Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trip Report 2012 Day #6 - Hollywood Studios Rope Drop, Epcot 30th Birthday, Homework

Just a few hours after we left Hollywood Studios, we are back and ready to rope drop.  The goal for the day is to get a couple quick spins on Toy Story Midway Mania and meet a few characters before we hop over to Epcot to help celebrate its 30th birthday.  

After a spin on Toy Story Midway Mania we went across the street to meet Woody and Buzz Lightyear.  They have a very nice meet and great area with an indoor line.  When you first enter there is a sign that explains how the line works.  There are lots of photo opportunities along the way.

Fist up is the box Buzz Lightyear came in.

Then the "Claw"

Trapped in Sid's room.

Clair is a little worried about being strapped to a rocket.

Some concern on Alden's face.

Clair said she did not need a picture with the Evil Zurg.

Don't worry stinky Pete does not actually stink despite what my kids say.

No wonder luggage gets lost when these three are messing with it.

So after working your way through the first two movies, you meet Buzz and Woody on Andy's "Bed"  It is a good back drop!

It was time to use our Fast Pass, so back across the sidewalk we went for another ride.

The look of focus and determination.

My monsters with these monsters from Monster's Inc.

We ate lunch at the Backlot Express then caught the next show of American Idol.  It is usually very entertaining.  It is fun to cheer and boo at the judges and the contestants.

With it being about 1:30pm, we were ready to hop and Clair was ready to nap.  Today is Epcot's 30th Birthday so we want to go check out the birthday party.   From Hollywood Studios, there is a boat that can take you to the Epcot resorts and then to Epcot.  One great thing about this boat is that you can roll your stroller right on, no need to wake a sleeping child.  It is about a 25 minute boat ride.  We could have walked the distance faster but we needed a little break for our feet and a chance to recharge " our batteries".  

I think she looks comfortable.

When entering Epcot we all received a special 30th birthday buttons.  There was also a special map and times guide that had the special events listed.   We were not really interested in any of the special events  because they we geared more for adults, we were there for the button.

We walked over to The American Adventure to watch the show but after sitting in line for a while they said they had to cancel it due to technical difficulties.  They had lots of extra stuff going on and my guess is they were understaffed for the massive crowds outside at the theater where all the special presentations were that day.

So we walked over to meet Duffy and survived a down pour at the same time.

Then we used a little imagination.

Never a dull moment when jumping on light up sensors that play music.

I think Alden and I take this picture every trip.

We walked back to the boat to head back to our car over at Hollywood Studios.

We called it an early night and had the kids do some homework!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Disney Speak - Personal Navigator

When you sail away with Disney Cruise Line you are going to have a great time.  There are so many activities and things to see and do, but how do you know when or where to find things.  The answer:  your Personal Navigator.

You will hear over and over on the ship "refer to your Navigator" and they are not talking about a crew member charting the course for the ship.  

The Personal Navigator is a 6 page handout chalk full of information.  What you find in the navigator ranges from weather to stage shows.  TIP: For your first day you can get one when you check in at the terminal and you can read over it as you wait to board the ship.  For the remainder of your trip you receive one with your turn down service the night before to give you lots of time to plan.  You can find extra copies at guest services.

Lets go through the make up of a Navigator page by page.  

Day 1 Page 1 or Front cover

At the top of the Navigator it gives you the weather report and sun up and sun down times.  It also has the date and your port for the day.

Next, is a large display for that evening show.  On this one it is the Golden Mickey's and it shows the times and locations.  The bottom half of the front page has the "don't miss" section, one I would recommend for anyone who is on the ship for the first time is the "Welcome Aboard Ship Tour."  This is really helpful to learn your way around and will save you tons of time later by not being as lost.  

The bottom gives the Menu and Drink of the day.  Also some important numbers so they are easy to find.

Day 2 Page 1
This is the front page of day 2 and you can see the lay out is very similar.

Day 1 page 2
Page number 2 of the Personal Navigator Gives you some Highlights for families and adults.  It shows the tour times for the spa.  It is a great idea to take a tour of the spa if you are thinking about booking something! They sometimes run specials on spa treatments if you go to the Spa Tour.  It always seems if the time you wanted was not available online, they can find a way to fit you in somewhere.  However the less expensive treatments do book fast, the most basic massage was not available to book on board.  TIP: Do your Spa Treatments first thing when you do online check in, as well as booking a Cabana at Castaway Cay!

The other important booking thing on this page is the Beverage Seminars.  It tells you where to go to book those.  

Booking and touring things can make the first few hours busy but helps set up the rest of your cruise!

Day 1 page 3
Page three Shows highlights of youth activities, it also tells you how to register your kids for the clubs, for ages 3 -12.  You should have registered them in the port terminal right after you checked in so you do not waist any of  your time on the ship filling out forms.  When you register them it is just basic information and you are not picking out activities for them.  They can choose to do whatever events or activities in the clubs they want.

You also find a Movie schedule for the Buena Vista Theater.  Disney shows first run movies the whole cruise.  This is where you can see the whole list at once.  We were able to see Thor the Dark World the day it came out and in 3D on one of our cruises (the movies are all included in the cruise fare, however, be careful with the movie snacks - those are NOT included!).  

Day 1 page 4 or back cover
On to the back page!  Here is lots of information, not just highlights anymore.  Lots of good stuff to read through as you wait to board the ship.  The very first thing is to plan your next cruise.  There are some great reasons to book while on board: 1) you get a discount and 2) an on board credit.  We actually looked ahead a year and were ready with what we wanted to book before we ever set foot on the ship.  TIP: I would recommend going before the last day.  There can be huge lines the last day and of course tell them your travel agent!  If you book on board and give them my name and company I can help you with all the other details.

Other things on this page deal with shopping, pictures, and Internet.  The most important thing to note is that when in port all the shops on the ship are closed!

Day 1 Insert Schedule 
Now on to the "meat" of the Personal Navigator - the Insert!  This is a two sided page that has all of the details.  If you need to know when something is, this is where you look.  It is also designed to be folded in thirds so it can go in a pocket and easily go with you.  The insert is like your own personal guide to the cruise.  (I have witnessed navigators in other peoples hands with multiple colors of highlights to help Navigate the day.)  After you get the highlights from the other pages, you dive into the insert to really plan your day, or if you prefer to not plan, you could always just sit on your veranda and watch the sea go by.

Day 2 Insert schedule 
Here is a shot of day #2's schedule so you can see what a full day looks like. You can see they make it easy to find the highlights, but it does not show you everything going on. The spa really does not show up, as well as your meal times, so keep that in mind as you plan it out.

Day 1 insert hours
Here is the other side of the insert and it is full of hours, hours, hours, and more hours.  Do you need to know what time they start serving breakfast in the Enchanted Garden, then this is your place.  How about when the mini golf opens, here as well.  Even the pool hours are listed.   This also has a listing of all the Characters to meet.   

On our last cruise, we were on board for the premier of Thor and they had an insert about a special midnight showing in both theaters.

The back side showed the rest of the showings just in case you missed it in the other 3 spots you could find it.  It was neat how they showed it in both theaters.  They normally don't show movies in the larger Walt Disney Theater.  

Map of Castaway Cay - Disney's Private Island
On the castaway Cay Day they insert a map of the tropical paradise.

Now when you hear that you can find it in your Navigator, I hope you know what they are talking about.  It is a valuable tool to maximizing your time on the ship.  Looking it over the night before can save you the moment of walking in on something just as it ends and saying "if we had only known".  

If you want to find more Navigators to look at, you can check out The Disney Cruise Line Blog. On that site there is a large archive of Navigators.  Look for the ship and length of cruise that you are doing and see what fun is in store.   Check it out here!

Want to see a set of Navigators from a 7 Night Eastern Caribbean that we shared with the Disney Cruise Line Blog.  You can see what we did for a week on the Fantasy HERE.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meal Time Monday - 1900 Park Fare - Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner

Time for dinner and it's just a short monorail stop away from the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. We find ourselves at 1900 Park Fare for Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner.  

This is a great character meal that the whole family can enjoy. 

Located at Disney's Grand Floridan Resort and Spa. 1900 Park Fare is one of the nicer, more formal feeling character experiences at Walt Disney World.

After checking in, you get a picture taken by the Photopass Photographer with you in front of Cinderella Castle.  

Once we were seated, Prince Charming greeted us.  We had not gotten our drinks yet and he was at our table!  The kids did not talk much to him, because it seems to take them a while to get warmed up.

1900 Park Fare is a buffet with tons of choices and there is truly something for everyone.  I feel that it may be one of the larger buffets at Disney World.  Clair was satisfied with her meal!

One of the unique items here is the Strawberry Soup.  It is not soup, as much as desert.  It is super sweet and very good.  Don't skip this just because it looks weird or you don't want "soup".  

Next up was Cinderella herself!  She welcomed us to her meal!

Then we met some really interesting folks.  Lady Tremaine stopped by and was her usual rude self.  She turned her nose up at everything the kids said to her.  Clair choose not to be in a picture with her.  It was hilarious.  

Next to stop by was Drizella Tremaine.  The kids asked her a few questions and her answers were funny.  The more you talk to the Characters they more they interact with you.  So feel free to think up something funny to ask them and see what they say.

Finally we had Anastasia Tremaine stop by.  Alden asked her who the better singer was between her and her sister and she yelled half way across the room to argue about it with her sister.  It was funny and Alden enjoyed being the cause for a fight between sisters.

We were celebrating Samantha's birthday with this meal even though it was over a month away, because Alden and Clair got to have their actual birthdays on this particular trip.   They brought her a cupcake with a candle in it.  It would make more sense to do this at a non buffet restaurant because we had access to tons of desserts.

About once an hour they have a formal dance.  Anastasia came running back across the room when it started and danced with Alden.  That is why we encourage the kids to ask the characters some questions you never know what it will lead to!

You can find the menu here!

1900 Park Fare is 1 table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan (and an excellent use of one)

To get to 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridan Resort & Spa -
From Magic Kingdom - Monorail or resort boat launch
From Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom - a bus to the Grand Floridan
From any Disney Resort - bus to a park then take bus to Grand Floridan