Disney Planning – Disney Dream 4-Night Cruise

IMG_1069I am so stoked about our upcoming Disney Cruise.  Sure, I have a little weekend at Walt Disney World first during which I need to run 19.3 miles, but hey! Once that’s behind me, Raymond and I are off to Port Canaveral to catch our ride…uhm boat…I mean SHIP for our first cruise aboard the Disney Dream.

This will be our 7th Disney Cruise, but the first one sailing from Florida since 2010.  We’ve missed the Disney land-and-sea combo!  We’ve missed Castaway Cay!  I’m admittedly feeling a teeny bit apprehensive about sailing on one of Disney Cruise Lines newer, larger ships.  All of our previous cruises have been on either the Magic or the Wonder.  Will the Dream seem foreign?  Will I get lost?  Will I like it as well as our two favorite ships?  We shall see.  I am, however, really excited about our plans.  So today I’d like to share with you the five things I’m most looking forward to!

Disney Planning – Disney Dream 4-Night CruiseCastaway Cay's Mt. Rustmore

  1. Dining at Remy!  If you’ve read any of my previous cruise trip reports then you already know that we are HUGE fans of the adults-only dining aboard Disney Cruise Line.  We always have at least one meal at Palo (this cruise is no different).  Since this will be our first opportunity to check out Remy, we decided we should have both brunch and dinner there.  In the interest of research.  For you.  We are totally doing it for you. (Seems awesome now that we have Remy in our kitchen in the form of cruise art we purchased a few years back on another Disney Cruise.)RM-Remy-Print
  2. Nassau.  We are looking forward to this port of call because we are staying on the ship!  We have no excursion plans.  We are hoping all our fellow cruisers will get up and go…right off the ship so we can have the place to ourselves.  We’ve booked dining and spa treatments and personally, I’m planning to rest my feet with this in mind…Family Beach on Castaway Cay
  3. The Castaway Cay 5k.  I’m a little disappointed that there’s no runDisney, post-Glass Slipper Challenge, official Castaway Cay 5k the way there was last year.  It meant an extra medal and was a very cool deal.  In fact, if I remember correctly, Raymond thought we should book this very cruise just so I could take advantage of the opportunity should it again be offered.  Oh, well,  the regular 5k on Castaway Cay (Disney’s private tropical island paradise) should still be available and I bet Raymond will run it with me to keep me company…which will be excellent. (Love you, Honey!)View of Castaway Cay
  4. Senses Spa – We’re spoiled.  We love the Senses Spa and also the on-board exercise facility.  This cruise, we’ve once again booked a couples massage.  After the Glass Slipper Challenge and the Castaway Cay 5k, this will be such a welcome treat!IMG_1449
  5. All the rest – the special, unique, magical Disney Cruise components that keep us coming back for more.  The adults-only areas of the ship, the shows, the roomy stateroom, the rotational dining – all of it!  This will be our first cruise alone.  I know we’ll miss our kids – especially since we had such an incredible time last year on the Disney Magic as she made her inaugural trip through the fjords of Norway.  In contrast to that epic, action-packed, fun-filled, super busy vacation, this one will be more low-key, but with new and exciting elements for us to experience for the first time.
Have you sailed on the Disney Dream?  Any there tips or tricks we need to know?

Trader Sam’s or Jock Lindsey’s?

When there’s something new at Walt Disney World, be it restaurant, show, attraction, or lounge, we are anxious to check it out!  Recently we had the opportunity to stop in for refreshments at two new (to us) Disney pubs – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village Resort) and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Disney Springs).Trader-Sam's-Wall-Decor

Since we were staying at the Polynesian in the new DVC Villas, we hit Trader Sam’s first. Having heard it was small and filled up fast in the evenings, we decided to get there right at opening time (4:00 pm).  It is indeed very small – a hole in the wall almost literally.  It’s located behind an unassuming door near Captain Cook’s on the ground floor of the Great Ceremonial House.  Trader-Sam's-Volcano Trader-Sam's-Menu-PageTrader-Sam's-Interior Trader-Sam's-DetailsWe ducked inside and were immediately impressed by a million details and no small amount of ambient noise.  It’s dark inside and feels very closed-in due to the many artifacts and items used to create the theme.  The bar was wide open, so be bellied on up and took our seats.Trader-Sam's-Raymond Trader-Sam's-Tentacles

What to order?  The menu was large and contained a wide variety of drink choices as well as some delicious sounding snack options.  I wanted a specialty drink, but knew that some of them could be quite pricey, so I chose the relatively economical Polynesian Pearl.  Raymond ordered the Kona Beer Flight and we decided on the Pan-fried Dumplings with Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce to snack on.Trader-Sam's-Kona-Beer-Flight Trader-Sam's-Dumplings

Like many of the signature drinks, the Polynesian Pearl was made with quite a bit of ceremony and flair (no spoilers here).  Raymond’s beer flight was delivered in the customary way.  Not a fan of mixed drinks, I wished I’d have ordered something with fewer ingredients than the Pearl, but I enjoyed the presentation if not the actual drink itself (I did keep the drink container, but consumed less than half the contents).Trader-Sam's-PearlTrader-Sam's-Drink-CeremonyThe dumplings were very delicious.  Our take-away?  Service:  Adequate, not overly friendly. Mixed drink: so-so.  Beer flight: thumbs-up. Snacks: A-OK!  Atmosphere:  Cave-like and noisy from both people and special effects.   (Read all about Trader Sam’s theme and backstory plus many more details here.)Jock-Lindsey's-Sign

We found Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar just opening for the day when we happened to have a few spare minutes before our lunch reservation at Morimoto Asia.  Upon entering, we found a bright, very well-themed lounge with soaring ceiling, smiling servers and plenty of seating.  Jock-Lindsey's-Interior Jock-Lindsey's-Shelves Jock-Lindsey's-Flight-JacketLike Trader Sam’s, the details are absolutely incredible.  We became totally immersed in the theme.  Also like at Sam’s, seats at the bar were open, so we sat on down and were immediately greeted by our very friendly server, “Howdy” (a nickname she was given due to being from Texas).  She was full of interesting facts about the bar and was ready with suggestions about what we should order to eat.  When we told her we’d just stopped in for a beer and were headed to lunch across the way at Morimoto Asia, she was happy to offer her recommendations on what we might like to eat there.Jock-Lindsey's-Howdy Jock-Lindsey's-Bar-Seating Jock-Lindsey's-Beers Jock-Lindsey's-Bar

The menu is an entertaining book full of clever add-ins along with the bar’s selection food and beverages.  We ordered Orlando IPAs and, since there was hardly anyone else there, I wandered around looking at all the neat stuff – and there are a LOT of cool artifacts.  Jock-Lindsey's-Menu-Cover Jock-Lindsey's-Menu-Page Jock-Lindsey's-MenuAgain, no spoilers – you really need to see this place and discover all the fantastic surprises for yourself!  It’s sort of a cross between a museum and a hoarder’s garage, but the combo definitely works!Jock-Lindsey's-Details Jock-Lindsey's-Cast-Member Jock-Lindsey's-Reggie's-Revenge Jock-Lindsey's-Swizzle-Sticks

Between the two…Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto or Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar…which one do we most want to visit again?  It’s Jock’s, absolutely.  The atmosphere, service, and overall experience trumped Trader Sam’s (our opinion).  While we enjoyed both locations and were pleased with how well-themed and kind of funkily (is that a word?) retro they both are.  Jock’s left us wanting more and we are even now planning how to squeeze in another stop there on our next Walt Disney World vacation (two weeks to go!).

Have you been to Trader Sam’s or Jock Lindsey’s?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!


Disney Dining – Shula’s Steakhouse

Shula's-Place-SettingSo many restaurants, so little time!  At Walt Disney World, steak-lovers have no shortage of options.  Three popular choices include Le Cellier (Epcot, World Showcase Canada Pavilion), Yachtsman’s Steakhouse (Yacht Club Resort),  and Shula’s Steakhouse (Dolphin Resort).  We’d tried two of the three and on our most recent trip to the World made dining at Shula’s for the first time a top priority.  And we were so happy we did!

Disney Dining – Shula’s Steakhouse

If you’re not a football fan, brace yourself for the décor when you walk through the door (you’ll get used to it once you taste the first bite of food).  If you ARE a football fan, you are going to love Shula’s theme.  Shula's-Orlando Shula's-Dining-Room-OrlandoThe original Shula’s Steakhouse opened in 1989 (Miami Lakes, Florida) and, according to our hostess, the first menus were printed on footballs.  This explained why she escorted us to our table carrying a football (one of the menu-bearing ones) – which she left on our table for us to examine at our leisure.Shula's-Football

The wait-staff (dressed formally in black and white) is very serious about making dining in Shula’s an excellent, worth-the-splurge experience.  They are professional yet friendly and informative – a team working together to achieve the goal (see what I did there?) of scoring a return visit from first-time guests.  In our case, it was a big victory.Shula's-Wine Shula's-Bread

We started with an appetizer to share – the BBQ Shrimp – recommended by our server, Kyle.  The unique sauce and preparation made this dish a big hit with us.  Sweet, tangy, smoky and with a lovely crunch of bacon!Shula's-BBQ-Shrimp

We also shared a salad – the Chopped tomato and mozzarella, which was also delicious, but in hindsight, we should not have ordered because we could not finish the most important course of the evening.Shula's-Salad

It really is all about the steak.  Raymond and I each ordered a filet.  According to Shula’s website, the “Shula Cut” is key to how these (insert adjective of your choice here.  Ours include amazing, incredible, indescribably delicious, ridiculously tender, and unbelievably tasty) steaks achieve their well-earned reputation.  Shula's-Filet-Two Shula's-Filet-OneSeriously – if you love steak, you will be ecstatic.  Kyle stepped in with another recommendation on a side dish – the corn.  Corn?  Seriously?  OMG!!!  This was not like any corn we’d had before.Shula's-CornLike Kyle, we highly recommend the corn!  We also ordered a side of sautéed spinach.  (If you’re old enough to be a Quick Draw McGraw fan like me, we were like Snuffles the dog with our dinner!)Shula's-Plate-Before

Without a doubt, we loved our experience at Shula’s and wouldn’t change a single thing – except maybe skipping the salad so we could have finished our steaks and eaten more corn!  We skipped dessert and made our way back to our room at the Polynesian with joyful taste buds and full bellies.  Shula’s is now, without a doubt, our favorite steakhouse on Disney property.  Note:  Shula’s is not on the Disney Dining Plan, but does accept Tables In Wonderland.

Have you been to Shula’s?  What did you order?  Did your experience match ours?

Disney Collectibles – Wall-E Bank

Finally the weekend has arrived!  I don’t know how your week went, but I hope it didn’t feel as looooong as mine did!  I’m planning to squeeze as much fun as possible into the next two days before Monday morning hits again.  I love my job, but it comes with a certain amount of stress, and during the year-end report season, no small amount of drudgery.  I suppose having one of those weeks is what prompted me to select this particular article for Saturday’s With Nick.  Are you a Wall-E fan?  Then you’re going to love this very special item from Nick’s collection….

Disney Collectibles – Wall-E Bank

By Nick

A few years ago, an unlikely hit, and one of my all time favorite movies was released by Pixar. That movie is Wall-E.
I have a few Wall-E items, and today I’d like to share this Disney Store exclusive bank.

This is a large bank, measuring 8″ high and 7″ wide.

Change slot on the back.

The stopper is in the bottom.

Wall-E is, at it’s heart, a movie about a blue collar worker, who carries a red lunchbox, and after a long day’s work just wants to come home to the woman he loves, enjoy his collections, and listen to a good show tune. Wall-E is essentially about me.

To read more about Nick’s amazing Disneyana collection and all his Disney adventures, visit the Disney Musings Blog and follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  You can also listen to Nick, our friend Dave, and me on The Disney Exchange Podcast where we talk about….well, I bet you can guess.

Headed to Walt Disney World in 2016 for the Princess Half Marathon? The Disney Exchange Podcast will be having a meet-up on Sunday, February 21st! Details will be available on The Disney Exchange’s Facebook Page and also on Twitter. We’d love to see you there!!!