July 18, 2014

Disney Dilemma: Land or Sea?

Since I am blessed to enjoy Disney Cruise Line (DCL) coming back to our neck of the woods, I've had several people ask me how DCL compares to a Walt Disney World family vacation.


Picking between two beautiful family friendly resort vacations?
Sounds difficult, but we'll press on.
#firstworldproblems

Energy
Walt Disney World is a kinesthetic experience, with average walking distances of five to ten miles per day depending how active you are and which park you tour. I highly doubt you'll walk that much on a day at sea. (Unless you're crazy like me and have to get your run in before dawn.)  Similarly in the parks everything is going all the time, if you or your child are overwhelmed by activity and get easily overstimulated. Cruising tends to attract and invite more of a relaxing day at the beach vibe. There are extremely active shore excursions and activities (dawn basketball anyone?) available too, but it is not overwhelming or inescapable.

Somewhere in the Caribbean a boy plays basketball as the sun rises.
Don't worry, I checked it out.
This is directly above the gym rather than someone's stateroom.
I give this one to DCL because it has both high and low energy options and an ease of visiting with a low energy party member easily rather than leaving them behind.
If your entire party is high energy, all day long every day, Walt Disney World would be a better group pick.

Cost and Value
Cost wise, DCL is generally more expensive per day than staying at a value resort and getting the smallest meal plan, but once you include food and childcare, all that saved value goes out the window.

This one goes to DCL.

Fireworks
The Pirate Night fireworks are the best at sea.
Wishes and Illuminations are the best fireworks display in the world.
There are more fireworks in this single frame than in the entirety of The Pirates in the Caribbean fireworks.
Ship fireworks are pretty cool.
Magic Kingdom fireworks induce tears in grown men.
Walt Disney World.
Not even kind of close.

Travel to Vacation
Driving to Galveston on the morning of the cruise take approximately an hour (two if there is traffic).


Flights from Houston to Orlando are quite expensive as is driving (18+ hours with the necessary potty breaks for kids makes this two days of eating out and a hotel break). I like using this calculator: Fly or Drive Calculator to figure out the probable cost of driving. It takes into account your make and model of car, how cheap of a hotel you'll tolerate, rental car at the destination and whether you'll park your car at the airport, and lots of the little extra costs. The only thing it fails to include is the cost of food on the additional days. (Average cost per meal eaten outside the home is $12.75 per person. If you want to add that in to your calculations.)

This goes to DCL, but only if you live near a homeport.
I'm going to give this to WDW for everyone else, as bussing to port from the Orlando airport adds an additional charge per person and hour of transport each direction.

Ease of Room Access
Afternoon naps become simple when you walk to the proper end of the ship to ride the elevator to your floor and reach your stateroom.
Longest this could take is ten minutes.

From Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, you start by walking out of the park, waiting for a bus (or monorail), riding the bus (or monorail) back to your resort and walking to your building to take the elevator to your floor and reach your hotel room.


Longest this could take? An hour. More if you have to wait for the next bus due to crowds or are at a resort that is in a different area. (WDW is the size of Manhattan, after all.)

Cruising is cruising right along (but I'm probably very biased).

Air Conditioning and Weather
I live in Houston. I'm used to heat and humidity conditions similar to what you encounter in Orlando year round. Here in Texas, our solution is reverse hibernation. During summer months (April-October) stay in or near air conditioning. Cruising involves air conditioning. Walt Disney World involves standing outdoors in lines for rides or while waiting for parades or fireworks.
At WDW, I rarely avoid sunburn. DCL, I only sunburn if I forget my sunscreen when I head to the tropical beach excursions.


During the summer, this goes to DCL, unless there is a hurricane that effects your cruise, but not Florida.
During the winter I'd hand it to WDW with lower crowds and generally mild (for winter) weather. The Caribbean stays tropical even during the winter months...so if you like that (which I do) then it still goes to DCL.

Magic
Overall, there are magical moments to be found everywhere! For all that I cry on Main Street USA, I tear up every time I get welcomed aboard. (Yes, the atrium you've seen on travel channel specials and promotional DVDs gets the same effect as seeing Cinderella Castle.)
The ship is similar to Animal Kingdom in that the magic is there for you to discover rather than all being at set intervals. Rather than queueing and meeting Belle after passing through Maurice's cottage and into the magic mirror (a wonderfully beautiful experience) you happen upon Belle sitting on the floor reading to the children who happened to be there. Is anything on DCL as big of a "Wow!" moment as all of Walt Disney World? I'd say the ocean off every side of the ship lends a majesty and excitement to even the small moments getting a coffee.

This one, I'll leave as your call.


Overall
I love Walt Disney World and still hold the dream of living in Cinderella Castle in my inner child, but as an adult, I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy living on a Disney ship more.

Both are great vacations, but ultimately very different choices. We have done both and will do both again. If you're up in the air on the land and sea issue I hope this at least gives your a few things to think about.

July 17, 2014

Three Things Thursday ~ In With The New

Here's one of my new favorite blog hops today:
Three Things Thursday!


http://heidi-strawser.com/category/three-things-thursday/

(Be sure to link up on her blog!)
Since I already have a blog (and three blogs preceding this one) what haven't I already shared?

Once Upon a Time There Was a Princess Who Liked Trying New Things...

1.) Downtown Disney
I grew up knowing that Pleasure Island existed and that we weren't going to go there for some reason. I guess I never really investigated the transformation to Downtown Disney until I was planning a recent girls only trip to the World.

IMG_2274

It has changed since the Pleasure Island days.
A lot.
We loved shopping, browsing and meandering our way through TrenD, Disney's Days of Christmas, Lego Imagination Center and (of course) World of Disney. Dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express was fast and excellent. (Far, far better fare than we would've enjoyed at our resort food court, IMO.) The whole experience made for a perfect afternoon of dipping our toes in the water at Disney. (Not literally, of course.) I really wonder why it took me so many trips to venture to Downtown Disney.
Perhaps a misunderstanding cause by the previous moniker?

2.) Festival of Fantasy Parade
I am going to confess something here trusting you won't make me turn in my mouse ears.
I never much liked parades.
Are you still reading?
Good.
I enjoy watching each time there is a new one and always try to catch the Main Street Electrical parade, but none of the daytime parades really wowed me. At least not enough to stake out a spot early and miss the time I could otherwise be riding rides.
Festival of Fantasy changed everything.

IMG_2614
Yes, Maleficient could very well eat you. I think this is the first time she's been built to scale.
The floats are bigger (much bigger); the colors are brighter; the characters invite you into the amazingness of their very own fantasy world on float after amazingly detailed float. The costumes alone make this a parade worthy of a FastPass+ set aside just for premium viewing.


3.) Spice Road Table
I love all kinds of Mediterranean foods, so I really looked forward to trying Spice Road table on our last trip. Since they don't accept advanced dining reservations (ADRs), I worried we'd miss it due to a line. We could always snack our way around the World Showcase if we couldn't get a table at 6:30.
No such problem.

Hummus and Olives, served with Cornichons and Za’atar Flatbread.
We sat right on the water's edge and enjoyed a variety of small plates.
Seriously yummy food, y'all.
If you time it right, this provides an excellent view of Illuminations.

Did you try anything new (or new to you) recently?
What did you think of it?

July 9, 2014

Cruising: Frozen Style

Welcome to those of you joining me from Melissa's blog, Rolling with the Magic and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.


When a mouseketeer starts to feel the heat, there are two possible responses:
Fight or Flight.

While you've read about some wonderful ways to beat the heat, I'm going to take the opposite response and run. Yes, run.

Hit the road, head to port and join Mickey on the high seas. While on board the Disney Wonder, we will never be more than a few steps from air conditioning. Or a fruity frozen beverage. Or a nice tropical breeze.

Except during the summer when the Wonder heads to the sunny frozen shores of Alaska.

Alaska?


Well if you're really sick of the dog days of summer, why not embrace your #DisneySide by getting a little bit Frozen? Princess Anna and Queen Elsa decided to grace the Disney Wonder with a little bit of Frozen magic during her Alaska sailings. (See guest services on boarding for details).
If your family wants a really memorable vacation, it's hard to beat Alaska.
You can enjoy whale watching, glaciers and dogsleds in the great white north with nary a day above 70°F.
Don't worry, you won't really be Frozen!
The average at most of the ports is in the 50's to 60's.

 
Still, this is not your standard sun and sand cruise, but different and totally unique.

Alaska is sitting on my cruise bucket list for the time being.
(We're waiting until the kids are old enough for some of the amazing port adventures.)
What about you?
Is Alaska at the top of your wish list or do you have your eye on another itinerary?

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Green this month. We will be back on August 14th  with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ In the Mouse House
2nd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head - 5 Ways to Stay COOL on HOT Disney Days
3rd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney - Enjoying the Disney Shows
4th Stop ~ Rolling with the Magic -   What to Pack to Stay Cool at Disney
Final Stop ~ Adventures in the Great Wide Somewhere - Cruising: Frozen Style

Do You Wanna Ask Moms Panel?

Is it really Disney Parks Moms Panel application time???

Well, maybe, maybe not just yet. Although Gary posted some tweets about upcoming possible changes to the Disney Parks Moms Panel search...so that got everyone chatting on Facebook and the DIS for a little while I get to hang out in wait and see mode.

Which means it must be time for me to rearrange some song lyrics again to some of my favorite Frozen songs until the application process begins again.

Do You Wanna Ask Moms Panel

Adapted by Me
(to the tune of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" from #Frozen)

[First Year Applicant:] Disney? [knocks]
Do you wanna ask Moms Panel?
Come on, let's go and plan!
I want to spread some pixie dust,
Disney Cruise or bust!
I'm like the perfect fan!

My friends thought I was a shoe-in,
And now I'm not
I wish you could tell me why!

Do you wanna ask Moms Panel?
 It doesn't have to be me this year...

[Disney:] Not this year.

[First Year Applicant:] Okay, bye...

[Second Year Applicant (knocks):]
Do you wanna ask Moms Panel?
I'll help spread pixie dust for you.
I think it'd be a real ball
Helping plan with y'all and
Making dreams come true!

(Hang in there, Walt.)

We get a little dreamy
 All these message boards
Just watching the months drift by...
(tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock)

[Eighth Year Applicant (knocks):]
Disney, please I know you're in there
People are asking whether I've got in.
They say, "Spellcheck," and "Be yourself," too.
I'll write online for you
Just let me in

I'll answer any questions
Dream or Fantasy,
Magic and Wonder too.

Can I join Disney Moms Panel? [sniff]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yes, I've gone to "musical." Just like last year, only a bit earlier in the process. If you or someone you know is planning on applying, please give them a little extra patience. Send me a shout out if you plan to apply!

July 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday ~ #DisneySide

Welcome Wordless Wednesday Blog Hoppers!

#DisneySide CDs
Embracing my musical #DisneySide


I grew up in the golden revival of the Disney musical. If you dissect my #DisneySide, Ariel, Belle and Lion King music is a big part of it!

Do you have one favorite Disney song?

Bonus #DisneySide Question:
How many Mickeys can you spot above?

Thank you to Focused on the Magic for hosting!
 
Focused on the Magic
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