One year ago this week I met with the manager of a travel agency, after my own travel agent told me that I should be planning Disney trips for others. I didn't know if I could really fit it into my already busy schedule, but I have loved Disney for as long as I can remember and loved helping others plan their trips. When I showed up for my interview, I had all of my first hand experiences with Disney listed and ready to show her. After about 15 minutes into the interview, I went to hand her my information, she looked at me and said, "You think this is an interview? The job opportunity is yours if you want it." I was shocked, excited, and nervous all at once.
Researching how to start your own business, coming up with a name, let alone a logo to brand myself, how was I going to do this? I'm a teacher, not a travel agent. Well, my passion for Disney kept me focused. I reached out to a dear friend who went to school for advertising and was a former copy writer for Disney. I told her my intentions and I knew that she could lead me in the right direction. She asked great questions about the characters I liked and we both started brainstorming ideas. Within about 2 hours we had a name: Spotted Bow Travel Company. Now for a logo! That was out of my field of expertise, so I let her create it. She sent me a picture of a sketch she just threw together. It was exactly what I had envisioned.
I talked to an attorney about what I needed to do. He was so helpful and told me everything to apply for. I applied for my LLC and Spotted Bow was officially a business. I had a talented graphic designer friend design my business cards and I was ready!
Telling people about my new endeavor was the easy part for me as I can talk about Disney forever, so many happy memories there. I booked my first trip within 2 weeks of starting my new endeavor. I researched hotel options, planned Fast Passes, and dining for a family of 6. I was so excited to make someone else's trip successful and to include special personal suggestions. Fast forward from January 2016 to November 2016 and I am blown away at how my business has grown. I have 6 clients all traveling to Disney World between December 1st and December 12th. Four of those trips include first time Disney visitors!
I love traveling, and sharing that passion with others has been amazing! I have been given the opportunity to expand my travel bookings beyond Disney Destinations. Again, I took another leap of faith! I am looking forward to booking all types of destinations as I take classes on river cruises, tours, cruise lines, all inclusive resorts, and the travel industry itself. Taking Walt's words, "All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." I want to help turn people's travel dreams into magical memories!
This journey would not have been possible if it wasn't for these wonderful people to help me navigate the business and travel world and to give me words of encouragement along the way: Becca Shuler, Shelley Shuler, Brad Love, Melissa Macpherson, Beth Simms, Candace Pengra, and of course, my family and friends. I can't wait to see what the future holds! Make sure to take time to travel and make memories to hold onto forever!
A Disney Cruise is hard to beat, but during the Halloween on the High Seas themed cruises, it was even more special. This was my first Halloween on the High Seas cruise and I will say, it won't be my last. From the decorations to themed parties, trick-or-treating, story telling, and so much more. My sister and I took my mom for her birthday, so we had something else to celebrate as well. We received a little Pixie Dust by being assigned our stateroom (usually you pick your own stateroom, but I wanted a specific category so I purchased a guarantee category when I booked). The verandah was HUGE! If you haven't seen the video, you need to watch it! I got another huge surprise, my server from my June 2014 cruise was on the ship. Shelly Ann was there and I was so happy to see her. (Thank heavens I posted that huge verandah video as she saw it and told me she was onboard.)
One of the special things about Disney Cruising is that each cruise has it's own Facebook page so you can talk, ask questions, and share information with others prior to cruising. It is started by someone that is cruising on that date. Our group was started by Laura from England who was taking her first Disney cruise (and I am so glad so started the page). I became a co-administrator with her. While this may be strange to some, it's one of my favorite things to do while getting ready to cruise. I have met people from all over and making connections before the cruise just adds a little more. I had scheduled a Meet N Greet in the ship's Atrium so we could put a real face and voice with a name and picture. The turnout was great! See our picture on the stairs in the Atrium, and that's not everyone!
On a 3 night cruise there is a lot to pack in during a short amount of time. I recommend taking a 4 night if your schedule allows it so that you can really enjoy the ship and various activities scheduled.
Another part of our cruise group page was arranging a Fish Extender Exchange (it's like Secret Santa, but you know who the gifts are coming from, you just don't know when), an Ornament Exchange, and Mixology classes. The gift and ornament exchanges are for anyone to participate in but you must sign up prior to cruising with the FE coordinator for your group. Every time you come back to your cabin you look to see if a gift has been left, it's like Christmas! The Mixology classes are only for those 21 and older. You can take a class with a bartender and learn how to make 5 drinks. Yes, you get to actually make some of the drinks to share with your friends. It takes about an hour and only costs $20 plus a tip. and it's A LOT of fun! I prearranged 2 private classes just for our cruising group. I actually had people in my class that I have met on other Disney cruises and we realized it on the Facebook group- Mary, Don, and Roy it was great seeing you again! And I met some new friends, Amber, who is a teacher, too, and her husband Kevin.
On to the Halloween party and then Pirate night, all in the same day on a 3 night. While many did dress up for both, we opted to just be pirates. Captain Jack Sparrow made an appearance for a photo opportunity! We then went to dinner and received a little more Pixie Dust, we were seated in one of the coveted Enchanted Garden booths! This was another first for me. Boy, my daughter was jealous when she saw the pictures. After dinner, we went to the pirate party on deck 11 and saw fireworks at sea. Disney is the only cruise line that shoots off fireworks.
The next day was Castaway Cay day, Disney's private island. It is the only private island in which you do not have to be tendered. This is so convenient if you want to go back and forth to the ship. We started off at Serenity Bay, the adult only beach on the island, can you say QUIET! Then we were invited to join some new friends, that I had met on the Facebook group, in their cabana. Anita and Marc, thank you for this opportunity. It was something I've never experienced and thoroughly enjoyed! And now I have new friends that are teachers and love Disney, a match made all because of a cruise group!
There were so many more fun experiences throughout the cruise-BINGO, the Rainforest Room, Palo Brunch, ordering room service, having wine on our verandah as we pulled away from the dock at Castaway Cay...
My mom, sister, and I had a great time and were ready to stay onboard for the next cruise, but it was back to reality! A great escape even for a few days. There is nothing like the sea air to rejuvenate the mind and body!
So, if you're wanting to cruise on Disney, join me June 10, 2017 on the Fantasy. Some of my friends from this cruise and past cruises will be there! Amber, Kevin, Don, Mary, and Michelle, I can't wait to see what's in store for us on the 7 night!