Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 8

“Disney by Land, Disney by Sea” is a blog series where we discuss the pre-planning for a grand Disney Land/Sea adventure. Here are the previous issues:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – When to Go to Disney
Part 3 – Advanced Dining Reservation
Part 4 – Cabin Switch, Paying for the trip & Online Check-in
Part 5 – Fish Extender Exchange & Port Cams
Part 6 – Another change & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Part 7 – Counting Down and ADR Scalping

Continue reading “Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 8”

Disney by Land, Disney by Sea – Part 7

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea

“Disney by Land, Disney by Sea” is a blog series where we discuss the pre-planning for a grand Disney Land/Sea adventure. Here are the previous issues:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – When to Go to Disney
Part 3 – The 180th Day Massacre
Part 4 – Cabin Switch, Paying for the trip & Online Check-in
Part 5 – Fish Extender Exchange & Port Cams
Part 6 – Another change & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Continue reading “Disney by Land, Disney by Sea – Part 7”

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 6

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea
“Disney by Land, Disney by Sea” is a blog series where we discuss the pre-planning for a grand Disney Land/Sea adventure. Here are the previous issues:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – When to Go To Disney
Part 3 – The 180th Day Massacre
Part 4 – Cabin Switch, Paying for the trip & Online Check-in
Part 5 – Fish Extender Exchange & Port Cams

Continue reading “Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 6”

Aulani – My Hawaiian Trip Report

Written by Corinne Leon
Aulani
Aloha and E Komo Mai! Welcome to my very first Trip Report, and what a trip it was! We knew that 2015 was going to mark a milestone in our lives as we would be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We talked about a few vacation options including a DVC Members Cruise, or a trip to the Disneyland Resort, but the destination that we kept coming back to was Hawaii. But it always seemed like such a crazy, impossible dream! So, when Disney built a DVC resort on Oahu in 2011, that dream didn’t seem so impossible after all! And by some miracle, everything fell into place and we were able to plan this amazing trip of a lifetime!

Continue reading “Aulani – My Hawaiian Trip Report”

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 5

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney by land and sea

WHY DO I NEED TO EXTEND A FISH?

Disney by land and seaOn our upcoming Disney Cruise we have decided to join a Fish Extender Exchange. This fun gift exchange was created by guests in the early days of the cruise line. The Fish Extender Exchange name comes from the fun little holders on the side of each door which are typically used to hold your Personal Navigator, receipts and correspondences. Depending on which ship you are on and what side of the ship your stateroom is, you might have a fish, a seahorse or a starfish.

Continue reading “Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 5”

Disney By Land & Disney by Sea – Part #3

Written by Sue Nowicki
Disney by land and sea
As I mentioned in my last post, booking our Advanced Dining Reservation was less than magical.

I don’t think it’s hard to see that I am kind of an obsessive planner. Approximately 220 days prior to our vacation I know where we are staying, what parks we will be visiting each day, how we will be touring each park and where we are going to eat. Therefore, at exactly 5:55am on the 180th day I have every computer in the house and my cellphone logged into My Disney Experience to start making my Advanced Dining Reservations. If that method doesn’t work I start calling the Disney Dining phone line at 6:55am. I have ALWAYS been able to get every reservation I wanted… until now.

We have been to Walt Disney World many times. Therefore, we have been lucky enough to experience a great number of the dining options at Walt Disney World. This means the method for choosing our dining plans have changed slightly. Instead of booking two or more table service meals a day, we have old favorites we like return to and we add in 1-2 new locations each trip. Therefore, we are only planning on one table service meal each day.

This was my plan going into the 180th morning:

Monday – Rose & Crown, 8:00pm – This is an old favorite for us and holds a special place in our Disney memories. When our daughter was 5-years-old we were dining at R&C and she was picked to start Illuminations. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime magical moments. Besides the memories we come back vacation after vacation because of the great food and the amazing view of Illuminations. If you are lucky enough to get one of the coveted verandah seat you will have a front row seat for the show. And even if you aren’t selected to sit on the verandah, they have a super-secret location reserved for their guests only to watch the show. Results: Nothing available

Tuesday – Whispering Canyon Café, 6:00pm – We are planning on spending at least part of this day at Downtown Disney with lunch planned at Earl of Sandwich. (The Holiday sandwich is calling my name… can you hear it?) We thought this would be a great day to have an early evening meal in the resort. After the meal we can either hit the pool (Of course, after the required 30 minutes waiting period, Mom), maybe go to the Polynesian and watch Wishes from the beach or just simply call it a night. Results: Nothing available

Wednesday – Hollywood & Vine Fantasmic! Dinner Package – If you ask my daughter we picked the restaurant because of the pictures of the chocolate fountain on their website. We have seen Fantasmic! before but we always seem to be in the extreme stage right area even with a FastPass+. With the dinner package we will get guarantee seats in one of the center sections. RESULTS: Dinner packages not available yet.

Thursday – California Grill, 9:00pm – How can you beat the view of Wishes from that vantage point… not to mention the wine list. RESULTS: SUCCESS! We got a 9:05pm ADR.

Friday – Be Our Guest, Lunch – We will be attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party this day. My daughter and I have been to this restaurant while DH has not. He has to try the Grey Stuff… It’s delicious. RESULTS: NO LUCK!

I came out of the 180th day with ONE Advanced Dining Reservation. How can this be? Dejected, with my Ultimate Disney Planner title on the line, I headed to work with my head hanging low. Several of my Disney friends did their best to console me when I complained. “Don’t worry, just keep checking.” “It must be a glitch in the system.” “It’s the week BEFORE Thanksgiving, there’s no way everything can be gone?” “Try calling again?”

Here we are two month later and the bleak outcome of what I now call the ‘180th Day Massacre’ has turned into a not-so-bad plan.

Since Monday is the last day of the annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival we have decided to ‘eat our way around the world’. Recently the menus for F&W were released and there is no way I would be able to eat a sit-down dinner after eating all the tasty treats which caught my eye. As far as the view of Illuminations: We can always grab something from one of the outdoor kitchens and pull up a bench along the World Showcase Lagoon.

After checking multiple times for a Tuesday ADR at Whispering Canyon Cafe an 8:30pm reservation showed up. This wasn’t ideal but at least we would be able to eat there without a long wait. Using my friend Amy M’s advice I kept checking just in case something more suitable to our plans showed up. Lo and behold a week or so ago a 6:00pm reservation opened up. SCORE! As an added bonus the Garden Grill announced a special character breakfast featuring Chip & Dale. We were going to use Tuesday as a ‘catch up on some sleep day’ so we made a 10:00am ADR. I have been by the Garden Grill many times while making our way to Living With the Land and loved the idea of the rotating restaurant.

With the addition of this ADR and the fact that we are still planning on heading to Downtown Disney that day, we are considering cancelling our Whispering Canyon Café ADR. We have been there several times before so it’s not like we will be missing a new experience and we will probably still be full from the Holiday Sandwich from Earl of Sandwich.

Our Wednesday plans brightened as well. I guess I was always under the impression that the Fantasmic! Dinner Package reservations opened at 180 days like the rest of the reservations. Turns out that isn’t the case. In early July the Disney Parks Blog reported the dinner package was now open for booking. I immediately went over and booked the package at Hollywood & Vine for a late lunch.

There was a little twist to this when the brand new Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine opened up for reservations. Not only is this a character meal which features the characters in their holiday best including Santa Goofy, it also offers special seating for Fantasmic!. Again, I was on my computer bright and early… NOTHING. I started calling Disney Dining line at 6:55 a.m… NOTHING! Oh well, I guess we will keep our lunch reservation and keep checking to see if this opens up.

I am still hoping for some pixie-dust to get a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest on Friday but I did learned a few things from this misadventure: (1) Free dining really does have quite an impact of the availability of Advanced Dining Reservations, (2) Just keep swimming – by continuing to check we were able to get a couple of the ADRs we weren’t able to get on the 180th day, and (3) Disney really needs to get their act together BEFORE the 180th day on special dining experiences such as Candlelight Processional and Fantasmic! Dinner Package.

In the next post I will talk about a slight change we made to our Disney Cruise, how we got 8.9% off our Disney vacation and our first foray into the Fish Extender gift exchange.
Disney Land Sea
Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

Other posts by this author:
Latest Disney News
”The Descendants” Movie Review
Disney by Land, Disney by Sea: Part 1 & Part 2
”Tomorrowland” Movie Review
Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps
Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be
A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea – Part 2

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea

It’s been a pretty slow time in planning my family’s Land/Sea adventure since I wrote my first post. This is typically the case when planning any type of Disney vacation. It can be easily summed up as: “Hurry up and wait.”

You hurry to book your vacation when/if the discounts come out, then you wait; you get up bright and early at 6:00am on the 180th day to make your Advanced Dining Reservation, then you wait; you are up early again to book your shore excursion, then you wait; you stay up late to make your FastPass+ selection on the 60th day, then you wait. See a pattern here?

Now that we are all booked and our ADRs are made (sort of, more on that in my next post) we are in one of those dreaded waiting period. So instead of playing Frozen Free Fall until our fingers bleed while we wait (oh, is that just me?), let’s go back in time a little. Let’s go back to our decision on when to make our trek south.

When it comes to booking any type of Disney vacation whether it be by land, by sea or both the very first decision that needs to be made is when to go. Any self-respecting Disney-obsessed vacation planner worth their salt scrutinizes the park hours, holiday & special events schedule, historical weather patterns, school calendar, horoscopes, celestial patterns, stock market trends and the Farmer’s Almanac to find the best times to visit.

We chose November because the weather is cooler, the crowds are low, the school calendar is clear and after the first weekend in November the parks and resorts are decked out in their holiday splendor. An added bonus this year is that we will be there for the last day of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Since we weren’t able to get the Advanced Dining Reservation we wanted for our first night in Epcot it looks like we will be taking advantage of some of the infamous outdoor kitchen. Can you say Dole Whip topped with Bacardi® Coconut Rum?

So where did we go to find all this information when deciding when to visit Walt Disney World? Well I can tell you it isn’t an easy task. Sure, we could have paid to go to a website which does the work for you but that’s too easy and takes all the fun out of it.

PARK HOURS

I am not sure why park hours are such a highly guarded secret. The official Walt Disney World website is typically the very last to post hours which is around 190-200 days before check-in. To get around this I check two different place. As is expected when you book your vacation one, two or even three years in advance no one will have hours posted yet. In that case I always check the hours for similar weeks from previous years. EasyWDW.com keeps calendars for a year so you can look back and see what the hours have been historically. The second place I look is the travel agent calendar. This is a raw listing of park hours, Extra Magic Hours and the times of major shows and parades such as Festival of Fantasy Parade, Wishes, Illuminations and Fantasmic!. These hours seem to be released about a month prior to the official hours. The best way to find these documents are to Google “Disney Travel Agent Operating Hours (Month)”. The thing to remember about the travel agent calendar is these times are definitely subject to change and often do. Currently, the travel agent calendar is posted through February 29, 2016 while the official WDW site is only available through the end of January, 2016.

It’s only when we are within a month or so if our vacation that we check the Walt Disney World website for the official hours. Last year, when checking these hours we found the several parks had actually increased their hours. Yippee for us!

HOLIDAYS & SPECIAL EVENTS

It goes without saying that if school is on vacation your area of the country Walt Disney World is busy. When are schools on vacation? Holidays and summertime. If you want to avoid crowds stay away from these times of year.

Special events such as the Magic Kingdom holiday parties, Star Wars Weekends and Epcot’s Food & Wine and Flower & Garden Festivals can also have a significant impact on not only your touring plans but when you should visit Walt Disney World.

The Magic Kingdom holiday parties are a great time to head to the Magic Kingdom. The crowds are low and wait times are minimal. We were at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party last year I never saw the wait time on Space Mountain go over 10 minutes. While the crowds at the parties are quite manageable, the daytime hours are slightly busier because regular guests and party guest are both at the park. My suggestion is if you do not have a ticket to one of the parties, stay away from the park that day.

Star Wars weekends at Hollywood Studios and the special events at Epcot are a different story, since you do not have to purchase a special ticket to attend it draws not only visitors from around the country, they draw in locals as well, especially those with annual passes.

Another thing to consider, while not a typical special event, is special offer times such as when free dining is offered. Disney is not dumb. They know that fall is typically a low time of year for crowds so what do they do in the fall… offer free dining! Ask anyone who went to Disney last fall how the crowds were when free dining was offered. They will tell you it was surprisingly busy.

WEATHER

Weather.com features a great wrap-up of precipitation and average temperature by month. While January is the coolest month of the year, November isn’t too bad at all with average highs in the upper 70’s, lows in the upper 60’s and low humidity. Being from Northern Indiana and originally Maine, I’ll take those temps over average highs in the 90’s and high humidity any day. When it comes to precipitation I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that June, July and August top the chart with average precipitation of 7.6”, 7.3” and 7.1”, respectively. November, on the other hand, has the lowest average precipitation of the year at 2.2”.

 

Disney by Land and SeaAnother weather-related concern is hurricanes. Charley… Frances… Jeanne… Those names sound familiar? They would if you traveled to the Bahamas on Disney Cruise Line in 2004. These storms wreaked havoc Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. While Disney Cruise Line is very good at having their ships circumnavigate hurricanes by switching ports and staying out of harm’s way, they can’t just pick up and move Castaway Cay. Nor can they stop the storm surge in the Caribbean which creates high waves and a rough seas.

Hurricane season is officially June 1 – November 30. The chart below, prepared by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows that most tropical storms and hurricanes happen in August, September and October. While November is the 5th highest month I will take by chances.

Disney by Land and Sea

When it comes to Walt Disney World, their hurricane policy state if a hurricane warning is issued within seven days of your arrival you can reschedule and cancel with no cancellation or change fee as long as you booked through Disney. However, if you book with a special offer such as free dining, you will not get the free dining benefit if you re-book at a different time when free dining is not offered. If your trip dates are flexible and you didn’t book using any special offers then booking during hurricane season won’t be a problem.

SCHOOL CALENDAR

Yes, I know, I am being a bad parent and taking my daughter out of school to go to Disney. However, the options to take her out during a break (Thanksgiving, Christmas & Spring Break – too busy; Summer – we were already there for a volleyball tournament) are not appealing at all. When looking at the school calendar, there are no major school functions and the week we picked is in the middle of a semester and over a month before finals. This will give her plenty of time to catch up on any missed work and prepare for finals.

Speaking of missed homework, a great advantage of my daughter’s high school is that it is in a 1:1 school district. This means each student gets an iPad. On these Ipads, the teachers can assign homework. During our vacation last year we scheduled an hour or so each day (if needed) for her to complete any homework assigned on the iPad. This worked out very well, so much so that we are even considering doing the same this year. If last year had been a disaster we would never have considered it this year.

Another thing we needed to consider was her sports schedule. She plays high school volleyball and softball as well as playing on travel teams with both of those sports and beach volleyball. High school volleyball runs June – the first weekend of November, travel volleyball starts after Thanksgiving and goes through the middle of June. High school softball starts in March and ends in May and travel softball is interspersed in there when she is available. The beach volleyball season starts in May and ends when school starts in August. That all leaves this magical week in the middle of November when she has absolutely NOTHING… except a trip to Disney.

CONCLUSION

Again, since most Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line vacations are scheduled years in advance you can never know what the exact weather, school calendar or park hours will be on your specific vacation. However, you can get a pretty good idea by doing a little research. Once you have all the data for the times you are considering, you and your traveling party can weigh all the factors above and make the decision that is right for you.

In my next post I will talk about booking our Advanced Dining Reservations. Let’s just say: it wasn’t very magical.

Disney by land and see

Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

Other posts by this author:
Latest News Post: July 17, 2015
”Tomorrowland” Movie Review
Disney by Land, Disney by Sea
Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps
Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be
A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service

Disney by Land & Disney by Sea

Written by Sue Nowicki

Disney by Sea

Let me set the scene for you: We are sitting in the Orlando International Airport (MCO). The crowd is bustling around as we sit dejectedly wait for our flight after another magical vacation in Walt Disney World.

ACTION!

DD: I wish we didn’t have to leave.
Me: You have finals, Sweetie. Plus we have to go get the dog from the kennel.
DD: I know. (insert frown)
DH: We’ll be back.
DD: (Looks excitedly at DH) Really? When?
DH: Ah… (looks as me nervously for agreement) Maybe next year?
Me: (In 2.6 seconds flat I begin planning a killer Disney vacation with all the accoutrements.)

And so it begins. Time to start planning our next Disney vacation… so many choices, so little vacation time. When should we go? Where should we stay? How are we going to get there? Where should we eat this time? Should we add a Disney Cruise… wait, what?! Hmmm… that sounds nice. Let’s go for it! There began our basis for planning “DISNEY BY LAND & DISNEY BY SEA”.

Countdown
In the coming months, 181 days, 8 hours, 57 minutes and 48 second to be exact… not that I am counting, I am going to post my on-going trip report. However, instead of writing the report after we return, I am going to write it starting at the beginning of the planning process. I will post about all of the steps it will take to plan a magical (hopefully) Disney Cruise Line/Walt Disney World vacation.

To start in this post we will discuss the basics of our trip: who, what, when, where and how.

WHO:

Cast:
Myself, 45 – Obsessive Disney planner
Hubby, 46 – Favorite saying: “Whatever you think”
Daughter, 16 – Cross between Snow White, Jennie Finch and Kerri Walsh

Family Bio:
Growing up in Maine, or “Vacationland” as it’s aptly named, my family typically didn’t stray too far from home considering we already lived in a bonafide vacation destination. However, we did take long weekends here and there for quick jaunts to Storyland, Santa’s Village and Six Gun City in New Hampshire or Sturbridge Village and Boston in Massachusetts. In 1986, my parents took my brother and I to Walt Disney World for the first time. Hubby, on the other hand, typically headed east from Indiana with his family for their vacations as a large part of their family lives in Boston. (No, we never crossed paths back then.) His Disney adventures started at Disneyland in the late 1970’s while visiting his aunt in California.

Since we got married we have been ten more times with trips #12 and #13 on the books for 2015. Our past trips have included two Grand Gatherings, one Land/Sea vacation and four trips to AAU Volleyball Nationals at Walt Disney World. The two trips scheduled for this year include another trip to Nationals and this trip I will be detailing over the next six months.

We indoctrinated our daughter into the world of Disney very early. Her first visit to Walt Disney World was at the age of 2 when we joined my family for a Grand Gathering during the week of Christmas 2001. Even prior to her first visit she was a huge fan of Disney, especially Snow White. There was no denying with her raven’s black hair and cherub cheeks that she did bear a striking resemblance to her favorite princess.

WHAT:
We are planning an 8-day Disney vacation. The first part of our adventure will be a 3-day Disney Cruise with stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Castaway Cay, quite literally my favorite place on Earth. This will be our second Disney Cruise. In 2005, we took a four-day Disney Cruise on the Disney Wonder. The second leg of our trip will be a 5-night stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. This will be the first time at have stayed at the Wilderness Lodge. On previous vacations to Walt Disney World we have stayed at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort. While we have been to the Wilderness Lodge to eat at Whispering Canyon Café, we are beyond excited to stay here for the first time.

WHEN:
Disney Cruise Line: November 13 – 16, 2015
Walt Disney World: November 16 – 21, 2015

WHERE:
Disney Cruise Line
Port Canaveral
Nassau, Bahamas
Castaway Cay

Walt Disney World
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

HOW:
Picking a ‘HOW’ is always a topic for discussion as we are experienced drivers. We have driven the 16-18 hours to Disney four times and plan to do so again for our trip to Nationals in June. This trip, however, falls during the school year (let the debate begin) so we need a quick mode of transportation. Therefore, we are planning on flying in early on November 13th and taking Disney transportation to port. A decision we will have to make in the near future is if we might actually want to come in the night before. This will get us to port earlier and allow us to make spa appointments earlier.

So that’s where we are right now. In upcoming posts I will discuss why we picked these dates, why we picked Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, booking our Disney Cruise, which stateroom we booked and why, choosing and making our Advanced Dining Reservations and FastPass+ selections, booking cruise excursions, options for paying for our vacation and packing as well as follow-up posts when we return.

I encourage everyone to please follow along as we traverse the trials and tribulations of planning “DISNEY BY LAND & DISNEY BY SEA”.

Sue Nowicki splits her time between planning her next Walt Disney World vacation and being team mom to ten high-energy volleyball players where she fills the roles of secretary, navigator, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist. You can follow her on Twitter @JazzinDisneyMom.

Other posts by this author:

Latest Disney News

Best Walt Disney World Smartphone Apps

Restaurant Review – Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – The Way Life Should Be

A Day in the Life of Disney’s FastPass+ Service

A Magical Voyage on Disney Cruise Line

Written by Lisa Cameron

Some say that there is nothing more magical than a Disney Parks vacation. What they don’t know is that the magic is taken to a whole new level once Disney takes their show to the high seas on a Disney cruise. Recently, our family embarked on our third Disney cruise. This time the Disney Magic took us on a 7 night sea adventure stopping in Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Our vacation was filled with fun and created life long memories. Here are some of our favorite moments.

Day 1: Embarkation Day
03-10-2015 DCL Trip ReportWe flew in the night before and spend the night at Walt Disney World at the Dolphin Resort. On the morning of the cruise, we headed to Port Canaveral to board the ship. We made sure to get a picture taken with Captain Mickey before boarding. Once we boarded, we made sure to stop by Port Adventures to secure our Anna and Elsa and Princess Gathering tickets. After, we attended the Disney Vacation Club Members celebration complete with a character meet and greet, games and prizes. We enjoyed the sail away party on Deck 9 while the Magic pulled out of the port. By far, the highlight of our first day was dinner at Animator’s Palate. We were treated to a special show that included our servers and a very special guest.

Day 2: Key West
03-10-2015 DCL Trip Report 6Our day began with a special character greeting with Anna and Elsa. After that, we walked around Key West, checking out some of the shops and making our way to the Southernmost Point for a photo op. We headed back to the ship early, but not before stopping for a treat: Chocolate-covered frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick. Back aboard the ship, we enjoyed dinner at Carioca’s, followed by a family Fiesta Dance Party in the D Lounge.

Day 3: At Sea
A day at sea is a great time to take advantage of all the ship has to offer. First up was the Princess Gathering in the Lobby. It was a beautiful day so we decided to spend the morning relaxing by the pool. Later, while the kids headed off to the club, we had some much needed adult time. We spent the afternoon going to the cooking class, “Anyone Can Cook” and taking a behind the scenes tour of the ship. That night was formal night. We were treated to the Captain’s Reception in the lobby atrium before dinner, and then dined at Lumiere’s. After dinner, our kids got to go to the Oceaneer’s Club while we enjoyed “Villains Tonight” in the Walt Disney Theater.

Day 4: Grand Cayman
We were up and at ‘em early as we were scheduled to go to Tiki Beach on Grand Cayman Island. After a short 10 minute drive we were enjoying white sand beaches, snorkeling and some much needed sunshine. Thankfully, our excursion was only for the morning as dark clouds began to roll in as we were leaving the beach. Unfortunately, that wasn’t all the bad news of the day. Our 3 year old son got sick on our way back to the ship. He was done for the day. As Dad and son hunkered down in the stateroom, my daughter and I got to spend some quality time together. When we arrived at dinner two people short, our wait staff was concerned. They went above and beyond to make sure the boys were well taken care of by sending soup and dinner to the stateroom. We really appreciated their kindness!

Day 5: Cozumel
03-10-2015 DCL Trip Report 4Rough seas and a sick son made for a difficult night as we pulled into Cozumel. We were scheduled for a noon excursion to the Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park Dolphin Encounter. The late start gave us the morning to rest. Our son’s stomach was feeling better, but he was still really tired. Many of the ocean-related excursions were being canceled due to “red flag” conditions. Our encounter was still on schedule, but we were warned that the high waves would make the experience difficult for kids. We opted to pull our son from the encounter so he could rest. The whole family was still able to go ashore, but only our daughter and her dad would get in the rough water to meet the dolphins.

03-10-2015 DCL Trip Report 3That evening was “Pirate Night” aboard the Magic. We donned some accessories to get into the spirit of the night. We met Pirate Mickey, Peter Pan, and a Swashbuckling Stitch on our way to dinner at Animator’s Palate, which displayed art from Pirate movies while we ate. After dinner we went up for the Pirate Party on deck, complete with fireworks! Feeling adventurous, we stormed the late-night buffet in Cabanas for a bit of dessert before calling it a night.
Day 6: At Sea
Another day at sea, more time to explore the ship. With cooler temperatures and high winds, we stayed inside most of the day. Our son was feeling much better. So much so that he woke up and insisted we go to Wake Up with Disney Junior. We spent the day meeting characters, souvenir shopping and checking out parts of the ship we’d been too busy to see yet. Our favorite moment was seeing the award winning “Disney Dreams” in the Walt Disney Theater. Unfortunately, the dark cloud that came in on our Grand Cayman day reared its ugly head that night and struck our daughter with the same stomach bug our son had earlier in the week. We hoped she wouldn’t be out of commission as the next day we were expected to arrive in Castaway Cay, a day the whole family was looking forward to.

Day 7: Castaway Cay
03-10-2015 DCL Trip Report 2The sun was shining brightly as we pulled into the dock at Castaway Cay. Both James and I were scheduled to run the Castaway Cay 5K, but with our daughter still not feeling well, I went alone. It was great being in the first group itself. The race itself took us to beautiful parts of the island. A little while later, I was done with my race. With my medal around my neck, I headed back to the ship to check on the family. To my surprise, they were not there! Our daughter was feeling better so they went up to deck 4 to see the island. Hoping her good feelings would last; we quickly gathered our beach gear and made our way to Castaway Cay. It was a gorgeous day! It was nice to just relax and soak up the sun. James and our daughter managed to get in some snorkeling while I made sand castles with our son on the beach. Late afternoon, we boarded the Magic, sad that it was going to be our last night.

Day 8: Port Canaveral
We said goodbye to the Disney Magic and to new friends and cast members we had met on board. Despite the bumps in the road, we had a wonderful vacation. We created memories that will last a lifetime and can’t wait to do it all again someday!

Lisa is a Disney-loving wife, mom, teacher and wanna be party planner. She loves cooking, baking and spending time with her two children. In between Disney trips you can find her planning the next big party or blogging about her family’s Disney adventures on her website, Home is Where the Mouse Is.