TSA Cares Program

I love how fast flying gets me to my destination so I can start my vacation, but I am not a fan of the airport.  I completely understand the necessity of the screening process but still feel overwhelmed by it, no matter how many times I travel.  Every airport seems to have its own way of doing their screenings too, which causes real confusion! 

TSA Precheck sign.jpg

Now imagine you have a medical condition that makes going through the security checkpoint a very difficult process.  My son, Mike, is on the autism spectrum and has type 1 diabetes.  He wears a wireless insulin pump that uses Bluetooth technology and carries back-up syringes.  He is supposed to avoid scanners as they can interfere with the pump's programming and he always gets his bag pulled for the supplies in them.  This causes him severe stress and anxiety as he waits in line because he knows this will happen.  By the time we get to the agent he can't even verbalize his needs and can be inconsolable. 

I had recently heard the TSA Cares program can help travelers with disabilities and medical conditions navigate the system so my family decided to try it on our most recent vacation to Florida.  It really helped our family get through the anxiety of the screening process at the airports with ease.  The Support Specialists were kind yet efficient, and took the time to explain step-by-step what we needed to do.

Three days before our departure I called TSA's toll free helpline at 1-855-787-2227 and spoke to Jeanette.  She was very friendly and patient with my questions.  She took my flight information and put it in the system.  She asked what accommodations we would need and made note of each of them.  She asked clarifying and relevant follow up questions.  Her knowledge of the process and the special needs of my family really helped put my mind at ease.  She sent me an email confirmation outlining how the program would work for my family.  Jeanette further explained that each airport handles the support program differently and that some would contact us in advance and some would not.  It is also only available in US airports.  She also directed me to their website to download and print out a card I could use at any airport for assistance, even if I couldn't call in advance.

                     Mike's TSA Notification Card

                     Mike's TSA Notification Card

Within 24 hours I received a call from PIT (Pittsburgh International) airport support.  They gave me a number to call once I checked in for my flight.  When we arrived and called the number, a TSA Support Specialist met my family at Arch (the giant mechanical statue).  He went through the entire process of how the screening would go.  They would not separate us for the screening.  He confirmed the special services we needed and walked through security with us, talking to us the entire time about next steps.  He even sat with my son Mike after the screening and chatted about our vacation while Mike put his shoes on and got re-organized.

                                                    Mike loves Arch!

                                                    Mike loves Arch!

For our return flight out of MCO (Orlando International) we hadn't heard from anyone prior to our arrival at the airport.  I used the TSA Card Jeanette had recommended and showed it to the first TSA officer I saw.  She had our family stand to the side while she called a Support Specialist, who arrived to meet with us in just a few minutes.  The Support Specialist explained to Mike every step of the process and stayed with us through the line and screening.  When Mike started to get to the private pat-down screening he started to get very agitated with his eyes darting between me and the Support Specialist.  She must have picked up on it and said there was a male officer that would handle it and that we were all allowed to stay together through all of security.

When we reached the gate area I found I had missed a call from MCO's TSA Support team.  They had called 2 hours before my flight to make arrangements.  They must have called while we were going through security.

tsa uniform.jpg

The TSA cares program really helped my family make it through security this trip without Mike freaking out or melting down.  It was one of the smoothest TSA screenings we have had with him in all the times we have traveled.  If you have someone with special needs or a medical device, I recommend this services.

You can find more information on the TSA website HERE and get the TSA Notification Card HERE

 

Real ID Act! Be prepared!

Just an update on the Real ID act and what it means for you. Just remember that right now, PA & NJ both have an extension only through October 10, 2018. PennDOT will not be issuing RealID compliant drivers licenses until early 2019. California is issuing compliant licenses now, but you must choose that as the option; not all licenses are RealID compliant. It is unclear as to when NJ will issue RealID compliant licenses. As long as the federal government continues to issue extensions, Pennsylvanians, Californians, & New Jersey residents may continue to fly with current ID. The final deadline for enforcement is 2020. 

Pennsylvanians Click here for more info

Californians Click here for more info

Those from TX and OH -- your states are compliant, but please ensure that your Driver's License is the RealID compliant version.

What this means:
At this time, those traveling on/after Oct 10, 2018 will need another form of ID to board aircraft:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

It is possible that PA/NJ/CA will receive another extension, but it is not a given.
TSA requires that adults boarding aircraft use proper ID, but ID is not required for children under age 18.
If an extension is not granted beyond Oct 10, as of right now you will need another form of ID to fly.

If you have any questions or unsure of what ID you will need to travel, please contact your Upon A Star Agent today for more info!

 

It's a Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

A flurry of season fun has kicked off at Disney's Hollywood Studios! Check out all of the exciting holiday happenings around the resort! 

  • Sunset Seasons Greetings – This new nighttime holiday experience features spectacular projections of Mickey, Minnie and other beloved Disney characters sharing their favorite Christmas stories as a snowy Sunset Boulevard twinkles with stunning holiday decorations. This charming scene becomes enchanted with holiday magic that brings billboards to life and transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel into a giant pile of Christmas gifts, a gingerbread house and a frozen winter wonderland! A frosty summer-loving snowman might even make an appearance to share his holiday wish! The fantastic and heartwarming experience runs continuously throughout the night.
  • Enhanced holiday décor around Echo Lake – Extra-large ornaments, colorful garlands and a giant Christmas tree centered on the water will make Echo Lake the merriest of places this holiday season. Even Dinosaur Gertie will be dressed for the occasion with a dino-Santa hat.
  • A new friend joins the cast of ‘For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration’ – The holiday fun continues as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff welcome Olaf to the sing-along celebration, featuring for a limited time all-new songs from Disney’s new animated short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” at Hyperion Theater.

Many returning favorites will be a part of the Flurry of Fun this holiday season including:

  • Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! – The hit holiday show returns Nov. 9, 2017 sending beloved Disney animated characters on a spirited yuletide adventure to get Santa back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” combines state-of-the-art projections, fireworks, special effects and Christmas music to create a dazzling, one-of-a-kind holiday experience for Guests – capped by a special message from Santa himself.
  • Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Dessert Party – Your Clients can wrap up their jolly holiday evening with reserved viewing of the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” holiday spectacular. This dessert party includes holiday-inspired snacks, delicious desserts, wine, beer, and specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages while mingling with a VIP Disney Character. This fun-filled holiday event is being offered Nov. 9-Dec. 30, 2017. Contact your Upon A Star agent to book! 
  • Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine – Meet Minnie, Mickey, Daisy, Donald and Goofy for lunch and dinner celebrations centered on seasonal deliciousness. From Nov. 6-Jan. 7, 2017, the mouse-with-the-mostest will deck the halls for a banquet filled with holiday cheer and the joy of the season! To make a reservation, contact your Upon A Star Agent!
  • Santa Claus returns to the Once Upon a Time shop Nov. 9-Dec. 24, 2017. The beautiful and vintage setting reflects the bygone days of Santa’s visits to the great department stores across the country. Santa Goofy will step in for Old Saint Nick when he returns to the North Pole Dec. 25 -31, 2017.

So much to do! There's still time to plan a trip to Walt Disney World for the Holidays!

Contact our expert agents here today!

Upon A Star Travel

Unwrap The Holidays at Walt Disney World!

Walt Disney World is a winter wonderland of twinkling lights & holiday magic! Curious how the Parks transform into their holiday splendor so quickly? With Disney's new Yuletide Fantasy & Holiday D-Lights tour, guests will be able to venture backstage to meet with the Holiday Services Cast Members! 

Discover how Cinderella's Castle is immersed into its spectacular display of thousands of twinkle lights and experience Epcot's popular Candlelight Processional. Disney’s Holiday D-Lights is offered on 12 select nights throughout the season. 'Tis the season to contact your Travel Agent to register for this special tour during the holiday season! 

Contact your Upon A Star Agent today here!

uponastartarvel.com

AM Resorts Christmas in July Sale!

Check out this limited ,week long Christmas in July sale from AM Resorts!

Book from July 25, 2017 through July 31, 2017 and save some $$! Rates starting at $174.00  USD per person, per night! Travel dates must be from December 23, 2017 through January 1, 2018.

Available at the following resorts:

  • Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya
  • Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort
  • Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa
  • Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa
  • Breathless Montego Bay Resort & Spa
  • Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa
  • Breathless Cabo San Lucas Resort & Spa
  • Dreams Dominicus La Romana
  • Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica
  • Now Jade Riviera Cancun
  • Sunscape Dominican Beach Punta Cana

It's a great time to plan a winter getaway and save some $$

Contact our Am Resort Master Agents here for more info on taking advantage of this deal!

 

*Starting from rate varies by resort and is based on land-only reservations. Starting from rate is not reflective of the price for the entire travel period. Not applicable to group bookings. Run of the house room categories. Entire promotion is subject to availability and can be modified or closed at any time.

 

Portsmouth: A New England Paradise

Portsmouth is the quintessential New England town...ocean breezes, small shops & lobster rolls. Founded in 1623, Portsmouth is a bustling seaside community with beautiful beaches and only hour-long rides to both the ski mountains or to Boston and Portland. Music, the arts & history make up the backbone of events this town has to offer!

 

Prescott Park is a beautiful riverside escape in Portsmouth, filled with a variety of trees, flowers & fountains. The park offers weekly concerts & plays as well as chili & beer festivals! Across the street is Strawbery Banke, a re-enactment of a village of characters and homes and what they would have looked like 200-300 years ago. Christmas and July 4th are my favorite times to visit the Banke because of the period decorations & games! 

 

Looking for something funky to Do? Try the Underbelly Tour, an interactive tour that humorously explains the history of seaside scandals that shaped the town into what it is today! 

Hungry? Thirsty? Portsmouth has the most restaurants and bars within a square mile radius than any other town in New Hampshire! After shopping the local boutiques on Market Street, try the Italian gnocchi @ Massimos, bang bang shrimp at Lazy Jacks on the river (and a bucket of Watermelon margaritas!) or the "Small Ships" plate at the River House - the perfect combination of clam chowder and a lobster roll! 

 

If you're active, we have plenty of rivers & inlets to boat, kayak or canoe as well as surfing on the nearby beaches! Hike Mount Agamenticus in nearby York, Maine and marvel at 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and ocean. Are you a skier? New Hampshire's White Mountains (and more!) are within a 2 hour drive or less. In the summer, the White Mountains offer great camping spots along the Kancamagus River! 

There's so much to do here in Portsmouth so whether you're planning a family vacation, a couples retreat or an impromptu getaway, skip the big city and visit Portsmouth!

If you would like more info about booking a trip to Portsmouth or to the destination of your choice contact our travel experts here for assistance!

Coming to a Galaxy near you! A Star Wars themed resort!

Take all of my money right now!! All of us Star Wars fans at Upon A Star Travel are so excited with the announcement that there will be a Star Wars themed resort heading to Walt Disney World!

It was announced yesterday at D23 that there will indeed be an awesome new resort that is Star Wars inspired! Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts,  described the resort by saying, “It’s unlike anything that exists today.” Bob said. “From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

Check out the visual concepts:

Come on Star Wars fans, are you thrilled or what!! Can't wait to stay in this resort and be fully immersed into the world of Star Wars! This is the perfect addition to all of the awesome new things coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios! No opening dates have been announced yet but you better believe that we will let you know as soon as we get the news!

Let our experts help you plan a vacation that is out of this world! Contact us today here and will get in touch with you to help you plan your next magical vacation!

Want travel info? Check out our website!

Toy Story Land: Opening Summer 2018!!

Get ready to shrink to the size of a toy and explore Andy's backyard! Toy Story Land will be opening in the Summer of 2018! We've known about this exciting new addition to Hollywood Studios for a while and now the opening is in sight! 

You will get to explore the world of Andy's backyard and ride his awesome creations! Slinky Dog Dash, a family coaster, will be one of the exciting new attractions coming our way!

Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky Dog Dash

The other main attraction in Andy's backyard is Alien Swirling Saucers! This ride will be modeled after Andy's playset from Pizza Planet. Aliens will swirl and fly around you while they try to capture your rocket with "The Claw"! Can't wait to come face-to-face with those adorable aliens!

 

I don't know about you but we are super-excited about Toy Story Land! It's such an iconic Disney movie franchise, so I can't wait to see it come alive and be part of it! Make sure to check in with us for the opening day announcement when it is released!

Want to be there in person to see it all? Let us help you plan a truly magical trip for the Summer of 2018! Contact our travel experts here to start planning a vacation that is out of this world!!

Check out our website today!

 

What's new with 2018 Disney World Packages

Disney just released the 2018 packages and there are some new changes! Check it out below!

New Beverage Options:

Guest under 21 can now choose (1) single serving non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered). 

Non Alcoholic beverages could include:

  • Soda, coffee, tea
  • Smoothies
  • Premium Hot Chocolates
  • Artisanal Milkshakes

Guests who are 21 or older will be able to choose one (1) single serving non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one (1) single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within their meal entitlement.

Alcoholic beverages would include:

  • Beer or Cider
  • Mixed drinks or specialty cocktails
  • Sangria or wine

Guests 21 and over must show valid ID and alcoholic beverages will only be redeemed with a quick-service or table-service meal entitlement.

Ready to plan your magical Disney World vacation? Contact our experts here

Only $200 deposit to book your magical trip! Our expert agents can help you plan every aspect of your vacation. Let us help you plan the vacation of your dreams!