Disney Resolutions – Mid-Year Checkup

1900 Park Fare - Meeting Pring CharmingAs hard as it is to accept (time really does fly when you’re having fun!), 2014 is half-over. Can you believe it?  Mid-way through the year is an excellent time to look back at those New Year’s resolutions and give a status report.  Maybe you resolved to eat cleaner, lose weight, or exercise more – Me?  I resolved to complete a list of Disney-related activities – this way, I’m guaranteed to have fun, eat delicious food, and be greatly amused all while feeling good about actually sticking to my resolutions!  See how that works?  No dieting or exercise required and I feel happy and productive!

So – Let’s look at the old January 1st list and see what’s been accomplished thus far….

1.  See These Movies:

  • Million Dollar Arm Ticket StubMuppets Most Wanted (3/21/14) – Been a huge fan my whole life – this is a can’t-be-missed movie for me!  The unresolved romance between Kermit and Piggy keeps me coming back for more. Complete!  Read the movie review here.
  • Captain America:  The Winter Soldier (4/4/14) – I’m diggin’ all the Marvel movies and I think the Cap’s aces.  Enjoyed it!  Read about it here.
  • Million Dollar Arm (5/16/14) – I am just a girl who cannot resist a good baseball movie.  Unexpectedly delightful and the review is here.
  • Maleficent (5/30/14) – Looks darkly intriguing – I think we will love to hate her!  Oh, Yeah!  I was entertained by this new twist on an old favorite and shared my thoughts here.
  • Into the Woods (12/25/14) – Have heard so much about this show – can’t wait to see it! Still on the to-see list!Disney's Maleficent Movie Poster

2.  Book a Cruise – I’ve got a place-holder (aka “dummy”) cruise burning a hole in my pocket.  Since August when we re-booked onboard (while sailing on the Magic in the Mediterranean) – We are anxiously waiting to Disney Cruise Line's Wondersee what the rest of 2015’s sailings look like before making a final decision.  Wishing for Baltic (tie in to Frozen).  As of right now, we are set to sail the Fjords of Norway on the Disney Magic next summer.

3.  Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – I have wanted to do this forever.  2014 is the year!  Tickets purchased, we will knock this off the list in 108 days.Trying Different Disney EarHats

4.  Buy a Fancy New Earhat – sounds easy enough, but I have the most difficult time deciding on one – I always walk away with a Disney baseball cap instead.  Not this year.  No, sir.  After much trial and error, the winning (dare I say PERFECT) hat was located and purchased just a few weeks back.

5.  Eat This Food – I’m up for passing up old favorites and trying out some new places in 2014.  I’m thinking about these:

  • Be Our Guest – I know, right?  Everyone’s Disney's Flying Fish Cafe Exteriorclamoring to get in there – I’ll be lucky to score a visit, but I’ve heard so much great stuff about it.  I’m at least resolving to try my best to get in!  Scored dinner ADRs for October.
  • Flying Fish – I’ve never eaten here.  Chime in if you think I should ditch this plan in favor of something else.  Can’t believe it took so long to discover the incredible food and service!  Yum!  Read all about it here.
  • 1900 Park Fare – For a character meal it has always been Chef Mickey’s but now that we have “adult” children, I thought Lady Tremaine and the Steps might be a bunch of fun.  And fun it was!  We were not disappointed by the food or the company – see what happened here.
  • Hollywood Brown Derby – We have never eaten here and have always heard great things.  IMG_2382Even if we just sit in the new outdoor patio lounge – I’d like to give it a go.  We went and now we know – it’s got great atmosphere, good food, and abysmal service.  Sigh.

6.  Find and Trade a Pin to Complete This Set!  I love pin trading and in 2014 I’m gonna be in-it-to-win-it!  Yeah, Baby!  Watch out flying Orange Bird – you are mine!  A bird in the hand…makes me happy!!!  My collection’s complete.Disney Pin - Flying Orange Bird

7.  Ride the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train – Ugh.  Feels like the Fantasyland expansion has been going on forever!  I am riding this ride, dadgummit – get out of my way.  It was cute, it was fun, and it was discussed completely right here, YouTube video here.

8.  Try These Recipes:  (You may have seen my other posts on cooking Disney food here and here and here)  I like to cook – why not make it Disney food?  Thanks to AllEars.Net for the recipes.

9.  Try a Dole Whip:  They say confession is good for the soul – so now you know my darkest Disney Secret (one of them anyway)…I hid it way down here at #9 so maybe no one will notice.  I have never eaten a single bite of Dole Whip in my life.  Don’t judge me.  I did it!  I tried a Dole Whip and…..watch the video here.

10.  Take Better Disney Pictures!  To my shame, my Disney pictures are mediocre at best.  The great computer crash of 2009 cost me dearly and I just need to learn to be a better Pineapple Dole Whipphotographer overall.  I buy really small cameras because they’re easy to carry.  I’m not sure if I’ll actually dish out more cash on yet another camera, but I’ll do what I can to make the most of what I’ve got.  Promise.  Three cameras, my iPhone, and a new GoPro video rig allowed me to capture all the magic in a big way in May and I cannot WAIT to go crazy with the pics again in October.

So, there you have it – the mid-year status report!  Did you have any Disney resolutions on your list?  How’s it going for YOU?  

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Pixie-Dusted Rest-of-the-Year….Lisa

Disney’s Flying Dutchman – Gone but not Forgotten

Sign for the Flying Dutchman on Castaway CayDisney’s Flying Dutchman – Gone but not Forgotten

For a few years, from 2006-2010, guests on Disney Cruise Line visiting Castaway Cay (Disney’s very own private tropical island) would be greeted by an amazing sight!  Next to the main docking area, moored in a quiet cove, was none other than Davey Jones’ ship, the Flying Dutchman.  She sat in ghostly stillness and appeared to be constructed from intricately carved driftwood – the perfect subject (and backdrop) for amazing vacation pictures.  This very special treat was a breathtaking addition to the already spectacular scenery on Castaway Cay.Flying Dutchman Stern

Highly detailed and exactly as she appeared in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, the Dutchman’s spooky weathered gray exterior, three soaring masts, and ragged, toothy bow delighted visitors – as did the appearance of Captain Jack Sparrow – in a perfect spot on the beach to create the perfect meet and greet.  You and Jack Sparrow – with the Flying Dutchman in the Bow of Disney's Flying Dutchmanbackground!  Jack Sparrow – arrogant, eccentric, and perfectly dressed, down to the smallest detail – would take a few minutes to visit with each guest, ask questions, make hilarious comments and create some wonderful memories (and photo ops)!

Our family was lucky enough to see the Flying Dutchman (and Captain Sparrow) on several occasions during the ship’s time on Castaway Cay.  While weather, time and the elements took their toll on the Dutchman through the years, the magic of those Disney details from bow to stern never ceased to amaze us.  The shore-facing side of the ship was the one we Captain Jack Sparrow Photo Op on Castaway Cayremember from the movies.  The outward-facing side of the Dutchman that could be seen from the deck of the Disney Cruise ship was open and incomplete – like the movie prop the Dutchman actually was.

In November, 2010, the Flying Dutchman was removed from Castaway Cay (rumored to have been dismantled and destroyed), but the incredible wonder of seeing her there, in the Caribbean – straight out of Pirates of the Disney's Flying Dutchman DetailsCaribbean will never be forgotten.

Did you get the opportunity to see the Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay?  What do you remember most about the experience?

The Flying Dutchman's Open SideDisney's Flying Dutchman on Castaway Cay Captain Jack Sparrow Posing With The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman's Open Side Three Masts on Disney's Flying Dutchman Captain Jack Sparrow and The Flying Dutchman

Ten Reasons to Sail on Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line  Ten Reasons to Sail on Disney Cruise Line:

  1. Beautiful ships full of Disney magic and extraordinary service.
  2. The evening shows – excellent Broadway-style entertainment for the whole family.
  3. Designated well-themed areas for children (and teens) with incredibly creative activities and lots of FUN (and safety!).
  4. Designated adults-only areas with adult entertainment, refreshments, separate pools, restaurants, and more.
  5. Castaway Cay – Disney’s Private Island is one of the ports of call on manDisney's Castaway Cayy Disney cruises and it is truly a paradise with something for everyone.  Want to run a 5k?  Ride a bicycle? Snorkel, parasail, swim, eat, dance, drink, play in the sand, lay in a hammock and do nothing at all – in an absolutely gorgeous setting!  Adults-only, teens-only and family beaches ensure everyone can have the time of their life.  Even a massage in a cabana on the beach is available!  (Full review here.)
  6. Castaway Club – once you’ve taken that first cruise, you’re automatically a member with perks for repeat cruisers.  This article gives more details.
  7. Excursions – Disney offers a tremendous number of family-friendly, adults-only and teen-only port excursions and they take good care of you!  We’ve had incredible family adventures (like zip-lining in Alaska, swimming with stingrays in the Bahamas, and exploring the ruins of Pompeii) we will remember for the rest of our lives.
  8. Fish Extender groups and Door decorating!  You can pre-arrange to take part in a gift exchange (like secret Santa) with other cruisers.  You can (and should) bring fun magnetic decorations for your stateroom door. See Fish Extender deets here and Door Décor here.
  9. Characters – They seem to be everywhere and much easier to meet than in the parks.  Drop off a pillowcase or a photo mat and some markers at Guest Services and the characters will autograph your items…which will then be returned to your stateroom.
  10. Parties and First-run Movies –  The Sail Away and pirate-themed parties are both bunches of Meeting Formal Minnie on Disney Cruise Linefun (especially for children).  Each ship’s movie theater shows the latest releases (and favorite Disney movies).
  11. BONUS – Rotational Dining and Room Service.  You keep the same restaurant servers at dinner each evening (unless you dine at an adults-only restaurant) for the duration of your cruise – you get to know them and they cater to (and often anticipate) your every need.  The room service menu items (with a few exceptions) are included in the price of your cruise.  Order appetizers while getting ready for dinner or a show, order cookies and milk for a bedtime snack!  Too tired to leave your stateroom?  Order dinner!

The reasons I’ve just listed are solely based on my own family’s experiences.  We are not people who generally suffer from seasickness – it would be rare for one of us to have an Disney Cruise Line Shipepisode, but not unheard of.  We are a family that loves Disney vacations above all others.  (I believe if Disney had its own ski resort, we would never stray from Disney property or cruise ship.)

The difference between a Walt Disney World vacation and a Disney Cruise Line vacation is, for us, purely a relaxation factor.  All the things we love about Walt Disney World like good food, great service by friendly Cast Members, wonderful resort accommodations, Disney’s magical details (even hidden Mickeys!), meeting Disney characters, awesome entertainment – are all there on a Disney cruise.  What is NOT on a Disney cruise?  Walking ten miles a day, rope-drop frenzy, waiting for transportation in the blazing sun (or late at night), or favorite thrill rides and attractions (but there ARE plenty of View of Castaway Cayadventures to be found on a cruise).  We go home much more relaxed, but completely satisfied that we did and saw a bunch of amazing things!

HOW did we become such big Disney Cruise Line fans?  What made us opt to turn away from Walt Disney World and take that very first cruise?  I’ll tell you – it was our children.  After we got home from a spring break trip to WDW one year (2006), Megan started asking when we would be going back, but  Joseph said,  “WAIT – I want to go to the beach.  I want to see the ocean.  Last time we went to the shore, I was so little I can’t remember what it was like.  We need to go back to the beach!”  And a months’ long argument began between the two of them Grand Cayman Excursionfrom that day forward.

As for me, that’s when an idea began to form – I knew my plan wouldn’t be an easy one to pull off since I was certain Raymond would not initially be on board with it (YES!  score a pun point for me!).  Why not give both children what they want as a Christmas gift?  Land and sea vacation package!  Knowing Raymond would be adverse to the cruise portion of the trip, I talked him into it with 4 days at WDW followed by a 3-day cruise.  He was picturing the cruise being rather like a hostage crisis – he’d be stuck on a ship with nothing to do!  I was determined to show him the joys Disney Cruise Line had to offer.  The happy ending to this tale is that when we walked off the ship, Raymond announced that he’d had a wonderful time and would gladly take a 7-day Disney Castaway Cay's Mt. Rustmorecruise in the future!  (The story of the Christmas gift reveal is here.)

Our baby steps from that first short Bahamian trip to a Disney cruise European adventure went like this:

  • December 2006, Land and Sea (4-days at WDW followed by 3-days in the Bahamas which consisted of stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island)
  • December 2007/January 2008 – New Year’s Eve 7-day Western Caribbean (for Megan’s senior trip), followed by a couple of days at WDW (Orlando to Key West to Grand Cayman to Cozumel to Castaway Cay and back to Orlando)
  • Disney Mediterranean Cruise, Excursion to Florence, ItalyMay 2010 – 5-night Castaway Cay double-dip (+ 2 days at WDW.  Orlando to Castaway Cay to Nassau to Castaway Cay to Orlando)
  • May 2011 – 7-night Alaskan cruise (from Vancouver, visited Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Tracy Arm Fjord, back to Vancouver)
  • August 2013 – 7-night Mediterranean (from Barcelona to Ville Franche, France and then to La Spezia, Civitavecchia, and Naples in Italy, then back to Barcelona) (Trip report starts here.)

Our bravery increased over time – the more fun and adventure we had, the more we wanted to see and do!  The price of airfare was, is and always will be the big holdup for doing more cruisesPirate Party on Disney Cruise Line that leave from distant ports, but we have always had as much fun (or more, gasp!) on a Disney cruise as we have had at each of our 12+ trips to Walt Disney World.  Next up?  Disney’s cruise through the fjords of Norway, summer 2015.

Have you taken a Disney cruise?  If not, have you been considering one?  What do you or don’t you like about the idea?


Disney’s Animal Kingdom – So Long Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade

Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade PuppetDisney’s Animal Kingdom – Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade

Twelve years is a pretty good run for a parade.  Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade, which debuted in 2001, took its last trip around Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 31st – and that made me a little sad.  I’m all for change and everything, but it’s still hard to see the parade that had become such a normal part of a day at Animal Kingdom go away – I’m sure for good.

Let’s take a minute to look at the current Walt Disney World Parade situation…Animal Kingdom Parade Character

Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy and Main Street Electrical Parades, along with some special occasion parades (and the Electrical Water Pageant) are the only ones left at Walt Disney World!  There used to be a daily parade in ALL FOUR PARKS!  Tapestry of Nations (became Tapestry of Dreams) ran at Epcot (1999 to 2003), Hollywood Studios had a daily parade almost continuously from 1991 to 2013, which changed themes many times over the years (Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun was the final one).  And now we’ve said farewell to the parade at Animal Kingdom.  Do people just not love parades anymore?  Is this the result of Disney cost-cutting?  Is a parade too old Minnie Mouse at Animal Kingdomfashioned?  Too much maintenance and dependence on good weather?  WHAT?

Back to Animal Kingdom and Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade…

Since we were at Walt Disney World during the last week of May – and since I most certainly do love parades (and always will), I felt I needed to watch Mickey’s Jammin Jungle at Animal Kingdom one last time and bid it a fond farewell.  Sources say the parade route is being negatively impacted by new construction for Avatar land.  Ever since the daily parade at the Studios ended in 2013, I’ve always felt Animal Kingdom’s parade would be next on the chopping block anyway.  I DO want Animal Kingdom to get more rides and attractions.  I am also thrilled beyond words about the Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade Birdprospect of getting to enjoy Animal Kingdom at night.  I’m still going to be sad about the parade.  But that’s okay – changes happen, sacrifices must be made, and, well, Disney is never more exciting than when there’s something new to see or do.

Weigh in – are you sad about the lack of a daily parade at every park or is it not important to you?

Donald in Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade