Meeting Mickey on Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line With Teens

Disney Cruise Line / Classic ShipTeens!  Can’t live with ‘em,….pass the beer nuts. (super enormous bonus points if anyone besides Raymond can get the 80′s TV reference there).  They were such adorable little kids once.  They looked up to you.  They liked spending time with you because you were smart and funny.  One day you wake up and everything has changed!  Suddenly you’re stupid and embarrassing.  The eye roll becomes a primary mode of communication.  You literally find yourself succumbing to bribery to get a couple of confrontation-free hours in your child’s company.  What the heck just happened?

You’re not alone!  The teen years can be such a challenge, but can also be pretty rewarding. Disney Cruise Line with Teen Boys The hard part is that one minute, your offspring want to be treated (and act) like little kids – two seconds later, they’ll insist they’re old enough to make their own decisions, go it alone, need space, yadda, yadda…..oy!  Every moment seems fraught with potential hostility – yours and theirs.  This is a difficult time – I considered every day we made it through alive and unscathed a blessing – finding a way to vacation harmoniously is pretty darned tricky.

Disney Cruise Line in Alaska with TeensIf you’ve ever considered taking a vacation aboard Disney Cruise Line and you have teens, you’ve reached the perfect time!  A Disney cruise is not just for families with small children.  The teen programs, spaces, and activities on Disney cruise ships are outstanding.  Plan in advance how much family time you want to spend together…and also allow plenty of time for your teen to stretch their independence muscles.  There are plenty of adults-only things onboard for you to enjoy on your own, too!  If you’re traveling with teen boys, all the food they can eat is included in the price of the cruise – that alone makes a Disney Cruise an excellent vacation choice!

I’ve survived enjoyed five Disney cruises with teens (my own and sometimes more!) and we – all of us, individually and as a family, had an absolutely wonderful time on each and every Dancing with Goofy on a Disney Cruiseadventure.  I tried to involve everyone in the planning phase – so limits would be clear on when we would be together as a family and when we could do our own thing (adults go one way and teens another).  This worked well for us – expectations outlined ahead of time seemed to minimize the possibility of disagreements while traveling.  While our teens were off in the teen club participating in fun activities, we were in the spa getting a couple’s massage or enjoying brunch in Palo (one of Disney Cruise Line’s adults-only restaurants).

Every Disney Cruise Line ship has a designated area just for teens (ages 13-17) with Formal Night on Disney Cruise Linecounselors trained to deal with all kinds of teens from all over the world.  There are teen-only excursions in many ports of call and if your ship stops at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, there’s even a dedicated teen beach.  You know your child better than anyone and how much independence they can handle, so my advice?  Just plan accordingly and plan to have a great time – together and apart!

What’s been your favorite vacation during the teen years? 


Rainy day at Disneys Hollywood Studios

Disney Rain Ponchos – More Than Just a Fashion Statement

Enjoying a Rainy Day / Disneys Hollywood StudiosNothing says Walt Disney World vacation like a rain poncho with Mickey Mouse on it.  The fact that we’re willing to pay $8 (technically $7.51) for a big piece of plastic and some snaps says a lot about how important it is for us to sport such stylish rainwear.  We all know it would save a big bunch of cash for a family of four to buy generic ponchos at the local dollar store.  Okay, okay – maybe we sometimes buy those pricey Disney ponchos out of necessity…I mean those unexpected afternoon “showers” can be extreme torrential downpours and maybe we left our cheapo ponchos back at the resort.  However I come by it, I wear my Disney poncho with pride – it adds a certain panache to my vacation wardrobe that cannot be underappreciated.  It also has other practical uses.  You didn’t know?  Well….I’ll be glad to enlighten you!  We need to get our $8-worth out of those puppies!!!Waiting for the bus to Downtown Disney

The Many Uses of a Disney Rain Poncho:

Protection from the elements – Using the poncho for its intended purpose.  When last we were at WDW, it didn’t just rain, it didn’t just pour – it HAILED!  We were huddled inside our ponchos in a tiny alcove outside the entrance to Tower of Terror waiting for our FastPasses to “mature” with about five minutes to go when a storm of biblical proportions struck.  Catch the video here.  Check out the poor guy who let his little one use his poncho (by the strollers) - he was soaked!

As a means to stay dry on water rides – No way would I ride Kali River Rapids without a poncho.  Getting soaked from head to toe would completely ruin Kali River Rapids / Disney's Animal Kingdommy day.  I’m not a fan of shoes that squish when I walk.  But I want to ride Kali, so I don my trusty poncho and let the river take me where it will.

As a seat cushion – a. k. a. Posterior Preserver – Have you ever decided to sit on the curb, in a sunny spot, in Magic Kingdom to stake out a favored parade viewing area?  That concrete can be scorching hot!  Like sitting-on-the-surface-of-the-sun hot.  Just slide that folded-up poncho under your buns and you are golden!  See?  Rain or shine, the poncho ROCKS!

Protect your gear – Say you want to go on Splash Mountain or even Pirates of the Caribbean and there’s a chance your camera, cell phone, or bag will get wet.  Wrap your poncho around your gear to make sure everything comes out safe and sound…oh, and dry, too.Disney Parks Poncho as a Salon Smock

Salon smock – You think I’m kidding?  Oh, I assure you I am not.  Tuck in the hood, add a towel around the neckline, secure the poncho tight with a clothes pin – and snip away.  Home or away, you can keep hair trimmings well away from a body with a Walt Disney World poncho!

Do you buy Disney rain ponchos?  Are there any uses that I’ve missed?




WDW Animal Kingdom Family Picture

What IS it about Walt Disney World?

Trying on Hats at WDWIf you’re a fan of Disney vacations and you visit the Mouse as often as you can, you understand me.  You’ll also totally understand what it’s like to have friends and coworkers completely puzzled by this passion for Disney.  Yes, I’m talking about that most annoying of questions we Disney fans are constantly asked – “You’re going AGAIN?” – that query holds genuine puzzlement, usually with a sprinkling of scorn or worse, pity – as if we’re too immature or unsophisticated to know how and where to vacation properly.  “You do know that Disney World’s for little kids, right?”  Non-Disney fans ask me (and you, I’m sure) why we keep going to the same place for vacation over and over, year in, year out.  I save my answer for the ones I think really, genuinely want to know.  I’ve thought about my response a lot and I’ve had a lot of practice explaining what it is that makes Disney vacations so special to me.  I’ll tell Mother/Daughter Moment at WDWyou what it is and maybe you’ll leave me a comment and let me know why YOU love Disney vacations too.

What IS it about Walt Disney World?

Let me start with a couple of quotes – they’re basically the foundation of what Walt Disney World has meant to me over the years…

“Over at our place, we’re sure of just one thing: everybody in the world was once a child. So in planning a new picture, we don’t think of grown-ups, and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.”- Walt Disney

Waiting for Toy Story Midway Mania“Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old.” – Walt Disney

For me, that’s the major draw of Walt Disney World – remembering.  When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up.  I dreamed of going to college, getting a good job, getting married one day…maybe having a couple of children of my own.  Over time, though, I think the pressures and responsibilities of becoming an adult and focusing on achieving your dreams can cause you to lose a part of yourself – that “original” person you once were before all that life happened to you.  When I’m at Walt Disney World, I rediscover that person – the first me.  The me that was more carefree, less full of the sense of responsibility that comes with being a grown-up.

I’m more patient, more interested in little details, more relaxed, and certainly…lighter, for Having fun at Old Key Westlack of a better word, when I’m on a Disney vacation.  I also think it gives my family a chance to get to know the original me a little bit more than they can at home when I’m worried about getting supper on the table, or whether washing whites or darks will have the biggest benefit for the immediate future.  At Walt Disney World, I totally let go of life’s troubles for a while – I’m not worried about how Joseph manages to make so many holes in his socks or how I’m going to help Megan pick out a new dress on my lunch hour and still make it back to the office to make a presentation on time.  We just have fun.  Together as a family, we are completely ourselves, being together, enjoying a wonderful, magical place.

In line at Disney“Dreams, ideas and plans not only are an escape, they give me purpose, a reason to hang on.” – Walt Disney

After every Disney vacation, we start planning the next one.  It may be far into the future, but we will be planning a way to return to the place that makes us so happy and holds some of our best memories.  We’ve got countdown calendars and when we’re having a bad day (bad week, heck – sometimes just a bad month), we use that future vacation as a reason to keep moving forward, solving problems, supporting each other, getting on with conquering whatever challenges come our way.

It’s become kind of rare for the four of us to be at home for supper these days, but when we have an evening together, we almost always do the same thing…At some point, one of us will silently raise their hand.  This is the “I’m going to Disney World” sign and, one at a time, as we notice what’s happening, we will each raise our hand.  Once we all have a hand raised, we carry1900 Park Fare - Meeting Pring Charming on as if nothing unusual has taken place – but we’ve each been reminded that no matter what’s happening today, we have something extraordinarily fun in our future.  We will all be returning to a place where we are uniquely happy, together.

“When you believe in a thing – believe in it all the way – implicitly and unquestionable.” – Walt Disney

I’d love to hear from you – What IS it about Walt Disney World?  What does it mean to you?

53 Days in Autumn – Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival

Epcot in SummerIn case you’re new here or have somehow missed the first 15 times I’ve made this announcement – I am going to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for the first time this year!  I’m pretty stoked about it, too, as is my husband, Raymond.  See, we’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in September and this trip will be like a second honeymoon.  We’ve been dreaming, planning, and discussing visiting Walt Disney World during Food & Wine for a long time.  I love it when dreams come true, don’t you?

Food & Wine runs this year from September 19th to November 10th.  Raymond andView of World Showcase I will get to experience this special event for 7 days in October.  Mostly, we’ve always wanted to take advantage of all the limited-time food and beverage offerings – the ones everyone with an Epcot park ticket can enjoy at the special kiosks and booths set up for the event’s duration – all the food from different countries not normally represented in Epcot.  According to the Disney Food Blog, this year more than 25 marketplace booths will feature culinary samples from countries including Scotland, Brazil, Argentina and Chili (together in the Patagonia booth), Greece, Puerto Rico, and many more.  You’d think this would be enough, but I was thinking…

Epcot's France / Window DisplayA huge variety of special events within the main event are offered ranging from cooking demonstrations ($15 per person) to food and beverage pairings ($55) to cheese seminars ($79) to Parisian Breakfasts at Les Chefs de France ($39) and also a swanky sounding Italian White Truffle and Wine Pairing Dinner for a whopping $295 per person.  We’ve got only 4 ADRs (advance dining reservations) booked for the week and we’ve got tickets to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party one evening.  That leaves plenty of time to book a couple of really special (romantic even) Food & Wine extra events for the two of us, right?

I’ve narrowed down the choices to a few things I thought we would enjoy that (sort of) fit into our budget and sound a little romantic.  Feel free to weigh in with comments and/or suggestions…Remember, we’ve never been to WDW for Food & Wine before and would welcome any tips and pointers you could offer.

So here’s what I was considering…

French Regional Lunch at Monsieur Paul ($135) – either the “Tour De France” version or the “Bordeaux, Cedric Villars, Les Domaines de Rothschild” session.  Either one will fit in our Epcot's France Pavilion / Monsieur Paulschedule.  They both begin at noon and end at 3:30 pm.  The Disney Food Blog describes this as “Have a four course lunch and learn about paired wines throughout the meal from a winery principle.”  That sounds suitably romantic to me…what do you think?

Another option I think we would like is either the Italian Food & Wine Pairings ($83) or the Italian Food & Beer Pairings ($76).  Both are held at Via Napoli which we’ve heard so many great things about, but have yet to try.  Either option, again, fits into our schedule – can go either Tuesday (beer) or Thursday (wine) from 1:30 – 3:30 pm.  How can we go wrong with Italian food and libations?

Epcot's Morocco Pavilion / Spice Road TableFinally, there are Food & Wine Pairings available at three other restaurants for $55 per person.  Choices include Tokyo Dining, Spice Road Table and Restaurant Marrakesh.  It’s been years since we’ve eaten in the Japan Pavilion and we’ve never eaten in Morocco.  We like to try new things, but I’m just not sure.  These are offered in the afternoon on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Advice is welcome!

Okay – Please!  If you’ve been to Food & Wine or even if you just have an opinion and want to weigh in – help me decide what extra special add-ons we need to make our first Food & Wine Festival experience the best it can be.