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Showing posts with label Fireworks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fireworks. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

stopher's stuff - WONDERous Shows & Parties

As a brand Disney is certainly known for their family friendly entertainment and experiences, and it certainly doesn’t mean anything less on the Disney ships.  I have now sailed on both the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, (and am looking forward to the Disney Dream in July). Both times I've sailed with Disney I was delighted by the caliber of entertainment onboard.  Each night in the Walt Disney Theatre there is either a large, full-scale Broadway-type show, a featured performer, or some other special offering.  This cruise was a five-night sailing, and it included four full-scale type productions and one night with the featured performer – a magician/illusionist. 

Red Carpet arrivals for
The Golden Mickeys
Within the Disney fleet, there are a few shows and parties that are shared between ships – such as Sail Away Party up on deck, and the “Anchors Away” first night show introducing the guests to the ship inside The Walt Disney Theatre, what’s yet to come during the week, and a glimpse of the featured performer – and “Dreams – An Enchanting Classic"  - but then there are ship-specific shows too.  On the Wonder, guests can enjoy “Toy Story: The Musical” which re-tells the now classic Disney*Pixar story in a fun, new way.  Favorite friends such as Woody & Buzz are there, along with Mr. Potato Head, Bo Peep, Slinky Dog, the Green Army Men, and even Hamm.  Another fun show is “The Golden Mickeys” (also found on the Disney Dream), including the red carpet, paparazzi, “celebrity” appearances and statuettes being awarded. 

The ship is filled with other entertainment offerings on so many decks.  From the pool deck to the various children’s programming areas, to the adults-only entertainment found along Route 66 between WaveBands, Diversions and the Cadillac Lounge guests will find something to do each and every day of their itinerary.  Whether they are looking for age-specific entertainment or things the entire family can do together, there’s a lot to be enjoyed.  Personally I love the “80’s Revival” night in WaveBands and the onboard movie theatre where guests can enjoy a wide variety of Disney films – 
Entrance to the Cadillac Lounge,
just off Route 66
including first run films still in theatres.  On this voyage I enjoyed watching “Wreck-It Ralph” and the critically acclaimed, Academy Award nominated  “Lincoln” (didn’t know that that’s a Disney film?  Neither did I until I saw the pre-film credits and saw that it is distributed by Touchstone Pictures, which is a division of the Walt Disney Studios.  Touchstone was created back in 1984 to be able to produce films of a more “adult” feel than the traditional family-fare that the Disney name represented.  The first film under the Touchstone banner was Ron Howard’s “Splash” starring Daryl Hannah).  So yes, I was a tad confused at first when I saw Lincoln on the schedule, but figured it had to be something like that in order for it be shown on the ship. 

A personal favorite though, is the Pirates IN The Caribbean Deck Party – which includes the “Fireworks at Sea”.  Disney Cruise Line is still the only cruise line offering such an experience – though that WILL be changing come May 6th, when Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, BREAKAWAY, sets sail on her inaugural sailing.  I’ll be on that sailing and can’t wait to see how they will do their Fireworks at Sea.  Breakaway will be sailing year-round from New York City going to Bermuda from April to October, and then to Florida & the Bahamas from November to March – and will include Fireworks at Sea on every itinerary.   At that point, I’m sure Disney will start marketing themselves as “the original cruise line to offer Fireworks at Sea” or something similar.  Sadly for them their claim to fireworks fame will be coming to an end soon, but at the same time, they can be flattered that another line wants to emulate them with this truly unique, fun offering onboard ship.  

Recently I was chatting with a friend of mine (prior to sailing), who said he was a bit disappointed with the overall Fireworks at Sea experience.  Basically saying he was expecting more, along the lines of “Wishes” at Walt Disney World.  Now I do recognize that they ARE, afterall Disney, and could in theory pull something like that off… but at the same time, they are extremely limited by a) the size of the ship and what they could pull off, and b) no doubt have restrictions placed on them by the various authorities.  (Part of our Agent Education Program talked about this special feature of the DCL itineraries, and did also indicate that there are various rules and regulations that they have to follow based on locale as well – so there are restrictions on where they can offer Fireworks at Sea.  They are not offered on every itinerary, so if you are interested in seeing the Fireworks at Sea onboard your next Disney cruise, be sure to inquire about sailings outside of the Caribbean, as they might not be allowed).  In comment back to my friend, as a joke, I said, since they ARE Disney and can pull off a lot, why not just drape the ship with thousands of sparkling lights and add snow-effects on all Christmas-time sailings?  Simply recreate that whole winter castle effect that they offer in the parks?  Certainly there are limitations, even for Disney!   If you HAVE NOT YET been able to enjoy a Disney cruise itinerary, and would like to see what the Fireworks at Sea is like – feel free to take a look at this video on my You Tube channel.  I enjoyed taking it for posterity as I stood there with my new friends on the Disney Wonder.

So ends another entry about the Disney Wonder.  Again I will bid you adieu for now, or as they say on board…til we meet again,

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Illuminations Debuts

January 30, 1988 – Walt Disney World – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Walt Disney World debuts the all-new IllumiNations, a nightly show at EPCOT Center, which includes 13 special-effects projectors, theme music, 12 wire/mesh grids, 180 nozzles which create the fountains and 783 fireworks pieces.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Cruise Line to Offer Fireworks at Sea!!

Soon Disney will no longer be the only cruise line offering fireworks at sea!  Norwegian Breakaway, which debuts in May in New York City, will feature a fireworks show on every cruise!

Norwegian Breakaway will be sailing its' inaugural cruise this May, and will be based in New York City year-round.  From spring to fall it will be sailing to Bermuda on 7-night sailings, and then from fall to spring it will be sailing to Florida and the Bahamas on 7-night sailings.  This beautiful new ship includes many innovations and will include the largest sports deck at sea, covering more than three levels, with some of the longest and tallest water slides in the industry.  Now YOU can cruise like a Norwegian, from New York City!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Walt Disney World Firsts

It Was a Week Full of “Firsts” – and Oh-So TRIPPY…

We just got home a couple of days ago from another terrific and memorable trip to Walt Disney World.  Was I sad to leave?  Always.  But as I tell me kids time and time again, all good things come to end.  And so yes, this trip ended as well, and we had to come home once again.  Was it nice to sleep in my own bed again?  You bet.  I always love sleeping in my own bed again after being gone.  There’s just something about sleeping in your own bed, you know?

Despite all of the dozens of times that I have been to Walt Disney World (and yes, it’s close to five dozen times), this trip was full of quite a few “firsts” for us – both collectively as a family, and for me personally as an individual. 
  • Driving my own car at Walt Disney World was – in a word – trippy.   I have driven rental cars all over the place multiple times there, but never before had I driven my own Jeep there.  Growing up in Southern California, driving to Disneyland was no big deal… but driving to Florida?!?  Something we had never, ever done before.  You have to understand that long car rides… just not something we’ve done much of since the kids were very little.  It’s true our kids have visited 26 states, but most of those trips were taken when they were a lot younger.  Thinking about it, they’ve been on planes nearly as many times as I’ve been to Walt Disney World.
  • My oldest son was part of the driving crew!  Yikes.  He drove about 6 hours on the way down to Florida, and about 6 hours on the way home.  Again, in a word… trippy.
  • We spent a lot of time in the pools… I mean a LOT of time.  We were there just about every single day.  This is so not like us.  While we enjoy the occasional dip, we are just not pool people.  And spending hours at the pool – at Walt Disney World – has just never been something we’ve done.  Sure a dip here, maybe there, once or twice during a visit – but never every single day – until now.  Very trippy.
  • We enjoyed a pool-side movie.  Fancy that.  I’ve talked about them here in my blog previously, and told many people about them – but we’ve never experienced one for ourselves.  We watched “Finding Nemo” while enjoying the pool at Kidani Village.  Huh.  Trippy. 
  • Not going into the theme parks, of course, meant no theme park meals.  We planned to avoid the theme parks all along – but we also ended up not planning any table service meals at all.  So NO ADR’s for this trip.  That was different.  Kinda trippy.    We did end up going to BOMA, thanks to a mix-up on the resort’s part and the subsequent “we messed up” gift card, but we didn’t plan that in advance.  I did arrange a reservation for us 2 days in advance – but again – trippy, since the typical long-term “ADVANCED” in ADR was absent.  Most people don’t make ADR’s 2 days in advance. 
  • We did not buy souvenirs on this trip.  No pins.  Nothing.  We’ve been so often, there really was no need to bring more of the same old crap home.  While I was pleased to see some new resort-specific merchandise in the shops, there really was nothing that made me say “I’ve GOT to have that.”  So the wallet stayed in the pocket, and came home no worse for the wear.   Trippy.  I almost always come home with something.
  • We enjoyed many of the same “free” or “nearly free” things that I have been talking about in my semi-regular “Saturday Savers” posts.  

We took our daughter over to the Tri-Circle D Ranch at Ft. Wilderness to check out the horses. Sadly she was 3 inches too tall to be able to ride the ponies, despite being within the age and weight range.  Sigh.  The tears only lasted a few moments, and then she was happy to at least be able to pet them.  

In the Cars section of Art of Animation

The new DVC resort under construction
 I took the family over to explore new resorts that they had not yet seen - such as the all-new Art of Animation Resort and the Yacht and Beach Clubs - and from a distance we saw the progress being made on the new DVC resort, the Villas at the Grand Floridian, currently under construction.  Kinda trippy doing things with them, that I’ve done numerous times before on my various solo research trips.

  • We did NOT sit and watch Stacy!  
  • We did watch "I Love Lucy" - in fact numerous times, as it was requested by my daughter numerous times as we scrolled through the on-screen listings menu.  Anytime she saw it, she would shout out for Lucy! (I love that girl... she loves Lucy almost as much as her daddy does.)  Sitting and watching television while at Walt Disney World has never happened before... except to sit and watch Stacy. 

  • We enjoyed the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream at Disney's Beach Club.  Finished it, too (well, we did leave some melted ice cream mixed with about 7 or 8 cherries in the bottom that my son kept calling primordial soup… but otherwise, we finished that monstrosity!)   If you’ve never experienced it for yourself, or if you’ve never even heard of the Kitchen Sink… let me elaborate just a bit for you.  It’s 8 scoops of ice cream, topped with EVERY kind of topping they have, plus a whole can – yes, I said it – a WHOLE CAN of whipped cream.  It’s ghastly – yet fun – in a trippy sort of way.  The toppings alone amazed me.  The menu made it seem like just the standard liquid topping variety – but OH NO – there were cake bits, brownie pieces, pieces of candy bars, bananas, pineapple, candied fruit, nuts, and probably an entire jar of cherries, since each of my three kids had at least 6 to 7 cherries apiece (plus those 7 or 8 left in the bottom of the dish).  Crazy.  Fun.  DEFINITELY memorable.  But not something that we need to do again. 

  • We enjoyed spending some time (albeit just an hour or so) with friends from another state, who checked in while were at the World!  In the same resort that we had just checked out that morning no less! (Long story short but due to a relatively last-minute change of plans, we had to change resorts for the last couple of nights of our trip - but it was a blessing in disguise because the original plans would have had us leaving WDW 2 days prior to Mark & Julie's arrival... this way we got to visit with them after all!).  Prior to checking out we were joking that they might even end up with "OUR" room at Kidani Village (sadly, no dice, they ended up on the OTHER end of the savannah). Encounters like that do seem to make the famous (and often famously maligned Sherman Brothers song from that iconic Fantasyland attraction ring true - it IS a small world after all!).  

  • We got to watch Wishes from the Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower! Not being BLT point owners, and not having stayed at that resort - we have not had the usually exclusive pleasure of experienced this perk previously.  But since it was made available for a "limited time" to any DVC owner staying on points at any DVC resort, we decided to head on over and see if we could get in and watch from there.  Knowing the Top of the World has limited space, we weren't sure if we would get in or not, but tried anyway.  We were told guests could arrive as early as 6pm, but Wishes wasn't until 10pm.  No way were we going to sit over there for that long.  We arrived at 9pm, and figured if we couldn't get in, we'd simply ride the Monorail over to the Polynesian and watch from the beach (something else we've never done).  But we got in with no problem.  All told, when the fireworks began - the Lounge was probably little more than half full - so there was no need to stress about it at all.  Other nights it might have been more crowded - but our night - not at all.  A big bonus right there!  As a show, Wishes, to me, is very stale and needs to be replaced (especially after watching two different far-superior fireworks presentations at Disneyland in the years since Wishes was first rolled out, and were created after Wishes by the same dude who created Wishes in the first place... it's time Steve Davison to put your fireworks focus back on Walt Disney World!) - but I digress, enough to say that it was fun to experience it from a new vantage point - especially to see how truly far behind the Magic Kingdom the shells are actually shot up from.  The show does lose a LOT in the translation when not watching it from within the confines of the Magic Kingdom - BUT it was fresh and new watching it from the 16th floor of Bay Lake Tower.  Despite being stale to me, it was a great final night bit of fun for all of us. 

  • We went in JULY.  For any of you following along who have ever read any comments I have made on the DIS, or any other online spot I may have commented… we do NOT like the heat and humidity of Florida in the Summer time.  I have avoided it like the plague – until this year.  When we realized that this 10 day period of the summer was pretty much the ONLY time during the entire summer that all five of us would be “home” at the same time – and not off on some Scout, Church or other outing.  So way back in February we decided that the only way to protect that time – and give us the much-desired family time that we needed – was to effectively get “out of dodge” and enjoy our timeshare.  That way none of us would be tempted to respond to the various text messages, phone calls, Facebook posts or Tweets that would come around saying – “COME…. Do this, that or whatever else....”  By being 900 miles away from all of that – we could have that coveted family time.  It was a wise choice.  We enjoyed spending time together, reconnecting, being silly, playing games and just hangin’ out together.  Very, very trippy.  I highly recommend taking your own family doing something similar – especially when the busy-ness of the teen years creep in and overtake your household!  With one super active teen, one getting more and more active all-the-time teen, one slightly busy pre-teen and two busy parents – we must SCHEDULE this kind of time in order to capture it – at all.  Otherwise this friend, that friend, this activity or that activity WILL overtake one or more family member each and every week. 

It’s crazy – but it will all change in just two short years when our eldest leaves for college – followed a couple of years later by our middle son, and then it will all come crashing down in just a few short years when the last of the kids is off on her way to college.  It’s very trippy how all those years ago when the boys were but wee ones people would exhort us to “enjoy this time while it lasts” – we were so full of ourselves thinking it would last longer than it actually does.  And here we are – with a son driving us to Walt Disney World, getting ready to start his Junior year of high school and the college information keeps coming in the mail each and every week.   Trippy is definitely an understatement for the week that we experienced – but even more appropriate for the short 16 years that have literally flown by.  Now to start figuring out which week will be the “one week” next summer so that we can hopefully do it all again…

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Disneyland's Flying Hostess

Tinker Bell made her in-person debut at Disneyland in 1961, in the body of Tiny Kline, the 71-year old former Ringling Bros. aerialist, who nightly opened the summer nighttime spectacular, Fantasy in the Sky.  The aerialist would awe and amaze guests as she would begin the fireworks show each night flying down a wire from the top of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, over Sleeping Beauty Castle and then on over towards Frontierland before disappearing from view.  Since then, Tinker Bell's opening has been a Disneyland tradition through many different fireworks spectaculars.