Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Magic...The Disney Magic!

The Disney Magic has been our vacation home for the past five years. With its distinctive design and room to accommodate 2,400 passengers, the Disney Magic is one of the most admired and recognizable ocean liners in the world—making hundreds of trips to dozens of exotic international ports every year. The Magic has 10 expansive decks, a total length of 964 feet, a width of 106 feet and a gross tonnage of 83,000. Aboard the ship, 945 Cast and Crew Members are on hand to accommodate the needs of each and every Guest, day and night. Before cruising with Disney, we had been on a few Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises. I always tell people, once you sail on a Disney cruise, there is no going back! Disney’s ships are the cleanest best maintained, most efficient, and by far the best at pampering the guests!
The first event onboard is the Sail Away party. I enjoy the excitement of this event! The first time you hear the ship horn, it is magical. The Disney ships horns play the first seven notes of When You Wish Upon a Star. I get a lump in my throat and goose bumps when I hear it on the ship! My children find the party a bit loud, so I am going to tell you our family secret – but don’t tell everyone! We go to the elevators by Shutters on Deck 4 when the party starts. The characters use these elevators to go up to the party, so this is the first spot to catch them all! They are usually great about waving and giving hugs to the kids on their way up to the party – and we are usually the only ones there, so it is a great opportunity to interact early on without the crowds! After playing with the characters, we go out to the shuffle board area. You can hear the party above, but have the deck to yourself. The kids play shuffle board and I get pictures of them with the life savers. There are two dining rotations, Main and Late. If you are not familiar with dining rotations, it is Disney’s plan for allowing the guests to enjoy all the main dining rooms and keep the same servers from night to night. The benefit of this is personalized service every night. On your first night, the staff gets an idea of what you like, and then after that when you arrive, your favorite drink choice is waiting for you! They also get to know any special needs you may have. When our children were smaller, we would always leave dinner with milk in to-go cups for our room cooler and the servers would end the meal with these. Even if there is someone in your party who has special needs, you can expect the wait staff to pay special attention to their needs. The wait staff is wonderful about remembering needs and preferences to really add that extra service every evening! We have always opted for Main, since we go to bed earlier than most and have younger children, but I just learned about an option that makes the late seating look quite appealing! It is called Dine and Play. Basically, your children (ages 3-12) come with you to dining and are served quickly. The adults have the more leisurely meal with multiple courses and of course dessert! 45 minutes into the meal program, counselors arrive to escort the kids to the Oceaneer Club and Lab! I think this sounds wonderful and am looking forward to trying it! While half the ship eats dinner, the other half enjoys the outstanding show Disney is famous for in the Walt Disney Theatre. The only other assigned dining time is a Character Breakfast in Parrot Cay that is a "don’t miss!" If you prefer not to eat at your assigned times, there are other options. Room service is available 24/7 with some great options, and it is free – unless you order soda or special drinks; we also tip room servers. Soda is free in the dining rooms and on Deck 9. Also on Deck 9 is Topsider’s Buffet, where you can have great meals buffet-style. If a multi-course experience is not your thing, there are Goofy’s Galley, with sandwiches and ice cream, Pluto’s Dog House with hamburgers and hot dogs and hot sandwiches, and Pinocchio’s Pizzeria.
The main rotational dining rooms are:
Lumiere’s (Deck 3) – which offers a wonderful open to everyone table service breakfast and lunch and assigned seating at dinner. It is a more formal dining area with rose encased chandeliers and a large mural of Belle and the Beast dancing.
The Animator’s Palate (Deck 3) - on your first night of rotations is a don’t miss! When you walk in to your table everything is black and white – including the wait staff’s uniforms. During your meal the pictures on the wall become colored along with theme music that sets the mood. At the end of your meal everything is in bright colors – including the wait staff and there is an appearance by your favorite Sorcerers Apprentice, Mickey, leading a parade of guests and servers through the dining room!
Parrot Cay (Deck 3) – is a Caribbean styled dining room serving grill-inspired menu. When you first enter Parrot Cay you may think birds have invaded the ship! There are sounds of parrots and parrot chandeliers. We prefer the Magic, because we want the longest cruise possible! It is so much fun for the children when Mickey, Minnie, and all the other characters get to know them throughout the week! They become a part of your family! I always feel so rushed with character time at the parks! The cruise experience is so much more face time than even a character meal. My kids have started a dance party with Mickey and Minnie – they loved getting my son to sing and dance for them - and spotted him approaching, played Wendy Says – like Simon Says, only Wendy calls the shots, had tickle fights with Chip and Dale, had Goofy steal my son’s car slippers and play with them on the floor, just to name a few unplanned, magical memories. The best time for more character interaction is late in the evening! There is a boat full of characters: We have met all the princesses, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Dopey, Jiminy Cricket, Alice and the Queen of Hearts, Mickey and all his friends, Timon, Jo-Jo the Clown, Capitan Hook, Mr. Smee, and Capitan Jack Sparrow. The program counselors also become a part of our family for the week We love spending time with our kids in the clubs! Our kids really enjoy the clubs and we enjoy some couple time on our vacation. Where else can you go and feel good about your date time, knowing the kids are having just as much fun on vacation as you are?
One of our favorite date times was a couple’s massage. I thought the Cabana Massages on Castaway Cay were heaven, until they built the Spa Villas! We love to have a couple’s massage in the villas which includes a hot tub overlooking the ocean, hot tea and fresh fruit, we usually order a bottle of wine, a day bed on the balcony, and a massage for you both – we like the stone massages! It is INCREDIBLE and you will feel so pampered! We also book Palo every chance we get! My husband and I are foodies and love Italian cuisine. Palo offers amazing food and over-the-top service! All the dining there is wonderful, and each meal has its own reason for booking. Brunch has a great buffet with fresh seafood and wonderful pizzas. Dinner has the chocolate scuffle that you can’t imagine having room for, until you taste it! I would go on the cruise just to eat at Palo!
There are always plenty of activities on the ship. You can stay very active, or take it easy – it is up to you! We enjoy all the character meets and parties, catching up on our Disney movies – in 3D, swimming while watching movies, the theatre shows (which are the only time I ever see my children sit quietly enthralled), and so many other events; I could go on for days! Every evening there is a Navigator placed in your stateroom, which will outline the next day’s activities – and there are pages of them! Some of the activities include bingo, yoga, Heffalump hunts, story time with Snow White, pajama parties, art auctions, pin trading, wine tasting, galley tours.
Usually the final stop for the Magic is Castaway Cay! This is a blog article in itself! Disney’s private island is AMAZING! Beautiful beaches, characters, free food and activities on the island, and incredible experiences! It is a must-visit paradise! Although all my experiences on the Disney Magic have been as a mom with small children, I have met many people over the years who do not fit into this category, that love cruising with Disney. My Mother-in-law is a single lady, and they have activities planned for singles. She has attended singles receptions, and gotten to know a few other single travelers this way. I have also met honeymooning couples and childless couples who prefer Disney cruises. They enjoy the absence of casinos and the shows. As a parent, and I know the childless travelers feel the same way, I love the fact Disney is strict with the adults-only areas! There is a section of Castaway Cay dedicated to adults only, and many areas on the ship for quiet, childless relaxation. I have seen crew members several times, stop children from entering the sacred areas.
I would highly recommend a Disney cruise to anyone! I do believe the name Magic is true! My experiences aboard the Disney Magic have been very magical and the best vacations I have ever experienced!

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