Disney Cruising – The Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House

There’s a small window in November to sail on Disney Cruise Line between their themed Halloween on the High Seas and Very Merrytime Cruises.  During this time, guests miss both holidays.  That’s when we sailed.  I was a little bummed about it on account of our cancelled cruise would have been a Halloween on the High Seas cruise and I’d bought us some totes adorbs (as the young folk say) Jack and Sally shirts to wear.  Oh, well.  All was not lost!

The Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House

The morning after we set sail, Raymond and I were up early (as always) and I had time to admire the gorgeous lobby atrium without anyone else there.  Something was off.  There was a wall.  Mysterious!  Later, as I approached the wall, I could very distinctly smell gingerbread – an amazingly delicious aroma that had me practically pressing my nose against that wall.  I detected activity and then saw a man behind the wall measuring something – he was making a gingerbread house!  You know how I am so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I sort of hollered over, “Hello the Gingerbread House!  When will you be finished?”  A voice responded, “Before this cruise is over.”  I kind of felt like Dory speaking whale, “Thank youuuuuuu!”  And we went on with our vacation.

True to his word, the mystery gingerbread construction guy was right!  The morning we prepared to disembark, the Disney Dream’s Gingerbread House was complete!  And, BOY!  What a creation!  Inside and out, the house was packed with Disney magic.  Have you ever seen the gingerbread houses at Walt Disney World like the ones at the Grand Floridian or the Contemporary maybe?  This one was very unique with lots of details inside and out that captured a more playful, wistful feeling that the ones we’ve seen at Disney World.

As we made our way down the gangplank, Raymond directed my attention to the dock where a virtual forest of plastic-wrapped Christmas trees were being unloaded.  While it would have been fun to see the Dream in all her Christmas finery, we were there for the building and unveiling of the Gingerbread House and that was pixie dust enough for us.

Have you sailed on Disney Cruise Line for a seasonal cruise?  Which one?  How did you like it?



At Walt Disney World there are Bubbles Everywhere!

Sometimes those Disney merchandise geniuses come up with ideas that are at once both brilliant and horrible.  An excellent example of this is the Disney bubble machine!  Currently selling like hotcakes for $21-ish apiece.  Sales must be booming as evidenced by the hundreds…thousands…MILLIONS OF BUBBLES!  (Seriously, the amount of bubbles being churned out continuously is ridiculous.)At Walt Disney World there are Bubbles Everywhere!

At Walt Disney World there are Bubbles Everywhere

Back in April, there was one unfortunate incident in the FastPass seating area for Rivers of Light.  We were there with a big group and were waiting cheerfully for the show to start when suddenly…One child, bubble machine percolating non-stop, was inundating nearby guests to the point where the parents were asked politely if perhaps the bubble production could be put on hold until the show was over.  Parents answer?  NO!At Walt Disney World there are Bubbles Everywhere!

When Raymond and I were in Epcot a bit more than a week ago, the bubbles were extensive.  There we were, Food & Wine in full last-weekend pandemonium, and this little girl in a stroller was literally covering every guest waiting in line at a food booth with bubbles.  Her grandparents looked on indulgently as people and their food and drinks were peppered with soapy bubble solution.

Bubbles were plentiful in every park, every time of day and street vendors were cleaning up (see what I did there?) with booming bubble sales.  There was no escape.  It wasn’t terribly annoying at first, but the more bubbles we came in contact with, the worse it seemed.  I like bubbles as much as the next person, but having them blown at me by the thousands and having them constantly in my face got on my nerves.  Even the Cast Members were guilty of bubble abuse!  I guess that’s how they sell so many machines…by shooting bubbles nonstop at passersby.  (I found this thread and now I know I’m not alone in my bubble anger.)

Have you experienced this whole bubble thing?  Thoughts?

Disney Dining at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

When the new restaurant boom started at Disney Springs in 2015, Raymond and I couldn’t wait to start including those new places in our vacation plans.  Always up for a new dining experience, we started with Morimoto Asia, The Boathouse, and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and enjoyed them all.  Then Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ opened to rave reviews last July and it went straight to the top of our to-do list.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to squeeze in a visit during our December, 2016 Christmas trip or on our Dark Side Challenge trip in April.  Every time we planned to visit Disney World, I tried to find a way.  It finally worked out.

Disney Dining at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’

When I realized Raymond and I would be arriving at Disney World early in the day on November 10th, I immediately made and ADR for lunch at Homecomin’.  As soon as the Magical Express from Port Canaveral dropped us off, we delivered our suitcases to our room in Bay Lake Tower and caught a bus from the Contemporary to Disney Springs.  We killed time before our 12:25 pm reservation by doing a little Christmas shopping and stopping in at The Polite Pig to try some craft beer.

At long last – it was time for lunch.  Everything about Homecomin’ was welcoming.  In an upscale farmhouse way, the atmosphere does much to contribute to the overall experience.  It’s bright, cheerful, and has just the right number of whimsical touches.  I especially loved the selection of chicken-themed merchandise and décor.

In the dining room, our table was right in the middle of the action.  We were surrounded by groups of cheerful people.  Ladies lunching, families vacationing, everyone happily enjoying the food and hospitality – all signs of a great restaurant!  We ordered up a couple of beers and settled in for a visit.

Here’s when Raymond and I miss our big family vacations – with only the two of us, we can’t realistically order lots of dishes to try when we’re in a new restaurant.  After giving the menu careful attention, we decided on the Jasper Board appetizer (“An array of Southern goodness perfect for sharing with the table. Smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, shaved country and Tasso hams, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans and buttermilk crackers“).  For his entrée, Raymond chose Art’s Famous Fried Chicken (“Buttermilk-brined for 24 hours then perfectly fried and served with creamy mashed potatoes, a cheddar drop biscuit and love.”) and I ordered the Florida Grouper (“Fresh grouper grilled and served KC Greens with iron skillet sweet potatoes“).

First, the Jasper Board.  Oh, YUM!  If you’ve read some of our other reviews, you know we love charcuterie boards and cheese plates.  The Jasper Board was everything we love and more!  For many people, I realize “smoked fish dip” sounds dubious, but it was absolutely fantastic.  We tried (really, we did) to save room to do our entrées justice and maybe share a dessert, but failed miserably.  Like ravenous dogs, we fell upon poor Jasper and, well, were somewhat ashamed of how quickly those meats, cheeses, nuts, and pickles disappeared.

Raymond’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes tasted as good as they looked.  Comfort food with attitude.  The flavors were wonderful!  My fish was seasoned well, as were the sweet potatoes – both delicious.   I had deliberately ordered the grouper because it came with greens.  Completely unfamiliar with greens when I moved to Louisiana, I found them to be an acquired taste.  I love them now, but they must be prepared exactly the right way.  I judge all greens by the ones I get at a little BBQ place in Jackson, Mississippi called the Pig & Pint.  I expected Chef Art Smith’s to be the weak link in an otherwise perfect dining experience.  I’m delighted to say I was wrong!

When our server came by to check on us, I mentioned how the greens tasted exactly the way I’d hoped and they must have been made with the right ingredients, then he and I said at exactly the same time, “with apple cider vinegar and brown sugar”.  It seems that Chef Art also adds a bit of cayenne for a little extra kick.  Very tasty.

So full we could barely push away from the table, I was glad I’d made no dinner plans for that night!  As we waddled off, we were hoping all the walking we were about to do in the parks would wear off some of those calories.  Of course we want to go back to Homecomin’ to try more dishes and maybe even save room for dessert.  We can’t wait to take the rest of The Fam.  With our next family vacation coming up in May, I’ll be booking our ADRs mere days from now.  Fingers crossed!

Have you been to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’?  How did you like it?  If you haven’t had the chance to try it yet, we highly recommend it!



Magical Disney Moments are Alive and Well

In the weird way of coincidences, Nick, Dave and I recorded episode 153 of The Disney Exchange on my 53rd birthday.  I was filling the guys in on my recent trip and afterwards remembered a story I meant to share about one particularly awesome Disney moment in a vacation chock full of them.  Before I tell you all about it, let me emphasize something…

Magical Disney Moments are Alive and Well

In my last post, I mentioned the perfect same-day FastPass I managed to snag for Tower of Terror while we were finishing up our touring plans at Magic Kingdom.  Raymond and I hopped to the Studios, arriving about an hour before our FastPass window opened.  We took our time soaking up the Christmas-y atmosphere on our way to 50’s Prime Time’s Tune-In Lounge for a beer.  It’s our go-to place now that Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner doesn’t carry good craft beers anymore.

We couldn’t have been happier or feeling more Disney-ish.  Peppy Christmas music was playing and one of us might have actually been dancing down the street in joy.  I was wearing my favorite Darth Vader holiday shirt.  As we made our way along, we spotted a couple of Storm Troopers on patrol.  I’ve been super excited about Galaxy’s Edge and have loved the build-up to it with more and more Star Wars action in the park.  I soon found myself walking right behind one of the Storm Troopers and quietly said to his back, “I’m with the Resistance.”

Much to my surprise, he heard me!  Before I took another step, that Storm Trooper spun around and jumped back, pointing at me!  Very loudly, he informed me, “The Resistance will be crushed by the weight of the First Order!”

I can’t imagine what my facial expression must have been.  I was shocked!  I was thrilled!  And slightly embarrassed (I actually blushed).  What a cool thing to happen!  Then the Trooper abruptly spun back around and continued on his way.  I looked at Raymond and found him very clearly amused at this unexpected turn of events.

To remember the occasion, we made sure to get a picture of us channeling The Force in front of Tower of Terror.

In case you’ve heard some negativity lately about the decline of Disney magic at Walt Disney World, I’m happy to say that it’s alive and well and still making us happy after nearly 30 years of visits.  When we arrived at Tower of Terror, a bellhop named Michael was so amazing, he had the entire group in our service elevator laughing hysterically before the doors closed.  It’s still there, the magic, you just have to watch for it!

Have you had a magical Disney moment lately?