Disney Cruise Line’s “Star Wars Day at Sea”.

Jackie WL Star W

Disney Cruise Line motor coach transport is super convenient from your Walt Disney World Resort hotel, which in my case was Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, to Port Canaveral. Doing a land stay before a Disney cruise is the ultimate vacation, combining the best of both worlds!

In this case we were on our way to our “Star Wars Day at Sea” aboard the fourth and newest ship, the Disney Fantasy.

Star W Port C

You’re made to feel super welcome by Minnie Mouse all decked out in her sailing attire just before you board the ship. Disney Cruise Line contracted photographers on hand for those professional photos, for which the collection can be purchased onboard at “Shutters Photography”, either in individual photos, or in packages. You can even customize your cell phone case.

Jackie Star W Gate

The best gate to a gangway at sea, Terminal 8-Disney Cruise Line at Port Canaveral. Loving those Disney Imagineering details!

Atrium Lobby StarW

Magical Guest introductions making Guests feel like royalty into the “Star Wars Day at Sea” adorned Atrium Lobby aboard the Disney Fantasy.

Stateroom 5022

We have always booked verandah staterooms, but on this sailing which I booked just short of a year out, I reserved a category 8A oceanview stateroom, #5022. The best selections of staterooms are at your feet, the earlier you book. This stateroom accommodates 3 people, offers a queen bed and a single convertible sofa bed. The restroom is not the traditional “split-bath” configuration, which is an industry first for Disney Cruise Line.

Star W Teacup Table

Booking far out enough (usually a year) in advance, affords you the opportunity to score these coveted dining tables, called, “Teacup Tables” in Enchanted Garden, one of the three dining rooms on Disney Cruise Line’s industry first, “Rotational Dining”. The unique convenience about this dining system is that your serving team follows you on your rotation through a total of three restaurants, Enchanted Garden, Royal Court and Animator’s Palate. We, on this cruise were greatly surprised, and I’ll tell you why.

I requested a “Teacup Table”, because we greatly enjoyed ours on our previous Disney Fantasy sailing. To our great surprise, we were seated at the very same table on this sailing, and I mean the exact table number, #59. The second biggest surprise, was the photobomber …our server from our Mediterranean cruise back in July 2014 aboard the Disney Magic, Eder G. Now what are the odds of that happening! It’s Disney *pixie-dust* at work, that’s what!

Eder and Jackie

Here’s what I love about dining rotation. State your needs to your serving team once and you’re taken care of for the rest of the cruise. I was on a special diet, not allowing any carbohydrates or sweets, and Eder worked with me to make my dining healthful, yet highly palatable. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.

Andrew Mini Golf

Here’s what keeps us coming back…the social interactions, and spontaneous developmental bursts from my son, who has Autism. You’d never know it looking at him here playing mini golf on “Goofy’s Sports Deck”. Andrew can take you throughout the entire ship, just tell him where you want to go and follow his lead. It’s incredible!

Captain Hook Goofy Sports Deck

Just when you’re involved with playing ping-pong and mini golf, a visitor strolls through for some greets!AquaDuck DF

The “AquaDuck” another Disney Cruise Line industry first. 763 feof water coastering, with a 20 foot extension over the side of the ship. This feature is found on both the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Accessible only by stairs, right into and out of the funnel, in a tandem raft.

AquaDuck lazy river

Guests finish off in a mini lazy river allowing ample time to exit, although some, like my son like to splash about.

Set sail on your Star Wars Day at Sea and plan your voyage to a galaxy far, far away!

 

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My BIGGEST Personal Dream Came True

Disney MP 2016

The Disney Parks Moms Panel is an official Disney online forum where Disney travel enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge answer returning and potential Guests questions regarding Disney Parks planning. The advice and tips presented to Guests is unparalleled with the abundant depth of knowledge from first-hand experience. Panelists represent various Disney Parks destination specialties around the globe, such as Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, runDisney and ESPN Wide World of Sports. As well, panelists are well versed with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Adventures by Disney. Best of all, most panelists have a rich tapestry of combined destination experiences, as well as knowledge of travel with special needs family members, and multiple languages such as Spanish, Portuguese and French.

After eight years of applications, (which typically begin in September), progressing through three rounds, and a telephone interview, I was invited for a coveted spot representing the Walt Disney World Resort Specialty! I couldn’t be more grateful and pleased for this important opportunity in assisting returning and potential Disney Parks Guests with their vacation planning. This year for me will be one that I cherish every single moment of answering questions and helping people create life-long, unforgettable memories with their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you’re interested in applying, check the Disney Parks Blog for official application announcements late August or early September.

My Disney Parks experience begins with over 30 visits as a Walt Disney World Resort hotel Guest at over 12 of their resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club Villas. I have celebrated each of my children’s birthdays, except 5 at Walt Disney World Resort and with Disney Cruise Line. I have stayed and played at Disneyland Resort in California and at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa in Hawai’i. As well, I have sailed with Disney Cruise Line fleet wide on the Caribbean, and Mediterranean itineraries as a Platinum Castaway Club member with over 11 sailings.

That’s how much I love anything related to Disney! I would be honoured to assist you with your upcoming or potential Disney Parks vacation, just look for Jacqueline P. from Ontario over at the Disney Parks Moms Panel representing Walt Disney World Resort.

Jackie Acropolis

Disney Cruise Line’s Halloween Pumpkin Trees

Disney Cruise Line’s “Halloween on the High Seas” as part of their “Holidays on the High Seas” is in full swing right now. Our family loves Halloween because my husband is a Halloween baby and we sailed with Disney Cruise Line during his birthday back in 2006 before “Halloween on the High Seas” took place. I can’t wait to book the next cruise sailing over Halloween!

Guests sailing these unique sailings fleetwide, are in for real tricks and treats, elaborately Halloween themed areas, activities, parties, entertainment, and many special experiences in addition to the stellar services and amenities already in place for people of all ages.

A special event is the evolving Halloween Pumpkin Tree in the Atrium Lobby which transforms into spooky wonders throughout the sailing. Leave it to Disney Imagineering to go the extra mile with meaning and significance regarding the tree.

Of particular note with this Halloween Tree is that it has a different name on each of the four ships in the fleet. The tree is actually a pumpkin tree with a supporting legend during the mysterious time of the Pumpkin King, who needed someone to help keep his favorite, beloved Halloween holiday tradition alive.

The Pumpkin King reached into his head and collected four pumpkin seeds, each representing one attribute of his mean personality. When planted, the four trees grew into beautiful, yet morbid looking trees, which only bloomed once a year, on Halloween. Legend has it that when everyone learns the who, the what and the why, the Pumpkin King’s spirit will bring the pumpkin trees to life.

Each tree has a special name on each ship:

Reap– Disney Magic

Bog– Disney Wonder

Grim– Disney Dream

Muckelbones-Disney Fantasy

Pictured below is ‘Grim’ on the Disney Dream. Photo Credit: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line will treat guests sailing this fall to a wickedly good time as the Disney ships transform into a ghoulish wonderland during Halloween on the High Seas cruises. For this extra-spooky celebration, each ship boasts its own signature Pumpkin Tree, which magically transforms throughout the cruise with the help of a storytelling caretaker. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

These special sailings are on right now through Holiday Cruises and Special Days at Sea with Disney Cruise Line.

Disney Parks Moms Panel and The Year I Made Round Three

Years ago, before Facebook, there were chat groups on Yahoo that I followed. One in particular held my interest because it was about a topic that I love. A topic that got me excited and a topic that occupied my mind many times throughout the day. There, I met friends who shared the same interest and passion for anything related to Disney. They understood.

It was in the fall of 2008, however, that a new spark was ignited. One of my friends in the chat group announced that she made it on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, now known as the Disney Parks Moms Panel. So I went to the website to check things out and couldn’t believe my eyes. This was an online group of seasoned Disney enthusiasts with first-hand knowledge of travel to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club. You could ask any question you wanted about your upcoming vacation, buying a Disney timeshare, or sail on their ships. I was riveted. Here was a place dedicated to helping others plan their vacations. I had to get involved, especially with my need to break all barriers of travel to the Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line with special needs children.

So began the journey of applying to the panel year after year from 2009 onwards. Every Fall, the applications would open up, historically there were three rounds, of which the third involved a telephone interview.

Then I discovered Facebook and Twitter, and all of a sudden I was connecting and meeting passionate people with the same dream as mine. I’ve forged such unimaginable friendships and bonds with these people who I proudly call my friends, many of whom are panelists.

I’ll never forget the spring of 2012, when I was invited to be a guest at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel reunion. I literally jumped around the house from joy and excitement. Now, I would get to meet the panelists and many of my friends who were also invited.

There’s more. Later that summer, Laura Spencer, one of the leaders of the panel, posted an invitation through the Disney Parks Blog Posts to attend the Walt Disney World Moms Panel FAN Luncheon. Sign up was limited, so you had to act quickly, which I did, and you should have seen my reaction upon receiving a confirmation to that event. Now, not only was I attending that special, coveted event, but I had the excitement of planning a visit to Walt Disney World. I cannot tell you how excited I was.

The thrill, the anticipation, the buzz on Facebook. It was epic.

But there’s more.

The fan luncheon took place in between rounds one and two of the application process. So now, not only were we all excited about that, but we had the reunion trip and fan luncheon to look forward to. None of my annual fall chores were completed that year, none. I had more important things on my mind.

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel reunion took place at Downtown Disney’s Portobello Restaurant the day before the FAN luncheon and was such a wonderful experience. Meeting everyone was a thrill and finally connecting face to face with all these online friends was an experience like no other.

Following that, the very next day, the fan luncheon was at the California Grill and it was beyond anything I’d ever experienced! The excitement could lift a rocket ship to space, that’s how much energy was in the room that day. I got to meet all of the panelists who came by to each of us for a greet and a photo. I think there were 200 people as guests that day. Here is my write up about that magical event, which I’ll never ever forget for the rest of my life. Stuff like that never happens to me.

Here is my write up, go ahead, have a look! Disney Parks Moms Panel FAN Luncheon 2012

Now here’s the thing, back then it was called the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, but at the fan luncheon we were given purple T-shirts that read Disney Parks Moms Panel. The banners read like that too. Not many people noticed, but a few of us did. Well, soon after, there was indeed a name change to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

After the luncheon, I had to meet my husband at Magic Kingdom Park to relieve him of my son and we decided, right at that moment, right on Main Street U.S.A. while I wore my purple Disney Parks Moms Panel T-shirt, to shoot my video for my ‘potential’ round two video. I didn’t have a clue if I would even make it to round two, but something was driving me to film it there. My instinct was speaking to me. So I did it. I filmed my video right there and then. I didn’t have a script or anything. While filming you could even hear a child in the background screaming to go potty. We didn’t even edit that out, because that’s reality and I didn’t want to look phoney.

Round two notifications historically would come out on our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and things were no different that year. Facebook was a flurry of excitement and pixie dust was flying around Twitter with Laura’s Tweets announcing that magical, Pixie Dusted news was about to come.

My magical news did indeed come and I was invited to round two. Essays about Disney Cruise Line (the specialty I applied to) and the video. I was ready.

Then the watching and the waiting began. All my notifications were on. I was dinged here and dinged there. I would stop everywhere to check my email. I watched Facebook and Twitter like a hawk. I had no interest in anything other than following conversations on Facebook in my various groups. Watching for the flutter of sudden, massive notifications and activity  awaiting  round three notifications.

I’ll never forget this, but the saying, “A watched pot never boils” is true. I was alone with my son one evening when I had to pick up my car from a maintenance check. It was after dinner, it was raining, but I was very busy making sure Andrew had his meal on the go. I completely forgot about the panel and Facebook and Twitter because I was involved in hearing about my vehicle and what had been done to it.

Then I got home. Facebook notifications were a blaze. There were oodles and oodles of red private inbox messages and regular notifications in my feed. People were asking me if I made it to round three.

With my heart pounding, I went over to my email and opened up my inbox and there it was. I knew it was good news from the subject  line. I was trembling so hard I couldn’t click the mouse. Somehow I did, my heart pounding out of my chest while doing so.

I clicked.

I was invited to round three. I went through the roof with joy. I was running around the house whooping (is that even a word?) all over the place. I made it to round three. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to read and read the email over and over again in disbelief. I even printed it out for verification, in the event the invitation to round three was retracted or not real. Stuff like this never happens to me. It just couldn’t be real, but it was!

But,… as high as I was flying as a kite, it didn’t last very long, because I had to tell my friends, because we were all in this together. I knew that many wouldn’t be sharing this glee. That sunk me and anchored me right down. This was going to be a problem. It had to be handled carefully because people’s feelings would be hurt. I had been there and I knew how it felt. I felt for my friends, so I had to find a way to tell them that was considerate. I did, and was so well received with good wishes it broke my heart to see such kindness from so many people who were heartbroken. But that’s the kind of community this is. These fellow applicants are genuinely kind people and I know it’s because we all share the same love for Disney.

Round three involved an interview. I had to send in all my information to Jennifer, who was so gracious about it all and helped me with this and with that. I just had to make sure all my contact information was submitted properly. She was SO patient with and kind to me.

I was told I would receive a phone call setting up a time and day for my telephone interview. I’ll never, ever forget where I was…. I was driving on the freeway home from having lunch with Kirsten E. (a Canadian Disney Parks Moms Panelist) who was all excited for my making it to round three. She was so intent on finding me a cupcake that afternoon to commemorate my achievement, it was so sweet.

Anyway, there I was driving on the freeway home when the call came. It was a very friendly, helpful man who cheerfully set up my telephone interview for the following Monday morning at 8:45 a.m. I had to wait three whole days. I was in agony. I was pouring over all my Disney Cruise Line fact sheets, going over everything in my mind just in case they wanted trivia knowledge. I was so excited.

Monday morning finally came and there I was pacing in the kitchen waiting for that long distance ring.

8:45 a.m. and the phone rang. It was the interview team. I remember this so well. I couldn’t sit down, I was too excited.

I was greeted by Laura Spencer, who was so friendly and accommodating. She asked me a couple of questions and I was introduced to the other interviewers who were all so gracious. I was asked questions about various topics about travel with the cruise line which I answered to the best of my knowledge and remember having fun while doing so. I honestly don’t think I took a breath through the entire interview which lasted exactly fifteen minutes, which for me, flew by in a matter of seconds. It was all over so fast. That was it…..now the wait. I was told that I would be receiving a phone call near weeks end.

The phone rang on Thursday afternoon, three days later. My heart was pounding and I could barely breathe. It was Laura Spencer, who greeted me and told me what a great job I did on the interview and how my passion was so obvious, but unfortunately, a spot for me was not available for the 2013 panel.

I was crestfallen. The sting was so sharp and I remember the look on my husbands face as I was hearing my rejection over the telephone.

I went upstairs and had my pity party privately, thanked God for the opportunity and vowed that I would keep trying.

Three years later and I’m getting ready to apply once again this Fall. The specialty? Well, I have ten cruises with Disney on all four ships, over twenty-seven trips to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort combined, a trip to Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and Disneyland Paris in September….so which specialty?

I’ll decide that when the time comes and listen to my instinct, because it’s always right.

Here’s the link to the Disney Parks Moms Panel, you should check this out!

Disney Parks Moms Panel

Disney Cruise Line’s Live Stage Shows

When it comes to entertainment, Disney takes the prize! They’ve captured and maintained the interest of millions of people world-wide at all of their Disney Parks, live theatrical stages, on ice and with Disney Cruise Line. Top notch, Broadway style theatrical productions with special effects await every Guest who sails.

The Walt Disney Theatre

The lavish, state of the art, Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs of the Walt Disney Theatre, (depending on the ship), aboard all four ships in the fleet, is equipped with Dolby 3D and Dolby sound. The theatre is constructed to include a 40 foot wide proscenium stage allowing for movable sets, projection systems and special effects lighting. The theatre entertains Guests with live, Disney themed, theatrical shows as well as family friendly variety acts and Disney movie PremEARS. The featuring of Disney movie PremEARS allow Guests to partake in a Disney movie’s opening at the same time as nationwide on land.

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Magic

  • Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story
  • Disney Dreams-An Enchanted Classic
  • Villains Tonight!
  • All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin
  • Remember the Magic: A Final Farewell
  • Tangled: The Musical will be premiering in November of 2015

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Wonder

  • Toy Story- The Musical
  • Disney Dreams- An Enchanted Classic
  • The Golden Mickeys
  • All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin
  • Remember the Magic: A Final Farewell

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Dream

  • Disney’s Believe
  • The Golden Mickeys
  • Villains Tonight

Theatrical Shows on the Disney Fantasy

  • Disney Wishes
  • Disney’s Believe
  • Disney’s Aladdin- A Musical Spectacular

Walt Disney Theatre 2 DCL  Walt Disney Theatre DCL

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream Will Enhance Guest Experiences

Disney Cruise Line announced very exciting news today about the third ship in the fleet, the Disney Dream! When the ship goes into dry dock this October, many new appointments will be added.

Youth Clubs- Disney’s Oceaneer Club

(Star Wars: Millenium Falcon)

A newly themed area will appear in Disney’s Oceaneer Club with a Star Wars theme. The area will be called, Star Wars: Millennium Falcon which draws inspiration from the popular spacecraft from the legendary Star Wars saga. The spaceship will offer areas where children can partake in galactic activities, including crafts and games. Children will have the opportunity to watch “Star Wars Rebels”, the new Disney  animated series. The Jedi Training Academy will also be offered onboard for young Jedi hopefuls called Padawans. They’ll learn lightsaber moves with missions to face off with Darth Vader.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Star Wars Disney Dream

(Disney Infinity Toy Box)

Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will also offer Disney Infinity Toy Box, an interactive space where children can experience virtual games which are customized. Characters from Disney stories will spring to life. Children that sail on the Disney Dream will be able to continue to play their exclusive Disney Cruise Line content once backat home.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The huge popularity of this boutique at Walt Disney World Resort and on the Disney Fantasy is making its way to the Disney Dream. It will be located on Deck 5, midship and will offer pixie-dusted makeovers by Fairy Godmother’s in training. On the special Pirate Party Night days, the boutique will transform into The Pirates League transforming little guests into pirates.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats

Get ready to enjoy tons of ice-cream and gelato, candy and goodies at Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats. The area takes theming from the popular game Sugar Rush in “Wreck-It Ralph”. The store will have two entrances through Cabanas and the pool deck.

Photo Credit: Disney Cruise Line/ Disney Parks Blog

Vanellope's Treats

Satellite Falls

The adult exclusive Satellite Falls on Deck 13, Forward will feature the ever popular water features found on the Disney Fantasy Satellite Falls, such as a splash pool, a falling rain curtain, loungers and shady areas.

I love back to back cruises and love the newer ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, so for us, I see a couple of back to back cruises on the Disney Dream. Booked far enough in advance, I’ll be able to secure the same stateroom making life convenient in between sailings. Staying in the same stateroom will save me from packing in between cruises.

Photo Credit: WDWLuxuryGuide

Satellite Falls

Best of all, I can book three cruises, one right after the other and really extend my sailing making for many blissful days at sea.

Can you guess where I’ll head before and after my cruises?

Thank you.

Andrew Shows His DisneySide

The mere mention of the word Disney sends my son Andrew into orbit. A fleeting commercial catches his attention instantly and begins the repetition of “go to Disney”. Seeing me on Facebook posting Disney photos to my various groups attracts his attention immediately and I catch him glancing at my photos periodically. Nothing to do with Disney escapes him, nothing.

On each and every trip we’ve seen drastic developmental improvements, increased social interaction and an appropriateness in behaviour that gives us great hope. Something happens to him when there. Don’t think I’m silly or childish when I say it’s magic, but it is. In fact, Disney taps into every Guests inner child and brings it out, so maybe what I wrote sounds childish but that’s alright! Life is too short to be serious all of the time, so why not don those Mickey Mouse Ears and smile?

Cast Members enhance our personal experiences too. On every trip a Cast Member has made our visit that much better with their friendly and helpful advice, tips and the odd perk. A special button, Mickey balloon, treat or FastPass has gone a long way with our family and those moments made us feel valued and important. Those moments made us feel as if we were honoured and a part of a great big, happy family.

That meant and means the world to us.

Andrew navigates the parks well, in fact, we follow his lead listening to his requests of where to go next and when to snack and where. The Disney Parks are his home away from home.

So it’s no surprise that Disney memorabilia fills our home serving as reminders of great memories and experiences. Daily little happy reminders during times of stress and complications that give us great hope.

His bedroom has all of his favourite Disney stuffed friends and he checks them regularly.

Until today.

Today he came down and wanted to goof around and this is what he did. Andrew wore what he could and wanted to play. He misses Walt Disney World. He misses sailing with Disney Cruise Line. If I could, I would live in Celebration and visit Walt Disney World as much as possible. If I could, I would sail with Disney as much as possible. I honestly feel he can be completely cured if I could spend everyday there.

This is why it’s so difficult leaving, we never know what spontaneous, positive behaviour we’ll experience next.

I cannot wait until we sail on my favourite ship, the Disney Fantasy, for the Star Wars Day at Sea next January. We are visiting Walt Disney World before the cruise and we’ll give Andrew the time of his life.

I also cannot wait to see what he will do next while there.

Andrew DisneySide Goofy Theme