Our Trip to Walt Disney World Parks

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Nov 24, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

 

Last week we spent the week in Orlando and most of it was at Disney. I am not going to go over every detail of the trip but give some overall thoughts and tips.  We spent five days in the park and one at Downtown Disney and Disney Quest. We went with Carolina Homeschool which was a great deal and we got special perks like educational classes. I can’t say enough good things about  our experience with Dianna and her trips. If you have a chance to go on one of her trips – then you should take advantage of it!

I will start with the things that went wrong. First,  the things that went wrong that were not Disney’s fault. There seemed to be something everyday. The first day I forgot the charger in the hotel that we checked out of so I had to go back after we had parked at Animal Kingdom.  Another day, someone opened their car door as we were parking and hit our car.  And yet another day, I lost the button to my pants and had to hold my pants up for the rest of the day.  And one of the best things was the day I lost my flip flop in a ride – never to be retrieved so walked around barefoot till Bruce retrieved shoes from the car. It became quite humorous.

The problems in the park’s control were few but surprising for what I  expect from Disney. There were three dirty bathrooms in the park.  There was one in Epcot that was terrible! I could not believe it. I ran into a few staff that were not as friendly and nice as you expect with Disney. The part I was most disappointed about  was our experience at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. When I called six months earlier to make my appointment they said I would have plenty of time to make my  lunch reservation. Well, this would have been true if we did not have to wait for over 30 minutes when we got there to be seen. Claire was not patient and as time passed I was not either.  I checked with the lady and she was rude about it and just said we would be fine. When Claire FINALLY got in the chair, they rushed to get her done. They did not even take time to take off nail polish but just put on more over what she already have. This looked terrible because what she had was coming off. They were doing her make up and hair at the same time so she would be out in time. I would NEVER do it again!! The lunch afterward in Cinderella’s Castle turned out wonderful though. Bruce and Claire had a window seat and had a fabulous time.

We had been to Disneyland twice in the last few years and there are things I like better about Disneyland. At Disneyland everything is compact. It has all the great rides and attractions in a smaller area. I know it does not have any where near EVERYTHING that the Disney World has but it does have the important things. I like that at Disneyland you could walk everywhere. We walked from our off property hotel to the parks. We used our car a lot at Disney World because we did not want to waste time on the Disney transportation.  We did use the monorail for Magic and Epcot since we were staying at the Contemporary.

We stayed the first night at an All Stars Resort which I would never do again. I would stay off property before I stayed there again. The kids walked in and said I am glad we are only staying here one night. It was a small room with double beds which we hate. It was clean but looked outdated. The sheets were awful. The next four nights at the Contemporary were much better. The room was so much better you can’t even compare. The kids loved it and we would stay there for sure.

Cobey’s two favorite things were Disney Interactive and Jedi Training at Hollywood Sutdios.  We did all the parks then let the children pick one thing they wanted to do again. Cobey’s choice was Disney Interactive. He also loved Jedi Training and he was the ONLY one to fight Darth Vader AND the Storm Troopers. His favorite thing at Animal Kingdom was Mount Everest, the Tree Life, and The Festival of the Lion King. At Epcot, he loved Kim Possible. Test Track, Mission Space and Spaceship Earth. He liked Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mtn Railroad at Magic. Kingdom.

 

Claire wanted to do the World Showcase at Epcot again and collect the stamps at each country on her Duffy Bear.  Claire and I completed the task in one hour and four minutes – we were moving. This was the day I lost my button on my pants by the way so I was holding my pants up the whole time. I was so tired that night!!  Claire’s favorite part at Animal Kingdom was the river ride and Mount Everest. At Hollywood Studios, Claire liked Lights, Motor, Action, the Indiana Jones Stunt Show and the show Belle. She did NOT like the Tower of Terror and tried it twice to be sure. At Magic Kingdom, she loved everything. She rode Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain several times. They had classes at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and both liked their class at Epcot best about synergy.  We all loved the Electric Parade and got ideas for Jeff for the flotilla for next year. I really enjoyed the show especially Nemo, Light, Motor, Action and Indiana Jones. The best part of Disney for me was by far the food because I have an allergy to gluten. We made table reservations at least once each day. This was a little more than we wanted to spend at 50 to 75 dollars a meal and that is drinking only water and only getting a dessert when there was something special for me. At every restaurant the Chef came out and talked to be about my allergy and what he had available. The Plaza in Magic Kingdom was probably my favorite because she made me homemade croutons. I have not had those in almost a year – I was SO excited. The only place I had a bad experience was Wolfgang Puck Cafe where the chef did not come out and they had no real desert option. I feel great all week except for after eating at there when I felt very sick.  The waitress at Prime Time went a little over board in her role-playing and began to annoy me but the food was good.

We used the advise of avoiding the parks with early hours and found that to be great advice. I wish we would have taken more advantage of the special late hours at the park.  We did the Very Mickey Christmas which was a lot of fun. We got to see it snow on Main Street and all the characters dressed in Christmas attire. We got to ride a lot of rides because there were either no line or very short. The parade was not as good as the electric parade but better than the one in the afternoon. We overall had a good time but we were very tired every night. We all said we preferred the cruise better EVEN the kids. I could cruise every year but I don’t think I could go to Disney every year. If Carolina Homeschoolers continues to plan trips, I am sure we will be back in a few years after we rest.

 

 

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Disney Dream Cruise

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday May 7, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Crusies, Kid's Corner, Travel

We just got back last night from a cruise on the new Disney Dream. We went with our good friends-  the Carrolls on the four night cruise with stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay. This was our third Disney Cruise so we had high expectations. Some were meet and some where not.

First things to know before you go. They are still doing the Pirate night even bigger and better than before so bring your kids pirate costumes for added fun. If you have a little girl don’t forget her favorite princess costume, it makes the photos even better. They still have a formal night but now says optional. I would say overall people dressed more casual than previous cruises. I would say pack with what you want to wear and comfortable in. We will continue to dress up because I love to have photos made and don’t dress up normally so I like to on a cruise. We saw someone bringing in a case of water and a cooler. I will check the rules before we go next time because that could save some money.

The design of the ship is wonderful. They have thought of every inch and it is absolutely beautiful. I loved the curved hallway to our stateroom and the stateroom seemed to have more storage which is a great for a small space. We decided to try the room without a verandah this time and got an outside room with a porthole. It ended up being a great choice. The porthole is huge and the kids loved sitting in it. They actually fought over a time or two. We were second floor mid ship in a fairly inexpensive room and we loved our location. We were very convenient to everything. I would book the same if we were doing it again.

One of the highlights of the cruise was the excursion the kids and I took in Nassau. Bruce went diving and he said it was one of his better dives. We went on the Junkanoo Museum and Fort Tour. I picked it because the kids love forts and history. The Junkanoo Museum and tour was by far the best part. We went into a small house full of very elaborate costumes made from paper for the parade. We were told about the history of the Junkanoo. The tour guide was passionate and interesting. You can learn more about the history here:  http://www.bahamasgateway.com/junkanoo.htm. We then moved into another room where we got to use bells, whistles and drums. The kids loved it. Everyone got to taste three soft drinks that are made for Junkanoo. As we left we got to try on some Junkanoo. Check out the photos in the photo gallery. We then went to two different forts. The first one had a tour guide more interesting in tips than giving us information. The second tour guide was pretty good. The kids liked the story behind Queen Anne’s Staircase.

The service in the dining room was very disappointing.  The first night was terrible. We got our drinks after our first course and the service was overall slow. It did get a little better but our head server did not seem to understand English well enough to get request sometimes. One time our friends where handed a stateroom card that was not theres. They did not interactive with us like on previous cruises. This was not isolated case. I talked to other guest who had been on Disney before and all I spoke with said service was not as good. It seems the transition to the bigger boat has been a hard one. The food was excellent and they bent over backward to get meet my gluten-free diet.

The kids now get a GPS tracking band when they get on the ship. This was different from our previous cruises. The kids areas were designed different. They had the club and the lab that were linked in the back by a eating room. The kids could move from one area to the other freely.  My son loved driving the ship in the simulator. My daughter loved the dress up area. It seemed a little more chaotic to me than the smaller ship but that could have been just the sheer number of kids. The kids still loved it and spent lots of time there.

We were excited to see more characters on this cruise than previously on Wonder and Magic. I don’t know if this is a change across the board or just on the new ship. Some of the characters we did not see on previous cruises were the Incredibles, Woody, Jessie, Buzz, Ariel and Tiana.

I also loved the new option of buying all your photo on CD. It is a great deal for a family like ours that takes lots of photos.

The adult area with several lounges and a night club was very nicely designed. It was dead the times we went during our cruise. The spa seemed much more spacious. The treatment room I was in was huge. I had a seaweed wrap and massage. The treatment was wonderful. My only disappointed was the shower’s drain in the spa locker room had so much hair that it was blocked. Really grossed me out!

The Aquaduck which is the slide that goes over the ocean was a bit of a let down for me. You can’t really tell you are over the water and it is pretty slow. It was fun but I would not wait it a 30 min or longer line to ride it. The kids had fun riding it. My advice is to go during off times  like my son rode five times in row on the last evening after dinner. If you don’t plan to go ashore during port that is another great time. If you get on board early, head straight for it and you may not have a long line.

Claire and Bruce went to the Anyone Can Cook program and they both loved it. Claire loves all the cooking shows so I thought she would enjoy it.  Cobey enjoyed the Detective Adventure Games. They are really cool – kind of like Magic Quest with a different theme. We loved watching movies at the pool screen and in the movie theater. We saw Villains and Disney Dream. Both were great shows. There was so much on the ship that we did not get to like the good putt putt golf.

Overall, it was a great cruise and we booked another cruise for next year. We will be trying out the new route from New York to Canada. Can’t Wait!

 

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