from high-end to value hotels. Choosing a WDW Good Neighbor Hotel is another way to save on the hotel and allocate more towards the park experience. 

Park Tickets

Depending on the length of your stay at Disney, you may want to experience multiple parks in a day. There’s an option for that! Disney offers different tickets based on what you want for your stay. The most cost efficient option is the Magic Your Way Base Ticket allowing you to visit one park per day from 2 to 10 days. A more flexible option is the Park Hopper option allowing you to visit multiple theme parks in the same day. The Park Hopper Plus Option allows you to visit multiple parks, plus access to Disney’s water parks, golf courses and more. Of course, we can help you navigate which option is best for you.

Dining

Disney Dining Plans allow you to pay one price per person up front so you can focus on family-time during your stay. There can be real value in pre-purchasing a dining plan (maybe you’ve heard of the infamous Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Meringue from Epcot’s Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie that counts as a snack credit), but if your family is picky or light eaters it may not be for you. Luckily, our experienced Travel Specialists who have collectively handled hundreds of Disney packages can help you decide what’s right for your family.

Everything but the kitchen sink… flights, the Magical Express, Fast-Passes, dining reservations, and more.

Work with your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to coordinate your flights and the Magical Express. If you’d prefer to depart a little closer to home and avoid the hassles of large airports, we offer an Exclusive Charter to Walt Disney World departing from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport in Avoca, Reading Airport, Harrisburg Airport, and Lancaster Airport throughout the spring and fall. Flights depart on Sunday morning and return Saturday evening. Still if you’re closer to a larger airport or want to stay at Disney for less than 6-nights, we can help plan your trip.

The coveted Fast-Pass allows you to get VIP privileges for your favorite rides and attractions. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can book your Fast-Pass up to 60 days prior to your trip. If you’re staying off-site, you can book your Fast-Pass 30 days prior. Ask your Travel Specialists how you can make your Magic Band your all-in-one tool for Fast-Passes and more.

Be our guest and book your table service dining experiences before you go! Whether you want to experience the enchantment of the Beast’s castle or you want to treat yourself to the culinary magic of a James Beard nominee at Victoria & Albert, you can book your dining experiences up to 180 days ahead of your arrival.

Before you go, download the My Disney Experience app and talk to your Travel Specialist about how you can make the most of your vacation. We can help you choose PhotoPass packages, tell you where to get an inexpensive stroller for your little one, give you insider-recommendations (like downloading the Disney Parks Mobile App!), tell you what’s opening and if any attractions are under construction, give you a customized packing list, and tell you how to make the most of your dining plan (hello, Dole Whip).

So why can you trust us?

Because Walt Disney World does! We have the great pleasure of earning the distinction of Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. There are so many reasons to choose Boscov’s Travel as your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to handle your first (and fiftieth!) trip to the most magical place on earth. We don’t charge you to plan your complete Disney vacation package. Plus our Travel Specialists have first-hand experience as well as years in the business making your Disney planning easy and successful. In fact, 94% of our Travel Specialists have been to Walt Disney World with nearly 70% visiting since 2010. Basically we love Disney as much as you do. 

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

As to Disney artwork/properties: ©Disney

 

Adventure Tourism & Travel: What’s the Right Tour for You?

Travel isn’t always about relaxation. More and more, our clients are asking about adventure tourism options. A 2013 report showed that the demand for adventure travel services were exploding at a rate of 65% growth year over year. Adventure tourists want to see the US and the world, and experience it through exploration of the culture and natural beauty inherent of the locale.

There are many options for adventure tourism and navigating the different tours can become overwhelming. From different locations to activities, to the single young traveler or the family that want to explore, there’s an adventure to fit your preferences. Below, we give you a snapshot of options available in this emerging trend.

Adventures by Disney:


Good for: Families
Destinations: Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, South America, North America, Europe
Pricing: From $1309 to $8809 as starting price point (not including airfare)
Format: Experienced Disney guides give you insider access to the local scene. Experience activities to take you closer to the culture of the location. From a scavenger hunt in the Louvre to horseback riding in the Rockies, activities are family friendly and enhanced by the magic of Disney.
Learn more here.

G Adventures


Good for: Young couples, 21-35 year olds, young independent travelers
Destinations: All regions of the world; from New Zealand to the Polar regions
Pricing: From $229 to $11,999 as starting price point (typically not including airfare)
Format: Experienced experts guide you around regions and countries in small groups. Choose your adventure based on physical activity from light to demanding. Sail in Havana, explore Mayan temples, camp in the desert, take the polar plunge in the Arctic, dance in Brazil, traverse the Great Wall, or take game walks in Africa.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Guided Tours of Africa and Exotic Locales


Good for: Adults
Destinations: Africa, India, Vietnam, Cambodia
Pricing: Email sblum@boscovs.com or call Sue at 610-779-8272
Format: Take a jeep ride through the African Safari or barge ride with the locals along a river in Vietnam. See beautiful wildlife and unspoiled terrain in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. With seasoned Boscov’s Travel guide Sue Blum, you’ll visit cultures that will broaden your understanding of the world.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Journey West Tours


Good for: Young adults through mature travelers
Destinations: Alaska, Western US, Southern US
Pricing: From $2187 (not including airfare)
Format: Take in the breathtaking scenery, rich cultural history and wide-open spaces that have made tours of the west some of the most talked-about tours that we offer. Typically 9 and 10 day tours, discover the US with an experienced Journey West Tour Director. Tours include the colorful Colorado and New Mexico in autumn with a hot air balloon festival, a tour through the wilderness of Alaska experiencing the wildlife of land and sea, tours of the National Park System, and a music tour from Nashville to New Orleans. Experience America like never before.
Learn more here.

If you’re ready to take on your next adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Cruise News, from Boscov’s Travel

We’re in the midst of Wave Season, the time of year when cruising is on everyone’s mind! Typically the best time of year to book a cruise is this time period from January to March because of great deals and exciting new offers coming from cruise lines. Though Wave Season is coming to an end, there’s still time to book a cruise and save BIG whether you sail this spring or late fall. We’re here to bring you the latest cruise news and deals from some of our favorite cruise brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line just announced their exclusive premier island destination in the Caribbean, Harvest Caye.  Starting in November 2016, Norwegian cruise ships will sail to this 75 acre oasis. Relax on the beach in your own private villa, sing “Margaritaville” as you enjoy the libation in Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Bar & Grill, swim with the fishes in the world’s second largest barrier reef, explore the ancient Mayan archaeological site of Nim Li Punit, paddle board on the crystal clear waters, or enjoy time in the pool.

See applicable sailings and learn more here. Going on now through April 10, 2016, choose 2 Free at Sea offers when you book a balcony or stateroom. Free at Sea offers include limited beverages (open bar), specialty dining, shore excursions, or free wi-fi (all other bookings choose 1 offer). PLUS friends & family sail free and pay reduced deposits. Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

Royal Caribbean 

Harmony of the Seas, the World’s largest cruise ship, is launching this May in Europe. From May until October, guests will have the opportunity to experience the best that the Western Mediterranean has to offer. Sail from Barcelona, Spain and visit ports in France, Italy and Spain. In November, the vessel sails to her permanent home in the Caribbean with departures from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Onboard, guests will experience big, bold adventures in perfect harmony.  Activities for the family include a kids aquapark and family-friendly sports zone. For the more adventurous, fly across the ship on the zip line, hang ten on the FlowRider surf simulator or plunge down a 10-story slide.

hm-slides-hero

Harmony of the Seas features seven neighborhoods including Central Park, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Entertainment Place, Royal Promenade, Youth Zone and Pool & Sports Zone. Take in a comedy show or an aqua show in the Aqua Ampitheatre. Enjoy Columbus, The Musical!, multiply your thrills with Grease, or collaborate with friends to find hidden clues and Escape the Rubicon!

Break out the hashtags and post online with Voom, the only high-speed internet at sea. For the over 21 crowd, have your cocktail shaken or stirred by the Bionic Bar featuring two robotic armed bartenders.View the ship’s amenities here and get a sense of its size below: Harmony_Infographic

Going on now through April 4, receive 30% off every guest on every ship (yep, even the Harmony!). Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

 

Other Cruise Deals

Celebrity Cruises – Spring Sale! For a limited time, receive fares from $799 + get free drinks + up to $300 to spend on board. Discover why Celebrity Cruises was voted Best Premium Cruise Line for the past 8 consecutive years. Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Select Cruises – Cruises curated from Boscov’s Travel Specialists with direct transfers from local Boscov’s locations. Earn on board credit and sail with confidence. Learn more here.

If there’s another cruise line you’d like to sail with, let us know and we can help you book it!

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.