I am declaring March to be “Disney Fun Month” on Sweet Benanna & Sam. There are so many great Disney inspired projects floating around the blog-isphere. This month I am going to share a bunch of my original projects as well as some from other wonderful bloggers. The fun starts soon, but first I want to tell you all about our family’s big vacation to the Disney World Resort and Disney cruise that we took in February.
Here is a quick summary of what we did:
beautiful! Our room was a “Savannah View”. This meant that our balcony overlooked their representation of the African Savannah. There were so many animals roaming around, what an awesome experience for us. I have to be honest, this hotel has been on my bucket list since I first heard about it in 2002 (it opened in 2001). The pool was large, there was a waterslide and gradual entry on the one side, it was a great family pool! There was also a little playground that was suitable even for the smallest children. I was happy with the good selection of restaurants, a mix of quick serve, buffet, and fine dining. I would absolutely recommend staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge once for the experience, but for our larger family (we have three children), we might choose to stay at more of a condo property in the future.
On February 9th, we boarded our Disney Cruise Transfer to take us to Port Canaveral. We arrived to our ship, the Disney Fantasy, and started our 7 night cruise adventure. While on board we met up with my mother and father in law, a family friend, some friends from back home and their parents too. My four year old had two of his friends from school on the ship! The Disney Fantasy is Disney’s newest cruise ship – it has been sailing since March 2012, and it is very impressive! We took an eastern Caribbean itinerary which stopped at St Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Disney’s Castaway Cay.
This is going to sound like a sales pitch, and maybe it is in a way – but we had the most wonderful time and I think I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t share my experience.
Since 2003 I have been selling Disney Vacations (Cruises, Disneyland, Disneyworld, etc…) I have literally planned hundreds of vacations. I am a Disney Certified travel agent; I have taken all of their hours of training, and re-certified myself whenever there was new training available. I can rattle off hundreds of reasons and benefits for taking a Disney vacation. This being said, I was floored at the exceptional level of service that our family received on our vacation. Yes, that’s right, I knew all about it (I have been telling clients about Disney Vacations for the last ten years) but to experience it for myself was still beyond amazing!
I know what I told clients before, and all of those things were true, but after participating myself I now have my own frame of reference – and there are some wonderful advantages to a Disney Vacation that I would love to share! So here are my top five favorite things:
- Disney KNOWS what families will need while on vacation – They have fine tuned their product over the last 50 plus years. It was like they knew more than we did what would be convenient for our family. Everything was completely worry free, just show up for the vacation and enjoy! From luggage being taken care of from the airport to the resort to the cruise, quick check in procedures, high chairs already set up at your dinner table, pre-paid dining at Disney resorts (very convenient!), to bedding configuration, and bathroom layouts -every little detail, it was amazing! I do want to give a special mention to the dining. On a Disney cruise you visit a different restaurant each night but your waiters stay the same. This means that every night when I sat down, they had everything set up the way that I would like it. They knew where to put the high chairs (there were two babies at the table), the drinks that we had ordered on the first night were already waiting for us when we arrived, the children got food right away (usually some fruit) while we had a chance to look at the menu. The waiters made ketchup Mickey Mouses on the children’s plates! And one of my favorites – when dinner arrived the waiters would cut up the children’s food for them, which meant I could actually eat my dinner while it was still hot (if you are a parent I’m sure you will appreciate this detail). I briefly mentioned the bathroom layouts which I also wanted to elaborate on a little. In our stateroom we had a split bath. In one little bathroom you had the toilet and a sink. Next to this there was a separate bathroom with a second sink and a bathtub/shower combo. This meant that for larger families you could have mommy getting ready and doing her hair in one area, and children taking their bathroom breaks before heading out for the evening. The bathtub/shower was also perfect, I wish I had one of these set ups at home. There was a small round tub with a seat at the back. A child could sit in the tub and play with mommy or daddy close by sitting on the seat. It was also set up with a detachable shower head for easy hair washing, my children loved this (usually we have lots of tears when it comes to hair washing time). When it was time for a grown up shower there was a large round shower head on the roof. How many times have you gotten into a hotel shower and the shower head was so short that you had to duck underneath it? It has happened to me a lot but not here. PLUS the water pressure was heavenly- did I mention that I might like one of these at home?
- You will never hear “no we can’t” or “I don’t know”. Not once on my trip did any Disney employee say, “no i’m sorry we can’t”. Anything we wanted or needed, all we had to do was ask and it was done for us- immediately! Also, if an employee was unsure of an answer to a guest’s question, you would never get an “I’m sorry I don’t know.” The employee would immediately drop whatever they were doing and find out the answer for you. Amazing customer service! When I was reflecting on this I was reminded of a trip I went on to Puerto Vallarta several years ago. I was there on a work trip with several Travel Agent buddies. We were staying in a decent 4 star hotel, and I came down with some type of Norwalk virus. I was sick, I could not even leave my room. After more than 24 hours of being sick I had no water, nothing to drink, in my hotel room. I called the front desk and asked someone to bring me a bottle of water or something to drink. The answer I received was, “I’m sorry, we don’t do room service.” After I promised a generous tip they agreed to bring me something. This will NEVER happen on a Disney vacation. We were so well cared for!
- Your children will think they are the centre of the universe. Disney employees go out of their way to treat every child like a special individual. Whether it’s the chambermaid stopping work to play peek-a-boo with your baby, a hostess seating your family creating a game of follow the leader, a waiter remembering what kind of dessert they enjoy eating, a youth worker in the Oceaneer’s Club (kid’s club) giving their undivided attention to your child who is uncertain about being there…I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. Honestly my 15 month old daughter was confused after we left the boat, she went from every random person stopping to talk to her, sing to her, play with her, to strangers at the airport not giving her a second glance. I could see her staring people down and I knew she was thinking “you mean you’re not going to stop and play peek-a-boo with me?” One really memorable occasion on board the ship was when my two boys saw Chip & Dale out on one of the decks. No one else was around and I half expected their chaperones (all of the character’s had a ship employee to help guide them around) to tell us that Chip & Dale were on a break (see reason #2, this will never happen!) but for the next 10 minutes they had Chip & Dale all to themselves, playing, teaching them how to “pirate jig” – totally amazing! If you would like to see a video clip, click here: Chip & Dale Pirate Jig
- All of the magical Disney details make an unforgettable experience. Nobody spends more time on creating all of the little details than Disney! There are so many
things that I can tell you, I would be here all day so instead I will pick a few of my favorites. Interactive artwork – when you walk by a lot of the pictures on the ship they will change or become animated! One of my favorites was on Deck 4, there were two side by side pictures that were Dumbo themed. The picture on the left had a train with a railway. The railway continued on into the picture on the right. When you walked by it, the train would start moving (to the soundtrack of Casey JR – yes they played music too!) and the train would end up in the picture on the right. And that was just a start! The pictures were also part of something much bigger – the midship detective agency. My boys had a blast solving the case of the missing puppies. If you would like to know more about this, watch this video: Midship Detective Agency Game. In addition to the interactive artwork, the rest of the decor was beyoned beautiful! It was a classic Art Nouveau style. The chandelier- gorgeous! And of course, you can find hidden Mickey Mouses EVERYWHERE! The statuette of mademoiselle Minnie was very cute too. I have to also mention the most awesome dining experiences that we had at The Animator’s Palate, one of the restaurants on the ship. On a 7 night cruise you dine at the Animator’s Palate twice. When you enter the restaurant there are large t.v screens everywhere. I don’t want to ruin all of the magic, but the shows during dinner time in the Animator’s Palate were unforgettable. Here are a couple of our personal videos: (click on the picture) The second night at the Animator’s Palate we all became Disney animators. Here is Mickey bringing all of our animations to life: Our Animations. I was even blown away by the impressive stage shows. On the Disney Fantasy the main show is Disney’s Aladdin. Again they pulled out all of the stops to bring this production to life, I was so impressed with the scene where “Prince Ali” shows up with his entourage to impress the Princess – Just like the movie! And the scene where Princess Jasmine and Aladdin go on their magic carpet ride, it was so incredible, I felt like I was soaring through the sky with them. My older son, Ben, was the only one who stayed up late enough to watch the show with me. At the end I told him that when you have really enjoyed a live show that you stand up and clap at the end (a standing ovation). He was sitting down clapping for all of the curtain calls, and then the Genie came out to take his bow. Ben leaped out of his seat and was clapping so hard, i’m sure his hands were hurting at the end (so many magical family moments!). Disney does not do anything half-way, everything is over the top and extraordinary.
- A million and one things to do. Your children (and you!) will never ever complain of boredom on a Disney Cruise. In fact there is so much to do, it is impossible to do everything. I loved that I was travelling with a group of people in different age categories, I got to hear everyone’s perspective on the activities. Everyone agreed that there was so much for everyone to do. The seniors enjoyed their bingo time, having tea, relaxing in the adult only areas, going to the shows. My husband and I loved all of the family games and activities, dance parties, mini golf, the Aqua Duck Water coaster, swimming with the children, eating the specialty foods (warm doughy sugary pretzels filled with cream cheese- yum!) shopping, and of course when we had kid-free time we went hot-tubbing in the adults area or relaxed in one of the many lounges. The kids enjoyed everything; meeting the characters, swimming, character dance parties, activities in the Oceaneer’s club. They made magic wands with Tinkerbell, they did circus activities with Donald Duck, they learned how to be pirates with Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. When they needed some downtime we headed back to the room and enjoyed the free movies and classic Disney cartoons.
You know, I have written so much about this cruise already and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. I didn’t even get to mention the wonderful nursery staff (I overheard one mom giving them instruction like: she likes her bottle at 2:00pm, 6 ozs, a little on the warmer side, then she’ll fall asleep, but only with her soother, and so on… and the nursery workers didn’t even bat an eye- they were more than capable of following the most detailed parent instructions!) or how about the wonderful Disney cruise spa products supplied in the bathroom, have you ever had hotel shampoo and conditioner that didn’t leave your hair feeling tangled and horrible? I loved the bath products so much that I brought them home and I am still using them. Oh and pirate night…ahh Pirate night, so much fun – dress up, shows, fireworks!
I have heard some people complain that Disney cruises are expensive. If you are comparing them to other cruise lines just by price, they are on the higher side. But if you are comparing the value that you receive for your vacation, I really believe that Disney is miles ahead of the competition. So many unforgettable experiences, my three year old is already saving his pennies so he can “get back on the Disney cruise.” If you would like some more information about Disney cruise lines in general, here are some great pictures and videos: Disney Cruise Line. If you would like some more information about prices and itineraries, visit my website here: Disney Cruise Itineraries & Prices Disney does offer some great promotions throughout the year, such as some sailings where kids sail free and other discounted fares. If you would like to subscribe to my cruise deals e-mail list, please pop me an e-mail with your name, e-mail address and contact details and I would be happy to add you to the list! My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for stopping by today, I can’t wait to show you all the great Disney themed projects this month!