Category: Disney (Page 1 of 2)

Things I Wish I Knew About Going on a Disney Cruise – 2022 Edition

I’ve been on just two cruises before, both Disney, in 2013 and 2016. Because I’m prone to something called mal de debarquement syndrome (which basically means you still feel like you’re on the boat after the cruise, sometimes for months) I stopped cruising. Then there was COVID, of course, and we all stopped cruising. Now, I decided (under advice of my awesome ENT) to give a Disney cruise another try. We cruised for four nights on the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral, with stops at Castaway Cay and Nassau, in the Bahamas.

I researched the heck out of my previous cruises and I prepared the same way for this one. There were a few surprises, though, and almost none of them having to do with the pandemic.

  • While the rest is in no particular order, this is the most vital piece of information I need to pass on to any potential Disney cruisers out there: they DO NOT sell Pepto Bismol on the ship. Nope, not in any of the stores. So if you get a jumpy tummy and you’re thinking that cool pink liquid would settle things down? Better bring it with you.
  • In happier news for me, but probably not as useful for others, it turns out a shorter cruise (4 nights vs 7 nights) made my post-cruise dizziness/balance issues much lighter and easier to deal with. There’s still a little bit of woozy, but not much. Manageable.
  • There’s a bit of a dining dilemma imo. So, there are two seatings in the MDR (Main Dining Room) each evening, Main or first Seating and Second Seating. These vary a little by ship but they’re at about 5:45 PM and 8:00 PM. We used to do the Second Seating. We’re two adults, no kids, and by nature of the timing there’s fewer kids in the later slot. That’s true, but we’re older now, and honestly, I just can’t eat a huge meal after 8 PM anymore (keeping in mind it’s close to 9 before you’re done). So we tried the early Main Seating, and it was a bit of a disaster. I expected there to be more kids, and there really, really were. So it’s basically constant shrieking. More to the point, your serving team has very little time to spend with you because they’re running from the second dinner starts to get food into little ones’ mouths right away to keep them from melting down, then the adults, and then back to kids again. When we did Second Seating on our earlier cruises, we really got to know our serving team (Note: With Disney’s rotational system, you have the same servers every night as you move through the rotation of dining rooms.) to the extent that I practically cried saying goodbye to the first crew — Sasha and Gedde, we still talk about how amazing you were. They told us about their jobs, the ship, their lives; we were on our honeymoon and Sasha had just gotten married and his wife worked at Palo. She came to say hi when we ate there. They were friendly and attentive and knew our drink orders after the first night and had them waiting for us when we got there each following night. We took pictures with them at our last dinner, and honestly, who am I kidding, I did cry a little. At Main Seating, this time? Our servers were very nice and all, but way too busy to do any of those things.
    So, it’s a bit of a rock and a hard place, if you’re like me. Second Seating is too late for us to eat, and Main Seating is a madhouse. Honestly, we would have skipped the MDRs after the first night and gone to Cabana’s for dinner, but it hasn’t reopened since COVID. In the future, assuming it comes back, that’s what we’d do. Or book Palo, or even just room service.
  • We didn’t get to know our servers very well, but our stateroom attendant, Windy, was just amazing. We kept telling him he made our cruise. He just took such great care of us and got us everything we needed. He also did great towel animals
We brought Darth onboard with us (he’s a popcorn bucket) and our stateroom attendant created this tableau for us on May the 4th, which was the only acknowledgement of the day from Disney.
  • Our cruise was from May 2 to May 6, therefore May the 4th happened while we were onboard. However, Disney didn’t have a single Star Wars event/character meet/merchandise/movie showings/mention. Some cruisers dressed up in Star Wars gear and outfits, and many of us wished each other May the 4th Be With You, but that was it. I have to be honest, folks were a little disappointed there wasn’t SOMETHING to acknowledge it. My guess it that Disney feels that Cruises = No Star Wars except for the specialty Star Wars Days at Sea Cruises. Which this should have been, but wasn’t.
  • Speaking of movies, we’ve gone to the movie theater before on other cruises. It’s nice, and there’s free popcorn. We saw The Force Awakens there, for example, in 2016, with a great crowd. But this cruise all they were showing was Encanto and Frozen, alternating. They’re both great, but they’re both available on demand in your stateroom. There was a late night showing of the premiere of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at 11 PM on our last night, but this was never announced and only put on the schedule a few hours before it was shown. I’m guessing most people didn’t even know about it.
  • Character meets in general are still slightly distanced, but no masks, and there are tons of them all day long. The Navigator app (which is the only place to see the day’s schedule now, no more paper version) had them all listed, but not by name. We asked for more information on which characters were meeting when, but were told Disney purposely leaves that information out because they don’t want people to start lining up in advance. Instead you’ve just got to show up (most happened in the Atrium) and see who’s there. I will tell you that by doing that in the afternoon on our Nassau port day, I got to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, Stitch, and Captain Hook & Smee, all in pirate costumes, all with no waiting.
  • We came very close to not being able to have our day at Castaway Cay because the winds were too strong for our first attempt to dock. We were soooo close to the island and then had to back away, it was gut wrenching. Luckily things cleared up a bit and the captain made a second attempt later, and we ended up with a beautiful day on the island. Disney tries their best and I was told that in some cases, if the entire day is a wash, they can attempt to use a scheduled sea day to visit CC instead. I’m sure it’s rare, but it does happen that weather can prevent a safe docking, so keep that in the back of your mind.
    We rented a cabana on Serenity Bay, the adult-only beach, and enjoyed it immensely. I recommend water shoes for going in the ocean and to watch out for ocean life. I’ll never forget the woman on our second cruise who was up in arms because she “hadn’t been told” there would be fish in the water. “This is Disney! Couldn’t they keep the fish out?!” Personally, I love the little guys that are everywhere right near the shore.
serenity bay
Things I Wish I Knew About Going on a Disney Cruise – 2022 Edition Click To Tweet
  • Back on the ship, I saw a number of cruisers using ECVs (scooters) without too much difficulty. The elevators, though, were rather tight. I also didn’t see any accessibility for the pools, and personally would have dreaded navigating one around any of the dining rooms.
  • One of my favorite things on previous cruises were the hot tubs in the adult-only section, which have glass bottoms and look out over the ocean. But the jacuzzi jets were on the lowest possible setting, barely stirring the water at all, so that it was basically just sitting in very hot still water with other people, which is weird. Several of us asked the pool attendants if they were malfunctioning, but we were assured they were working just fine. It so happens that we were staying Concierge on this cruise, and up on the Concierge-only deck, the hot tub was working just fine, with jets at full blast. No idea what that was about.
  • I haven’t said much about staying Concierge because I honestly couldn’t say if we’ll ever be able to do it again — it’s pricey. But for what it’s worth, we did enjoy it very much. The lounge is a nice home base and the staff all very helpful. We stayed in a one-bedroom suite and it was an insane amount of space. Including a whirlpool bath tub. Which I used several times. I mean, a tub on a cruise? Crazy.
  • Even in our fancy schmancy room, though, there were hardly any electrical outlets. One near each side of the bed, but the one on my side was being used by the phone. One in the bathroom. Two in the living room area. And then a couple more near the floor in hallways, I’m assuming to facilitate cleaning and housekeeping. We had a rough time getting everything we needed powered up. You’re not allowed to bring power strips on board, but you are allowed to bring a USB hub. If we’d done that, it would’ve been no problem.

Going on a cruise is a lot of fun, but does require some planning — you’re out in the middle of the ocean and you can’t run to Walgreens for anything you forgot. Hopefully some of these tips help you plan your trip.

Happy Cruising!

Review: Savor the Savanna at Animal Kingdom

We loved this private tour so much, we’ve taken it twice! Savor the Savanna at Animal Kingdom is a guided tour where you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of Africa.

The tour has a maximum of 12 persons (over the age of eight), which means it’s bound to be a small, intimate group. Amazingly, our first time through back in 2019, we were the only two people on the tour! These days, though, now that enchanting extra experiences are up and running again at Disney, that’s very unlikely to happen. Our second tour was full, but I will tell you it made for a fun-loving and congenial group. We loved getting to know everyone on our tour, as well as the excellent Cast Members who guided us.

Our tour began at 4:30 in the afternoon (times may shift depending on the time of year). We were asked to check in at least 15 minutes before that time at this booth just outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safari.

tour check in booth

There was a quick form to read and sign and we were ready to go. Entering through the safari ride area, we got onto a special vehicle that would take us out onto the savanna, utilizing slightly different paths than the regular ride vehicles. The Savor the Savanna bus has seats in a u-shape around the perimeter. There is a little jostling around to be aware of. I have a less than perfect back, so I made sure to sit in a corner where I could better brace myself. Meg, our guide, was seated next to me.

ride vehicle

The adventure begins with a drive through the west savanna where we saw plenty of animals — wildebeests, rhinos, and of course giraffes.

giraffe

We also got a chance to speak with one of the savanna’s zookeepers, where we were encouraged to ask any and every question we had about the savanna and the animals that live on it. We definitely had a lot of questions! We also got to get a lot closer to those giraffes by taking a different road than the one regular safari vehicles follow.

Review: Savor the Savanna at Animal Kingdom is a can't miss tour! Click To Tweet

Then it was time to head to our boma right there on the savanna — if you’ve taken the regular safari tour you’ve surely seen it in the distance.

boma

Here, cast members treated us to a yummy tapas-style meal, with a sampling of African-inspired cuisine, paired with a selection of regional beer and wine offerings. And there was also a never-ending supply of POG juice, aka Jungle Juice, the most delicious fruit drink every Disney fan knows and loves.

food on tour

We were welcome to as much as we cared to eat, though with a full tour we did run out! There was dessert offered as well. Our guides were on-hand to answer any questions we might still have. There is also a restroom available at the boma, which was a welcome amenity.

Soon it was time for the second part of our tour, traveling through the east savanna and getting a chance to see elephants, cheetahs, and the safari’s famous three lions. We caught the male waking up from a nap:

lion yawning

The second half of the tour went by quicker, and I should tell you that it was quite a bit more boisterous — there was wine and beer available with dinner, and many of our companions imbibed joyfully. It made for a lively and fun bunch. We enjoyed meeting everyone and were very glad we’d done this tour again. I doubt it will be our last time Savoring the Savanna.

Savor the Savanna is $174 per guest and should be booked in advance. Guests must be at least eight years of age and if under 18, need to be accompanied by an adult. All guests on this tour should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back or neck problems; motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate. Guests in ECVs need to be able to transfer to an available wheelchair. Theme park admission (as well as a park reservation) is required and not included in the price of this tour.

Disneyland replaces annual passes with a new Magic Key program

Disneyland has announced today a new program to replace annual passes, called Magic Key.

“When you’re a Magic Key holder, Disneyland is your land—you’re a townsperson on Main Street, U.S.A., a galactic citizen of Batuu, a hero at Avengers Campus, a local at Pixar Pier and beyond. You belong to the community of core Disneyland fans who all share a passion and love for the parks.”

The Dream Key has no blockout dates. Blockout calendars for the other Keys can be seen here:

Believe Key blockout calendar

Imagine Key blockout calendar

Enchant Key Blockout calendar

“Luca” is Pixar’s next film

Opening in 2021, Luca promises to be a delight.

luca pixar

Pixar Animation Studios announced today that its next feature film release will be “Luca.” Directed by Academy Award® nominee Enrico Casarosa (“La Luna”) and produced by Andrea Warren (“Lava,” “Cars 3”), “Luca” is set to open in U.S. theaters June 18, 2021. The voice cast has yet to be announced.

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, the original animated feature is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta, and endless scooter rides.  Luca shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface. 

This movie sounds like a beautiful love story to Italy, friendship, and growing up. I can’t wait to see it.

“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” coming to theaters this fall

Frozen fans — there’s a new Frozen mini-movie coming your way this fall, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure!

This isn’t the first Frozen short to be released — Frozen Fever came out in 2015 and was a lot of fun. But while Frozen Fever clocked in at seven minutes long (typical for a Pixar short), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will be a 21-minute featurette complete with four new original songs! Watch the trailer below:

From Walt Disney Studios:

BURBANK, Calif. (June 13, 2017) – Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) and Pixar Animation Studios are teaming up this holiday season when WDAS’ new featurette “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” opens in front of Disney•Pixar’s original feature film “Coco” on Nov. 22, 2017. The new trailer for the featurette will run in front of Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3,” beginning this Friday, June 16, when Lightning McQueen’s new big-screen adventure opens in theaters nationwide.

“I’m thrilled that Disney Animation’s featurette ‘Olaf’s Frozen Adventure’ will be coming to theaters in November with Pixar’s ‘Coco,’” said John Lasseter, chief creative officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. “It’s a perfect pairing – they’re both beautiful, heartfelt films about families and how people carry traditions forward. I can’t wait for audiences to get to see both of these terrific projects together on the big screen.”

Featuring four new original songs, the 21-minute featurette welcomes the original cast and characters back to the big screen, including Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), who is on a mission to harness the best holiday traditions for Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel) and Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff). Directed by Emmy®-winning filmmakers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (“Prep & Landing”), produced by Oscar® winner Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6”), with original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (“Between the Lines”), “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” will be in theaters for a limited time beginning Nov. 22.

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre

Last weekend my husband and I went to Disney Springs to see Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s new live action version of the animated classic. (The movie was wonderful,  by the way!) We decided to head up to WDW for the movie so we could do some shopping, be immersed in Disney, and to try out AMC’s Dine-In Theatre.

Seating is reserved. The chairs are comfortable, but getting old; the leather is stiff and aging. They lean back but in a desk chair kind of way, not like the feet-up recliners you see in a lot of theaters these days. In front of you there’s a table for your food, which conveniently has a foot bar I found very comfortable to prop my feet up on. It’s not stadium seating at all, though; there isn’t much slope to the floor so I wouldn’t get seats too far in the back. Overall, the theater viewing room itself needs a refurb soon.

disney springs amc

Our movie was at 11 AM, so we got there a little early to get our food order in right away. There are menus waiting for you, as well as silverware and 3D glasses, if needed. You can look at the full menu here on Disney’s site, but it offers a wide array of choices, including but not limited to burgers, boneless wings, nachos, sushi rolls, flatbreads, teriyaki bowls, mac & cheese, salads, wraps, tacos, chicken tenders, fish & chips, and doughnuts. You can also, of course, order traditional movie fare such as popcorn, candy, and drinks.

When you’re ready to order, you press a button at your table.

disney springs amc

Shortly thereafter, a waiter arrives and takes your order. The food arrived rather quickly after that — we had everything, drinks, appetizers, and main course, before the movie started. The waiters were all extremely helpful, polite, and attentive. Definitely a little of the Disney spirit of customer service going on there.

Review: AMC Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatre at Walt Disney World Click To Tweet

You don’t have to order early, though. And if you need anything during the movie, like a refill or napkins or dessert, just push the button and your waiter comes by again. This, though, was my biggest concern about a dine-in theater. I hate it when people talk, use their cell phones, or do anything distracting during the movie. It drives me crazy. People ordering food, waiters walking around, all during a Disney extravaganza and remake of one of my favorite movies, that I’d waited over a year for? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Weirdly, though, it wasn’t at all distracting. The aisles are wide and the waiters really know how to be unobtrusive. It was fine, no problems, no distractions. Trust me, if there’s ANYONE this arrangement was going to bother, it was me, and it didn’t.

So, on to the food!

disney springs amc

We ordered two appetizers, the first being the Crispy Brussels Sprouts. They were very nicely seasoned, crunchy-crispy, and the cheese was a nice added touch. I know everyone isn’t a fan of Brussels sprouts (though I don’t know why not!) but these were delicious.

disney springs amc

We also got the loaded tater tots, and these were a little disappointing. The tots did have cheese sauce, bacon, scallions, and Ranch dressing, but not the way I’d imagined it — there was just a drizzle of each on top of regular old tater tots. Which are always yummy, but I expected something a little more decadent.

disney springs amc

Both of us had burgers and fries as our entrée. The fries were pretty good, especially while they were still hot. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, nicely greasy. The burger wasn’t exceptional, though. The bun was fine but the patty itself was overcooked and dry.  My husband got the Royal Burger, which was loaded with bacon, brie, carmelized onions, sweet fig jam, and Royal sauce, and he didn’t notice that it was dry, given all those gooey toppings. A better-cooked burger to start with, though, would be a good improvement all around.

We had a great time at the AMC Dine-In at Disney Springs and would definitely go to a movie there again, especially a Disney movie, just to feel a little more immersed in the land of the Mouse. A few updates, a fresh coat of paint, and a better meat thermometer and I’d give it an A+, but even without those it’s a fun experience I can definitely recommend.

 

New Beauty and the Beast teaser film poster

Just posted by Emma Watson on Facebook — the new teaser poster for Beauty and the Beast. I’m DEFINITELY going to need one hanging on my wall.

 

poster Beauty and the Beast

The poster is for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The film, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, brings the story and characters audiences know and love to life in a stunning, cinematic event, is directed by Bill Condon and features an extraordinary ensemble cast which also includes Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Beauty and the Beast will be released in U.S. theaters nationwide on March 17, 2017.

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal Collection 2017 debuts

The Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal Collection for 2017 debuted at New York International Bridal Week yesterday, and the gowns are enough to make any bride feel like a princess for a day. These amazing creations were inspired by Disney Princesses — Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Aurora, Snow White, Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine, and for the first time ever, Mulan and Pocahontas.

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Pocahontas

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Mulan

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Ariel

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Belle

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Belle

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Cinderella

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Cinderella

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Elsa

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Rapunzel

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Tiana

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Snow White

 

Alfred Angelo Disney Fairy Tale Bridal

Jasmine

 

I got married three years ago and I did love my dress, but I confess I would have been sorely tempted by some of these. I did wear the Alfred Angelo Snow White Veil though!

wedding-veil

 

Golden Oak, where Disney World is home

golden-oak-entrance

Have you always dreamed of living at Disney World? (Who hasn’t?) Well, at Golden Oak, you can — but at a steep price. Located near Disney Springs and nestled diagonally across from Disney’s Port Orleans resort, Golden Oak offers that dream to a very exclusive audience indeed — homes start at $2 million and go way past $10 million, which does not include over $20,000 annually in homeowner association and club fees.

So what do you get for that price, aside from a presumably beautiful house and proximity to Disney World? Lots of luxuries, it turns out.

golden-oak-snow-whiteTastefully appointed Disney touches throughout the development: Golden Oak does scream “Disney”, but it whispers it ever-so-elegantly. This bronze sculpture of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a favorite.

Interior design with a bolder Disney brush: While there are numerous architectural restrictions on the classically styled homes in Golden Oak (as with many gated communities), on the inside, owners can feel free to explore their inner Disney to the fullest, including Hidden Mickeys, murals, statues and all kinds of interior stylings reflecting favorite Disney characters.  Some owners are restrained, but others let their imagination run wild. From The Huffington Post:  “Rial Jones, whose construction company is one of eight approved to build in Golden Oak, has become accustomed to building full-blown Disney fantasies. One house under construction, for a single man in his 20s, will feature a drawbridge between the bathroom and bedroom and a submarine-themed basement with a porthole providing an underwater pool view. Jones is also building a 20,000-square-foot house that will include a Cinderella-inspired 50-foot-long ballroom, an “Alice in Wonderland” themed bunk room with singing cake platters, and a re-creation of the Haunted Mansion’s stretching room.”

Access to the Four Seasons: Golden Oak is also home to the five-star Four Seasons. Residents can access all of the Four Seasons’ amenities.

Transportation to and from the Parks: The complimentary shuttle and mini-coach service is dedicated to Golden Oak residents along with their guests, who can be dropped off at any of the four Parks, Disney Springs, or either of the water parks.

Concierge services: The Golden Oak Resident Services team brings Disney’s renowned guest service culture directly to residents and their guests. The team can help assist with select personal, residential and resort requests, for a fee. To name a few:

  • Disney parks and special event tickets
  • Private VIP tours
  • In-home dinners and parties
  • Disney-inspired holiday décor
  • Dining reservations
  • Spa reservations
  • Golf tee-times
  • Home maintenance services

golden oak logoSales of homes at Disney’s exclusive Florida community are doing quite well. Named after the Walt Disney Company’s California ranch, the original projections for the gated community expected these costly retreats to mostly function as vacation homes. But most buyers are moving to the Mouse full-time, prompting Disney to urge realtors to market the remaining properties in the 300-home development to families.  (I can’t imagine it’ll be a hard sell — where else can Disney-obsessed millionaires live out their fantasies?)

For most of us, Golden Oak is far out of reach — but, I suspect, on quite a few “if I win the lottery” bucket lists!

 

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