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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

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Anticipation, Another Holiday Season, And New-To-Us Experiences

We're getting set for the adventure of yet another Walt Disney World vacation.  It's our third Christmas at Walt Disney World, but definitely, not our first time traveling during the winter holidays.  Traveling at that time of year is something we have never regretted. . . it's all about anticipation and memories!

Often, I am asked about why we travel during the winter holidays.  My first response is that we can.  All three of us do not have school or work.  The other reason is I want to avoid that "let down" feeling after the presents are opened, after days, even weeks of build up and we're looking a pile of wrapping paper and a kitchen full of dishes.  Our first Christmas day spent at Magic Kingdom, I looked at the husband and said, "I haven't had that let down feeling yet."  And, I didn't. . . the entire trip.  We know our fun means that others may be missing time with family and friends and we make sure to thank them regularly.

Our 10-night stay at Pop Century this year allowed us to schedule some special tours and events: Up Close With Rhinos at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Yuletide Fantasy Tour which begins and ends at EPCOT, and UnDiscovered Future World which is also at EPCOT.

Last holiday season we took the Behind the Seeds Tour.

We're also trying four new restaurants:  California Grill located on the top floor of The Contemporary Resort, Storybook Dining at Artist Point located in Disney's Wilderness Lodge, San Angel Inn which is inside the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT--you know the one that overlooks the volcano and is perpetually nighttime, and Enzo's Hideaway at Disney Springs.  We had a reservation for Enzo's when we first started planning our trip, then cancelled it and have made another reservation, but on a different day than originally planned.  While all of them are new and exciting to us, we are definitely looking forward to California Grill.  Our reservation is for 6:00 pm on Dec. 30, which sounds like a regular reservation.  Disney enthusiasts know that the Magic Kingdom has 4 sets of New Year's Eve fireworks.  Two on Dec. 30 and two on Dec. 31.  The first blasts are scheduled for 6:30 pm on December 30.  We'll be watching the fireworks at California Grill!  Have you ever seen fireworks that explode into the shape of a number? We have!  And, it's the "countdown" fireworks at Magic Kingdom. . . 10, 9. 8, etc.
Williams Families Dec. 2017
Something else that is new-to-us this trip, is planning with another family--a Williams Family!  We've had our MyDisneyExperience accounts linked since the summer and have discovered the trips, traps, and joys of co-planning a Walt Disney World vacation.  Our plans include Christmas Eve lunch, Candlelight Procession, and dinner, and Christmas Day lunch.

Two Williams Families--are we related?  No.  Friends who enjoy Disney, who are parenting boys, and have Todds!  Our December 2018 trip isn't the first time our visits at Disney have overlapped, but this time we're more purposeful.

With Fastpasses selected and dining reservations made all we have to do now is wait and enjoy the anticipation.  Well, pack and wait!

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!