Destinations of Distinction
March 26, 2021
This past February I embarked on an epic adventure down the east coast to visit family. My original intention was to head over to the theme parks following family-time to enjoy a few days nerding out; especially since it’s no secret I am both a Harry Potter & Star Wars fan.
I’ve been a UOAP (Universal Orlando Annual Passholder) for years so I’d like to think of myself as semi-savvy when navigating through the parks, on-site hotels, rope drop tips & virtual lines. Disney on the other hand…can open…worms everywhere…
I have always found Disney trips to be overwhelming. Between the app, magic bands, fast pass reservations, restaurant reservations, character dining, virtual lines & all the other components that Disney throws at you, it would literally take, not hours but, DAYS to figure out your game plan. Booking it all is a whole other worm-filled-can.
Enter my trusted travel advisor friend, Meg Halberstadt. <– Click on Meg’s name to peruse her travel website. Trust me when I say, “Disney (clap) rockstar (clap) status.” There was no way I would have, could have or even wanted to plan this trip with out her. Especially since my solo Disney adventure turned into an incredible 7 person family getaway 🙂
The process of working with Meg could not have been easier. The first step was fill out the Trip Planning Form & I set up our free trip consultation. We discussed preferences, budget, hobbies & more. Within a couple of days I received a detailed vacation proposal that clearly outlined the best travel options based on my trip wish list. Not many edits where made, if at all, as she nailed everything we were looking for & I received the full itinerary and invoice straight to by inbox.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for Meg I could not have known about the super fun & super new Skyliner (exit Monorail). Disney Skyliner is a gondola lift system that opened on September 29, 2019; with five stations located at various resorts & theme parks.
The best part was that we could literally hop on the Skyliner right from our resort & head into our favorite of the Disney parks, Hollywood Studios & Epcot.
The resort was another home run as Meg selected Disney’s Riviera Resort for us. AH-mazing. This resort opened at the end of 2019 therefore it stands as one of the newest in Disney’s robust on-site hotel collection.
Since we were such a big group, our best accommodation options were a couple of villas, which was perfect for us all to stay together but still have our own space. Each villa featured large kitchens, washers/dryers & balconies. Giving us the perfect mix of relaxation & luxury.
One unexpected & true treat was a pre-arrival swag box that was delivered about a week before our trip. Meg thought of everything & honed in on my Star Wars nerd status. Inside was our full printed & bound itinerary, brochure on Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, hair ties, backpack (I used this EVERY day), mug, pin & thank you card. Excitement overload.
Once we arrived to Riviera to check in, I had pre-ordered some fun welcome gifts for our group to get the vacation started. Meg helped with it all & had it all delivered straight to concierge for me on arrival.
One of the arrival gifts was from a company called Magical Charcuterie. The owner Ali was a furloughed Cast Member of Disney & ended up launching her own small business that hand delivers tasty treats to guests staying in an on-site hotel at the theme park.
Dining was also a key component for us & Meg took care of all our on-site dining reservations. Let me just say that Disney does not make it easy especially for group of our size. This is why they have you make reservations months in advance. Meg was literally online daily to check our preferred dining times. One place we absolutely HAD to try was Topolinos Terrace. This is a rooftop indoor/outdoor restaurant that is top notch.
The menu is extensive & we all tried a different plate. Here is a short list of what we tried & absolutely LOVED:
Escargot en Coquille – Rigatoni (Braised Chicken Sugo, Broccolini Rapini, Wild Mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano) – Tomahawk Veal Chop – Filet Mignon – Bouillabaisse
Next it was off to the parks for us & we went carte blanche with a Private VIP Tour (which Meg also set up for us). I have done a complete review & comparison to Universal’s VIP Tour on a separate blog post which will go live next week.
Until next time, Pack Light & Travel Deep