A 1 Year Old’s Review of the Disney Dream

Today’s blog post is going to be a little different! You’re going to “hear” from my 16 month old daughter about her vacation on the Disney Dream. The best parts of our trip, from a baby’s perspective. Enjoy!

Stateroom: My mom sprang for a room with a verandah! Let me tell you, this thing is great. There’s not a whole lot I enjoyed more than sitting on the verandah with my apple juice early in the morning in my jammies, watching the water and feeling the ocean breeze in my hair. Opening and closing the balcony door over and over was a pretty fun game too. Disney gave my mom a pack and play for me to sleep in (I saw her queen bed and I have to say… mine was fine, but hers was better) and a diaper genie to dispose of the dirty diapers. There was a curtain that separated my sleeping space from mom’s so that my room could be nice and quiet and dark, just how I like it. I even slept in a few mornings! Figured it was the least I could do for my mom as a thanks for the trip. I’m a great daughter!

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Food: A+. My dinner server Andre kept the cookies coming (once I was finished with my dinner, of course!) I have a dairy allergy and they were very careful to make sure I didn’t get sick. Some of my favorites were the whole wheat penne pasta with red sauce that made a fantastic mess, the grilled chicken skewer with sweet potatoes, and cheese-free pizza! There was a high chair waiting in my spot each night, and a fresh cup of water with my name right on it. Talk about service! For breakfast I sampled a bit of everything from the buffet including: cereal, Mickey waffles, pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs (my favorite!), hash browns, yogurt, and LOTS of fruit. One day we even got room service and I ate my hot dog and french fries right there in our room!

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Activities: When we first got on the ship there was a small sheet waiting in our stateroom that said “Toddler Activities”. How did they know?! It was full of things tailored just to my interests. My very favorite thing to do on the ship was play in Nemo’s Reef. As I’m not yet potty trained (no judging please!) I’m not able to use the pools on the ship. At first I was a little sad, but then we went to Nemo’s Reef. This is WAY better than a pool! I spent so much time here while mom and Nana took turns enjoying fruity “grownup” drinks that they wouldn’t share with me. As a bonus, it was located right next to the Cabanas buffet, so when I was done playing and needed to replenish all that energy burned I could just pop over and have my mom get me some french fries (my favorite).

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Ship: This is one big ship. The first day my mom let me walk everywhere, it was great! I even climbed the stairs when the elevators were very busy. After the first day, I realized this walking thing was a lot of work and I needed to conserve my energy for making trouble. After that I let my mom carry me around. I did quite enjoy pushing the buttons on the elevator though!

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Castaway Cay: My favorite! I know what my mom means now when she says she’s going to her “happy place”! After getting off the ship and taking a tram to the beach my mom was able to snag one of the complimentary wagons available at Castaway Cay for me to sit in with all the stuff I needed for a successful day at the beach. The sand was perfect for digging, the water was bathtub temp and I got a kick out of the little fish swimming all around my feet! I could have spent all day there. Well, until nap time at least. And I did!

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it’s a small world nursery: Horrible, will never return. My mom isn’t allowed to have any fun without me. Ever. (Editor/Mom’s Note: it’s a small world is staffed by some of the sweetest and most patient caregivers on the ship. They were able to calm my dramatic high needs child long enough for me to enjoy a lovely brunch at Palo, with smiles on their faces. The children in the nursery looked like they were having so much fun! Fiona is just a little… difficult😉 )

There you have it folks, Fiona’s review of the Disney Dream! Do you have a baby that has sailed the Dream or another Disney ship? We’d love to hear what they thought of it too!

Podcast Episode 112: Best Value For Disney Dining Plan Credits

Have you ever wondered which Walt Disney World restaurants give you the most bang for your Disney Dining Plan buck?  Wonder no longer as we discuss which restaurants we think are the best value for your dining plan credits!

Happy listening!

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Trip Report Day 2: Get on the Ship and Get Yourself Ready for Some Fun and Some Tropical Drinks, Depressions and Sun.

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So, we woke up the next morning raring to go and so we went downstairs and got to indulge in the special, complimentary breakfast for Platinum members at the Hilton. It was 01b0257b10bf783129c1829bef0a768280d2f81154good, just the usual eggs, bacon, waffles, muffins, etc. It was good and easy and a nice perk. After that we packed up leisurely because although we had a port arrival time for around 10am we knew that was just “suggested” and we decided based on others info and reviews that to us it was more important to avoid long check in lines and waiting around for nothing. So, we planned it perfect for us! We drove over to Port Canaveral,
returned the rental car to Budget, shuttled over to the Fantasy, got baggage handlers, went through security, checked in the special Castaway Club line and walked right on to the boat. It actually went that easy without any hiccups. We boarded the ship around noon and discussed telling the person who took our last name to announce and welcome a few options as we had a few last names going so we thought about being the “Awesome” family or the “Disney” family but in the end we went with all of our last names…next time.

01f170f9ba4d1e08b20f93e7e31074e8a0c75c84a4We had already decided to go to Enchanted Gardens for lunch. Everyone knows about Cabanas lunch but did you know Enchanted Gardens has a buffet on embarkation day? Well, they do and we did. Interesting enough when we boarded we asked a crew member where to go and he told us Enchanted Gardens was full and turning people away and over to Cabanas. We discussed amongst ourselves and decided to ask another crew member, who did say the same thing, but when we said what 014b49491c2858633e087d735d0bf13d1796c5c5afwould happen if we went anyway he said probably nothing! So, we went down and somehow lines were miscommunicated because it was only half full and no line. That was odd – I have no idea but clearly something got muddled. So, we were sat and went and had a great lunch with cold cuts, shrimp, salads, sides and yummy ice cream and lots of other desserts.

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After lunch, we headed to find our staterooms and get our Castaway Club gifts. This was our second cruise, so first as a CC member. The gift was AMAZING and seriously high value. I not only used the tote the whole week but have used it for several quick overnights since home. 017ab5edb39ff8da288e83dbc039616d6f8bdcb7aaAlso, we had brought our nice lanyard wallets we had gotten for the last cruise so we just switched out the lanyard so we could use our nice little key holder with a pocket but still have the CC lanyard. After, admiring our gifts my OCD husband insisted on unpacking and getting the luggage stored under the bed and everything in its place. I was glad we did 011bdc2aaa6200d0d6b36f2a694942688fcbc47b0cbut it was hard not to skip that and run crazy over the ship doing more exciting things than unpacking.

We had a Verandah room and it was exactly like the last room on the Dream, though turned the other day. I love the staterooms on Disney because they have adequate space and it makes it much nicer!

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After that we went to our own “Sail Away” Party on the back of the ship on the outdoor 0133227359f0e0da551aa3048d2f7dcbc1c0c75402deck of Meridian lounge, outside of Palo and Remy. They had the same area on the Dream and we enjoyed having cocktails there on the Dream at night and the servers on the Dream were fun and helpful so we looked forward to the same good times. We watched the ship sail off and enjoyed the beautiful weather and peace on the deck.

We went to “A Fantasy Come True” for the early show (since we had late dinner) and it was cute. It was a little “salesy” and we were a tad bit turned off at first but it got better and ended up being a cute show.

Dinner that night was at Enchanted Gardens, so since we already knew where we were going it was easy to get there! When we were seated there were already people at our table. What? On the Dream our party was our own table and it just did not occur to me that we would be seated with others. But, we were and though it was a little nervous and quiet at first it turned out great of course. They were very nice and we had a good time hearing about the different things they did and watching their teen son watch the clock to escape back to the teen club every night! So, food – yesssss! So, I skipped the appetizer that night and had a soup and salad because the Heirloom Tomato Soup is a must for me and the Romaine Wedge was also calling my name. I had for my entrée Slow Roasted Prime Rib: Thyme-roasted Vegetables, Double-baked Potato, Horseradish, and Natural Jus and it was amazing. I am not a huge Prime Rib fan and when it first came it was way too red for me so servers noted and brought me a bit more medium well version and I loved it. My husband had the pork tenderloin and one of the teens had the sea scallops and the rest of the table went prime rib. Everyone was very happy that night with their dinner choices and for dessert I chose the Esterhazy Cake because it mentioned almond meringue and I love almond dessert flavors. It was yummy and a good choice for me. Chocolate lovers would like the Sacher Torte and those at our table did!

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After dinner, a few of the group went to the 10:15 movie, “The Jungle Book” but I was being rocked to sleep. So, I went up to the adult only deck for a minute and watched the night waters and then turned in and slept so well it was like I was on vacation.

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Walt Disney World Refurbishments Fall 2016

Disney regularly releases the ongoing refurbishments and closures for Walt Disney World.  Here is the most up to date information for September 2016.  Please note that this is subject to change without notice.

 

Magic Kingdom:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Aug 8-Nov 18

 

Hollywood Studios:

Rock N Roller Coaster Oct 27- Nov 9

Pizza Planet Jan 19-Late 2016

 

Animal Kingdom:

Dinosaur July 25-Oct 16

Dino Institute Shop July 25- Oct 16

 

Water Parks:

Blizzard Beach- Oct 23- Dec 24

Typhoon Lagoon Dec 25-March 11

 

Monorail through Summer 2016

 

Resorts:

All Star Sports Grand Slam Pool Oct 10-Dec 2

Boardwalk Villas May 16- Oct 31

Pop Century Computer Pool Oct 31-Jan 3, 2017

Port Orleans French Quarter Sassagoula Floatworks July 11- Late Fall

Wilderness Lodge general resort refurbishment and Cub’s Den closed through 2017

Yacht Club room refurbishments Oct 29- June 23, 2017

Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center Aug 4- Feb 1, 2018

Dolphin Hotel room renovations June- Sept 2016

 

Disney Springs:

Planet Hollywood through Fall 2016

Fulton’s Crab House- reopening as Paddlefish Fall 2016

 

Check back for updates to this information on closures and refurbishments.

Paradise Pier Review

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Recently I visited the Disneyland Resort and had the opportunity to stay in all three of their onsite hotels.  In this last installment, I’ll give you my review of the Paradise Pier hotel.

Paradise Pier was previously a different brand of hotel that Disney purchased and put their own spin on.  It’s directly across the street from the Grand Californian, and while not far from the parks, is the furthest Disney property from the park gates.

This hotel overlooks Paradise Pier in California Adventure park, hence the name.  Of course, that’s only on the one side of the building, and unfortunately my room was on the opposite side.  It was still a lovely view of the city.

This hotel has a seaside feel.  The rooms were clean and comfortable, but lacked the charm of the Disneyland Hotel and the sophistication of the Grand Californian.

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img_20160825_202853Located onsite is PCH Grill, a character buffet.  I didn’t have a chance to try it, but the decor looked very fun.

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One cute little thing they had off the lobby was a little room for kids to wait while the adults check in to the hotel.  There’s a screen for watching Mickey cartoons set inside a replica of a sand castle.  Cute little beach chairs made an adorable little room.

img_20160824_121624This hotel also has club level accommodations and a club level lounge.  Unfortunately during my time there the pool area was being renovated. I did see a portion of it and it was your standard hotel pool.  Nothing really special.

Overall, this was my least favorite of the three Disneyland resorts.  The location isn’t great and there isn’t much of that Disney feel to me.  It is the least expensive of the three, however, for the price difference, I think the Disneyland Hotel is a better choice.

Grand Californian Review

During my recent visit to the Disneyland Resort, I had the opportunity to stay in all three of their onsite hotels.  In this post, I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.

Let me just start by saying this is quite possibly the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay in.  The lobby alone is incredibly impressive and gorgeous.  If you’ve ever visited Animal Kingdom Lodge or Wilderness Lodge over at Walt Disney World, the design will look familiar to you as all three were designed by the same architect.

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Though not quite as sprawling as some of the Walt Disney World resorts, this is the biggest resort on Disneyland property.  It’s home to Storyteller’s Cafe, the character meal location, as well as Napa Rose, considered one of the best restaurants in the city.  I did have breakfast at Storyteller’s and it was delicious.  Characters there included Chip and Dale, Pluto, and Koda from Brother Bear.

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The rooms were fairly standard size, though I felt they could use a bit of a refresh.  The rooms were not quite as luxurious as I thought they should be for as much as they cost per night, however, the beds were comfortable and the rooms were clean.  The nightly turn down service with chocolates on the pillows was a nice touch.

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For me, the main draw of this hotel is the gate to California Adventure located within.  In fact, my room was located just a minute’s walk from the gate so I could be inside California Adventure park within 5 minutes.  The gate location is right near Grizzly River Run Rapids and steps away from Soarin. In the mornings, only hotel guests are allowed to use the gate, so if you’re trying to beat the morning rush, this is a fantastic perk.  It’s also very convenient for a midday break if you’re so inclined.

The hotel also opens up to Downtown Disney so it’s very conveniently located for shopping.  From there, it’s just a couple more minutes walk to Disneyland Park.  This is the closest onsite property so if location is worth more to you than price, this is where you want to stay.

Overall, it’s a great resort but I don’t think it has as much charm and personality as Disneyland Hotel.  I think this hotel would be fantastic for adults only trips or couples just due to the sophisticated decor, however, the location makes it perfect for families with small kids.

 

Podcast Episode 110: Shannon’s Disneyland Trip Report

A few weeks ago, Shannon attended an agent education program at Disneyland in California.  She’s back to tell us all about what she learned and how Disneyland differs from Walt Disney World in Florida!

Happy listening!

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Trip Report Day 1: It Begins…with a Bang and a New Restaurant Experience


Okay, ladies and gents and all you other swashbuckler out there. Here we go. Day 1. If you are a cruiser (or just play one on TV) you all know Day 1 is not embark on your cruise day EVER. Why? Because you never, ever travel to your port to board your ship on the day the ship leaves. Why? Because you hate to be stranded in Baltimore waving at the webcam as it sails away because the mechanical delay or storm delay. There are so many other reasons (like the airline misplace your bag – happened to me 2 years ago prior to boarding Dream and lucky for me they brought me my bag in Port Canaveral before my ship sailed the next morning but I would have sailed without clothes if I did not buffer a day). So, what have we learned or reminded ourselves – buffer a day and travel to port early. Okay, so Day 1 is traveling to Florida. We have two staterooms that are important to this Trip Report. Stateroom 1 is me and my crazy Husband Scott and in Stateroom 2 is our best friend Chris and his two crazy teenager boys, Tom and Ben. Chris and I basically are the adults with 3 children on these trips (and laugh and love every minute of the silly!)
01ff01c4b90215e3bc9f64074ca4ddee34828cacdcSo, Chris, Tom and Ben traveled down to Florida from the Northeast early Friday morning so they could do a few things prior to us arriving (maybe tour a University as we all bribe and push the teens to go to school there so even more excuses for Disney trips!) Scott and I flew down and arrived mid afternoon and were picked up in the rental van that Chris had reserved. Here is what we did – we rented a minivan via Budget at MCO (Orlando’s airport) and used it to tool around Orlando that day and night and then drive us to the port on Saturday morning. The Budget car rental location is 1/2 mile from 01617ed0581e21282c9cfbb1f3e5df476786813e57port and has constant shuttles, once we got there we only waited 3 minutes for a nice, air-conditioned shuttle that took us to Disney’s port and some other people to their Carnival cruise which was docked next door. So, for us the minivan rental and transport saved us time and money from Disney’s transportation and private transport because we only paid $120 (includes taxes) for the rental and we needed it not only to get to PC but also to get to our Orlando hotel
because horrors we did not stay on property that night. WHAT? I know. But, we did get a 01261b032aa5a3d02bb855ae53ba45a92c7baee86fbang up deal and stay at the Hilton that is right next door to Disney Springs…literally 3 minutes over a walkway. I was hesitant and not overly excited. But, we are Diamond Hilton members and have lots of points and needed to burn some and this was a good time to do it because we were not going to a park. So, burn away and it turned out great. The property was great and convenient and recently (last 2-3 years is my guess) renovated. We had two rooms next to each other and because we are Diamond
we had private access to the Diamond breakfast that was a full buffet and very yummy (and empty so no waiting for breakfast – but that is Day 2 so let’s not skip!) Anyway, the Hilton is a great option and the rates (if we paid) that night were around $100 and that was a great deal. Also, the service was A+ and most of the peeps there were previous Disney Cast Members so very helpful and very service oriented.

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So, rental car check, Hilton check in check, off to Disney Springs for a new restaurant experience that is Morimoto Asia. I will do a full review later but for now here is the mini

015102c7dd8401be958dc8ac88adcfb3c77bad1f2dreview. It is an upscale Asian restaurant that looks a bit like a night club (with lots of metallic and crystal strings making cylinder lights hanging down. It is two stories and lots of room for tables and guests. We had an early reservation at 5:30pm and we arrived a few minutes early and was sat right away and plenty of seating at that time. It filled up pretty good around 6:30 and was full by 7pm. We all tried lots of different items from sesame balls which were awesome and a first, to Orange Chicken (old stand by that was good), to Singapore Laksa noodles (curry coconut and chicken soup) that was a hit with the Curry lovers. The one thing we all agreed on was Churro Fondue was a huge pleaser and made the experience go from good to great. It is not going to be the least expensive meal you have and it is probably going to be a good but maybe not great meal, but worth a try!

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After dinner we walked around Disney Springs for a while and then went and took the 0150b50ec2729832aac73768e727d86e469980fc6eteenagers back to the hotel (they were tired teenagers tire way too quickly) and then Chris, Scott and I went out running a few last-minute errands to CVS, grocery store, and dropping off some goodies for a client staying at Pop (see I stalk you even while you are on vacation! haha).

After that, back to the room to watch some of Jurassic World 3 and realize the main raptor “Blue” reminds us a lot of our cat Walter. Good or bad it is the truth and it did make us miss our little Devil but we got lots of good texts and pictures from him and his brothers all week letting us know how they were doing and how they wished they were on the cruise!

Then we ran down stairs to the awesome market in the lobby and grabbed some ice cream (because it is vacation!) and made a few last calls to family.

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Off to sleep and ready for Day 2! Get on the ship and get started finally! JEEZE.

 

Want to see the Pre-Trip Report and catch up? Click HERE

 

Podcast Episode 109: Magic Kingdom Quick Service

You know us here at Dole Whipped, we love to talk about food!  This week we’re talking all about our favorite quick service locations at the Magic Kingdom!  We let you know where you can get traditional theme park fare as well as some other dishes that go beyond what you might normally expect to see.

Happy listening!

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