Good things are happening!

Over the past week there have been lots of good news coming from Disney.  Nothing so earth shattering that I felt compelled to drop everything and start typing, but if you look at the whole picture there are a lot of little changes that will add up to a much better guest experience.  So here goes...

  • WI-FI-nally - All Disney resorts now have wifi available in guest rooms and most public spaces including pools and lobbies.  Finally.  I have taken some flack on some message boards for criticizing Disney for not having Wifi available in the resorts.  (Perhaps it had something to do with me asking if there was indoor plumbing and if the toilets flushed - I was feeling unusually snarky that day.) Yes, it is a vacation and some people like/want/need to unplug.  However, sometimes you just have to keep in touch with your real life, even at Disney World....not to mention that wifi is often involved with how people spend their leisure time.  I always felt that it was a bit incongruous that they did not have wifi long ago, for a company that is often on the leading edge of technology, this took awhile.  But it is done, so good for you Disney! 
  • The Fridges are coming!  The Fridges are coming! - Value resort guests are getting an extra perk in the form of refrigerators included in the room.  Formerly, Disney charged an additional $10 for the night to have a refrigerator in the room.  The cynic in me wonders if they just got tired of playing Frigidaire Shuffle.  What ever the reason, it is a meaningful upgrade to a lot of families!
  • Improved Channel Lineup - While I don't go to Disney with the goal of sitting in front of the television, it is certainly nice to have something to do when the kiddos fall asleep.  So now you can visit Mickey and not miss out on what ever crazy stuff the Real Housewives are into.
  • Story Book Circus -  The first section of the Fantasyland expansion is open.  The newly re-themed Barnstormer is open (same track, new look) as well as half of the "Dueling Dumbo", complete with a cool water feature.  The new train station is open as well.  The reviews and photos look great.  I am excited to see what more is in store for the former footprint of Toon Town.  Technically, the area is in a "soft opening" stage, meaning that it can open and close on a whim. I will be hitting the park Thursday and this area will be my first stop!
  • Kim is out and Perry is in! - The Kim Possible Missions at Epcot will be getting a face lift this summer.  Kim is out and Perry is in, or should I say Agent P is in!  The Kim Possible Wold Showcase Adventure is a very well done attraction.  It is a great use of technology and is a perfect distraction for the kids while Mom and Dad enjoy the World Showcase.  The only problem?  Who is Kim Possible?  It was a bit surprising that Disney chose the less than popular franchise to begin with.  Phineas and Ferb seem to be growing in popularity, and Perry is a big hit in our household.  We are excited to see what Agent P has in store!
  • The Fantasy - Disney's newest ship has its inaugural sailing at the end of the month. I am excited to be going on a preview cruise later this week.  Stay tuned for more information, or even better hop on over to Sail Disney and enter their very first GIVEAWAY!


Disney Cruise Review - Girls Gone Goofy - Part 1


I could stop right there, but I think some supporting documentation is in order!

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I left my sweet girls with my husband and skipped off to Florida for a "Girls Gone Goofy" cruise.  I have to say, as I shared the news of my trip, everyone had the same initial response..."Without your KIDS?!?!"  At my confirmation, there was one of two follow up responses..."Why do a kids cruise with another adult?" and "Good for you!"  Since the ladder requires no further comment, I will address the former.  Yes, I did a Disney Cruise, without my children.  Yes, I was on a boat with a lot of other children.  No, this did not bother me in the least.  You see, Disney knows that grown ups want to have fun, too.  Whether you are with your kids and they ditch you for the kids clubs, or you are traveling sans kiddos there is so much to do!

The check in process was a piece of cake!  We arrived at the terminal, a nice gentleman took our non-carry on bags and scolded us to stop smiling.  "Whadda ya think this is?  The happiest place on earth, or what?"  Cue bigger smiles.  Before we entered the terminal, they did a quick check to make sure we had the proper travel documents.  We stood in the shadow of the ship (it is HUGE...and BEAUTIFUL!)  as followed a quickly moving line to enter the terminal.  As soon as we entered the building we went through an "old school" style airport security check (keep you shoes on!) and headed up the escalator to the main part of the terminal. 

The terminal itself is cavernous, and very blue.  We headed straight to the line to check in, and within minutes were cleared to board the ship.  I did stop for a quick picture of Mickey standing in front of the model ship.  As we entered the big yellow Mickey ears to board the ship, two lines quickly formed.  One for pictures and the other to just get on the ship.  Quick tip:  Just get on the ship.  There are plenty of other photo ops later.
My first of many Mickey sightings!

As we boarded the ship, our names were announced over a loud speaker..."The Disney Dream would like to welcome Ginger and Kelly!".  We walked through a "tunnel" of smiling applauding cast members.  While I knew that was part of their standard protocol, and that they do it for every family, I was surprised at how welcome it made me a total VIP!  Immediately, we were impressed at the huge 3 story lobby, exquisitely decorated  and crowned with the most amazing crystal chandelier.
Is it me or does this look like a painting?

As soon as we embarked, we headed right up to Cabana's for a great buffet lunch.  We found a nice little table outside and enjoyed our lunch with a great view of the port and even the NASA launch pad.  I had no sooner sat down when a cute waiter in white shorts appeared with a tray full of Bahama Mamas - the drink of the day.  Cabana's proved to be one of my favorite dining spots!
A bathtub full of shrimp -
Bahama Mama
In general, your stateroom will not be ready until about 1:30pm.  Since it was just before 1:00 we decided to wander around the ship and take lots of pictures.  I quickly found what would be my favorite spot. (Head all the way up to Deck 13 and walk all the way forward.)  It is a cool lounging bench that allows your legs to stretch out in front of you.  And do you notice the little brown drink ledges?  They thought of everything!
After our impromptu ship tour we headed to our room.  Since this was a bit of a budget trip, we opted for an ocean view room on Deck 2.  It was a fairly small, but efficient space.  It was great for a pair of friends.  While technically our room would sleep 4, I think I would find it pretty tight sharing the space with 3 other adults or friends.  I think it would be a cozy fit for a family with a few kids.  The split bath was really nice.  There was a toilet and sink in one room and a tub and sink in the other.  This made it much easier for us to get ready.  We unpacked our stuff and checked out the Daily Navigator.  The Navigator is your daily calendar of events.  It is your key to all shipboard activities.  We noticed that they were offering a Spa Tour, so we headed on up!

The Senses Spa, is a pretty and quiet little place.  We did a quick tour and learned about all of the services they offer...mani, pedi, haircuts & styles, massage, facials, personal training, and all kinds of other treatments.  We were tempted by the Rainforest Experience.  At only $15 per day, it seemed like a very reasonable treat.  We went ahead and booked the experience and we were so glad we did.  We enjoyed the aroma showers, the saunas, and the hot tubs.  I also found another favorite spot...the heated tile loungers...HEAVEN!!!  More to come on our spa day...

We finished up our Spa Tour in time for the Assembly or Muster Drill.  It is quick, painless and absolutely necessary.  We met at our assigned spot, our names were checked off a list and we were given instruction as to what to do in case of an emergency.  If you want to get this done quickly SHOW UP ON TIME!  I think we spent more time waiting on stragglers than we did on the drill itself.

After the drill we headed up to the pool deck and enjoyed the Sail Away party.  There are some catchy songs, some choreographed dances, and lots of characters.  Before you know it, the ships horn blasts the first few notes to "When you wish upon a star" and you are off!  At that point, the deck party continues with regular dance music and lots of movin' and groovin'.  I have to say that pulling out of port felt a little disconcerting.  You cannot feel any movement, so it seems as if the rest of the world is moving by.  It is a bit of an odd feeling, but you get used to it quickly.  Aided by the fact that you loose sight of land and all reference points fairly quickly!

Since we had a VERY early wake up call around 4am, we decided to head down to our room, have a glass of wine, relax and get ready for dinner.  Our dinner time was not until 8:15 and we were feeling a bit hungry.  We decided to order a cheese tray from room service to enjoy as we got ready.  It ended up being a GREAT decision, and one we repeated every evening.

The first night of our dining rotation sent us to Animator's Palate.  We enjoyed a little time with Nemo's friend Crush as we enjoyed a delicious dinner.  I loved the theme of the restaurant, and the food was good, too!

 After dinner we enjoyed a few minutes of a lovely evening breeze and then headed back to our staterooms to turn in. We had a long but fun first day on board.  When we returned to our stateroom, we found that our Stateroom Hostess had been busy in our absence.  Our beds had been turned down, a chocolate treat was left for us to enjoy, and the next day's Navigator was awaiting our perusal.  After a quick look and discussion of our plans for Day 2 we were off to Sleepytown!

Stay tuned for "Girls Gone Goofy" Part 2!


Free Dining on the Way???

Thanks to a tip from an on the ball client (Love you, Suzanne!)  I just checked my email from my Disney Rewards Visa.  Inside, I found an offer for Free Dining from August 25th - September 29th with the purchase of a 5 day Magic You Way Package.  It appears to be the same promotion offered in years past with the quick service dining plan included with the Value resorts, and the regular dining plan included with all other resorts.

As you may know, his usually means a similar offer is on the way for  the general public.  So grab your calendar, pick some dates and give me a call!  We can get your trip planned and apply the discount as soon as it becomes available!

UDATED: Sources indicate that this offer will be available for the general public beginning March 5th.