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The state of one local travel agency during a pandemic

I have been getting emails and messages from friends asking me how I'm handling the downturn in my travel business during COVID-19. Since no one is traveling now and I’m not designing nearly as many new trips, I decided to write a "state of the agency" update and share with my clients and my readership.

I am, by nature, an extremely positive and motivated individual. Still, it is disheartening to go from designing custom dream trips and talking to my fabulous clients to working with insurance companies and managing cancellations all day. For sure, the Coronavirus is brutalizing the travel industry - its financial impact is expected to be nine times worse than 9/11.

I was hoping to be on my own family vacation this week, exploring the red rocks and vortexes of Arizona! We had plans to visit state and national parks, hike, shop, swim, have some fantastic dinners out, and take in the beautiful scenery. But, like many of you, we are at home and are unsure of when we will be …

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Part two: A "cool" summer trip!

This is part two of Ashley's trip report on her family's summer 2019 Alaskan Cruise! Ashley Harris is one of my favorite Outside the Lines Travel clients. You can read Part One HERE, which talks about the port towns and excursions they chose on their Alaskan Cruise. 

After our many port adventures, by this point in our cruise, we were ready for our first  'At Sea' day. In the morning, three park rangers hopped on a pilot boat as we entered the Glacier Bay, rode out to our big ol’ ship, climbed a rope ladder above the frigid, yet beautiful, turquoise water and narrated the majority of what we saw during the day.

This is where having a balcony room really paid off. The boat glided—the water is literally like glass—slowly into different parts of the bay and did a 360-degree turn in front of each glacier so both sides of the ship had an awesome view.

When we were 1/4 mile in front of the biggest glacier, the huge Margerie Glacier, we saw some calving take place. Calving occurs when pieces of the glacier break off and fall into the water. Right before they broke off, we would hear cracking and popping, then see a slow motion splash.

The rangers also conducted a few casual lectures where they gave out facts on the glaciers and told the history of the region. We saw pictures from a John Muir expedition in 1899, and it is unbelievable how much of the glaciers have disappeared since the photos were taken. The loss is a natural occurrence, but what is not natural is the rate at which it’s occurring. I feel very lucky to have seen the glaciers as they are now; they looked like fudge ripple ice cream from the striations of rock they picked up on their journey.

We saw some sea life while the ship was floating around, including what might have been a sea otter floating on its back. Or it might have been the back of a whale but I couldn’t get my new binoculars focused in time to confirm. It was quite chilly (42 degrees) when we first started passing the glaciers, but then warmed to 62 as the day went on.

Around 3:00 that afternoon, the park rangers shimmied back down the rope ladder to board their pilot boat and headed back to shore.

As an aside, if you have children, I highly recommend the kids’ clubs on board. At least for the older kids, there is no charge and the clubs provided some time for our boys to meet kids from around the world and take part in activities such as scavenger hunts and dance parties (even if they didn’t dance)! The clubs also gave us a welcome break from each other when we had a sailing day.

Sea day (Hubbard Glacier): As we cruised towards Seward, we did a brief float-by of the Hubbard Glacier. At its widest point, this glacier is six miles wide and the face (the cliff-like part) is 400 feet high. We couldn’t see the entire width but could see the face. However, as we had no point of reference, it was hard to really appreciate its height. As our ship slowly approached the glacier, we could hear a clacking sound that turned out to be the ship moving through all the ice littering the top of the water. And, we couldn’t get that close to this glacier because it’s known for its shooters. Shooters are pieces of the glacier that break off underwater and come shooting up out of the water. Not a good thing for ships. (Think Titanic part 2).

After another slow turn so everyone could get a good view, we headed back out into the Gulf of Alaska toward Seward.

Disembarkation day (Seward and Anchorage): When we arrived in Seward and I looked out at the town, the first thing I saw after the beautiful mountains and packed marina, was a Waffle House. That’s how I knew we were back in the “big city.” From here, we rode a motorcoach into Anchorage to pick up our evening flight. We wanted to ride the train back, but the times didn’t work with our flights.

After we disembarked the ship, we boarded a bus for the 2 ½ hour drive along the scenic bypass (aka the Seward Highway) to Anchorage. As with most everything else we had seen on our trip, the drive was breathtaking. Along the way, our driver told us stories about the history of the area and how people live through the winter.

Story 1: There are parts of the are that are on hour outside of Anchorage, yet are zoned for Anchorage. However, since the buses don’t run in the bad weather, the kids who live outside of town get foster families in town where they stay if the roads are too bad to get them home after school.

Story 2: The big 9.2 earthquake that hit in 1964 completely wiped out some small towns along the highway. The tidal surge is what got them. The water came in at 500 mph and there was nothing left, not even building foundations. In Anchorage, we passed by the historic theater whose marquee was found lying on the ground after the quake.

Story 3: Our bus driver was driving kids to school one day and a moose walked out in the road with a swing set around its neck! The set belonged to a little boy in the bus. Animal control tranquilized the moose, removed the swing set, and the moose ambled off. The little boy was very happy :)

In case you are curious, here is a map of our cruise itinerary:

A little after noon, the motor coach dropped us and all of our luggage at the Anchorage Hospitality Center. With our plane not leaving until 8:15 pm, we had some time to explore. The nice people at the Center kept our luggage (free of charge!) and we set out to have lunch and walk around. After a tasty meal that included fresh salmon, we explored some shops, bought some souvenirs, and enjoyed the 71-degree sunny weather. There are lots of beautiful flowers here—the city has a hefty floral budget and its own greenhouse where they grow more than a million flowers each year. They also have a “planet walk” around the city that starts with the sun and has a stop for each planet in our solar system. We only had time for the sun, but it was something different.

We had a wonderful trip and I’m so glad we were able to experience Alaska. If seeing Alaska and its glaciers is on your bucket list, I would definitely plan a trip sooner rather than later.
contributing blogger: Ashley Harris, April 29, 2020

Outside the Lines Travel can help you choose the best cruise line and best itinerary for your trip!

Part two: A "cool" summer trip!

Part one - A "cool" summer trip!

Ashley Harris is one of my favorite Outside the Lines Travel clients. Not only do I love working on travel planning with her,  she is kind, adventurous, and committed to experiencing destinations all over the globe. This is part one of her trip report on her family's summer 2019 Alaskan Cruise. Thank you, Ashley!

In our quest to visit all 50 states before our oldest son graduates from high school, we booked an Alaskan cruise to check off one of the two non-contiguous states. The cruise was the second half of our summer vacation, which saw our family of four driving through the great northwest, ending with a train trip from Seattle to Vancouver where our cruise departed. 
We sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines, our first cruise with them. The weather was wonderfully warm when we set sail and we spent the first afternoon in the pool. Our boys (ages 12 and 13 at the time) registered with the youth activity clubs, which they had enjoyed on an earlier sailing with Princess Cruise Line, so everyone was set for a fantastic sailing!

Ketchikan: For our first port, we took an excursion which included a great and interesting visit to a totem pole park. I never knew how much of a story the poles could tell. Everything in Ketchikan seemed very rural, muddy and gray. There was, however, a Walmart somewhat close by that rns a free shuttle to and from the port, so we were not that far off the grid. It misted some and the temp hovered in the high 50s, but we had our all-weather jackets and we were fine. We saw a lot of eagles flying, a HUGE eagle’s nest that the guide said probably weighed 800 pounds, and a seal swimming looking for salmon. We also saw a bit of the Tongass National Forest, which was beautiful. 

For all of its beauty, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I could not live in Ketchikan. They get an average of 14 feet of rain each year. Maybe if I was more of an outdoor girl, I would could handle that!
Next port: Juneau. 
Juneau was more what I expected Alaska to be like: small downtown, with several restaurants and shops. The state capitol building looked just like a bank, but the Governor’s mansion was a little more impressive. There were beautiful mountains and eagles everywhere. Fact learned from our time in Juneau: when you see a bald eagle with the white head, it’s at least 3-4 years old. They are born with brown heads.

The coolest thing on the cruise and possibly in the top 10 of all things ever was the Mendenhall Glacier. It’s just there, about 20 minutes from town and around a bend in the road. There is a nice park that has raised trails you can walk with signs about the plants, trees and animals. We walked down to the water opposite the glacier, and put our hands in. No surprise, it was quite cold! 

We saw a porcupine near the top of a tree eating leaves. I didn’t know they climbed trees! We heard lots of bear stories... LOTS of them. Alaskan words of wisdom: "if the bear is brown, lie down. If the bear is black, fight back". Grizzlies are monsters, so your best bet is to outrun whoever you are with. Brown bears will kill you, but not eat you. Black bears (also known as trash bears), are wimps and you can scare them off, but if they kill you, they’ll eat you. They eat anything, hence the nickname. My philosophy is to just do my best to completely avoid bears and not have to remember what color does what ;)

Skagway: We went a little crazy in this port and booked two excursions for the day. In the morning, we rode on the historic White Pass & Yukon Route railway. This train took us on the same rail tracks that the prospectors rode in the early 1900s on their way to find gold. Our guide told interesting stories about the miners, how the railroad was built and life back then. The train hugged the mountain side around several curves as it ascended, went over a couple of bridges and through some dark tunnels, all constructed by hand. An amazing feat accomplished through sheer will and lots of explosives. Only 35 men died out of the 35,000 who worked on it. We were in and above the clouds for much of the 2 1/2-hour trip. Very relaxing and beautiful ride.

Our afternoon excursion might have been my favorite of all time—it definitely was for the boys—musher camp and a sled dog ride followed by time with puppies. We took a bus about 35 minutes out of Skagway to a park where we boarded a Unimog. I don’t even know how to describe this vehicle. It’s built for rough terrain and ours was an open-air bright green one dubbed Kermit the Mog. We tightened our seat belts, then proceeded to literally bounce up the mountain path to the base musher camp.

This camp is like summer camp for sled dogs who are training for winter races like the Iditarod. Some of the dogs we met had already run that race and some will run it next year. During the summer, they do conditioning camp, building muscle strength more than endurance. 
The dogs looked nothing like I expected! When most people think of sled dogs, they think of Siberian Huskies. In reality, Siberian Huskies were used by miners when they had to pull heavy sleds short distances, and about 40+ years ago, Hollywood adopted them to portray sled dogs in movies. Today's  'real' sled dogs are bred to pull lighter weights over long distances. Over the years, mushers bred many dogs to emphasize certain traits (ex. Whippets for their base coat, Greyhounds for their running physique), and the resulting breed is the Alaskan Husky. These dogs are working dogs and LOVE to run. When they heard our MOG approach they started barking and whining ready to pull us on a ride. We had 12 dogs and they easily pulled a 600-pound sled with seven people on board. In fact, the musher had to ride the brakes at some points just to slow them down. Between runs they play, eat and sleep. They love people. 

We learned a lot about how they train the dogs and all they do to keep them healthy. Average life of a sled dog is 12-15 years. After our ride and lots of petting and praise, we boarded the MOG to head back to base and listened to a short talk from a musher about what it takes to race the Iditarod. Did I mention that race is 1,000 miles?! Then it was time to play with the pups. Once the pups reach about 10 weeks old, they are pulled into a separate pen called the Shark Tank as they are all about tearing things up with their sharp little teeth, eating and sleeping. We held and cuddled 6-week pups. So sweet!! Best excursion ever! 

You can read more about Ashley's adventures (all about glaciers!!) in Part Two, which you'll find HERE. And if you are interested in learning more about visiting Alaska, contact Joy at Outside the Lines Travel.

contributing blogger: Ashley Harris, April 29, 2020

Part one - A "cool" summer trip!

All Four Disneyworld Parks In One Day!

This is a blog post written by the biggest Disney fan I know -- my youngest daughter, Lucy Hess. Lucy's longtime goal is to work at Walt Disney World, and she will be applying for the Disney College Program later this year.  Should you desire assistance with planning your own Disney vacation, please contact our Disney experts at Outside the Lines Travel.

Walt Disney World is so massive, it may seem impossible to do it all in a week. Well… try doing it all in a day! My mom and I wanted to try to hit all 4 theme parks in one day, and though it turned out to be easier than we had thought, it didn’t happen without careful planning. The rules of the “4 Park Challenge” (as we called it) were this: eat/drink something in each park, and ride at least two attractions per park.

The first thing we did to prepare for our adventure was to figure out in what order we would visit the parks and then find the most efficient measures of getting from place to place. For us, we decided on visiting Animal Kingdom first for the sake of getting on Flight of Passage first thing in the morning. The next park on our list was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. From there, we made our way to Epcot and then finished out the evening with a trip to Magic Kingdom. Our logic here was that Hollywood Studios and Epcot are connected by boat (this trip was taken before the Skyliner was an option), and Epcot and the Magic Kingdom are connected by monorail, so going to Epcot before Hollywood Studios would add an unnecessary bus trip. Getting to any park from Animal Kingdom requires a bus trip, so this seemed like the most streamlined way to arrange our roadmap. Keep in mind, we did this challenge before Galaxy’s Edge was open, so if you are set on riding either of the new Star Wars attractions, I would recommend visiting Hollywood Studios first.

The FastPass Conundrum

For those of you that aren't familiar with the FastPass+ system at WDW, you get three FastPasses to start with, and then once they’ve all been used, you can then schedule one at a time using the MyDisneyExperience app or a FP+ kiosk. The difficulty this brought to our challenge was that we were only shooting for two rides per park. With the FP+ system, you can’t schedule your first three FastPasses in more than one park. We didn’t particularly want to ride more than two things at Animal Kingdom, so we decided to schedule a random third Fastpass that we cancelled once we used our first two. This gave us an opening to schedule one of the extra FastPasses. For the rest of the day, we kept on high alert to snatch up an available FastPass so that we could keep our wait times down, but our number of rides high.

And so it begins!

Our first stop was Animal Kingdom. We got there relatively early in the morning (around 9:30am) because our first FastPass was at 10:15. I decided to take benchmark pictures at each park to chronicle our adventures!

The first ride of the day was Flight of Passage. It was both of our first times riding this attraction, so needless to say we were pretty excited. I don’t want to give any spoilers for those of you who haven’t had the chance to ride, but it was incredible. Disney really outdid themselves on this attraction!

Our next FastPass was for Expedition Everest, but before we made our way back there, we decided to make our first food stop of the day. It was a little early to eat a huge meal, which was disappointing considering Animal Kingdom’s many delicious food options, so we opted to swing by the Starbucks in the park. Even though coffee isn’t necessarily a Disneyworld staple, we decided to count it towards our food quota for the park.

It was time to face the Yeti on Expedition Everest. This is one of my all time favorite attractions on property, and my mom and I lucked out with the front row. The front of the train gives you the best view of the landscape and theming of the attraction, so if you can, ask a cast member on the loading platform if you can sit in the front. Hopefully, they can accommodate your request; it’s a special experience!

Following our ride on Expedition Everest, we cancelled our last FastPass and made our way out of the park. Since we were on our way to Hollywood Studios, we decided to take a look at the MyDisneyExperience app for any available FastPasses. Lo and behold, we were able to find a Tower of Terror FastPass for 12:30. It was only about 11:45 when we left Animal Kingdom, so we knew that we had just the right amount of time to get to Hollywood Studios and arrive for our hour-long FastPass window. We made our way to the buses and boarded the bus to Hollywood Studios.

Park #2: Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios has undergone quite a few changes in the past couple of years with the addition of both Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge. Like I mentioned before, Galaxy’s Edge wasn’t open when we did this challenge, but Toy Story Land was practically brand new at the time. Once we entered the park, we made our way to Tower of Terror to use our FastPass, but not without taking the obligatory picture at the park entrance!

After our ride on Tower of Terror, we went to the back of the park to explore Toy Story Land. If we could have, we would have gotten a FastPass for Slinky Dog Dash, but it is an extremely popular attraction which makes it nearly impossible to get a FastPass for it the day-of. Because we were working on a bit of a schedule to get from park to park, we elected not to ride anything in Toy Story Land because of the long wait times, but that didn’t stop us from taking pictures and enjoying the colorful atmosphere.

We were still one attraction short at this park, so we decided on another one of my favorites, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Luckily for us, this attraction has a Single Rider line. This allows for a shorter wait time, but do be aware that if you get in a Single Rider line with more than a party of one, you will be split up from your party. This line is usually a great way to get on the ride if you are in a rush, but it isn’t guaranteed to be a shorter wait time than the posted Stand-By wait time, so don’t always count on it. It just so happened that the park wasn’t very crowded on the day we visited, so we essentially walked straight into the pre-show of the ride once we entered the queue.

Once my mom and I got off of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, we still needed to eat something at the park to keep with the rules that we had set for ourselves. I was quite excited for this little snack stop because I got one of my all-time favorite snacks at Disney World: the Mickey soft pretzel. My drink of choice at this park was a frozen lemonade from Anaheim Produce in the Sunset Boulevard section of the park. This is a hidden gem in Hollywood Studios, and if you love fruit like I do, this is a great place to grab a quick refreshing snack.

To get to Epcot from Hollywood Studios, we took one of the Disney Friendship boats that take off just outside the entrance of Hollywood Studios and take you to the back entrance of Epcot. We elected to take the boat in place of the bus because the back entrance of Epcot has far less people than the front entrance (which is where the busses drop you off). It saved us a little bit of time, which is always good when you’re trying to make it to all four parks in one day. While waiting for the boat, we were visited by an adorable duck who really seemed to want to be my friend. Still riding a particular stroke of luck, we managed to schedule a FastPass for Soarin’ in Epcot once we got on the boat.

Park #3: Epcot

Once we arrived at Epcot, we made our way through World Showcase and into Future World to get to our FastPass for Soarin’. This is one of my mom’s favorite attractions, so it is a must-do for us each time we visit the parks. An old tradition for us is taking a picture of my feet matching the arrows on the floor of the loading station. A bit silly, but a special way to keep track of our many Disney visits over the years.

At the halfway point in our journey, we were definitely ready for a full meal. Checking the MyDisneyExperience app, we found that there was a reservation open for the San Angel Inn located in the Mexico pavilion. It is a beautiful waterside restaurant with amazing atmosphere. Though the food isn’t something to rave about and the menu is limited, you really eat there for the experience of being in the captivating environment.

After our meal, we wanted to get in another attraction, and what better attraction to ride than the Gran Fiesta Tour! This short, charming boat ride takes you through the Mexico pavilion in search of Donald Duck. It isn’t extravagant by any means, but it is cute and another favorite of mine.

Since we were essentially working back-to-front in Epcot, we hadn’t even seen the iconic Epcot Ball yet. We had to get the monorail to the Magic Kingdom, which departs at the front of the park, so we had to make our way out of World Showcase and towards the front exit. We couldn’t leave Epcot, however, without riding the classic attraction, Spaceship Earth, which is the ride inside of the giant Epcot Ball. And of course, before we left, I had to have my picture taken in front of it to keep track of our park progress!

I attribute most of our success in this challenge to the amount of luck we encountered on our visit to the parks. Just as we were cresting the ramp of the Epcot Monorail Station, there was a monorail already sitting there! We speedwalked the rest of the way up to the train, and then were able to enjoy a short ride to the Ticket and Transportation Center, where you need to transfer monorail lines to get to the Magic Kingdom. Have no fear, everything is very well marked and the signs are easy to follow!

The Final Countdown

We had made it to our final park with much more time than we had expected, which made our evening in the Magic Kingdom much more relaxing. As we stepped inside, we pulled off to the side on Main Street to see what FastPasses we could find. We managed to schedule a FastPass for Pirates of the Caribbean, so that was our first stop.

It was time for a snack after Pirates, so I opted for a churro in Frontierland! (churrotown)

While I was eating my churro and browsing the General Store in Frontierland, we managed to get a FastPass for Splash Mountain: my all time favorite attraction! There was a bit of time before that FastPass window opened, so we decided to make our way to Liberty Square to ride The Haunted Mansion. Be sure to check out the Pet Cemetery on your way out of the attraction; it’s a fun detail that really adds to the atmosphere of the mansion.

It was time for our Splash Mountain FastPass, so we headed back to Frontierland. Another ride tradition I do is pet the Br’er Rabbit statue on the front of the ride vehicle before we take off from the station. As I said, this is my favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World, so I had been waiting all day to ride!

To close out our evening at the Magic Kingdom, we made our way to the Peoplemover. This attraction is a slow moving train ride of sorts that takes you all through Tomorrowland and even gives you an inside look at some of the attractions. It is a great way to end a day at the parks, and it gives you a nice view of Cinderella’s Castle.

On our way out of the park, I couldn’t forget to get my picture in front of the castle!

Once we were back at our resort, we realized that we hadn’t eaten the most iconic treat: the Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar! Luckily, all resorts on Disney property carry them in their merchandise shops, so to unwind from our long day, we each got a Mickey Bar and sat in one of the lounges together.

Disney doesn’t seem so big and bad if you know what your plan is. If it’s your first time visiting Walt Disney World, don’t stress yourself out by trying to get to all four parks in one day. My mom and I are seasoned Disney travelers, so this challenge was more for fun than anything else. Take it slow and enjoy the little details that Disney is so good at hiding, and if you don’t get to everything, don’t worry! The memories of being together with your family are what are most important.
-written by Lucy Hess

All Four Disneyworld Parks In One Day!

Travel Preparedness Tips

This is a blog post written by one of my clients, Michelle Buzzelli, who is an intrepid (read: fearless and adventurous) traveler, who recently visited Bali, Indonesia during the outbreak of the Cornonavirus in Asia, and flew through South Korea to get there and get home! Thank you, Michelle!

There are so many things to consider when you are traveling. Where do I want to go (what do I want to do), how do I want to get there, what do I need to do to be safe? When I started getting into the particulars of my trip to Bali, the first hurdle, at the time, was which way I wanted to fly to get there. 

I had two options; West towards/through Doha, Qatar or Dubai, UAE – or East towards/through South Korea, Hong Kong, or Tokyo. At the time, East was the safe way to go, Iran and Syria had some flare ups. Little did we know, South Korea would become an issue! By the time I had left the United States towards my first layover – the CDC updated their travel restrictions list. South Korea had become a level 3 CDC travel restricted country due to COVID-19 or what we know as Coronavirus.

Prior to departure, I had worked with my travel advisor, primary care physician, and persons at Passport Health to make sure that I took precautions to remain safe and healthy as I embarked on my journey. It’s important to get these people on board. My primary care doctor worked with me to get some medications to have in tow, just in case. I tend to have belly issues – so one of my biggest concerns was Bali Belly (I had Montezuma’s Revenge previously and I wasn’t looking to repeat that). Passport Health helped me with any outstanding vaccinations. I didn’t do them all. For the short trip, they may not have been necessary, but they made me feel better during my journey.

I like to use make-up bags to keep things organized. Generally, mine have different prints and sizes, so it’s easy to group things: clean underwear (dirty underwear), toiletries, medicines, electrical cords, and most importantly, your small emergency preparedness kit.

These are some of the items that I keep in a make-up bag, at the bottom of my carry on. They are lightweight, flexible, and smushable. You may never need these items, but they’re nice, just in case. 

Here are some of the items in my emergency preparedness kit that I like to travel with:

1. Lysol wipes (or your favorite brand). Because of COVID-19, I carried a second slim pack in my checked luggage. I’m glad I did, I used the first pack on the first two flights – I wiped my seatbelt, arm rests, table tray, and seat in front of me. I also had plenty when others around wanted to take my lead. If they do, let them, it can only help the cause.

2. Non latex gloves – I didn’t need those this trip, but they’re nice to have along for the journey, a pair or two will do.

3. Self-adhesive bandages (Bandaids): You never know what type of medicine your destination will have, they’re nice for blister care, cut care.

4. Masks – not pictured. I usually pack one per flight – trust me, wearing one of those for 14 hours and then again for 8, is not pleasant.

5. Powdered Electrolyte beverage: In the picture I have liquid IV, I’ve also had powdered Gatorade. Those flights can be very drying, the climate you are it could be very humid. You just pour it into some bottled water, shake and drink. Stave off dehydration, give your body and extra boost.

6. Vitamin C Tabs: I generally start 2-per day 2 weeks before a trip and continue at least 1 per day while on my trip. Knowing that COVID-19 may be an issue for me, I stayed at a double dose. This is your personal call, this is what works for me.

7. Hand sanitizer, lip balm, and pen: Yes, I may have those in my purse too, but sometimes it’s nice to have a backup. These small items have a tendency to roam.

8. Tide Pen – or your favorite on-the-go oops stain remover. What? Sometimes I’m messy.

9. Flashlight – this one was less than $5 and I have them sprinkled all over my life. I keep one in my carry on bag to light the way. Yes, your smart phone may have a flashlight, but do you really want to drain the battery if you know you won’t be plugging it in for a while?

You can always add to this kit to suit your needs. Feminine hygiene products would be good, or a travel pack of wet-ones. [Outside the Lines Travel suggests adding OTC medications, granola bars, and duct tape also]. 

The biggest thing is to keep it simple and keep it small. Even if you never need these items, you’ll be glad that you were prepared!
- contributing blogger: Michelle Buzzelli, March 4 2020

Travel Preparedness Tips

Black Spire Outpost news!

More Small Town Snob adventures are coming soon, but this short post is to help those of you who are looking for some official information about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the newest attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.

Because of the popularity of this attraction, Disney has been testing new ideas to make the overall experience the best it can be.

Here’s what you need know if you will be visiting soon:
Virtual queue will be available at the published park opening time. Disney may welcome Guests onto Hollywood Boulevard prior to opening the rest of the park, and limited nearby locations will be open so you have some things to do while you wait for the park to officially open. These include Trolley Car CafĂ© where you can pick up a beverage for your own personal “jump to lightspeed,” and if you desire to grab a few galactic gifts, Keystone Clothiers will be open.

At the park’s published opening time, the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens along with offerings throughout the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. ALL guests who wish to ride must be in the park (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) to access virtual queue through the My Disney Experience app, so you can't just send one member of your traveling party  - you all have to get there to be assigned a boarding group.

Disney will continue to distribute backup boarding groups after the initial planned groups have been filled. Backup boarding groups will only be called if all of the initial planned boarding groups have been called back and there is capacity for more riders that evening. If they are able to accommodate boarding groups that evening, Guests will be notified through the My Disney Experience app by a push notification (be sure to enable it!).  To maximize your chances of getting in a boarding group, I recommend arriving at the park at least 30 minutes prior to park opening so that you are in the park when the virtual queue opens.

The other newly-opened attraction in Galaxy's Edge, Millenium Falcon: Smuggler's Run, is a motion simulator. At this time, you have no choice but to wait for this ride in the stand-by queue.

As in typical fantastic Disney guest service, the members of the Guest Experience Team are available throughout the park to assist with questions about the virtual queue. Also - realize that Disney is still tweaking this entire experience, and will likely do so for some time, but the attraction is unlike anything else out there; it's worth getting up early and out the door to the park! Here is a POV of the attraction: Rise of the Resistance

Have a great time on Batuu, and if you need assistance with planning a Disney (or other) vacation, contact my team at Outside the Lines Travel

Black Spire Outpost news!