Podcast Episode 107: Disney FAQs

In this week’s episode, we tackle the most common questions we get about Disney vacation planning.  We answer all your questions about when is the best time to visit, tickets, resorts, the Disney Dining Plan, and more!

Happy listening!

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Trip Report: The Who, What, Whens and Hows of our Disney Extravaganza Trip

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So, I am really excited to write my very first real trip report! I have wanted to do this so many times before but really it is a big undertaking that you plan a bit in advance and make sure you take lots of notes and pictures as you go! Otherwise not a great report, eh?

Scott dancing around like he did all week!

Scott dancing around like he did all week!

Who: My husband – Scott, one of our best friends and frequent podcast guest – Chris, two teenage boys that belong to Chris – named Tom and Ben (they have also been podcast guests if the names sound familiar!) Oh and me – one of your Dolewhippie ladies!

We all went together on the Disney Dream about two years ago on the 4 night and loved it. Ever since then we wanted to go again and do another cruise but a longer one! We decided to go on the 7 night Disney Fantasy and depending on schedules and availability we really wanted the Eastern Caribbean. One thing that we did this time, that was different from last time, was we decided we did not have to have connecting rooms and so therefore I could take advantage of a special Travel Agent rate. The reason I share this is because it also means we could not book or plan until the rates became available which is about 6-8 weeks or so prior to sailing. We

Tom, Chris and Ben ready to go in Tortola!

Tom, Chris and Ben ready to go in Tortola!

had limited time, based on so many different schedules, and so we had narrowed it down to one week we could go. So if a TA rate did not come out for July 30th sailing then we could not go. BOO! So we waited and watched and half planned (just in case!) and luckily I called on the right day and we got a balcony room and then went to book the second (regular rate) stateroom and got lucky by finding a GTY rate for a Verandah room so hooray savings all around! We hoped to be close but with a TA rate and a GTY rate your stateroom is assigned and you can not request anything at all, not even to be near. So, all we knew was both staterooms were on the Fantasy on July 30th and would have a balcony. We were thrilled!

We left and flew down to Orlando on July 29th (definitely arrive at least a day prior to sailing) and had a fun pre-cruise night at Disney Springs and ate at a new and now favorite restaurant (keep reading the trip report to find out more!)

We sailed on the Fantasy July 30th through August 6th and when we disembarked on the

Bay Lake Tower for a night!

Bay Lake Tower for a night!

6th we headed to Walt Disney World for two park days and one night at Disney. We stayed at a new to us resort which I have a review of coming (I will give this one away as it was Bay Lake Tower – so keep reading if you want to here what I thought and you may be surprised).

We left Orlando on Sunday night and went home to a lot of dirty laundry, happy fur babies and were so exhausted we could barely make it to the bed. It was an amazing trip and so many new and special things it definitely was an extravaganza! I hope you keep reading because there are so many things we did that were awesome and will definitely help you when planning your next Disney trip.

 

 

Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 7, Mykonos, Greece

This is Part 7 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

Today was our last Greek port day! Sad, but Mykonos really let us end this portion of our trip with a bang. What an amazing place! Unfortunately because of the long distance the ship had to travel back to Venice we had a short all aboard time of 2:45pm, but we still made the best of our time in Mykonos.

A quick Cabanas breakfast, as had become tradition, before we headed off the ship:

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Can I just say? Those Mickey waffles with whipped cream and strawberries are completely addictive. Months later and I’m still dreaming of them!

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After debarking the ship we were greeted by free buses (provided by Disney Cruise Line) into town. It was possible to walk that distance, but there isn’t a great sidewalk (or any sidewalk at some point) and we knew we’d be spending most of our time in Mykonos exploring so we absolutely availed ourselves of this service!

Once in town we decided to make our way towards the famous Mykonos windmills, the one thing I desperately wanted to see there. There were plenty of other things to see on the way!

Gorgeous church:

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Church of Panagia Paraportiani

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First view of the windmills!

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I was blown away!

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After hanging out by the windmills for a while we decided to walk through the streets of Mykonos and do some shopping. Even the streets here are just photo book picture perfect. See?!

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And then grab some authentic Greek lunch food:

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The view from our lunch spot:

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VERY yummy! When we were finished it was very sadly time to head back to the ship for all aboard😦

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The same buses that took us in to town brought us back to the shipIMG_6758

We had a great view of the ship from the bus!IMG_6765 IMG_6768

 

Luckily for us, we had a great way to distract ourselves from the sadness of leaving Mykonos and that was a tequila tasting! This tasting was held in Keys, and it was so much fun!

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We were able to taste 3 different types of tequila and two different margaritas. We also learned about how the different amounts of sugar in each drink change the way the alcohol is metabolized and the best way to avoid a hangover😉 This class was a TON of fun and I highly recommend trying to attend one if you can!

After class we were a little tipsy and a lot hungry so we thought room service might be a good idea. It wasn’t. Sadly the room service food wasn’t very good, and when I sail again I’ll probably only utilize it for Mickey bars😉

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It ended up being a good thing we didn’t enjoy our room service because dinner came up faster than we thought! Tonight was Pirate night and we were headed to Carioca’s! Brent borrowed a parrot from one of our awesome tablemates for his Pirate Night decor.

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Pirate Golden “Pot Stickers” Oriental Pork “Dimplings” deep fried and served with a Tamarind-Ginger Soy Sauce and Pickled Vegetables:

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Jerk Chicken Salad

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Jack Sparrow’s BBQ Marinated Beef Short Ribs: rubbed Beef Short Ribs with Tamarind-Barbeque Sauce served with Onion Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes and Plantain Chip

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The Dutchmen’s Dijon Crusted Sirloin of Beef: thick cut of Beef with Oven-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and a Black Spot Tomato , with a deep Red Wine Glaze

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Sweet Temptations: A trio of Bounty Fruit Cobbler, Chocolate Cake and Coconut Cream Treasure:

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Rum Soaked Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Glaze and Whipped CreamIMG_3833

 

It was fun to see our dining team doing the pirate show!IMG_3834 IMG_3835

They did try to get us involved with the limbo but I was so not into it. Party pooper, I know, but I was full from such a good dinner!

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We were greeted in our room tonight by a monkey! Then it was off to bed looking forward to a relaxing Day at Sea tomorrow!

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Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 6, Rhodes, Greece

This is Part 6 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

Today was another one of my favorite days! I feel like I say that every day of this trip report because, really, it just kept getting better and better. Today is mostly going to be a photo overview. Old Town Rhodes is breathtakingly gorgeous so Brent and I really just wandered around taking photos in awe.

We did not have any excursions planned this day, so we slept in a little! It was probably close to 11:00 by the time we got off the boat, after having our typical breakfast at Cabanas. If I could go back in time I’d have had a sit down breakfast this morning! Not sure why we didn’t think of it before, and I regret that I missed doing so on our trip.

The view from our room, you can see the ship was “parked” right next to an old tower!

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The port security building. I always got a kick out of seeing signs in Greek. Guess I’m easy to please😉

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Rhodes is a walled and gated city, so we walked along the road until we found a gate to enter:

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The Mediterranean Sea!

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Inside the city, we spotted some Mickey ears!IMG_6547

The view was breathtaking:

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The inside of Rhodes Old Town was a mix of modern and ancient. All modern shops, surrounded by the ancient architecture!

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We decided to climb one of the towers, to get a better view of the sea:IMG_6579 IMG_6582 IMG_6586

These are the stairs we used to get up to and down from the tower. I was terrified! No hand rails.

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We found a small cafe to sit at and enjoy a drink. I got a soda but my husband, well… he got a giant boot of beer. I think it was 2 liters, so a soda bottle’s worth of beer. I don’t know how he did it!

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Following the giant glass of beer I had to gently steer my husband back to the ship. At least the view was still pretty!

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The drink stations were set up inside the ship again:IMG_6623

 

More reading and watching sail away from our balcony on the ship, before dinner:

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Soon it was time to get dressed for dinner! Tonight we ate at Lumiere’s, and the menu was the Mediterranean menu.

Spanish Melon Cup: soaked in a Moscatel Wine and fresh Mint:

 

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Tapas, Taste of the Mediterranean: Proscuitto, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Marinated Olives, and Parmesan Cheese with Grissini Stick:

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Battered Soft Shell Crab: with wilted Spinach and spicy Tomato Basil Vinaigrette:

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“St. Sebastian” Pan-seared Chicken Breast: topped with sliced Tomatoes and Emmentaler Cheese Gratinee on creamy Orichette Pasta

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Sweet Temptations: A trio of Flourless Chocolate Cake, Kahlua Cheesecake, and Black Currant Napoleon:

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Flourless Chocolate Cake with Contreau and Orange Compote:IMG_3778

Another day over! Back to our stateroom and to bed in preparation for our last port day tomorrow, Mykonos Greece!

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Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 5, Kusasdasi/Ephesus Turkey

This is Part 5 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

Our one Turkish port was the one I knew least about before heading on this Mediterranean adventure, but it ended up being one of my very favorite days of the entire trip!

We pulled into the gorgeous port town of Kusadasi early in the morning.

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We were greeted by traditional Turkish dancers and music, what an awesome touch! And check out the view of the Disney Magic in the windows of the port building🙂

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Like the previous two days we again boarded a bus to our destination, this time to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, Turkey. Our tour guide this day was extremely knowledgable and loved sharing the history of her homeland with us!

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Ancient terra cotta water pipes:

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There were lots of feral cats in Ephesus.

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This is the gate into Ephesus, with my husband so helpfully modeling the distance between posts😉 The gate was made wide enough for people and animals to walk through, but not chariots. Security!

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Isn’t it gorgeous?

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The Library of Celus, built in 135AD:

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Our tour guide showing us where criminals would be handcuffed, right in the center of town for maximum embarrassment. Apparently it worked really well to deter people from committing crimes!

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The theatre at Ephesus, able to seat 25,000 people, this theater is still functional and has been used even recently for concerts. The acoustics are such that a person can stand at the bottom and speak in normal tones, yet the people even in the last row would be able to hear just fine.

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A collection of ancient road signs:

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After our visit to Ephesus we were scheduled to go to a Turkish water park! I know, I know, we could easily do a water park at home. But this was so much fun! And a great way to wind down and cool off after hours out in the sun that morning. IMG_6369

We particularly enjoyed the lazy river:

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We spent a few hours at the water park, and grabbed a quick lunch (just burgers… yes in Turkey!) before it was time to get back on the bus. Our tour guide told us the next part of the excursion was an optional trip to a carpet making shop. Brent and I were pretty concerned that this was going to be a hard sell type of place, and we didn’t really want to go. Our tour guide assured us that she just wanted to be able to share more of her culture with us, and she’d really like for us to give it a shot. I am SO glad we went.

We were lead into a room upstairs in the shop and offered something to eat and drink. I had cold apple tea (it was delicious!) and Brent had Turkish coffee. We were able to see the process of making carpets, and man, as expensive as they are they’re worth every penny! Such hard work, but such a beautiful product.

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After stomping around (encouraged!) on some carpets Brent and I decided it was time to head back to the boat, since we wanted to stop at the Duty Free stop in port before sail away. Our hosts at the carpet shop said goodbye, and we told them we were so glad we were able to come and witness more of the Turkish culture. I’m so happy we didn’t skip out on it.

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I finally got a picture of something I’d been meaning to share with you since our very first port day! Today these stations were set up outside, but the other days they were just inside, past security. We were offered cold glasses of water or lemonade, and cold wet towels for our neck and head. Such a nice touch, I think! Both the drink and the towel were welcome after all that time out in the hot sun. IMG_6407 IMG_6409

 

 

On our way back to our stateroom to watch sail away from our balcony we stopped at Cove cafe for iced coffees to enjoy on our verandah.IMG_6411 IMG_6417 IMG_6435

We were sad to see Kusadasi go! What a lovely place. My husband has now decided a return trip to Turkey is in order. I say only if it’s on another Disney Cruise😉 Sailing to our next destination we followed the coastline very closely! It was amazing to see the scenery as we sailed past.

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We soon decided on pre-dinner drinks at O’Gills pub. I was saving my appetite for dinner but Brent enjoyed the snack buffet. There was cheese and crackers, veggies, nachos, meat pies and more.

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Yes, I did order a margarita at an Irish bar😉

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And here I am diligently working on my notes for the day, so that I’d be able to remember and blog for you, Dole Whippies!IMG_6493

Dinner tonight was again in Animator’s Palate, with the Prince and Princess Menu. Not only that, but it was animation night! Everyone received a template to draw their character, like this:

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I chose to draw a cat! I don’t know why, I’m not an artist. My husband made Iron Man and his was much better… so I’m not posting it here😉IMG_6502

Special napkins for Prince and Princess night!IMG_6503

I honestly have no idea what either of these appetizers were. But I’m sure they were delicious!

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For dinner I had the Roasted Portobello Mushroom Triangoli Pasta:IMG_6510

 

And Brent had the Peppercorn Crusted NY Strip:

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After dinner but before dessert we were treated to an animation show, with all of our characters! It was really cute. They danced and twirled and it was just really cool seeing our creations come to life. Disney magic on the Disney Magic!IMG_6518

They even put our names up on screen:

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Then dinner was served. Brent and I both got the Princess Jasmine Banana Bread Pudding:

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And then we got our drawings back, with an official guest animator sticker!IMG_6525

 

Today was a long and exhausting but amazing day. So back to bed we went, where we were greeted by a scorpion towel animal… and the realization that our vacation was already half over!

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Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 4, Athens Greece

This is Part 4 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

Today the Disney Magic docked in Athens, Greece! This was the port I’d most been looking forward to before we even set sail. While it ended up being one of my least favorites it was still amazing. And I have the photos to prove it!

This morning started early with our port excursion leaving at 8:15am. After meeting in Promenade Lounge with our group we quickly headed off the ship and on to our bus. This morning we were going to take a bus tour of the city of Athens (with a quick drive through the port city of Piraeus) before a guided tour of the Acropolis of Athens, home of the Parthenon. 

Unfortunately I was not able to take many pictures through the city of Athens on the bus, so you’ll have to trust me that the buildings and monuments of ancient Athens mixed in with the modern ones was really a site to see! We saw: the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch (which separates the old and the new Roman towns), the National Gardens, the Parliament building (formerly the Royal Palace), the Academy, the first University and the National Library of Athens. We also stopped and got out at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympic games in 1896!

We finally made it to the Acropolis to start our guided tour. It was CROWDED. Really, really, crowded. This is not a surprise as the Acropolis is one of the most incredible sights in all of Greece, and it is tourist season!

Parthenon from the base of the Acropolis

The Parthenon, which is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, was completed in 432 BC. There is currently a selective restoration project going on, which is why you’ll see some scaffolding and construction equipment in the photos!

The Theater of Dionysus:

View from the Acropolis:

It was REALLY hard to drag me from the Acropolis, but it was time to grab our bus back to the boat.

Once we got back on the boat we realized we were really hungry! So we decided to check out Pete’s Boiler Bites, one of the quick service restaurants on the boat. Brent got the day’s special, a Philly Cheese steak and I got a fish sandwich.

In short, we were not impressed and wouldn’t return to a quick service location for the rest of our trip, though we heard some amazing things about the wraps, salads and fresh fruit at Daisy’s De-Lites!

Continuing our tradition of reading on our balcony and naps, we went back to our stateroom for a few hours, and were able to catch this amazing sunset over the Greek coastline. It was a moment that took our breath away.

Tonight’s dinner was the most anticipated, at the adult’s only restaurant Palo! I had been to Palo on my previous cruise and couldn’t wait to bring my husband there. I was right, he loved it!

Every dinner starts with the antipasto and garlic pizza/breadsticks:

And what a way to start the meal! Delicious. Up next, appetizers. I got the calamari (a dish I’d been dreaming of since January!) and Brent ordered the Tuscan White Bean Soup with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese. They were both amazing.

Between the appetizers and the main course we were given a palate cleanser of sorbet! Classy touch.

For the main course I ordered the wild mushroom risotto and Brent chose the steak. I really don’t think we can overstate how wonderful this meal was. Every last bite was cleared from our plates and left us wanting more, even though we were totally stuffed!

For dessert there was no other option for us than the famous Palo chocolate souffle (there ARE other options, just not for us😉 ), which was the perfect way to end our perfect meal.

Yes we did each get our own, but I only photographed one of them. I might have been too busy eating the other!

Following dinner we headed back to our room to find the most adorable towel animals of our trip, the swans!

It was the perfect night for the swans after our romantic dinner at Palo.

Up next, our surprisingly awesome day in Kusadasi, Turkey!

Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 3, Katakolon/Olympia, Greece

This is Part 3 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

We woke up this morning very excited, our first port day! We opened the curtains to our verandah to see that we were already docked in the small port town of Katakolon, Greece.

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After a very quick bite to eat at Cabanas (Mickey waffles for me!) we headed straight to D Lounge, which was the meeting place for our excursion set up that day through Disney. We checked in with our excursion tickets and photo ID and followed our group (number 15 that day!) to the bus, located just outside the ship.

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Katakolon is located about 30 minutes from Olympia, Greece, our destination for the day. During the ride our tour guide gave us lots of history about the areas we were traveling through in preparation for our visit to the archaeological ruins.

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We arrived at the Archaeological Site of Olympia, which is still being actively explored by archaeologists, as you can see in the picture below:

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Some photos of the Archaelogical site at Olympia:IMG_3518 IMG_6065

Inside the Temple of Hera:

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The Olympic arch:

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From 776-726BC there was just one single Olympic event, the “Stade”, a foot race. This is a photo of the starting line of the race, where a person on either end would hold a rope, then drop it when the race began. For all you Disney World fans, this is THE original “rope drop”! It prevented any cheating at the start of the race, as the person attempting to start too soon would be tripped by the rope!

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However, there still were cheaters. Here the name of the person who cheated (or bribed someone), plus the names of his parents and his home town would be displayed for all who entered the stadium to see. This was a great shame for the men and their families!

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Following the archaeological site we visited the museum, on a tour led by our guide who did a great job explaining what we saw there:

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This is a lot of information to take in, but if you’re interested in learning more about Olympia please visit the UNESCO website here. Olympia was fascinating, and I’m so glad I had the chance to visit!

There is a small cafe and shop at the exit of the site where we relaxed for a few minutes. Brent enjoyed a Greek beer (Alfa), I just watched since I’d had a fresh squeezed orange juice (which was so yummy!) on our walk from the site to the museum.

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Our group boarded the bus and we drove into modern Olympia for some shopping.IMG_3587 IMG_3588 IMG_3590 IMG_3591

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We boarded the boat and took showers (it was HOT at Olympia!) then decided to go have a refreshing drink at Cove Cafe, the adults only coffee/drink shop on the MagicIMG_3633

 

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There is outdoor seating just outside Cove Cafe, and that’s where we chose to watch the Magic sail away from Katakolon!

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After Cove Cafe was dinner at Carioca’s, one of my favorites!

Deep Fried Lobster Croquetas with a Banana-Lentil Salad and Creamed Horseradish

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Empanadas Panzudas de Carne: Argentianina Beef Empanadas with Red Chimichurri

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This is the chicken I had, it’s not on the regular Carioca’s menu, but it was in place of the pork belly and was very good!

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Skewers: Beef and Sausage (this is also a little different from the standard rotational which includes shrimp and lobster)

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Coconut Tres Leches “Three Milk” cake

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Sweet Temptations: A trio of Torta de Choclate, Strawberry Cheesecake and De la Costa Cream Cheese Flan

Our towel animal tonight was a dog! Our stateroom host Jojo used my sunglasses again, I love that🙂

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Off to bed, ready for another early port day tomorrow, Athens, Greece!

Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 2, At Sea

This is Part 2 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

Today was a day at sea, so we decided to take advantage of having nowhere to be (this would not be the case for the next 5 days!) and slept in until 9:30. After taking our time getting ready we headed to Cabanas for breakfast. The food is a little bit different since there are different suppliers in the Mediterranean but it was still very good. I didn’t even care that the donuts weren’t Krispy Kreme!

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Check out that view!

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After breakfast we decided to do a little bit of shopping. I had no intention of buying anything, I just wanted to gather some ideas for later, but as I walked into one of the shops on deck 4 I spotted them. Animators’ Collection Elsa dolls. With zero hesitation I grabbed two, one we gave away on this blog a few weeks ago! Always thinking of the Dole Whippers, even when I’m on vacation😉.

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I also picked up some adorable pins. I was looking forward to this since I had purchased one during my last cruise and loved it! These pins are sold by the register in black bags for only $2.95 with a minimum purchase of $30. Last time I got a Mickey anchor, this time I was lucky enough to get two different ones, a Dumbo and a Donald Duck!

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Upon returning to our room we found out that we were locked out! Our view for the next hour while we waited to figure out what was wrong (the batteries in the card reader on the door had run out) and for the carpenter to fix it was this:

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As soon as we got back into the room we got changed and headed for the adults only pool and pool bar!

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The temperature of the pool was perfect. Just cool enough to be refreshing but not unpleasant to get in to. Some liquid courage had Brent ready to try the Aqua Dunk. Me, not so much. Now if you don’t know, the Aqua Dunk is one of the water slides on the Disney Magic. This particular slide starts off with the floor dropping out from underneath you, then shoots you out over the side of the boat before coming to a stop. No thank you! Brent said it was an absolute blast though, and worth the short wait he’d endured on this sea day.

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Checking on the time, I realized that we needed to head back to our stateroom to shower and get dressed if we wanted to make our meeting at Keys at 2:00. This was a prearranged meet up of people who had joined a Facebook group about this particular cruise. It was nice to put some names to faces at this event! Brent and I enjoyed a few drinks and some conversation before we decided we were very hungry and needed to head back to Cabanas for some lunch. I do wish we’d decided just a bit earlier that we wanted lunch, as then we would have been able to get something at one of the sit down restaurants instead of the buffet but oh well! IMG_3482 IMG_3484

Since we’d been so late getting lunch by the time we wanted dessert they’d already starting putting it away, so we headed to Deck 9 to the self serve ice cream station. Over the course of this trip there were many different flavors of ice cream that were rotated every few days. I saw: mango, strawberry, blueberry and banana. Of course there was always chocolate and vanilla! They also had Mickey sprinkles and chocolate sauce to add to your ice cream if you so chose.

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Following dessert we went back to our stateroom to read books out on our balcony.

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In what you’ll soon see develop into a theme😉 we took a nap before it was time to get ready for formal night and the Captain’s Gala. We headed down to Deck 3 mid ship for one of the best parts of the Captain’s Gala: free drinks! The line to have your photo taken with the Captain was very long so we just enjoyed our drinks, then headed outside of Deck 4 to watch the sun set.

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Dinner this night was at Animator’s Palate. On my previous cruise I’d been underwhelmed by my meal at Animator’s Palate, but this night was much better! The food was fabulous and dessert was one of my favorites.

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Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes: Pasta Purses filled with Truffle-scented Cheese and coated with a Champagne Sauce

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Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup with Bacon Bits and Chives

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Creamy Butternut Squash Soup garnished with Chives and drizzled with Sour Cream

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Lemon-Thyme Marinated All Natural Chicken Breast with Sour Cream mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and grain mustard au jus

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Pennete Bolognese: Pennete Pasta mixed with a rich Bolognese Sauce garnished with Shaved Parmesan Reggiano and Toasted Garlic Ciabatta

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Crunchy Walnut Cake: Dark Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Coulis

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Cookies ’n Cream Sundae Cookies & Cream Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Chip Cookies

This night was “show” night at Animator’s Palate. I tried to take some photos but really none of them would have done the show any justice. The restaurant starts out black and white, with black and white drawings on the screens. As the meal goes on color starts being added and by dessert the whole restaurant is in full color (even the serving teams, who’d previously been wearing black and white) and there is a visit from Mickey himself!

 

 

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After dinner we made a quick dash to our stateroom to get changed out of our formal clothes. There was an adults only show at the Walt Disney theater, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. It was so funny! We were glad we’d stayed up late to see it. Following the show we went straight to bed, since it was up early the next morning for an excursion. Tonight’s towel animal was one of my favorites, an elephant. Our stateroom host Jojo had even used my sunglasses for the elephants eyes! Love it.

 

 

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Up next, our first port day: Katakolon/Olympia, Greece!

Disney Mediterranean Cruise Trip Report: Day 1, Embarkation

This is Part 1 of a 10 part series on the Disney Magic Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruise. For links to the rest of the trip report please visit here

For over a year now my husband and I have been planning a trip to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. I had every port excursion planned out, knew what dinner rotation I wanted us to be on and even had our pre and post cruise hotels figured out. An unexpected change of events left us headed off to the Disney Magic on July 5th, 2014 for a Mediterranean cruise with absolutely no plans at all. This is the story of the best unplanned vacation we could have ever hoped for!

The morning of July 5th Brent (my husband) and I woke up in our hotel in Venice, Italy. We had flown in the day before and spent the afternoon exploring Venice in hopes of working through our jet lag. We had semi-success after some authentic Italian food and gelato and went to bed early, filled with excitement about the next day!

The view from the Hotel Olimpia in Venice

The view from the Hotel Olimpia in Venice

Let the vacation begin!

Let the vacation begin!

After checking out of our hotel we walked 2 minutes to Venice’s “People Mover” which is a monorail from the Piazalle Roma into the port area. After another few minutes walk we made it to Terminal 117, home of the Disney Magic! There was no wait to check in and receive our Key To The World cards, which are your lifeline on the ship. These cards are your door keys, your form of payment, your check-out and check-in when leaving and re-entering the ship after leaving for a port visit. We were assigned boarding group 12 and had about 45 minutes of wait time before our number was called.

Entry to the terminal, all dressed up for the Disney Magic

Entry to the terminal, all dressed up for the Disney Magic

Finally allowed onboard!

Finally allowed onboard!

First order of business once boarding the ship for me was to head to the adults only restaurant, Palo. Prior to boarding the ship I had been able to reserve a dinner at Palo, but not something I’d never tried there before, a brunch! Luckily for me there were a few spots left on our last day and I was able to nab one. Success! All that running around made us hungry so Brent and I decided to head to the buffet on the Magic, called Cabanas.

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After lunch we were able to get into our room. Brent and I were in room 6654, a category 06A cabin. This means that our cabin had a white wall as opposed to a see-through acrylic on the bottom. No big deal to us! This room is also handicapped accessible meaning that it is a bit different from a traditional verandah room: there is more space, the bed is lower to the ground (meaning no luggage can fit underneath), the balcony is oversized and so is the bathroom (which is not split).

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After we dropped off our bags in our room we checked the personal Navigator that we had been given upon boarding the Magic. Each night from then on we’d receive a Navigator on our beds for the following day. The Navigator is your guide to all the fun things happening on the ship each day, from which movies are playing in the Buena Vista Theater to adults only activities and plenty of family events too! Brent and I spotted sign ups for some alcohol tastings that we wanted to try so off we went to Promenade Lounge to sign up!

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Brent got a ticket for a whiskey tasting and we both signed up for the tequila tasting and a Mixology class. All this talk about drinks made us thirsty so we decided to check out Signals, the pool bar in the adults only area on Deck 9. Brent purchased the Disney Cruise Line beer mug for $14.95. This mug allowed him to get 22oz. of beer for the price of 16oz. for the rest of the cruise. Each visit to the bar he’d present his “token” (really a card) to the bartender and he’d receive a nice cold beer in return! I went for a Mai Tai this time.

Beer mug token

Beer mug token

Beer mug

Beer mug

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

Signals pool bar

As we were finishing our drinks we noticed that the pool deck was empty. It was getting close to safety drill time. On Disney Cruise Line you don’t need to bring your life vest to the safety drill so Brent and I headed right to our station to check in (there are signs set up all over deck 4 telling you how to get to your station, which corresponds to a letter on your Key to the World card). Our station was in Animator’s Palate, so we found our Assembly leader, checked in and listened to the safety presentation.

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Quick and painless, the safety drill was over just like that. Brent and I headed to deck 10 to watch the Sail Away party happening on Deck 9. It was a little crowded for our liking so we headed to the very back (aft) of deck 10 to watch our sail away from Venice instead. Brent got us both ice cream from the soft serve station on deck 9 to enjoy while we waited.

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Sail away ended up being delayed by over an hour so we decided to go to our room and enjoy from our own verandah since it was starting to get congested on Deck 10 now too. Our balcony had an amazing view! Sailing out of Venice took over an hour and the view was spectacular. The tugboat was there to help the Magic with the tight turns and small waterways on the way out of Venice.

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Apparently we weren’t as adjusted to the time change as we thought, because the next order of business was a nap. We slept for close to 2 hours before it was time to get up and ready for our dinner at Lumiere’s. We were on the second seating, which for this Mediterranean Cruise meant eating at 8:45pm. I thought that might be a little late for us but it ended out being perfect.

Appetizers:

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Farmhouse Salad: Lettuce, Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes and Fingerling Potatoes served with a Cheese Crostini and Olive Vinaigrette

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French Onion Soup: with Gruyere Cheese Crouton

Main Course:

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Lobster Macaroni: Elbow Pasta Mixed with Lobster Meat, Tarragon, Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese Sauce, drizzled with a White Truffle Oil

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Chateaubriant-Roasted Filet Steak: Roasted Filet Steak, Crushed New Potatoes with Shallots, Buttered Green Beans, Red Wine Jus, and a Béarnaise Sauce on the Side

Dessert:

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Peanut Butter Mousse: Dark Chocolate infused Peaunt Butter, Chocolate Crisp Base and Whipped Cream

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Strawberry Shortcake Sundae: Strawberries, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and Shortcake

After dinner we headed back to our stateroom to upload our photos from the day and decompress. Waiting on our bed was tomorrow’s Navigator, maps of each of our ports and the first of many towel animals, a swan!

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Up next, a Day at Sea!

FAQs About Disney: Disney Dining Plan

Here at Dole Whipped HQ, we get a lot of questions about Disney.  In this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) series, we thought we’d answer some of the most common questions we get from people planning their Disney vacations.

 

Some the most asked questions we get are about the dining plan.  More specifically, we get folks who might want to save a little money on their Disney vacation by staying offsite, however, they would like to take advantage of the dining plan.

Question: Can I get the Disney Dining Plan if I stay offsite?

Answer:  No.  The Disney Dining Plan is reserved strictly for guests staying at a Disney owned resort property.  If you are staying outside of the Disney resort, of course you’re welcome to visit the parks and eat at all the restaurants, but you will not be able to purchase the dining plan.  This also applies to the Swan and Dolphin resorts as well as Shades of Green military resort.

Dining at Disney is fraught with confusion and frustration so to make it a little easier we’re going to answer this very common question.

Question:  How far in advance of my trip can I make my dining reservations?

Answer: You can make your dining reservations at 180 days before your check in date.  The dining reservation system opens up at 6 am on the phone lines and 7 am on the Disney website.  At that time, you are given what Disney calls 180+10.  Basically that means that on day 180 before your check in date,  you can make reservations for up to 10 days past that same check in date.  That allows you to make the dining reservations for every single day of your vacation at one time.  That saves you from having to come back on several different days to make dining reservations for the whole of your stay.

Many people wonder what entitlements come with the Disney Dining Plan.

Question:  How many meals do I get with my dining plan

Answer:  With the standard Disney Dining Plan, you will receive one table service credit, one quick service credit, and one snack credit per person (over age 3) per night of your stay.  Yes, you read that right, per night.  So, for example, if you have two adults who check in on a Monday and check out on a Friday, those two adults would have four credits of each type (table service, quick service, snack) to use during their stay.

We hope this helps clear up some confusion about the Disney Dining Plan!