Category Archives: TRAVEL

Disney’s World of Avatar Highlights + The Dolphin’s BIG Resort Renovation

What do dolphins and banshees have in common? Well, a lot if you happen to be staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin AND heading to Animal Kingdom to experience all of the World of Avatar highlights for the first time ever!

World of Avatar highlights

After visiting the Walt Disney World Swan in late 2016 and learning about the multi-phase, multi-year, $140 million redesign project that planned to transform every guest room in the 758-room Swan Hotel and the 1,509-room Dolphin Hotel, I wanted to go back to check out the progress on our first trip to #visitpandora.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Disclosure: The Dolphin provided us with a media rate to stay on property. This allowed us to check out all of the new guest room features as well as their gorgeous new lobby.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The renovated rooms now include upgraded furniture as well as all of the latest technology including large HD TVs. Additional power outlets provide family travelers (and bloggers) more options for use of multiple personal electronics. And of course, we love a good balcony room with a view!

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

The new room design was inspired by the resort’s water-themed architecture. The goal was to create a serene and sophisticated atmosphere. I think they succeeded!

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin
The centerpiece of the room is the famous Westin Heavenly Bed with its all-white custom-designed pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, a trio of crisp sheets, goose down comforter and four over- stuffed pillows.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
The design continues into a completely new bathroom, featuring a back-lit mirror mounted on iridescent glass tiles.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

MBMom Tip: The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin offers 17 restaurants and lounges. Take advantage!

We especially loved the all-new look of Phins in the Dolphin lobby. Phins is a contemporary lounge where guests can enjoy sipping on custom-crafted cocktails, a glass of vintage wine, or even a frosty mug of special Phins and Feathers beer. You can then enjoy your drinks under the sophisticated ambiance of a spectacular custom-made crystal chandelier. It’s gorgeous, trust me.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Our family also took advantage of the grab and go restaurant, fuel, in the Dolphin lobby. If you’re looking to stock up with snacks for the theme parks, this place will come in handy. We filled up on coffee and ready-made breakfast sandwiches before heading to Animal Kingdom to check out the World of Avatar highlights.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Walt Disney World Dolphin

MBMom Tip: Complimentary bus transportation is available to all of the parks from the Swan and Dolphin. Or, you can take a short water taxi to Epcot® and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Walt Disney World Dolphin is also ridiculously close to Disney’s Boardwalk, which is a really cool area! We grabbed pizza over there on our last night.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

As for Pandora… Walt Disney’s World of Avatar Highlights

We might be one of the last ones to the party, but we FINALLY had the time (and Disney Annual Passes) to visit Pandora: The World of Avatar this February. Granted we were daytime visitors, but I feel like we got a healthy dose of this new attraction, especially when it came to the cuisine. But, we do look forward to returning again to see it in all its glory at night!

When you enter the World of Avatar, you essentially become an eco-tourist. You’ll encounter floating mountains, a glowing, bioluminescent rainforest and other wonders of an alien world. The premise of the land is that the Valley of Mo’ara on Pandora is undergoing a rebirth long after a destructive mining operation ceased operation. Eco-tourists (aka us!) for the first time, can travel to this exoplanet located in the Alpha Centauri star system 4.4 light years from Earth. Pretty cool, huh?

My 4 year-old daughter didn’t really know anything about the movie prior to entering the land, but she was game for it all (albeit not tall enough to ride Flight of Passage yet, so we missed that one this time). Instead she settled for face painting this trip. 

World of Avatar Flora

The Walt Disney Imagineering landscape architecture team worked side by side with the land’s design and engineering teams to ensure that thousands of Pandoran plants fit into the overall landscape plan. You truly couldn’t tell the real plants from the fake apart. It was impressive!

More than 250 varieties of live trees, shrubs and epiphytes mingle with the Pandoran. The Disney horticulture team planted more than 500 trees and nearly 10,000 shrubs across the Pandoran landscape.

Na’vi River Journey

At the center of Pandora is a riparian area, where waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops into gentle pools and streams. One stream follows a peaceful path along the entry to Pandora. The other flows into the Na’vi River Journey, where guests board reed boats for an excursion to see the revered Shaman of Songs.

We loved hopping on the reed boat for Na’vi River Journey. Seeing all of the glowing flora and fauna were some of the top World of Avatar highlights for me! The best part was that it’s a very family-friendly water adventure…aka slow. 😉

Pandoran Cuisine

All of this adventure had us working up an appetite! We headed to the brand new Satu’li Canteen (formerly the RDA mess hall) to indulge in the international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations crafted from Pandora’s natural abundance. We weren’t disappointed and there is virtually no wait if you visit on the earlier side of your day. Here’s what we sampled:

Cheeseburger pods. They were amazing. I’m craving them now, in fact.
Blueberry Cheesecake with Passion Fruit Curd – unique and delicious! Worth getting at least once.

I also sneaked over to  the Pongu Pongu Lounge for a quick cocktail while #dailybocaavery was getting her face painted. The “bioluminescent” frozen cocktail Night Blossom hit the spot for this thirsty traveler! The drink is a mix of limeade combined with apple and desert pear flavors finished off with passion fruit boba balls…and rum if you’d like it.  It’s very tasty and unique!

At night, you’ll see that many of the walkways and paths, like the alien plant life that surrounds them, are bioluminescent. A treatment added to some of the Pandoran walkways gives them a glowing quality. Talk about World of Avatar highlights! Charged by sunlight and reinforced by black light, the glowing pathways literally come to life in the evening.

We can’t wait to travel there again! Have you been to #visitpandora yet?

Partner {AD}

Special thanks to Mazda USA for providing our ride to/from Orlando in the 2018 Mazda CX-9!

We loved it. #drivemazda

Check out some of our favorite features from the Mazda CX-9 3 Row 7 Passenger SUV in our video below:

Thinking About Springing for a Spring Break 2018 Cruise Vacation?

I really enjoy scrolling through Facebook this time of year. Parents posting happy travel photos as they visit extended family in far flung locations… I love to see where people are from or what new locale they’ve chosen to make new holiday traditions at with their families. Since we live in Florida, I know many of us prefer to host guests this time of year versus leaving town. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be thinking ahead to 2018 travel. Spring break and summer will be here before we know it! And I know I’m dreaming about a spring break 2018 cruise vacation. Dear Santa…

spring break 2018 cruise vacation

According to travel agent Christina Pinto, the cruise industry is entering what they’ve dubbed “wave season”. Believe it or not, the majority of 2018 and 2019 cruises will be planned by March! That means, there are major deals and discounts to be had from cruise lines. And here’s where you can get them: Boca Raton’s Expedia CruiseShipCenters. They have a brick and mortar storefront for all of your 2018 travel planning needs right in the Shoppes at Blue Lake (off of Yamato Road).

Why you shouldn’t wait to book your Spring Break 2018 Cruise Vacation…

I know that I personally can get into the mentality of “let’s wait till the last minute deals come out”. But, cruise lines aren’t offering too many of those anymore. They’re actually offering better deals up front. If you like Royal Caribbean, for example, they are incentivising cruisers by offering additional onboard credit to people who book more than 6 months in advance with a non-refundable deposit.

Yep, the early bird does get the worm in this case when it comes to your spring break 2018 cruise vacation! Time to get booking!

spring break 2018 cruise vacation

Sponsored: This spring break 2018 cruise vacation post was sponsored by Christina Pinto of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor. Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been compensated, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wyndham

I don’t get to see my group of college girlfriends much these days. Sure, we chat on WhatsApp and send videos on Marco Polo, but it’s not the same as catching up face to face. And now that we all have kids and live around the country? Let’s just say it’s a logistical nightmare. That’s why I was so excited we were able to pull off a recent weekend at Walt Disney World with our husbands and kids. I was even more thrilled when the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive invited my family to stay for the duration of our visit. When it comes to Wyndham Orlando options, the official hotel of I-Drive 360 is (in my opinion) the best!

We drove the few hours from Boca to the Wyndham Orlando Resort in a pretty sweet (borrowed) ride. The 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD. It was a cherry color called Soul Red Crystal and it was fabulous. Check out my short video tour:

The 2017 Mazda CX-5 transcends its class with elegant design and a class-above sophistication. I personally fell in love with the sunroof and automatic gate. But, I’m a mom, so no surprise right? It’s a little compact for our family…I really dig a third row. But, for traveling around town and to Orlando, it was perfect.

One of the coolest features? The Windshield-projected Active Driving Display. As you are driving, you can see your speed along with stop signs and the speed limit. It’s really neat and I tried to feature it in action in the video above. Starting MSRP: $24,045

Ready for Disney!

Looking for Wyndham Orlando Options? Just Say Yes to the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

When we arrived at the Wyndham Orlando located right on I-Drive (so convenient!), we were totally floored by the lobby and reception area- it looked brand new! There was a bar…which served Starbucks. I was most excited about that. 🙂 Although we didn’t spend much time here, it was a wonderful welcome and introduction to the Resort.

Wyndham Orlando options

Wyndham Orlando options
Can I please have this ceiling in my house?

Once we saw our room, I felt like our vacation had finally begun! #dailybocaavery was probably the most excited about our Family Suite because…BUNK BEDS! There’s also a flat screen TV and bean bag chair in that nook.

Wyndham Orlando options

Wyndham Orlando options
Can I sleep on top, mom?

Our bed wasn’t too shabby either and I LOVED that the floors in the room weren’t carpeted. Carpet at hotels always kind of grosses me out, how about you?

Wyndham Orlando options

The bathroom was a nice size and there was a HUGE closet to stow our stuff in.

Soon it was time for lunch! We decided to eat on property by the pool. The weather was perfect and the food was really tasty at at the Wyndham’s restaurant Gatorville! Gatorville Poolside Bar & Grill is open daily for Breakfast starting at 6:30 AM; All day menu and bar service is available from 11 AM to midnight.

We also simply had fun exploring the Resort grounds! When it comes to Wyndham Orlando options, the Wyndham I-Drive clearly put a lot of time and effort making their property lush and beautiful.

All in all, we had a fabulous time at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive and the best part? I get to give my readers a banging discount! 30% OFF their best available rate!

Simply visit THIS LINK to book at the Wyndham I-Drive for your next Orlando family vacation.

Hosted: This post was hosted by the Wyndham Orlando Resort I-Drive and Drive Shop USA. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the host.  Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider and please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I was given a complimentary hotel stay for the purposes of this review and a week to use the 2017 Mazda CX-5. But, that does not impact my views and opinions.

Take Planning Your Family Vacation to the Next Level

When you hear the word “Expedia”, you immediately think vacation planning website, right? And why wouldn’t you? They’re the biggest travel company in the world, after all. Believe it or not, there’s an Expedia right here in Boca Raton…Expedia CruiseShipCenters that is! They have a brick and mortar storefront for all of your Boca Raton travel planning needs right in the Shoppes at Blue Lake(off of Yamato Road).

Continue reading Take Planning Your Family Vacation to the Next Level