Small Business Friday ~ Autumn

Disney Vacation Planning

My name is Autumn, and I am the Co-Owner of Pirate and Mermaid Vacations, a travel agency that specializes in Disney Destination travel. When Amy and I first spoke of my writing this, she said to me “tell us what you do, how you do it etc.” To do that though, I first need to tell you a bit about my love of Disney, and how Pirate and Mermaid Vacations was born.
My love of Disney started a bit later than most think it did. I mean honestly I am sure people think I was born in Mouse Ears and went to the Disney Parks every year as a child. But in reality, I didn’t really “fall” for Disney until the year “The Little Mermaid” was released on VHS when I was 11 years old. My first trip to a Disney Park was when I was 17, and it was a one-day stop while traveling with my neighbors to Florida. The next year I went with a friend for a week, but they were a “Disney Pro” so I just followed them around in awed overwhelmed excitement.

EPCOT at night


Honestly though, my great love of the parks started in 2005 when my husband and I went to Walt Disney World for a week for our honeymoon. We booked that trip with a local travel agency, one of the ones with the big office and people who helped guide you through the booking process, but didn’t really tell you a single thing you needed to know. Now remember, in 2005 social media wasn’t what it is today, and honestly I was a whooping 25 years young, had grown up 25 minutes from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and didn’t realize you needed to plan anything at a theme park. That week is when we learned of FastPass, Dining Plans, dining reservations, and more. Every morning my husband would pop down to the concierge desk at All-Star Music and ask “What do you have for dining options in this park today?” and we would just go with what they offered. Shortly after that trip my need to research, understand and know more about the Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line, and the Disney Company started.

Disney vacations

Imagine all the possibilities

Fast-forward to 2012, and my dentist’s office. Seriously I can’t make this up. As I sat there talking Walt Disney World to my amazing dental hygienist she mentioned her upcoming trip, and I asked if she had gotten free dining applied to her reservation. She proceed to explain that she was pretty sure she didn’t qualify because she had booked Deluxe Dining, and I was like “I am pretty sure you would get Standard Dining free and just pay the difference between the two.” Her response was basically that she would call and check and if I was right I really needed to become a Travel Agent that Specialized in Disney Travel. I laughed, told her my husband kept saying that, but that I just wasn’t sure. A few weeks later a “Thank You” card arrived in my mail that told me just how much money my tip had saved Jen and her family. That to me was the sign I needed. I signed up with the first Travel Agency that specialized in Disney travel that I saw was hiring, and less than a year later moved on to what would become the agency I still feel was my first Mouse House. This is the place where I learned the ropes and found out lot about Disney Travel, what people expected from their Travel Agent. Also during this time I started blogging and admining for one of my best friends Michele who owns The Main Street Mouse a Disney based fan blog. So, I guess you could say come late 2012 to early 2013 my life became Disney.

Disney Cruise Line

In November of 2015, my original Mouse House and I parted ways. For the first few hours after that separation, my world crumbled around me. Several good friends asked me to come work with them, but I worried that there would be a conflict of interest with my involvement with The Main Street Mouse, which had always had an official travel sponsor. Because of that sponsorship I always kept my job information set to friends only on Facebook, not to be secretive, but to be respectful of the business agreements The Main Street Mouse and their travel sponsors had. The offers that came in reminded me I was valuable, but they also made me realize I just didn’t want to start again with someone else. As sat on my couch crying to a friend, an image came to my mind. A pirate and a mermaid, something that in an obvious way represented my historical Pirate reenacting husband Drew, and my favorite Disney character of all times Ariel. As I said those words out loud I dried my tears and realized I knew what I was about to do. I was going to strike out on my own, and light my own path. The more I thought about it the more I started realizing I could in fact be that Pixie Dust covered Phoenix rising from the ashes. It hit me that all the things I wanted to do with my old Mouse House, but couldn’t because of their practices I would be able to try. I also realized that the “conflict of interest” being a Blogger for TMSM and being a TA, would be gone at least on my side of the table. That night, in under an hour, Pirate and Mermaid Vacations was born.

Let it Go, Frozen, Elsa

In the beginning it was just myself booking clients, handling our social media and website and my husband Drew, who handles the business side of things. After about six months we brought on Leslie, who is my official Disney Cruise Line guru. We met on a Disney Cruise, she’s been on at least double the cruise I have (and we are almost Platinum) and she is just wonderful and in many ways my rock. Then came the Hiles, Jon and Kylie, who we met on a Star Wars Day at Sea cruise in January of 2016. Jon is full of great ideas and Kylie is my ninja. The thing is, in my universe these people aren’t my employees, they are my co-workers and my PMV Team. The Pirate and Mermaid Vacations Team is one of my favorite teams on Earth. We balance each other out, push each other, and even vacation together. Seriously who else gets to call their co-workers their #cruisesquad? And each and every one of us has been to Walt Disney World multiple times in the recent years, Disneyland, and are all Castaway Cay Gold Cruisers or higher, which means we really know our Disney first hand.

Now that you know where Pirate and Mermaid came from, let me tell you what we do. We are not “Disney Travel Agents” simply because Disney states we can’t use that term. We are in fact “Adventure Coordinators that specialize in Disney Destination Travel.” In layman’s terms, we book and plan people’s Disney vacations. Our services are free, and it costs the same to book with us as it does to book directly with Disney. Sometimes it may even cost you less to book with us because we price monitor, so when Disney releases a sale, we make sure that any applicable sale is applied to your reservation. We also provide all of our clients a customized travel package with a print out of their plans, a Pirate and Mermaid Vacations Adventure Guide, resort and reservation information and in park plans to help you get the most out of your day.

From that point on we are as hands on, or hands off, as you want or need us to be, if you want us to do everything (dining, FastPass+, specialty reservations etc.) we will. If you just want us to be the one who gets up at 6 am to make dining reservations, not a problem. We also send our clients news updates as well as post them on our Facebook page. Want to rent a car to spend the day at Universal Studios or Sea World? No issue we can book the car, secure your tickets, and provide you with an in park plan.

Along with finding a team of experienced and awesome co-workers, and making planning easy for our clients, the day I started Pirate and Mermaid Vacations, I was able to creatively express myself in new ways. I am a huge fan of theming so we use a lot of nautical and adventure based terms in our programs and explanations. For example something I was excited about when we started Pirate and Mermaid was that I could create a referral program that made sense to me. In the past the program my old Mouse House had used was a $25 Disney Card gift card for Disney Package referrals. But, not everyone wants to book a package, and not everyone wants a Disney Gift Card. I wanted to make referring our services to your friends and family a “real treasure” so our Plunderer’s Program was born. If you refer someone to Pirate and Mermaid Vacations and they book a vacation with us, within 30 days of the completion of their trip you will receive your choice of treasure:

  • Earn a $10 Disney or Amazon Gift Card for every 2-day and up ticket only referral
  • Earn a $20 Disney or Amazon Gift Card for everyDisneyland® Resort; Walt Disney World® Resort; Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa or Universal Resort room only referral
  • Earn a $25 Disney or Amazon Gift Card for every Universal Resort Room and Ticket package referral
  • Earn a $30 Disney or Amazon Gift Card for every Disney Parks vacation package (Room w/Tickets and/or Dining) referral
  • Earn a $35 Disney or Amazon Gift Card per cabin for every non-Disney Cruise Linereferral
  • Earn a $40 Disney or Amazon Gift Card per cabin for everyDisney Cruise Line referral

Disney Vacation Planning

The process of booking you vacation with Pirate and Mermaid Vacations is simple. Visit our website ( and submit a quote request. The more information you provide us with (room connections, break down of large groups by room, special requests etc.) the more seamless your original quoting process will go. Once you review your quote, if we need to make any changes to your quote, we will. Then when you are ready we will book your stay. From that point on if you want to make payments, modifications, or have questions we are there for you. Meaning from step one until completion of travel you will always talk to the same person instead of a menagerie of Disney phone reps. We book Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, Disney’s Hilton Head and Vero Beach resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Paris, Disneyland Hong Kong, Sea World parks, Universal Studios Orlando, Carnival Cruise line and more.

Cinderella's Castle

Beautiful and majestic during the day and night!

Personally I always tell my clients when they are about to travel, text or call me when you are there if you need something. While I love helping them when they have questions, one of my favorite during travels calls from a traveling client involved a Grandma. She and her daughter were referred to me, and neither was familiar with Disney but wanted to make the granddaughter’s first trip, and birthday, special. On her birthday we made an appointment at “Ship Shape Salon” at the Yacht Club for the Perfectly Princess Package so they could then do Princess Lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT. While waiting for her grandbaby to finish up an activity between the two events, Grandma called me just to tell me how wonderful everything was and how much she appreciated my help. Honestly? That was the best call I have ever received, I even misted up a little knowing that I had helped make someone’s birthday special. I love what I do because I get to share my Disney experience and knowledge with people while helping them make their vacations dreams come true.
If you are interested in learning more about our services, or if you just want to see the photos and park news that we share, please feel free to follow us on social media!

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