Monday, December 13th, 2021
20 years ago? Wasn’t that like 1980? I’m sure it was. But I digress. My how time flies. Back in 2001, I was working as a graphic designer in the marketing department at TST Overland Express. And I absolutely LOVED both my job and the people I worked with. But as someone who grew up visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, I was often asked for advice by friends and family when they were planning their own vacations to the happiest place on earth. Which restaurant has the best pizza? Where can I meet Cinderella? How much does the monorail cost? I realized that there was a niche market that the travel industry was missing out on. So, I worked hard to remedy the situation.
It feels like just yesterday that I told my dad I was thinking about going back to school to get my diploma in Travel and Tourism because I wanted to help people vacation to Walt Disney World. He responded, “what’s the worst thing that happens, you learn something”? And learn something I did. Having first-hand experience of Walt Disney World is excellent knowledge to have for this business, but having familiarity about passport rules, travel insurance, cancellation policies, airlines, exceptional organizational skills and more is equally as important.
About seven months later, with a new diploma in hand, I aligned myself with a local storefront travel agency here in Bolton. And it didn’t take long to be known as the “local Disney Specialist”. My goal was to make a little bit of money in my spare time to purchase blinds that I desperately wanted to get for the house. Creating magical vacations was intended to be just a hobby, but it quickly turned into much more than that. Before I knew it – I was so busy – that with the full support of my husband, I opted to leave the job I loved, bought out the travel agency I was working with and turned the business into specializing solely in Disney Destinations.
I started out with just a website and an email. Social media and methods of advertisement such as Facebook and Instagram have only been around for about half of our existence. As such, word of mouth was (and still is) our very best form of advertisement. And as per TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario), we had to conduct business in a storefront. We started out on the second floor in the building next to the Home Hardware right on Highway 50 in Bolton. It was a fantastic space, and many local raccoon families agreed and moved in. To the point that working along-side our furry friends became a challenge, so we moved to another second floor building down the street, but the lack of heat kept us from staying there after just one cold Canadian winter. Finally, back in 2010 we moved to 10 McEwan Drive West, Unit #3 and have been here ever since.
Like any other small business, we’ve had our share of ups and downs. My hairdresser once said to me “the thing with owning a business is you can’t get too low on the lows, but you also can’t get too high on the highs.” And truer words have never been spoken, as any business can change directions on a dime. 20 years is a long time. We’ve were here during the great recession, when the Zika virus emerged, during Hurricane Irma and of course, a world-wide pandemic. But luckily – each time – a high wasn’t too far behind. The current pent-up demand to travel after almost two years of staying at home is a great example of one.
I’ve seen so many changes, such as prior to 2005, you didn’t need to make any dining reservations at Walt Disney World. It’s true! You would just show up at Chef Mickey’s, put your name in at the restaurant podium, have a drink at Horizons while you waited for a table, and you were good to go. Ahhh the good old days!
Over the years, we had so much interest from our Guests in visiting Universal Orlando (and more specifically, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter), that we decided to check it out for ourselves. After our visit to Hogwarts in 2013, we expanded our business beyond Disney Destinations, and we’ve been working with The Universal Orlando Resort ever since. We were here for the Christening of both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. For the inception of Adventures by Disney, the building of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, the opening of Cars Land at the Disneyland Resort and many more exciting new experiences.
Our team has since grown to ten strong. We are small, but mighty…like Ant-Man. And our Vacation Specialists truly are the very best at what they do. Naturally, they bring their own years of personal experience to their role. But it’s not about how many trips they’ve taken or how many resorts they’ve stayed at, because it’s not a contest. They are the best at what they do because they can put their own preferences aside and listen to YOUR needs and wants. They will then take that information to create a personalized vacation of what matters to you and your family most. Not your co-worker’s family, not your neighbour’s family, nor the family you met in a Facebook group, but YOUR family. Furthermore, we work as a team with our Guests. Which means if your Fairytale Dreams & Destinations’ Vacation Specialist is ever under the weather or away from the office, there will be another Vacation Specialist attending to your vacation in their absence.
Hearing the wonderful vacation memories from our Guests after they return home is by far one of the highlights about this profession. It is a very rewarding career, especially when we help make beautiful memories, such as a vacation in celebration of a loved one. And the blessing of time has allowed us to form a bond with some of our Guests. But I can’t even begin to tell you how old I feel when the children of Guests I booked 10+ years ago contact me to book a vacation with their new spouse and family! However, I’ve recently learned that only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. So, maybe Fairytale Dreams & Destinations isn’t good because we are old – but rather – we’re old because we’re good.
So, thank you for trusting us with your magical vacation memories over these past 20 years and for giving us work that we enjoy so thoroughly. We would not be here without YOU!
– Christine Fiorelli
Contact Fairytale Dreams & Destinations to Book Your Magical Vacation Today!
(905) 857.3611 | 1.855.FDMAGIC
10 McEwan Drive West Unit 3 Bolton ON L7E 1H1