Pet Friendly Vacations #NationalPuppyDay

One of our amazing greyhounds and beloved family members

Years ago, my newlywed husband and I adopted the first of many rescued pets, a greyhound. What an amazing creature! She brought us great joy – and much love.

I remember a time when we decided to go on a vacation to Key West. I was so excited — but also very worried about leaving our first “baby”. After all, she had grown to be a member of our family! Although we truly enjoyed our vacation, I simply couldn’t wait to get back home to her and I spent a great deal of time thinking about her and hoping she wasn’t too sad in our absence. If only she could have joined us, the vacation would have been perfect.

I know I am not alone in my love for our furry (and other) friends. According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), over 60 million people own a dog, over 47 million own a cat, and 68% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 84.6 millions homes…that’s a lot of animal lovers! ♥

Pet owners have a millennia-long history of close relations and loyalty with our four-legged companions, and in fact, studies have even been done that show we love our dogs and cats as much as our children! For this reason, it’s easy to understand why the thought of vacationing without them would create anxiety over leaving them behind. So, in honor of #NationalPuppyDay I’ve decided to share some information that might make you and your pooch smile (and yes, I really do believe dogs — and cats — smile!)

Dog Friendly Resorts at Walt Disney World (Sorry Felines!)
The colorful logo and building exterior of Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Photo Courtesy Disney Destinations

Thankfully, Disney understands that dogs aren’t just pets too! As part of an ongoing pilot program, 4 of the Disney Resort hotels have designated dog-friendly accommodations, including:

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort
  • Ft. Wilderness Camping Sites – Pet Friendly Loops

Upon arrival, dogs and their owners will be greeted with a complimentary Pluto’s Welcome Kit and placed in resort rooms that have easy access to outdoor walkways for exercise plus green spaces with pet relief areas.

At this time dogs are the only pets allowed, with a maximum of 2 permitted per Guest room. Disney says “Dogs are expected to be well-behaved, leashed in public areas and properly vaccinated.”

As for booking a campsite, you may request a pet-friendly loop for an additional fee per night, but please know that pets are not allowed in pop-up trailers or tents!

Are you an allergy sufferer? No worries! While certain floors or sections of these Disney Resort hotels are designated as dog-friendly, the majority of areas remain canine-free to protect Guests with allergies. Also, other than service animals, dogs are not permitted in theme parks, water parks or common areas such as restaurants, pools and recreational spaces as well.

Walt Disney World® Resort Pet Boarding/Kennels

In addition to pet-friendly accommodations,  pets can stay at a charming retreat while you are off having fun in the parks.  First-rate accommodations and activities cane be found at Best Friends Pet Care.

Best Friends Pet Care includes:

  • 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space
  • 10,000 square feet of covered outdoor runs and play areas
  • 25,000-square-foot dog park

According to their website, the staff —made up of 45 highly trained pet care providers—are animal lovers, first and foremost and Best Friends Pet Care is open one hour before the theme parks open through one hour after closing. They also offer overnight accommodations! While the facility can accommodate up to 300 dogs, cats and small pets, reservations at Best Friends Pet Care are suggested.

If your travels are drawing you over to the Wizarding World at Universal Orlando for some amazing adventures, your pets are welcome there too!

Pet Friendly Resorts at Universal Orlando
Image result for hard rock hotel universal photos
Photo Courtesy Universal Orlando Resorts

Universal’s Loews Hotels are dog-and cat-friendly too! All pets receive their own gifts upon including a pet tag, bowl and a special treat to kick off their vacation. Owners receive a detailed brochure with information on hotel pet services such as the Loews Loves pets room service menu, local dog walking routes, and area pet services, including veterinarians, pet shops and groomers. Universal designated pet-friendly resorts include:

  • Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel
  • Loews Royal Pacific Hotel
  • Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando

Loews Hotels requests all pets to be leashed or restrained at all times in public spaces in the hotel or on the property. Also note your furry friends must be supervised at all times while in the hotel or on the property as well.

Good to know info:

  • A $10 per hour “time out” fee will be assessed by Loews Hotels if a pet is left unattended and needs to be removed from a guestroom
  • Guests need to display the special Loews Loves Pets “Pet In Room” sign to alert housekeeping that a pet is in residence as at Loews Hotels as they will enter a guestroom at least every 24 hours to ensure the safety and security of our guests regardless of whether a “Still Dreaming” or “Pet in Room” signs are hanging
  • Pets are not allowed in food and beverage, pool or fitness center areas.
  • Guests are responsible for pet waste clean-up inside the hotel and throughout the property grounds
  • Loews Hotels reserves the right to remove guests whose pets are deemed noisy or disruptive
Your Pets Can Stay While You Play Too!

Loews will help you arrange for a local pet sitting service through the hotel’s concierge or, you can utilize Universal Orlando’s daytime kennel service for cats and dogs, where you’ll never be too far from your furry friend.

Kennels open as early as 8 am, with caring staff available until two hours after park close. Need an extended day? Your pet can stay after hours unattended until 3 am. When you’re ready to pick up your pal, simply use the phone located outside of the kennel and a Universal staff member will come by to assist you.

Kennel restrictions, dimensions and requirements include:

  • First-come, first-served basis charge of $15.00* per pet, per day–no reservations required or accepted
  • Dogs weighing 39 pounds and more will be boarded in our covered outdoor kennel area with fans for cooling
  • Outdoor pens are 7′ x 4′ and feature secure fencing and clean cement floors for a safe environment
  • Cats and dogs weighing 38 pounds and less will be boarded in air conditioned indoor kennel
  • Cozy 3′ x 2 1/2′ metal kennels include a fenced front for privacy

They also recommend bringing food, blankets and toys to make your four-legged friend feel at home. While the kennel attendant will supply water and keep things clean, they also ask that you plan to return to take your pet for a walk at least once during the day. You’ll find this safe environment just minutes away from the action, so you can come back throughout the day to check on your pet, drop off snacks or just have a quick cuddle with your cutie.  For more information and requirements call (407) 224-9509 or fax (407) 224-9516.

Other options are definitely available in and around the Orlando area as well.

Give your furry friend(s) some extra love today as we celebrate National Puppy Day and don’t forget to contact a Vacations with Character® Travel Professional to book your next adventure with Fido or Boo-Boo Kitty! Your furbabies will ♥ you for it!




Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Dates Announced!

little girl excitedly pulling her father's hand to drag him into Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area
Photo Courtesy of Disney Destinations /Travel News

It’s the moment we’ve all been not-so-patiently waiting for…

Minutes ago, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products shared an exciting announcement many of you have been wanting to hearStar Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening ahead of schedule on May 31 at Disneyland® Resort in Southern California and August 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® in Florida.

As Yoda once said: “Patience you must have!” and there is one small, important caveat. That’s because this highly anticipated, new and immersive land will be opening in phases. Yes, you read that correctly. So, if you are planing on taking part in this unique and amazing experience, but only have one shot at visiting, you may want to wait just a little bit!

Here’s what we know:

On opening day for phase one, you’ll be able to live your own Star Wars story and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Amazing galactic food and beverages will be available, and you can explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops and more.

For phase two, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, “the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined”, a date has not been set, but is said to be opening later this year.

We know how excited many of you are to visit the galaxy’s Outer Rim and that you’ll have questions about how to best experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – so, here are some VERY important details to help start the planning:

Park Admission: Regular theme park admission is required to enter Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There will not be a separate ticket for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  To visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park between May 31 and June 23, 2019, guests will need valid theme park admission and will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, to access the land We’ll share information on how to make a reservation at a later date.

Land Entry: Because of anticipated galactic excitement during the opening months this year, Disney is planning ahead to deliver the best possible experiences for guests.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be open during normal park operating hours. It will not be included in Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning at Disneyland Park. It will be open during Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Attractions: Disney FASTPASS service, including access via Disney MaxPass, (at Disneyland Park) and Disney FastPass+ service (at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) will not initially be offered at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Disney will continually evaluate operations and services in order to help provide a great guest experience.

Planning:  You should also note that vacation packages, park tickets and Disney Resort hotel stays do not guarantee access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge The land —including participation in its experiences—will be subject to capacity restraints and other restrictions.

Ride Height Requirements:  In addition to today’s announcement, Disney has also unveiled the height requirements for both attractions.  At Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, guests must be 38″ or taller to ride. Once it opens, the height requirement for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will be 40″ or taller.

More Exciting News: A Star Wars resort IS in development for the future at Walt Disney World Resort. Stay tuned for more details.

Planning a normal vacation to Disney is overwhelming…planning a vacation to Disney and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be even more more so. At Vacations with Character® we are “Where the Fun Begins” and we’ll take the worry and stress out of planning your adventure! Our services are FREE, but you’ll receive expert guidance, tip sheets, itinerary planning, help with dining and fast pass selections, plus more. Visit us at to request a quote from your favorite Travel Professional and stay tuned to our  Vacations with Character® Blog for upcoming information!



Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Gets New Signature Makeover on Disney Cruise Line

little girl dressed in a beautiful gown and tierra, at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on Disney Cruise Line ship
Photo Courtesy of Disney Destinations / Disney Travel News

There is nothing like sailing with Disney Cruise Line. It’s no wonder praises and awards abound! 

Especially designed with families in mind, these elegant ships effortlessly blend family-friendly experiences, superb entertainment, immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences, and splashes of magic — all with  the attention to detail Disney is known for.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is one such experience offered onboard. Here, your princesses and pirates can get a makeover unlike no other! And recently making its debut to all four Disney Cruise Line ships is a new Signature Rapunzel Makeover Experience. T
ruly fit for royalty, little princesses will be dressed in a stunning, heirloom-quality gown featuring a latticed bodice and rich fabrics. To complete the look, Fairy Godmothers-in-training adorn each with a crystal tiara, a gold-plated sun pendant necklace, and a gold-plated and sterling silver bracelet with pink, purple and white Swarovski stones. Add the princess shoes and sash, imperial hairstyling, nail polish, shimmery makeup and sparkling face gems, and the royal transformation is complete!

This new Signature Rapunzel package also includes an ultra-luxurious white robe with lavender trim and crown embroideries, plus an organza garment bag and a satin hanger. This package costs $450 per princess and other packages are available. Makeovers at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique can be booked online in advance of embarkation or onboard the ship during a cruise.

There is no better time to plan a cruise onboard one of these amazing ships! Be sure to contact one of our Travel Professionals for a free, no-obligation quote or to book: