Your #DisneyMemory of Wishes

Hello, and welcome today’s #DisneyMemory segment!  The focus today is on a special fireworks show that many people know and love — Wishes!  Like roller coasters, when I was a kid, I was terrified of fireworks.  For me mostly, it was a sensory issue involving the loud noises and the way I would tense up in anticipation of those booms.  So for many years, I would not watch fireworks, either at Walt Disney World or anywhere.  Then one year, my wife suggested that my daughter and I get ear plugs, and that was the start of a love affair of Wishes.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of getting them sooner — I guess I just figured I would never bother with seeing fireworks — but I’m glad that my wife had the great idea to do that.  I’ve since found out that you can also get ear plugs at Guest Services for free, so that’s a great thing also.  Now, fireworks don’t seem so bad anymore, and I enjoy them a great deal.

My favorite #DisneyMemory from Wishes is from our trip in 2012.  In that trip, Cindy, Sophie and myself invited our friends Kerry & Neal and their kids and our friend Monica and her daughter to join us, and one of the reservations we had for that trip was at Cinderella’s Royal Table.  The problem was that the earliest time we could get for our party size was 8:30 PM, which I was inclined to skip on, but the others really wanted to eat there, so we decided to stick with it.  Well, what turned into an absolutely terrible dining time (especially with a 4 and 2 1/2 year old in our party) turned into one of the greatest moments of Disney Magic we ever experienced.  Since we were there late, and since we had a party of 9, dinner took longer, to the tune of us being inside the Castle when Wishes was beginning.  We were able to experience the fireworks through the windows, and listen to the show audio in the restaurant.  Obviously, while we didn’t see as much in the way of the actual fireworks as we would have had we been outside, it was still an incredible memory, and that is my favorite #DisneyMemory of Wishes.

So please tell me, what is your favorite #DisneyMemory of Wishes?  Please let us know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by to join us today!

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 One – Boarding

If you love Disney, you probably have a Disney Bucket List. A list of Disney-related things and places that you want to experience. For us, first on our list was a couples trip to Walt Disney World, and that was checked off in 2007. Next was Disneyland, and that was checked off in 2012. Both of these experiences were amazing!

Next on the list was a Disney Cruise, and we just returned from our first one this past Thursday. So this too has now been crossed off the Disney Bucket List. Unfortunately, this was not an amazing experience. We took a 5-night Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Wonder and probably had one of the worst vacations of our lives!

To be fair, we did book on the off-season, so the bad weather we experienced couldn’t be blamed on Disney. And we did get sick, which is always a danger when traveling. But even putting these things aside, the cruise was substandard. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Let’s start at the beginning of Day One:

Our first glimpse of the Disney Wonder

We had a great flight on JetBlue out of Buffalo and a seamless transfer from the Orlando Airport to our Hertz rental car. From there it was a quick visit to Downtown Disney for some food and shopping and then off to the house of Karen’s parents for the night. We got up well refreshed the next morning, the morning of our cruise departure, and drove to Miami. We deposited the rental car at the Hertz depot and were driven to the Miami Port (see picture above). We were on time for our 3pm boarding and started the exciting walk to the ship:

    

This is when it became real!

We were announced as we entered on deck 4 and made our way into the main lobby. We were greeted with the amazing theming of the Disney Wonder:

The Miami skyline, and almost the only clear blue sky we saw on this trip

We had an hour or so before the Adventures Away Family Deck Party so decided to check out our stateroom:

    

Deck 6, Amidships

We have no complaint about the stateroom. It was dead center of the ship and so we experienced minimal rocking from the movement of the ship at sea. Each day we would get a Personal Navigator placed in our stateroom which listed every activity for the next day. These were invaluable and a nice feature. We checked things out briefly and then headed off to explore the ship before the away party started. When it did, it looked something like this:

    

Loud fun was had by all!

We had the late sitting for dining and so we did a little more exploring of the ship and then headed to the Walt Disney Theatre to see the first of the three Broadway-style shows: All Aboard! Let the Magic Begin! at 6:15 pm.

No photography is allowed during the show so I have no pictures to share with you. I’d rate this show a 6 out of 10 but the act that followed was a perfect 10! The physical comedy of Max Winfrey was amazing with juggling and audience participation. We would see more of him later in the sailing.

Next it was off to Animator’s Palate for the second seating at 8:15 pm where we met two amazing couples. But this is where we began to become disillusioned:

Although this was a cool restaurant, the sitting took over 2 hours to complete, which we felt ate into (pun intended) our overall time on the ship. Karen has a gluten allergy and so asked for one of the two meals on the menu she could eat, but she was brought the wrong dish. Instead of well-done beef tenderloin, she was brought a medium-rare steak. I ordered the veal and was brought a 1/2″ thick pork chop on a big bone with some batter on it. It was tough and not tender as I am used to veal being. We made the best of it and assumed things would get better. They didn’t, but more on that as the posts continue.

We didn’t leave the dining room until just after 10:30 pm leaving little time for entertainment. But because it was the first night, we decided to watch the end of Mary Poppins on the Funnel Vision and ended up arriving back at our stateroom just after midnight.

One day down and we were looking forward with optimism to Day Two at sea. But we were to see a downward trend develop as more of our time was wasted and, ultimately, a big chunk of the cruise was lost.

Ariel mural behind the elevators on Deck 6, near our stateroom, midships

Be sure to check out the next post entitled First Disney Cruise: Day Two – Sailing.

Tiggerific Tuesday – Fact for the Day

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Hello everyone, and welcome to Tiggerific  Tuesday Trivia!  Thanks for joining me and my friends Jenn from Disney Babies Blog, Heidi from Heidi’s Head, and Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse as we give you some interesting (we hope) Disney Trivia for you to enjoy!

Do you have a Disney themed blog?  If so, why not join in our hop?  All you need to do is write up a post on your blog, then add it below using the “Add Link” widget.  It’s a lot of fun, so we hope you’ll join us!

This week I’ve got several “Fact for the Day”  items from you from one of my favorite sites, This Day in Disney History.

Fact for the Day…

Since this week seems to have so many great facts for the day, I’ve actually got a couple for you to enjoy!

Disney World built the Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion so that Cinderella Castle is perfectly framed in two views: through the window behind the altar where the couple is married, and through a hedge archway outside the chapel.

In addition to the Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion, I’ve also got one that directly relates to the most common form of Disney Transportation: buses!

About 300 Walt Disney World buses transport guests around the Florida resort, making the Walt Disney World fleet the third largest in Florida behind Miami and Jacksonville!

I hope that you found these two trivia tidbits to your liking!  Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to write your posts and share them with ours!  Make it a Disney Day everyone!

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