Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

We’re a family that likes outdoor activities…A LOT.  You may have noticed this if you’ve been here before.  We’re into running, bicycling, hiking, and we once had that interesting sea kayak adventure in Norway.  In an effort to keep challenging ourselves and have even more fun at the same time, 2017 was the year for scuba diving.  Like we do most things, it was a family affair and we’re now proud PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba certified.  Of course that meant that we looked for opportunities to try out our newfound skills.

Disney Cruise Excursions – Nassau Scuba Diving Adventure

Raymond and I signed up for the Certified Scuba Dive at Stuart Cove to add an activity to our 4-night cruise on the Fantasy in September (other than eating!).  Let me disclose right now that we missed Megan and Joseph every minute we were on this excursion – they would have loved it so much!  If you have your open water scuba certification and are sailing with Disney in the Bahamas, we highly recommend this adventure.

As with every other Disney cruise excursion we’ve taken, we met our tour group at the designated area on the ship.  In this case, it was at the D-Lounge where we found out our entire excursion group consisted of four people.  Raymond and I, along with a father and his tween (8th grade) daughter.  You know me, so you know I did try to make friends, but they were a hard pass on virtually any conversation – with us and with each other.  To each their own, we say, so we respected their preference for silence throughout the adventure.  Raymond and I kept our discussions to ourselves, the boat captain, and the dive master.

We’d been asked shortly after boarding the Fantasy to stop by the Excursions Desk to present proof of scuba certification and verify our BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) sizes.  So when we arrived at D-Lounge and checked in, we were on our way off the ship almost right away.  We were met at the pier by some representatives from Stuart Cove Scuba who led us through the crowded port area to our transportation.  We boarded a clean, well-kept van with plastic-covered seats and found a seat among other cruise line passengers also headed to Stuart Cove.

If you’ve been to Nassau before, you may have already experienced what I’m about to describe.  The trip from port to cove was an indirect route that took us through lovely, manicured properties and trash-filled razor-wired areas by turns.  The driver directed our attention to points of interest along the way, but there’s no disguising Nassau’s…well, I’ll call them warts.  Luckily, Stuart Cove is lovely and the dive shop well-equipped and professional.

In short order, we’d gotten our equipment together and boarded the boat.  Raymond and I had brought along our own regulators, masks and snorkels for comfort, but all necessary items were available.  We were off!  This was a two-tank dive and our first stop was Mike’s Reef.  What a fantastic spot!  Visibility was great and I don’t know who Mike is, but his reef was teeming with life.  Colorful fish of all shapes and sized swam among beautiful corals and plants.  There were sharks!  Black-tipped reef sharks swam around us, but not close enough to be anything other than thrilling in a fun way.

Our second dive was to see Two Sisters – a double wreck site.  The swim there was as devoid of life as Mike’s Reef had been abundant.  Except for the lone shark that we saw when we first entered the water, this area of the cove was like an underwater dessert – sand, sand, and more sand.  Finally, one of the Sisters appeared out of the dark.  Fish were abundant all over both wrecks.  We were able to explore each sunken boat from stem to stern and as a novice diver, I was blown away.  They were like haunted houses, but covered and filled with amazing (instead of scary) sights.  Once we’d used up most of the air in our tanks, it was time to head back to shore.

This was, to date (and by far), the best of any visit we’ve had to Nassau.  Given the chance, we’d do it again for sure.  Once home, I made like my mother and ordered the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes so Raymond and I could show Megan and Joseph all the cool sea life we’d seen.  And we could revisit the adventure by looking at fish pics again and again.

I highly recommend two things for your first (or next) Disney Cruise to the Bahamas.  Get your open water scuba certification and give the Stuart Cove Scuba excursion a go!  It ranks up there with some of the best fun we’ve ever had on a Disney cruise.

Have you sailed with Disney?  What were your favorite port adventures?

 

New Year, New Disney Plans

2017 was such an exciting, action packed, fun-filled year!  So much so, 2018 has a lot to live up to.  I believe in you, New Year!  You can do it!  Adventure is out there and we’ve got a big Disney to-do list ahead of us.  Since I’m not one to make official New Year’s resolutions, this is as close as it gets…Magic Picture with Tinker Bell

New Year, New Disney Plans

Disney Park Firsts – Raymond and I have an unbelievable four Disney trips planned this year with opportunities to try some things for the first time.

  • New Festival:  We’re excited to have a couple of days to experience Epcot’s Festival of the Arts later this month.  The festival’s 2017 inaugural year went so well, we heard nothing but glowing praise for this brief, but fun event from everyone we knew that attended.
  • Tiger Cubs! It’s no secret that I’m an Animal Kingdom fan & have often touted the joys of the Maharajah Jungle Trek…these new babies are yet another reason to spend all day in this park!Maharajah Jungle Trek Artistic Details
  • Disneyland (Finally!):  After last year’s anniversary trip was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma and 2016’s family vacation was interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, Raymond and I are taking no chances this year.  We’ll be celebrating our 29th anniversary on the West Coast and we couldn’t be more excited to finally get to explore Disneyland’s parks and restaurants.  I’ll be working on my must-do list shortly and welcome any and all suggestions you may have!

Disney Movies to See – Nick, Dave and I just talked about Disney’s 2018 movie line-up on The Disney Exchange (Episode 159).  There’s a lot to look forward to!  Honestly, I’m pretty stoked about Solo: A Star Wars Story (May) and Wreck-It Ralph 2 (March), but if I narrow down the list to my top three, I’m most excited about these…

  • Avengers: Infinity War (May) – I’m geeking out about this one!  It had better be as good as it looks because my expectations are really high.  Avengers and Guardians…how could that not be awesome!?!
  • The Incredibles 2 (June) – We’ve only been waiting 14 years!  That’s practically forever.  The original has always been one of my all-time favorite movies and with the way it ended, didn’t we all thing the sequel was right around the corner?  It’s about time!
  • Mary Poppins Returns (December) – I didn’t care for Saving Mr. Banks at all, so I’ve got my heart pinned on this movie to recapture the magical, whimsical wonder that was the original Mary Poppins.  C’mon, Disney, don’t let me down.

Disney Recipes to Try – I’ve barely tried anything from the Raglan Road cookbook I got for Mother’s Day last year, so cooking up some Irish dishes is high on my priority list.  I’d also like to try Sanaa’s Naan Bread, ‘Ohana’s Stir Fried Noodles, Jiko’s Macaroni & Cheese.

RunDisney 2018 – This year, Megan will be joining Joseph and I for her first runDisney events.  The three of us are headed for Disney World in February for the Enchanted 10k and the Princess Half Marathon (now called the Fairy Tale Challenge).  Of course, Raymond will be there to cheer us on.  (I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe.)

West Coast Disney Cruise:  Before we go to Disneyland, Raymond and I are sailing on the Disney Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  The last time we sailed on the Wonder was in 2011 on an Alaskan cruise and that was an outstanding vacation.  I’m sure this trip will be fantastic as well…can’t wait!

Still here?  I’ll let you in on something – there are a couple more things planned for 2018, but I can’t share them quite yet.  Check back in about two weeks and I’m sure I’ll be able to elaborate then on what special secret adventures our family has coming up soon.

Your Turn!  What are your 2018 Disney plans?

 

 

Merry Christmas One and All!

It’s hard to believe how fast the time has flown!  Once again, I find myself full of thankfulness along with Christmas Spirit.  You, yes YOU, are the reason for my happiness.  It doesn’t matter if you’re friend or family and I don’t care if we know each other only through social media or we see each other everyday.  I have been blessed by the love and support you’ve shown and find myself humbled and somewhat overwhelmed with gratitude.

Merry Christmas One and All!

I’m thankful for your acceptance, for the stories you share, the glimpses I get into your life.  I love seeing pictures and hearing about your Disney vacations, your children, your hobbies, your pets – all of it!  I appreciate the advice you give, the debates we have, and the times, more than you know, when you’ve lifted me up and reminded me that the best things in life are never things.

In a hundred ways, big and small, you’ve touched my life and not a day goes by that I don’t feel like the luckiest person in the world – I very truly have the best, most loving family and friends anyone could hope for.  I’ve celebrated accomplishments that could never have been achieved without your support and I will never take that for granted.  I’m excited to see what the future holds.

May the peace and happiness of this holiday season be yours and may 2018 be a joyful, healthy and prosperous year for you and your family.  From our house to yours, Merry Christmas One and All!

Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

Please join me in welcoming back one of my most favorite Disney friends and guest contributor, Andrew Carrieri.  (Thank you, Andrew, for a thoughtful, entertaining and interesting take on unsung Disney Legends!)

Short of Glory: Top 5 Movie Contributor Omissions from the Disney Legends Program

by Andrew Carrieri

In 1987, the Walt Disney Company commenced the “Disney Legends” program, a hall of fame for major contributors to the company over the years. Honorees, numbering 276 through 2017, have come from various aspects of the company, including “Animation,” “Imagineering,” “Television,” “Film,” “Administration,” “Publishing,” “Character Merchandise,” “Music,” and “Parks and Resorts.” As with any hall of fame, fans enjoy debating the merits of the various inductees as well as notable omissions. Here, I will focus on the latter debate, giving my top-five omissions from the “Film” category, broadly defined.

Before beginning, however, I should note that two huge names are missing from the Legends list: Walt Disney and his brother Roy O. Disney. Disney Chief Archivist Emeritus Dave Smith, who was named a Disney Legend in 2007, has speculated that the Disney brothers are not in the company’s hall of fame because they “essentially were the company during their lives, and it didn’t seem necessary to give them the Disney Legend award (which bore their name).” (1) Take that for what it is worth. Now, onto my list!

5) Joe Flynn: Ok, as a huge fan of the Disney comedies of the 1960s and 1970s, this choice is perhaps a stretch, but Flynn, who tragically died in a 1974 swimming pool incident, appeared in or voiced characters in nine Disney films—Son of Flubber (1963), The Love Bug (1968), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), The Barefoot Executive (1971), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Now You See Him, Now You Don’t (1972), Superdad (1973), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), and The Rescuers (1977)—and he played the major role of the bumbling Dean Eugene Higgins in the three installments of the Medfield College trilogy: The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, and The Strongest Man in the World. The quantity of his contributions should get Flynn inducted; other actors, including 2004 inductee Buddy Hackett, have been honored despite appearing in far fewer films for the company than Flynn, three in Hackett’s case.

4) Ron Miller: Walt Disney’s son-in-law contributed much to the company, though the quantity of his efforts generally outweighed the corresponding quality. In 1984, for example, with Disney threatened by corporate raiders and its film division at a nadir, Miller’s stint as company CEO ended with his ouster in favor of Michael Eisner. Still, Miller was the brains behind Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label, which allowed Disney to release more adult-oriented films, including the highly profitable Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Pretty Woman (1990), and he served as a producer for a whopping fifty theatrically-released Disney films between 1962 and 1985, including fan favorites Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Pete’s Dragon (1977), and The Rescuers (1977).Walt Disney's Office Display in One Man's Dream

3) Jeffrey Katzenberg: Upon bolting Paramount for Disney with Michael Eisner in 1984, Jeffrey Katzenberg helped transform Disney’s blundering motion picture division into a powerhouse. The ascension of the department peaked in the early 1990s, when two animated masterpieces, Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992), were released with Katzenberg serving as chairman of Walt Disney Studios.

Katzenberg’s biggest individual contribution to Disney was The Lion King (1994), the first animated feature in the company’s history to be created from an original in-house story instead of a fairy tale, a children’s book, or any other outside concept. On a flight from London to Paris in the summer of 1990 to promote The Little Mermaid (1989), Katzenberg was pondering coming-of-age stories with colleagues Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider, when the proverbial lightbulb went on: Katzenberg told Roy Disney and Schneider that he wanted to relay such a story in an African setting with animals instead of humans. Although the resulting film was arguably the most popular animated flick in Disney history, The Lion King proved to be Katzenberg’s last hurrah at Disney, and it was hardly a pleasant hurrah. Katzenberg departed the company in August 1994 after infuriating Eisner, who refused to appoint Katzenberg President of the Walt Disney Company following the death of the previous president, Frank G. Wells, in a helicopter crash. Katzenberg proceeded to found DreamWorks, the animation studio behind films such as Shrek (2001) and How to Train Your Dragon (2010), along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen.

2) Bobby Driscoll: Driscoll’s post-Disney life was tragically troubled, the former child star dying a pauper in New York City at only thirty-one years-of-age in 1968. Driscoll’s limited on-screen credits, however, are impressive: lead roles in three of Disney’s most significant films—the controversial Song of the South (1946), So Dear to My Heart (1949), and Treasure Island (1950), the latter the studio’s first completely live action effort—and the voice of the title character in Peter Pan (1953).

1) Don Knotts: In 2004, Karen Dotrice and the late Matthew Garber were named Disney Legends. Having appeared together in each of their three Disney film credits—The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963) and The Gnome-Mobile (1967) in addition to Mary Poppins (1964)—the co-induction of the former child stars was fitting. That same year, however, Disney missed the boat by naming Tim Conway a Disney Legend sans Don Knotts, the actor who is proverbially tied to Conway’s hip in Disney lore. Indeed, when many Disney fans ponder Don Knotts, they add three words to his name: “and Tim Conway.” The comedic duo co-starred in three Disney films—The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975), Gus (1976), and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).

Comparing Knotts’s overall credentials to Conway’s, Knotts appeared in more theatrically-released live action Disney films, six, than did Conway, five, and none of the films that starred Conway without Knotts are significantly superior to the films that starred Knotts without Conway—Conway’s The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973) and The Shaggy D.A. (1976), like Knotts’s No Deposit, No Return (1976), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), and Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978), are highly entertaining, if unspectacular, Disney comedies. Knotts also voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Disney’s 2005 animated film Chicken Little and Sniffer in the 2006 direct-to-DVD film Air Buddies.

Notes

1) Smith, D. (2012). Walt Disney. In Disney Trivia from the Vault: Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered (p. 250). New York: Disney Editions.

Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? What other contributors to Disney films do you think should be named Disney Legends? Sound off in the comments!