Water Park Weenie

Years ago, when I was about 11 years old I almost died.  I have no idea who saved me, but I can still remember her voice.

I was in the wave pool at Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells with my good friend from school.  She was a strong swimmer, I was not.  Suddenly the waves came on full force, she knew enough to swim underwater, I didn't...I tried to fight the waves but they just kept rushing over my head and I was swallowing a ton of water and couldn't keep my head above.  I was screaming for help, but I'm sure my screams were drowned out amongst the shrieks and laughter of a very full pool in the middle of summer.

I somehow made my way over to the side of the pool where there was a bar you could hold onto and ride the waves, I did this, grabbing with all my might - seeing about a dozen other people holding the bar...I went under and came back up and NO ONE was there.  I was alone again, still going under, still screaming for help.  I tried to climb up the wall, but it was tile-there was no hope.  I tried to get my legs on top of the bar, so I could push myself out, but it wouldn't work.

I was scared.  And wondering why and how the life guard, that I could see just feet away, couldn't see me.

Then I felt hands around my waist and a voice asking if I needed help.  I gasped out a "yes!" and she told me to hold onto the wall, which I already was.  As the waves came and bounced off the back wall, with the momentum she would lift me up and move me slightly closer to the ladder.  After a few minutes we made it, my friend was behind me and literally had to push me up the ladder - my arms were incredibly sore.  I was dazed, she forced me to sit down in a lounge chair and gather myself.

After a few minutes I was okay, had my breath back and we moved onto the lazy river...for several hours!  Then I braved a few more slides and even went into the second wave pool--but only up to my ankles!  The rest of the day was fine, and fun!

Years went by and I never really went on water slides, they just weren't in my world.  I wasn't scared of the water at all, but did avoid wave pools-they did bring on some fear.

In my adult life I started to travel...and with that came water slides at various hotels.  Joe would go down them, but nope-I'm good, no thanks!  Sometimes I would brave it once, and scream all the way down.  Once was more than enough.

I have no idea if this fear stemmed back to my drowning incident, or what happened.  All I know is that I once was not afraid, but became very scared of water slides in my adult life.  Strap me into the biggest roller coaster and I'll do it - 

But a water slide?  Nope!

I had ZERO desire to go to the Disney water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.  I thought "maybe we will go someday when Henry is older." but I was in no rush to get there.

Then I became a travel agent, with a niche of Disney vacations.  I went on a tour of Blizzard Beach.  It looked fun.  Hmmm...maybe I could enjoy a few things while the boys played.  Or just sit in the sun with a book.  Maybe...

Then I spoke to a Disney friend who's career is in water parks.  She spoke some logic into me.  Things I KNEW, but I just needed a professional to say them.  It's pretty much impossible to flip out of the slides...which is exactly what I feared would happen to me.  She sees incident reports from all ove the world, and has never, ever seen one where someone flipped out.  Okay.  It makes sense.  Science and all.

We went on our Disney Cruise last June and I braved my first water slide in a long time on Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.  I ENJOYED it.  Yes, I screamed, but I actually liked it!

Then in October we purchased Walt Disney World Annual Passes, which include visits to the water parks.  It was time to brave them.

I was nervous, don't get me wrong.  But I was determined to conquer my fear!  We opted to visit Typhoon Lagoon on this trip, since I hadn't seen it yet. 


We arrived in the late morning, and easily made our way through the park to find a place to plant our things and call "home" for the day.

Past the seats in the sun...

Ah, yes, a nice shady location with plenty of sand for Henry to dig in.  You see, he inherited my "water park weenie" gene.  I knew he wouldn't be braving any slides that day!

We settled in and promptly went off to find some sand toys for Henry.  We decided not to walk, but to use the lazy river ("Castaway Creek") as our highway to the gift shop we passed earlier.

Henry was a bit frightened, but eventually settled in.  We were able to easily get off at our stop, and then back on to continue the float back to our home spot.

This lazy river does have a few water sprays and a cave too!

Back at our sandy spot, we started to dig and create.  We had purchased a great castle shaped bucket and shovel for just $5.

After digging for quite a while I went off to the Shark Reef, which is a snorkeling lagoon right in the water park!  Now this I was excited about!  Just the month before I had been on a cruise with some girlfriends and went snorkeling for the first time in Grand Cayman.  I LOVED it.  I was eager to experience it all again.  The Shark Reef does not have an additional charge, all equipment is included!

And yes, swimming with sharks doesn't even phase me, but water slides do...shush. :)

You are given fairly detailed instructions.  There are sharks in the tank you swim through, so no kicking, and just keep moving across.

A shark!

The entire experience is quite short, but still very, very enjoyable!  Plus, if you've never been, it's a great way to try it for the first time.

After my Shark Reef experience we went off to find some lunch.  There are a few eateries within the park with a decent variety of basics.  We opted for


With our stomachs full, we started to walk back to our shady spot in the sand, but we passed the big daddy of all water slides...

Crush 'n' Gusher.

Now, for those of you who don't know, it's a water slide/roller coaster.  I have been on one of these before and literally screeeeeeeeched the entire way, but after it was said and done, enjoyed it.  With my newfound bravery, would I enjoy this one even more?  I had to try it.

Joe went first.  Henry and I hung out here.

Not a bad view.

On Joe's return he was all smiles, he really enjoyed it!  Now my turn.


I was brave, I marched right up into the line, got my inner tube and made my way up to the single riders slide.  The wait was about 15 minutes...and in that time I would watch each guest wait and then start their journey.  Watching them was the worst.  I was nervous!  Holy crappers.  I got to the front and the Cast Member asked if I was ready...I was honest "No, I'm not! But I have to be!" they just laughed.

I felt like I was in a daze as I climbed into the slide wondering why the heck I had to do this...because I had to.  I had to get over this fear!

I let out a scream as I jetted off, and I continued to scream the eeeeeentire way down...but I did it!  And I came out laughing!  It was FUN!  I wanted to try again, but the line had grown considerably and now that I had my water slide mojo on, I had to get to some other slides!

I wanted to do a ton more, but my scared little Henry wasn't too keen on staying in the park too much longer, so we went back to the shady spot to dig and relax - and then I snuck off again...this time to the Storm Slides.  There are three slides to choose from, I felt the nerves again, but was more excited than scared.

I LOVED this one!  I wanted to go try all three slides, but knew it was almost time to go.

I will say, these slides aren't rated very high on the thrill list for most folks - they are perfect for a water slide weenie though!

Back in the sand we packed up our bags and I was gushing about how much fun I had that day.

I, Brook Wozniak, had fun at a water park.


In March we return to Walt Disney World and I look forward to trying Blizzard Beach this time!  We'll see if I'm brave enough to stick a toe in the wave pool this time.

A few more pictures as I wrap this up...

Info sign

Wait times board

Themeing (of course it has themeing, it's Disney!)


Mini-donut in chocolate sauce, even better!

Overall, if you are a water slide weenie, don't worry!  You'll still enjoy Disney's water parks.  There are several tame slides (but there are some crazy thrilling ones too), pools to enjoy and lovely soft sand!


My Favorite Travel Apps

I often get asked "What are your favorite Disney apps?" and my list is always pretty similar - so I thought today I'd go a step beyond that and share what my favorite travel apps are, including Disney apps, of course!

And by the way - these are all FREE!

General Travel:
Instagram: what the stink does that have to do with travel?  Well, if you are a social networking person like myself using Instagram makes things EASY to post across several sites.  Shoot your picture, edit if desired, type in your description and share across Instagram (obviously), Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and foursquare.  In addition you can email it off quite quickly!

Kindle: I always download a couple books before a trip so I have something to read on the plane, or during a relaxing pool day, etc.  There are tons of decent books that are free too!

YouVersion: this is the Bible with tons of daily devotionals/reading plans.  There are many translations in this app, so you are sure to find your preferred version.  Plus, it has an audio version, so you can even listen to it.  Easy to keep on track while you are on the road with a Bible in your pocket!

SimpleTip: This app will split your check for you and show you how much a tip should be on a sliding scale.  You just plug in the total amount of your check, how many ways it should be split and adjust the tip amount and it does the math for you. Incredibly useful.

Flashlight: Pretty obvious what this is.  I cannot tell you how many times it has helped me in a dark hotel room when I didn't want to turn on the lights to disturb Joe and/or Henry.  Also great to find the one black sock that somehow got lost under the bed.

Free Light: This is a reading light.  Now if you are reading the Kindle on your phone you obviously don't need this, but if you have a traditional book, magazine, newspaper, etc. this is a great little app!

HopStop: Handy little app for navigating the transit systems within many large cities.  I used to use this for NYC all the time before I had a hang of the system.

Google Maps: A lot like HopStop, this can be very useful for transit in large cities; however, it's also great for walking or driving directions.  I use Google Maps almost daily to find a store, restaurant, coffee shop, etc. This is especially handy in a city you aren't too familiar with.  Google Maps is amazing.

Urbanspoon: Very useful to find good eats in large cities.

OnTheFly: I cannot recommend this app enough.  If you don't download any other from my list, GET THIS ONE.  This incredible app will search multiple airports, multiple airlines, and even a date range so you can see when and where the cheapest flights are.  It's a lot like Kayak or the like online, but even better because you can view an entire month at a glance if your dates are flexible.  It does not search Southwest if you happen to fly that popular airline.

Yapta: After you have used OnTheFly to find your flight, use Yapta to track it!  Plug in your flight information and Yapta will let you know if you ever qualify for a voucher/refund on your flight due the price dropping.  Southwest, JetBlue and AirTran both refund you even if it drops $1!  I have literally saved hundreds.  They also have a website that will email you if you qualify for a voucher/refund.  Unfortunately this app does not track Southwest - it seems Southwest does not play nice with 3rd parties. ;-)

CruiseFinder: This fantastic app will search by Cruise Line, Cruise Ship, destination and more.  Find a great deal in just a few minutes!

Postagram: Take a picture of yourself on vacation and have a postcard of that picture sent to your loved ones - all from this app.  The first 5 are free and it's only 99 cents per card after that - INCLUDING postage!  You can type in a message and the picture pops out of the postcard for a keepsake.  Seriously cool.

Disney Apps:
This list has shortened up recently as Disney has greatly improved upon their own app, so my #1 recommendation to you is "My Disney Experience".  This free app from Disney does it all.  You can access your entire reservation, dining, wait times, character meet & greet locations and times, maps and more.  You can even make dining reservations on it, and fairly soon you will be able to request and adjust your FastPasses via the app!  We have used this on the past few trips and it really is a solid app.

I know a few people also enjoy Disney trip planning apps, where you can plug in your confirmation numbers and such, but I just make a PDF copy of my spreadsheet planners and put them on my Kindle.  I find it easier and much quicker.  If you don't know how to do that, see my recent post HERE.

So tell me, what are your favorite travel apps?


Workin' hard...

As you all know I am a travel agent, and I specialize in Disney vacations; however, that is NOT all I book!  I have sent clients on various cruise lines, to tropical destinations, on a non-Disney Orlando vacations and more!  All destinations have their own set of courses I can take to become more familiar with their offerings, and I am slowly working my way through them.  I have completed Disney's (and keep up on all their courses, as it is the destination I book most often!), and last year I earned the highest level from Norwegian Cruise Lines - I am Freestyle Certified!  Such a fun name.

About two weeks ago I completed the "Hotel Excellence" course with Marriott  and just today I finished my courses with SeaWorld Parks!

I really enjoy all this training, I have done a number of classes with Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruise Lines as well - but not quite enough yet to earn my designation.  I will be finishing those soon, but first I am going to become a Universal Specialist!  I have many clients that have taken a day from their Disney vacation and headed over to Universal and Islands of Adventure, I look forward to getting to know their product more intimately and visiting myself.


Walking Tour of Pop Century Resort

Today I finally finished a video I have been working on for a very.long.time!  Take a walk through Disney's Pop Century...one of Disney's most popular Value Resorts at Walt Disney World!


2013 Woz Travels

2013 is here and the Wozniak's are ready to TRAVEL!!

Here is what is on our agenda so far:

February - D.C.  We had such a good time last year, we figured it would make a perfect long weekend!  We are taking the train this time, and staying right in the city.  We hope to visit the aquarium and a few other sites we missed...and probably go back to the Air & Space Museum.  Can't get enough of all that nerd stuff.

March - Walt Disney World!  The plans around this are still a bit hazy, but we ARE going!  I hope to visit with my Mom and her boyfriend for a day or two since they live there now, and maybe even squeeze in an off-site adventure...I'm thinking SeaWorld, or Discovery Cove, or perhaps even the "dark side" - Universal Studios.  We'll see!

August - Minnesota.  My Mom is getting married!!  It will be a great time to visit with family and be a part of the celebration.

I know there will be at least one work conference in there, possibly two.  We also hope to CRUISE again this year, and I'll likely have a "girl's trip" in the fall at some point too.  Perhaps a long weekend in Boston if Joe has to go there for work, or a quick trip to Philly.  Time will tell!

I'll try to be good about sharing our adventures... :)


Putting a PDF onto your iPhone

This post is written with my clients in mind; however, I figured others might find it useful as well, so I am posting it here!

I often send a PDF copy of the personalized planner I make my clients, many prefer both a paper copy and the PDF.  I'm a PDF gal myself, it's just SO easy to have it right there in my back pocket.  To know the park hours, crowd levels, dining reservations and more, without shuffling through papers, is ideal for me.

However, sometimes people aren't quite sure how to get the PDF I email them onto their smartphone...keep reading!  If you have anything other than an iPhone, I don't know how to do it - but I'm guessing the process is fairly similar.

So, I just sent you your planner - open your email on your phone.

Click on the email from me.  You can see the attachment at the bottom of the email.  Click on it and it will open.  Sometimes I find I have to click it twice for large files.  I believe the iPhone only partially downloads some of the file at first, then will download the whole thing.  My client planners are usually large - so be sure you are on wi-fi when you first download it!

The planner opens in a Mail window:

And now the important part.  You see the icon in the upper right, an arrow coming out of a box, directly below the battery gauge?  Click on that.  You will get a few choices for other apps.  By clicking that icon, you are saying "Open in..." and then you can choose another app.

If you don't have an app to open it in, exit out and go download the free Kindle app first.  It's very easy to use and a great way to view PDFs because it loads quickly.  Then re-do the above steps until you are here.

Click on "Open in Kindle" (or your chosen app).

That app will directly open, with the planner in it!

On the Kindle, you can zoom in and scroll around.  My planners are more than one page, so you'll be able to see all the pages at the bottom of the screen.  You can bookmark a certain page (the icon on the top bar on the far right), you can click on the box with the arrow again and email it to another person in your party.  It's really slick!

Now you have your planner right at your finger tips!  Keep the paper planner I send you in the mail for your resort room, and this one as your "on the go" version.

I will say, sometimes the Kindle app doesn't open the PDF right away.  It's a bug in the Kindle app.  Just go back to the email and do the "Open in Kindle" again.  Kind of a pain, but, it happens.

Let me know if you have any questions!


New York Botanical Gardens Train Show

Last weekend Joe, Henry and I took the train north to the NY Botanical Gardens for the Holiday Train Show!  This was something I have wanted to do since we moved to New York, and we finally got there this year.

They re-create various buildings from NYC out of plant parts: sticks, wood, bark, seeds, pinecones and fruit. Between all the buildings are train tracks with about a dozen different toy trains running. It's pretty amazing!

Macy's - this was in the queue line just to get in the building


With the train conductor

The first room is part of the queue - it's a little tropical paradise, which felt great because the day was a bit rainy and yucky! There are no trains here, but some really great buildings.

Ellis Island

The old TWA terminal (and planes) at JFK. Jet Blue now occupies part of this famous structure.

Almost time to go in!

Some of the buildings we recognized, but many we didn't. There were signs in front of them all, saying what they were and where they were.

Hell Gate Bridge - this one is really close to our house

Coney Island

The NY Public Library (the big famous building) is the structure in the back, the arch is from Washington Square Park.

A bit blurry, but they even recreated the lions in front of the library!

The old Penn Station (it was sadly destroyed)

If you've been to NYC, you might think this is the Post Office across from Madison Square Garden, but it's not - it's the old Penn Station, same architect. Very similar buildings!

I love the detail on the roof of this one.

There was a small exhibit on the side that showed how the artists created these buildings - and had a few non-NYC buildings as well.

First step

Second step and some materials

Viola! Easy, right???

Okay-that one is from NYC... :)

Coffee pot gas station (I cannot recall where it was from), and the cool train that was going around these buildings.

Sorry about it being rotated - I did fix it in my photo program...hmmm!  Anyway, I was excited to see this one! It's a replica of that hotel shaped like an elephant, which they also have a replica of in Boardwalk Inn lobby at Walt Disney World!

This is Nebraska, I've seen it! I think it might be "Dunn Bros" now though if I remember correctly

Another train going around

Pretty flowers....after all we were at the Botanical Gardens!

Henry in front of the skyline

Famous buildings of the skyline - Empire State, Chrysler, Rockefeller, NYSE...

Radio City

I love this - Rockefeller even has the angles and Christmas tree up!

Empire State

Thomas! In January they change out all the trains to be Thomas and friends.

The building we were in at the moment. Kinda cool!

Harlem - the Apollo

The old Yankee Stadium - the lights worked and it played music

Natural History Museum


City Hall

Brooklyn Bridge

Amazing detail

Back outside we walked a bit over to an area they had set up for kids called Gingerbread Adventures

So pretty.

A little maze for the kids

Kid-size gingerbread house

There were a few of these cool guys around

Inside one of the buildings they had set up stations to learn about the spices that go into gingerbread. The first thing they got was a booklet they could design with glue and seeds.

Grinding spices

We then went to various stations where they would learn about a spice and glue some into the booklet.

At the end there were a few gingerbread creations by various bakeries

Planting wheat

It was a cute area, and maybe he learned something... :)

Back outside we went to the gift shop before we had to get on the train - just enough time for me to buy an ornament!


Inside the gift shop - yummy gingerbread cookies

Candy canes, my favorite

Ornaments - you might not be able to see if very well, but we got a little snow globe one with a train in it.

I thought these were cute.

Then it was back on the train and home. We really enjoyed the Train Show and I'm glad we went! I don't think we will go every year, but, it was something new and different!