Friday, October 21, 2011

Stash issues

So this weekend is Stitches East. In all my years in Harrisburg I never made it down to Baltimore for Stitches. But then it moved to Hartford just before I did, so I went to market place last year, and plan to go to marketplace this year.

This brings something to mind. I do believe I've failed miserably on my 2011 plans to control increases to my STASH! In 2011 there were a few large contributors to this - two of them heavily tied to Ravelry.

1. Twisted Limone on etsy. I think I first saw TL looking at a friends activity on Ravelry. Its really pretty ironic because she was talking about how she loves striping sock yarn, and I was a bit appalled. But as I looked, some of these gorgeous striping yarns, like the TL, are VERY different from the self striping yarns I would see early on in my knitting life. And they are BEAUTIFUL! I've gotten several stripes from a few different yarn companies, but the major increase in my stash in the form of self striping yarn has been Twisted Limone.

2. The Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Swap Group on Ravelry. I kind of knew about this group long before I really did...because of seeing various Rav friends magic link pretty yarns in my friend activity feed. But I noticed the pretty magic links were occuring more and more often. Finally that lead me to actually take a look at this group. We had done some swaps in our Harrisburg Sock Knitters group, but what I liked about this group - is you can see something you like and claim it - and then offer up your own swap. You don't have to agree with someone else about a direct trade. You claim something you like, you put up something you like in return. But anyone can claim, and then THEY put something up. There are tons of different threads with different rules. But most of my swapping has been in the Wollmeise/Stripey thread. Now you may ask - if its a swap group why does that increase my stash? Well..because to HAVE good stuff to trade I have made some purchases to get stuff TO trade. increase in my stash.

3. Madelinetosh yarn clubs. Lord I have a lot of madelinetosh in my stash that needs knitting! I first discovered this in the form of tosh sock. I picked up a pretty skein while first exploring the CT yarn shops, and then was gifted a skein by my yarn store owner friend who wanted my opinion as she was thinking of carrying. I fell in love immediately. Then I went with a couple friends to visit Webs and found and fell in love with Madelinetosh Merino Light. I don't know what it is, other than incredible colors and amazing feeling yarn. But I do love madelinetosh. And this has lead to me joining some of their clubs (regular shipments of yarn, yes please!). Really need to attach the few sweaters worth I have......

So....what to do at Stitches this weekend....Webs will have a booth. Claudia Hand Painted will have a booth (how great would Claudias fingering be for hexapuffs?). Lisa Souza will have a booth. And hundreds more. I did pretty good last year. Just two skeins of Bugga, a pair of sock blockers, and a bag of Debbie Bliss Como. But I thinking I was doing a better job of not adding to stash in 2010 than I seem to be doing in 2011. And last year I was alone at stitches..this year I'll be there with friends. Peer pressure....oh dear.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My knitting mojo has returned!

So earlier this year I was really feeling like I had lost my knitting mojo. I know if you read some current posts you may ask "really?". But really!!!! I wasn't all that motivated. I think in part its because I was working on things that were taking so much time I wasn't having much fun. Plus as much as I said I wanted to curb the casting on of new projects - that is part of what keeps me motivated!

My mojo started to return when when I knit up a couple of sweaters for Elphaba. They were small projects that I could start and finish in a matter of a few hours. That had me feeling like I could ACCOMPLISH something again!

Next, I signed up for Camp Loopy with The Loopy Ewe. Camp Loopy is a series of one month long knit alongs. The first was June 15 to July 15. We had to knit a scarf or shawl - something to keep us warm at night. I went with a heavier weight yarn because I was terrified of not finishing in time. And I decided to knit Terra by Brooklyn Tweed. Can I just say - I should not have been worried since I knocked this baby out in a week! No joke. One week! Crazy!

Here I was I'd been freaking about not finishing in a month, and I finished in a week. Which meant I had 3 weeks until I could cast on for project 2 (which I wasn't even sure what it WAS yet). you may have noticed if you've read my blog...I've been bit by the stripey sock yarn bug. One of my friends caught it first..and as I watch her favoriting of different yarns on Ravelry (gotta love that friend activity feed) I was getting intrigued. See most of my socks of late have been patterned. And I love them. But its more work to knit a patterned sock. One must learn or read the pattern and that slows me down. Part of what was intriguing me about the striped sock yarn, is getting fun, interesting to look at socks without having to worry about a pattern. So I stalked Twisted Limone on Etsy one of the stripey's I was most intrigued by, and scored 2 balls on my first try - pretty good considering she only puts up like 10 balls once a week. Problem is, Twisted Limone is in the UK. I am not. And I had 3 weeks to play with before my next Camp Loopy project. Enter Knit Picks and their Felici Self Striping Sock yarn at a FANTASTIC price! I ordered that in 4 colorways, and it arrived in lighting fast time. So I cast on. And made 2 pairs before my first order of Twisted Limone showed up.

Vanilla Goth Socks
Vanilla Rainbow Socks

Then my Twisted Limone arrived and I was SOOOOO excited so I got right to work on those.
Summer Breeze Vanilla Socks

In case you weren't paying attention, I only had 3 weeks, until July 15 to work on all these socks. Yes you heard me. I knit 3 pairs of socks in 3 weeks! I love this new way of knitting them, toe up, afterthought heel. It requires so little thinking you can just KNIT!

So, then July 15 rolls around and I need to start my Camp Loopy Project 2. Project 2 was from July 15 to August 15 and has to be socks or mittens or gloves and has to have cables. I went with socks (naturally!) and decided that I wanted to make sure I got myself done on time. So rather than pick a pattern that could be overly complicated, why not use my new style of sock knitting and design my own pattern! And I did!
These socks are what I call "Cabled Yumminess". My ravelry project pages is here but I've also loaded the pattern into Ravelry and once my test knitters complete it I plan to make the pattern available. Not sure yet if I'll do it for free or try to make a little money. But it sure has been fun watching the people favorite and queue up my pattern!

Okay, so finished the Camp Loopy Project 2 socks August 4. What's a girl to do? 11 more days before I can cast on for Project 3 (something with at least 800 yards). Enter Stephen West and his mystery shawl KAL which started August 1. Here's the idea - a bunch of people knit a pattern at the same time with NO idea of what the finished project will look like and we only get pieces of the pattern at a time. YIKES! I've never done a mystery KAL before - and if I had to do one, Stephen West is probably the one to do because I find most of his patterns BEAUTIFUL! He did give some suggestions early on for how to pick out your three colors. Some have gone with some solids mixed with a varigated. Some of gone with 3 different shades of a similar color. I went with three very different shades of yarn. We were told one of them should be considered the "anchor" so I went with something dark for that. Here's my yarn:
I don't want to share what the shawl is looking like because it is a mystery and don't want to spoil the surprise for someone accidentally. But if you WANT to see it, my project pages is here. I finished both Clue 1 and Clue 2 the first day I worked on them. Clue 3 just got released early, so I may try and do a little of that tonight but I'm headed out of town this weekend so we'll see. Plus this project may end up taking a back seat since I need to cast on for Camp Loopy Project 3 Monday and that is going to take me a while...the pattern I picked out is more like 1500 yards, not the required 800. Yikes!

Oh yeah, and in between all that I've started using sock yarn scraps for the Beekeepers Quilt. I think it will be fabulous for little quick things when I'm bored. Or purse knitting! And lord knows I have LOTS of sock yarn scraps!

So there it is, my mojo is back. Thank goodness I love knitting since I'm doing a LOT of it these days!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Orchid Cabled Yumminess

As part of my sock craze of late, I've designed my first sock pattern! I needed something with cables for a knit a long I was in. But I still wanted something simple and quick. The answer: my Orchid Cabled Yumminess!

Okay, so the pattern itself I'm just calling Cabled Yumminess. The Orchid comes from the Sundown Orchid Dream in Color Smooshy I used.

Here's a picture. I'm hoping to get a few people to do a test knit for me and then to publish the pattern!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Socks, socks, and more socks!

I've seriously been a sock knitting fool lately! I've always enjoyed socks. And did have a January back around 2007 where I made 2 pairs in a month. But now I've made three pairs in three weeks. And I need to cast on my Camp Loopy #2 project - which may well be socks (need to hurry and decide since I need to get knitting!).

So why is it I've been knitting so many socks so quickly? That crazy afterthought heel makes it super easy. And the striped yarn makes it fun looking without the added work of the cable or lace patterns I've been doing. Not much to remember on the afterthought heel. Just knit!

Here's pair number 1. These were knit up in knit picks felici in the "Goth" colorway. Less than $10 for a pair of socks! I made these a touch longer than I probably should have for my legs - at least without doing increases to accomodate my calves. But they are gorgeous. These babies are what I worked on from June 25 to July 2.

Pair number 2. Also knit up in Knit Picks Felici - this time in the "Rainbow" Colorway. Went for shorter with this pair, and ended up a little shorter than I'd like. These are just over ankle sock length. Thats the one bad thing about the afterthought heel. Since you can't try it on once you pass the heel portion, hard to really know how they are fitting. But they are gorgeous. And I have some leftover yarn to do something fun with! Worked on these babies from July 2 to July 9.

Finally, pair number 3. These are knit up in Twisted Limone Zingy in the "Summer Breeze" Colorway. This limited yarn is a little tricky to get a hold of. But the colorways are GORGEOUS and I really really loved knitting with the Zingy base yarn. I've got some of her Tangy base at home too so some socks in that will be coming up soon! Worked on these July 9 thru July 17. A day longer than some of the others since I went to Block Island, RI yesterday!

And there you have it! My sock knitting craziness. Now...what to work on for that camp loopy project. Here's the yarn....I need to do something cabled that is socks, gloves, or mittens. And needs to be done by Aug 15 so don't want it to be too hard!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Striped Socks with an Afterthought Heel

Though not on my original list for this year's knitting goals, I taught myself something new! You see, one of my friends has been obsessed with knitting striped socks. And the more pictures and things I see the more intrigued I get. I'm waiting on a couple of gorgeous orders from Twisted Limone. But I was getting impatient. I was on the Knit Picks site looking for new cables to replace a few coming apart in my interchangeable set and while browsing came across the Felici. At that super affordable price I ordered enough for 4 pairs of socks. :) I cast on for my first pair about, um, 10 minutes after the mailman delivering my package on Saturday June 25. I finished Saturday July 2. That MAY be a new record for me. Though the real record is I finished 1 sock in just over 24 hours!

Anyway, here are the finished product.
Vanilla Goth Socks

I did lots of reading online to get some inspiration on how to actually go about doing this. Yarn Harlot has a blog post on this, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do it her way since I'd also seen a way using waste yarn. I was hoping to post here, but my google skills are not finding that post again.

Anyway, for my sock I used Judy Magic Cast On to cast on 32 stitches, 16 per needle. This is my go two cast on for toe up socks, and I can do it without having to look it up for reference these days.

I increased every other row until I was up to 64 stitches, 32 on the top and 32 on the bottom. Then I simply knitted a long tube. Since all my socks have been patterned lately it was refreshing to just knit a plain stockinette sock. I don't know that this would have been true if it had been a solid yarn. But watching the stripes form had me racing through to see the next stripe!

When the sock measured about 1 1/2 inches less than the length of my foot (as measured by trying on, this is why I love toe up socks) I picked up a strand of waste yarn and knitted across one half of the stitches with the waste yarn. I think picked up the main yarn again and knitted over the same stitches with it. For my socks I did this in between two stripes. I've seen many people do this in the middle of a stripe and I may do that next time, not sure. Anyway, here's the row of waste yarn. This will be pulled back out later and the heel will go here.

Vanilla Goth Socks

I continued along until sock was the length I wanted. I did the last full stripe in 2 by 2 ribbing and I bound off in the beginning of the next color.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Once finished it was time to work on the heel. I used my circular (size 1 for me) and picked up one side of each stitch along the bottom side of the waste yarn.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Then going in the same direction (because I'm going to knit in the round eventually, pick up one side of each stitch on the top side of the waste yarn.

Vanilla Goth Socks

Now its time to start working in the round. I had read that you should pick up a stitch or two on the sides to help avoid a small hole. It seemed like I had LOTS of space so I picked up three stitches on each side. I still ended up with a hole on each side so I'll need to work more on my technique here on the next pair. Oh, I also studied the yarn carefully to pick up for a new stripe that was different than the stripes I had ended on.

At this point I knit in the round, decreasing on each side every other row (4 decreases total per round). I decreased down to 12 stitches on each side. Then I did the kitchener stitch to close up the heel.

And voila, my first pair of afterthought heel stripey socks. Would you believe I cast on for my next pair already? :)

Vanilla Goth Socks

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What would your Dream Disney World Trip Consist of?

So 506 days from now I'll be disembarking from the Disney Dream with my WDW Radio Disney friends on our second WDW Radio Show Cruise. What is so special about this you may ask? Well, that same day will then start the beginning of my 10 day 35th birthday trip to WDW!

As I mentioned before mom and I have been wanting to get to WDW for holiday decorations for a while now. And we finally settled on doing so in 2012 in conjunction with my 35th birthday. It was a completely unexpected surprise that the second WDW Radio cruise would be immediately before we were planning on going. No seriously - if we really thought this was a possibility we would have re-booked while on the first cruise and gotten a better deal and an on board credit. But I digress!

So, 506 days from now I'll be about to hit WDW for a 10 day long birthday celebration. Mom and I had chatted about how there are so many thing we want to see/do that we haven't really done our last few trips because of money, or time. But this is a nice long stay at WDW so we have time. And its 506 days away, so there's lots of time to save! Prices will go up for 2012 from this year, but we also will qualify for DVC discounts on some things - so I'll use those two thoughts in estimating how much to save.

So I've started working on my wish list of birthday trip activities. The idea is to brainstorm a list now. Research costs, and get a plan put together for what we'll do and how much we need to save up - because we have 506 days to save! Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - We first did this YEARS ago, as we used to go down to WDW the week before Christmas. I remember it being cold, but that's about it. We had a blast at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party back in 2008, so I'm thinking this will be equally fun! I know we can get a DVC discount, but rates will go up too. I'm estimating $70 per person to stay on the safe side.

2. Backstage Magic Tour - This seven hour tour hits all four theme parks, includes lunch at Whispering Canyon Cafe, and offers some behinds the scene's peaks like visiting the utilidors. Its pricey at $224, but I think the DVC discount is 15%. And park admission is not needed. Lets say $200 each for planning purposes.

3. Holiday D-Lights - I'm not sure about this one based on the price and limited dates. But it is intriguing. This 4.5 to 5 hour tour hits Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios and includes a light holiday buffet. Nearly as expensive as the Backstage Magic tour seems a bit steep to me, but could be a GREAT way to experience the holiday decorations while at Disney. Current price is $199 with no need for theme park admission. Again, probably 15% DVC discount eligible so lets assume $175 for planning purposes.

4. Wilderness Back Trail Adventure - Mom and I are big fans of riding Segways. We did this in Chicago a few years back with friends. And have also down the Around the World tour at Epcot. This adventure is at Fort Wilderness on the off road style segways. $90 per person currently but again, DVC discount, so I'm estimating $80 for planning purposes.

5. La Nouba - Despite several Las Vegas trips under my belt, I've never seen a Cirque Du Soleil show. I wanted to do La Nouba back in 2008 but it was on break then. So its another item to add to my wish list. Looks like there are a lot of different ticket options, but I'm thinking we want awesome seats right? Lets say $150 per person when factoring in taxes and the like.

Those are my non-Dining related wishes for now. What did I miss? Any special activity you think I should be adding to my list for the great big birthday trip?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Update on my knitting related 2011 Goals

Back in January I wrote on the yarn-love blog and here about my knitting challenges and goals for 2011. I thought as it is nearly mid year it was a good time for a progress report.

Goal number 1 was Lace. Although I have found a few possibly patterns I have not started knitting lace with lace weight yarn yet.

Goal number 2 was Colorwork. I'm happy to say I finished the Corrie Vest I started working quite some time ago! Of course I finished it in late spring and the weather has warmed up so I have yet to get a chance to WEAR my Corrie Vest. The two colors at one time part was easy since I am able to knit continental so I just had one color in each hand. The steeking (ie cutting my knitting, on PURPOSE) was the scary part. Until I did the reinforcement that is. My sewing machine is having issues so I went for the crocheted reinforcement for my steeks. In the process of doing this I was able to see exactly what I was catching, so my fear of my knitting running lessoned greatly. It seemed to take me HOURS to get my crocheted reinforcement done, but when I did I was so excited to whip out my scissors and start cutting. And it was FUN! Bottom line: its done and I'm already looking for other fair isle vest patterns.

Goal number 3 control my castonitiis so I have less works in process. I think I'm doing OK at this. Since January 1 I have cast on for 4 items. Two of which were small sweaters for Elphaba. One was a shawl that I admit has scarcely been touched. The fourth was a shawl as part of the Camp Loopy program that The Loopy Ewe is doing this summer. The only reason I let myself do this is because it consists of three projects, each completed start to finish in one month. I have completed 6 items since January.
-My Ruth's Entrelac Butterfly Shawl, started in Dec 2010 and finished in January.
-A granny square blanket I started making in July 2008 just to make Granny Squares. This was finished in January and gifted to a friend about to give birth to her first baby girl.
-TWO sweaters for Miss Elphaba. I was discussing making sweaters for a friends new doxie pups and realized my own little girl hadn't gotten a new sweater from me in quite a long time. So in January and February I made not one but two sweaters for my little girl.
-My Corrie Vest as mentioned above. This was originally cast on in January 2010.
-My "joy" socks, knit up in Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in the Joy in the Morning color way that was available through the Loopy Ewe as part of a kit. These were cast on in August 2010 and finished in May 2011.

Elphaba Sweaters


So, I've cast on 4 items this year (one of which is almost done) and cast off 6. Sounds like progress right? I've also being working hard on my Flair sweater which was originally cast on in September as part of a knit along for yarn-love. I have made tremendous progress and just have about half a skein of yarn left to round out the length of the sweater and then that will be done as well. Should have plenty of time to finish this for wear this fall.

Goal number 4 was to do a non-worsted weight sweater. I have favorites plenty of options for use with some of my dk or sport weight madelinetosh. After flair my thought is to cast on for a sweater with one of those.

So there's my update! Good progress on half my goals half way through the year. I think that means I'm doing well!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Disney Dream Dissapointments

Hope you enjoyed the previous post on the things I really liked about the Disney Dream. Before you think I'm just a negative nelly, I LOVED the Dream. I can't wait to sail next year on both the Fantasy and the Dream. But there were just some things I was not crazy the things I was a bit disappointed in.

Animators Palette Technology
I’ll preface this by saying that although I think the Turtle Talk with Crush exhibit at Epcot is kind of cool, it is not one I have gone too after the first time. So for me, although it is kind of cool that they brought this technology into Animators Palette, I didn’t find that it wildly enhanced my experience. Our table wasn’t near a screen. And the screen we were nearest, I found it hard to understand who Crush was talking to. And the random swimming of characters that you would see the exact same thing on 2-3 screens at a time was far from magical. Fingers crossed that the new technology show for the Fantasy is more entertaining!

Layout of Quiet Cove Pool
I cruise Disney without kids. And those who know me know that I’m not particularly fond of kids for the most part. And of course I know there are a kids on a Disney ship. Though I would say because of how well Disney does entertaining kids, it never feels like there are nearly as many kids on the ship as there really are. And to the people who say that you should go on a Disney Cruise if you don’t have kids – well that is just ridiculous. Is there a rule that says only people under 18 can have an incredible love of Disney? Anyway, back to my point. One of the things I love about Disney Cruise Line are the adult only spaces and activities. On the Magic and Wonder, families would sometimes walk through the adults only Quiet Cove pool – but always on the outside of the pool behind the railing. The layout of the Dream, and where the Forward elevators lets out, make this near IMPOSSIBLE. So most kids step out from the elevator bank directly into the middle of the Quiet Cove pool. Seriously, look at this post and you’ll see the door on the left letting out right into the heart of the pool deck. Although they could make a sharp turn in either direction to walk on the outside of the area – the obvious way to walk is straight. RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE QUIET COVE POOL. How STUPID. What were you thinking Disney? I’ve seen some parents say they tried to make their kids only go up at midship, or get off at deck 12 instead of 11 and then walk midship. And I appreciate those parents. I’ve seen many say the adults should just get over it and not sail Disney if we don’t like kids walking through their pool. Again – is there a rule that says you have to be under 18 to love Disney? But I must admit, while I appreciate the folks who do try to avoid having their kids walk through the pool – I’m not sure its reasonable to expect everyone with kids to avoid it altogether. Disney would be very well served to re-evaluate the layout/traffic flow on the Fantasy to avoid this issue.

My complaint here is very specific. Before I get into it I’ll say that the bar itself is beautiful inside. Truly lovely. And there were a great number of interesting looking cocktails on the bar menu. My complaint – is that they serve those yummy cocktails in special glasses that you cannot remove from the bar. They don’t TELL you this when you order them. So if you go into Pink without plans to stay for long, be sure to ask for your cocktail to be in a glass you can walk with. I joined a group that had been in there for a while and were thinking about moving on. I ordered a drink, received it right about when the group decided it was time to move. The waitress promptly told me I could not go with my glass and would have to have them switch it out for a different glass before I could leave. This is just ridiculous to me! In my case, I downed the cocktail and moved on. But honestly, this policy is just silly and rather annoying.

Smaller Sofa Beds
One look at the Dis Boards Cruise Line Forum will reveal several threads with people complaining about how the bed in Dream staterooms would not split into two twins – as they do on EVERY OTHER CRUISE SHIP including the Magic and Wonder. Personally, this did not bother me. In 3 of our first 4 cruises mom slept on the queen bed and I slept on the couch. Although its referred to as a sofa bed, its not a traditional sofa bed and I’ve always found it exceptionally comfortable. On one of the first 4 cruises we did ask for the beds to be set up as the two twins. I found the room very crowded this way. If we’d had a room without a balcony and the two twins were against the back wall I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt this way (that’s how Pride of Aloha was configured when I sailed and it was fine). But on the Disney classic ships one sailing this way had me back to sleeping on the sofa. So when everyone was going crazy about how the Dream beds couldn’t be split I didn’t mind – I fully planned to sleep on the sofa anyway. However, I found the sofa far less comfortable on the Dream then on the Wonder and Magic. I wasn’t thrilled with the bedding, but a request for an extra blanket helped me stay warm. But the real problem – I swear the bed was shorter in length than on the Classic ships. I thought was just me, but while we were cruising we had an opportunity to see a Deluxe Family Ocean – and the couch in that stateroom looked longer – more like the Classic ships. We have a Deluxe Family Oceanview booked on the Fantasy next April. That cabin will hopefully have the old size couch. Or better yet, there’s a chance it will have a Murphy bed. This is what I’m actually hoping for. I like the location of the Murphy bed in the pictures I’ve seen and mom likes the idea that the couch can be used even when the beds are made up for nighttime.

Virtual Portholes
I actually wrote a lengthy post about this for Dana and her website, The Dragyn’s Lair back in March so for full details go check out that post (and more of Dana’s blog while you are at it). To summarize, with Virtual Porthole cabins now costing more than Oceanview cabins – I recommend the Oceanview. Virtual Porthole is not worth the extra money.

Crowdedness of Dining Rooms
The Disney Dream is 40% larger than the Classic ships. So one would think that even though there are more passengers, there is also more room for them. This was not apparent in the dining rooms. Usually we were trying to squeeze between tables to get to all the seats at our own table. And our neighbors were just a few inches away (the fun part was that is how I met Dana in person for the first time, even though she was next to us at Animators Palette she was so close we might as have been at the same table). To make matters worse, in Enchanted Garden we were smashed up against a wall. And at Animators Palatte we were in the aisle the servers used to get the kitchen. It almost felt as though our table was placed there as an afterthought when the powers that be realized there were not enough tables in the dining room. I was in constant fear of a huge tray of plates being dropped on us as servers rushed past us that night. I’m not sure where that extra 40% is, but it does not feel as though it is in the dining rooms.

Location of Aft Elevators
Our cabin on the Dream was located behind the aft elevators. We’re typically midship, though I have been all the way forward on the Pride of Aloha and pretty far back on the Navigator of the Seas. The issue was not our cabin’s proximity to the aft elevators as much as where the aft elevators did and did not go. If you wanted to go up to deck 11 the aft elevators let you out in the middle of Cabanas. You had to walk through Cabanas to get between the pool area and the aft elevators. The doors were kept open so you could do this when the buffet was actually closed and then it wasn’t horrible. But if Cabanas was open it was generally fairly crowded and THIS was an annoying time to have to cut through the restaurant.

Additionally, if you were taking the elevators down, perhaps for dinner at Enchanted Garden on deck 2, you CAN’T! The furthest down you can go in the aft elevators is Deck 3. If you had dinner at Enchanted Garden you would need to take the elevators to deck 3 and walk over to go down one more flight of stairs, or walk to midship and then take the elevators down to 2.

Personally for me, since I spend so much time at the Quiet Cove Pool and the Buena Vista Theater, my preference on these ships in the future will be to stay midship or forward. This way I can avoid having to cut through the restaurant and be closer the venues I spend the most time in. After a couple of days I found myself often walking to midship to catch the elevators (or stairs) anyway and staying midship or forward would save some time and walking.

The New Shows
I was super excited about Believe and Villains’ Tonight. I am a huge theater fan, and have always really enjoyed Disney’s productions. I did not particularly enjoy either of these shows. I must say, in large part I believe this was because of one “actor”. I put the word actor in quotes because I don’t believe this person was a true actor. The person I’m talking about was the reporter in the theater during the Golden Mickey’s, Hades in Villains’ Tonight, and the Genie in Believe. His schtick was cute in the Golden Mickey’s – but he played the other two characters EXACTLY the same way. No matter the show, this “actor” played the character he was doing in the same way. I don’t mind actors making a role their own within reason. But I found this guy incredibly annoying and he really ruined the two new shows for me. I know not everyone felt that way, if you google it there are article saying the guy made the show. I just disagree. Maybe it was a strange week and some of the regular's were sick so this guy did all three parts and he doesn't normally. Who knows. But I was not a fan. Beyond just that the stories didn’t wow me with either show. I did still enjoy the music, as I always do. One of my past cruises one of the evening shows was just the cast singing many loved, and lessor known Disney songs. I would have rather seen that expand to the other ships!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things I liked about the Disney Dream

Having now been on 5 Disney cruises (3 Magic, 1 Wonder, 1 Dream) I thought I would take some time to talk about what I liked and didn’t like on the Disney Dream.

For now I’ll focus on the likes and I’ll post about the dislikes later!

Midship Detective Agency
This game is probably the most fun new activity on the ship. I found myself wishing for additional mysteries to solve. For those wanting to see more about what this is check out the Allears.Net site. For those who don’t want to go to Allears right now, in a nutshell Midship Detective Agency uses the ships Enchanted Art
to help you solve a mystery. There are two “cases” you can solve, one about missing puppies (Dalmatians of course) and one about missing paintings. You pick up a “map” at a sign up location as well as special card you use to activate the art. You then use the map to find the art pieces that will give you a clue. You use our card to activate the piece and then follow the directions to uncover your clue or find missing puppies/paintings. As you progress and get more clues, you are soon able to identify whom the thief is. Then it is your job to find and capture the thief.

We started the first game within hours of stepping aboard the Dream. Although there’s no reason to do a game straight thru, we were having so much fun that we finished our first game within an hour and were eagerly looking forward to our second one.

One word of advice, do this early! The days we did it we rarely had to wait, and didn’t run into many people playing. Later in the cruise we noticed frequent “traffic jams” as several groups were wanting to access a clue at the same time.

Updated Buena Vista Theater
Now I know most people are thinking I must be crazy, but I LOVE watching movies on the Disney ships. I’m a huge movie watcher in general, and I love taking the opportunity on the Disney Cruise Line to either catch new releases I’ve missed or watch old favorites on a big screen. As much as I love this, the old Buena Vista Theater on the Classic Ships was one of the most uncomfortable theaters I’ve sat in. the problem had largely to do with the complete and total lack of legroom. Although I still would have liked to see a slightly more spacious aisle, the Buena Vista Theater is much improved on the Dream. I didn’t get to see quite as many movies as I usually do on a seven day cruise, but I did get to take mom to see Tangled for the first time – and Rupunzel is her new favorite Disney Princess!

Aqua Duck
Unlike many many cruisers, I was apprehensive about the Aqua Duck. At least until the preview cruises started and I saw video of real people riding on it. I enjoy roller coasters, and I enjoy water. However, for the last several years I’ve not been able to wear my contact lenses and am instead stuck with my glasses. And my glasses are EXPENSIVE. And I’m blind as a bat without them. So I was worried the Aqua Duck would be too rough for me to ride with my glasses and that I just wouldn’t enjoy it riding blind.

As the initial videos came out it appeared that the ride was relatively tame, but enjoyable. So, while everyone else was on Castaway Cay we hoped in the very short line for the Aqua Duck. I rode twice. The first was with mom, the second by myself. Despite mom wanting us to go together the second time, I held firm, and we LOVED riding single. Both of us thought that the solo rides were a little faster and the raft bounced about a bit more. So much fun!

Animators Palette Decor
Notice how I say the “décor” here? The technology will be addressed later. Visually this restaurant was GORGEOUS! I knew I was going to love the chairs from the video flyover Disney posted on the Disney Parks Blog some time ago.

But the entire restaurant was just visually stunning. I was concerned about it being Finding Nemo themed and how limiting that would be. But really the décor is Pixar themed and I just found myself staring around the room at all the little artifacts the entire time. Loved it!

There were many many new bars in the District on the Dream. The one I found the most interesting was Skyline. The light up menus were interesting, and I loved the comfy couch style seating. But what was really cool were the skylines themselves. And the hidden surprise that made this one of the things I liked on the Dream – is that they MOVE. I assumed it would be more or less photographs going up with each new skyline. But if you look carefully you’ll notice lights turning on and off and cars traveling down the streets. What a terrific little touch!

I am not against buffets by any means, but I also don’t make a habit of eating at them regularly. This changed with Cabanas on the Dream! And for that to change, it means that MOM had to want to go to. And she DID! We typically only have 1-2 meals in a 7 day cruise at the buffet, instead we stick to the dining room for breakfast and lunch. But on the Dream, we had all our breakfasts and lunches at Cabanas (well not lunch on Castaway Cay day, that was Quick Service on deck 11). Unlike a traditional buffet Cabanas is set up with “pods” and you are to just go to the pod you want to get whatever you want. There definitely was some confusion by guests earlier in the cruise who were lining up because the pods are kind of in a LINE. But with a day or two behind our belts this problem seemed to go away. We loved the quality and wide range of offerings available at Cabanas.

We also really liked that they seat your party as you come in. Part of the drag with typical cruise ship buffets is you get a big heavy tray of food and then wander around hoping to find a table (as I just did on the Navigator of the Seas). This is not an issue with Cabanas because upon arrival you check in at a desk and they ask how many in your party and bring you to a table! THEN you go get your food! The only bad thing about this was when cruising with a group of 400+ (as we were with the Lou Mongello and the fans of the WDW Radio Show )this method makes it difficult to sit with friends on the cruise. Unless you specifically planned to meet up and thus asked for an appropriate table size.

Not a whole lot here that needs saying. Those who have been on the Classic ships are aware there’s two primary stores and the duty free store. The Dream expands upon this with a series of larger shops that all kind of blend into each other. I was particularly pleased with the LARGE Vinylmation selection. In addition to more square footage, the shops seemed far less crowded then on the Classic ships so they were enjoyable to shop in even before/after show time when they are usually packed!

On Demand TV in Cabins
This goes back to the movie lover in me, but on the Classic ships in addition to catching movies in the theater I find myself also catching some movies I’ve not yet seen on the TV. But on the Classic ships you may catch them in bits and pieces because they run on a schedule. On the Dream, all the movies are available on Demand. So you pick what/when you want to watch. And if you only have 20 minutes? No problem, it remembers were you left off so you can start back up! Fantastic!

Updated Golden Mickey’s Show
Having seen it many many times, we’re big fans of the Golden Mickey’s. The performance on the Disney Dream was no exception. I was really looking forward to the updates and was not disappointed. Updates to the show included performances from my favorite Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, as well as some new songs from Tangled. The new scenes blended in beautifully and the show continues to be a favorite!

Well that’s it for my Likes ( I think! ) catch you in a day or so for some of the things I was less impressed with!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 9 - March 5

Today started with another early morning at the Boardwalk Bakery so we could be at rope drop for DHS - must hit Toy Story Midway Mania first thing you know! Touring Plans Crowd Calendar had DHS as a park to avoid today. But it also had the lowest number - less than 1 for park crowds. In the future...I will do what I can to obey park to avoid suggestions. Believe it or not, I don’t think it was the Wide World of Sports weekend that was the problem, although there were definitely a lot of people there for that. But there must have been a bunch of schools in town and the damn high schoolers were outrageously obnoxious. Like the group of 30, clearly together, who got in the single rider line at Rock n Roller Coaster in front of us. Have you ever heard of a 90 minute wait in the single rider line? We would have been better off to go standby!

Anyway, we enjoyed repeat rides on all of our favorites which was great. We ended up in line behind fellow WDW Radio Cruisers (we’d not met them on the ship but they had their red lanyards on!). I was in contact with Darlene about what time she and hubby Keith would arrive so we could spend a bit more time together before heading home.

We spotted the cutest rice krispie treat:

Had loads of fun at Toy Story Midway Mania (despite the fact that I couldn’t get my iphone game to do the special thing its supposed to do when AT the ride)

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Mama Melroses, a new favorite restaurant at DHS. I ordered the chicken parm while mom ordered the penne a la vodka and we shared both.

After lunch we headed over to One Man’s Dream, a favorite.

We actually bumped into Darlene and Keith there which was perfect because it gave us a little EXTRA time together beyond our planned meet up for Rock n Roller Coaster!


After saying goodbye to Darlene and Keith and wrapping up at DHS we stopped at Boardwalk briefly and then back into Epcot for dinner at Chef’s de France. I was disappointed by our service last time, but the service this time was excellent. Plus they got us in ahead of our ADR again which was nice! Being the picky eater that I am, I opted for the Beef Tenderloin. It was good, but I was very disappointed that we didn’t get to see Remy - the only reason I’d agreed to go again after the bad service we had last time. But we did have a lovely table by the front window so it was nice for enjoying our dinner and people watching.

After dinner we headed back to Boardwalk to pack for our trip home early the next day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 8 - March 4

Today started off with yummy yummy Boardwalk Bakery breakfast. Mom fell in love last year with their Mickey Mouse Muffins and I quite enjoy their cheese danish. Breakfast was early so we could be at the Magic Kingdom by rope drop.

We don’t usually hit Fantasyland first when in the Magic Kingdom, but we knew that we were supposed to be able to get a view of the construction from riding Dumbo so we wanted to get back there early since Fantasyland is generally busy all day except first thing. I definitely recommend getting there first! Even Peter Pan we walked on in just 5 minutes. Unheard of!



At Mickey’s Philharmagic we spotted a hidden mickey

We also accidentally caught a parade we didn’t know about....which was really exciting because Sebastian was in it! My favorite Disney character is rarely seen so this was quite possibly the highlight of my day!

Lunch was at Pecos Bills. We’d heard such good things about the Taco Salad (and how fun it is to fix it at the fixin’s bar) but didn’t get it when we were here in 2010. And having gotten the Taco Salad - YUMMY! Just make sure you ask for Sour Cream at the register because they don’t have that on the fixin’s bar.

I found my new favorite Disney sweet treat at the Main Street Confectionary (they also have these at the Boardwalk Sweet Shop).

I did a LOT of Vinylmation shopping (well Fozzie was scored in a trade) today.

We had originally planned to eat dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe after park closing. But we were done at Magic Kingdom early, and fairly tired. And mom was hungry early ( I was full from my cupcake! ). We decided to hop on the monorail and do some resort shopping. We decided we were hungry while at the Contemporary. Mom thought we should try and get into Chef Mickey’s since we’ve only had breakfast there. Of course, that was impossible with a walk in. We ended up at the Contempo Cafe. I had a cheeseburger and fries. Fairy typical. Mom opted for the Multigrain Turkey BLT with home made chips. Both were FANTASTIC. I highly recommend.

After dinner we did a bit more shopping at the monorail resorts and then headed back to Boardwalk. I was exhausted and not feeling great so I went to bed early. Mom walked around a bit and got a little treat at the Boardwalk Sweet Shop.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 7 - March 3

Our disembarkation day started off with a not so good bang for me. As we got to Royal Palace for our final breakfast, I turned on my cell phone. I had three voice mails from the PetHotel and a text message from a co-worker reading “Call me. Problem with Elphaba”. I have to say, that was the most scared I’ve been probably since 2002 when mom was sick. I left the noisy restaurant to go listen to my vm and try and call people back. The voice mails from the PetHotel indicated a problem with one of Elphaba’s eyes and tests the vet wanted to do that they needed my permission for. I tried calling the PetHotel but it was before 7am and I was getting no answer. I was also wondering why they hadn’t called me local agent (a coworker in the area). Turns out they HAD, which is how my other coworker knew something was going on and texted. I tried calling coworker but he didn’t pick up either. Called PetHotel again and that time got an answer. Turns out whatever WAS wrong seemed to work itself out. Dr hadn’t done any tests and didn’t see the need to. Elphaba was getting extra care and attention from the staff to keep and eye on her, but she seemed fine, was acting fine, and was her normal self in day camp. So that was a huge relief other than still feeling awful that all this had gone down when I wasn’t around.

After I finally got back inside and calmed mom down (who was freaking about why I was gone so long and thinking we were going to have to hop a plane home) we enjoyed our final breakfast. We were off the ship by about 7:30am and quickly grabbed our bags, made it through customs, and on our DCL transfer bus. If you’ve ever wondered the best way to spot your luggage among the thousands of bags in the cruise may consider my method...VERY decorative luggage. I use Vera Bradley luggage, and had my Makes Me Blush suitcase. This made our luggage easy to spot from a significant distance away.

My pretty, easy to spot, Vera Suitcase
Vera Makes Me Blush Suitcase

We’ve arrived!

Once on the bus it was a relatively quick ride over to the Boardwalk Villas. We really enjoyed that location when we were there in 2010 and point wise its a great value. We had a 1 bedroom booked this time and were excited about having two different rooms to sleep in and a washer/dryer. We had done online check in, but were hoping to get into a room right away so that we could drop our bags before heading into Epcot. Mom also had a request for a room close to the elevators because last year we were WAY WAY at the end of the resort. Turned out the second room off the lobby was available so that was our room. Fantastic location!!!!

After dropping our bags we headed over to the International Gateway and were passing through the gates by about 9;30am. Not quite park opening but still nice and early, which was exactly our goal!

We got to see lots and lots of the Flower and Garden Festival, including things we’d missed pre-cruise.


We had originally planned to have lunch at Biergarten that day at Germany. I’d made the reservation for 1pm in case we didn’t get into Epcot as early as we wanted after getting off the ship. But between getting in early, early breakfast, and the constant eating of 4 nights on the Dream, we were STARVING by like 11am. So we opted for sunshine seasons instead of waiting for our 1pm ADR. I had the Sweet and Sour Chicken. This was my second time getting Asian and Sunshine Seasons and it will probably be my last. I think I’ll stick to the Grill on future visits!

After lunch we tried something we hadn’t done yet at Epcot - The Sum of All Thrills. I have to say, if you haven’t done this yet...DO IT! The engineer in me of course LOVED that you had to use some engineering principals to design your ride. But just the idea of designing you ride was pretty amazing. And the riding experience itself was fantastic! I don’t know how we missed this in our 2010 visit but we won’t be skipping it again!

We made fantastic time getting through Future World and before we knew it we were crossing into the World Showcase and past Duffy’s home! Of course we had to stop.


We continued to work our way through the World Showcase and before we knew it we were happening upon Italy - but too early for our ADR. We worked through a few more Pavilions that we’d not made it to pre-cruise and then back tracked to Italy. We were famished again so we thought we would ask at Via Napoli if they could take us 45 minutes early. The girl looked skeptical but called us for a table less than 5 minutes after checking in.

More Flower and Garden Favorites

Unlike the group of WDW Radio cruisers who went pre-cruise, we did not have a hot waiter. We had a plain looking waitress. But I did enjoy the eye candy of all the hot waiters and bus boys. And the food was incredible! We ended up sitting next to a couple from Chicago and chatted our way through much of dinner. For an appetizer we shared the Prosciutto e Melone and for our dinner the Quattro Formagg pizza. We skipped dessert because we had eyes on the Funnel Cakes on the boardwalk!

After dinner we slowly made our way through the rest of the World Showcase and back out the international gateway. We hadn’t wanted to be out TOO late because we needed to do some laundry so we had clothes to where the rest of the trip. Yes, we did laundry on vacation! We decided we really liked the idea of the 1 bedroom villas because it means we don’t have to pack as much clothing. I tend to be a somewhat lean packer anyway, and I am working on getting mom to pack less (she’s doing a pretty good job compared to what she used to do!) so being able to do laundry just helps this even further. We grabbed our funnel cake, headed back to the room, started laundry, and went to bed as soon as laundry was done.

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 6 - March 2

Our last day on the Dream was a sea day, so we decided to sleep in a bit. Then I headed up to Deck 11 for my latte and a little reading while I waited for mom. Breakfast was of course Cabanas again. We were joined by Paul and Lisa so that was nice to visit and spend some time with them. We headed over to Quiet Cove then for the caffeine meet. While LIsa and mom socialized Paul and I chatted.

Mom went off to morning Bingo while I did some more reading and finished up our scavenger hunt. I turned in the answers and got a Dream ticket for turning them in. Tried to do some more reading but it was COLD out on deck 4! Ended up hitting up the store and finally found a vinylmation I wanted in the trader box so I got to trade in Madame Mim (villains series) for Miss Piggy (Muppets series). Yay! Ended up going to find mom at Bingo since I was too cold outside. We ran into Allison and Steve (friends from Magic in 2008 who are going on Fantasy with us in 2012). Chatted with them for a while. Then it was a bit more souvenir shopping and lunch for us. Our last meal at Cabanas, sad!

After we lunch we went to find the group at the Pin/Vinylmation trading meet. I didn’t want to trade any of my remaining Vinyls but we had to turn our Dream keys in here for the price tickets for later. Mom and I only ended up with 5 Dream Keys overall. Some people had LOTS....have no idea how they got them all. We visited for our while with Sandy and Sarah and made plans to join them for dinner that night since it was just the two of them and we knew our tablemates had made other plans.

After that, more reading for me while mom napped. Then I headed to the cabin to do a little packing. We got our gratuity tickets...and boy was I mad....remember early on in my trip reports how I said that thered been a mix up and we were NOT seated with Darlene/Keith and Paul Lisa at dinner as requested? And how we requested a correction with Mousefan at the welcome center and were told they’d call us if they could change it? Well our dining gratuities showed up and instead of having our servers Gabor and Rhys...they had the servers for Darlene and Paul’s table. I ran to guest services to try and correct but the line was too long and I had the Dream Key/tickets so I had to get to the WDW Radio farewell meet.

Meet was nice, fruit and some cheeses out. Wine being served. Was a nice fun meet. We didn’t win anything but that was okay. After that and before dinner I ran back to Guest Services about our gratuity problem. They said we had to talk to the dining room, so they walked me over there. I explain to the dining room manager what was wrong...he looks in his computer and said that Colleen from Mousefan requested we be moved to that table that first day of the cruise, and he noted we were moved. He asked me “did she not tell you that?”. I said “no”. He right away was flustered and very apologetic. Said he distinctly remembered talking to Colleen on this very issue and asking her if she wanted him to call the affected parties and she told him she would take care of it. But she never contacted us. I was NOT happy.....this is when I realized we could have enjoyed 3 lovely dinners with our friends. Not that we didn’t end up sitting with very nice people, because we did. But I feel like I barely got to see Darlene on the cruise and I was upset that the dining mistake had been corrected and no one told us so we missed the opportunity spend our meals together.

Anyway....dinner with Sarah and Sandy was lovely. We were in Royal Palace finally and it was BEAUTIFUL! Though the tables seemed VERY close together in here. For dinner I enjoyed the Double-baked Spinach Souffle, Avocado-Citrus Salad, and the Wild Boar. I wasn’t sure about the Boar but it was quite tasty...more like filet mignon than pork. For dessert I got the Grand Mariner Souffle. Which was quite yummy. But when I saw Fitz come out with a tray of Chocolate Souffle’s I knew instinctively where he was going and I was right...Chef Matthew had made Keith a special souffle because of his food allergies and the rest of the table had been brought Chocolate souffle. We very much enjoyed our dinner with Sarah and Sandy, but boy now I was REALLY upset about the dining screw up. We missed out on Chocolate Souffle because Colleen from Mousefan didn’t tell us that we actually HAD been moved to the table we’d originally requested!

A visit from Lou during dinner!

After dinner we saw our final show, Disney’s Believe. This one everyone had been saying how amazing it was and to bring tissues. But I have to say, neither of us were overly impressed with it. Don’t get me was fine. But we’ve certainly enjoyed other shows more. After that it was back to the room to finish packing and get our bags outside since we were disembarking in the morning!

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 5 - March 1

We were up relatively early again today since we needed to have breakfast (Cabanas of course!) before the WDW Radio group picture. I got dressed quickly and headed up to Cove Cafe with my kindle to grab a latte and get a little reading done first. This was lovely because I got to sit in one of the fabulous round chairs at the Quiet Cove pool and enjoy the view of Cataway Cay off in the distance.

After breakfast we headed off the ship with fellow WDW Radio Cruisers Eric and Jacque from Las Vegas. We took pictures in front of the ship and then made our way to the boat beach for the picture. Boy were there a LOT of WDW Radio Cruisers there!

Mom and I with Sarah, Sandy, and Darlene waiting for the group picture

Can you see us? Towards the front about ⅓ of the way in from the right

After the group picture most people headed off to enjoy Castaway Cay. Now, mom and I love Castaway Cay just as much as the next family. But we also really love the Disney ships, and we thought this would be a great chance to enjoy a less crowded ship. Boy were we right! We were the first people at the Quiet Cove pool. Most people are complaining about how the chairs next to the pool don’t get sunlight. Mom even isn’t crazy about this. But my very fair, easily sunburned skin LOVES this about the quiet cove pool! I do NOT love the new layout and its forcing families with kids to walk right thru the middle of the pool space (what were you thinking Disney?) but fortunately since most people were off the ship it wasn’t an issue. We actually looked at the family pool as well thinking maybe we’d lay there to enjoy the sun and watch a movie on Funnelvision. But that pool, even with so many families on the island, was NOISY! So we spent the day at Quiet Cove, napping, hoping in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, reading. You know, normal lazy pool day stuff! Because so much of the staff was on the island Cabanas was not open for lunch (the horror!) so we hit up the quick service on Deck 11. I’m happy to say the chicken fingers are just as yummy as as the Magic!

After lunch we decided to run over to the Aquaduck finally. There was NO line! Well...the were like 3 people in front of us. But yay! The only bad thing was that meant walking up all three flights of stairs without resting...a lot when you are being lazy and eating like crazy! The first trip down mom and I went together. It was fun. Since the line was short we went up a second time, and this time road separately. Mom hadn’t wanted to do this saying she heard the ride was better if you were with someone. I’m thinking she was confusion the reports of kids too small to go by themselves who were going slow and getting stuck. This was NOT an issue...we both found the ride to be a litlte more thrilling when riding individually. After the second ride I went back to enjoy the pool a bit more, and mom got back in line. We continued our afternoon of being lazy. Mom eventually took off to get cleaned up for dinner and play bingo. I made my way back to the cabin to get cleaned up myself.

Most people were excited about Pirate night that night. We enjoy the POTC movies just fine, but are not pirate fanatics like so many of our WDW Radio friends are. And this being a new ship with new restaurants we didn’t want to miss a show night in the main dining rooms. But we also didn’t want to miss Palo - so tonight was the night I made our Palo reservations for. We were impressed with how much bigger Palo is than on the Magic and Wonder. We we commented on it the waitress said that it actually only had 2 more tables than the other ships. But we noticed that unlike on the Classic ships where Palo tables were mainly for 2 people, on the Dream they were 4 person tables. And of course on both ships they can be moved together to seat more. Mom decided to try some new items off the menu but I stuck with my tried and true Palo beef tenderloin. YUMMY! We of course both ordered the chocolate souffle (our main reason for dining at Palo) but our waitress encouraged us to order a second dessert as well so I tried the apple tart. It was tasty, but not as tasty as the souffle! We enjoyed dinner, but did not find it to be as relaxed of a dinner as last year on the Wonder.

After dinner we changed into comfy clothes and decided to go to the movie rather than to see the magican/juggler in the Walt Disney Theater. The movie was I Am Number Four. It was okay, not great. Mom snuck out a few minutes early so she could get up to deck 11 to see the fireworks. Me, not loving fireworks, headed back to the cabin to read and head to bed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 4 - February 28

Monday morning we were up relatively early so we could eat breakfast before the WDW Radio Welcome party. We went up to Cabanas for breakfast (have I mentioned how much I love Cabanas yet?). Mom was in love with one of the danishes and I quite enjoyed the croissants. This sounds really silly, but I also love the little hash brown patties they serve which are delightfully crisp!

At 9am was the Welcome Party. It was incredible to walk into the Walt Disney Theater and see the WDW Radio logo up on the screen. Mom and I were among the first in the theater so we headed straight up front to sit in the first row. Lou and his family, along with the Mousefan group, were just off to the side of us. Lou took the stage, and I have to say, at least while he was standing behind the podium I couldn’t see him AT ALL! He really is quite short! Lou and Beci did lots of chatting and made some announcements. We were bummed we didn’t win the flag contest (Lou and Deanna had both raved about our flag when we turned it in, but seeing the top 5 I wasn’t surprised we didn’t make the cut!). After that was over, Beci had Lou sit down and the roast began. It was fantastic! Speakers included Lou’s brother, his wife Deanna, Tony Caggiano, and via video, Glenn Whelan. I’m sure video from this will pop up someplace but it was fantastic! Lou came into the audience and sat right next to me during Glenn’s video and it was great to see his reactions so close.

After the welcome party mom and I decided to play some Mid Ship Detective Agency and work on our WDW Radio Scavenger hunt. Mid Ship Detective Agency was a BLAST. I hope they do this on the Fantasy as well, and that they come up with more cases for us to solve. It (along with the scavenger hunt) was a great way to explore the ship and really look at details we may not have looked at otherwise.

At 11am we decided to go see Tangled in 3D in the Buena Vista Theater. I’d seen it before, but mom had not. We found the Buena Vista theater to be more comfortable than on the Magic/Wonder - but still severely lacking in leg room. I’ve never seen this theater full on any of my 5 Disney cruises so I can’t see why they don’t take out some rows and space it a little better. On the other hand, I just saw a picture of the “Screening Room” on the Navigator of the Seas which I’ll be on in about 3 weeks and I guess I should LOVE the Buena Vista theater - don’t think I’ll be spending much time in the Screening Room.

After Tangled, it was time for lunch - BACK TO CABANAS. Yes we really love Cabanas! I can’t really remember how we spent our afternoon so I’m thinking it was more work on the Scavenger hunt and a little reading of my book outside. Mom went off to play bingo at one point.

Dinner was at 6pm, this time in Enchanted Garden. The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL inside! I showed up separate from mom who was still at Bingo (turned out she won the big prize!). We were up against one of the outside walls this time so had a great view of the dining room. Here I took advantage of the childrens menu. I started with the Cream of Tomato soup off the childrens menu. I moved on the Romaine Wedge. For my entree I got the NY strip steak, mom got the pork tenderloin and we shared. The pork was the winner hands down! For dessert I got the chocolate torte. The table loved the Bananas Foster sundae. Gabor also served us with some petit fours which were quite delicious.

After dinner we had the show at 8:30, so we stopped to do some shopping. I picked up the Disney Dream inaugral vinylmation. I was thrilled to find these still available! I missed my opportunity to have friends on the maiden voyage pick a set up for me, and they were going on ebay for like $100 or more.

The evening’s show was Villains Tonight, a new one for us. I liked the concept, and enjoyed it for the most part. I did not enjoy the actor playing Hades (the obnoxious actor from the night before who plays every character the same) and Pain and Panic were a little annoying. But the show was fun.

After that mom and I decided to meet some folks out for drinks. We headed to the District and found a group hanging out in Pink. I ordered a cocktail and just after that the group decided they wanted to move to the next bar. The waitress said she’d need to pour my drink into another glass if we wanted to go. I downed my drink, she got glasses for mom and someone else, and we moved on. The next stop was Skyline. That place is incredible! I loved seeing the lights twinkle and the cars move - you really feel like you are looking out on the city! We all looked at the menu and didn’t want to order anything so we talked about moving to Evolution - but no one got up. After sitting a while I realized I was exhausted ( still wasn’t sleeping well ) so I decided to head to bed. Mom decided she was wiped too so she came back as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 3 - February 27

At last! The day we had been waiting for since November 2009 was here! I don’t think I’ve ever had a vacation booked that far in least not since I started working since I have a weird random schedule and move a lot!

We did breakfast at Sassagoula Floatworks again, mostly because, what else would we eat for breakfast? Our meeting time for the Mousefan bus transfer to port was 8am in the French Quarter lobby. So we went to breakfast with our luggage, in our Deck 7 Cool Kids tshirts.

Duffy enjoyed his breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to the lobby to meet our group. The first people we happened upon were Greg and Gerrie from Nashville - easily identified by their Deck 7 Cool Kids button (I was so mad to realize I’d left mine on the kitchen table in Connecticut!). Having thoroughly studied my Deck 7 Cool Kids floorplan I knew that Greg and Gerrie were in the cabin next door to us. We had a nice little chat with them as more started to gather in the lobby. Before we knew it, it was time to board the bus. Our bus made a stop at Wilderness Lodge and then we were headed towards port. Michelle, from Mousefan, was our bus escort. Mom and I had front row seats and Michelle was insistent that our bus had to arrive first. Part way there we realized we were actually the second bus in our group.

We arrived at port to a LONG line of cars and buses waiting to get was only about 10am. Our bus pulled up behind the first bus - and then we were told there were too many people and we had to go park and wait! We go off to park in the lot they directed us to and NO ONE else follows. Michelle calls the other buses and finds out they were BOTH allowed to drop their passengers. Both she and the bus driver are hot to hear that! The driver heads back around to the terminal - and bypasses ALLLLLLL of the now much longer line of cars and buses waiting and works his way miraculously to the curb. This is when we had our first Lou and Beci sighting. They were unloading their car right in front of us. Mom screamed!

Lou and Beci at Port

We got off the bus and waiting in a very very long line to get past the name checkers (to make sure we were on the ship), and then security. Fortunately the lines at the counter were non-existent so we got right up there to get our Key To the World Cards. We headed from there to hit up the ladies room, me frantically looking for Darlene and more Deck 7 Cool Kids T shirts...I mean I knew we should be EVERYWHERE. On the way out of the ladies room a woman calls out to me “Hi Shelley”. I must have had a blank look on my face because she quickly said “Its Sandy!”. Of course, one of my Deck 7 neighbors and facebook friends! We headed back out to look for some folks and were flagged down by someone else calling my name. I could tell this was going to be a fun trip! Turns out that was Sarah, Sandy’s daughter. Yeah, more neighbors to meet. Sarah shared with us a funny story. Upon seeing Lou for the very first time, Sandy went up to him and asked him if he knew were Darlene was. Gotta love the Disney community and the friendships we all made before even leaving for this trip!

We got in line to meet Mickey, but by the time we got up there it was Minnie. But we did get to see Lori who snapped our pic. She also had spare buttons so Duffy and I BOTH got Deck 7 Cool Kids buttons.


We waited for what seemed like an eternity to for our boarding number to be called. While we were waiting we finally found Darlene and Keith, who were with Stuart and Michelle. We compared Key to the World Cards and were disappointed to see that despite a request we’d submitted earlier, we were not at the same table with Darlene and Keith. We later found Paul (goofypal on the WDW Radio forums) and Lisa, who we had also requested to dine with. Turns out Paul and Lisa got assigned to sit with Darlene and Keith but we did not. Technogeek that I am, I’m of course checking my twitter stream often and see that Beci from Mousefan said to see the girls in the WDW Radio welcome center for any dining change requests.

We finally get on board, hit the welcome center to turn in our Flag, register for door decorating and scavenger hunt, and pick up our goodies. We also make the dining request and are told we’ll get a message on our phone if they can make the change to get us with Darlene, Keith, Paul and Lisa.



We head up to Cabanas for lunch. Normally on the Magic/Wonder we got to Parrot Cay for embarkation day lunch. But every thing I’d read online said to go to Cabanas instead. Much better food offering and now that they find you a table and seat you, less hectic. Can I just say, we LOVED Cabanas! Had breakfast and lunch there every day, not a single breakfast or lunch in one of the dining rooms. I can definitely see why people are confused about the “pods” because they are all still lined up. People were definitely ticked off when you would just walk up to a pod to get your stuff after they were waiting in what they believed to be a line (it wasn’t). But people did seem to get the hang of this after a day or so. We loved the themeing. Loved the food (except the scrambled “eggs” at breakfast and lack of Mickey Waffles or an Omelet station).

After lunch it was time to drop our stuff at our stateroom. We opted for an inside deluxe this time. Partially because I was recently back at work and way stressing about money when we booked the cruise, and partially because I wanted to see the virtual porthole. Room was definitely a bit smaller than the deluxe staterooms on the Magic/Wonder. But not terribly so. Virtual Porthole was cool, though we only saw two magical things on it in 4 nights!

Virtual Porthole

After putting up our door decorations we explored a little. Then it was time for muster. We loved that you no longer have to wear life jackets to muster. Mostly because then you can head straight off to have some fun after muster rather than having to go back to your room again! After muster we headed up to Deck 11 to meet the Deck 7 Cool Kids for a group picture.

Deck 7 Cool Kids!

I think after that we did a little unpacking and changed for dinner. We had Animators Palate for our first night. At our table were Chip and Colin. Turned out Chip lives in Hershey PA, near where I used to live! Also at our table were Amanda and Brian. Oh, and at the table next to us was Dana! Great to put a face to another of my twitter friends! Our servers were Gabor and Rhys. And our table was right near the opening to the kitchen and on the we were in constant fear of having food dumped on us by servers racing past us. I was thrilled to see that Fitz was our head waiter! he was the first head waiter we ever had (Magic, 2008) that we really thought jumped in to help his servers and help make our experience a better one. He right away asked us where the rest of our group was (Our table mates from 2008. Steve and Allison were actually on the ship with us, but on a different rotation since they weren’t a part of the WDW Radio group. Steve and Mary were on the maiden voyage and had seen him then. We’ll ALL be back together again on the Fantasy in April 2012 so I’m hoping he moves over there!). For dinner I tried the Black Truffle Pasta Pursiettes, Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup, and Marinated Angus Beef Tenderloin. I requested the sour cream mashed potatoes served with another entree rather than the Wasabi mashed potatoes that came with my dish. Gabor said they couldn’t put them on the plate, but he did ensure that my plate came without the Wasabi mashed and brought me the sour cream mashed on the side! For dessert I had the cookies and cream sundae. Yummy!

After dinner was a little shopping and our first show. The show of the evening was the Golden Mickey’s. We’ve always enjoyed it and were excited to see some of the updates we’d heard about. The “reporter” on the read carpet seemed familiar - mom and I discussed with the couple behind us and decided it was the performer from the Magic who used to do that part there. There was another performer in the audience in the theater. His shtick with the family he talked to was cute, but we’d learn over the next two shows that no matter what character he was playing his shtick stayed the same. Not really acting.....

After that, I was exhausted (I had a massive headache during most of this trip sadly, and had gotten almost no sleep so far). I went back to the cabin and crashed and mom went out to party. I think she came back around 2am!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2011 Disney Trip - Day 2 - February 26

Today we woke up nice and early so we could be at Animal Kingdom close to park opening. We opted for breakfast at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory Food Court at French Quarter. Although we liked the decor, and the seeming abundance of things to order - we weren’t crazy with the food itself. I went for an omelet. It had been pre-cooked and sitting under a heat lamp for what seems like an eternity based on the taste. Mom wanted beignets, which meant waiting in far too long of a line. Plus, the finished product was very heavy, not light and airy like she was expecting.

Ceiling at Sassagoula Floatworks

After breakfast we made our way to Animal Kingdom and got there just as they started letting guests in. We headed straight back for the Kilimanjaro Safari (doesn’t everyone?). Usually at park open this is nearly a walk on ride. Well it got hung up as we were about 2 cars back from getting loaded. And then they allowed fast passers in, so they took the first couple of cars once it started moving again. Finally we were on our way. I’m not generally a fan of this attraction because I’ve never gotten very up close and personal with the animals on it. That was not the case today! Our first up close encounter was with a giraffe. He walked RIGHT in front of us - we worried he would block the way, but he crossed the road and walked next to us within just a couple of feet of us. As we got further down he decided to graze in the path of the cars. We were too far to see much other than the 4 vehicles caught up behind him - but everyone ended up having to stop until they got him cleared. A little further up we had our second close encounter with the white rhinos. Three decided to take a drink in the water on the roadway. Two were standing off to the side but the third was smack dab in the middle of the road and not showing any interest in moving. I think we sat there almost 10 minutes. The big guy finally started to move off just as the cast members were getting close to coming and trying to move him along. The other up close encounter was not animal related. It was with the HORRIBLE comb-over on the driver of our vehicle. Men, if you are reading this, do NOT do the comb-over. I realize it may be hard to go bald at such a young age. But it if you are that self conscious about it, SHAVE YOUR HEAD. Not only does it look better, but the confidence to walk around with your bald head is WAY sexier (at least to this girl) than your comb-over!


Comb Over

After the safari we hit up our other favorites. We even snuck in a trip to the Festival of the Lion King before lunch. Man is it a hike to get back to that show!

Lunch was first for us - we did table service at Yak and Yeti and it was YUMMY! Mom went for the tempura shrimp which was a nice small portion (good for her) and beautifully presented. I went for the Sweet and Sour Chicken and some wonton soup. Both were very good. Service was excellent.

After lunch we went back to French Quarter to relax for a few minutes and grab jackets for our night at Epcot. We had 6pm ADRs at Teppen Edo so we didn’t have a TON of time, but did get a quick ride on Spaceship Earth, enjoyed some of the topiaries already out for Flower and Garden, and then shopped our way over to Japan for dinner.

Teppen Edo was YUMMY as always. We spotted something new on the menu, pork! So I ordered the chicken, mom ordered the pork, and we shared. I have to was a very nice addition to the menu. We were seated with a Japanese family currently living in San Jose, CA. This made for the most interesting experience I’ve had at a Japanese restaurant as they showed us some of their traditions. For example, folding the paper from the chopsticks into a little rest for your chopsticks to lay on when not in use. The father also ordered a saki sampler and then talked with us about the different saki’s and how they varied.

After dinner we shopped our way towards Italy, where we were attending the special WDW Radio / MEI Mousefan Dessert Party. Once we arrived at Italy we found some other WDW Radio people so we chatted for a while while we waited to check in and head over to the dessert party. Now, I’m not generally a huge fan of fireworks and the nighttime shows like that at WDW. Mom always is amazed by this. I think its because the centennial fireworks at my college were so amazing I just haven’t seen anything that I feel compares. But watching Illuminations from the Dessert Party was INCREDIBLE. First of all, we felt like were were IN the action since we were watching from Italy on a section basically out on the water. Second of all, it was closer than any time we’ve seen it before - so we were actually able to SEE what was on that ball in the center of the lagoon! I had no idea! Oh...and the dessert wasn’t bad either....yummy cupcakes!

After the dessert party mom and I made our way back to the park front (with a shopping stop at the Duffy store and Mouse Gears of course - had to get a Sailor suit for my new Duffy bear to wear on the cruise!) and back to the hotel to repack for the cruise the next day.