Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is a Disney Cruise Worth the Extra Cost?? YES!!!!

You are thinking of going on a cruise, you LOVE Disney so the obvious choice would be a Disney cruise.  Then you start getting quotes and see the price difference from the competing cruise lines and wonder "why is a Disney cruise more expensive"?  I thought the same thing.  After growing up cruising and even cruising as an adult, I never went on a Disney cruise because of the cost.  Was a Disney cruise really worth the extra price?  Well I never knew, until recently.  Now with 2 Disney cruises under my belt (and a 3rd one on the way) I can now say without a doubt it is definitely worth the higher fare!

As I mentioned, I am a seasoned cruiser so I have somewhat high expectations when it comes to service and cleanliness, but I never really knew how high until I experienced a Disney cruise and then shortly after sailed on a competitior.  After sailing on Disney I saw just how wonderful the ships are kept up, how exceptional the service is and the plethora of onboard activities for all ages.  The ship is kept in excellent condition by continuous cleaning throughout.  The hull and extereior are meticulously cleaned and painted, keeping the ship looking new.  Service is second to none; the wait staff is at your beck and call ready to answer any request you may have, that goes along with the guest relations stff, the cruise staff, all the way up to the senior officers.  They are truly there to make every one of your wishes come true.  When you are walking around the ship and pass a cast member you will ALWAYS get a greeting with a smile.  I cannot say that on the other ships.  Disney has the best entertainment onboard, from their fabulous Broadway style shows (and I have been to many Broadway shows) to the guest entertainers; there is something for everyone and every age.  You also never know who you are going to bump in to.  You could share an elevator with Chip 'n Dale or dance alongside Mickey himself.  The characters are all over the ship and you have the many opportunities for autographes and or pictures.  The ships are smaller so you really get the feel you are with family.  We found that out just last week when we sailed for the second time on the same ship and cast members remembered us and welcomed us back enthusiastically.

The special attention the youth staff gives each and every child is truly amazing.  Disney does have the best kids program at sea and no one can touch them.  Where else can children Do-Si-Do with Snow White or attend Boot Camp with the Army Men from Toy Story?  From 9 in the morning until the late hours of the night (morning) children have supervised activities available to them.  This allow adults to have time together to enjoy a nice brunch at Palos, attend one of the live art auctions, or even to relax in the adult only pool or spa.

From the moment you sail away the party starts.  The sail away party is just the first of many parties that go on during your cruise.  Along with family karaoke, and themed dance parties (such as High School Musical and Hannah Montana) the ship gets invaded by The Pirates in the Caribbean.  The invasion starts with dinner and continues up on the pool deck.  Then it culminates with a special at sea fireworks spectacular, which Disney is the only cruise line allowed to shoot fireworks off at sea!

Disney has their own privately owned island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay (pronounced Key).  The best thing about the island is the ship docks right at the pier, there is no tendering in.  You can come and go as you wish throughout the day.  The island has many activities to enjoy from renting a boat or a bike, to taking a fishing charter.  You can also loundge around one of the many beaches after enjoying a scrumptious lunch buffet on the beach.  There are extenesive renovations being done to the island to make it ever more enjoyable.  Completion of all of the projects is scheduled for this summer, although some are already done and ready for your enjoyment.

Accommodations are some of the best in the cruise industry.  Disney is known for its larger family friendly staterooms; most with the split bathroom design and all with a bathtub.  Disney also offers concierge suites for those that want the extra space and added service.

Disney goes above and beyone to keep themselves leaders in the cruise industry.  They spare no expense to give you the best Disney has to offer at sea.  Before, I did not see myself going on a Disney cruise because of the price, now I cannot see myself sailing on any other line.  Disney is frequently changing itineraries and offering special deals.  Contact us at to find out the latest destinations and latest discounts being offered.  Anchors Aweigh!

The Magic of Magical Express

There are many ideas that comes to one's mind when they hear the words Magical Express...visions of Tinkerbell sprinkling pixie dust over the airport and magically you will appear right in to the Magic Kingdom Park. Funny you might say right? Well let us explore what really makes the Magic and the Express in Magical Express. First, no Tinkerbell does not sprinkle you at the airport and you will not magically appear in front of the castle, but what will happens involves a little Hakuna Matada..yes that's right, no worries. Disney takes care of getting you from the Orlando Airport to your hotel without you having to worry about as much as your luggage. Free roundtrip airport transportation & luggage delivery for Disney Resort Guests, that's Magical!

What do you need to do you may wonder? First prior to your trip Disney will send you a Magical Express Airport transportation booklet, inside it will be tags for you to apply to your luggage if you are arriving in Orlando prior to 10pm, remember to place these tags on all checked bags, they don't want to miss there own magical voyage from the airport to your room! You will also receive your Magical Express tickets in that packet. Once you arrive at the Orlando Airport you will make your way to Disney Airport Welcome Center (fret not, you will have instructions in your transportation booklet, should you still be worried, just look for cast members with big Mickey gloves..they'll be hard to miss!) Here you will present your tickets to the cast member, you will then proceed to your resort waiting area for your magical express coach to arrive. Once on the Magical Express motorcoach Mickey and friends will greet you on televisions for guests to enjoy, and in approximately 30 minutes you will be on Disney property. You may be sharing your motorcoach with several different resorts, so depending on stops your time may be longer to reach your resort check in. Once there you will check in to your room and later your bags will magically appear. I highly recommend carrying essentials you might want or need right away as your luggage takes it own journey separate from your motorcoach, so you will not be able to access anything in your luggage right away. Enjoy a park, have a meal, explore your resort, whatever you like, but don't worry about your luggage, it will be back in your room waiting later! That's the magic in it all!

Now you are in Disney, you have your luggage and a magical vacation ahead of you, enjoy it. One day prior to your departure you will magically receive a notification for you motorcoach pick-up time, select airlines even allow you to check in at your Disney Resort prior to arriving at the that is some magic! Remember when planning your return flight, your magical express pick-up will be approximately 3 hours prior to your departure time, so think of that when making your return flight reservations, or if you are planning on getting in some last minute vacation time, you need to leave the parks in plenty of time to get back to your resort for your pick-up. There a motorcoach will be waiting to return you to the Orlando Airport where you will board your plane with lots of wonderful memories, luggage that is probably a little more full than when you left, and a love of the true Disney Magic when you remember the smiles, laughs and fun that you and your family and/or friends just experienced!

So that is Magical Express in a a Chip and Dale nutshell! Although there is no flying the skies with Tinkerbell, it is all Hakuna Matada from the time you arrive in Orlando until the time you depart and begin planning your next trip on that flight home...and you know you will!

How to Cure PDD (Post-Disney Depression)

"Post-Disney Depression.” For many Disney World fans it’s that feeling of disappointment or sadness experienced after a trip to the most magical place on Earth. It’s the sudden reality that your Disney trip is over. All of the planning and excitement before and during your trip has come to a screeching halt. Many of us have experienced it, but how do we get over it?

I've heard many suggestions and theories on how to get over "Post-Disney Depression." Some suggest scrap booking your past trip, watching family trip movies, writing a trip report, etc. For my family, the only known cure is to plan another trip. The trip can be years down the road- but just knowing it's there makes all the difference in the “world”.

There is a rush of activity when you plan a trip to Disney World. When to go? Where to stay? What kind of tickets to buy? Dining Plan? No Dining Plan? Once these decisions are complete, up pop more. Which airline to fly? Early or late flight? Rental car or Disney transportation?

When the next trip is unknown or far down the horizon... there are many things you can do to keep the magic alive in your heart and home!

Disney Movie Night. Get your family ready for the characters they'll meet with some Disney films. Chip and Dale are everywhere in the parks, but kids who don't watch Rescue Rangers may not be familiar with these popular park favorites. Pick up some collections that include Mickey, Goofy, Pluto and the rest and your kids will be revved up when they finally have the chance to encounter the gang. Some suggestions that will add to your trip include: Swiss Family Robinson, all Mixable Animation films, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tower of Terror and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Disney Treats. Fill lunch boxes with rice krispie treats in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Buy Mickey shaped cheese and Disney fruit snacks. Plan meals in the theme of your resort. If you're staying at the Polynesian, try a dinner featuring South Seas accents. Is the Animal Kingdom Lodge your destination? Do an internet search for African Recipes and give them a spin! Search for Disney World recipes and pick some from restaurants you plan to visit.

Disney Shopping. If you have a local Disney Store, spend some time there picking up small items as they go on clearance. Collecting Disney clothing for the trip and small gifts and toys to keep your kids excited now and entertained on the airplane or in the car can really get you in the mood. No Disney Store nearby? Try hitting to find some real treasures.

The family motto on our last trip was “leave them wanting more”. We were relaxed and confident that we didn't need to see and experience everything on that particular trip. With the knowledge that we would be returning... we enjoyed the trip that much more and in a less exhausting way!

When we get to Disney- we don’t want to leave. Ever. But getting there really is half the fun! The anticipation and planning is part of the enjoyment we get out of each trip.

I helped plan a trip for a friend last year and before she landed on Disney’s magical soil, she figured one trip to Disney would be good for a lifetime. She could check it off the parenting list as a “been there, done that.”
But at Walt Disney World she learned that there are a lifetime of vacations waiting for you. There is so much to do and enjoy, you could go for a dozen trips and still not have done it all!

We met visitor after visitor who return every year to Disney World. I met a mother with an autistic son who brings him a few times every year. “He comes alive at Disney World. He loves it here. It is our thing that we do together.” she told me.
I asked another father what made them come back every year. “It is the best place for family vacations,” he explained, “Everything is accessible, convenient and self contained. It is safe, clean and family friendly. It just makes vacationing so easy.”

Returning from a trip to Disney is like the day after Christmas. The idea that there is only 364 days to go! Certainly keeps the optimist alive in anyone.

ABD - 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!

Let's Take a Riverboat to the Riverside

Close your eyes for a moment….picture landscaping perfection, gorgeous gardens, you can smell the warm south and hear banjos playing in the distance. Now open your eyes; you're in the middle of Port Orleans Riverside, my favorite of the moderate resorts, where you will more than get what you pay for. Prepare yourself for some exercise; the property is spread out, but the benefits to walking are truly abounding, as everywhere you turn it is sure beauty. Some Riverside Facts:
Rooms –
2048 Guest Rooms
Disabled accessible rooms available
All rooms non-smoking
Buildings offer elevators and stairs
Each room includes -
Alarm Clock
Ceiling Fan
Coffee Maker & Setup
Dial-Up Internet*
Hair Dryer
In-Room Wall Safe
Iron and Board
Table & Chairs
Television - ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN & more
Vanity Area
Voice Mail

Dining –
Food Court
Riverside Mill Food Court – Excellent selection
1 Full Service Restaurant
Boatwright's Dining Hall – Has an excellent reputation – reservations are a must
Pool Bar
In-Room Dining: 4pm to 11:30pm (limited menu)
Recreation -
6 Pools Feature Pool water slide
Child pool
Whirlpool spa
Children's playground
Marina/boat rental
Family fishing hole
Jogging trail
Carriage rides
Bike rentals
Transportation -
Motorcoach transportation
Disney Theme Parks
Disney Water Parks
Downtown Disney®
Disney Resort Hotels**Requires one transfer at a Disney Theme Park
Water launch to:
Downtown Disney®
Port Orleans: French Quarter
Walking Distance to:
Port Orleans: French Quarter
Disney Resort Benefits
Merchandise location (gifts, sundries)
Self service laundry facilities
Valet laundry service

Whether or not you’re looking to stay in a Mansion or in the Rustic South, you will not go wrong in either. This resort offers the feeling of family togetherness; the pools are cozy, the carriage rides take you back to yester year, the fishing hole brings back memories of stories we have all heard passed on for years. This is the perfect resort for runners, with trails lining the property for early morning runs. You will forget you are on vacation at Walt Disney World when you step into the surroundings of Port Orleans Riverside…sit back, relax, and enjoy the old South!