Travel advisor makes her own Disney magic on cruise stop

Jo Anne Smoot felt that Disney magic when she heard her ship was arriving in Port Canaveral two hours early — and in no time at all, she was on a magic carpet ride to Disney World. 

A Disney expert who opened Magical Tripcations in 2014 when her daughter started kindergarten, Smoot set sail on the Oasis of the Seas out of Bayonne, N.J., for a Royal Caribbean seminar at sea. She knew the quick turnaround in Port Canaveral made a trip to Disney World impossible.

But then bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, the ship had an arrival scheduled at noon instead of 2:45. Smoot jumped into action. 

It happened to be the very day Disney launched the Disney Genie planner and Genie+, a paid service that enables expedited entry for certain rides for $15 per day. 

“I was anxious to go check that out for my clients,” Smoot said. “We have 25 independent contractors, and many were sending me texts and cheering me on. It was a really high-energy experience.” 

One of the first off the ship and with a car waiting at the pier, Smoot was in Epcot by 1pm. Over the next five hours, she visited three parks, went on several attractions, rode the Skyliner and the monorail, and ended with a Dole Whip at the Polynesian Resort. 

And what did she think of Genie+? “It was really neat,” she said. “At first it was a little difficult running around and having such a limited amount of time but I got used to it, and the Genie+ definitely helped. You go straight into the Lightning Lanes.” 

She paid an extra $17 to access two popular rides not included in Genie+, hitting Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom.

“I literally walked right on. I never stood in line for more than 10 minutes, and the rides had standby times of an hour,” she said. “I highly recommend it.”

It was just icing on the cake on top of the Royal Caribbean training program she was attending.

“One of my favorite aspects of these events is networking with other business owners and top agents, and this was an extremely collaborative group, very abundant in the sense of sharing ideas,” she said. “It’s a week of being together, and by the end of the week we were all friends and speaking freely and exchanging cards. We are not truly competitors, we are all in this together, especially when it comes to selling cruises. We all just want people to get back on board. We are working toward a common goal.” 

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At her agency back home, a focus on Disney has helped her business bounce back fairly quickly. “I feel very blessed by that,” she said. 

For 2022, she said, her plan is to “add a few agents for the first time in two years, and to try to travel as much as we can to show our clients it’s safe.”

At about $3 million in total sales, “we have more on the books for 2022 than for 2021, and we’ve done more this year than we did in 2020 and about equal to 2019,” Smoot said.

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