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A Phased Reopening of Disney Springs is Scheduled for May 20

I am cautiously optimistic and excited to hear this news coming from out from Disney. Our family enjoys exploring all the dining and entertainment that can be found at Disney Springs. Whenever we can, we try to stay in a resort that is within walking distance or a short boat ride to it. We are scheduled to visit in October and have our fingers crossed that things will be open…even if it means with restrictions in place for the safety of cast members and guests.

Photo Credit: Disney Destinations

Disney has announced that they will begin reopening Disney Springs in phases beginning May 20, 2020. They are looking to health and government officials for guidance on the best way to reopen. There will be a limited volume of dining and shopping businesses operated by third-party operators allowed to open during this first phase. The remainder of Walt Disney World (including hotels and theme parks) will continue to be shut down.

Disney announced:

As we continue to monitor conditions, and with the health of Guests and Disney Cast Members at the forefront of our planning, we are making several operational changes. Disney Springs will begin to reopen in a way that incorporates enhanced safety measures, including increased cleaning procedures, the use of appropriate face coverings by both Cast Members and Guests, limited-contact Guest services and additional safety training for cast members.

Disney Parks Blog

Disney says they will continue to listen to and apply what they learn from the leaders in both the travel and health industries. They are also working with the unions to prepare some Cast Members to return to work at Walt Disney World.

For the time being, there will be limited capacity, hours of operation, and parking at Disney Springs. Disney gave their thanks and appreciation during this time as they try to open in a responsible manner. They also noted that there may be further protocols and procedures announced once we get closer to the opening date. I look forward to hearing what they may be as they may be seen as a standard for travel throughout the theme park industry.

Destinations, Hawaii, Uncategorized

Get Your Kids Excited for Hawaii Through Hawaiian Literature

When I was a little girl, our family vacations were far and few between. Most of the time they involved all seven of us piling into the family station wagon, no air conditioning in the heat of summer, off to visit a member of the extended family.

If it weren’t for books, I wouldn’t have known there was a whole other world out there. I was an avid reader and liked to read about life in other places…whether it was Paddington Bear in London, life on the frontier through the Little House on the Prairie series, or Canadian life in the early 1900s through Anne of Green Gables. Books took me somewhere exciting and different.

The old classics are still there, but in today’s world the possibilities of travel through books are endless. If you’re eager to get your children anticipating your trip to Hawaii…or maybe just planning a “destination staycation” where your family can escape to Hawaii through books…no matter their age.

The number of books available relating Hawaii are quite extensive. The key is to find the books that you or your family will enjoy the most. Whether you’ve got little ones who like picture books or the ultra planner who wants a guide to activities, there is something for everyone.

My family always checks availability at the library first hoping to save some money. But when it comes to guidebooks, you always want the latest edition and something you can scribble notes in, so I recommend purchasing your copy.

Hawaiian Books for the Youngest Family Members

For the real little ones, it’s fun to have them settle down in your lap while you read them a story. There are some great books for the younger kids in your bunch.

  • Good Night Hawaii by Adam Gamble. A beautiful board book written for toddlers teaching them about Hawaii’s beaches, foods, and beautiful coral reef. Geared to the 0- to 4-year-old.
  • Rock-a-Bye Baby in Hawaii by BeachHouse Publishing. This board book can be read…or sang to your little one to the traditional lullaby “Rock-a-Bye Baby.”
  • Hawaiian Ocean Lullaby by Beth Greenway. Another board book that introduces your toddler to the Hawaiian ocean wonders like whales, dolphins, and mantas.
  • Aloha, Hawaii by Martha Zschock. This book is part of an “around-the-world” series by the author. In this installation, a mother and child macaw visit Hawaii. Geared for the 2- to 5-year-old.
  • Seashore Touch-n-See Hawai’i by Ellie Crowe. This book takes your child on a journey through the Hawaiian waters. It’s both educational and fun as the little ones want to touch the cute little Hawaiian critters over and over.
  • ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – in Hawaii – by Valjeanne Budar. A Hawaiian twist on a Christmas classic. It includes a glossary of common Hawaiian words. Geared toward ages 5 and up.
  • A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by J’ilani Goldsberry. A great opportunity to learn the language as well as some history and many wonderful things about the Aloha State. Geared towards ages 6 to 9.

Hawaiian Fiction for Beginning Readers

These books are great for those kiddos who are just beginning their independent reading journey. They can read independently, read to you, or maybe even read to their siblings.

  • Froggy Goes to Hawaii, by Jonathan London. The “Froggy” series is a bestseller. In this book, Froggy is off to Hawaii. Even things never seem to go as planned, he still manages to hula, surf, and swim and have an overall good time.
  • The Hawaiian Heist by Geronimo Stilton. This is a whodunnit mystery as Geronimo Stilton, mouse publisher, tries to figure out who the thief of a jewel heist is. Geared towards ages 7 to 10.
  • Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-Ha-Ha! by Barbara Park. Those who love the Junie B. Jones series knows that trouble accompanies her wherever she goes…even Hawaii. Geared to ages 7-9.
  • Recipe for Adventure: Hawaii! by Gia De Laurentiis. This book is #6 of a series where the character Zia’s magic ingredient takes the children Alfie and Emilia on an island adventure to Hawaii, famous for its delicious food, luaus, and surfing. Geared towards ages 7 to 9.
  • Thea Stilton and the Legend of the Fire Flowers by Thea Stilton. Book number 15 in the Thea Stilton series. This book finds the Thea Sisters in Hawaii to compete for a hula competition. Things go awry when a volcano is about to erupt. Geared towards ages 7 to 9.
  • High Tide in Hawaii: Magic Tree House Book 28 by Mary Pope Osborne. If you have a reader just getting into chapter books, the Magic Tree House series can be a lot of fun for kids to learn about places and events in history. In this particular book, the main characters Jack and Annie are headed to Hawaii. They help an island community survive a tidal wave and learn to surf.
  • Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii by Graham Salisbury. Calvin has great plans for his sister’s birthday. Unfortunately, a big storm hits his home in the Hawaiian islands causing unforeseen complications. It’s up to Calvin to save the day. Geared towards ages 8 to 12.

Hawaiian Historical Fiction for Children

  • Lydia and the Island Kingdom by Joan Holub. This is part of the “Young Princesses Around the World Series.” This is the story of the young Princess Liliuokalani. Geared towards ages 6 to 8.
  • Attack on Pearl Harbor (Ranger in Time Series) by Kate Messner. This book is set to be published in July 2020. In this installment of the “Ranger in Time” series, Ranger the dog travels back in time to Hawaii and where he makes new friends…just as the attack at Pearl Harbor begins. Geared towards ages 7 to 10.
  • Pearl Harbor (American Girl: Real Stories from My Time) by Jennifer Swanson. This installment of the “Real Stories from My Time Series involves fictional American Girl Nanea Mitchell and takes place around Pearl Harbor. It includes a glossary, historical photos, and a timeline.

Children’s Hawaiian Fiction and Travel Guides

  • What’s Great About Hawaii? by Mary Meinking. In this book you can find out the top ten things to places to go and things to do in Hawaii. Geared towards grades 2 to 5.
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes (A True Book: National Parks) by Karina Hamalainen. This book is part of the National Parks series published by True Book. Geared towards grades 3 and above.
  • Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Rose Oachs. This book investigates what makes Hawaii unique from the other states. It talks about how volcanic activity helped form the islands and the beaches, bursting rain forests, and waterfalls. Geared towards grades 3 to 7.
  • A Kid’s Guide to Hawaii by Jack L. Roberts. This book will take young readers on a journey to learn all about Hawaii. They can learn about Hawaii’s nature, wildlife, state history, and more. Geared towards grades 4 to 6.
  • Hawai’i: True Stories of the Islands by Rick and Marcie Carroll. This book features many personal stories by different contributors as it explores Hawaii in a new way. Geared towards teens.

If you don’t find anything that hits your fancy, feel free to do a search using your local library’s online search function. See what comes up. You never know what kind of gem you’ll find…often written by local authors.

Hawaiian Coloring and Activity Books

Other things I enjoyed doing as a kid were coloring and activity books. We had an “educational” bookstore just about a mile from our house. We’d head over there the beginning of the summer and my mom would buy us some activity books to keep us busy (and I’m pretty sure to keep us out of her hair).

  • The ABC Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book by Ruth Moen. Coloring pages and activities to help in learning your ABC’s and 123’s…while introducing Hawaii to your little ones. This book is advertised as geared towards grades 2 to 3, but it looks like many activities would be appropriate for the kindergartner and 1st grader also.
  • Coloring Hawaii by Kelly Monis. This book is advertised as an adult coloring book, but the pictures are all drawn on a medium scale with lots of beaches, ocean, flowers, animals, and landscapes. It would be great for a slightly older kid (or an adult who still loves to color).
  • Wonders of Life Hawaiian Edition: Coloring Book for Adults and Children by Natasha Nicole Portman. This coloring book is inspired by the art of zentangle and is meant to help you relax as you color. The details are large making it easier for older children to color. (Again, this one would also be fantastic for teens or adults.)
  • Hawaii’s Ocean Animals Coloring and Activity Book by BeachHouse Publishing. This book contains 25 activities (dot-to-dots, word searches, color by numbers) and 64 pages to color. This book focuses on the ocean animals found around Hawaii. Geared towards 1st and 2nd graders.
  • My Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book. by Hollyanne Shell. This book is advertised as geared towards 2nd to 3rd graders, but the simpleness of the activities would be easy for many kindergartners and 1st graders also. The pictures to be colored are nice and large.
  • Pineapple Coloring Book for Kids by Ocean Front Press. This coloring book is a little silly and all pineapple. It’s especially great for anyone who loves this juicy and sweet fruit.
  • Hawaii Coloring and Activity Book for Boys and Girls by Amelia ZaZa. This coloring book offers to help kids discover the beauty and culture of Hawaii. It also offers single-sided coloring pages to avoid tge bleeding through of markers.
  • The How ‘Bout Hawaii Coloring Book! by Carole Marsh. This book includes reproducible coloring book that introduces you kids to important people, places, and facts to know about Hawaii. Geared towards Preschool to 3rd graders.
  • Story of Hawaii Coloring Book (Dover History Coloring Book) by Y.S. Green. The “Dover History Coloring Book” series has been around for a long time. It offers lots of interesting and informative captions to accompany the pages to be colored. This coloring book is more detailed and is geared towards 8- to 12-year-olds.

I’ll admit it. Even at my age, I still enjoy sitting down with a good coloring book at the end of the day. I keep one by my desk along with some pens. It never gets old.

The Adventure Continues Through Hawaiian Books

In my house, the planning of adventures never ends. Sometimes we plan a trip, and it doesn’t happen because life gets in the way. We put it on the back burner until we’re ready to put the trip back on the calendar. But that doesn’t stop my hubby and I from reading and learning about our destination…whether through fiction, historical fiction, guide books, biographies…the possibilities are so extensive and each book adds to our appreciation of the trip when we finally get to go.

Do you have any favorite books that you enjoy about Hawaii, the culture, the history, the folk tales? I’d love to add them to the list. Just put them in the comments below.

If you want help in planning your family vacation to Hawaii, use the Contact form found at the top of the page.


The 6 Top Travel Trends for Families

I’ll never forget my first family vacations. We were two adults and five kids trapped in an car traveling cross country…no air conditioning, no seat belt laws, kids piled everywhere and poking each other in the ribs when we thought Mom and Dad couldn’t see us. My favorite spot was in the very back of the station wagon where I could lay down and sneak cookies my had baked and hidden back there for the trip. And I will never forget the smell of melted crayon from the sun blasting through the back window and melting into the piece of carpet my dad had used to line the back.

Now that these experiences are decades removed from when they happened, I have lots of great memories, laughs, and stories to tell. That’s one of the best things about family trips, right? The stories of the shared experiences we’ve had with our family…even when they didn’t seem so funny at the time.

This year is a fantastic one for families to get out and spend time together. There are more ways to travel than ever before. From a good old-fashioned road trip to reliving the stories of your family roots to vacations now include multiple generations…and even if they live half a continent away, grandparents are able to plan vacations alongside their kids and grandkids through the magic of the internet.

And thanks to social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the younger generations are able to see destinations near and far, look up accommodations for every budget, and are often eager to help in the planning (even when their wallets aren’t as full as grandma’s).

It is no secret in the travel industry that the past 10 years have seen the baby boomers as the most active generation of senior travelers in history. They are eager to pass their passion for traveling to the next generation. They have found that skip-gen travel provides a way to enjoy special experiences and reconnect with other family members who don’t live nearby.

Baby boomers are starting to realize that the “family reunions” of their days don’t interest their millennial grandkids. They are adjust and adapting and redefining what family travel looks like.

We are starting to see new trends emerge. Here are the top six trends in family travel:

Trend 1 – Cruise Vacations

Cruising is currently the fastest-growing segment in the travel industry. It’s popular because it offers something for everyone in the group – zip lines, escape rooms, music and live entertainment, family pools and adults-only pools. And the room choices…something for every budget from inside staterooms to two-bedroom suites with a grand piano.

Cruises are simple to coordinate and do not involve a lot of decision making. Our family has been lucky enough to do family cruises to the Bahamas, Panama Canal, Alaska, and the Pacific Coast with our extended family. This year we’ll be checking something off Grandma’s bucket list and taking a cruise that stops at the Anne of Green Gables house at Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island.

Trend 2: Genealogical/DNA Tourism

One of the most recent trends to grab hold in family travel is what is being called DNA or Genealogical Tourism. This type of vacation allows you to trace and experience your family’s ancestry and heritage by visiting the land(s) of your ancestors. Shows such as Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? have made families eager to know more about how their ancestors lived. DNA tests along with websites such as Ancestry.com have made it easy to identify out where your in the world your family came from.

Your great-grandfather came from the Sicily area? Why not go experience Sicily and see what life would have been like there and make Sicilian pizza with a local chef…just the way Great-Grandpa would have made it.

This type of family has been growing so rapidly that in 2019 Lonely Planet named it the Top Travel Trend for 2019. Many tour companies have jumped on the bandwagon and are offering offering heritage-themed vacations for DNA/Genealogical travelers.

Trend 3: Educational Trips

In today’s family, many parents are eager to have their children enjoy educational experiences while on vacation. An educational trip does not have to be dragging your kids through museums after museum…although it could be if your kids enjoy that.

You can go visit Colonial Williamsburg and experience what life would have been like in colonial days. Maybe take a while watching day cruise with a naturalist and learn about the magnificent sea life they’ll be watching in its native habitat. Go climb through some historic forts…the possibilities are endless. Shhh…don’t tell the kids they’re learning something; they’ll never know.

These trips and immersive experiences are not difficult to find. Many cruises and all-inclusive vacations even offer excursions that lets you and your kids experience the local history and culture of the places they visit.

Trend 4: The Great American Road Trip

I love watching old home movies and looking at old family photos of our family piling into the car as we set out on the road for a good family road trip. A road trip is the American classic of all family vacations. It conjures up scenes that we can relate to from National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase.

For a long time, families were moving towards flying to destinations, but we are seeing a huge trend moving back towards the road trip as family are rediscovering the combination of benefits of the bonding on the open road.

A road trip allows for quality time with your family. And while some of you may be thinking it’s no fun listening to your kids tattle on each other…”he breathed on me”…believe me that in 15 years your kids will be laughing about spending seven hours a day in the car with their brother or sister.

A road trip has more opportunities for spontaneity. Road signs often indicate opportunities to stop at a lookout for a spectacular view or driving by an historical landmark that you didn’t know existed. And with spontaneity comes increased chances for unplanned adventures.

The most often visited places on a road trip are the U.S. National Parks. The Grand Canyon and the Smoky Mountain National Park have recorded record visitors the past few years. Lots of people know about the beauty and majesty of the National Parks, but it’s the the special programs offered by the National Parks Service like the Junior Ranger Program that makes these destinations even more fun for families.

A few years back we did an family road trip with my brother and his family. After a long drive from Moab to Seattle (with a stopover in Salt Lake City), we spent five days hiking through Arches National Park…including a permitted hike through Fiery Furnace for which we were inadequately prepared for. We can laugh now, but it was NOT funny at the time as we were climbing through rocks like Spider Man in regular tennis shoes, t-shirts and shorts (one of us was even in flip flops).

We enjoyed the Visitor’s Center and learning the fascinating details of how the rock arches were formed by nature. One afternoon we took a ride in a high-speed boat along the river and enjoyed a good dutch oven cookout for dinner. The boys rode bikes one afternoon while the girls went to the local quilt shop and went shopping. There was something for everyone.

Trend 5: Skip-Gen Trips

The term “Skip-Gen vacations” is fairly new and trending in the travel industry right now…although I’ve been planning for skip-gen trips my whole adult life. I have 22 nieces and nephews and have taken skip-gen trips with every single one of them. A skip-gen trip will speaks to those who want to take vacations with close their family members…think grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins…and allows them to bond through travel while giving their parents a little break in having to constantly hover over their kids while on vacation.

I went into the travel planning business because I really enjoyed planning these skip-gen vacations. Years of planning and education helped me prepare to take this on professionally.

Cruises and theme parks have always welcomed skip-gen groups, but recently we have seen many tour companies willing to work with family groups to explore a new destination without having the hassle of having to plan all the details on their own. Families are looking more and more for experiential travel experiences. There are so many of choices becoming available in this growing segment, tour companies are coming up with new tours and excursions all the time. They strive to offer something for everyone in the group.

Trend 6: Volunteer Tourism

One of my favorite travel trend to see emerge the past few years has been that of travel tourism. Often, when someone thinks of volunteer tourism, they imagine taking their family on a volunteer trip to a third-world country. That’s simply not the case any more.

You can take one day or one week of vacation and go do something small that can have a huge impact. You can go help build a home with Habitat for Humanity or go clean up a beach.

If your family enjoys visiting the Disney theme parks in Orlando, take the opportunity to go volunteer for an afternoon at Give Kids the World giving Make a Wish kids ice cream or helping with a craft project. It’s a fantastic organization that provides kids with life-threatening illnesses a to experience the Orlando theme parks at little to no cost.

Families That Play Together, Stay Together

I know that if you visit my website very often, you’ll hear me say this…a lot…but I believe this to be one of the truest statements of my life: The families that play together, stay together.

Family that plays together, stays together

Whether it’s taking a cruise through the Panama Canal, hiking through Arches National Park, or heading off to Leavenworth (a little Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains) to devour some wienerschnitzel and shop among the local artisans…all of these opportunities have allowed me to bond and form happy memories with different family members. I treasure each and every opportunity I’ve had to go play with my parents, husband, son, siblings, nieces, and nephews…and now great-nieces and -nephews.

Planning a family vacation can be overwhelming. A knowledgeable travel advisor that specializes in family trips can be very helpful in crafting a vacation that fits your family and is unique to your needs. Use the “Contact Me” form if you’d like to set up a time for a free consultation on how I can help you plan your family’s vacation.


Disney’s Aulani Resort Awarded Best Family Hotel in the U.S.

Congratulations to Disney’s Aulani Resort! U.S. News & World Report ranked Disney’s Aulani Resort number one on their 2020 list of Best Family Hotels in the U.S. That’s quite the distinction when you take into consideration the many choices that families have when traveling all over the United States.

Hotels were graded on things such as guest reviews, hotel amenities, hotel class ratings, and reputation among travel advisors. Since its opening, Aulani has been recognized for its fabulous service and endearing and authentic experiences.

If you choose to stay at Aulani, you can create an experience that is unique to what your group wants to experience–whether it be a romantic getaway for 2 or a multi-generational gathering for 30. Aulani Resort cast members go out of their way to make sure that you feel that you are part of the Aulani ‘ohana. It’s a fantastic destination to create memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.

As a College of Disney Knowledge graduate, I would happy to be help your group plan a getaway to Disney’s Aulani–one which is geared toward the specific needs of your group. I continue to watch for new promotions and apply them even after your group has booked to ensure you get the best deal.

Please use the contact button at the top of the page to let me know how I can help you plan your vacation to the number one ranked Best Family Hotel in the U.S., Disney’s Aulani Resort.

You can find more information on Disney’s Aulani Resort here.