Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Few Tips For Meeting Disney Characters

By Lisa Green

Almost five-year-old Megan gets autographs from her favorite characters

When you have a Disney vacation planned, one of the things you immediately imagine is how your children (or you) will be when you see those famous Disney characters for the first time! If you have very small children, you may worry about whether or not your little sweeties will be scared or how to properly make that initial introduction.  I have a little experience with this and here’s my best advice:

Babies and Toddlers:  They won’t remember it, so it’s YOU who will be most disappointed if the character meeting doesn’t go well.

Not crying (yet) a cautious Joseph meets Genie for the first time.

Everyone wants pictures, so my best advice is easy does it.  Small doses work best.  Let your toddler look at the characters from far away first before getting them up close and personal.  It helps if there’s an older sibling to lead the way, but if that’s not the case – let them see other children having fun with the characters so they know it’s a good thing. 
  • Worse case – take pictures of your little one with the character in the background if face-to-face is a no-go. 
  • Unless there are older siblings to consider, don’t waste your money on a character meal just yet.  It’s worth every penny, though, when the time is right. 
Which brings me to…. Children between four and ten: 
  • Now’s the time to dish out some dough.  Character meals, character meet-and-greets, autograph books, and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  I promise – you’ll spend less money when they’re tweens and teens at Disney World than you will during this stage.  Why spend the money (and the time waiting in line)?  They’re only this age for a very little while – the age where they still believe in magic, still get a kick out of playing dress-up, and still think those characters are royal-celebrity-rock-stars!
  • Character Dining – you have several choices at all four theme parks and many different resorts.  Our favorite has always been Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort because of the classic characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy).  There is character dining available with a wide variety of characters in every park and many resorts.  For more details and information on selecting the right dining experience for you (or your child), check out this article at The Disney Food Blog
  • Character Meet and Greets + Autograph Collecting:  ALL character interaction opportunities are covered here by a great source of Disney World info,  Sudden opportunities do present themselves and should be taken advantage of whenever possible (saves time).  Bring along an autograph book, a tee shirt, a wide picture mat, or pillowcase for the characters to sign – these make great souvenirs!  Bring large markers in different colors that are easy for the characters to grip and hand them open and ready to write to each character when the time comes.
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Warning:  You may experience sticker shock!  This magical salon turns your little princess into her favorite Disney princess (or character).  Why you should do it:  After their transformation is complete, just take them to see an afternoon parade in the Magic Kingdom.  The parade characters salute, bow, blow kisses, bestow royal waves – you name it- especially for the Disney princesses among the parades’ spectators.  I must confess – I purposely find a place near one of these princesses in the crowd so I can watch her reaction (and her parents’) as the parade goes by and all those very priceless interactions take place – makes me misty-eyed every time.
  •  If your child is shy:  Our own Megan was very timid as a little girl and didn’t want to speak to strangers – even Disney characters.  We found that the silent, happy (no villains), non-speaking characters were her favorites since there was no chance they would ask her a question or require her to speak to them at any time.
Mickey autographs a tee shirt


Tweens, Teens, and Adults:

  • Best to look for those sudden moments that pop up when the characters are available and the line is short or non-existent.  These are some of my most favorite vacation pictures EVER!  Mostly because running into the characters was a surprise (in an out-of-the way place) and the characters are more inclined to be playful or tease in unexpected ways.  Villains are perfect for older children and adults.  
  • Character meals can still be fun.  Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is still one of our favorite things to do.  Also, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian offers a character dinner that features Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters, Drizella and Anastasia…they are perfect for character interaction with teens and adults as they are extremely funny (and the sisters may be a bit much for little ones). 
  • Disney Cruise Line – Characters abound on the high seas!  With older children especially, watch for those unexpected opportunities.  In port, there are usually characters waiting on the pier to welcome you back to the ship – depending on the time of day, the line for pictures is usually very short (or nonexistent).
Jason and Joseph returning from Castaway Cay

Goofy has some smooth moves at sea

Hopefully, some of these tips will come in handy on your next (or first) Disney vacation.  If you have character pictures you’d like to share, I’d love to see them.

Surprise meeting with Lilo and Stitch

This article was originally posted by Lisa on her Living a Disney Life-Empty Nesting with Pixie Dust Blog.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween on the High Seas: Our Disney Dream Experience

by Nick

Halloween on the High Seas is a new Disney Cruise Line experience available on most itineraries departing late September through Halloween.
Activities include Halloween-themed parties, decorations, and a variety of entertainment.

On this Halloween, I thought I would share our experience aboard the Disney Dream, October 12th to the 16th.

Upon entering the Dream on the 12th, we were greeted by a few Halloween touches.

 Please note the Pumpkin tree on the right side of the photo. 
It had not "bloomed" yet.

There are also small details around the ship, such as these jack o'portholes.

So you don't miss the events held throughout the days, you have a couple of very helpful tools. The Navigator is the paper schedule that is left in your cabin each evening, and there is also a convenient, easy to use app available for use onboard.

On the first evening, as we exited the live show, "Villains Tonight," we were given these "pumpkin seeds," but weren't really sure what for.

A short time later as we walked past the lobby, we caught the tail end of the Haunted Mansion's Caretaker asking for families to drop their pumpkin seeds in a cauldron.

He then led the audience in a chant, to bring the tree to life.


There was also a special showing of the "Nightmare Before Christmas", which was shown in 3-D with lighting effects and fake snow. The words to the songs were also on screen so we could sing along.

At the end, Jack Skellington himself rises from the stage, and proceeds to the outside of the theater for photos and autographs. I had been told by a friend he would be accompanied by Sally as well, but on this evening he was a bachelor.

By the next day, pumpkins had indeed sprouted on the tree!

This ghoulish display was in front of the tree.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy also made an appearance later in the day decked out in the Halloween costumes.

On Tuesday the 14th, Mickey's Mousequerade Party was held in the Lobby Atrium. Barbie and I dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus on vacation. The Fab Five, joined by Chip and Dale invited guests dressed up in their Halloween costumes to dance and party!

Barbie sewed her dress and cap, as well as my shorts. 
She also attached the facial hair to the Santa hat.

There was also an over 18 party late that evening which we were too tired to attend.

Finally, on our last evening we were lucky enough to see the Pumpkin Tree in it's complete form, with the assistance of the Caretaker, and all of us.


There were also ghost stories very late in the evening up on Deck 11.

If you are a fan of Halloween, masquerading, ghost stories or just a fan of fun, I absolutely cannot recommend taking a Disney Cruise during this time of year enough.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Best Halloween Pumpkin!

by Gaylin

In The Land pavilion at Epcot there is the Living with the Land boat ride. I go on this ride at least once every trip, I find all the eco systems quite fascinating and I also enjoy the nice, slow pace of this ride. A great way to rest sore feet.

While they are not on display every time I have gone on the ride, I do get excited when the Cinderella Pumpkins are on display – especially when the Mickey head shaped one is right at the front, waiting for all of us to try to get a good photo.

I admit I went on the ride twice, just to get the second closer photo. Anyone else like to see the Mickey head pumpkin or the cucumber in the Mickey head form?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trip Report: October 11th-October 17th 2014 - Part 5

by Nick

Wednesday, October 15th

I woke up with a sore throat and felt run down, but was otherwise fine. But I know, when I get that twinge in the back of my throat, a cold or worse isn't far behind.

This was our at sea day and we had nothing planned. We decided to have breakfast at the Royal Palace, which started at 8am.
While we waited for it to open, we took a walk around the Dream taking photos of Halloween decorations as well as the beautiful morning, which would turn gray and rainy later in the day.

One of the reasons I'd wanted to have breakfast at the Royal Palace was I wanted to take photos, which I hadn't done on our previous visit the evening before.

There are many nice touches, honoring the Disney Princesses.

Even the backs of the chairs featured icons paying homage to the princesses.

Breakfast was standard fair. I had the Disney Cruise Line Breakfast trio which consisted of a Waffle, Pancake, and piece of French Toast as well as bacon. I also asked for a side of sausage. Barbie had the Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancake, and a hashbrown. Savory and Sweet for both of us.

We then returned to our stateroom to pack. We both agree, in the future, a 4 day cruise is not long enough. It felt like we had just gotten settled in, and it was time to pack and get off the ship.

We decided to check out the Animation, Creating a Character program at D Lounge. It was a lot of fun. A Cast Member showed clips of Disney Animated movies, as well as Walt Disney.

In between clips, we were shown how to draw Stitch...

...and Olaf.

After this class, we grabbed a snack in Cabanas. Barbie headed back to the stateroom to nap, while I signed up for a Mixology course located in the Skyline Lounge, in the adults only section of the Dream, known as The District.
It was really a great bit of fun, and, as another participant pointed out, at $15, the cheapest way to get drunk enjoy alcoholic beverages on the cruise.
We made 5 different mixed drinks, and I'll write a full review of this highly recommended experience, as well as the Skyline in a future post.

I returned to our stateroom and showered. This was Formal evening, and we both decided, as we had packed already, that we would skip dinner at Animator's Palate, as we had breakfast scheduled there the next morning.

We went to the 6:15 show of Disney's Believe in the Walt Disney Theater. This was by far the best show we'd seen on this or our previous Disney Cruise.
The story of a daughter who believes in magic, and her skeptical scientifically minded father, who is helped to see the error of his ways by the Genie and many beloved Disney characters, it has many a touching and memorable moments, and this is the only show we've seen that I honestly would say is not to be missed.

Right after the show was pin trading with members of the crew, and we got a few great pins from different Disney cruises around the world.

Immediately following this we watched The Pumpkin Tree come alive in the Lobby Atrium, the culmination of the Halloween on the High Seas events. Please stop back Friday for a more in depth look at the Halloween on the High Seas events that we attended.

When we returned to our stateroom for the evening, I called guest services to find out what time we should board Magical Express in the morning. I was told no later than 8:50am.
Our second seating breakfast at Animators Palate was at 8am. As I didn't really think it was actually feasible to eat, disembark, and find our luggage in 50 minutes, I asked if we could please change to the earlier 6:45 seating. I was told no. So, we decided we'd skip that meal as well, and just have breakfast in Cabanas, which we were told would only be a continental breakfast, which, I admit, made me a little perturbed. So we never did get to Animators Palate this trip.

Not the best ending to a cruise, but at least I would be happier about the selection at Cabanas the next morning, as it was more extensive than I'd thought it would be.

Other parts of the trip report:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three 
Part Four