Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Pirate's Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas

I apologize in advance for the lack of photos, but it was a rainy day in the Magic Kingdom.

My husband and I had a date night at Disney last weekend and had a couple of hours to kill before dinner at our favorite restaurant, 'Ohana.  We decided to go to the Magic Kingdom and walk around for a little bit. After we rode Pirates of the Caribbean, I suggested we try out the new interactive game, A Pirate's Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas!  The starting point is right outside the restroom area by the Pirates ride, which was formerly a little trading post.  There were ropes set up into a queue, but there was no line to get in.  Like I said earlier, it was a rainy day, so not many people were venturing out from under cover.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
We started our adventure by tapping my park ticket onto an interactive computer.  The computer chose which adventure we started with.  Ours was The King's Ransom.  There are five different map adventures for you to try out.  The computer told us where to start on our map and then we were off!

It is very easy to navigate around Adventureland with the maps, especially if you are familiar with the area.  Each location had Captain Jack Sparrow's voice (swoon) giving us clues and telling us where to go next on our map.  We finished our adventure in about 10 minutes.  We could have gone back to pick up a map to a new adventure, but the rain was really starting to come down.

Our map and final location
The adventure was super simple and went quickly.  I think this will be perfect for my 4 year old who loves pirates.  My husband found it a little silly, but he had fun.  He really enjoyed the special effects.

Have you tried A Pirate's Adventure?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Disney College Program Part 6: Course Registration!

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since my last DCP post! In all honesty, not all that much has happened since then! I am leaving in 19 days for my CP so I thought I’d give you an update and a little information on enrolling in classes. 

Course Registration:

All Disney College Programmers have the option to sign up for different educational courses provided by Disney during the program. CPers are able to take 2 classes on their program. For Fall Advantage, CPers are able to take 2 during the summer and then 2 during the regular Fall season. 

Here is a list of courses that you are able to register for and their descriptions: http://cp.disneycareers.com/en/onboarding/fl/education/course-details/

Certain courses, mostly collegiate ones will require you to pay fees. However some students are able to earn college credit at their home university through these courses, so make sure and ask your advisers! Other classes, like the Exploration Series classes, do not require you to pay fees as they are lecture only classes. Because these are usually 2 hour lecture classes, no homework is given, so anyone feeling loaded with university classes or prefer to relax on the homework a bit can take a look into these to help you network and learn more about the company! 

Registration for this year opened on June 24th, and most people recommend that you enroll within the first 2 days of registration because many of the classes are filled very early because of their popularity. From what I’ve seen online, Disney Heritage, Marketing, and Entertainment Show Production, are the three most popular classes. You can still enroll once these are filled but you will be waitlisted and the chance of being able to get into the class is reduced significantly. 

Since I am taking online university classes I decided that I would take an exploration class, which is one day a week for 2 hours. I’d heard a lot of great things about Disney Heritage and am always eager to learn more about the company so when registration opened I leaped to action. I’ve heard that many times the classes go on scavenger hunts and even visit the parks to learn more about the history!  Unfortunately, this year, the website was having some problems and many people who enrolled that night were given weird emails and it would not list our heritage classes. Luckily it was fixed by morning and we enrolled once more. If something goes wrong, just check with your friends, as long as everyone is having the same problem, don’t panic, Disney will resolve it eventually. 

The registration itself is a little confusing. Disney will email you the week before registration begins with links to the registration site. It’s hard to explain it, but when you register just stay calm, move slowly, and pay attention. The way the courses are listed, they all look the same so headings are key! Something else that surprised me was that there was a heritage class for every single weekday. If you are wanting to take a class with your friends or roommates decide ahead of time which day of the week you would prefer. My friends and roommates decided to go with Mondays from 4-6pm at Chatham Square. Disney will not schedule you to work during your classes, so if they do make sure and ask your trainers or leaders about it!
Overall the registration process takes about 5 minutes and is very easy to get through as long as you are reading! My classes will not begin until the beginning of October and will last to the beginning of December.

This is part 6 in my DCP Fall 2013 Adventure Series. I check-in as a merchandise cast member at Walt Disney World on August 5th, 2013. My next post will be about the New Hire Paperwork and Packing!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Foodie Friday: Yak and Yeti Restaurant Review

Every time we visit the Animal Kingdom we always schedule an ADR at the Yak and Yeti restaurant.  This Asian themed restaurant is located in a two story building located at the base of Expedition Everest in Asia.   The beautiful decor and souvenirs that fill the restaurant were collected throughout Southeast Asia.  We have been seated upstairs twice now which I really enjoy.

The menu prices range between $15-$30 dollars. Among our family's favorites on the menu are the fried green beans, Ahi tuna, Lettuce Cups, crispy Mahi Mahi, Duck and the Kobe beef burger.  Our girls love the kids menu and there are lots of fun activities to play. Our oldest's favorite is the ad-lib game. (Which has become a little fun tradition with her and her Daddy.) We try to make sure we do a sit down at least once during the day to get out of the heat, enjoy a meal and relax before heading back out.

 Every time we have been we have received quick and friendly service from all cast members in the restaurant.  We have even been able to get in quickly a few times without an ADR.  (Very lucky during the slow season) I highly recommend you make a reservation far in advance of your trip.

Ahi Tuna Appetizer

Lettuce Cups

Crispy Mahi Mahi


Kobe Beef Burger
We have dined here at least 5 to 6 times. Sometimes just the four of us or sometimes with a big group of friends and family, and the service has been great every time. The portions are very large and the food has always been excellent.  We will continue to return to Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom as it is our personal favorite throughout the park.  Have you been to Yak and Yeti yet?  What's your favorite menu item?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How my mom almost ruined the firework show on Christmas Day at Disneyland!

Disneyland Fireworks show Christmas - Believe... In Holiday Magic
Photo courtesy of Tom Bricker, www.DisneyTouristBlog.com

So last Christmas I wrote and told you all about our wonderful Christmas Day visit to Disneyland, and it really was. We had a blast and made memories that will last us a lifetime. But some of those memories are a bit more complicated! ;). So along with my husband and my kiddos my dad and mom went with us as well. My dad had heart issues for a very long time and actually passed away two years ago, so whenever we went to Disney he would rent a motorized scooter. He would actually rent it before we traveled and it would be at our hotel waiting for him when we all arrived. So Christmas day is beautiful and extremely magical in Disney and at about 2 p.m. very, very crowded!!  Expect very long waits and huge crowds everywhere! Main Street is completely wall to wall with people with a very small walkway. God bless the cast members because they never lose that amazing Disney spirit and I saw so many people just disregard them asking to please only walk on the walkways. At around 8:30 we decided to walk back to the room and watch fireworks from our hotel. Well right in front of the castle my dad's scooter died. Completely. Wouldn't budge. They have the castle roped off for the fireworks and safety. The cast member standing there told my dad he could leave the scooter there, so he did and then went to find a quiet spot to call the company. My hubby, the kiddos and I were getting pushed along with crowd and trying to wait, but my mom went under the rope and stood there!  The poor cast member told my mom she couldn't stand there due to safety, but my mom wouldn't listen!  The cast member was pleading with my mom that if she didn't move the fireworks would be cancelled! Mind you, this is now five minutes before the show is due to start!  I have never been more embarrassed in my life... and mortified that the fireworks would be cancelled due to my mother!  My hubby was embarrassed, and "done", so he decided to push the scooter through the wall of people! We got my mom out of the area and about an hour later made it down Main Street to the gate area!  We were able to leave the scooter there for the company and (thankfully) the fireworks show went on as normal!  Moral to the story: Please listen to the cast members!! And if you go with my mom, keep her away from the front of the castle around fireworks time!!  Trust me!!

Mickey hugs and kisses you you all!!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

I know, it's only July, who is thinking of Christmas already? Well, you are if you are someone who likes to plan ahead, which I totally recommend doing for this party. The closer to Christmas it gets, the more it fills up. Are you thinking of going to the party this year, or have never been? Are you wondering if its worth the money? Then this article is for you!

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will be held on various days this year from November 8th-December 20th 2013. Ticket prices vary from night to night, and some are called premium nights, which are more expensive; but there are various discounts available such as Passholder discounts etc.

So, what can one expect when they enter the gates? Well, your ticket will say 7pm. well that is true, but the gates open approximately 4pm, so you can enjoy 3 hours of fun before the party to get in a nice meal, or go on some rides before the party gets started.

Once it is 7pm, the special festivities will begin. The first question I get asked is how do they tell regular Park goers from from party people in the park? Th park closes early on these nights, about 6pm usually. At that time they begin to usher the regular park goers out of the park. They have lighted wands and ask to see your "party" bracelets, which you will be given by showing your party ticket either as you enter or at specific locations near the entrance to the park. After 7pm, you will not be allowed to go on any rides, or see shows, withought a bracelet on. The CM's do a pretty good job about ushering non party people out at park closing.

As you enter onto Main Street you will see the beautiful swags of decorations hanging over the Street, Main street is totally decked out in Christmas cheer!

So, what is there to do from 7pm-12am? Well, the first thing you're going to want to do around 6:45 pm, is to stand in front of the castle. They do a small show, and all of a sudden the castle is transformed before your eyes into what looks like pretty blue/purple icicles falling off the castle.This is so pretty to see in  person. 

Next your will want to check you itinerary on what times the things are going on. There are two dance parties going on, where you can shake your tail feather with some Disney characters! Or you can catch the Christmas shows like A Totally Tomorrow land Christmas. Do you love Buzz, Mike W. and Stitch? Then you will not want to miss this show and see where Stitch's mission goes!

Celebrate the Season show is Disney's version of the Nutcracker, you will see Mickey give Minnie her present.

During the party don't forget to go to any one of the free spots where you can get free cookies and hot cocoa. Just remember that cocoa is hot (some watering down may be needed). For those who can't have that they also offer apple juice, and apple slices. If  you ask, I also believe they had sugar free options too for those who would like that. You do have to ask though for special items. These locations have signage and will be marked on the map you are given when you enter that outlines the show times and other special "Party happenings".

During the night some of the characters are in dressed in their Christmas best, but be early in those lines, they can get very long. 

There are usually two parades during this time. If you can skip the first parade, try to sneak a few rides in, or enjoy some more cookies and then catch the second parade it will be less crowded!

The parade is awesome! My favorite part is the toy soldiers. You can hear them coming as they sound like real wood hitting the ground. The other part is the smell, yes, this parade smells (in a good way)!!! Don't forget if you can make it down to Main Street, you will see snow, it is soo cool to see snow falling, and the characters and floats coming down... it's soo magical!

Holiday music can be heard all throughout the park all night long.

The best part of the night is Holiday Wishes. You will want to get to your spot at least 45 minutes early for this. You will not want to miss the special Christmas songs; it will definitely bring a tear to your eye. Snuggle up with your loved ones, sit back to hear the Christmas songs and see the fantastic fireworks in the sky going off to them!

Free cookies, and hot cocoa

Ice Castle

    Castle Projections during MVMCP

 Characters all dressed up to meet you!

                     Santa's arrival at the Parade!
                                                                                        Toy Soldiers on parade!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios

So the story goes like this. It began in Arkansas in 1986. Jennings Osborne did his whole large house with lights for his daughter Breezy's Christmas wish. Each year he added... and added. Well, after he got to about 1 million lights it caused so much traffic that his neighbors actually sued him. Well Mickey heard about this and offered to transport his whole collection to Walt Disney World in 1995. Since then Disney has added many more lights and displays along with dimmers, and choreographed the display to a musical score which creates quite the amazing experience!

Seeing the lights is an awe inspiring thing to do. It is included with your general admission to Hollywood Studios. This year you can see this light show from November 8th, through the first few days in January 2013.

 You will want to make your way to the Back Lot Streets of America around 5:45. You will see the street start to fill up with people, and around 6pm the announcement is made...

 "Welcome to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights". Have your cameras ready to catch this fast moving, crazy parade of over 5 million lights 360 degrees around you!  The show lasts around 10 minutes. The lights flash and dance like crazy to some really cool Christmas songs. Every inch of the buildings, and even some everyday items, are draped in lights.

 As you look all around be sure to see the fantastic array of what looks like hundreds of angels fluttering in the sky. Sadly Mr. Osborne passed away in 2011, but be sure to look for the white angel, in memory of him.

 Be sure to go underneath the light canopy as the lights dance all over and above you. Also, Don't forget to look for some Easter eggs too.. no not real easter eggs, easter eggs are hidden things that the normal person wouldn't know to look for or notice. It's something they added, so don't just walk right through, spend some time looking at each section and discover some "hidden gems". One of the best things to look for is the purple cat. Mr. Osborne accidentally sent a Halloween decoration with all the Christmas ones, and Disney puts it in a different spot each year. Try and find the lighted BBQ grill, the snowman on the phone, Jack Skellington, and also the many hidden Mickeys that are all over!

 This is certainly one of those things you're not going to want miss this Holiday season!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pamper Me! Mandara Spa at the Swan and Dolphin

My husband and I had our first ever massage while honeymooning on a Disney Cruise and it was fantastic!  I would never have pegged him for a spa guy, but that day changed our lives.  We like to get couples massages about twice a year, usually for special occasions.  I took advantage for Father's Day this year and treated my hubby to couples massage at the Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel.

Making reservations was super simple.  The woman I spoke with was very patient with all my questions about treatments and pricing.  I ended up booking the Couples Retreat Ritual - 80 minutes for $310.  A standard couples massage is 50 minutes for $270, so you get 30 minutes in a private jacuzzi tub for $40 more.  Sounds great, sign me up!

Locker room
We checked in about 15 minutes prior to our treatment time and were escorted to the locker rooms for changing.  The locker rooms have a changing area, bathrooms, showers and a sauna, which was under refurbishment when I went.  Every counter top had complimentary amenities, such as disposable razors, Q-tips, combs, hair product, shower caps, lotions and even tampons.  Each shower stall had delicious smelling shampoo, conditioner and body wash.  

After changing into a robe and slippers, I met my husband in one of the relaxation rooms.  It was beautiful!  Citrus water was available to us as well as hot tea.  We were then moved to a second relaxation room which was even more beautiful!  Soothing music played as we sipped our fresh citrus water and waited for our jacuzzi tub to be ready.
First relaxation room
Second relaxation room

Second relaxation room

Bath essence

We were taken into our private room where our tub was waiting for us.  We picked out a "bath essence" for the water, so the room smelled like paradise.  We relaxed for about 40 minutes in the bubbled tub before we heard the knock on the door to move into the massage room.  

When I booked on the phone, I was given the option of male or female masseuses.  It is entirely your preference, we prefer females.  (Nothing against the men, they do a great job!)  Couples massages are typically full body massages, which consists of the head, back, arms legs and feet.  (I had the option of a hot stone massage on the Disney Dream which was heaven!)  If it's your first time, don't be shy if you would like more or less pressure.  My husband told me afterwards that his massage wasn't that deep, but he didn't speak up and tell her.  On the other hand, I was feeling a little bruised the next day, but felt great!

We were given access to use the facilities as long as we wanted afterwards, so we sat in the relaxation room for a little while before heading into our locker rooms.  I enjoyed the rain shower, however, it was right in the middle of the stall, so I had to hover in the corner while I lathered up my hair.  Other than that, it was great!

One of the things I loved about this massage experience was that there was no pressure to purchase additional products at the end.  Every other massage I've had has high pressure sales afterwards and I really appreciated not having to say no this time. 

Mandara Spa has a plethora of treatments to choose from.  Massages are just the tip of the ice berg.  (Brazilion wax anyone?)

Spa experiences can be pricey, but guess what?  They accept SpaFinder.com gift cards, which you can purchase at your local drug store or grocery store and they never expire.  I was able to pay for half of my bill with gift cards that I had been given over the past 2 years.

Need a little pampering while on your Disney vacation?  I highly recommend the Mandara Spa!