Disney World Stuff I’m Never Going to Like

Being a serious Disney fan does not mean you have to automatically love each and every aspect of all things Disney.  I can (and often do) wax poetic about Walt Disney World and why it’s my favorite vacation destination, but that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the existence of some things I don’t care for.  There aren’t many, really, only a handful.  Some of you will be huge fans of some of the items on this list and most likely will find fault with some of my favorite things in return.  For the sake of discussion, though, I invite you to consider what tops your own list of…

Disney World Stuff I’m Never Going to Like

Remember when I made this list of attractions I could live without?  Well, consider this sort of an addendum to that first look at this other side of Disney World fandom.Scan-Magic-Band-to-Board-Disney's-Magical-Express

Magic Bands should know more – I’m not going to lie here – I am crazy about the ease and convenience of Magic Bands when they work properly.  Hello!  Room key, park ticket, FastPass, charging feature – all are fabulous to me.  Now I want them to know I’m all of the following:  Annual Passholder, DVC member, and Tables in Wonderland user.  How can this not be working already?  I hate to think that Disney wouldn’t automatically want to apply appropriate discounts by maybe hoping we’ll forget we’re eligible? If attractions like It’s a Small World can know my name by my Magic Band, when I scan my band at a checkout counter, it should know I’m due a discount.Winnie-the-Pooh-attraction-sign

Mr. Toad is living on the West Coast – I finally forgave poor Winnie the Pooh for taking over the real estate and I refuse to be a perpetual whiner about this, but I will freely admit I miss Toad and his darkest of dark rides.  I’m seriously working out a plan to visit him in California in the not too distant future.Pineapple Dole Whip

I wanted to like Dole Whips but I don’t – Again, no secret here.  Bazillions of people adore these pineappley (made that up) frozen treats.  I wanted to belong…I wanted to be one of those uber-fans.  Alas (if ever there were an opportunity to say “alas” this is it!), it was not meant to be.  On the bright side, turns out I’m a Citrus Swirl Girl!!!!  And that makes me happy.Epcot in Summer

Future World in 2016 – If you never knew what it once was, you could kinda overlook what it is today…but I do remember and I long for a much more meaningful, interactive, edutainment-filled Future World.  WHY can we not have this again?  Oh, I know…Disney’s spread thin right now with so many projects over in Animal Kingdom and the Studios.  Which brings me to the next item on the list…RM-Animal-Kingdom-Construction-Walls

The Castle Crane and Construction Walls – The crane (affectionately referred to by many, including myself, as Frasier) is a necessary evil when the Christmas lights go on and come back off of Cinderella Castle.  I’m always a little heartbroken for first-timers who cannot get a crane-free Castle photo.  I know the why, but I don’t have to like it.  Likewise with construction walls.  They’re inevitable for progress to take place and sometimes, those clever Imagineers make the walls a bit entertaining…but they obstruct, impede, and diminish.  I’m never going to like them, but accept their necessity and am excited by all the new attractions I’ll get to enjoy.RM-Magic-Kingdom-Autumn

Reduction of Extra Magic Hours – If you haven’t noticed, there are fewer Extra Magic Hours than there used to be.  We’ve always been fans of the morning variety (our kids love late night EMHs) and can’t help feeling a little bit gypped by this once so useful perk being reduced.  Having been touted for many years as a real advantage of staying on property at Walt Disney World, the reduction in quantity of Extra Magic Hours strikes me as Extra Unfortunate for those of us who purchased our Disney Vacation Club memberships, in part, based on this early entry (or late night) advantage.

I know I’ve told readers not to whine at Walt Disney World, but I will be the first to give you permission to NOT love absolutely everything.  What tops your list of things you’re never going to like?

 

 

Disney Cruise Line – The Dream

Disney-Dream-Castaway-CayTwo adults, four nights on the Disney Dream…did we love it?  Yes, indeed!  Was it different from our previous cruises on the classic ships, the Magic and the Wonder?  Yes, quite a bit!  I was worried about the ship being too big and un-cozy.  We’ve always thought the size of the original two ships was perfect.  There was enough similarity on the Dream for us to feel the Disney-ness – we were definitely experiencing all the elements we love most about Disney Cruise Line – the stateroom size and layout, the rotational dining, the amazing service, character meet-n-greets, and those beloved Disney details, big and small, all around us.

Disney Cruise Line – The Dream

What does the Dream have that the Magic and Wonder don’t?  Well, THOSE differences struck us right away!  Besides being bigger and newer, here are the differences we loved the most:

  1. The Artwork – I noticed this immediately after we boarded the ship.  As we took the stairs up to our stateroom on deck 6, I fell in love with the pictures on the walls!  Every deck had different artwork and all of it was fantastic!  Disney-Dream-Art-Sketch Disney-Dream-Art-Silly-SymphoniesWalking around on the different decks, I felt like I was in an art gallery (and there IS an art gallery (The Vista Gallery) with art for sale on deck 4.  Disney-Dream-GalleryI noticed some of the pictures throughout the ship had a metal plate on the floor in front of them.  If I stood on the plate to look at the picture….well, magic happened!Disney-Dream-Interactive-Art
  2. The Interactive Elements – Some of the pictures on the wall come to life!  Because they’re all so different and unique, it’s worth taking yourself on a walking tour of the ship to see every single one.  If you’re going to do that, you might as well solve a mystery with the Midship Detective Agency while you’re at it!  Use the “art of deduction” to solve a crime and discover all the clever interactive pictures at the same time!  I loved this activity!!!Disney-Dream-Midship-Detective-Agency Disney-Dream-Minnie-Lisa
  3. Remy – Adults-only dining of the very fine variety!  We’ve always loved Palo on the Magic and Wonder, but could not wait to try brunch and dinner at Remy, which offered completely different and unique experiences.  Disney-Dream-Remy-AlexiaIf you can fit Remy into your schedule and are willing to pay the higher up-charge ($85 per person dinner, $55 per person brunch before any wine or champagne pairings), we think the luxury, service, and delicious, creative menu are not to be missed.
  4. Adults-Only Areas – They are roomier, fancier, and more comfortable than on the smaller ships.  Disney-Dream-Pool-DeckWe parked ourselves late one morning after a visit to the fitness center (also awesome) on a couple of lounge chairs for a little rest and relaxation; grabbed a couple of beers from the Cove Bar, then spent the next little while lulled by the sunshine and the quiet surroundings.Disney-Dream-Lounge-ChairWhen our idyllic little spot in paradise was rudely interrupted by our stomachs growling, we reluctantly headed inside to clean up for lunch.
  5. The Bon Voyage Bar – On the left side of Deck 3, across from Guest Services and on the way to the ship’s shopping area and Walt Disney Theater, there’s a bar.  Disney-Dream-Bon-Voyage-BarKind of right out in the middle of everything.  We found ourselves stopping there every afternoon for a cold beer or a glass of wine.  It was the perfect place for a beverage, we thought, for these two reasons:  Bartenders, Ryan and Flavio, were great! and the people-watching was primo.  Disney-Dream-Bartender-RyanWe talked with fellow bar patrons while watching other cruise guests, including pirates and princess, go by.  When I first saw the Bon Voyage, I thought, “What a weird and ridiculous place for a bar!” until we bellied-up and discovered the absolute charm of this gem of a spot in the middle of the action.

Have you sailed on the Dream?  What did you like best about this particular ship?  Are you thinking about sailing on Disney Cruise Line in the future?  Where do you think Disney’s ships should visit next?

Walt Disney World – Just Back, Trip Recap!

Clam-mobile-selfieWe had a great time at Walt Disney World!  We always have a great time, so this comes as no surprise.  What DID surprise us was the exceptional, unexpected delights along with a couple of equally surprising minor disappointments.  You know me – fair and balanced (usually) is my M.O. and today’s no different.  Please bear in mind that in anticipation of the extreme crowds to be expected between Christmas and New Year’s, we made an unprecedented number of dining reservations.  Now let’s get to it!

Walt Disney World – Just Back, Trip Recap!

The VERY BESTPolynesian-Villa-Studio

Our Polynesian Village Resort DVC villa!  You can read that review here.  We were so happy with our location and how comfortable and luxurious our room and its amenities were!  Would we stay here again?  In a heartbeat!DHS-Osborne-Lights-Sign

Saying Goodbye to the Osborne Lights – Bittersweet, but we made the most of the opportunity and were happy at the end of the day.  I guess we could call it closure.Skipper-Canteen-Jungle-Cruise-Sign

The New Skipper Canteen – A full review of this fantastic new Magic Kingdom eatery will be coming up within the next few days, but let me say – If this is the future of Disney’s theme park dining, I’m ecstatic!Jiko-Exterior

Jiko – It’s been a few years since we’ve eaten at this Signature restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge because we had to work Boma and Sanaa into our vacation dining rotation.  It was every bit as wonderful as every other time we’ve eaten there.  Again – full review coming soon.Shula's-Steakhouse-Exterior

Shula’s Steakhouse – Ever since we tried (and were delighted by) Il Mulino at the Swan, we’ve been hoping to fit dinner at Shula’s (at the Dolphin) into our plans.  Perfectly perfect in every way.  Guess what?  Yup – there’s a review coming up soon!Morimoto-Asia-Sushi

Morimoto Asia – Another place we were dying to try and brand new to boot.  Located in Disney Springs, we planned a morning around having lunch at Morimoto Asia before an afternoon at Epcot.  What a great meal!  We shared every course hoping it would keep us from eating too much – HA!  We left completely stuffed and loved the sake flight offered there as well.  You know?  I believe I’ll write a review on this place too!  (So check back!)

The Really GoodJingle-Cruise-Sign

Jingle Cruise – We love Jungle Cruise in it’s usual configuration so chances were that we’d be thrilled with the ride’s holiday overlay.  And we were.  Skipper Patrick was from our home state of Louisiana and he was a true master at pun-delivery!  If you’ve not had the chance and are visiting Walt Disney World during the holidays, do make time to experience this fun and funny seasonal treat.Be-Our-Guest-Restaurant-Sign

Breakfast at Be Our Guest – We’d eaten both lunch and dinner at Be Our Guest before, so we thought, why NOT see how breakfast is.  Hands down, this was our favorite meal at this unique and amazingly-themed restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.Tonga-Toast-Kona-Cafe

Breakfast at Kona Café – We’d never had Tonga Toast before!  We had to knock that off our Disney to-do list.  While the toast might have been a little sweet for us, we loved the omelet we shared, plus the coffee and the service were both excellent.  Those to-go coffees our server offered us were just the ticket for making sure we were wide awake when we got to Magic Kingdom.Chewbacca-Meet-and-Greet

Meeting Chewbacca – He was everything we hoped he’d be!  Tall, furry, friendly, and photogenic!  The Launch Bay, where fans can meet both Chewbacca and Darth Vader, is packed with enough Star Wars information and memorabilia to make every fan happy.Star-Tours-Queue

The New Star Tours – We weren’t sure what to expect with the new Force Awakens tie-ins, but they were just right – seamlessly included in the storyline. (Nope, no spoilers here!)

The DisappointmentsBluezoo-Exterior

Bluezoo – This Todd English restaurant at the Dolphin was someplace we’d really looked forward to trying.  We’d heard such great things about the menu and service.  The service was as expected – excellent.  The disappointment came in the form of our $42 entrees.  We each ordered something different and we both found the food lacking in interest and flavor.  There are tons of other places in that price range at Disney World, no need to waste money here.Flying-Fish-Exterior-2015

Flying Fish – The last time we ate at Flying Fish was in May, 2014 and it was one of the best dining experiences we’d ever had.  The food, the service, the ambiance – all of it created such a fantastic vacation memory.  Raymond and I were expecting the same thing this time.  Not so much.  Lackluster (at best) is what we got.  It started with the hostess who would not make eye contact or smile – just shoved a pager at Raymond and said (without looking up), “We’ll call you when we’re ready”.  Flying-Fish-Interior-2015(2)The young lady who led us to our table when our pager blinked was equally un-Disney-like.  Our server went through the motions, but never talked about the menu or made recommendations of any kind.  He was pleasant enough yet made us feel like a chore he needed to finish quickly. Flying-Fish-Interior-2015(1) I have a theory.  Flying Fish is getting ready to close for an extended refurbishment.  I asked and the server told me they were all being reassigned to other places.  I believe they’ve all checked-out and mentally moved on, knowing that at the end of January their work family will be divided up among many other Disney restaurants and they’ll each have to learn the ways of a new place.  I’d be willing to go back again after the refurb and give Flying Fish another shot.

Have your recent experiences been different than ours?  What has been your most favorite recent Disney dining or attraction experience?

 

Five Ways to be an Awesome Parent at WDW

Ready for Toy Story Midway Mania Sure, it’s plenty easy to consider yourself a pretty darn amazing parent for just handling the logistics and footing the bill for a family vacation to Walt Disney World – and you’d be sort of right.  It IS a big deal to plan and pay for a Disney vacation these days, I’ll give you that.  But if you want to get the most out of these trips, you have to keep a few things in mind.  Yeah, I’m showing my age again, but I have been taking my children on Disney vacations for almost 20 years – benefit from my mistakes and pay close attention now.

Five Ways to be an Awesome Parent at Walt Disney World…

1.  Stay out of the shops – Your family will be exposed to a toy, treat, or souvenir buying opportunity about every six feet while visiting each park.  Balloon vendors, Disney pin kiosks, souvenir carts, pre-parade light-up-toy sellers…the temptation to buy is literally everywhere!!!  If you don’t intend to purchase something every ten minutes, try not to expose little ones to so many opportunities for you to say NO!  I’m aware that you cannot exit many rides without passing through a gift shop, but over-exposure to all that merchandise is a meltdown waiting to happen.  Cut down on this by pre-purchasing some sale t-shirts or dollar-store Disney items before you ever leave home & bring those with you as special treats.  If you need to shop, try to do it on your own.Balloon Vendor on Main Street U.S.A.

2. Put your smart phone or tablet away – I know those devices have become an enormous part of everyday life, but if ever there was a time to focus on the little people you’re raising, it’s while you’re away from home.  There is so much to take in at Walt Disney World, so many opportunities to focus on new and exciting (and sometimes scary) things – what a great gift we can give our kids if we stay in the moment, relaxed and happy, soaking it all up with them.  Think for a minute how lonely it might be to be much shorter than those around you all the time (or being confined to a stroller) while the people you love most in the world are constantly texting or filming a parade or show instead of enjoying this time with you, on your level.DSCN3755

3. Make wait times family times – As a lifelong habitual people-watcher, I tend to notice what other people do while waiting in line.  Most of them are doing nothing but looking bored or unhappy or impatient.  We like to talk.  To each other.  We might ask “ice breaker” questions – open-ended queries intended to make us think about or look for particular things.  This is where Disney trivia, Hidden Mickeys, looking up, looking down, and focusing on those magical Disney details will help you raise a new generation of Disney fans.In line at Disney

4. Get drenched – Little ones love those resort pools, water rides and parks, and splash-and-play areas.  These are especially fun and exciting at Walt Disney World.  Stop worrying about how you look and what you’re wearing.  Plan ahead so you have no excuse not to jump right on in there and play!  Nobody cares about your hair or makeup except YOU.  Hats, sunglasses, quick-drying clothing, and water-friendly shoes are invaluable.  Take the time to gear up and be ready to have a soaking good time!  These are the times your kids will remember most.Kali River Rapids / Disney's Animal Kingdom

5. Have fun and don’t be crabby – Part of being the parent sometimes involves the challenge of letting things go.  Let go of worry, stress from home that may have followed you on vacation, irritation from getting less-than-magical service, being hot, bored, lost, hungry – you get the idea.  Fake it ’til you make it if you have to, but put on a happy face, focus on the positives, and remind yourself that your offspring’s childhood is but a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things.  You don’t get a do-over on these memories – make ’em count.

Let me hear from you!  What are your best tips for being an awesome parent at WDW?