Day 2: Saturday, Mar. 11
After getting our wake-up call from Mickey, we hopped on a bus and went to the Magic Kingdom's early morning. Since we had done most of Tomorrowland the night before, we decided to concentrate on Fantasyland. First of all, we zoomed to the new Winnie the Pooh ride. Although I was saddened that Mr. Toad's Wild Ride had to close for this, I was still eager to experience the Pooh ride's neat special effects. And they were indeed amazing effects. In fact, I thought the part where your ride vehicle bounces along with tigger and where it seems like it's floating during the flood scene was pure genius. Some of the other effects, like the words getting blown off the storybook page, and when Pooh falls asleep and floats up into the air as he dreams are also amazingly magical. We ended up doing the Pooh ride twice just to catch all the details; in fact, sharp-eyed guests will even spot a tribute to Mr. Toad! Next, we had a ride on Snow White's Scary Adventure and Peter Pan's Flight, followed by a trip through Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, on which I refuse to disclose my score, since surprisingly, I've never been very good at this ride. We then hopped on a monorail over to Epcot, where I couldn't wait to get on Test Track. Fortunatley, Epcot had just opened when we arrived, so Test Track only had a small line, and within minutes we were seated in our car. The ride was great, especially since everything was working this time, unlike when I rode it December 1998, when it had just opened to the public. After getting off Test Track, I realized I was getting a blister from my new sandals. So off we went to first-aid to get some band-aids. We had an interesting chat with the nurse at first-aid, and she pointed out that I had made the two most common mistakes when touring Walt Disney World: wearing shoes that hadn't been worn in and not wearing socks with my sandals. The funny thing is that I had long known not to do these things and I had even told people not to make these mistakes, and yet, I still ended up with blisters! As we were leaving first-aid, another family came in with the exact same problem. While walking along, we came across a Cast Member with trading pins, so I decided to try some pin-trading with the Disney pins we brought from home. She had a nice Tower of Terror pin, so I traded for that and put it on my Tower of Terror shirt which I just happened to be wearing. Later in the day, I traded for a Test Track pin which I stuck on my Test Track hat. I found pin trading to be a lot more fun and rewarding than expected, especially when I simply concentrated on finding pins that matched the Disney apparel I had on at the time. Next, we did what me and my dad consider to be the most humorous attraction at Walt Disney World (not including the Adventurer's Club at Pleasure Island of course!), Universe of Energy. When we got outside again, it had started to rain, and as we got closer to Innoventions, the rain really started coming down, so we popped into Mouse Gear for some shopping. This is a great store, so much selection. That, mixed with the rain, probably led to the store being overly crowded. We could hardly move! Fortunataly, the rain soon slowed down enough so that we could venture back outside. Since it was nearing lunch time, we decided to dine at the Coral Reef restaurant, a spot I'd long wanted to try. It's a really beautiful restaurant, and it's so neat to sit and watch all the schools of fish and lone sharks, turtles and manatarays swim around while waiting for your food. And speaking of food, the baked cod I ordered was the best fish I'd ever tasted. It was a perfect lunch, and when we came out of the restaurant the rain had completely stopped and the sun looked like it was going to come out. WOOHOO! Next, we went up to do the new Journey Into Your Imagination ride which has so gotten so many negative reviews. Because of this, and also because I was never such a big fan of the old ride, I was determined to like this new ride. And lo and behold, I did like it. I admit that it could've been done better and that it was a different sort of ride, but it was still quite enjoyable. To people who dislike this ride I say, you have no imagination! Unfortunatley, I was quite dissapointed with the new Image Works. It didn't seem to be nearly as captivating as the old one. Before leaving the Imagination pavilion, I bought one of the customizable Walt Disney World Forever CD's (I love these, I only wish there were more selections) and picked up a few fast passes for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and then went and joined my parents in the United Kingdom pavilion. I found them chatting with a nice old British couple on a park bench at the back of the pavilion. While we were sitting there, Tigger appeared and quickly a small group of kids gathered to get a picture with him. Once those kids were gone though, he went around greeting people sitting around on the benches, and he even snuck up and and hugged my mom from behind and really spooked her. Tigger then went bouncing through and over the little English hedge maze - he was so energetic. It was so amazing to see a Disney character not being mobbed by kids, I should've got a picture. After enjoying Tigger's little escapade, we went and used our fast passes for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, although there was no line, so we didn't need them anyways. Next, we went and took a look through Millenium Village, the huge new pavilion in World Showcase that features dozens of countries. We thought Scotland's mini-golf area was kind of neat, along with the representations of Denmark's four different seasons (I still can't believe the snowman in the winter area was actually made of real ice). Israel's simulator movie was fascinating, and well done too. After spending about an hour and a half looking around there, we continued along World Showcase and I bought a yummy Kaki Gori (a great slushy) from the Japan pavilion, and ate it while wathcing the impressive Japanese drummers. Next, we took in the American Adventure (a great supplement to the US history course I'm taking right now) and then took a Freedom Ship across the lagoon and exited the park. We were intending to go to the Magic Kingdom for an hour, before heading to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, but while walking out of Epcot, I realized we didn't have our show tickets with us. So, we took a bus back to Port Orleans and got our tickets, and just relaxed around the hotel for the extra time. When it was time to head to the show, we made our way to the bus stop where a Hoop-Dee-Doo bus was supposed to pick us up. About 20 minutes later, we were still waiting, and running out of time. My mom decided to go to Guest Services and ask about the bus, and they said that it should've come by now. They were really helpful though, and to make sure we got there, they arranged for someone to drive us there. So we were driven in a huge Port Orleans station wagon - it was a lot nicer than taking the bus! We ended up getting there with lots of time to spare. Once we got in the building, we discovered that our seats were on the second floor. Although we could see the stage okay, our seats were facing the wall to eat. Our chairs could swivel around, but it was a real nuisance. If I ever go to see the show again (yes, it was good enough to see again), I'd make sure to get a table on the floor. The show was great, and the food wasn't bad either. When the actors went around asking where people were from, they took delight in finding us Canadians, especially since they had just made a joke about Canada. Afterwards, we found out that the family sitting beside us was also from Canada. When the show was over, we went back to our resort for a good night's rest.
Day 3: Sunday, Mar. 12
In the morning, we hopped on a bus and went to the MGM early morning. First of all, we did the Tower of Terror, which could very well be my favourite attraction at Walt Disney World, especially with the new drop sequence. Next, we went star gazing through the Great Movie Ride and had a laugh watching Muppet Vision 3-D. By now the rest of the park was open, so we headed to the Sounds Dangerous show. On the way, we passed the entrance to the Indiana Jones Stunt Show which was then closed for renovations, and I chuckled remembering the last time we saw the show and my dad was picked as an extra. Sounds Dangerous, starring Drew Carey, was a fun, unique attraction; afterwards we bought some of the tasty fruit sold along Sunset Boulevard. They sell really great pineapple there. 10 minutes to 11:00, we headed over to the show, Disney's Doug Live. This is great for kids and adults who are fans of the animated series, Doug, since it's completely faithful to the show. Afterwards, we headed to the Magic Kingdom where I had arranged to meet a man named Bob Matthews and his wife, whom I'd met through my website. While waiting at our designated meeting spot - in front of the Enchanted Tiki Room - we saw an amazing acrobatic act, in fact it was one of the most unbelievable things I saw this trip; it was like they were made of rubber! After the show, we met up with Bob and his wife and went over to the restaurant across from the Pirates of the Caribbean for a chat. They were quite a fascianting couple since they were the first non-Disney employees to join the Disney Vacation Club, and they live only 5 minutes from Walt Disney World. I couldn't believe hearing that they could walk to Walt Disney World - I would give anything to be able to walk to Walt Disney World, anything!! After our chat, we parted ways and headed for the Jungle Cruise for which we had some fast passes. When we got there, however, we realized that our passes had expired, but the Cast Member at the start of the line was really friendly and let us use them anyways, which was great because there was a huge line for the ride, and with the fast passes we got into a boat right away. We found fast passes to be really handy if you spend most of your day in one park, but they become harder to use if you move between parks often. Our Jungle Cruise was great, and afterwards we realized we had just enough time to get to Animal Kingdom to see the Tarzan show, or so we thought! We didn't realize we had to transfer at the Transportation and Ticket Centre, but once we got there, we still had just enough time to get to Animal Kingdom, or so we thought again! We ended up waiting 20 minutes for the Animal Kingdom bus, during which numerous buses for the other parks passed by. We never did get to see the Tarzan show, but we did have time to do some of our favourite Animal Kingdom attractions like Countdown to Extinction and Kali River Rapids. After getting off the rapids ride, there was no line and we were still fairly dry, so me and my dad (my mom didn't want to risk it again) went on it again. Our luck wasn't nearly as good this time and we got completely soaked. When we got back to the loading area, there was still no line and so the Cast Member offered to let us go again without even having to get out of the raft. We thought we couldn't get any wetter than we already were, so off we went again. I was wrong about not being able to get wetter, but we still had a blast. We could've done it a fourth time, but I would've looked like I had fallen into the river itself! The park was about to close, so we slowly walked out, doing some shopping along the way. We then took a bus back to the Magic Kingdom, where we managed to snag a great spot in Town Square for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Unlike most people, I still prefer SpectroMagic to the Main Street Electrical. Perhaps I'm just a little too young to truly appreciate the nostalgia of the latter. After the parade, we got a bite at Casey's Corner, and then my dad and I headed for the Adventurer's Club at Pleasure Island. As expected, the Adventurer's Club was hilarious, and we ended up sitting beside more Canadians. Disney must be secretly grouping us together! We were happy to find that most of the actors and actresses at the club were the same ones we had seen a year and a half ago, although they were playing different roles. Afterwards, we headed back to our resort, and before going to sleep we packed up, because tomorrow we were embarking on our Disney Cruise.
Day 4: Monday, Mar. 13
This morning we slept in about an hour, and then decided to go to MGM for some last-minute rides. The Disney Cruise bus was picking us up at 11:00, so we had about an hour in the park. On the way to the Disney-MGM Stduios we sat across from even more Canadinas! First of all, my dad and I hit the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. I was really nervous about doing this ride, since I'd always avoided looping roller coasters, but I was determined to experience everything Disney creates, so I did it, and boy was I glad I did! I loved the ride, although I was a tiny bit dizzy at the end, but I still couldn't wait to do it again. Unfortunately, the line was monstrous, so we couldn't. Instead we took a stroll around the New York street area, and I discovered that one of the side streets of this area recreates a London avenue on one side, and a China Town district on the other side. I was surprised I'd never noticed that before.
Soon it was time to head back to our resort to catch the Disney Cruise bus. On the way back, we had a bus all to ourselves and we had a nice chat with the driver. Soon we were back at Port Orleans and boarding the comfy Disney Cruise Line bus; then it was off to Port Canaveral. Our bus driver on the way to the cruise was one of the most entertaining drivers we've had. He was a part-time DJ and so he was a great speaker and had an excellent music collection to play for us. He was really friendly too, in fact, one of the first things he did was remove a little sign from the front of the bus which said "Please don't talk to the driver." The ride went by really fast, and soon we were approaching Port Canaveral. As we crossed a bridge, we spotted the Disney Magic cruise ship docked at Disney's terminal. It was an amazing sight. I was awed more and more by the ship as we got closer. It's one of the most beautiful things I've seen. Soon we were getting off the bus and entering the beautiful cruise terminal. We quickly sorted things out there and boarded the ship. As you board, you step right into the grand atrium, the most beautiful part of the ship, and a Cast Member asks for your family name. Then they announce your name over the P.A. like "Welcome the Schacht family from Ottawa, Canada," and all the Cast Members in the atrium applaud. It's impossible to describe how magical it felt right at that moment. We then found our way to the Parrot Cay restaurant, where they had a big buffet set up. There was so much food, and it was all great. After eating, we made our way to our stateroom, #7125 on Deck 7 Aft, and along the way we marveled at how unbelievably beautiful the ship is. I was especialy delighted to discover all the old Disney artwork throughout the ship. After wandering through the seemingly-endless hallways, we found our room. We were a little apprehensive about the size of our room, since we were in the smallest stateroom category, but when we opened the door for the first time, we found there was quite a bit of room for the three of us. I was happily-surprised to find that our travel agent had arranged for a gift to be in our room upon arrival - a big Disney Cruise Line photo album, which would come in real handy. After settling in and meeting our friendly stateroom hostess, Sunny, from Croatia, it was time for the mandatory safety drill. It was extremely organized, but with everyone walking through the hallways wearing big lifejackets, I couldn't help but think about Titanic. Afterwards, we went to the Nassau shopping presentation in the movie theatre, which is really beautiful. During the presentation, we learnt that if you didn't want jewelry or alcohol, there wouldn't be much shopping to do in Nassau. Next, we went on a short walking tour of the ship so we got to know our way around and learnt many interesting facts. For instance, the chandelier in the grand atrium cost two million to make and was created in Italy! As the tour ended, the boat was just starting to depart so we went to the top deck to watch. There was a small party with music and Disney characters to celebrate the departure, and soon the ship was moving pretty fast. Soon it was time for the first show of the cruise, The Voyage of the Ghost Ship, at the beautiful Walt Disney theatre. The show was okay, not as great as it could've been, but it did have some fairly impressive special effects. Since we had the late seating for dinner, it was now time to eat. This night we were eating at Parrot Cay, which has a Bahamian theme. We met our servers, Gabriela from Argentina and Katarina from Croatia. Soon, the other family who would be eating with us for the entire cruise arrived at the table, and by now, we weren't really surprised to discover that they were from Canada too. Their names were Brian, Cheryl, Dana, Bre, and Sean, and they were from Windsor, Ontario. They seemed really friendly; this was going to be a great dinner. My food was beyond good, it was amazing. I had a delicious passion fruit soup for an appetizer, followed by one of the best steaks I've ever had along with some yummy lobster (my first time to ever try lobster), and then scrumptious Key Lime Pie for dessert. This is not a vacation where you'll want to try and lose weight. The only bad thing about our first dinner was that it was the first time eating while the boat was moving quickly, and my first time on a big ship. I didn't think it would really bother me, and it didn't really, but that first night I did feel a little queasy. I didn't let that ruin dinner though, which I enjoyed immensely. After dinner, since it was fairly late, we went back to our room and straight to sleep.
Day 5: Tuesday, Mar. 14
This morning we discovered one advantage to having an inside stateroom is that it stays dark, so that you can easily sleep in. We woke up to hear the captain announcing over the P.A. system that we had arrived in Nassau and guests could now disembark. Our first view of Nassau was from the Deck 7 outlook where we had a great view of the entire city. We stopped at Parrot Cay for a yummy buffet breakfast and then headed off the ship, curious to see what the city held in store. As we had deduced from the presentation the day before, the shopping wasn't great. There was an endless supply of jewelry stores and tacky tourist shops, and while we saw many amazing precious stones and a few interesting shops, overall the shopping was dissapointing. The day wasn't a complete loss though, since I found it quite fascianting observing the city's architecture, culture, people, and crazy traffic. This was the first time I'd been to a foreign country other than the US. I couldn't figure out which side of the road they drove on here, since some cars had the sterring wheel on the left and others had it on the right, and the only streets we saw were one way! We later found out that they actually drive on the left side of the road, like in England. When we finished touring the city, we headed back to the luxury of our ship, where we relaxed on the deck by the pool. We had some pizza for lunch which wasn't that great, and an ice cream sundae, which was tasty. At 5:30, we went to the Captain's Party in the atrium. We got to meet Captain Hans, and they were also giving out some really yummy fruity drinks. I felt kind of sorry for the Captain to see that there was a huge line to meet Mickey and Minnie, and yet no line to meet the Captain. All the kids think that Mickey drives the boat. At 6:00, we went to see Toy Story 2 in the movie theatre. Even though it was my third time seeing it, it was still great; although I was dissapointed that it wasn't the version with the outtakes at the end. After the movie, it was time for dinner - tonight we were eating at the fancy Lumier's, which is themed to the ballroom from Beauty and the Beast. Our other table guests, Brian, Cheryl and their family soon arrived and told us all about the shore excursion they took to one of the beaches. As expected, it was a delicious meal, and I was daring enough to try escargo, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were pretty tasty. During the meal, our head server, Gabriela, showed us her super skill at hanging spoons on her nose and got all of us to try, which was a lot of fun. After dinner, we went up on deck, where there was a huge party with music and dancing. It was interesting looking at the other cruise ships docked there whose decks were all quiet and only occupied by a few people watching our party. You could really tell this was a Disney ship when they played the Disney version of Lou Bega's "Mambo #5" in which he replaces the girls' names with Disney characters. At 11:00, the ship impressed everyone when they shot fireworks out of one of the smokestacks. Now they weren't that big and they only lasted about 45 seconds, but it was still a continuous onslaught of glittery pyrotechnics. After the fireworks, there was a small buffet of fruit and desserts which we went through and ran into Gabriela, our head server, who was still displaying her spoon-hanging ability. After this scrumptious snack, we headed back to our stateroom, where to our delight, our stateroom hostess had made a monkey out of towels. It was really amazing and after marvelling over it, we went to bed.
Day 6: Wednesday, Mar. 15
By the time we woke up, the ship had reached Castaway Cay, Disney's private island. We went onto the Deck 7 outlook and were awed by the picture perfect scene. For breakfast, we went to Topsider's where we were able to eat out on the deck and gaze at the island. While eating, I noticed that a man sitting at the table next to us was wearing an Animal Kingdom Lodge t-shirt, a Disney hotel which is isn't opening for about a year. I figured he had to work for Disney, and so I asked, and it turned out he was an Imagineer, the people who design all the attractions, resorts, and much more for the Disney theme parks. I was thrilled because this was a job I'd give anything to have. He was an architect and helped design Disney hotels and even the cruise ships. After breakfast, we got off the ship and started searching for a few beach chairs to claim. We ended up having to walk a really long way to find some empty ones; we should've gotten off the ship earlier. The walking gave us a chance to check out the island though which is absolutely amazing - endless white sand, crystal clear aquamarine water, and huge palm trees dotting the landscape. Just after getting of the ship, I was surprised to spot two of the submarines from the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride docked beside some of the employee boats. I wondered whether the subs were just there for decoration or had some other purpose. The first thing we did was the snorkeling course, which I'd been looking forward to ever since I'd read about the cruise. I love snorkeling, and to be able to do it in a place like this was a dream come true. We had brought our own equipment from home, so we only had to get a life vest and then we were on our way. Once in the water there was so much to see - really colourful fish, sunken shipwrecks and treasure that Disney had placed, and of course, the clear blue water. We spent about two hours just exploring it all. We then went back to our beach chairs to dry off, and then went to get some lunch. We were a little dissapointed by the food though - there was a huge variety but the quality wasn't as good as on the ship. Afterwards, we went back to our beach chairs to rest in the sun. It was so relaxing. While lying there, I saw some interesting birds which would fly up high and then dive bomb into the water with a big splash to catch fish. It was pretty funny to watch. After resting, we decided to do the snorkeling one more time, but just after we had gotten in the water they started getting everyone out to head back to the ship. So we went back to our beach chairs, collected our stuff, and leisurely walked back to the ship, enjoying our last few moments on this island paradise. Our only real complaint about the island is that we didn't spend longer there. Once back on board, we headed to the Deck 7 outlook where we watched the ship pull away from the island. It was pretty impressive seeing how the ship maneuvered away from the dock, churning up the water. While we were there, a man from Texas was telling us that he heard that a dolphin had washed up on shore on the other side of the island and several Cast Members had gone over there to rescue it. That would've been exciting to see. Soon it was time to go to the show at the Walt Disney Theater. Tonight's show was Hercules the Muse-ical, a comical (even more so than the actual movie) retelling of the Disney movie, Hercules. The show was hilarious, and in particular, the actor who played Hades was excellent in the role. His scenes were some of the funniest things Disney has ever created. I couldn't wait to see how Disney would top this with tomorrow night's show. It was soon time for dinner, and tonight we were eating at the Animator's Palate, which is truly a magical restaurant. Themed to Disney animation in general, the restaurant starts out with everything in black and white from the walls to the servers outfits. Then, as the meal progresses, colour starts to appear in paintings of Disney characters around the room, and just before dessert, video screens around the room light up with a wonderful montage of Disney masterpieces. As the film ends, the walls light up with swirls of brilliant colour and you're presented with a variety of very colourful desserts. The rest of the food is great too! After dinner, it was fairly late, so we went back to our room and went to sleep.
Day 7: Thursday, Mar. 16
For breakfast, we went up to Topsider's for their buffet and enjoyed it out on the deck watching the endless ocean slip by. After breakfast, we took a stroll around the ship, and soon it was time for the Captain's Corner, a question and answer session in the Walt Disney Theater. Along with the captain there were several other major officers from the ship. My dad asked the inevitable question about why we couldn't stay longer at Castaway Cay and they had a few reasons such as having to stay at Nassau for a set amount of time and giving the workers on the island enough time to get ready for the Disney Wonder, Disney's second cruise ship. One girl asked which was bigger - the Titanic or this ship. The captain informed us that by tonnage this ship was bigger, although he hated comparing the ship to the Titanic. It was also interesting to find out that the construction ocurring on Castaway Cay was actually repairs to damage caused by that huge hurricane which caused Disney to close their theme parks for a day. I think it was hurrican Floyd. It turns out that it passed very close to the island and caused quite a bit of damage to the pier. One lady even asked the Cruise Director if he was the voice you hear in the Jungle Cruise line! He informed her that he was not. After the Captain's Corner, there a short disembarkation talk detailing the process of getting off the ship tomorrow. It was sad thinking about that. We then relaxed by the pools for a short while before heading to Lumiers for lunch. The food was great and our server was from Croatia, which got me thinking about the huge variety of nationalities represented by Cast Members on the ship: Australia, India, Britain, South Africa, various South American countries, and a ton of Cast Members from Croatia! I don't think we met any from the US though, and we only met one Canadian Cast Member! After lunch, we went to a special presentation in the Buena Vista theatre called The Making of Disney's Animal Kingdom. The speaker was Debbie DeMars, a general manager at the park. It was a pretty interesting presentation and some great clips of the park's construction were shown. Afterwards, my dad and I went jogging around the Promenade on deck 4 and then joined my mom relaxing by the pool with an ice cream sundae. The night's big show was Disney Dreams, which I'd heard great things about. In the show, Peter Pan teaches a girl to use her imagination again by recreating many great scenes from favourite Disney movies. While most of the show was really great and impressive, the ending was dissapointing because the girl is supposed to fly, but something went wrong and it didn't happen. She jumped up into the air and came right back down again - that must have been embarassing for her. Then the show just continued on without that scene. Because of this and also since the Hercules show was so funny, I consider the Hercules musical to be my favourite of the three shows presented. I was tempted to sneak into the later showing just to see if they got her flying by then. Dinner tonight was again at Animator's Palate, but without any of the special effects we saw the previous night. The menu was the Master Chef Series - each item was a favourite dish created by a chef at a popular Walt Disney World restaurant. I ordered the steak dish created by the chef from the Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, and it was really delicious. It was sad thinking that this was going to be our last dinner of the cruise. We got a picture with our excellent servers, Gabriela and Katarina, who had really made our dinners fun. After taking the photo we found out that they had actually been voted best servers on the ship! Weren't we lucky to get them. After dinner, we went back to our stateroom and started packing our bags, since they needed to be in the hall before midnight to be taken off the ship. We were delighted to find that our stateroom hostess had again made an animal out of towels for us; this time it was a dog. After packing, we went to bed and quickly fell asleep.
Day 8: Friday, Mar. 17
Getting up in the morning, we had some time before breakfast, so we took a last-minute stroll around the ship. While looking off the side the ship at one point, we were amazed to see dolphins. The cruise never stopped amazing us! Breakfast was being served at the restaurant you were at the previous night so we were at the Animator's Palate again, and like dinner, you have the same servers and table guests. This gave us a good chance to say goodbye to everyone. Breakfast was a la carte and was fairly good. After breakfast, you have to get off the ship right away. As we got off, we were amused to see a little sign stating that if you tried to take fruit or vegetables back with you, you'd be fined $200. There was a large table beside the sign and it was packed with food, and we heard a man say to his wife as he passed "I'm not going to pay $200 for a banana!" The disembarkation went really smoothly and we were soon on a bus back to the Orlando airport. One last look at the ship and then it was all over.