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Christmas at Walt Disney World

Christmas at Walt Disney World

Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Thinking Behind The Wardrobe Selections For Walt Disney World

Packing for a Walt Disney World vacation is no easy task.  There are books/sites with packing lists, reminders, even Disney sends emails to future guests about what to remember.

For us, I make a new packing list every time.  Writing it all down, helps me think about and picture items.  We also have some things perpetually packed, such as the park bag.  But then there are the wardrobe selections.

Let me begin with it is evident that our family tradition is to dress in matching shirts each day of our vacation.  This does make packing somewhat easier after shirts are chosen.  But how to chose which shirt sets AND what day during our vacation will we wear them?

A consideration for wardrobe selection, after weather of course, is what shirts go with certain parks.  We have worn our Zootopia shirts to Animal Kingdom before, something we also try to avoid--repeating shirts at the same park--but the them of the shirts just fits with this park.  Cast Members make many comments and we get asked where we got them.  Answer:  DisneyStore.com right when the movie came out and the shirts were a limited edition.  We haven't seen them since.  If Zooptopia characters were added to Animal Kingdom, wearing these shirts to meet them would be an added bonus!

Speaking of having wardrobe selections to match characters, we had great fun wearing our Star Wars Christmas sweaters on Christmas Day to Disney's Hollywood Studios to meet Star Wars characters.  Chewbacca wanted one in his size!

Since we would be at Walt Disney World on Christmas Eve and the day before that, we decided that some holiday shirts were needed.  Santa and Mrs. Claus got a kick out of our "I Tried" shirts.
Santa was not Grumpy but he did ask about our shirts.

Often, characters recognize our wardrobe selections and make comments--even those characters that cannot talk.  These Olaf sweaters were worn on Christmas Eve Day with our "I Tried" t-shirts underneath.  It was nice to have a warm layer during the cold morning and then be able to take off our sweaters and then put them back on in the cooler evening.  Where do the sweaters go when we aren't wearing them in the park?  In the park backpack.

Guests can find Olaf at Disney's Hollywood Studios at Character Spotlight.  Give him a warm hug--he likes those!

While Olaf is at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Anna and Elsa from FROZEN can be found in EPCOT at their Somerhaus in the Norway Pavilion in World Showcase, not far from their new ride.  Both Anna and Elsa appreciated our Olaf sweaters.

Note:  It's easy for guests to travel back and forth from Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT using the boat launch from the front of Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT's International Gateway.  The trip takes about 25 minutes as the launch makes three stops at resorts.  The ride is a great way to rest, re-charge, and take a break from the parks.

At EPCOT's Character Spot, we met the mouse himself, Mickey Mouse and took the pose of him from our shirts.
On another day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we wore our Carsland shirts from Disneyland.  Reason?  I knew we would be meeting Cruz Ramirez a character from Cars 3.  As a note, other guests and Cast Members inquired about our Carsland shirts.
Since the boy's favorite character is Stitch, we have at least one set of Stitch shirts.  We wore them to meet Stitch at 'Ohana's on another trip, but this trip, we wore the shirts to Disney Springs.

While at Disney Springs, we enjoyed the Christmas Tree Trail, where each tree has a different Disney theme.  We found the Stitch tree AND a Disney Photopass Photographer who was taking photos along the trail.  Voila!  Pictures of all us in front of Stitch's tree wearing Stitch shirts.

Yes, I do have these types of experiences and photo opportunities in mind while planning and packing.  Although the Stitch tree with the Stitch shirts was a bonus!

We see various versions of our strategy while on vacation such as girls changing into Princess dresses to eat or before a character meet and greet or boys wearing Buzz and Woody attire prior to meeting the Toy Story friends.

For anyone thinking that making wardrobe selections specific to parks or characters might be uncomfortable/embarassing for adults or older children, let me ease your worry right now.  The boy continues to be excited about our family's tradition, even making wardrobe suggestions.  And, DisneyBournding, where folks wear clothing in colors or designs that are a tribute to their favorite Disney character is all a rage.  This is Disney folks.  We come to play and have fun!

I have written about this before with another post:  How Do We Decide What Matching Shirt Sets to Wear?
It's a fun post and contains photos and shirt sets from a few years ago.  My, how the boy has grown!

And, here's another post:  Do You Wear Shirts to Match the Characters You Meet?
Again, more fun pics of the boy and the family!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why "Double Dips" Are Our Favorites!

Disney Cruise Line offers itineraries of various lengths and sailings throughout the world--Alaska, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Hawaii, Southern Caribbean, along with Bahamian and Caribbean stops.  Currently there are 4 ships is the Disney Cruise Line fleet.  I say currently, as at least 2 more ships are scheduled to be built and join the fleet in 2021 and 2022.  Two ships are larger--Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy while two classic ships--Disney Magic and Disney Wonder--have two decks less in height and are a bit shorter in length.

Having sailed on all four ships and itineraries on the West Coast, Caribbean, and The Bahamas, I can say that our favorite itineraries include two stops at Disney Cruise Line's private island in the The Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  Here's why:

More days in paradise!  For us, Castaway Cay is paradise!  Beautiful, pristine, tropical paradise. It is feast for the senses.  The only way to get to be on Castaway Cay is to be a guest on a Disney ship that makes a stop there--unless you are a Cast Member that works on Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay is the best "port."  Disney Cruise Line planned for the last stop in each of its Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries to be Castaway Cay so that guests have the "quintessential" beach experience.

Are there beach experiences as possible port adventures throughout the cruise?  Yes.  And at the same time, those experiences sometimes require traveling long distances from the ship, purchasing food out of pocket, dealing with crowds and vendors, and even having a cost associated with the experience.

Castaway Cay is a part of the cruise--it's included--as is your lunch!  There can be crowds on Castaway Cay, but they are manageable and no larger than the number of people on the ship.  And, no vendors!

Click here for our top 10 reasons we love Castaway Cay!

There's plenty to do on Castaway Cay.  Want to meet Disney characters?  You can find them on the island.  Riding bicycles, snorkeling, parasailing, speed boat, and fishing.  Almost anything having to do with tropical waters can be found on the island.  You will not be bored!

Two days on Castaway Cay gives us more time to explore the island and find beaches and lookout towers.

And because there are two days on the island, it makes it easier for us to decide what we want to do.  There are so many options that choosing can be difficult.  With two days on Castaway Cay we can combine relaxation with activities.

There are also activities for kids of all ages on the island.  Having two days at Castaway Cay allows us to combine family time with time for the boy to be with his new friends and enjoy adventures just for kids his age.  There's a great "teens only" adventure that is available on the second stop at Castaway Cay.

It's hard to leave Castaway Cay.  Knowing we'll be returning makes it easier.  What's interesting is that I have had more conversations with guests about rebooking on board while at Castaway Cay.  Seems this bit of paradise gets guests thinking about how they might return!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dining at The Wave--At The Contemporary Resort

Each trip to the Walt Disney World Resort bring new experiences for our family.  During our 19th trip to the middle of the magic which included Christmas and New Years, brought us the experience of The Wave . .  of American Flavors at The Contemporary Resort.

The Wave is located on the first floor of The Contemporary, past the registration desk to the far left.  Bathrooms are located just outside The Wave and features the BEST paper towels ever--in the bathrooms, not the restaurant.

The entrance has a slight decline with a check-in desk at the end along with waiting areas located to the right.  We had a reservation for breakfast.  Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are recommended for this table-service restaurant.  We arrived early and were seated right away.

We weren't staying at The Contemporary, but it was still easy to get there.  We took the bus from our resort to the Magic Kingdom and then took the side walk to the right of the Magic Kingdom entrance that leads to The Contemporary.  We could have hopped on the monorail, too.  From our perspective, the walk from the bus drop off to the monorail station is almost the same distance as walking directly to The Contemporary from the bus drop off.  The only downside was that since the security/bag checks have been moved, we had to have our bags checked and go through security, even though we weren't heading into the park.  We told security guards where we were going and it didn't make a difference.  There was another bag check/security check on the side walk for guests walking to Magic Kingdom.  We were able to walk past that check as we were walking away from the park.  

Once we were seated, our waitress appeared with the menu pictured above.  While the menu for breakfast contains a la carte items, we went for the buffet.  The price for the breakfast buffet was not listed on the menu so I asked.  $23 per person.  If using the Dining Plan this is one table service credit and includes a beverage.  Annual Passholder discounts are also available.
The buffet features many breakfast yummies including some of the best grits the husband has ever eaten and sweet potato pancakes.  Cold cereal is available just opposite the buffet as a selection.  Hot syrup is dispensed into small pitchers for the pancakes, Mickey waffles, and french toast.

Steel-cut oatmeal was also on the buffet.  I wanted brown sugar and the waitress delivered it to the table.  Other sugar packet choices were available on the table.

One of The Wave's specialties is the pecan honey butter, shown above, along with the plain better and jam that is delivered to the table in the cute three-squared serving plate.

We also ordered the refillable mimosa--which allows for the original serving plus 2 refills for $18.  A single mimosa was on the menu for $10.
Contemporary Resort Decor Just Outside The Wave
All of us were very satisfied with the meal and agreed we could dine at The Wave another time.  The Wave serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, something that many resort restaurants do not do--most are just breakfast and dinner. 

Click here to go directly to The Wave's website.

After breakfast, our destination was EPCOT, so we took the escalators upstairs, went through the bag check/security prior to the monorail entrance, and changed to the EPCOT monorail at the Ticket and Transportation Center.  Note:  There is no bus to EPCOT from The Contemporary due to monorail access.  The escalators are just outside the entrance to The Wave, so are very easy to find.  And, if guests are arriving to The Contemporary via the monorail, it is easy to take the monorails down stairs to The Wave.