Disney Cruise Line Decorative Pillow

If you’ve read our trip report about our first Disney cruise, then you know that the best part of it was getting the decorative pillow shown in this post. Click the link to read about our horror story… if you dare! Don’t worry, there are lots of good experiences too.

But we have truly enjoyed seeing this pillow on our bed each day:

Corduroy with Gold Braiding

Corduroy isn’t used much these days due to its association with that ugly decade called the 1970’s. For those unfamiliar with, or trying to forget, this fabric: Corduroy is a textile composed of twisted fibers that, when woven, lie parallel (similar to twill) to one another to form the cloth’s distinct pattern, a “cord.” Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet.

The detail, specifically the characters, doesn’t stand out too much at first. It takes a little closer examination to appreciate the work that went into the design. Let’s take just such a closer look:

Mickey in the spotlight

There isn’t too much detail in each character rendering due to the limitations of the thread, but would it have been more appropriate to have Mickey in his Captain uniform?

Next we see three characters each to the left and the right of Mickey. These are mirror images of each other with the exception of the first two characters, each directly next to Mickey. Here they are together:

 

Daisy to the left, Goofy (?) bodyboarding to the right

Daisy could be in Victorian beach wear with her parasol (literally: For the Sun). And the next character might look like Pluto at first, but it seems to be Goofy bodyboarding. And that is defined as: Bodyboarding is a water sport in which the surfer rides a bodyboard on the crest, face, and curl of a wave which is carrying the surfer towards the shore. Bodyboarding is also referred to as Boogieboarding due to the invention of the “Boogie Board” by Tom Morey. The average bodyboard consists of a short, rectangular piece of hydrodynamic foam. Bodyboarders typically use swim fins for additional propulsion and control while riding a breaking wave.

Again, for some reason, these two characters are not mirrored. But the next two are:

 

Pluto romping in the waves

 

Mickey Mouse on a Jet Ski

I would have thought that this would have been Donald Duck, as he is one of the Fab Five and a main character used by the Disney Cruise Line. But from the ears in silouhette it certainly more closely resembles Mickey. I guess Donald wasn’t up for a day at the sea!

Oh, and if you’d like a little information about what Mickey is riding: Jet Ski is the brand name of a personal watercraft manufactured by Kawasaki. It was the “first commercially successful” personal watercraft in America, having been released in 1972 (after reaching a license agreement with the inventor of the Jet Ski, Clayton Jacobson II when his license agreement with Bombardier expired). The term is sometimes used to refer to any type of personal watercraft.

So we have a pillow with a mystery. Why are some of the characters mirrored and others not? And why is Minnie Mouse missing along with Donald Duck? We may never know.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with the inspirational saying found on the back of the pillow:

Monday Topics: Looking Back at Disney – The Back Side

W E E K     F O U R

LOOKING BACK AT DISNEY

Our friends over at Love Our Crazy Life have asked some of their blogging friends (like me) to participate in a Blogging Challenge. So for four weeks in April, on every Monday morning, I will be covering a different Disney-related topic. You can click the link above to find all of the other participants and their entries. Enjoy!

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The Back Side

I struggled with this topic, so it was fortunate for me that it came last in the series! I thought of doing a comparison of Disney then and now, but that would take too much time. I thought of doing a pictorial of me in 1972 at Walt Disney World versus me in modern times. But I have too few images for such a post. So what to do?

Why not do the unexpected, or inexplicable? So welcome to my post that looks at the back side of Disney!

Back Side of Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland model)

Disney Legend and Imagineer Herb Ryman designed Disneyland’s iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. Now, the infamous story of how this castle got turned around may be apocryphal, or it may be true, but it certainly is entertaining. Herb says:

“One thing that he (Walt) insisted upon was that there be a very, very conspicuous castle, because the castle is going to be the symbol of this whole place. Fred Joerger had done a beautiful model of this castle. When I saw it I said, ‘I don’t like it.’ So I took a look at the castle model, grabbed a hold of the upper portion of the model, and turned it around so that the back of the upper portion now faced the front. ‘Dick said, ‘Now, Herbie, quit playing with it. Put it back. He said ‘Walt’s going to be here any minute, and Walt won’t like it. Turn it around. Put it back.’”

But time ran out and Walt saw the altered version. And loved it! So the whole thing was built around the wrong way. So when you visit Disneyland and take a picture of the front of the castle, your picture will turn out backwards!

Back Side of Water (Jungle Cruise)

I’m constantly amazed at how many times Disney is able to get us excited about simple and common things. Millions of us take pictures of trash cans just because they are color-coded to the Land they are in. Many of us enjoy a bus ride, even though we have to wait too long to get on one and they take forever to get anywhere!

And then there is the back side of water.

A simple gag line from a corny attraction has caused more cameras to click and more people to groan than any other naturally occurring substance in the World!

Back Side of Disney Cruise Ships (Disney Wonder)

Each of the ships in the Disney Cruise Line have a distinctive character tableau attached to the back. Historically, most sailing ships would stick a figure on the front, such as Pirate ships. But Disney just had to be different!

They are almost impossible to see from the ship themselves, so take your pictures before you board. I guess Disney just wants to give those ocean-going tailgaters something to look at!

Back Side of Disney Clothing (Mickey T-shirt)

OK, that’s just rude! But I’m sure Mickey is just being playful as he takes a backwards peek at us. There are many different designs in this theme, showing us the back of characters instead of just another view of the more familiar fronts.

But be careful: You may not know if you’re coming or going when wearing one of these!

And there you have my look back at the back side of Disney. I wonder who else would have thought of this angle for Looking Back at Disney?!

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First Disney Cruise: Last Day – Evaluation

Just a footnote to Day Five: Because it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we were supposed to get a special anniversary dessert with our last dinner sitting, but we skipped it to enjoy more activities. We phoned and asked if we could have the desserts sent to our room so we could enjoy them later, but were told that they would only send them to the room during our rotation time. If we weren’t going to be in our stateroom during that time, then we couldn’t have the desserts at all. Happy anniversary to us!

Fortunately, we met one of the couples who sat at our table and they said they would get the desserts for us and we could swing by their cabin later and pick them up. Disney Cruisers are the best! The desserts looked like this, and were very tasty:

    

We had some more anniversary surprises, such as this nice one waiting for us when we first arrived in the room on Day One. It was from some good friends of ours:

We got sick before we could enjoy it, so have brought it home and are saving it for a special occasion. Disney also helped us commemorate the event by giving us a nice card and a bottle of wine on our anniversary day, and our Host left us this in our stateroom:

So onward with Day Six, or the last day of our vacation.

We woke up in the morning at 6:30 am and finished packing. By 8:30 am we were disembarking in Miami. This process went very well. Port of Miami has a very efficient customs service. We had hoped for a beautiful full day of sun and fun, but again, our little black rain cloud had found us! No blue sky for our last day of vacation.

Goodbye Disney Wonder!

We boarded our shuttle to the Hertz rental car facility and arrived just after 9 am, but due to a reservation mix up (not Hertz’s fault) we didn’t get on the road until almost noon! So most of our day in Miami was lost. Catching a break just isn’t our thing.

By now we are starving as we haven’t eaten all day, so we stopped at a Wendy’s and had some lunch. From there we hit a couple of Disney Stores and then drove to the house of Karen’s parents to repack and get a final night’s rest before flying home. The next day we drove to Orlando and boarded our JetBlue flight for Buffalo. We picked up our own car at the park and fly service and had lunch at Bob Evans. We hit two Malls on the way home and picked up some last Disney souvenirs, from a Hallmark store no less, and so ended the adventure.

F I N A L     E V A L U A T I O N

You might think that I would totally trash the Disney Cruise Line after such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad vacation. Make no mistake, we are planning to contact the DCL to complain and see if we can’t get some compensation. But in life one has to look at the pros and cons. So let’s do that now:

PROS

  1. Time away from our regular routine
  2. New experience, first time cruising aboard the beautiful Disney Wonder
  3. Met some really great people
  4. Enjoyed some excellent service from Crew Members
  5. Saw some amazing shows and performers
  6. Picked up some awesome souvenirs
  7. Were compensated slightly for the bad experience (thanks to Vacation Insurance)

CONS

  1. Got an onboard illness and were quarantined, losing almost 3 days of our cruise (out of 5)
  2. The food was substandard, an almost non-existent buffet, and few gluten-free options
  3. Some truly unhelpful experiences with Customer Service
  4. Missed one port of call and got rained out at the other, bad weather over all
  5. Missed the Pirate deck party, fireworks, and Toy Story the Musical, and 2 movies

We would give the cruise as it turned out only a 4 out of 10, which is very low considering the amount a Disney cruise costs! But in fairness, Disney can’t control the weather and getting sick is just the chance you take. But being as the service was generally poor in response to our troubles, and the food was generally average, and there was almost a total lack of variety in gluten-free options, we can’t give a better mark. However, if everything had gone well we still would only give the Disney Wonder a 7 out of 10.

Cruising is not for everyone!

We arrived home to a DCL commercial on the TV with the tagline: “When it comes to pleasing everyone, the difference is Disney!” I don’t believe the ‘difference’ they are talking about is what we experienced!

We’ve all heard that if you’ve never cruised before, you should start with a 5-day excursion to see if it’s for you. We are definitely glad we did this! For us, a middle-aged couple with no children, there just wasn’t enough to do on board with the majority of the time being at sea. A Walt Disney World vacation with something happening every minute is more our speed, whereas a cruise is more about slowing down and relaxing. Maybe even coming to a complete stop at times! Families would definitely enjoy the experience more.

And in fairness, I doubt anyone would have as many problems as we did! But even if all had gone right, the value just isn’t there when you cost out the fun-to-dollar ratio. And one last time, I just have to mention how terribly disappointed we were in the food. The Beach Blanket Buffet was actually closed quite often, and after everyone telling us you could eat 24/7 on a Disney Cruise, I found this to be unacceptable! And as I saw many other guests throwing up their hands in frustration outside a closed eating location I know I’m not alone in this. The same DCL commercial mentioned earlier touted a ‘Royal Banquet’ enjoyed while cruising. We never found where this was served on our cruise!

Would we cruise again? NO! Should you? I think every Disney fan should keep it on their Disney Bucket List… but… don’t go into it with high expectations. It appears that the Disney Cruise Line may not always be able to live up to them.

I’ve always believed that good customer service isn’t always doing everything perfect up front, but more about how you fix a problem afterwards. Thanks to our having purchased Vacation Insurance, we were able to get a small financial refund and a DCL Embroidered Pillow for our troubles.

At first, Disney sent us a 10% discount coupon for our next Disney Cruise that had to be redeemed in a relatively short period of time. We turned that back over to them for the above item.

And that concludes our First Disney Cruise anniversary vacation. Do you think I’ve been fair in my evaluation? If you’ve cruised with Disney, how was your experience?

First Disney Cruise: Day Five – Castaway Cay

So Day Five begins with the breakfast buffet at Beach Blanket Buffet:

As usual, Karen couldn’t eat here because of her gluten allergy, so she had to go scouting for a piece of fruit. I had a Mickey Waffle and french toast (both of which were rock hard), sausage and eggs (which were very good), and coffee (not so good. What is it with Disney and bad coffee?)

Well, the little black rain cloud did indeed find us, and grey skies quickly turned to rain. But before the sprinkles hit, I was able to take a few pictures from the boat:

Our excursion wasn’t until 12:45 pm, so we decided to brave the elements and do a walking tour of the Island. We walked, we saw, we visited the gift shop ($36.95 for a T-shirt???) and we took some more photographs:

    

    

Even though the weather was less than ideal, they still had the characters out and posing for pictures with the guests. If you ever want to find your way around Castaway Cay, just use this handy map:

The weather turned for the worse so we decided to head back to the ship, as did many other guests. So by 10:30 am we were back on board and looking for something to do. A quick nibble and it was back on shore for our glass-bottom boat excursion. At 12:30 pm we were told it may be canceled due to rain, but at 1 pm it was “All Aboard!” and away we went. In the rain:

Our guide did her best but only two types of fish out of the promised 20 possibles showed up and the view of the sea bed was minimal due to the weather conditions. But I did get one great shot of these colorful Snappers:

And I also got some cool shots of the Disney Wonder:

On the way back in, I got this next shot of Castaway Cay:

Keeping in mind this was the off-season, the tour was still pretty underwhelming, and later we learned that the cost had been refunded, which was a nice gesture as compensation for what must have been a disappointing day on the Cay for everyone.

Being as this was our last day on the ship, we decided not to waste over 2 hours on our dining rotation, so instead tried to find as many activities and shows to enjoy as possible. The first was at 5:45 pm in the Buena Vista Theatre for a viewing of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Vacation… er, Day! This was a hilarious movie and a real treat to see in this onboard theatre!

Next we thought we’d do the last of our shopping on board, but we were so discouraged by our trip, we just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for Disney Wonder/Disney Cruise Line merchandise! So we browsed until it was time to enter the Walt Disney Theatre for the last of the broadway-style shows Dreams An Enchanted Classic. This was the best of the shows we saw and I’ll gladly give it a 10 out of 10.

The show ended at 9:30 pm and we made our way to the main lobby to see the concluding character parade called ‘Til We Meet Again at 10 pm. After this we made our way back to our stateroom to pack for the next day’s disembarkment. On the way, I caught a Princess on the move:

The vacation was thankfully close to ending. In the next, and last, post I’ll share one more post in this series summing up and giving our overall view of the Disney Wonder and cruising in general. You may be surprised by what you read!

See ya real soon!

First Disney Cruise: Day Four – Touring the Ship

Welcome back! We’re still in quarantine at this point, alternating between sleeping and trying to watch some TV. Some basic room service breaks up the monotony but we are obviously looking forward to 5 pm and the end of our exile! This was a sea day:

We received several calls from different departments checking in on us, which was nice. But as the quarantine came to an end at 5 pm, we noticed that we had forgotten to send out our soiled laundry, which is done for you free if due to your illness. However, Customer Service informed us that because we waited to make the call minutes after our quarantine ended, we were no longer eligible for this service. After Karen discussed the matter for a while they did offer to give us free detergent. After I called Customer Service back and had my own discussion with them, they sent a Crew Member to collect our laundry, which was then done for us.

So around 5:30 pm we headed back out into the general population. We did a little browsing in the shops before attending the 6:00 pm showing of The Golden Mickeys. Again, no photography was allowed, but I can say it was a good show, which I would give an 8 out of 10. At 7:30 pm we ended up at WaveBands for the So You Think You Know Your Family show. This is where parents and their children have to match each other’s guesses to a series of questions. It was mildly amusing and a nice, relaxing diversion. Next, it was more time to explore the ship:

At 10:15 pm it was back to WaveBands for the physical comedy of Max Winfrey. This bar has a rather small stage, so imagine a man on a 6′ high unicycle, juggling machetes thrown to him by a woman picked from the audience. Yup. This guy was crazy! But again, as I mentioned in Day One, I’d give this guy a 10 out of 10 any day! By far he was among the best entertainment on the ship.

Day Five was our 25th Wedding Anniversary, which we were looking forward to spending on Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay. So we shuffled off to our stateroom, which by now, we were on intimate terms with!

Were we due to catch a break and have at least one great day on this cruise? After all, we were feeling much better and had an excursion planned. Well, if we didn’t have a little black rain cloud following us around so far on this vacation, it would find us on Castaway Cay! Be sure to join us tomorrow for Day Five of our First Disney Cruise.