News for Disney Enthusiasts 9-30-2015


SO, I have a few exciting pieces of news for all you Disney-loving folks out there! And I know there are plenty of you.  I’ll start with what’s happening at Walt Disney World in Florida, since most of my readers are on the east coast.

disney springs

  1. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN! We know it and love it. I’ve been on that ride about five times since I was eight years old, and January was the most recent trip. It has seen some changes over that time, like the addition of Captain Jack Sparrow. The attraction has been closed over the last few months for refurbishment, but it’s open again now. You can expect to see some more realistic pirates and cannons, smell some new scents (I don’t know the details on that – someone who gets there before I do next will have to fill me in!), and see some new special effects in terms of lights for weather effects. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to experience it. This has always been one of my favorite rides at the Magic Kingdom, maybe even at all of WDW.
  2. Introducing Disney Springs! Downtown Disney has been undergoing some construction this year (which was even ongoing when I was there in January). The purpose of it all was to add some new stops and transform the whole place into Disney Springs.  As of today, the launch is official! Downtown Disney is now Disney Springs, and a new restaurant opens today, as well – Morimoto Asia.  Already open are new spots The Boathouse and Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar at The Landing. There are new retail shops, as well.  Coming soon are Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, UNIQLO, Pandora, UGG, and more!!  Don’t worry; all of your old faves are still there, such as T. Rex, Cirque du Soleil, Rainforest Café, and the Lego Store. Click here for a glimpse.
  3. And moving on to the west coast . . . Awesome Star Wars stuff at Disneyland! So for those of you who live closer to Disneyland in California or plan to go there, you are in for a wonderful treat starting November 16. Disneyland will be opening some new Star Wars attractions, some of which will be similar to what we can already experience at Disney World in Florida. One thing that’s different, though, is a new ride called Hyperspace Mountain. This is a ride comparable to our Space Mountain on the east coast, but you will be part of an X-wing Starfighter battle instead of plummeting through total darkness.  Sounds pretty cool to me…I might have to make a special trip to California for that. Other experiences include the Jedi Academy (which we already have at Hollywood Studios) beginning in December, but it will be based on the popular Disney XD television show, Star Wars Rebels. In the Launch Bay, you can enjoy character experiences, get a peek at some snippets of the upcoming movie, The Force Awakens, and also see some of the props used in the movie.disneyland star warshyperspace mountain

Click here to start planning your next trip!!!


Surprise Your Littlest NASCAR Fan


When my son was just a baby lying on a Boppy pillow on the floor, he would make revving engine noises and extend his chubby, little leg like he was pressing the accelerator . . . but only while NASCAR races were on television. He has always had a passion for racing, and I’m afraid it’s not going away anytime soon. If your child has the same interest, and like me, you’re just not ready to take him or her to a big race, then I’ve got a great idea for you!

Myrtle Beach is the perfect place to catch a little racing activity without breaking the bank, and without exposing your child to whatever unsavory activities might take place at one of the big races, like Darlington. Instead of watching a race, what if your kiddo could actually take a ride around the track? And then practice his or her own skills at a safer speed?

Earlier this year, we decided to cater to my son’s racing obsession and see how he liked it. We didn’t tell him where we were going, but drove up to Myrtle Beach. We went straight to the Myrtle Beach Speedway, still pretending not to have a plan, saying we were just going to “get out and look around.” I think we could have stopped with that and gone back home with a happy kid. But as it turned out, there was another family on the track, getting rides from a professional driver. The official NASCAR Pace Car made its way past us in the stands, blowing our hair back. After those folks finished, we made a brief inquiry, and the next thing we knew, my son was getting ready to take a ride. The young men working at the track that day were beyond wonderful. So friendly and helpful, they made what is probably my son’s most memorable day yet. And for only $20!


Rain was approaching, so they rushed us onto the track before they had to close. My son got his ride in a real pace car with a real driver on a real NASCAR track where Dale Earnhardt himself once raced and won. After he got out, the driver let him go in the garage, where he was able to touch and investigate one of Dale Jr.’s old red #8 cars. I’ve never seen such a joyful, contented smile on my son. After that, the driver let him climb into an actual stock car used for racing and sit in the seat. He got what we felt was the real V.I.P. treatment, because we happened to be the only ones there at the time.  My son had close to 1,000 questions, and the driver, Brian Voss, answered them all patiently.

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I should point out that adults can also drive an actual stock car around the track, or be driven. That costs more, of course, but it can be a fantastic gift for a grown-up with a need for speed, as well.

Now, it’s hard to beat that. We blew the big surprise right up front. But we did go to Broadway Grand Prix the next day and let him drive go-karts all day. The wristband ends up being the best deal, where you can drive and ride all you want for $35, for the whole day. So he drove until he was worn out, then we went back to the hotel. We freshened up, took a walk on the beach, ate dinner, and actually went back for more go-karting that night, using the wrist bands for re-entry. If you’re not into racing, they also have other rides, mini-golf, games, and an arcade. It’s a fun place. It’s also across the highway from Broadway at the Beach (visible in background of picture below), so if anyone wants to skip the karting and shop instead, they can split off for a bit and do something different.


All in all, it made for a fantastic, indulgent trip that didn’t have to cost that much.

Want more details? Click here to contact me to make your hotel reservations and find out how to make it a great weekend for your NASCAR fan.

Heaven is a Cabana Room at The King and Prince


Let me begin by saying that I will probably have to blog about The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort more than once, because one blog post will simply not be enough to do it justice. This has become my favorite hotel, and I hope to return frequently. That being said, I’ll just focus for now on their exclusive and fabulous Cabana Room. Now, back to where it all began . . .

Once in my twenties, I visited a friend at her family’s beach house on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. As we struck out to do some shopping one day, my friend drove me past The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort. Elegance and luxury just seemed to spill out of its gates. I thought, “I want to go there.” There was something so glamorous about it, in an early 20th century way. At first glance, I could almost see the decades of elegant parties and merry vacations that had taken place there.


(The Cabana Rooms are lined up on the first floor, with other ocean front rooms above.)

I finally made it there for my 42nd birthday, and my only regret is that I didn’t go sooner. Since it was a special occasion and I had waited nearly 20 years to make my first visit, we sprang for the Cabana Room. I thought the notion of being able to step out on to my own patio, then walk straight to the ocean sounded quite wonderful. And it turns out I was right. It couldn’t be more magical and serene.


(A wonderful room in every way.)

The first thing you should know about the Cabana Room is that it is a room for two. All Cabana Rooms have a king bed, due to the size. Size is not where the grandeur of the room lies. The space is, however, impeccably appointed and optimally arranged. From the bedroom area, you step down, with the assistance of a short yet stylish wrought iron railing, into the sitting area. Here, you will find a comfortable sofa for viewing the second flat screen television (the first being in the bedroom area) and a large coffee table. The tile floor in the sitting area is quite practical for sandy shoes, as there is also a set of French doors with a screened door which leads to your own patio. And the ocean is just feet away. From your patio, you are free to step right down the brick stairs and walk out to the beach or to another part of the resort. You room key will give you access from either this door or the interior hallway. So when you’re returning from the beach, from the pool, from dinner, or anywhere else, you have the option of entering through your patio door.


(Our patio.)


(The walkway to the beach access in front of the historic building.)

I fell in love with this room at once. Sitting with the French doors open where I could hear the pounding surf and see ships go by, it occurred to me that I could live right here and be quite happy.


(View of the swing and the ocean from our patio.)

Of course, everything at The King and Prince is top notch, and you can’t go wrong with any room category. And just like you would expect from any modern hotel room of this ilk, you will find the hairdryer, the in-room safe, and all that jazz. No comfort is missing. The service at the hotel is unmatched, and the room service staff and front desk staff were particularly fantastic when we were there.

I came home from that first trip raving about the Cabana Room so much that my parents visited a couple of months later. It wasn’t long before we all went back at the same time. Since my husband and I had our son with us this time, we took a partial ocean view room in the historic building. That room was much larger and had two queen beds, but it was more than sufficiently fabulous, as well. Our second floor balcony had a view of the ocean across a parking lot, but tall palmetto trees shielded us from the cars quite well.

Now, as I said before, there’s too much about this dreamy spot to tell in just one blog post. But history buffs will love this hotel in particular, as it played a role in protecting our coast during World War II.  It’s just a fascinating place. When you’re ready to book your stay in a Cabana Room or any other type of room, give me a call. I love to talk about The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort!

Click above or use one of the Azalea Travel links.

SpringHill Suites – A More Spacious Stay


My family and I recently took a last minute trip to North Carolina to see some friends. On a whim, we found out where they were staying and decided to grab a room at the same hotel. We had never stayed at a SpringHill Suites before, but we knew it was part of the Marriott family. Marriott is a safe bet. Included breakfast is always a plus with us, and this hotel offered a breakfast similar to those at Fairfield Inn or Hampton Inn. The nightly rate seemed to be comparable to those two hotels, as well. So far, so good.

When we checked into the SpringHill Suites in Pinehurst, NC, I was immediately impressed with our room’s size and layout. We had two double beds. I did see inside one of the rooms with one king, and I will say that the room seemed to be smaller, overall, than our room with two doubles. So that’s a good observation to tuck into the back of one’s brain. But for our family, the kitchenette (with microwave, fridge, sink, counter) in our room was just right. On the same side of the unit with the kitchenette was the desk, which was comfortable and convenient for the full day that I spent working in the room while my family joined our friends! I had no trouble accessing the WiFi.


In a typical hotel room, my husband and son and I are usually tripping over each other’s bags, searching for shoes underneath dirty clothes, you get the picture. And we don’t usually want to “spring” for a suite (see what I did there?).  But SpringHill Suites don’t have to cost more than any other hotel room in the same price range. They do, however, offer superior space and floor plans.  We were not tripping over each other at all for the three days we spent there. There was a place for everything, and we hosted our friends in the room for a visit without anyone having to sit on a bed.



Food for any meal!

I should also note that I thought that my husband would be returning with the car about halfway through the day. His day went better than planned, and he stayed gone until later in the afternoon. I was in the hotel ALL. DAY. LONG. Not to worry, though! I did not have to starve. There is a small store in the lobby, in case you need anything. Not only do they have the obligatory toothbrush and Tylenol kind of items, but they have an abridged grocery store. There is a frozen section with Lean Cuisines and such, a refrigerator with drinks, beer, wine, and more, and there are non-perishable items such as protein bars, chips, and candy. Coffee and tea are available all day long in the breakfast area. I had the luxury of finding a small boxed lunch for the gluten-challenged traveler. Sometimes I get stuck just eating a banana, but not this time!


The long sofa is comfortable for watching the television, which can also be viewed from the beds. While there’s not a door between the living space and the sleeping space, there is a definite division of the rooms with a partial wall and arrangement suggesting separation.


Pinehurst, NC location

As far as amenities, this hotel had a nice pool and weight room. But being in Pinehurst, North Carolina, it also had a putting green for guests to get in a few extra strokes for the day. What a delightful unwinding activity for late afternoon, before going out to dinner. This location is convenient to just about anything you need to reach. Pinehurst Golf Club is about 2 miles away, and other golf courses are nearby, as well. A vast array of shopping, dining, and grocery store options are all within a few miles.

Long story short, I don’t know where SpringHill Suites has been all my life, but it’s going to be one of the first brands I look for when I’m traveling with my family!

Contact me to book your next hotel stay!


college football

In the south, our priorities go about like this: God, family, country, college football. And since the first few games of the season on Thursday night, that certain electricity has been in the air. It’s an excitement charged with optimism and hope. You can almost smell it and feel the crispness of fall, even if it’s 90 degrees outside.

Today is the first college football Saturday of the season, and everyone is buzzing. Who will rise to the top of the SEC this year? Who’s overrated? Will the Florida Gators finally get that “revenge” they’ve been seeking? Will the Crimson Tide be back on top? The anticipation! The beer and wings!

So, I’ll ask you a question. If you hold season tickets to watch your favorite team, wouldn’t you like to try and see them play a game on the road?

Or have you been watching a television screen for more seasons than you care to admit? Maybe it’s been a long time since you heard the roar of the crowd in person at all.

Well, you need to go. Your team needs you there. One more cheering voice might be the mojo that catapults them to #1. Let your child get a picture taken with the mascot. Tailgate with your old best friends before the game and relive some good times. Witness a piece of your team’s history.

It’s your duty. Be the fan you were meant to be.

Contact me for hotel reservations when you’ve got your tickets lined up!