Monday, December 27, 2010

T-Rex Restaurant: A Prehistoric Family Adventure in Downtown Disney

When T-Rex restaurant opened in late 2008, it joined numerous Disney themed restaurants on property. Owned by the same company that runs the Rainforest Café restaurants, T-Rex has become quite popular. Disney fans looking for a place to dine, shop, and explore should make dino tracks over to Downtown Disney’s Marketplace district. T-Rex offers something for every member of your family. Whether you are traveling with kids who enjoy the various dinosaurs inside and out, or adults looking for a great meal, there is something for everyone here. Plan on making a dining reservation in advance if possible, or prepare to wait a long time for this popular restaurant. The wait is worth it, though! While you are waiting to dine, you can shop in the nearby gift shop. One of the cool options at the gift shop is the “Build-a-Dino” workshop.
Similar to the “Build-A-Bear” merchandise, you can build and take home your own stuffed dinosaur! Once inside the restaurant, there are lots of sights and sounds to immerse yourself in. At the entrance, a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex greets you with a very big smile.

Inside the restaurant, there are several themed prehistoric areas, each with plenty of life-size audio-animatronic dinosaurs on either side of you and flying dinosaurs and prehistoric sea creatures above you. Two of my favorite prehistoric creatures are the wooly mammoth and her two babies. Covered in snow, they are not intimidating to children and look as huggable as the family pet.
On our last visit in June, we were seated next to the Triceratops baby. It was a get-away weekend for my mother and I, who both voted hands down to enjoy one of our new favorite restaurants. After reviewing the menu, I chose the “Fire-roasted Rotisserie Chicken” and my mother chose the “Mammoth Mushroom Ravioli”. Shortly after we ordered, the meteor experience began. If you have children who are frightened by noises or the darkness, I would recommend warning them in advance or skipping the restaurant all together. This experience is similar to the Rainforest Café’s rain experience. It occurs about every 15 minutes and definitely enhances the atmosphere. Most of the prehistoric animals come to life and make a lot of noise, drowning out the talking of their human guests. The experience doesn’t last long and the restaurant eventually returns to normal.
When the food arrived, we remembered why this was one of our favorite meals! My chicken was flavorsome and moist – something that not all restaurants can achieve. Yet, what makes the meal the best are the garlic mashed potatoes (which are awesome!) and the scrumptious cinnamon apples! My mother also enjoyed her mushroom ravioli, which was plentifully filled with mushrooms in a delicious lobster cream sauce.
Overall, I would highly recommend this restaurant for your next trip. Unfortunately, it is one of the few restaurants not covered on the Disney Dining Plan – but trust me, it’s worth the extra expense!  Your Disney trip won’t be complete without taking a step into the past and visiting this prehistoric hot spot!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sailing with Mickey- Facts about Disney Cruise Line

I love all things Disney. I especially love the parks, and when I am there, I am a big kid. My family loves it, too. This February, we were fortunate enough to go on a Disney Cruise. I bet most people didn’t realize there was such a thing, and most who do know about it will think it is a crazy ship overrun with kids and characters. That is not the case at all. Of course there are children on board and the cruise is geared toward families, but it offers so much for the adults as well. The ships are decorated in the Disney theme, but it is very subtle. You do not feel like you are drowning in animated characters.

Fun facts about Disney Cruise Line
On June 30, 1998, the Disney Magic set sail on its maiden voyage from Port Canaveral, Florida. It was joined by its sister ship, the Disney Wonder, in August of 1999. These two ships were the only two in the DCL fleet, until in 2011, the Disney Dream will make its maiden voyage on January 26. And in 2012, the Disney Fantasy will also set sail bringing the fleet to four ships, and offering more itineraries than ever before.

The Disney Magic and Wonder were built in the legendary Fincantieri Shipyard of Italy. The bow of the Magic was built in Ancona and the stern was built 100 miles from there in Marghera, and then the two sections had to be welded together to make one grand ship. Both the Magic and Wonder has a gross tonnage of 83,000 with a length of 964 feet and width of 106 feet. The ships cruise at a speed of 21.5 knots with a max speed of 24 knots. Each ship has 875 staterooms and a crew size of 945. 73% percent of the staterooms have outside views and 44% have private verandahs. 
The Magic and Wonder are very similar in color, but not in style. The Disney Magic and Wonder’s colors are red, yellow and dark blue but the style of the Magic is Art Deco and the Wonder is Art Nouveau. One interesting fact about the color scheme is that Disney had to make a special request to paint their lifeboats yellow instead of the typical orange that you see on all other sailing vessels. The Coast Guard allowed this special request, which is why the Disney ships look like Mickey’s colors. Each ship has Mickey at the bow, but the Magic has Sorcerer Mickey and the Wonder has Steamboat Willie at the bow. One of the other differences in the two ships is who is hanging off the stern seeming to be painting. On the Magic, you have Goofy, and on the Wonder you have Donald and his nephew Huey. The lobby statues are also different on each ship. The Wonder has a beautiful statue of Ariel from the Little Mermaid, and the Magic has Helmsman Mickey to greet you when you walk aboard.
Disney Cruise Line Firsts
The Disney Cruise line wanted to be different from any other cruise line around and offer a unique, unforgettable vacation opportunity for families. First, Disney's staterooms are 25% larger than most cruise ships, and most have a bath and a half so that families can have a little more space to get ready for the day. DCL was the first to have a dock at the private island, Castaway Cay, allowing guests the ease of walking on and off the ship. DCL is also the only line that has rotational dining, which means you dine in a different restaurant each night. The best part about that is that your servers come with you, and stay with you for the entire cruise. They are the first cruise line to have fireworks at sea for the Pirates in the Caribbean celebration. DCL dedicates almost an entire deck to the children’s areas and activities. They have Flounder’s Reef Nursery for 12 weeks to 3 years then there are two areas for older children. Once, there was the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab and the age groups were separated; that is no longer the case. Kids can go back and forth between the two areas and choose the activities they want to participate in. There is also a special area for the older kids, aged 13 and up, called the Stack on the Magic and Aloft on the Wonder. Both are located in one of the ship's funnels high atop deck 11. DCL is also the first cruise line to offer free soda on board at all times. There is a 24-hour beverage station on deck 9 that guests can have as much soda, coffee, tea or water they could ask for. On DCL, you will also get to see movies on board the night they premier. DCL also has some fantastic Broadway-style shows that you can’t see anywhere else. There is one thing Disney Cruise Line does not have on its ships- a casino- which creates more space to dedicate to families, and age-specific areas for everyone. DCL is also the only cruise line to have an animated character as the Godmother of a ship. Tinkerbell is the Godmother of the Disney Wonder. The new ship, the Disney Dream, will also have some firsts to boast. It will have the first water coaster on board, called the Aqua-Duck. It also has a treat in store for those who book an inside stateroom: virtual portholes that give real-time views to the outside, and a character or two may be inclined to swim by. So even with the inside staterooms, you'll still feel like you have an outlet to the world.

I guess the best thing about the Disney Cruise Line is that it is a place to go with your family and friends, so that you can enjoy each other and relax. You can do as much or as little as you want on board a Disney Cruise ship; it is all up to you. But no matter what you do, it will be wonderfully magical, and it will keep you dreaming of the fantasy you experience over and over again.

Let me plan your next cruise on Disney Cruise Line, and have a Magical day!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adventures By Disney

You've been to the parks, dined with the characters, and sailed to exotic ports with Disney. Make your next family vacation an adventure with Adventures by Disney. Adventures by Disney offer 19 worldwide unforgettable itineraries on 6 continents created especially for families. You won't be just a tourist, but an adventurer. From the time your adventure begins, you will experience the Disney Difference. Your family will have 2 Disney-trained Adventure Guides that take care of all of the details for you. Your Adventure Guides will introduce your family to local experts, plan VIP experiences, immerse yourself in authentic experiences, and your Junior Adventurers will have an experience made just for them.
Junior Adventurers have a kids dinner or movie night that's hosted by your Adventure Guides to have fun with their new friends while you have a parent's night nearby. Junior Adventurers learn by doing hands-on projects and have a blast day after day.

With the value of Adventures by Disney you get more than ever imagine. It's all included! All of your admissions to events and attractions, airport meet and greet and transfers to/from hotel, transportation within your trip, luggage service, concierge service, accommodations, most meals, adult dining experience, privately guided tours, backstage access, bypass the lines at popular museums, fun surprises and gifts throughout your vacation. New to 2011 is the Exotic Egypt Adventure. You'll explore the King Tut Collection, ride camels at the pyramids, marvel at the majestic Aswan Dam, and sail to temples. You can choose a 7 or 9 night Adventure.
 Want to learn to throw a boomerang with an Aboriginal tribe member? The Discovery Down Under Adventure is for you! Some of the highlights include a privately guided snorkeling expedition to the Low Isles, a high-speed jet boat ride around Sydney Harbour, and an Aussie breakfast at the Taronga Zoo, then meet the marsupials, platypuses, even Tasmanian devils.

Want to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers? The Spirit of America Adventure takes you back in time to live the colonial life, just as it was hundreds of years ago. You'll bike around the capital, enjoy authentic 18th-century cuisine and service at Philadelphia's City Tavern, and at the harbor step aboard replicas of colonial sailing ships.
Every adventure is packed with exclusive experiences. Now's the perfect time to start planning your Adventure!