Friday, August 26, 2016

How To Experience Food & Wine Festival!

The Food and Wine Festival is a Disney event that is not to be missed.  If you can escape for an adults-only weekend, this is a perfect time to visit Disney.  But even if you bring the whole family, you'll have fun and enjoy trying new dishes from around the world.

Here was is our game plan for Food and Wine Festival:

Rope drop!
Arrive in Epcot as soon as the park opens and ride rides from 9am-11am.  We started with Test Track, then rode Mission Space several times (none of us struggle with motion sickness during that ride, but we did not want to push it for after we started eating and drinking). We stopped in to meet Baymax and Joy and Sadness since they are now in the character meet and greet areas at Epcot!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Five: Five Favorite Snacks at Disney World

I don’t know about you, but I like food. I especially like food at Disney World and some the yummy snacks you can find there. Disney World is packed with fabulous snack options regardless if you’re using snack credits from the dining plans or just grabbing something quick between rides! I tried to choose the top five, but it’s really hard!

5. Pretzels: You can find these at several places around the parks! I like the ones that are Mickey shaped; these are large soft pretzels! There are also harder pretzels, German style, found in Sommerfest in the Germany pavilion. 

Want to go a little crazy? Try the jalapeno cheese pretzel at Harambe Fruit Market (Animal Kingdom) or a sweet cream cheese pretzel at Lunching Pad (Magic Kingdom).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Costume Guidelines for 2016

Many of you know, Disney has tightened up security at all of their parks in recent months which has affected what guests have been allowed to wear into the parks, in the RunDisney events, and, ultimately, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party Rules in the Hollywood Studios Galaxy!

First off, let me start by saying, Disney got this right. They got this SO right. We were absolutely impressed with the Spectacular! I felt like the Incredible's neighbor when it was all over:

Friday, August 5, 2016

What's the Difference? Comparing Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder

A few months ago, I wrote about the differences between the Classic Ships and the Dream Class Ships. Now, I'm going to compare the two Classic Ships!

Currently Disney Cruise Line has four ships with two more scheduled for 2021 and 2023. The Classic Ships are the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. The Dream Class ships are the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy.

So, let's start with some basic facts. The Magic and Wonder are sister ships built in the late 1990s. The Magic began sailing in 1998 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2013. The Wonder began sailing in 1999; it is scheduled for a major refurbishment in fall 2016. These ships will hold 2700 passengers in 875 staterooms on 11 decks! Each ship also has about 950 Cast Members.

For dining, both ships have three main dining rooms, an adult-only restaurant, a buffet, several quick service options, bars and ice cream station!

Each ship has two family pools as well as adults-only pool. For entertainment, both have three live-stage productions, adult nightclub area, deck parties, character meets and kids clubs (Oceaneers' Club, Oceaneers' Lounge, Edge, Vibe, and nursery for the littlest cruisers).

So, what's different? Let's start with dining. While each has three main dining rooms, there are some differences. Both ships have a lovely restaurant just off the main lobby; on the Magic, Lumiere's makes you feel like dining with Beauty and the Beast! On the Wonder, Tritons gives you a feel of under the sea with Ariel!
Tritons with the beautiful mosaic at the rear of the dining room on the Disney Wonder

Where the Disney Wonder has Parrot Cay, a lively Caribbean themed restaurant, the Disney Magic now has Cariocas with American and South American flavors. The third restaurant is Animator's Palate. Both ships have Drawn to the Magic where the paintings on the wall change from simple pencil sketches to full color paintings as you progress through the dining courses; Sorcerer Mickey dances through the dining room at the end! On the Magic, however, they also have the Animation Magic on a different night. Here, the Imagineers take your drawings and animate them around the dining room screens marching and dancing with Disney characters! (Hopefully the Wonder will get this, too!)

Parrot Cay on the Disney Wonder

Cariocas on the Disney Magic. (Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line) 

Animator's Palate on the Wonder

Art changing from black and white sketches to color

Also with dining, the Magic has Cabana's buffet while the Wonder has Beach Blanket Buffet. They serve similar foods, but the set up with Cabana's is a little smoother. On the pool deck, both ships have Pinocchio's Pizzeria. Both ships have a burger quick service (Pete's Boiler Bites or Pluto's Doghouse) and a sandwich, salad and fruit option (Daisy's Delites or Goofy's Galley.) Additionally, both have Palo, the adults-only dining venue!

Nephew's Splash Zone on Magic
What about poolside? Both have a Quiet Cove Pool (adults only) and a main pool, Goofy's Pool, as well as a shallow pool for little ones. The Magic has the fabulously fast AquaDunk, however, that drops you from high up one of the funnels and shoots you down 3 stories! The Magic also has the new Nephew's Splash Zone, a covered water play area for the littlest cruisers. The Wonder has a very small splash area. Both ships have a slide near the shallow pool.

Mickey's Pool on the Disney Magic

AquaDunk on the Disney Magic!

Twist 'n Spout Slide on the Disney Magic

Mickey's Pool on the Disney Wonder

Around the ship, there are some noticeable differences between the two ships. The Magic has recently added a Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique where young girls can become princesses! There are also mermaid, pirate and knight packages for both boys and girls!

Other differences: Wonder still has an internet cafe. The Magic has a single staircase in the atrium whereas the Wonder has two. This affects traffic in the atrium as well as the placement of the character statue!

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Magic!
The kids clubs have noticeable differences. The Oceaneers Club and Oceaneers' Lab do not connect on the Wonder. The Wonder has a Peter Pan theme in the Club and feels quite dark although it's done well. Climb up to Captain Hook's ship and explore! The Lab is brighter with lots of computers and a cooking/experiment area. On the Magic, however, there have been tremendous changes! The Club and Lab connect via an internal hallway; the Club has gotten a full overhaul with sections for Marvel Avengers Academy, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Pixie Hollow and a larger than life Andy's Room.

Andy's Room on the Magic

Avengers Academy on the Magic

Oceaneer's Lab on the Wonder

Oceaneer's Club on the Wonder

Oceaneer's Club on the Wonder

Top of the pirate ship in the Oceaneer's Club on the Wonder.

For the Edge (the tween club), the Wonder's is located on deck 2. It has a very "basement romper room" feel with comfy couches, tables for games or projects, and video games. It's a laid back, hang out kind of spot. The Magic moved the Edge to the pool deck (deck 9) and has added some state of the art touches like video screen portholes! The location is nice for tweens to do more activities around the ship and grab food, but I think the coziness is gone and the space seems smaller.

Edge on the Magic; giant Connect Four anyone?

View from the back corner of the Edge, Disney Magic

Front corner of the Edge, Disney Magic. This is where they
play video games!
Edge on the Wonder

Edge on the Wonder

For staterooms, both ships have been fully refurbished with new furniture, carpets and soft goods (linens, towels, etc). However, on the Magic, there are more connecting staterooms available.

Our cabin (6126) category 5C on the Disney Wonder.

Cabin 6546 (category 5C) on the Disney Magic

Disney Wonder
Historically, Disney Wonder sails to Alaska each summer. That means the Wonder is also the only Disney ship currently going through the Panama Canal. The Wonder is also doing the popular cruises departing from Galveston, TX! Sometimes the Wonder does California coast and/or Baja cruises and Hawaii cruises. The Magic tends to go to Europe each summer making it the only ship to cross the Atlantic! The Magic also does east coast cruises (sometimes sailing from New York to Bahamas or up the Canadian coast) or Caribbean or Bahamas from Florida ports.

Other differences--the Disney Magic has recently added a concierge lounge and a concierge outdoor space which is a nice touch! The Wonder currently does not have a concierge lounge at all.
Inside entrance to the concierge lounge (Magic)

Outdoor deck area on the Magic for concierge guests.

In place of the outdoor deck concierge area, the Wonder has a huge enclosed area of Cove Cafe. This is the perfect spot to view the scenery while cruising Alaska!

The final thing I notice different between the two ships is the theme of the adult nightclub area. The Wonder has the theme of Route 66 with the Cadillac Lounge and other western retro touches! The Magic is a much cooler chic theme of After Hours. They're both fun--just differently themed. Both have an English pub option, a piano bar, and a flex area that can be used for Bingo, games or karaoke!

Cadillac Lounge on the Wonder--see the front of the car? That's the bar
with headlights on either side!
Keys is the piano bar on the Magic.
Entrance to the Cadillac Lounge on the Wonder.

Fathoms on the Disney Magic.
I spent 14 nights on the Disney Wonder going through the Panama Canal and loved every minute of it! Over three years, I've spent 17 nights on the Disney Magic, and it's a lovely ship, too. The latest round of improvements have made it even better. The Disney Wonder is scheduled to go through a huge refurbishment in fall 2016, and we'll see some of the same or similar features on the Magic added to the Wonder. The Oceaneer's Club will get a Marvel Super Hero Academy. Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, Twist 'n Spout water slide, Dory's Reef and an Aqua Lab will be added. The Wonder will see updates to the nursery, the nightclub area, the Edge as well as Palo and Cabanas.

I hope this helps you understand a little of the differences in these two ships!

Susan Burks is a Disney travel planner at WishdrawalsTravel, a military wife, and a homeschooling mom to a 
robot-programming, chess-playing, history-studying 11 year old!  

She and her family love visiting Disney World and taking Disney cruises. Having completed seven Disney cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Panama Canal and now Norway, she is now preparing to embark on a eighth Disney Cruise--this time the Trans-Atlantic--and planning her next Disney World visit, too!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Disney Cruise: The Magic Visits Norway (Part 2)

(Part 2 of a two-part blog) When we left Alesund, we headed to Geiranger located further inland and way up the Geirgangerfjord. We set the alarm and woke up early to sit on the verandah and watch as we passed mountain after mountain and waterfall after waterfall until we finally reached the Seven Sisters—a collection of seven waterfalls that is well worth the early wake up time! 
The fjord was in deep fog that morning and made the most beautifully quiet and eerie journey with unique mountain views!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Disney Cruise: The Magic Visits Norway!

White cliffs of Dover!
(Part 1 of a two-part blog.)

Last month, my family and I traveled to London and then to Dover, England, where we boarded the Disney Magic and headed to Norway! I have a real love for travel, but I’ll be honest…countries that are not English speaking make me a little nervous. And Norway has never been high on my travel bucket list! However, we thought it might be a once in a lifetime travel experience. Disney Cruise Line is sailing Norway ports due to the tremendous response to the movie Frozen, and we thought, well, why not!