Oct 052009
 

By Susan Kirby


ship

Destination weddings have become a popular way for couples to celebrate their love with family and friends. Disney has made this easier for brides and grooms with their Fairytale Weddings Department that provides a wedding coordinator to assist with every step of the planning for the bride and groom. But what does a guest do to prepare for a destination wedding? My family got the chance to find out when my sister decided on a Disney Cruise Line wedding last summer.

Planning started the last week of December as my sister and I checked prices and availability for cabins on a 3-night Disney Cruise that would also be able to accommodate the wedding. Disney only allows two Fairytale Wedding events per sailing to ensure the bride and groom feel it truly is their special day.

Once the cruise was booked and wedding confirmed for Castaway Cay planning began in earnest. Other than deciding on a wedding dress, the groom’s clothing, flowers, and music, there really wasn’t much planning for the bride and groom. I, on the other hand, had the concern of just what to wear to a wedding on Castaway Cay for my husband, two sons, and of course myself.

The four of us were driving to the port, so we did not have to worry about meeting airline luggage requirements, but I still wanted to keep things simple for packing. We also had to consider the heat in the Bahamas in July. Wearing a coat and tie would be impractical and look out of place.

Personally, my biggest concern, as is true for many women, was shoes. The location my sister picked was on the beach itself as opposed to the pier location. This translated in my mind to needing shoes for all of us that were not too hard to walk in on sand. After numerous discussions with my sister over shoes, she finally decided to wear flip flops or go barefoot depending on the temperature of the sand. My family did not go that casual in the end, but we did decide the boys were fine with Crocs.

shoes
The shoes and the sand had to mix!

Six months later, all planning was done and everyone was on their way to Port Canaveral and the Disney Wonder. After we had checked in and eaten lunch (the “welcome aboard” lunch at Parrot Cay for us, and Beach Blanket Buffet for my parents), we were able to drop our luggage in our stateroom and explore the ship empty handed.

During this time, we just happened to look down at the atrium where guests were still boarding and see the wedding couple walk onto the ship and hear their introduction. For those of you who have not sailed on Disney, a Cast Member introduces each family and welcomes them aboard. Both the future bride and groom looked a little dazed and overwhelmed at this point. Later on we met up with them and the rest of the family by the Mickey pool. About an hour before sailaway, my sister and her fiancée left to meet with the onboard wedding coordinator. Since the wedding would not take place until Castaway Cay day, the first night onboard and the day in Nassau were no different than for anyone else on the cruise (other than the extra excitement in anticipation for us!). 

Shortly before dinner in Nassau, an invitation was left outside our stateroom to attend the wedding the next morning on Castaway Cay. We were instructed to meet in the atrium the following morning and we would be escorted to the ceremony site on Castaway Cay.  As we ate breakfast, the Disney Wonder approached the dock at Castaway Cay.

We returned to the stateroom to get ready for the wedding and take pictures around the ship while we waited for the wedding coordinator, Jerome, and the rest of the family that would be headed to the site together. The bride and both mothers would follow a little while later. The groom, best man, and guests left the ship as a group and were driven to the beach on two extended golf carts. Fortunately, the weather was perfect the morning of the wedding, but it quickly got very warm in the sun. The beach wedding location is at the far end of the family beach just down from the Heads Up Bar allowing for a perfect backdrop of the Disney ship that brought you to paradise. Thankfully, they kept us supplied with ice water.

bride
The bride arrives.

A third golf cart approached, this one decorated with flowers. The bride had arrived! The keyboard player began to play the music picked out earlier by my sister and her husband. The wedding ceremony was performed by a Bahamian official arranged for by Disney.

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Aug 242009
 

By Susan Kirby

What could be better than a cruise on one of the Disney ships? My family was already looking forward to experiencing what Disney had to offer at sea when a little piece of mail came that raised the anticipation even higher. I ripped into the envelope to discover that we were on the first Disney Channel Summer at Sea cruise for 2009! After a momentary debate with myself, I decided to tell my boys about this new twist of events and was promptly rewarded with shrieks and screams. It also turned into being asked to check the Disney Cruise Line website several times a week for new additions to the star line-up for our sailing. The finalized list for our cruise included Corbin Bleu, Brandon Smith, Doug Brochu, Roshon Fegan, and Tiffany Thornton.

As advertised, the Disney Channel Summer at Sea cruises hold scheduled events with the stars throughout the cruise. If these are offered again, the first chance to see the stars is during the sail-away party. In our case, this was moved indoors due to a thunderstorm, which made viewing more challenging. It was quite entertaining, though, to listen to the conversation of teenage girls change depending on which star was being introduced. From a distance my husband and I observed a taping of an interview with Corbin Bleu while the Disney Wonder was in port in Nassau. This was not listed as an event in the personal Navigator, and really did not appear to be in an area that allowed for an audience. Later on that day, there was a concert at the Goofy pool featuring a live performance by Corbin Bleu. Other official events included autograph sessions and a “Get the Scoop” question and answer session with all the stars. On our cruise, though, these two events took place on Castaway Cay day so we had other plans and did not make either of these.

The teens traveling with our group did get the chance to just hang out with at least a few of the stars and their siblings on the first night and talk to them a few other times as well. The two teens with us reported back that overall the Disney Channel kids and families were not that different than the kids they normally would hang out with. We also observed one of the stars during downtime on the last night. He interacted with other teenagers before and during karaoke and posed for pictures when asked by other kids.

Disney Channel Summer at Sea allows families to experience some neat opportunities that most of us would not be able to get in other locations. At the same time, for those cruising who have no interest in the added activities, it does not detract at all from the regular Disney Cruise atmosphere. I do not think I would purposely set out to book a cruise just based on this addition, but it would not keep me from booking a cruise, either. Who knows, though — as my boys get older and depending on which stars are included, it might be enough of a draw for my family. What is certain is we will continue to cruise with or without the Disney Channel Summer at Sea.

Dec 152008
 

By Susan Kirby

Universal

There was a time when I had no interest in venturing to that “other” theme park in Orlando. As far as I was concerned, the only theme-park vacation was a Disney park. My husband and I had gone to Universal Studios Orlando for one day when we were first married, and to be honest I just wasn’t that impressed with the park. Even though we weren’t frequent Disney visitors at that time, I think Universal just didn’t measure up to the Walt Disney World pedestal in my mind. Eight years later, though, thoughts of betraying my beloved Walt Disney World started creeping in to my head.

We received a tempting coupon in the mail for a free one-day two-park pass as Florida residents, and as a travel agent, I really did need to complete my Universal Studios certification. Plus, maybe a two-night getaway to Universal Studios Orlando would be a fun way to celebrate my husband’s thirtieth birthday, since he is not as big a Disney fan as my kids and I. The deal was sealed when my parents offered tickets to see the Blue Man Group in Orlando.

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Jul 162007
 

By Erica Colmenares

Most people look back on the past year on the first of January. Since we’ve been parents, I tend to be more introspective in the summer. The kid’s passed another grade (whew!) and a new school year beckons. Recently, I had the opportunity to also look back on the mountain of writing we’ve done here at Magically Speaking over the last three plus years. Carol Garcia updated the Magically Speaking archives, and I took a trip down Memory Lane. In 88 issues, we’ve published over 176 articles. That’s a heck of a lot of Disney info!

Many of you may not have been around for all of these great articles. And you may be too busy to read all 176 articles today (gasp!). So, I’ve culled out a few highlights (although frankly, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch, and I’m definitely impartial).

A Couple I Wrote and Liked
The ones I wrote and didn’t like, well, I’m not linking to them. 😉

FASTPASS FAQ
What are these babies, and how much do they cost?

A Sneak “Peak” at Expedition Everest
Woo-hoo, it’s finally opened, and I went to the AP Previews!

Beyond the Disney Dining Plan: Getting Groceries for a Walt Disney World Vacation
Hmmm, what about a little breakfast food and some soda for the room?

On-site or Off: The Perennial Question
I’m not biased. Nope, not me.

A Different Kind of Attraction: The Spa Massage
The Saratoga Springs Spa is NICE!

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Feb 122007
 

By Susan Kirby

Walt Disney World is one of the most magical places on earth for many people. Most of us take the sights and sounds for granted as we soak in the atmosphere, but for some there are extra challenges presented by the logistics of navigating the crowds and attractions. For those of us who don’t deal with special needs on a regular basis, it’s important to remember all disabilities are not visible. Is a vacation to Walt Disney World worth it for visitors with special needs? Most families and individuals who have made the effort to attempt it would say “yes!”

There are many types of disabilities and a variety of ways that Disney can deal with them. While planning for any Walt Disney World vacation is important, it becomes even more so when you’re traveling with special needs. Disney offers information about traveling with disabilities to Walt Disney World. There are resources for guests with mobility disabilities, visual disabilities or hearing disabilities. Guest Services, which can be found at all of the parks, is more than willing to help you with your specific needs, or those of anyone in your party. If you have any questions when you arrive, or special issues that you hadn’t anticipated before arrival, that is the place to get your answers.

One of the methods Walt Disney World uses to assist families with special needs is the Guest Assistance Card, or GAC. While many mobility issues are readily apparent because of wheelchairs or other aids, there are a host of disabilities that are not readily visible. The primary need addressed by the GAC is autism or similar disorders that are not immediately apparent. The GAC will allow your family to use alternative waiting areas for the attractions instead of the standard line. Depending on the ride or show, GAC holders and their travel party may enter through a Fast Pass line, wheelchair entrance, or through the exit. Simply show the pass to the Cast Member and they’ll direct you to where you need to be. If you have a family member that would benefit from the GAC, it’s a good idea to bring a note from that individual’s doctor stating what the disorder is and why that diagnosis will cause issues for him or her to wait in line. When your family arrives at your first park go to Guest Services with the note and ask for the Guest Assistance Card. It may be beneficial to make sure the family member is with you as well.

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Jun 052006
 

By Susan Kirby


1957, with Walt: Left to right, rear: Tim Considine, David Stollery , Roy, Jimmie, Tommy Kirk, Me; Don Agrati (later, Grady on “My Three Sons” with Tim C.), Linda Hughes, Lynn, Cheryl; Seated: Karen, Cubby, Walt, Moochie (standing), Sharon, Bonnie Lynn Fields (there were two Bonnies on the MMC). Foreground: Tommy, Darlene, Annette
Photo Copyright Disney

“Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company.  M-I-C- See ya real soon- K-E-Y, Why, because we like you! M-O-U-S-E!”   Fifty years ago this is how a popular television show ended every episode.  For four seasons a group of kids came singing and dancing into America’s homes, many of them becoming well known to the viewing public. So what happened to the original Mouseketeers after singing this for the last time in 1959?

To start, let’s take a quick look at where they started. There were thirty-nine total Mouseketeers during the original series. Out of that number, only nine were part of the entire series. Twenty-five of the Mouseketeers were only on for one season. There were 360 episodes filmed, according to Disney, but NONE of the Mouseketeers appeared in all of them. The schedule would not allow, for the coordination of 3 hours of school, 1 hour of lunch and 4 hours of work a day. At that time, six days allowed for kids and no school, thus, 7 hours of work on the 6th day – which meant they would be in different episodes, some schooling, some rehearsing/wardrobe fittings etc. and some shooting.

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