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He's Growing Up Disney!

He's Growing Up Disney!

Embarking The Disney Dream for Sailing #8

Embarking The Disney Dream for Sailing #8

Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Is It A Boat? Is It A Car? It's An Amphicar!

Guests at Disney Springs, the shopping and dining destination in the Walt Disney World Resort, can have a unique experience of riding in an Amphicar! 

Want to ride?  Find The BOATHOUSE Restaurant and head to The Boatique shop and ask for a ride.

The 20 minute tours are offered 10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily, dependent on the weather.  The coast is $125 with discounts available with dining specials or Chase Disney Visa holders.

We had a dining reservation at The Boathouse and knew we wanted to take an amphicar tour, so arrived a bit early for our reservation.  A rain storm had just passed so we were fortunate enough that the tours were just beginning to operate again after the storm.

We had a photo taken in front of our amphicar with our captain or is it driver?

We climbed into the car for photos, were given some directions about where life jackets were located, not  put our hands in the water--snapping turtles and dirty water, and off we went down the amphicar launch!

What I had not anticipated was that our photos were going to be taken and if we had Memory Maker, those photos would be added to our account for no additional expense.  I just headed to The Boatique at the end of our ride and our MagicBands were scanned to connect the photos to our account.

After going down the ramp, there was a big splash--the water went up to the windshield and we experienced the spray, and we were off!  The wheels were no longer in operation and were now moving via boat propeller.

Our captain, or is a driver, gave us some history of amphicars.  The story goes that many amphicars were produced to be used in Europe for cross country travel where roads readily collided with streams and having an amphicar made travel easier.  Over time, the product stopped being made and sold and the amphicars aged and were in disrepair.  Then, and investor/owner of The BOATHOUSE searched for them and repaired the fleet to offer this experience in Orlando at Disney Springs.

In addition to this experience being incredible fun and memorable, we also got great views of Disney Springs from the water.

All too soon, our ride came to an end and we returned to the Amphicar Launch and felt the wheels engage with the pavement. 
We thanked our driver and headed into The Boatique to get our photos--see the kiosk below.
And, of course, after our amphicar tour, it was time for dinner at The BOATHOUSE.

Want to know more?  Check out The BOATHOUSE website!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

4th of July on the Disney Dream

Family portraits before dinner

It has been our pleasure and privileged to sail on Disney Cruise Line ships on various holidays including Christmas and New Years.(Links to read about those trips at bottom of post.) Our 8th Disney Cruise sailed over the 4th of July holiday.  The 5-night Bahamian itinerary on the Disney Dream had 4th of July, the last day of our sailing, as an "at sea" day.

Initially, we were surprised by that as Disney Cruise Line likes to make the last full day of a cruise a stop at Castaway Cay, if possible.  After doing some research, we discovered that guests on board the Disney Fantasy were spending 4th of July at Castaway Cay.

So, our day at sea began with room service breakfast being delivered to our room.  Guests can order breakfast the night before and select a specific time frame of 30 minutes for it to be delivered.  We like to call this breakfast part one as it included fresh fruit, coffee, toast, muffins, juice, and cold cereal and hits the spot while we get showered and dressed.

We checked the Personal Navigator and learned that many characters were going to be greeting guests in the patriotic attire.

Pluto was milling in the hallway on Deck 5 as we walked to the Lobby Atrium and he stopped to allow us to take a photo.

Wood was greeting guests in the area just off the Lobby Atrium on Deck 3 featuring his own character back drop.  Know that most characters on the Disney ships sign autographs.

After meeting Woody, our family headed to Cabanas for "breakfast part 2". And, then headed off to meet more Disney characters!

Captain Thor was greeting guests in White Caps, one of the shops on Deck 3.
A Captain's Signing is typically scheduled on an "at sea" day.

The photos taken on board by ship's photographers on the 4th of July included special borders.

After meeting lots of characters, our family split up.  The boy wanted to spend time in the teen club, Vibe.  The husband and I had a special tasting scheduled for the afternoon.  We agreed to meet at a certain time to get ready for dinner.

The husband and I got wind of a special tasting that wasn't showing up in the Personal Navigator and had been requested by guests who had experienced it on another cruise.  Chocolates and Liquor Tasting and it was to be held in Pink, the champagne bar located in The District on Deck 4 Aft.  This area is for all ages during the day and offers different activities.  After 9:00 pm, this area becomes adults only.

Note:  If you are on the Disney Dream in this area, be sure to check out the bathrooms.  They are incredible!
Here we are at Pink, ready for our tasting.  Pink is designed to make guests feel like they are inside a champagne bottle.  It is plush and whimsical.  The elephants in Fantasia can be found dancing in the bubbles on the walls.

The last day of any cruise offers one last opportunity to meet characters.  We have seen it under different titles and is typically in the Lobby Atrium and is sometimes offered twice--in the late afternoon before dinner, and again around 10:30 or so.  We hit the afternoon session with our hard target of Chip and Dale.  They were the only characters we hadn't seen during the cruise.
The family reconvened in our stateroom at the designated time and we changed clothes for dinner.  In addition to taking some family portraits, like the one at the beginning of this post and another one below, we were able to say hello to Daisy Duck.

Our dinner was in Royal Palace and in addition to the regular menu, there was an opportunity to order a traditional 4th of July meal that included BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, and friend chicken.  The boy decided that was what he wanted for dinner.

When we boarded the Disney Dream, there was a rumor buzzing from the very first day that our cruise would have two sets of fireworks--Pirate Night and 4th of July.  Never before had a ship done that--it can be a fire hazard to hold that much flammable material.  And, having sailed on other holidays, we know that Disney Cruise Line has not had fireworks on Pirate Night to save them for New Year's Eve for example.

Turns out the rumor was true!  For the first time ever, The Disney Dream had fireworks for its guests on the 4th of July and we were there for the experience.

Click here to read about sailing on a Disney Cruise during Christmas.

Here's how we  spent Christmas Eve on the Disney Dream.

New Year's Eve on the Disney Fantasy

More about a New Year's Eve Cruise on the Disney Fantasy

Friday, December 8, 2017

Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay--Day 2 of a Double Dip--July 2017

Serenity Bay on Castaway Cay
What's better than one day on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line's private island in The Bahamas?  Two gorgeous days!

On our 8th Disney Cruise, we sailed on the Disney Dream's 5-night "double dip" Bahamian itinerary that included two stops at Castaway Cay.  Just click on this link to read about our first day on Castaway Cay.

Now that the boy is a teenager, he can participate in the teen club on the ship, Vibe.  Teens who are a part of Vibe can participate in the teen's only excursion on Castaway Cay that includes a speed boat ride, snorkeling, bicycle riding, and lunch--click here to read more about the Wild Side Teen Adventure.  The boy wanted to go so we signed the release, added the price for the excursion to our ship board account, and dropped him off with his Key To The World card at Vibe that morning after having breakfast together and the husband and I exited the ship and headed straight for Serenity Bay, the adult's only beach at Castaway Cay.
Smiling at Serenity Bay!

Upon arriving at Serenity Bay, we staked out lounge chairs along with a nearby hammock.  Just like on the family beaches, I snagged the low beach chair and headed to the waters edge.

The sand along the shore line at Serenity Bay is lovely.  Fine sand, great for walking.  But as soon as you step into the water, there are many small rocks and pieces of coral.  We highly recommend wearing some sort of water shoe or sandal if walking in the water.

See those chairs near the water line?  Those were our chairs! It was time to take our float and head out into the crystal clear water.
Float and tube rentals are available at Serenity Bay, just like on the family beaches.

On all of the beaches on Castaway Cay, beverage servers are available to take your orders and deliver them to you. . . on your lounge chair, in your hammock, wherever you might have meandered in paradise.  Adult beverages were brought to us in our beach chairs while our feet were in the sand.
Ice cream machines!  Four flavors!  Desserts are to the left.
After a couple of lovely hours on Serenity Bay, it was time for lunch.  There are three locations on Castaway Cay that serve lunch.  Two near the family beaches, Cookies and Cookies, Too.  At Serenity Bay, the same food is served at Serenity Bay BBQ which also neighbors the Castaway Air Bar.

We dined on grilled salmon, grilled burgers, fresh fruit, coleslaw, chips and drinks.  There is also a selection of desserts and ice cream.  In fact, our meal began and ended with ice cream as there were multiple flavors!
Notice the china plates, silverware, and cloth napkins for our picnic style lunch on a tropical island!
This bird was nearby during lunch.

We had agreed to meet the boy at the family beach, Pelican Point, when his excursion was over.  We arrived first and waited for him.  He arrived within 30 minutes and we enjoyed some more time on the island together.
Olaf on Castaway Cay!

The boy after his teen's only excursion.  The cup is one we brought from
home via Dollar Tree that he filled with ice and water.
All too soon, we made our way to the tram stop and headed back to the ship.  It had been another fantastic day on a Castaway Cay.
Hints and Tips to make your day at Castaway Cay:
  • Get up and out early!  No sleeping in on Castaway Cay day!
  • Take a look at the map of the island left in your stateroom the night before or research the island online so you have an idea of the layout.
  • Prioritize what you want to get out of the day.  A relaxing day on the beach?  An active day of snorkeling?  Fishing?  Character meet and greet?  
  • Know that there are kids clubs on the island, just like on the ship.  Hours are in the Personal Navigator and be sure to pick up your child(ren) before the clubs close on the island.
  • A waterproof camera is helpful.
  • A waterproof watch is also helpful.
  • Sunglasses, hats, visors, and sunscreen!
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water.  You can purchase water on the island or on the ship and bring it with you.  We bring big cups with lids of ice with us off the ship in our bag.
  • Rinse the sand and salt off before heading back to the ship either at the outdoor showers near the restrooms or at the showers located near the ship's gangplank.
  • Bring cash for tips for excursions.
  • Have your Key to The World Card and photo ID for anyone over 18.
For us, a Disney Cruise isn't complete without a stop at Castaway Cay.  It was one of the things we missed during our West Coast sailing.  There's a reason Disney Cruise Line saves the stop for later in the cruise itinerary.  You know, saving the best for last!