Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Disney Year in Review...from A Disney Girl in Orlando

2013 was a wonderful year to be at Walt Disney World!
At the beginning of the year New Fantasyland was still very fresh and exciting.
Rapunzel's Tower and restrooms were a huge hit with the guests

bringing beautiful scenery & character along with a functional place to relax and charge electronic devices.  We've been keeping our eyes on Snow White's Mine Train progress through the peep-hole and above the fence.  With Disney, there is always something wonderful as we look forward.

Limited Time Magic was a WONDERFUL way to keep Disney new and changing every week of the year and was tons of fun enjoying the big to the smaller celebrations.  

My favorite Limited Time Magic events for the first quarter of 2013 were Long Lost Friends Week in January, True Love Week on Valentine's Week and Merida's Coronation as she became an "Official" Disney Princess with a Grand Ceremony and some extra-special friends around to welcome her.

Marathon weekend and Princess weekend were huge for the Run Disney community which keeps growing & growing!  It seems Run Disney has taken some dates in January out of the "off-season" for booking Walt Disney World trips.  And for 2014, approximately 70,000 participants will be coming out to participate in Marathon week events.

 Spring is a wonderful time to be at Walt Disney World.

This year, Animal Kingdom celebrated 15 year anniversary on Earth Day!
We have Easter, in which the Grand Floridian celebrated it's 2nd Annual Easter Egg Display.  The Grand Floridian Bakery Team takes 3 weeks to prepare the display.  The eggs weigh 9-12 pounds and stand 16-20 inches tall.  The designs are unbelievable!  Plus at Easter, Mr. & Mrs. Bunny are happy to pose for pictures with your family.

Then we have springtime at EPCOT...wow!  The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival was celebrating 20 years!

To help celebrate, there are always wonderful seminars and this year, they added food and beverage kiosks.  
Some of the fun features of Food and Wine Festival are proving to be very popular in the spring as well.  And during the Food & Wine Festival this year, we were happy to welcome Scotland to our mix of countries providing yummy treats!

In May, Star Wars Weekends were in full effect at Hollywood Studios.  Some of my favorite Limited Time Magic Weeks for second quarter were "May The Fourth Be With You" on the week of May 4th and The Three Caballeros are a very rare treat to see at EPCOT for Cinco De Mayo.

Some Disney movies made their appearances in the parks in various ways this year.  I saw some fun additions from Monsters University, Oz Great and Powerful and Frozen characters, signs and various advertising in the parks.

The next BIG thing in my personal Disney Year was the Limited Time Magic "Unleash The Villains" Party on Friday the 13th of September.  Disney Villains that I have never seen came out including "Oogie Boogie from A Nightmare Before Christmas, who made his first appearance out at Walt Disney World and was the biggest hit in the parks that night.  Plus, there was special fireworks at Hollywood Studios.   I had a great time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!  I had a special moment with Captain Jack Sparrow and told him that I would be seeing him in a few weeks on my first Cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy.

I also had my first Run Disney Volunteer experience at the Happy Haunted 5K during the Tower of Terror weekend at Walt Disney World.  We had a very special guest before the 5K was to begin:  The Headless Horseman!  I had a great view, as I was a part of Crowd Control at the Start Line.    

In November, I was fortunate enough to board the Fantasy to St. Marten and St. Thomas, as well as Disney's private Island Castaway Cay.  I had the opportunity to eat Brunch in Palo while onboard the ship.  Then, while on Castaway Cay, I was able to participate with my Running Team and earn a cute Run Disney medal.  Plus, I can say that I participated in a 5K in the Bahamas...too cool!

 Then the holidays at Walt Disney World include an array of festivities from Osborne Lights, EPCOT celebrating holidays around the world, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.  I was very thankful to have participated in my first Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade taping and was so excited to see myself on national television several times.  It was always a dream of mine to be there for that.  2013 was definitely a year of "DREAMS COME TRUE" for me!  Even though I live in the Orlando area now, it never ceases to amaze me at how many NEW Disney adventures I can continue to enjoy.  I hope that you are enjoying ALL the holidays throughout the

year and bringing out your DISNEY SIDE...I look forward to sharing 2014 with you.  Be safe.  Surround yourself with the things that make you smile.  Strive to be a better person every day!  Thank you for reading my blog & if you enjoy it, I'd love for you to share it with others.  2013 was wonderful!  HAPPY 2014!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

WDW Radio Cruise 2013 on the Disney Fantasy

Cruising is a wonderful vacation, but when you mix a Cruise with Disney...Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy await!  Not only are they the names of the four ships in the Disney Fleet, but they bring those things into your vacation from the moment you step into the Port!  My first cruise was on the Disney Fantasy November 3-9, so the Cast Members actually changed out the Halloween decor to Christmas in only a few hours.  It was absolutely amazing!  The Sail Away Party

was a fun show and surreal moment that VACATION HAS BEGUN!

I would recommend seeing all the big shows in the Walt Disney Theatre.  I truly enjoyed "The Welcome Show,"  "Disney's Alladdin,"  "Disney Wishes,"  "Disney's Believe," and "An Unforgettable Journey."  

 I was on a special cruise with a few hundred "friends" from the Disney Community.  It was so much fun for me to enjoy my first cruise with so many people who ENJOY all the Disney details, as I do.  Sunday was our first full day on the ship & a Sea Day.  I was excited about the WDW Radio Welcome Meet, where Lou Mongello introduced our Guest for this cruise:  Ridley Pearson, Best-Selling Author of the "Kingdom Keepers" series, as well as many suspense novels for adults as well.

Ridley told us a little about himself, answered some of our questions and then he had a special treat for us.  For any of us interested in doing "Ridley's Quest" we were given a booklet of clues that took us throughout the ship.  We chose teams and then went off to save the ship from "the Overtakers," who are the evil

characters in his Kingdom Keeper series.  We were the Kingdom Keepers on this cruise and for BIG KIDS like us Disney fans, it truly was a FUN time!

We even came to one place where we collaborated with another team from the United Kingdom to figure out the difficult piece.  Ridley was excited that we were having so much fun with his quest and it was wonderful to get to know him and his Assistant, Jen while we were on this wonderful cruse.  During one point, I was reading "The Quest" and the ship's Captain "Captain Marko" was walking past us and saw how much fun we were having, so he stopped to chat with us for a few minutes.  I actually got to see the ship's Captain during my brunch at Palo the next day and he said hello as he walked by.  My lunch included wonderful friends in the Disney Community and I need to thank Beci Mahnken of MouseFan

Travel and Lou Mongello from WDW Radio for allowing me to have lunch with them, Ridley & Jen.  I was very proud to have won this wonderful opportunity.  It was so nice to have a chance to chat with Ridley as he was feverishly working on Book 7, the final book of the series because his Publisher's deadline was fast approaching.

Tuesday we arrived at St. Marten and a few of  us took the "UNDER TWO FLAGS TOUR."
This tour was interesting to me because we got to see where Mick Jagger has a house & the interesting facts of a small island that consists of 2 countries.  The island of St. Marten is 37 square miles and has 37 beaches.  
I also learned that it is an International call from the Dutch to the French side.  Most locals have two cell phones, one for each country.

On the island, we found a French Cafe to get a special tasty treat  by my favorite part of the day was a stop on the tour where we had an ice cream cone and ride a carousel. 

Tuesday night was"PIRATE NIGHT" and I shared a wonderful

moment with "the other Captain" Jack Sparrow.  He made a grand appearance into Pirate Party, which was followed by fireworks - YES, FIREWORKS in the middle

of the Ocean!  Then we danced as Buccaneers until the party ended.

Wednesday we arrived at St. Thomas.  I just went off to check out the local shopping within walking distance of the dock just to say I was on the island.  I arrived back on the ship early as Ridley was having a "Family Quest" to take us to some fun places that his books took you in his series.  From there, I went to the "Art of the Theme Tour" which is a free tour on the ship.  Cast Members take you to different areas of the ship to tell you interesting facts.   I truly enjoyed this tour, the places and information that you can share throughout the rest of the cruise while around the ship.  Wednesday night, I was able to play in the Oceaneer's Club - which is the children's play area of the ship.  Our group was the first adult group ever allowed to play here and we had from 12-1am to enjoy all the fun that we could fit into the time!  We made it a PJ Party!

Thursday, I was able to take another "Quest" which took us into the Radio Room and on a Galley Tour.  We were not allowed to take pictures on the Galley Tour, as it took us into the kitchen and behind-the-scenes areas.  Some interesting facts that we learned were:

    -  There are 1500 Crew Members in fresh costumes every day!

    -  They never let the ship get less than 7 days of food

     -  21,000 meals a day
    -  184 Chefs & Cooks on ship
    -   On the day of our tour, they were planning to go through 1,600 pounds of Lobster
     -  They go through 4,000-6,000 eggs every day
    -  Costumes have the RFID chips that we have in our key cards, so if a Cast Member is down to their last costume, it shows how many are checked out...this keeps their Cast Members in fresh clean costumes at all times.
Lella Smith, Creative Director of the Walt Disney Animation Research and Exhibition Curator

The Walt Disney Family Museum was on the ship to present:  "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Creation of a Classic:  Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first of Walt Disney's feature length animated film on view from November 15-April 14.  She went over the animators, the characters from Snow White.

Castaway Cay was absolutely beautiful, pristine blue water and just a perfect island!  We started by taking a group picture and then

several of us went to run the Castaway Cay 5K.  After we received our medals, we got ready for lunch at Serenity Bay and relaxing at the beach...yup, that's ALL I did at Castaway Cay is just perfect!  And I can't conclude my cruise memories without mentioning the fantastic Cast Members on the ship!  Housekeeping works nonstop, restaurant servers were wonderful, food was fantastic.  All service was beyond my hopes and dreams!  The servers got to know us throughout the week.  They knew what we liked to eat and drink and

recommended things to our tastes.  Dining on a Disney Cruise has you rotating restaurants, but your servers move with you.  Our server, Raquel even brought our favorite desserts from the other restaurants to us because we wanted to have them again.  I can't express enough at what fabulous dining experiences you can have on a Disney Cruise.  I highly recommend a cruise to everyone and yes, I am already working on my NEXT Disney Cruise!