Mike Belobradic: The Disney Traveller
Disney travel has been a part of my life since I was four years old. That first trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, California in 1966 is also on of my first memories.
Since then I have taken nearly 100 trips to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, nearly 10 trips to Disneyland Resort in California and numerous trips to Disney beach resorts in locations such as Disney Aulani in Hawaii and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort in Florida. Typically we take three to four Disney-related vacations each year.
Growing Up Disney
The Disney experience was very much a part of my life from the very beginning. It would be fair to say that I basically grew up on Disney.
Once Walt Disney World opened in Orlando on October 1, 1971, the Disney Parks experience was now in very close range to our family here in Ontario. My father (the original Disney Traveller in our family) wasted no time in taking advantage of WDW’s proximity — a Disney resort was now within driving distance. True to form, a short six months after Walt Disney World opened its gates to the world, we visited for the first very first time in March 1972 (and we stayed onsite for three weeks).
For the next 13 years or so, our family made the annual spring pilgrimage to Walt Disney World — for three weeks each time. We always stayed at a Disney Resort on Disney property (the only way to go) and over the past 40+ years I have continued that trend of annual visits.
I have experienced the growth of Walt Disney World firsthand — from a single park (Magic Kingdom) and three resort properties — into the massive vacation kingdom that we know and love today. In fact, I even had a part in a 1976 Disney promotional video that was filmed at Walt Disney World while we there one spring in the early ’70s. My mother had to sign a release and off I went to play a (tiny) role in helping to promote this “new” vacation destination to the world. Recently I found that video online and was able to catch a glimpse myself driving one of the Disney SeaRaycers along Bay Lake.
As I entered into the business world later in life, I came to appreciate not only the great times we have at Disney Parks & Resorts, but I also grew to admire the Disney approach to doing business and guest relations. I have studied Disney from a business perspective for many years and I incorporate a good deal of their business model into my own work.
Sharing Disney Travel Advice with Others
When it comes to Disney travel specifically, I love to share my knowledge and experience with others. While I am sort of a go-to person for Disney travel advice among friends and colleagues, I have also done a couple of other things to help share the wisdom I have acquired over the past 40+ years of Disney travel. One was the creation of the website 1923MainStreet.com (which is now my online shop for officially licensed items from Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter and more) and other was writing the book The Very Best of Walt Disney World Resort. I was also a top-selling Disney travel agent for a couple of years (working under the name of Magical Mouse Holidays). That was very rewarding because I had to opportunity to help countless families prepare for their own Disney vacations (and Disney Cruises as well).
A big part of my client service for Disney travel during my agency days was creating day-by-day itineraries specific to each family for their Walt Disney World vacations. I would get to the know the families and the unique likes (and dislikes) of all the children. I would then create their itinerary for the week, including which parks to visit on which days, a plan of attack for visiting the shows and attractions, and booking their FastPass+ selections and dining for the week. I would also provide them with numerous tips and tricks, of course, to ensure that they got the very most out of their time at the “vacation kingdom.” Everything that I did was aimed at ensuring that everyone would get to experience what they most wanted to see and do on their Walt Disney World vacations. It was highly detail-oriented work, but the clients appreciated the effort and the fun stories and photos that they would share after returning home made it all worthwhile.
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