About Me!

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Welcome! I am Jane-Ellen (JE) I'm a travel agent and I am happy to share with you my love of travel. I am not a journalist, I simply enjoy traveling. My favorite travel destinations are Walt Disney World, Cruises and anywhere on our Harley. My husband, Steve and I are out on our Harley when time, work and weather permit. We try to take weekend trips whenever possible.
Walt Disney World has been a favorite spot to vacation since our first trip in 1983. We have had over 30 weeklong vacations and now living in Florida we visit monthly, although recently I find myself there weekly. Hey I am doing research!
Cruising is another passion. We have been on many cruises, predominately in the Caribbean. A seven day cruise is the best way to really unwind and relax; but if a three or four day cruise crosses our path, we set sail. I am an Accredited Cruise Councilor, and a Certified Travel Councilor. I have the highest level of education from all major cruise lines.
Many clients have asked for insider tips for Disney World and cruising. That is my goal to offer insider information on Disney, Cruises and biking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Touring Plan of Disney's Magic Kingdom

Touring Plan of Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Color Key
Red=must do attractions (check to see if age appropriate for your party)
Orange= try to visit these attraction
note: try any attraction that is has a short wait time.

Main Street
Main Street Train- a good way to see the park before or after you have toured

Adventureland Attractions
Jungle Cruise - cheesy old time Disney fun.
Swiss Family Treehouse-fun to climb and see how the "Robinsons" lived.
The Enchanted Tiki Room- cute show, great to escape the heat and crowds for a bit.

Pirates of the Caribbean-you have to stop and see Captain Jack Sparrow!
Magic Carpets of Aladdin-fun ride even for the bigger kids in the group.

Frontierland Attractions
Splash Mountain - if you are 40" and over plan on getting a bit wet.
Big Thunder Mountain - not to scary roller runaway train for those 40" and over

Raft to Tom Sawyers Island-nice way to spend a quiet hour in the shade. Find a rocker and a lemonade  and relax.
Country Bear Jamboree-cute animatronic show. Nice to get out of the heat and into the AC

Frontierland Shootin' Arcade
Goofy's Country Dancin' Jamboree

Liberty Square Attractions
Hall of Presidents-educational and enjoyable for all ages. Another great spot to escape the crowds.
Liberty Square Riverboat-personally I find this not as exciting as some other attractions but its usually a walk on, so you may want to give it a try.
The Haunted Mansion- you have to stop and see the grim grinning ghosts!

Fantasyland Attractions
It's a Small World- a must see staple of Disney World
Peter Pan's Flight

Mickey's PhilharMagic-a 12 minute 3D movie with Mickey and Donald 
Cinderella's Golden Carousel- who doesnt love a carousel?
Snow White's Scary Adventures- fun for everyone
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh-fun for everyone 

Dumbo the Flying Elephant-You have to ride Dumbo atleast once in your life.
Mad Tea Party- if you're not prone to motion sickness give it a try.

Mickey's Toontown Fair
-some older kids may find this area is for the younger set, take a look and see if it is for your party
Minnie's Country House
Toontown Hall of Fame

Mickey's Country House
Donald's Boat

The Barnstormer at Goofy's-35" or tall on this kids rollercoaster.

Tomorrowland Attractions
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway-kid 52" or over love to be in the driver's seat. Good luck passing this by!
Stitch's Great Escape-40 " and over. --This show takes place in a darkened theater and there are surprises throughout the performance, which may be scary for younger children.
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin -I haven't met anyone yet who didn't enjoy this ride. Its like being inside a video game.
Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress-from the 1964 Worlds Fair. A nice show and its airconditioned!
Tomorrowland Transit Authority-the People Mover-nice way to see Tomorrowland a nice relaxing ride.
Astro Orbiter-if the lines short give it a try. Great views
Space Mountain-obviously a must do at Magic Kingdom for those 44" and over.
The Timekeeper-a nice movie in the round

Rider Swap--have a child who doesn't meet the height requirements or doesnt want to ride? Ask the attendant if they allow child swap. This allows one parent to ride the ride while the other stays with the child, then swap and the other parent rides.

Please call or email us for more information to start planning your Walt Disney World vacation!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our Visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom

November 17, 2010

Here is the story of three friends who ditched their husbands for a day and went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Two friends and I set off from the wilds of Weeki Wachee FL to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
In our party were three ladies, Linda, Cheri and I (JE). Linda and I have been to AK before. Cheri was a first time visitor, which made it exciting for Linda and me.

 Our game plan consisted of only one thing, ride Kilimanjaro Safari as early as possible before it was too hot. Well we didn’t have to worry because it was a perfect day. No rain, not many clouds and it warmed up to only 80.  We had a 10 minute wait, which was fine. I noticed that they have added quite a few more safari vehicles to alleviate the long wait times. As the wait for KS was so short the need for Fastpass was nonexistent.

Kilimanjaro Safari is not your typical Disney experience. The animals are real; as such, they may be sleeping or avoiding the heat and you may not see them roaming. This has drawn some criticism from park goers.  I am happy to see the live animals (even sleeping ones) vs. animatronics hidden in bushes.  If you prefer to know that you will see the same elephant in the same place year after year, then maybe the Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom is a better choice for you.  I do love the Jungle Cruise too don’t get me wrong, please visit with an open mind and enjoy animals in an unpredictable environment. Ride a few times, at different times of the day; you will see something different each time.

We boarded our safari vehicle, a large jeep like vehicle, for our two week tour. We bounced and bumped, zipping over creek beds, easing over rickety old bridges, sped along as we chased poachers and mostly enjoyed the very active animals.  At some points we reached speeds of up to 8mph! What ride!

We were thrilled to see two female giraffe, a mom and younger female.  We saw the elephants, wart hogs, ostriches, lions (sleeping) and many other wild things.  At one point we saw one elephant segregated from the others. From a distance he appeared to be a  5 legged elephant I asked but the safari guide quickly corrected me, apparently the extra limb was not a leg. Oops, my mistake. It was a male elephant.

We visited Pangani Forest and saw the gorillas up and around playing. 

We were hungry by this point and headed over to Tusker house and checked out the delicious buffet ($22 pp). We didn’t want to spend too much time in a restaurant so we ventured over to Pizzafari. They had a nice choice of Pizza w/ Cesar salad, hot Italian sandwich, antipasto or for the kids mac & cheese or pizza, our meals were approximately $10 pp.

We timed it just right and made it in to Festival of the Lion King in Camp Minnie Mickey. What an awesome show. It is truly spectacular. It is a combination of a Broadway performance and an acrobatic show. When the Lion King was over we headed over to Asia.  We visited the Maharajah Jungle Trek and had a great time watching the tiger prowl around and roar! Usually they are sleeping so it was a great show. We had no brave souls that wanted to be soaked or scared to death so we skipped Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids.

Passing near Finding Nemo we realized we had not timed that right, so we will try that next time. I have seen it in the past and it’s an amazing combination of puppetry and live performance.  We toured DinoLand but didn’t ride Primeval Whirl or Dinosaur as it was late and we were tired. There are some fun places for kids to play and you can unwind. Try the Boneyard or even just visit the pathways that have the dinosaur that the kids can climb on, while you sit in the shade.

We decided to head out to see the Animal Kingdom Lodge. We hopped on the bus and we were there in just a few minutes. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is like no other hotel. Okay maybe it looks a little like the Wilderness Lodge but the similarities are few once you step out on to the savannah and see the animals close up. It was feeding time so we had a front row seat for the giraffe, zebra, ankole cattle and many other animals.  

We stayed there for a bit and then checked out the hotel. It is beautifully designed around the African theme. It is relaxing just to sit in the lobby. Although we did not eat there, the hotel offers three restaurants, Boma the buffet, Jiko and the snack bar near the pool. Speaking of the pool,  
Uzima pool, an 11,000-square-foot zero-depth entry (no steps just walk in!) pool that offers a 67-foot-long slide. What a hit that was for the kids lucky enough to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

We took a quick tour walk over to the Disney Vacation Villas on the property. They were also nicely appointed and carried the African theme. They had their own wildlife to view also. Animal Kingdom Lodge Vacation Club Villas are a great place for families to stay, with studio rooms, or one, two or three bedroom units with kitchens.

As you can imagine we were quite tired by this point so we hopped on the bus (I love how easy it is to travel with in Disney World!) went back to the Animal Kingdom and took the tram to Dinosaur 32 and headed home.

We will be visiting Disney again to see the holiday decorations in the parks as well as the resorts. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions or would like help planning your Disney vacation please feel free to call or email me JEGTravels@gmail.com

Photo's from Disney's Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom

Please feel free to contact me to help plan your Disney Vaction.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom (AK) opened in April 1998 it is the fourth theme park for Disney. AK is not your typical Disney Park; it has over 500 acres of lush vegetation and live animals of every shape and size. There are over 250 species of animals represented with over 1000 animals.

The park is well staffed with knowledgeable cast members who can answer all your questions.  There are shows, rides and attractions that are Disney at their best but the stars of this show are the birds, reptiles, and animals you will see in areas set up to mimic their natural habitats. Every trail and walkway in AK is lined with beautiful plantings and creatures. Wander of the main path every chance you get, you don’t want to miss a thing.

Discovery Island
AK is set up like a wheel. Discovery Island is the hub.  As you enter AK you walk through main entrance (make sure to grab a map, you will need it) passing through the Oasis, as you walk over the bridge to Discovery Island you see the centerpiece of the AK, the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life itself is beautifully inlaid with ‘carvings’ of animals of every kind.   Thirteen people worked full-time for 18 months to create the 325 animal carvingsInside the Tree of Life is the Disney-Pixar inspired show, It’s Tough to Be a Bug!  Stroll the trails in this area and you will discover lemurs, tortoises, and other creatures.  This is Disney so of course there are gift shops and eateries in abundance in each area!

Camp Minnie Mickey

Festival of the Lion King

The areas off the ‘hub’ include Camp Minnie Mickey, which has the high energy show, Festival of the Lion King. Put this show on your short list of things to do at AK.  The animatronics in Simba, the lion, rival Broadway. The monkey’s on the trampoline and high bar make the show exciting. Camp Minnie Mickey is a great place for  character interactions.


Traveling on you will visit Africa, home of the Kilimanjaro Safari, where you ride open air safari vehicles to explore the savannah.   Pangani Forest Exploration Trails offers viewing of birds, fish, gorillas and an underwater hippo.  Walk around and spend some time in the shade out of the Florida heat.

Rafiki's Planet Watch and Conservation Station

Conservation Station
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is accessible by rambling old train, at the end of the line is Conservation Station (which is air conditioned, nice on a hot day). You will get a peek into the research, care and feeding of all the animals. More than 2,000 pounds of vegetation is fed to the animals every day, and several varieties of worms are provided to the animals as well as 3000 crickets per day. There are many hands on exhibits here, including a petting yard.  

Continuing your journey you will visit Asia, home of Expedition Everest, the roller coaster that brings you in search of the Yeti aka Abominable Snowman.   Beware of Kali River Rapids, you will be soaked!  Maharajah Jungle Trek is set in the ancient ruins of a palace, where the tigers and other animals have taken up residence. The lush landscape and architecture here make wonderful backdrops for photos.  Round out your time in Asia with a viewing of Flights of Wonder, a live bird show.

Step back in time, and travel to DinoLand USA. The Boneyard, an elevated maze built around a sandy pit, where the kids can dig for fossils. Finding Nemo the musical brings Nemo and friends to life on the stage with puppetry and live performers.  Try your hand at the carnival style games and rides in DinoLand.  Primeval Whirl, Tricera Top Spin and Dinosaur can be found here.

The short list of must do/must see attractions.
·         Kilimanjaro Safari
·         Festival of the Lion King
·         Finding Nemo the Musical
·         It’s Tough to be a Bug
·         Pangani Forest Trails
·         Maharajah Jungle Trek
·         Expedition Everest
·         Dinosaur ~ the ride

Kilimanjaro Safari Vehicle

Please feel free to contact me to help plan your Disney Vaction.

The Tree of Life

Monday, November 15, 2010

Views from our balcony at The Emeralde Grande

Our private airshow!

Sunset from our balcony

View from the balcony

The Emeralde Grande

Emeralde Grande Resort Florida State HOG Rally

Florida State HOG Rally
We set out for Destin Florida early on Tuesday October 19, 2010. We met up with the rest of our riding group at Crystal River Harley Davidson. Kick stands were up at 8 am sharp on this chilly (for Florida) morning. We headed north up Rt. 19/98 for an hour and stopped for a quick breakfast. (you will notice a pattern here). Hopped back on the bikes and drove up to the panhandle, stopping for gas once and then onto a great lunch on the water in Apalachicola. After lunch we headed west on 98 arriving in Destin just in time to check in and plan dinner!
The Emeralde Grande Resort was headquarters for all the fun and festivities at the Florida State Harley Owners Group Rally. The resort has beautifully appointed units with up to 4 bedrooms. We shared a 4 bedroom unit that over looked the inlet and the marina. We spent most of our time on the balcony admiring the view.
The balcony also afforded us the best seat in the house for the events held there. We were near the main stage. We spent most evenings enjoying the bands and hanging out. One of the favorites was Long-Reef a group from Australia, they play Destin and vicinity year round. Check them out on Facebook.
We enjoyed beautiful rides along the gulf near Ft. Walton Beach and Pensacola. The water and beaches looked sparkling clean. We did not see one hint of oil on any beaches. We did see cleanup crews ready and waiting should a speck of oil appear on the pristine white sand or in the water.
We had an airshow almost every day with the fighter jets flying over. The rally committee made arrangements for a group of private pilots to give us a show in their vintage WWII planes. That was one of the highlights of the trip.
The Emerald Grande was a great place to stay, in the heart of Destin and the Rally was a great time. We are happy to go back next fall again.

Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally Destin Florida October 20-23, 2010 Emerald Grande Resort