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Disney Cruise Line 101 ~ by Guest Author Kendra Trump

Published March 3, 2016 by fromfirstkisstorockingchairs

Disney Cruise Line 101 by Guest Author Kendra Trump

Disney does cruising! The Disney Cruise Line has a fleet of 4 magnificent ships, the Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy. Aboard each of these ships is a fun-filled, magical, experience just waiting for you and your family. Disney knows how to keep guests happy no matter if it’s on land or sea. Disney Cruise Line is a way to enjoy a luxurious vacation with the whole family.

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Disney Dream docked at Castaway Cay

Disney definitely puts a spin on cruising, the design of the ships will have you reminiscing of sailing times from days gone by. The clean sleek lines, colors, and beautiful boats will capture your attention the first time you see them. The ships have 3 pools, a splash zone, the Dream and Fantasy have a water roller coaster slide onboard called the AquaDuck, sports area where you can enjoy a game of basketball, shuffleboard, and a jogging track, exquisite spas, clubs, movie theaters, and beautiful theaters that produce Broadway style shows at sea! There is something for everyone onboard a Disney ship. (One thing you will not find onboard is a casino.)

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AquaDuck- Water slide onboard the Disney Dream

Aboard the 4 ships are areas for every age young and old. Nurseries for your little ones who aren’t potty-trained as well as a splash zone for those still in swim diapers, diapers swim or regular are strictly not allowed in any of the pools. Amazing kids clubs that make me wish I was a child myself, with fun age appropriate activities. Tween and Teen only clubs, which will keep your older children so happy you will want to know what they did with your real teenagers! And of course the elusive adult-only areas, (spa, pool, hot tub, bar, quiet areas, and adult only dining experiences) yes even though it is Disney there are areas where adults can be adults where no children can be seen or heard.

Worried about keeping track of all the activities onboard or where your children/spouse may be? Don’t be, (2) Wave phones (think cruise cellphones) can be found in each room which allows you to stay in contact while onboard. Personal Navigator newsletters are delivered to your stateroom every evening so you can keep track of all the fun activities onboard and at the port of calls, as well as where and when characters will be meeting! There’s an app for that too, be sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App to keep you up to date on the happenings of the ship as well!

Not only has Disney outdone themselves on the general areas, the staterooms are top of the line as well, in size and features. Disney’s standard staterooms are some of the largest at sea right now with innovative storage areas to make the most of every square inch in your stateroom. They also have split bathrooms in select categories of rooms, meaning Mom can relax in a hot shower after a day of fun at sea without being interrupted because someone has to “go!”

Aboard the Disney ships you will participate in rotational dining so everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all the restaurants aboard the ships at dinner time. A part of rotational dining is keeping the same server each night, they will start to remember your drink orders and have them ready for you before you arrive if you are a habitual person like myself 😉 Not interested in participating in the main dining option? You are more than welcome to enjoy a quick service meal or the same food everyone else is enjoying in a less time constricted manner at one of the buffets aboard the ship.  Dinner’s not the only time for amazing food experiences onboard, be sure to come back soon for an article all about dining with Disney Cruise Line, it really does deserve its own limelight!

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Even the chairs are part of the fun at Animator’s Palate restaurant!

Disney may have an amazing fleet of ships, but they also have their own private island, Castaway Cay, which is definitely the cherry on top of this magical experience. Castaway Cay is an island about midway between the Bahamas and Florida. It is the perfect island experience, beautiful water, pristine beaches, and of course Disney magic! The island is set up much like the ship with areas for kids, teens, families, and adults only. Bonus Tip: For an extra magical souvenir for loved ones or yourself, Castaway Cay has a Post Office on site where you can mail a postcard or letter with the exclusive Castaway Cay postage mark. You will arrive home well before your letter does so this is a nice idea for when you are feeling “homesick” for the islands and want a pretty reminder to magically appear in the mail. The post office does only accept cash, so bring along some small bills when you disembark the ship!

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Mail a note from paradise at the Castaway Cay Post Office!

Disney Cruise Lines is a magical vacation for the whole family, stay tuned for more exciting information about sailing the high seas with Disney!

kendraKendra Trump is a busy mama who loves to travel! With countless trips to Disney Destinations under her belt she found her true passion for helping people experience the magic of travel as a consultant with Simple Luxuries Travel. Kendra currently resides in Northern Virginia, with high hopes of moving to Castaway Cay one day soon! You can follow her blog from first kiss to rocking chairs for more travel fun.

10 Disney Films That Will Inspire You to Travel ~ By Guest Author Jason Biondo

Published January 7, 2016 by Disneyways.com

10 DISNEY FILMS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL

Disney films are beloved and admired for their colorful story-lines, enchanting and beautiful princesses as well as handsome prince charmings. All movies that Disney creates are loved not only by children, but everyone who are young at heart because they simply showcase beautiful musical scores and shows stunning pictures. Over time, Disney continues to create memorable
memories and inspiration brought about by magic and dreams.

If you’re a big Disney fan and a travel junkie at the same time, then you must know where you can find and experience being on the setting of your favorite Disney movie. Here are some of the all-time favorite Disney movies that were inspired by real-life locations.

1. Lion King

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This classic Disney movie has surely created wonderful memories because of the morallessons it brings, songs that marked in every child’s life and of course, the stunning settings of this film. The scenery of this film was inspired by a gorgeous desert in Africa – Serengeti, which is located across northern Tanzania and southwest of Kenya. This safari desert is life-changing like how it was pictured in the movie as it holds beautiful landscapes and wild animals that will surely spark your wanderlust. This movie will awaken your adventurous side as well as you desire to see more of this wonderful world. Hakuna Matata and enjoy life!

2. Aladdin

As a child, you were surely dreamt of riding the magic carpet and wonder how it feels like to see the world up in the sky. Aladdin is a movie based on Arab folklore that is full of enchantments – a magic lamp, a genie and three wishes. The movie has highlighted several stunning places like pyramids, palaces, deserts, alley ways and even China. But did you know that the Sultan’s Palace in the movie was inspired by the real life famous architecture in India – the Taj Mahal.

3. Mulan

Showcasing the countryside and unique cultures of China, Mulan is a story about a fearless girl who disguised as a man to go to a war. The Emperor’s Home in the movie was actually inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. If you remember the famous line told by Fa Zhou to Mulan about life and how it should be enjoyed, you will surely be moved to accomplish your dreams and go on different adventures and explore the world.

4. Frozen

Photo credit Disney

Photo credit Disney

Remember the scene where Elsa went away from her kingdom to elude people’s judgment about her hidden capability? The ice palace she created as a place she could live for isolation was based on the concept of Hotel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel is surrounded by snow vaults and crystalline ice sculptures that open during winter. This fortress has 44 rooms, abundant ice sculptures, and imposing snow vaults. This film by Disney will surely motivate you to free yourself from fear and give you the
opportunity to do things you want without worrying about other’s verdict. Do you want to build a snowman?

5. Tangled

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Rapunzel, leaving the tower to take control over her own life brings inspiration to go on the road and explore different adventures. If you have watched the movie and look forward to seeing settings like the places featured in this film, then the real life places that were actually used as inspiration for this movie will completely amaze you. The tower was inspired by the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France – a fortified islandcommune with a population of 44 people. The art director of the movie chose this location in order to create gallant painting style. Additionally, the scene at the lake fullof floating lanterns was taken insights from the annual festivity in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

6. Up

Who would have forgotten about the exceptional and adventurous journey of Carl and Ellie? Ellie’s desire to fulfill his and his wife’s dream of going to Paradise Falls was fortified after his wife passed away. Voyaged through Carl’s house hovering in the air has amazed children and the paradise Falls has enthused people to see a similar setting. Well, you may want to visit the Angel Falls in Venezuela’s Canaima Natural Park where this famous setting has been based. It is known as the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, it is also called as “waterfall of the deepest place”.

7. Lilo & Stitch

As Lilo and her family ventured towards the world, it has left a moral lesson about the importance of family and the bond created by traveling together. The settings of this film were enthused by the landscapes of Kauai town in Hawaii which was perfect for its homey-inspired tale.

8. Brave

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Merida, a fearless girl who’s desperate for freedom from her royal family set foot in the woods alone for the liberty she wanted. Brave features beautiful ruins, majestic landscapes and castles along Merida’s journey and some of it were actually real pictures that you can visit. This movie will surely inspire you to visit Eilean Donan Castle, which is known in the film as DunBroch Castle. Built during the mid-13th century, it is located in the Scottish highlands and is overlooking the sea. If you are fond of historic places and folklore, visiting Eilean Donan Castle is what you might need to satisfy your wanderlust.

9. Finding Nemo

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The film was set in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Watching this movie may inspire you to book a scuba diving classes, go snorkeling to a marine conservation or even urge you to book a trip to Australia.

10. Enchanted

The movie is about some animated characters coming into the real world and becoming real people. Based in New York settings, this film features various scenes featuring the Central Park will surely make you want to visit the busiest city in the world. This romantic comedy movie will surely bring in the wanderlust in you as the urbaninspiration and soundtracks will motivate you to see the world.

Inspired to travel? Open your travel planner now, and create your own magical and enchanting Disney-like escapades!

About the Author: Jason Biondo is a travel junkie and an amateur bodybuilder who loves to share insightful tips to his fellow travelers and fitness enthusiasts. He is also a User Interface Developer Consultant and the founder of Trekeffect.
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Goodies and Prizes at the Ganachery in Disney Springs ~ by Guest Author Kimberlee Thompson

Published December 8, 2015 by Disneyways.com

Goodies and Prizes (brought to you in part by MouseMingle.com) at our Disneyways meetup at the Ganachery in Disney Springs
~ by Guest Author Kimberlee Thompson

I’ve always thought there was something classy, and even romantic sounding about the word “ganache”. Maybe that’s why hanging out at Disney Spring’s new “Ganachery” during their upcoming Grand Opening Tuesday with all the other “cool kids” from Disneyways sounds like the really swanky thing to do.

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If you have never experienced the heavenly mixture of melted gourmet chocolate and cream you don’t know what you are missing. Thankfully, The Ganachery will showcase SIXTEEN in-house made varieties of this decadent treat, so you can quickly acquaint yourself by sampling flavors like their signature Florida orange dark chocolate. In addition to their unique array of ganache flavors, The Ganachery will feature other house-made chocolate confections for the discriminating palate which will be wrapped in fanciful little packages, as well as nine unique flavors of chocolate bars designed to pay homage to Disney Icons and Destinations. Disney Pastry Chef, Stefan Riemer, who has passionately searched for the best chocolate worldwide, has professed that the quality of chocolate will be akin to that of fine wine. To this end, a knowledgeable chocolatier will greet guests and an expert will be on stage fashioning the edible works of art as visitors observe.

This sounds like the makings of a fabulous date-locale…which may be why MouseMingle.com, has sponsored door prizes and goody bags for this much anticipated Disneyways Opening Day Meet Up. MouseMingle.com is the ingenious online site that has combined the merits of online dating with the Magic of Disney, aspiring to help Disney fans near and far make romantic connections through their mutual love of all things Disney.

You won’t want to miss this event, which has all of the elements of both class and romance, just like it’s name would suggest. Anyone wanting to join should arrive at 2pm on Tuesday, December 15th 2015. Goody-bags are limited, so don’t be late. The Ganachery is located in the Landing Section of Disney Springs near favorites like the Boat House and Joffrey’s Tea Traders.

A note from Krista: Please be advised that prizes and goody bags are available only while supplies last and you must be present at the meetup to win. MouseMingle.com has provided a donation to help offset the cost of these prizes but this is NOT a singles meetup. Everyone is welcome! Please visit the event facebook page or contact me (Krista) with any questions. Comments left on this blog post may not be seen in time. Thank you!!

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kimberleeKimberlee Thompson is a Central Florida Native who has grown up “Living the Dream”. She has completely lost count of the number of times she has visited Disney Destinations and she considers herself very blessed to be able to say that. Kimberlee continues to reside in Central Florida with her husband, also a Florida native, and her two children.

Portobello Italian Restaurant Disney Springs Review by guest author Sharon Judy

Published September 10, 2015 by Disneyways.com

Recently I enjoyed my first visit to Portobello at Disney Springs! It was my first time dining at this lovely little place. I was in the company of the Central Florida Lady Bloggers group.

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As we came through the door were  warmly greeted and offered a signature drink… Honey Lemonade. This is made with locally sourced honey from Winter Park Florida. I am here to tell you this was SO good. Usually I am not a fan of lemonade because of its tartness but THIS lemonade was so smooth and sweet that I had 2 glasses!  I asked our wonderful hostess Emily if you are able to get a to-go glass if you were just strolling by and did not have a dinner reservation. She said “absolutely just come on in!”

The smoky smell of this restaurant is wonderful. They make wood fired pizzas that are amazing. I sampled the Margarita Pizza and Mushroom Pizza. Both were very tasty and had that lovely smoky taste.

  
Next our hostess Kristy brought around Goat Cheese and Radicchio Crustinis. This was crunchy and savory and sweet all at the same time. They were so good that I actually I ended up eating 4 of these little Crustinis of goodness!! I probably would have eaten more but figured I really needed to share with the rest of our group.

We had a buffet of meats,cheeses and all the fixings. Can just I say… I didn’t want to stop eating?!

  
  
  
The food was so delicious and the level of customer service we experienced was top notch.

Portobello at Disney Springs – I look forward to visiting again soon!!!!

Disclaimer: In exchange for time and efforts in attending this event and reporting my opinion within this blog, Portobello Italian Restaurant provided me with complimentary food and drinks. This did not influence my opinion and all thoughts are my own.

A Note from Krista:
Sharon Judy is not only a regular contributor to Disneyways – she is also the official hair stylist of Living The Dream Podcast as well as WorldSecrets.TV and Disneyways.com! Sharon is a licensed cosmetologist by the State of Florida. She works in the Grand Floridian, Yacht and Beach Club, and other resorts on Disney property.  She has a magical, pixie-dusted touch that she carries into her own salon as well. Contact her today via her facebook page for a consultation and appointment!

“The Complete Walt Disney World 2015” by Julie and Mike Neal – A Book Review by Samantha Jolicoeur

Published June 24, 2015 by jpmdo

 

The Complete WDW Book

This is not the first time I have read the Neal’s books, and much like their previous years’ books, this one did not disappoint. With extensive details and photos that immerse the reader into the magic, you will find yourself turning page after page!

As a mother of 3, two of which being 1 year old twins, I do not find much time for myself these days and, to my dismay, I am not too hip on the latest news going on with the World, Walt Disney World, that is. I used to pride myself in “being in the loop” and staying on top of news, but it just isn’t feasible these days. I knew, with my upcoming trip, I wanted to get some additional information from more than the Internet. I wanted something reputable, and I knew this book would be a fantastic place to start.

I put the children to bed, finished up the daily chores, and got comfy with the book. Needless to say, I read it all in one sitting, long into the early hours of the next morning. I could not get enough of the detailed information and color photos. ALL of the photographs in their books are in full color and taken by the authors – how amazing is that?

I found only one Tinkerbell-sized error in the book and that was mentioning that 8+ guests will be charged an automatic 18% gratuity on their table service bills (page 360). The correct information regarding this policy is actually 6 or more guests, infants included.

Onto the pleasantries, and this book is chock full of them! Julie and Mike include so many details of each and every aspect of the Walt Disney World Resort. I love how they incorporate their own preferences and opinions. I am always looking for true reviews, in lieu of basic, every day knowledge. It made me feel like I was speaking with the authors, not just reading a book about Disney.

The book is laid-out in a way where you can find any topic very easily: organized by Parks, Accommodations, new information, MyMagic+, Characters, and so much more! They go through the very best of each Park, and then a more in-depth review is done later within the chapter. Above and beyond the detailed explanations of each attraction, you will find Hidden Mickey tips and other special secrets. Personally, I am a fan of the Tips and Facts – you can never soak in enough Disney trivia! There is also other useful information, such as approximate wait times based on time of day, and an example of the best course of action to conquer your Park day. With their vast Park knowledge and experience, I would bet that their plans are top notch!

There truly is not one piece of information you will NOT find in this wonderful book. From where to find ATMs to where to eat the best steak. It is easy to find the information you are looking for, as well, if you are not keen on reading the entire book (although, I do not recommend that). Each section is color-coded, there is an A-Z section that approaches almost every relevant Disney subject, and, finally, an index at the end of the book to direct you to the exact page discussing the topic you are looking for.

I would recommend this book to each and every person, Disney-newbie or veteran, young or old. I have read many different Disney travel guides, books, trivia and, so much more, but this is the very best of the best. They have kept up with the very latest information, and you seriously cannot beat their tips and advice. Children will love to read this book along with you and learn all about the attractions before experiencing them. You will be able to help them get an idea of what to expect before the trip, plus there is information regarding scare factors.

Not that you’ll need help doing so, but this book will increase your excitement about your upcoming trip! You won’t have to worry about whether the information is up-to-date, because these books have been coming along yearly for quite some time now, and I do hope they continue! You can purchase their books online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“There is more treasure in books, than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island” – Walt Disney

Match The Species – Poop Treats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by Guest Authors Amber and Jacquie Montes de Oca

Published June 19, 2015 by jpmdo

**UPDATE: Disney discontinued these treats and they are no longer available.**

What do Disney, sweet treats and poop have in common? Our favorite topics of conversation!

When we heard there were new treats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and they look like animal poop, of course we had to find out more about them and better yet… taste them!

So we started our journey by arriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom then made our way to Africa.

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We then found the location… Zuri’s Sweets Shop right across from the new Harambe Market.

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And there, among the other sweets… Match the Species Treats (animal poop)!

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Of course we had to try all four. And this is what we thought:

Elephant Poop: Chocolate peanut butter fudge with sweet rolled oats and yellow coconut flakes.

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J: I could tell right away it tasted like peanut butter, then the oats and coconut made their appearance. It’s dense and cakey. Yummy

A: To me it tastes like peanut butter and coconut. It’s a bit hard to bite into.

Hippo Poop: Chocolate fudge caramel brownie with peanut butter and rolled oats.

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J: Very similar taste as the Elephant Poop, except for the coconut. Also dense and cakey. Feels a bit heavy when you pick it up.

A: Same thought, very similar to the Elephant Poop.

Cotton Top Tamarin Poop: Pretzel pearls coated in chocolate peanut butter fudge with sweet rolled oat flakes.

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J: Again, similar taste to both the Elephant and Hippo Poop, however this one is harder to bite into.

A: Also similar taste as the two above, however this one has that extra pretzel taste. Watch your teeth… hard to bite into.

Giraffe Poop: Rolled chocolate fudgy brownie and freshly made caramel.

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J: This one was my favorite. Soft brownie texture and more of a chocolate taste.

A: I liked this one the best as well. Soft and rich.

In conclusion, although it’s a bit disappointing that three of the four tasted almost the same, this is definitely a fun thing to get if anything for the topic of conversation and it definitely will be fun for both kids and adults!

About the authors:

Jacquie is an annual passholder and Disney fan who visits the parks often with her oldest daughter Amber. She is a freelance social media strategist, consultant, advisor, and content creator for Living the Dream Podcast.

 Amber Montes de Oca is a huge Disney fan. She’s an annual pass holder and loves to visit the Disney parks often. Her hobbies are singing, acting, and drawing. She has a BA from the University of Central Florida.

Top 5 Reasons to try American Q ~ by Sharon Judy

Published May 28, 2015 by Disneyways.com

So many people love a great Bar-B-Que restaurant – and there are tons to choose from in the Disney area. So why should you try American Q Restaurant at the B Resort near Disney Springs?  

 

I could probably go on forever, but for now, here are my top 5 reasons!

1. Excellent Guest Service!

Our waitress made sure that we were well taken care of the whole evening. She kept our glasses full and would check back to make sure our food was to our liking. She was great about giving us suggestions on what to order, including letting us know her favorites and why she liked them. Our cowboy carvers were also kind, sweet, and very knowledgeable about what they were carving. 

  

  

 

The meats and chicken you will eat here are locally sourced with no hormones or steroids, and they are all grass fed. Even the eggs they use at American Q come from free range chickens.  

 

Chef Justin let us know that he makes frequent trips to the farms to make sure the food is up to the quality that they expect. When you visit American Q on Swine and Spirits Wednesdays you will enjoy pork from a pig that was chosen very carefully and has come from the same bloodline as the last pig. That way the meat has a consistent quality and taste – every time you visit.

2. Lots of Choices for Picky Eaters!

It all starts with the ’51 Ford F1 Flatbed Truck Buffet. How cool is that?!

There are unlimited soups, salads, baked potato and meat carvings that you can choose from – and it’s all you care to eat. What is especially nice is the cowboy carvers bring the meat to your table to enjoy. Wednesdays at American Q brings the Swine and Spirits menu. Guests can enjoy the buffet and a complimentary beverage that changes out weekly is also included in the price. There is also an additional carving of Tangerine and Whiskey Brined Suckling Pig.

Even if buffets aren’t usually your thing,  there is a regular menu to choose from as well. I had the Texas Bark Beef Brisket. It was so good! It had an excellent smoky beef flavor and was fork tender. 

My daughter Emily had the Q Burger with pepper jack cheese and cross cut fries. This burger was huge – definitely big enough to be shared -and it came out cooked to perfection!

3. They have a wonderful selection of adult beverages!

We sampled the Moscow Mule, Carribbean Passion Picante and Pineapple Mojito.

    

My absolute favorite is the Moscow Mule. It has a very distinct ginger flavor that I love. It is made with vodka, pickled ginger juice and ginger beer, but the ginger flavor was not overpowering. It reminded me of a not so fizzy gingerale with a kick. The other 2 drinks are on the sweeter side.  The Pineapple Mojito is exactly like you would expect it to be, with the flavor of pineapple and mint. The Caribbean Passion was very sweet and fruity – with a spicy flavored finish.

4.Valet parking is free with dinner!

Now who wouldn’t love that? When you are seated, your server stamps your card that the valet driver gives you. After your meal, just hand this back to your valet driver, and he will fetch your car. No need to get caught in the rain.

5. Super cute and elegantly rustic decor!

I love that the buffett is on a flatbed truck!!! It feels like you are right at home on an upscale farm.

   These were my top 5 reasons to visit American Q – but be sure to give them a try so you can come up with your own list! Please visit American Q on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanQ

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