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Backs of Shirts Just as Important as Fronts!

Backs of Shirts Just as Important as Fronts!

Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, July 30, 2018

Williams Family: Ferrytale Fireworks Sparkling Dessert Cruise

When planning for our summer 2018 Walt Disney World vacation, we wanted to try something new.  The Ferrytale Fireworks Sparkling Dessert Cruise was just the ticket!
Guests for the Ferrytale Fireworks Sparkling Dessert Cruise gather at the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) located across the Seven Seas Lagaoon from the Magic Kingdom.  Guest who drive and park at the Magic Kingdom know this area well.  Since we stay at Walt Disney World Resorts, the only time we head to the TTC is to transfer from the Resort Monorail to the EPCOT Monorail.

We had dinner at The Wave at The Contemporary Resort and rode the monorail to the TTC.  We were ahead of schedule and our plan was to ride the entire monorail circle before getting off, but as our monorail pulled out of The Contemporary there was a very loud and very close-by strike of lightening.  As the monorail pulled into the TTC it became evident that the lightening had taken out the monorail switch so our monorail wasn't going anywhere and neither were any other monorails, so we exited.

Soon Cast Members were setting up including putting ropes around areas of the Ferry landing and a covered location to the right of the bathrooms at the TTC.
Upon check-in, guests were given a lanyard, that lights up.  Also, when you look through the Mickey ears at lights or fireworks, you can see little Mickey's!  The lanyard were also a way to designate which guests were a part of the party.

I immediately recognized one of the Cast Members from our Highway in the Sky Dine Around that we enjoyed during our March 2018 trip.  I couldn't resist taking a photo!  Click here to read about Highway in the Sky Dine Around.

Guests gathered in the covered area and enjoyed snacks, water, and adult beverages--with ID--of beer and wine.  There are standing tables and seats around the perimeter of the location.
When the sun began to set, it was time to make our way to the General Joe Potter, one of the three ferry boats that serve the Magic Kingdom.  There was a Photopass photographer on the pier with a life preserver decorated to commemorate the occasion.  We scanned our MagicBand and voila, the photos were in our Photopass account.

Once on board, guests either found spots upstairs or downstairs.  We opted for upstairs.  There were some tables with chairs, but mostly standing tables and bench seating near the railings.  Centerpieces on the tables were designed for the event!

Dessert offerings were on both floors of ferry with adult beverages downstairs.  The husband made sure we both had our fill.
While I didn't get a photo, a magician made his way to our table while we enjoyed desserts.  He performed some great card tricks.
The Photopass photographer continued to make their rounds throughout the cruise.  They captured a proposal happening just on the other side of the ferry.
I was able to snap a few photos of the Magic Kingdom as dusk fell and the ferry continued to make its way around Seven Seas Lagoon.  There was an informational track playing on the speakers about the resorts we were passing, but it was difficult to hear.
Our lanyards all lit up!

As the time for Happily Ever After fireworks came nearer, the guests made their way to one side of the ferry, which caused the ferry to tip enough that water began to roll off the roof.  The music was piped in over the speakers and we enjoyed the fireworks show.  

The photo above is a fireworks selfie.  The photo below is one the Photopass photographer took as fireworks were in the background.

When the fireworks were over, the ferry pulled back to the pier at the TTC.  A Cast Member was waiting with balloons for the little ones.  We were directed to a line of buses that were just for us!  We told the Cast Member our resort, we were directed to one of the buses, and we were back at our resort in minutes, without having to navigate the exiting crowds at the Magic Kingdom!  This feature was a surprise as we had wondered how we would get back to our resort and all scenarios included returning to the Magic Kingdom and taking our resort bus.  

Cost:  $99 per person  for adults and $69 for children ages 3-9.  It is recommended to make reservations ahead of time as capacity is limited.  Click here to go to the official Walt Disney World website.

Some hints/tips:
  • Bathrooms are at the TTC and on the bottom level of the Ferry.  The bathrooms on the ferry are primitive.  Not as bad as a KYBO, but pretty close.  
  • It can get chilly out on the water, so bring a jacket or sweater.
  • The desserts and drinks disappear as soon as the fireworks begin, so know this and plan accordingly.
  • Be ready to stand at a table or sit without a table.
  • Strollers, wheelchairs, scooters were all allowed on the bottom level of the ferry.
  • There wasn't a bad view of the fireworks, so don't worry about staking out a spot early in the fireworks cruise.
  • The ferry sets sail 50 minutes prior to fireworks start time, so plan accordingly.
All of us enjoyed the Ferrytale Fireworks Sparkling Dessert Cruise.  It was nice to experience the Magic Kingdom fireworks from another vantage point and highly recommend the experience.

Related Posts About Fireworks Viewing You Might Also Enjoy:

Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage--We've now done this twice and yes, there are fireworks!

Magic Kingdom Dessert Party--our favorite now is the Plaza Garden View--which is less expensive!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Williams Family: We Did The Castaway Cay Sandbar Beach Excursion AGAIN!

During our Summer 2017 cruise on the Disney Dream, we did the Sandbar Beach Excursion on our first day at Castaway Cay.  Click here to read our story.  We enjoyed it so much, we did it AGAIN this summer!

We greeted the team at Marge's Barge's at Castaway Cay shortly before 1:30 pm , which is the time the 2-hour excursion begins.  The 1:30 pm excursion time gives us plenty of time to enjoy ourselves and eat lunch on the beach at Castaway Cay.

Waivers signed, shoes off and left on the pier, we loaded Captain Roval's boat, got life jackets, and found a seat.  The crew for this excursion was 2/3 the same as last summer.  The missing crew member, though, we said hello to on the pier as he had joined the parasailing boat crew team.

This summer, there were 15 of us on the excursion, compared to a much smaller group last summer.

When we pulled out of the protected area near the ship, I knew right away that something was different, as the boat turned to the right, instead of left.  Captain Roval was taking us to a different sandbar than last summer!

After about 10 minutes on the speed boat, and a momentary slow down to get a good look at a shark, we could see the water color lighten, the waves crashing together, and the sight of sand in the middle of the ocean.  It was our sandbar!  And, it literally was a bar--a long, rectangular stretch of sand surrounded by water.

We threw our legs over the boat and explored the sandbar.  We walked from one tip to the other, enjoyed the beverages, saw a living conch, played tug-o-war, snorkeled, learned some Nassau history, and played catch with a football.

As the husband headed off into the distance he said, "I'm channeling my inner Gilligan's Island and Robinson Crusoe."  There's definitely a feeling of isolation. . . and peace on the sandbar.

 Now, we need to decide what to do on our next double-dip cruise on the Disney Dream!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Williams Family: We Tried EVERYTHING in Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios

When planning for our summer 2018 family vacation, we soon realized that we would NOT be at Walt Disney World for the opening of Toy Story Land--we would be boarding the Disney Dream the day before!  Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, we added a couple of days at Walt Disney World after our cruise.  So, on Thursday, July 5, 2018, we woke up before the crack of dawn and made our way to Disney's Hollywood Studios to tackle Toy Story Land.
Coming upon the entrance.

Welcome! Be sure to listen to the tall statues.

See the big footprint on the ground?  You're the size of a toy!

Crossing the bridge to Slinky Dog Dash entrance.

Extra Magic Hours, 7:00-8:00 am, were being offered to Walt Disney World Resort guests.  We were at the bus stop at our resort at 6:00 am and on a bus--with other guests--by 6:15.  When we arrived at Disney's Hollywood Studios around 6:30, guests were already being allowed into the park and the majority of folks were walking right to Toy Story Land.

We walked on Slinky Dog Dash for our first ride by 6:45, rode, exited, and back in line by 6:55 am with a 30 minute wait posted.

Next, we took a turn on Alien Swirling Saucers.

This matched the theme of our shirts for the day, so thought it appropriate to take a picture!
The music and queue at Alien Swirling Saucers is quite fun!

We then found the new entrance to Toy Story Mania and discovered that Mr. Potato Head was back in the stand-by queue!

We'd had a busy morning and it was time for a snack at Woody's Lunch Box.  The line wasn't too bad and we tried the Breakfast Bowl and Raspberry Lunch Box Tart along with the Mini Babybel Snack Cheese.

Babybel, by the way, is the sponsor for Woody's so be on the look out for Babybel chairs!  All dining is outdoors with tables for both sitting and standing.  We didn't have any issues finding a spot to sit for our mid-morning snack.

While we didn't stop for photos on our way into Toy Story Land, we did stop on the way out.  There were two Photopass photographers taking photos at the entrance sign, which made the process much quicker!

We took a break from Toy Story Land, but did come back later in the day as we had FP for Toy Story Mania.  When we returned, we met the characters located in Toy Story Land, too.
You can see the bathroom entrance behind in this photo.
The Green Army Patrol march back and forth Toy Story Land, interacting with guests and they now have their own drum corp.

Now, for our review:

The land itself is cute and creative.  The boy noticed all the "sponsorships" that the land would need to make it look all plastic--Lego, K'Nex, Tinker Toy, etc.  The queues are creatively done and do look like everything is a toy.

We would rate Slinky Dog Dash, just under Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in terms of thrill level.  The last big hill is great!  There's more room for legs, bottoms, bags, etc. on Slinky Dog than Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster!  Thank goodness!

There's a ride photo on Slinky Dog Dash that "automagically" connects to your MagicBand, just like FROZEN.  So, no congregating at the exit to check out photos and watch guests take a photo of the ride photo.  You get the photo with your Photopass account.

There are 7 attractions--including character meet & greets in Toy Story Land--and 5 of those are outside.  Which means, only Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers remain open during inclement weather.  Add wind, and Alien Swirling Saucers will close down.  We asked Cast Members what, if any, plans were in the works to relocate character meet & greets inside, and we were directed to Guest Services to ask/advocate.

If you Fastpass Toy Story Mania, you will miss Mr. Potato Head, so we recommend using the Stand-by queue at least once.  Be ready for the LONG walk to exit Toy Story Mania as it now exits in Toy Story Land.
Stand-by entrance on the left, Fastpass on the right
If you look at this photo, the Stand-by entrance  for Slinky Dog Dash is on the left, while FP is on the right, but the long lines for Slinky Dog seemed to be to the right of the red umbrellas--look at photo below--most of the day, so I'm confused about what happens when those lines cross at the entrance!
Guests in the Stand-by queue stand to the right of the red umbrellas.

Bathrooms.  There is one located on far to the left, across from Alien Swirling Saucers.  It's themed and colorful--reminds me of Legoland Hotel.  It's also big, which is helpful.  What's not helpful is that there is only ONE paper towel dispenser for the entire location.  Not one near the diaper changing station only ONE above one of the sinks.  There are two other "blade" dryers above the sink area that require guests to stand in front of the sink and dry their hands making other guests wait to wash their hands AND since the "blade" dryers are above the sink, little kiddos can't reach them to dry their hands, nor can they reach the paper towel dispenser.  I used the women's bathroom 4 times during our day and 2 out of 4 times that ONE paper towel dispenser was, you guessed it, empty.

We will add Toy Story Land into our touring plans.  Slinky Dog Dash Fastpasses are now the hottest commodity on Walt Disney World property and will be until Star Wars Land opens in the Fall of 2019.

We came to tackle Toy Story Land, and we did!