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I Need A Vacation, And So Do You

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Why I Love Vacation

I don’t know about you, but I need a vacation! A little about me – my name is Beth and I’m a political consultant, Pilates instructor, wife and mom of two boys in Austin, Texas. I’ll be guest blogging here at Main Street Tales for the next few months. But more importantly, I am a person who LOVES vacation.

 

Disney’s Aulani Resort, Oahu, 2015

Vacations are what keep me going through the slog of of the daily grind. I love all kinds of vacations — family vacations with just the four of us, a vacation with my husband, adults-only vacations with friends or even family vacations with multiple families. I love looking forward to vacations — daydreaming about visiting new places and relaxing while taking in the scenery. I love preparing for vacations – shopping for vacation clothes, getting my nails done, even exercising to get into that swimsuit. Most importantly, I love vacations because they give me an opportunity to spend time with people I love, to experience new places and to do things I wouldn’t normally have the chance to experience.

Pike’s Peak, Colorado, 2014

Vacations don’t have to be fancy to make an impact. I’ve had great family vacations involving nothing more than a one night stay in San Antonio (about 1 ½ hours from our house) and a day at a local theme park. I’ve tagged along on my husband’s work trips and considered my vacation relaxing by the pool and going out for a nice dinner. The point is that I got away, even for one night, to relax and experience something new.

Napa, 2016

I believe in the value of EXPERIENCES over THINGS. A good vacation experience doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as easy as sleeping in and letting someone else clean the room. Kids can give us great examples of how small, simple experiences can make a great vacation. My kids love hotels. They enjoy pressing the button for the elevator, eating a breakfast buffet and taking baths in a different tub than the one at home. It’s the change of scenery and disruption of the routine that they enjoy most.

After I come back from vacation I feel relaxed and recharged, and it motivates me to work harder (if for no other reason than to afford my next vacation!). Vacations give me something to look forward to and a goal to work toward.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans, 2015

 

Your Turn for a Vacation

Now that summer is here, it’s time for YOU to take a vacation. Disconnect from the real world, even if it’s only for a day. Spend some time away from your cell phone. Relax and enjoy a good meal. Try a new activity or adventure. Explore a new place. Do something different, and get away from everyday life.  

If it’s a family vacation you’re considering, give your kids the gift of your undivided attention. Make memories together. Give them something interesting to write about for their “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay assignment when they return to school.

Summer may already be upon us, but it’s not too late to pull something together if you haven’t already. Our family is taking a 10-night cruise to the southern Caribbean on the Disney Fantasy and I couldn’t be more excited. Thanks to Main Street Tales’ travel agency partner, Trips to the Mouse, anything is possible. So gather your family together and make a plan. Where will vacation take YOU this summer?

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Armadillo Bazaar

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The motto of Austin is “Keep Austin Weird”. The thing about Austin is we really aren’t that weird at all. We just like to support small businesses, artists, and keep things local. One of the events that embodies this is the Armadillo Bazaar! It has been an Austin tradition for 40 years now.

From the press release ” The Armadillo World Headquarters (AWHQ) was considered the premiere ‘third coast’ concert venue for live music in the 1970s, and a vibrant community center. The folks around the AWHQ were raising eyebrows long before “Keep Austin Weird” became a slogan. Many local musicians, songwriters and performers, some of whom are now considered legends, honed their craft there. National touring artists includedWillie Nelson, Jerry Garcia, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and Frank Zappa.The AWHQ quickly became a countercultural institution known for out-of-the-box thinking. The scene around the Armadillo became a powerful magnet pulling in young creative people and energy from all over the country and gave Austin the roots of its current attractive cultural identity. This is where the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar was born. In 1975, Lucinda Williams, through an offhand comment, inspired a fabulous solution to AWHQ’s mid-winter money woes. “Too bad the artists down on the drag don’t have a warm, dry place like this to sell their art for Christmas”. Her spark provided a perfect opportunity to expand AWHQ’s cultural and economic prosperity.”

The Armadillo Bazaar has grown into a family favorite in Austin and attracts people from all over the country! Art collectors and music lovers both enjoy the event. Many make it a yearly holiday family tradition.

“This philosophy of community, enhancing spheres of prosperity and commitment to art and music are what makes the Armadillo Bazaar the best of Austin’s ‘weird’ and wonderful. Armadillo will continue to be the place for an authentic Austin live music and art buying experience, where creativity, originality, and fun are celebrated in the true spirit of the holidays. “

I personally am most excited about this year’s music line up! Check it out here.

You can buy tickets here:

The location is at Palmer Events Center located at 900 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704.

Which artist or musician do you want to see the most?

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Entitlement : The Real Problem with Free Disney Dining

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I rarely get controversial on this blog. I want it to be a source of information and sharing in the love of Disney. I read post after post yesterday though about how Disney disappointed thousands of people with how the release of Free Disney Dining happened. I disagree that Disney was the overall problem yesterday. The problem is the culture of entitlement that has been exacerbated by bloggers not fully educating their readers on how a Disney discount works. I hope this post sheds some light on reality when it comes to promotions.

I am going to give you an example to help understand how a Disney discount works. I am going to use Nordstrom as an example because they are a retailer that is all about service and quality much like Disney. I go into Nordstrom and I see a cute red top on the sales rack. I like it and want other colors so I look around. Oh, look, there’s a pink one. But it’s not marked down? Why? The red one is but the pink one isn’t. I want the pink one for the sales price. It’s not going to happen. The pink one has a different demand, it’s spring time, pink is in season, red was their fall color, there’s too many red ones in inventory. That’s not Nordstrom’s fault the red one is on sale and the pink one isn’t. It’s purely supply and demand, simple economics. ALL Disney discounts work just like this. I would venture to say that most corporations’ discounts work in a way similar to this.

Disney got slammed over and over for inventory restrictions yesterday. A Disney discount has never meant to be an across the board price cut for all rooms. It has always been dictated by the inventory levels and by what demand looks like. This is why some popular bloggers say don’t book until a discount is released. I am of the belief that if you are only going to go if a discount is released, then hold off. Otherwise, book on your current budget. In a slower economic time you were more likely to find those standard view, moderate resorts. The reason we have seen a shift from finding moderates available is because now we have more moderates that can sleep families of five and those rooms are in demand for families. It is no surprise we couldn’t find resorts that slept five in that category. They don’t need any help selling those, they go fast at full price because even at full price they are cheaper than families having to do two rooms or a deluxe option.

Now let’s move on to the other claims made. My favorite was by a popular blogger that slammed Disney for their secrecy. Well clearly the promotion wasn’t that secret because this same blogger was shouting it from the roof tops all last week and into the weekend even leading into the late hours of Sunday night. I don’t understand how anyone who contributed to the Free Disney Dining frenzy can then slam Disney because it was so popular, sites crashed. Oh, and now would be a good time to mention that many parts of the “rumor” were wrong up until the last hour.

I read claims that travel agents are just rebooking their clients at Universal. I am a travel agent, you can read that on my bio. I am going to tell you that any travel agent that is pushing their own booking agenda and not what is best for your family is not working in your best interest. It is infuriating for those of us that are true travel professionals to have someone who is connected with a travel agent to  suggest our industry is so fickle that we would change brand loyalties because of EXPECTED limited inventory. There were definitely some Minion memes floating around because they were funny, not because they were true. When a travel agent recommends a destination it is because that is what is best for the client, to suggest anything less is a slam to our profession.

The only claim that had any merit yesterday was the fact that there were technological difficulties on Disney’s end. One was to be expected with the websites and the other with the phone lines was not expected. The websites on both the travel agent side and the consumer side had a huge improvement made in recent weeks and with all improvements to the coding, high traffic is going to reveal any vulnerabilities. This was expected. Frankly, the websites held up a lot longer than I could have hoped for and I was pleased with how well it worked, until it didn’t. The phone lines were a total mess and whomever is in charge of those probably had a very difficult day yesterday. The phone agents didn’t deserve the situation they were put in. As a travel agent these were frustrating no doubt. And as a travel agent, I have plenty of channels in which to communicate those frustrations constructively to the people who can improve the systems. To imply Disney wasn’t listening to the travel agents shows how out of touch people are. The reality is if the consumer side had not been affected, there would have been little reported outside of the travel agency world on this matter. On the plus side, A LOT of consumers now know how hard travel agents work on Disney discount release days.

So let’s tally this up:

Limited inventory for less expensive room categories- expected

Free Disney Dining frenzy generated by bloggers- expected

Website technological issues- expected

Phone Issues-Most TAs expect long wait times but overall these issues were NOT expected and totally much worse than normal

Switching people to Universal-Ridiculous claim that is degrading to travel professionals.

Consumers understand how hard Travel Agents work- BONUS

Overall, my agency’s clients weren’t disappointed. The people disappointed were the people who don’t understand how the discounts work and who book based on the guarantee of a discount. I always tell clients I will rebook them if a discount becomes available but I do not promise a discount. It is so important to book based on your CURRENT budget, not a what if budget. Then *IF* a discount is released and it is a room category you want, you can always upgrade. It is a much better approach overall in my opinion and the bloggers who recommend this should be commended. The ones who added to the disappointed masses yesterday should share some of the responsibility of that disappointment.

Overall Disney is still where my family prefers to vacation and some technological frustrations don’t negate the magicalness that is Disney. Disney has some work to do on the technological front, but the brunt of the sad Mickeys floating around the web goes to bloggers who have failed to properly report how discounts work and have created a culture of entitlement in the process. Disney is by far the best bang for your buck when it comes to family entertainment and overall experience. A discount is a perk, a nice add on, but even without one, Disney offers so much to families.

These smiles right here are why we will go over and over again.

calendar collage-imp

 

 

*These opinions are my own. They do not represent Disney, Trips To The Mouse, or any other entity.

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Annie at Bass Concert Hall

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Annie openingOnce again, Broadway Across America brings an incredible performance to Austin with Annie at Bass Concert Hall. If you haven’t purchased your tickets to see Annie this week, stop reading and go buy them now. The show runs April 21-26th, 2015. I would definitely say it is appropriate for all ages but the evening performances are a bit late for the under 7 crowd. I had the pleasure of going with a friend on opening night last night. Obviously any little girl in the 80s knows the songs and the story line. And likely any little girl in present day does as well thanks to the remakes of the movies.

orphans

A few things really stood out to me. All of the child actresses were unbelievably talented. When you think about how young they really are, it blows your mind. They attend class, rehearse, and perform almost every night of the week. These kids are on the road traveling for weeks at a time. They all brought a level of energy and talent to the performance that really made the performance.

Lilly Mae

 

I know I am supposed to say my favorite was Issie Swickle who played Annie. Don’t   get me wrong she did a fabulous job at her role. But she was upstaged a bit by the adorableness of Lilly Mae Stewart who played Molly. Molly was the cute little curly haired girl in the performance.  She was so charismatic and every time she was on stage the audience was in love with her. If you are curious to read more about her, here  is a great article. Annie was her national debut. I have no doubt that she is going to do  incredible things in her career.

 

I don’t want to diminish Issie Swickle’s performance by any means. I do think her acting was far superior to her singing abilities but I am not an expert when it comes to music. Here is a clip for you to hear yourself that was shared by Bass today.

Issie Swickle as Annie in the #BroadwayinAustin production of Annie Bass Concert Hall through Sunday. http://austin.broadway.com/buzz/180481/a-new-deal-for-austin-national-tour-of-annie-begins-performances/

Posted by Mix 94.7 on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

Annie the Musical

 

 

I didn’t realize Sandy would actually be a key role as well. There were two dogs that played Sandy and I am not quite sure which one we saw or if both were on stage. It is official though, our Daisy Belle dog doesn’t have what it takes to be a doggie star. If awards are given, these dogs deserve all the doggie treats!

Miss. Hannigan was played by Lynn Andrews. She was made for that part. I wanted to keep picturing Carol Burnett but couldn’t because Lynn was so convincing!

 

The last part of the production that I feel was one of the best of the season was the set production. Not a single detail was spared. There were a lot of set changes and they were completely seamless. The New York City backdrops were actually flat but you would have never known because they created the illusion of dimension. As you all know by now I compare a lot of things to Disney and the set design was one that I thought was on par with the imagination you would find at a Disney performance.

Any little girl, grown or just one at heart,  would love this performance. I think it would make a great mother/daughter outing and of course a girl’s night out! Go see for yourself. You will leave smiling and quite possibly singing!

Annie the Musical

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show.

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Disney Fans Give Away – Enter Now!

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I am thrilled to be one of the blogs asked to be a part of this Disney Fans giveaway because it is all brands and things I love!

 

Oct November Giveaway

First up- City Strollers! Those of you who have gone to Disneyland know they are my preferred choice of vendors to rent a stroller from. They are always on time, clean, and super friendly! And of course they rent my favorite stroller- The City Mini! In the giveaway they are GIVING AWAY a four wheel City Mini! We own one and it is the best stroller there is in my opinion.

Second place prize is a Disney Survival Kit!  This prize includes a $50 Disney gift card(remember those can be used anywhere at the parks and online!), a Copca Hydra Bottle, a personal fan, and my favorite part of this kit, a Jackery Bar Charger. I have to carry a portable charger for my devices at the parks. This is especially true at Walt Disney World now that the app is so critical!

Third place prize is a Vera Bradley wristlet. Love the wristlets!

These prizes are brought to you by City Strollers, Love Our Disney, and Temporary Tourist!  These are all great resources and also great friends of Main Street Tales!

Enter here!

Stroller Giveaway

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