Dec 302015
 

By Rikki Niblett

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2015 was a crazy busy year for Walt Disney World, however 2016 looks like it’s shaping up to be even more exciting. There are a lot of great things that those of you planning trips for the new year should look forward to that will make your vacation even more eventful. Here are my Top 5 things you should expect to see at Walt Disney World in 2016.

  • Construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Ok, this first one is going to be more of a warning than anything else. One would expect 2016 will be the year of the construction wall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A good chunk of the park will be closed off to Guests as Disney prepares for Star Wars Land. (And we still don’t 100% know what’s going and what’s staying…we could still lose a few more attractions along the way.) So, be prepared for lots of walls and long waits for attractions that are there. As a silver lining, the new Star Wars stuff is pretty cool and is a good diversion to enjoy while visiting the park.
  • Soarin Around The World:  Announced at this year’s D23, Soarin Around the World will take guests on a journey to far-flung lands, where they will fly above some of the world’s most unique landscapes and man-made wonders, including the Great Wall of China and Monument Valley. No time table has been announced on the official opening date of this attraction, but it is expected to be open by the summer.
  • Frozen Ever After: For those who love Frozen, this attraction is for you! The attraction which takes place in the former Maelstrom building, will take guests through the world of Frozen, past Troll Valley and Grandpappy Troll, then past Olaf singing and ice skating, past Anna, Kristoff, and Sven, and yes, even through the infamous “Let It Go” scene with Elsa. Guests will also visit Marshmallow and the Snowgies too! This attraction is slated to use the latest AudioAnamtronic technology, and it will be interesting to see it when it’s finished. (Which is rumored to be late spring/early summer.)

Disney Springs

  • Disney Springs: The multi-year expansion is almost done! In 2015, we saw the opening of quite a few new restaurants, including The BOATHOUSE, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, and Morimoto Asia. We also saw the inclusion of many new shops in The Landing. In 2016, the remaining restaurants and shops will open, including The Edison, Frontera Fresco, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine, The NBA Experience, Lily Pulitzer, Tommy Bahama, UGG, PANDORA, Sprinkles Cupcakes and more! There will be plenty of great new options to choose from. Disney Springs really has seen a renascence and I look forward to the future enhancements.
  • Rivers of Light: This upcoming Disney’s Animal Kingdom nighttime spectacular is going to be a sight to be seen. The show, which will take place on the Discovery River in between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest, will feature a pair of mystic hosts who have come to the river and are bringing with them the gift of light. During the show, the hosts will journey from the shores to lantern vessels and will present dances of water and light to summon animal spirits. It seems like it will be an experience like no other and it is expected to debut in the spring of 2016.

See! There’s a ton going on a Walt Disney World in 2016! Now, of course, this is just a start of what guests can expect for 2016 and I’m sure as the year goes by, we’ll get a ton of new updates on other great attractions, shops, and restaurants we’ll also be able to experience in the parks and resorts. What upcoming attraction are you most looking forward to?

Mar 252015
 

By Rikki Niblett

Get Frozen This Summer at Disney's Hollywood Studios

This summer at Walt Disney World, it’s gonna be so hot, it’s cool. How’s that? Well Walt Disney World is kicking off its Coolest Summer Ever this year, which means that once again, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests will be able to see their favorite characters from Frozen at the Frozen Summer Fun LIVE event. The fun is scheduled to take place from June 17 through September 7.

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Last year was the first year this exciting event, so because of that, this year’s offerings have been tweaked just a little, but don’t you worry– it will still be just as fantastic as ever! (And I can promise you that you’ll hear the songs from the movie only a few thousand times during the day.)

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To start off the day’s activities, guests will be able to catch the mini-parade called the Frozen Royal Welcome. Here guests will be able to see a cavalcade roll through Hollywoodland, featuring the Royal Arendelle Flag Corps, skaters, skiers, ice cutters and more. The parade will lead off with Anna in a horse-drawn sleigh, Elsa will be seen on a beautiful ice palace float, plus Kristoff and Olaf will be there too! It’s a great little parade that will delight all ages, for sure!

Now for those of you who just can’t let it go…this year, there will actually be two parade stops along the route – one on Hollywood Blvd. and one along the route by Echo Lake. During the stops, everyone will be invited to join in in singing “Let It Go.” The parade will take place twice daily. Check the Times Guide for exact parade times.

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Last year brought us the extremely popular For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration show, and good news, the show is continuing…however, there will be one teeny, tiny change. The show will actually be moving into a new theater…the recently renamed Hyperion Theater. (Otherwise known as the former Superstar Television Theater, which previously housed the American Idol Experience.)

For those who haven’t yet seen the stage show, the Royal Historians of Arendelle share the story of Frozen through a comedic retelling, which includes lively sing-along portions. The show also features special appearances by Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff and it really is a cute experience. I was able to catch it on my last trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. (And I am not Frozen obsessed, but I don’t have Frozen Fatigue either. Though my hubby did enjoy the show too…so that’s a plus for it.) I actually laughed out loud in some parts and of course, had the urge to belt “Let It Go” with the rest of them! FastPass+ will be available for guests who want to experience this offering in its new location.

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Of course, every Disney event features some sort of specialty beverages and food. Guests will be able to enjoy many different Frozen-inspired dishes. In addition, there will be lots of merchandise, photo opportunities, Frozen decor and more!

On the main Event Stage, which will be similar to the temporary stage that’s been used in the past at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, (for those who don’t know, the Sorcerer’s Hat has been removed, and the stage was previously able to be seen directly in front of the Hat), guests will be able to experience a few unique offerings. First, there will be Olaf’s Summer Cool Down! I love Olaf and here, you’ll be able to catch him and some of his friends, like the Ambassador of Hollywoodland, up on stage to have a little fun “In Summer”. And as temperatures heat up, Olaf happily shares a burst from his personal snow cloud to cool things off.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Disney party without a DJ, so DJ Chill will be on hand at the Event Stage playing some sick beats. He will be joined by some of your favorite Disney characters too! Guests will even have the opportunity to be featured on the screen by utilizing a special hashtag! So get your selfie face ready!

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To end the evening, you knew there would have to be fireworks, right? The Frozen Fireworks will close out the night, as Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf come together at the Event Stage to help kick off the fantastic fireworks show that will be set to the music of Frozen. Oh and be on the lookout for snow flurries too! These fireworks are simply mind-blowing! You don’t want to miss them.

I did mention that there would be a few changes. Unfortunately, this year, there’s no Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, which means no ice skating and no snow playground. That’s kind of a bummer, because that was a really unique aspect to last year’s event.

Also, if you want to meet Anna and Elsa, do know that the only way to do that is to head to the Magic Kingdom. The sisters are only meeting guests at the Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland.

The Frozen Summer Fun LIVE event is a ton of fun, just like the name implies, and it is a can’t miss event for those of you with Frozen fans in the family! Will you be making sure to spend some time in Hollywoodland (otherwise known to us as Disney’s Hollywood Studios) to see your Frozen favorites? I certainly enjoyed experiencing it last year and I know I will be partaking in the cool excitement this year too!

Feb 252015
 

By Rikki Niblett

 

Top 7 Best Things About the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

So, while most of us are still dealing with super freezing temperatures and piles and piles of snow, Walt Disney World is currently getting ready for the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. This year’s Festival takes place from March 4 through May 17. For this year, I feel like we will see quite a few new events, as well as some old standbys too. Details are still trickling out about this year’s event, so, I thought I would share with you my Top 7 Best Things About Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival. These are all things that I think you simply do not want to miss out on experiencing if you’re visiting the Festival this year!

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  • Topiaries: One of the key aspects, to me, about the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival are the topiary displays. These are gorgeously created plant sculptures which look like Disney characters, as well as other designs. This year, there will be a few new characters, such as Ann and Elsa from Frozen and my favorites, Chip n’ Dale. Of course, many guest favorite displays will be back too, such as Mickey, Minnie, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Snow White and more. These topiaries are incredible works of art and the best part is that they are scattered all around the park! You never know when you will run up on one. Don’t forget to take these beautiful designs in at night too, as they are illuminated in gorgeous light.
  • Garden Rocks Concert Series: What was once called the Flower Power Concert Series has been renamed as the Garden Rocks Concert Series. With the new name comes the new opportunity to introduce different and “more current” acts. (I say “more current” because I don’t think many of these artists have had a huge hit in like 20 years, but they are still fantastic artists that guests will enjoy.) Guests can expect to see acts like the Gin Blossoms, STARSHIP, John Secada, Taylor Dane, and of course, the perennial favorite…Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone. The concerts take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at the American Gardens Theater at 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:00 PM.

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  • Outdoor Kitchens: The Outdoor Kitchens are relatively new to the Festival, but they have quickly become a smash hit. There are 11 different kiosks, in all and each one offers guests the opportunity to purchase fresh-inspired bites. I love this festival’s options because they focus on offering a lot on different fruits and veggies! Booths include (keep in mind, that this is not a full list, just a taste of what you can expect.):

Botanas Botánico (New!)

  • Seafood Ceviche
  • Cachapa con Queso
  • White Corn Arepa
  • Coconut Tres Leches
  • Polar Beer
  • La Tizana
  • Monte Paschoal Reserve Tannat
  • Monte Paschoal Natural Brut White Sparkling Wine
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Piggylicious Cupcake

 

The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews

  • Pulled pig slider with cole slaw
  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapeños
  • Smoked Debreziner Sausage
  • “Piggylicious” bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch featuring Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Billy’s Chilies, Twisted Pine Brewing Company (Boulder, Colorado)
  • Floridian Hefeweizen
  • Category 3 IPA
  • Maple Bacon Stout
  • Beer Flight Featuring a Selection of Craft Beer
  • The Original Rib Shack Red Wine
  • Frozen Lemonade (with Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey Optional)
  • R.C. Sweet Tea made with Twinings Cold-Brewed English Classic Tea

Urban Farm Eats

  • Kale Salad with Dried Cherries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese
  • Quinoa Vegetable Naanwich with Arugula Pesto and Oven-Dried Tomatoes
  • Ghost pepper-dusted tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick It Up Rub
  • Urban Mary: Spicy Tomato Juice, Lime Juice, and Worcestershire, with shot of Vodka (optional)
  • Cucumber lemon spa water, finished with a sprig of fresh mint
  • Hess Shirtail Creek Vineyard, Chardonnay
  • King Estate Acrobat Pinot Noir
  • Crispin Blackberry Pear Cider

Pineapple Promenade

  • Spicy Hot Dog with Pineapple Chutney
  • Pineapple Soft Serve
  • Pineapple Soft Serve with Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Macadamia Nut Flavored Rum
  • Pineapple Soft Serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
  • Frozen desert violet lemonade (nonalcoholic)
  • Ace Pineapple Hard Cider
  • Sparkling Pineapple Wine
  • Berry Tea Cocktail with Twinings Cold-Brewed Mixed Berry Tea

Fleur De Lys

  • Gnocchi Parisien à la Provençal – Parisian-style Dumplings with Vegetables and Mushrooms
  • Confit de Canard, Pommes de Terre Sarladaise – Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes
  • Macaron Guimauve à la Fraise, a Strawberry Marshmallow Macaron
  • Ice Pop Combination of French Peach Iced Tea, Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, and Vodka.
  • La Vie en Rose frozen slush – Vodka, Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liquor, and White and Red Cranberry Juice
  • Kir Imperial – Sparkling wine, Chambord and Black Raspberry Liquor
  • Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 – Fruity White Beer with Citrus Notes

Taste of Marrakesh

  • Falafel Pocket with Cucumber Tomato Salad and Tahini Sauce
  • Harissa Chicken Kebab with Couscous Salad
  • Pistachio Baklava
  • Mint iced tea
  • White sangria
  • Guerrouane red
  • Desert Rose — Sparkling Wine with Pomegranate Liqueur
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Frushi

 

Hanami

  • Frushi – Fresh pineapple, strawberries and melon, rolled with coconut rice, topped with raspberry sauce, sprinkled with toasted coconut and served with whipped cream on the side
  • Teriyaki Curry Bun
  • Salmon Sushi
  • Kirin draft beer
  • Yuzu Plum Wine Slush
  • Strawberry Nigori
  • Karatamba Sake

Primavera Kitchen

  • Pinwheel of Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Ciabatta Bread
  • Three cheese manicotti – Egg pasta stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce and béchamel
  • Lemon Panna Cotta
  • Placido Pinot Grigio
  • Placido Chianti
  • Bosco del Merlo Prosecco
  • Corbinello
  • White peach bellini – Prosecco and white peach puree
  • Strawberry rossini – Prosecco and marinated strawberries
  • Frozen Italian primavera – Assorted fruit slushy with limoncello and vodka
  • Moretti Lager
  • Moretti La Rossa

Florida Fresh

  • Watermelon salad with pickled onions, BW Farm baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction
  • Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro
  • Florida Blueberry and Lemon Curd Tart
  • Watermelon passion fruit slush featuring Simply Lemonade
  • Key Lime Sparkling Wine
  • Blonde Ale
  • Channel Marker Red Ale
  • Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale (Festival exclusive)
  • Jai Alai
  • Beer Flight Featuring Florida Craft Beers
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Beijing-style Candied Strawberries

 

Lotus House

  • Beijing-style candied strawberries
  • Kung Pao Chicken Bun
  • Vegetable Spring Roll
  • Oolong Peach Bubble Tea
  • Kung Fu Punch – Vodka and triple sec with mango and orange juice
  • South Sea Storm – Guava juice with light and dark rum
  • Plum wine
  • Tsing-Tao beer
  • Honey Mango Wine Cooler

 

Jardin de Fiestas

  • Tacos al pastor – Corn tortilla filled with achiote-marinated pork, garnished with grilled diced pineapple, onions and cilantro
  • Vegetarian Quesadilla
  • Flan de chocolate Abuelita – Mexican chocolate custard
  • Tecate with Patrón Citrónge
  • White Mexican sangria
  • Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita
  • Tequila Liqueur Flight

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  • Ten New Gardens: This year’s festival will feature 10 all new themed gardens, such as a gnew healing-and-health garden, a pepper garden, a dinosaur-plant garden and a Shakespeare garden, among others. Each one will be designed with a different storytelling element in mind.

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  • Gardening Seminars: If you are looking for a way to learn from some of the best gardeners out there, then these gardening seminars are perfect for you! They will take place at the Festival Center each weekend and will include demonstrations and presentations in the late morning/early afternoon.
  • Beautiful Colors: One of the best parts about the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is to see color again…this is especially true with how cold and blah this winter has been. Guests will see lots of pops of color, from the quilted pattern that’s prevalent along the lake, to the front entry way display, to the flower towers and other mini set-ups scattered throughout the park. There’s just something so magical about seeing these wonderful colors once again. (Makes me feel like Spring really is around the corner!)

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  • Fun For Kids: For those who say this event is for the adults, think again! There are playgrounds, like the Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden and Cactus Road Rally Garden with Mater and Lightning McQueen. There’s also the infamous Butterfly Garden where little ones can see both butterflies, as well as get a first-hand view of cocoons and learn something about the process. Of course, if the kiddos are feeling adventurous, consider picking up a Garden Passport (this could be for the adults too!) and have them get the passport stamped after trying something from each of the Outdoor Kitchens! This is a great way to have them maybe try things they wouldn’t normally try by turning it into a game!

As you can see, there are a ton of reasons to visit this year’s Epcot Flower and Garden Festival…but don’t just take my word for it! What is your favorite reason to experience this festival? Make sure to let us know!

Dec 312014
 

A Walt Disney World Year In Review - 2014 Month By Month

By Rikki Niblett

Wow…2014 has come and gone…how did it happen so fast? One day we’re waiting on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to open, the next day, it’s got hour plus waits all day, every day. It truly has been a fantastic year in the Walt Disney World community, so let’s take a look, month by month at some of the highlights.

Spice Road Table

January

  • Avatarland broke ground: Was Avatarland going to happen? We got our answer when ground officially broke, with many Disney dignitaries and a Na’vi posing with the shovels. Looks like we really are moving forward with this new land. Now, we wait until 2017 until the area opens.
  • Spice Road Table opens: This new restaurant, located in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot opened with tepid reviews. Recently, Disney revamped the menu and began allowing for Advanced Dining Reservations, so we’ll see if that helps to increase the number of patrons at this restaurant.

February

  • Bye PUSH: It was a strange removal. One second, we heard the rumors that PUSH the talking trash can would be leaving, the next Disney said he was staying, then a few days later, the interactive character was pulled. We’ll miss you PUSH. Thanks for the fun memories and conversations.

Festival of Fantasy Parade Maleficent

March

  • The debut of the Festival of Fantasy Parade: Wow! That’s really all you can say about this parade. (And this comes from someone who’s not a parade person.) This parade brought so much to the table. It brought multiple princesses, swinging ruffians, colorful floats, lots of dancing, and of course, a fire-breathing dragon. How does it get much better? This was a cool parade.

April

  • Anna and Elsa move to the Magic Kingdom: And thousands and thousands of guests lined up to meet them. This meet and greet quickly saw wait times of a few hours. The opening of the park quickly became an orderly walk back to Fantasyland, as all guests wanted to do was meet Anna and Elsa and ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (more on that.) Moving these two to Princess Fairytale Hall was a slam dunk idea. And little girls everywhere are super happy when they get the chance to meet their favorite Disney sisters.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

May

  • New announcements: We had quite a few new things announced this month, including Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Trader Sam’s Grotto Grog at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Now we wait for the future when those both appear.
  • Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade ends: This was a sad day; the end of the parade for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The reason behind the removal was due to construction taking place at the park (understandable), but we still miss getting to see an afternoon parade here.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train debuts: Yay! This was the one we were all waiting for…for months and months…and months. Finally, the day came at the end of May. The attraction is super cute and features some incredibly impressive AudioAnamatronics. I expected the swaying motion to make the attraction more intense, but it really just helps the whole thing to glide better. It’s rollicking fun for the whole family.

Festival of the Lion King

June

  • Festival of the Lion King debuts in new theater: The show had been down for refurb for the majority of the year to this point, but I have to say that this new area is simply gorgeous! Disney got the theming perfect. It really feels like the building has been there forever. And what’s great is that the show didn’t change too terribly much, so that’s good too. A better experience and the same show we know and love? Again, how do you get much better.

Frozen Summer Fun Live

July

  • Introduction of the Frozen Summer Fun Live events: The smash hit of Frozen brought this smash summer success. (Rumor is this event was throw together in just a few weeks.) The event brought us a fun parade, a stage show called “For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”, a dance party, and a merchandise location themed after Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post from the movie. This event was so popular it was extended and then some pieces continue on to this day. (The sing along and Wandering Oaken’s.) It really was good Frozen fun.

August

  • American Idol Experience Closes: That was a quick closure. It had been said originally that the attraction would be closing in January, but then it was announced that it would be closing a full six months earlier. Many rejoiced as the attraction closed, given that most wondered why the attraction was introduced in the first place.

Backlot Tour

September

  • Backlot Tour Closes: Another surprise closure! One that really came out of the blue. The Backlot Tour closed with minimal lead time. While the attraction had been cut down multiple times throughout the years, it was still sort of sad to see an opening day attraction close down, no matter how sad of shape it was in.

Canadian Lumberjack Show

October

  • Maelstrom Closes to make way for a Frozen attraction: The rumors had been swirling for about a year, but it seemed as though the rumors were true. Maelstrom in Norway closed at the beginning of the month as fans went to say their final goodbyes.
  • World Showcase Acts removed and new acts introduced: This year we said goodbye to Mo’Rockin, the World Showcase Players, the Fife and Drum Corps, and Off Kilter. We also got to welcome the new Moroccan female group, B’net al Houwariyate; a flag waving troupe,  Sbandieratori di Sansepolcro; celtic group, The Paul McKenna Band, and Canadian Lumberjack Show.

November

  • Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow closes: Another closure for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s clear something is afoot. This time is was the lackluster Pirates themed show. I don’t think many will miss it.
  • Turner Classic Movies make deal with Disney: This was a match made in heaven. Turner Classic Movies will sponsor The Great Movie Ride and will include a new pre-show and updated movie clips. In addition, Disney weekends will occur periodically on Turner Classic Movies.

December

  • Trattoria al Forno opens: Opening in the place of Cat Cora’s Kouzzina, this new BoardWalk Inn restaurant features Italian dishes.

It’s hard to believe that so much happened this year! And 2015 is sure to be an exciting year with the debut of Disney Springs and the updated Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort opening with a new pool, new DVC villas, and most important, Trader Sam’s! What is your favorite Walt Disney World news piece from 2014 and what are you looking forward to for 2015?

Nov 122014
 

By Rikki Niblett

Top 10 Best Things About Cruising with Disney Cruise Line

I’ve been in your shoes before. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about potentially taking a Disney Cruise Line vacation, but you just don’t know. You’ve mastered a Walt Disney World or Disneyland vacation, but would you really enjoy a Disney Cruise Line one?

I can answer this question with a resounding YES! Without a doubt, a Disney Cruise Line vacation is one of the best vacations around. But why? What makes cruising a great option? Well for that answer, I have 10 reasons…my top 10 Best Things About Cruising with Disney Cruise Line!

 

Disney Cruise Line Stateroom

  • Staterooms: Not only are the staterooms larger than most other cruise lines, but they come with some unique features too. For many rooms, the bathroom is a split bath; a shower and sink in one part and a sink and toilet in another. Another neat perk is lots of storage space to hide luggage (like under the bed) and for those who don’t have a view of the ocean, on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy they offer the virtual portholes, where you can see exactly what is going on outside, but courtesy of video screens! (Be on the lookout for Disney characters which may pop up!)

Disney Cruise Line Wait Staff

  • Rotational Dining: One of the things that is unique to Disney Cruise Line is rotational dining. Here guests rotate to the three different restaurants each night, but their dining staff rotates with you! This comes in handy because your staff knows what drinks you like, what items to recommend, and more. Honestly, the dining staff become like family to you too. You bond with them, chat with them, and yes, even take photos with them at the end of your cruise…like we always do.

Disney Cruise Line Pools

  • The AquaDuck/AquaDunk: These two water slides are one of a kind options only available on Disney Cruise Line ships! (The AquaDuck is on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy and the AquaDunk is on the Disney Magic.) If you are a water slide fan at all, you’ll want to experience these for yourself. If you’re not a water slide fan, there’s lots of areas to swim and play. There’s the Aqualab, the Nemo Reef section, and of course the Mickey Pool! Swimming in some form is a guaranteed must while cruising and what better way to do it than on these fantastic ships?

Oceaneer Lab

  • Oceaneer’s Club, Oceaneer’s Lab, Vibe, Edge, and every other kid’s section: Holy cow! What can I say? These kids sections are fantastic! There is just so much to do that oftentimes kids don’t want to leave. (Heck, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want to leave…too bad I’m a grown up.) It’s playtime, all the time and it’s oh so fun! (And during the open house portion of these areas on the first day on the ship, I may have had some fun playing too!)

Palo Brunch

  • Palo Brunch: Want to know the ultimate in meals (at least according to me.) It’s Palo’s Brunch. Only offered on at sea days and for an extra cost, the brunch is a must do, can’t miss, if you can. There are so many different options to choose from. You have great breakfast options like fruit, yogurt, salmon, danishes, and more. Then for lunch choices you have different salads, shrimp, ahi tuna, etc. Then on top of that you can choose to order flatbreads. Oh then you can choose to order an actual brunch meal, such as pancakes, omelets, or even chicken parmesan. Finally it’s the dessert course. If you don’t roll out of here stuffed to the gills, you did something wrong.

Pirates in the Caribbean Night

  • Pirates in the Caribbean Night: Did you know that special to Disney Cruise Line is the Pirates in the Caribbean party? It starts with the guests who are encouraged to dress the part. Then guests get to partake in a special dinner menu. Guests are to head out to the deck where the Pirates in the Caribbean party is taking place. There’s a special version of the show for kids and then a version that’s a little scarier (I mean…as scary as you can get for Disney) later in the evening. Of course you will not want to miss out on the fantastic fireworks extravaganza. (Did you know that DCL is the only cruise line that offers fireworks.) Oh and then to top it all off, most of the time there is a wonderful midnight buffet, which features delicious dishes, along with turkey legs! It’s a arrgh-tastic!

Senses Spa

  • Senses Spa: Are you looking for a little luxury during your vacation? Look no further than Senses. Here you can have all the pampering you want done (of course for a price.) You can get manicures, facials, and even massages. Of course, my favorite section is the Rainforest Room, where guests can sit on heated loungers, enjoy “private” hot tubs, take a steam, or rinse off with the famous rainforest shower heads. (Do keep in mind that you can purchase a Rainforest Room pass, but they are only available on a first come, first served bases starting as soon as you board the ship.)

Disney Cruise Line Tiny Touches

  • Disney touches everywhere: While Disney Cruise Line is of course a Disney ship, the Disney touches aren’t so in your face. There are little things everywhere…some more open than others. You can see the touches in the stairwells, you can seem them in the artwork, heck, you can even see them in the elevator (look at the arm telling you what floor you are on.) Though there are times when you forget you are on a Disney ship, the details are so wonderfully hidden; like a giant Disney Easter egg hunt! It’s so elegant and regal. The whole ship! Of course, there are more overt touches too…like the Mickey Pool or Mike Wazowski’s Eye Scream Ice Cream. But you want to know one of the coolest Disney touches? You can be walking down the stairs and literally run into a Disney Princess. Yep…it’s happened.
  • Broadway Caliber Shows/Other Entertainment: Can I just say that the entertainment and the staff here on DCL is redonkulous! Oh my gosh! They are just so, so great. (Actually all the Cast Members are top notch. Really, you won’t find one who doesn’t work super hard to make your vacation fantastic.) But as far as entertainment Cast Members, they get the party pumping from the moment you step on the ship until you dock back home. The Broadway caliber shows are just incredible too. They are so special and most tug at the heart strings. Do not miss these! You also have the option of playing game shows, they keep the clubs thumping, and they have lots of activities going on the pool deck. There’s really just a ton to do. Don’t worry about being bored on a Disney Cruise Line vacation…it’s really the opposite…you’ll have too much that you want to do and not enough time to do it in!

Castaway Cay

  • Castaway Cay: How can you not talk about Disney Cruise Line and not mention Castaway Cay. For many, many sailings, stopping here is a requirement. It’s like an extension of the ship. It is the epitome of a tropical island. There’s so much to do too! If you want to go parasailing, you can. Want to feed a sting ray, you can. Want to go on a bike ride, yep. Want to run a 5k, that’s a yes. Want to play in the ocean…yes sir! Or if you just want to rest on a lounge chair and read a good book, you can do that too. Castaway Cay is the ultimate paradise and a major reason why many choose to cruise with Disney Cruise Line.  (And the ultimate is the Castaway Cay double dip, which I get to participate in next time. It’s where you visit Castaway Cay twice during your cruise!)

As you can see, a Disney Cruise Line vacation is a ton of fun! Honestly, this vacation is one of the best ones we’ve taken. I’m more of a go-go-go Walt Disney World vacation taker…my hubby prefers to relax…but on a Disney Cruise Line trip, we are always able to meet right in the middle. Preferably on Deck 4…but that’s another great hidden gem that I want to keep to myself. (Oops…I think I gave it away.  Darn!  Well, it’s between me and you, right?)

Jan 082014
 

By Rikki Niblett

 

I kinda want to still buy this coconut...

I kinda want to still buy this coconut…

The past couple of days arctic cold has been rushing through the country.  It’s been so frigid everywhere, yep, even in Florida, with lows dipping into the 30s!  (Somebody go find Elsa please and help change this winter back to summer).  While most people know how to better handle the heat in Florida, oftentimes, people forget about the cold.  Trust me, it can be quite difficult to navigate the parks when it’s this chilly out.

My first piece of advice is the most obvious.  Make sure to bundle up in layers.  This is especially true if you aren’t going to be returning back to your hotel before night sets in.  The layers will be key because they will keep you warmer.  Then, if by chance you do end up getting too warm, you can just take a layer off and put it in a bag.  (PS: make sure to bring a bag).  Then when it does get cold again, you can quickly remedy it.  I usually bring a hoodie that I can wear on top of my many layers.  That way I don’t need to wear a big, bulky coat, but I am still protected from the frigid temps.

Also, you really want to consider bringing scarves and gloves (And maybe a hat too.  Gotta keep those ears warm!).  Having these items with you is critical because there is nothing worse than being down there and realizing you really need them and then have to pay Disney prices for something that you already own  (Unless, of course, you want to bring those items back as a souvenir!).

My warm purchase...my expensive warm purchase

My warm purchase…my expensive warm purchase

I can’t tell you how important it is to be prepared.  When I visited Disneyland a few summers ago, I thought, oh…it’s summer…a dress will be fine.  That is until the evening started to hit.  Then, I was the one guilty of buying a sweatshirt, since I absolutely didn’t know that it gets cold in California in the summer.

Something else I like to suggest is to bring those hand warmers that you shake up and then can wear in your gloves or other places.  Seriously, those suckers are amazing!  One of the best inventions ever!  These have helped me in situations both at Walt Disney World and at home.  Such a lifesaver!

For those with kids, especially of the younger set, don’t forget to keep them warm too.  Consider bringing a little fleece blanket with you to keep them warm.  You can bundle them up when they are in a stroller and keep them content.  Also, this way they (or even you) can try to cuddle up in it while you’re waiting for a parade or a fireworks show.

You may also consider grabbing a hot beverage.   Many counter service locations will serve up hot chocolate as the temps dip, or you can always stop at Starbucks for a warm beverage to help!

DSC01670

Daisy should be wearing a coat! Short sleeves….

The best thing about the parks when it’s freezing out, is that you can really manage most aspects of touring the parks without being forced into the elements for too terribly long.  Since most of the parks attractions are housed all indoors, you won’t have to remain outside for very long.  Also, when it gets colder, many people opt to stay away from the parks.  So it’s your opportunity to experience the parks with minimal crowds.

Alas, there is a worse thing though about touring the parks when it’s cold and that’s nightfall.  The daytime is usually fine.  Things tend to be more bearable because the sun is usually warming your body.  But once night falls and that sun disappears, the temps drop rapidly.  It can be hard to stay motivated to remain in the parks.  If you come prepared though and can stick it out, once again, you will likely experience the parks with lower crowds.

One way of working around the nighttime cool down is to make an later evening table service dining reservation.  This way you are still in the parks, but you aren’t outside in the nippy atmosphere.

My last tip is if you just can’t stand being outside in the elements when it’s this cold, I suggest heading over to the Wilderness Lodge and sitting by the fireplace, soaking up the atmosphere.  This resort just screams a homey feeling and there is nothing better than sitting by a warming fire in the arctic temps.

While the cold can put a bit of a damper on your vacation (especially considering Florida is the land of fun in the sun), if you take the right precautions, you can have a great time.  Because a cold day in Florida is still better than a cold day at home.