Whatever it takes … even if it’s ball 4



Disney Dream Day 2: My Kid Broke The AquaDuck

Disney Dream Aquaduck

So Day 2

I did what I always do on vacation – it drives me absolutely batty – wide awake at sunrise. Why oh, why can I not sleep in on vacation!?! In this one case it turned out to be kind of nice: I threw on some shorts and grabbed my camera and headed out of the stateroom to explore the ship solo with almost no one else up yet. It was just me and the Deck Crew watching the sun come up as Nassau was becoming visible on the horizon.

Disney Dream

It was really a great time to explore the upper decks. The wind was incredible and on Deck 14 would about blow you over but it was wonderful to walk around and take pictures with no crowds. Lots of great photos, if you want to see more, visit my Flickr Set.

After a bit I noticed that folks had already started showing up and staking out deck chairs for the day and the deck crew had cleared and fired up the Aquaduck so I went down to roust the troops and get them going for the day.

We had already decided that we were not leaving the ship that day. I’ve been to Nassau before and frankly there is nothing there that I need my kids to see. After living in Grenada, straw markets and spice markets have lost their fascination.  Atlantis is more expensive as an excursion that if you just flat out went there for a vacation so that was not an option.  And they have plenty of drinks on the boat, I have paid my dues to Senior Frog in a previous life.

The big attraction of the day was of course the Aquaduck – Disney’s one of a kind clear waterslide that goes around the entire deck of the ship in a for the most part, clear tube. All I had to do was mention to the kids it had finally been turned on and they were up and ready to go. We ate some breakfast and then grabbed some deck chairs of our own. We were set for the morning.

Puddin headed up first. I had warned her that while she was plenty tall enough to ride alone, she might not weigh enough to be allowed to ride alone. She said she understood but please please could she GO. So I said yes and waved her off. At this point the line only went about half way down the staircase. It wasn’t long until FancyPants decided she was ready to give it a shot and dragged the Dr off in line with her. (She’s tall enough ride but not without an adult).

By the time they got in line maybe 10 minutes later the line had backed up to the measurement sign which is supposed to be the 30 minute mark. I can tell you if you are the person on the deck waiting it takes about 10 minutes from the point they disappear into the funnel. The best pictures are on the return after the go around the back of the ship as they travel slower on that side.

So Puddin made her solo ride ..

Disney Dream Aquaduck

And not too much later the two of us watched Dad and FancyPants

Disney Dream Aquaduck

It’s all good. Better than good because Disney fired up our all time favorite Peter Pan on deck on the big screen and well I was just in heaven.

Disney Dream

After a bit of movie watching I started getting a bit warm and  I realized that I had in fact not changed onto a bathing suit at this point and needed to go do so and bring up more sunscreen. The kids were running around, Puddin had gotten back in line almost right away and the Dr and I were discussing what our plan was when I looked up and saw that the Aquaduck had been turned off.

Oh look there is someone stuck and they are bringing the raft back up to the top. Ha Ha that’s funny and this will make good blogging … I’ll grab the camera.

Disney Dream Aquaduck

This will be great for the blog …I’ll zoom in a little …

Disney Dream Aquaduck

Hey look the stuck kid is on the other side of the raft … umm wait I recognize those feet!

Disney Dream Aquaduck

PuddinPop! That’s MY kid! Oh Sister Mercy, Puddin broke the Aquaduck! How in the world did she get stuck the second time when she was perfectly fine going down the first time? She seems fine though….

Disney Dream Aquaduck    Disney Dream Aquaduck

At this point she started looking out and spotted us watching her on deck. We waved and she waved back and then noticed everyone watching her, and started waving to everyone. The Disney person had removed the tube back up to the top but walked down and had her crab crawl through the loop and back down the first drop to a spot where there is a ladder. To which she immerged and greeted cheers from the crowd  with triumphant arms over her head. (I don’t think she ever realized they were just glad the delay was over LOL)

Disney Dream Aquaduck

Truth be told, it wasn’t over. It takes a really long time to get it going again. They have to clear the tubes to insure they did not abandon any other riders when they turned the water off. Then when the water is off it takes about 5 minutes of running the water to fill the landing pool at the bottom. So it’s was a good 10-15 minutes more after she was out before riders are going again. Also somewhere out there is another lady who has way better pictures that I do because once I realized it was my kid I kind of stopped taking pictures. But she was closer and more underneath and had great shots of the crawl. She say me talking to Puddin later and came up and told her how brave she thought she was was and I gave her my email and I hope one day she sends them to me!

Come to find out … The Disney girl who went and got her out of the tube had been the girl who had first let her on solo, she had taken air out of her raft the first time to allow the raft to be more flexible. The Disney boy who was running the ride by the second time she was up didn’t know that trick and therefore her second raft had more air and was stiffer and that is why she got stuck. The girl was very nice and told her she could come straight back to the top if she got someone else to ride with her. (I think she announced it to the line as well when they were on those stairs) So you know the Dr. loved that particular trek back up the stairs  … LOL. Hey I didn’t have my suit on yet!

After that they gave her a wristband that indicated she could ride but only with another person (didn’t have to be an adult).

We played on deck all morning, when Peter Pan was over Nemo came on! Second favorite Disney movie, yeah! The funniest part was how every parent was walking around muttering the lines with the movie. We all know it by heart. It was perfect.

After some lunch we headed in from the sun for a while and joined the Princess gathering in the atrium. Puddin would have you believe this was a supreme sacrifice she was willing to make for her little sister (and gift shop swag)

Disney Dream Arial


Disney Dream Sleeping Beauty   

Disney Dream Belle


But after coming face to face with Arial (the only princess she purports to stomach) I think she drank the Kool-Aid a bit and before you know it she was getting stage direction from Cinderella..

Disney Dream Cinderella


But still… it really was all about this..


Disney Dream Cinderella

Okay, Cinderella after that hug you were forgiven for the snotty breeze-by the night before. We love you best again.

Then we were off to do some detective work with the Midship Detective Agency … more later.


Disney Dream Midship Detective Agency


Note: this review is completely my mother-of-two opinion of our 4 day cruise on the new ship the Disney Dream. We paid full price for our fair and were in no way compensated for writing this post.

Disney Dream Day 1 Part 2: Soggy Trip to Sea

Note: this review is completely my mother-of-two opinion of our 4 day cruise on the new ship the Disney Dream. We paid full price for our fair and were in no way compensated for writing this post.

I’ll pick up where I left off on our last post. After arriving at port around 10ish, we boarded around 12:30 and immediately went to lunch at Cabana’s on the 11th deck. I don’t know if this was the only food open or not but it suited us fine so we went there. It’s basically a huge buffet with huge variety of food – hot and cold.

Cabana's Disney Dream

One thing that the hostesses here continually stressed upon our first visit and throughout the cruise but that they could never get anyone to listen to seemed to be that there are NO LINES in Cabanas. You’re supposed to spot the food you want and come at it from a 90 degree angle and then leave. However, after being trained so well in the terminal everyone insisted in forming a line at the end of the first section and walking down the serving area in a line – waiting on people ahead of you being served rather than walking around them. This infuriates the hostesses – you can see it in their eyes behind those cheerful smiles — I think more because people don’t listen than from it being a real problem.

We finished up lunch about 1:00 and went to wander. It was still pouring down rain so we decided to go check out the kids clubs. On Deck 5 we inadvertently ran into a tour group leaving the reception area and was invited to join by Jess, a very friendly cast member, since they were going that way anyway. I’m glad we did as it’s the only time we ended up seeing any of the the adult areas in the District.

But first it was on to Oceaneer’s Club and Lab. This tour would end up being the only time my kids enjoyed themselves there .. ha foreshadowing….

Oceaneer's Club Disney Dream

Oceaneer's Lab Disney Dream

When we finished our tour, it was exactly 1:30 so we went off to find out stateroom 7058 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah.

Cabin 7058 Disney Dream

Cabin 7058 Disney Dream

Our view from the verandah included everyone we knew… well sorta.

Balcony 7058 Disney Dream

So with no pool to play in and nothing else to do but wander aimlessly .. what else would you do but go get ice cream!

Ice Cream Disney Dream

Now this is where with a little different luck I would have started talking about the send off party on deck and there would pretty pictures of our beautiful ship leaving the port and all the kids playing on deck.

Yeah that didn’t happen. It was pouring rain again at this point. Disney did hold a party on the lobby I think. We went back the cabin, made adult drinks with our room bottles, and the kids played DS until time to get ready to go dinner. How was this different than home?  Oh yean, dinner at home doesn’t involve men in livery.

Royal Palace Disney Dream

Or Chandeliers with Cinderella Slippers…

Royal Palace Disney Dream

Speaking of Cinderella, evidently she’s a bit of a snob, her visit consisted solely of a fast paced walkthrough with no stops and no hugs. See how she has that apologetic “I don’t have time for you my peasants” look on her face. She was in and out in a flash.

Royal Palace Disney Dream

Princess Tiana however was much more of a Princess of the People and spent a good deal of the dinner time visiting tables, hugging, signing autographs, and posing ~ that New Orleans girl knows how to tell people to “Be Our Guest.”

Royal Palace Disney Dream

Let’s see what did we eat in the Royal Place Dining room. I had the Duck appetizer, Green Salad, and Wild Mushroom Pasta. The Dr had the Double Baked Spinach Soufflé, Green Salad, and Wild Boar. (We had all vowed to try and eat things we’d never normally eat)

Both the duck and the spinach souffle were excellent. Salad was well salad. My pasta was just okay – it was a bit rich and I didn’t want to finish it, he said the boar was pretty good, I didn’t taste it but he cleaned his plate.

The kids has kid food, Hamburger and Mac-N-Cheese with fries. What is up with Disney no wanting to leave the ketchup bottle on the table? After about three trips our server caught on to the extent of how much ketchup 8 elementary aged children can consume and started leaving huge blobs though.

At some point at dinner we finally left port. I was glad that Disney had waited everyone who had experienced weather delays.

Afterwards.. Mickey Bar’s reigned supreme for the kids but I won best smelling dessert with the Grand Marnier Soufflé. It tasted as good as it smelled.

Royal Palace Disney Dream


After dinner went and got in line for the balcony of the theatre for the Golden Mickeys show and well we watched the Golden Mickeys. It was okay, not bad, not great. The villain section was enough to scare FancyPants into my lap. Would I see it again on a repeat cruise? No. I’d use that time to do something else because what we were just beginning to get a hint of is, free time is kind of precious on the cruise. There is just not a lot of it scheduled in.

After the show we checked the kids into the Oceaneer’s – which they were excited about. Walked back to our room to put down the camera…. and were half way to the bar when the Wave phone texted us to pick up the kids.

I left the group to go see what the problem was. I told the cast member who had 10 minutes earlier checked in our kids that I had a text and she basically popped the gate and tossed a look over her shoulder and told me to go find them.

All but two were sitting there on bean bags looking sad and bored. I asked what the problem was they they said "Mom look, you can’t do anything”. I took a look around and they were right.  It was packed to the gills and the only counselor I could see from standing there was the one guarding the bathrooms. It was chaos.

I don’t know if the rain was throwing off the anticipated counselor/kid ratio but basically there was no ratio. It was wall to wall child and not a little bit like Lord of the Flies. No organized activities were taking place at all – it was basically just an arcade with loud music. The only grown ups there were the ones dealing with unhappy kids (I was not the only one)

I quickly took the kids and checked them out. I was chastised for going out the lab rather than the club – a procedure I had not been made aware of. Whatever Disney. At this point I was kind of pissed at you. From that point forward the kids had no interest in the Oceaneer’s area. They went back one other time but still found it boring since at that point there evidently was an organized activity going on but were told they could not participate because they had not been there when it started. They were told to go play video games or color. Nice.

I took the kids to the D-lounge (Thank you Jessie – your tour you saved the night!) and we stayed in there and watched a family game show which was much more fun for them!

After that we hit some rougher water and the ship got a bit lurchy.. time for greenish turning kids to head to bed.

Disney Dream: Day 1 Part 1 Checking in …

Note: this review is completely my mother-of-two opinion of our 4 day cruise on the new ship the Disney Dream. We paid full price for our fair and were in no way compensated for writing this post.

Ask any Florida raised kid what the “vacation of choice” is around here and they will tell you .. Disney Cruise. Years and Years and Years ago I promised Puddin that when her little sister was finally potty trained we would take them both on a Disney Cruise. Well FancyPants has been potty trained for a really really long time now and we were getting reminded routinely that ummm “You Owe Me A Cruise!”

So early last fall we logged in to take a look and lo-and-behold we found out the new boat would be sailing for 4-day cruises to the Bahamas from our local port (Canaveral) and we were still early enough to book Spring Break cruises without having to mortgage the house. Done, Booked.

We didn’t really know this was that big of a deal until we told a few people and they were all “OMG you’re going on The Dream OMG OMG.” And this was from grown women who don’t say OMG. Come to find out, people who love Disney Cruises, seriously LOVE Disney Cruises and a new boat well that sort of sends them over the edge. Add to that the local fan fare when the ship arrived in port in January and well let’s just say the expectations were set much higher than they had been when we originally set down to book this thing.

I was really hoping this trip was going to live up to the hype.

IMG_0733We stayed a few days at our normal spring break hotel beach hotel and awoke on cruise day to lightening and thunder. Not a good sign. Turned on the news to hear that most of Central Florida was under tornado warnings but that the storms were moving through quickly. We started packing as planned and headed out in time to arrive at the port terminal at 10:00.

Something to note here… in February Disney started assigning port arrival times. This is new and designed to create less of a log jam at the terminal. Good idea but many people evidently missed that part when online registration opened in January and hadn’t done it during their original online registration process. Us included. When we finally heard about it, we logged in and were assigned 1:00. Since we were going to be right there at the beach we had planned on arriving much earlier. Everything I read said it’s an honor system, so frankly we planned on being dis-honorable.

So back to the story.. we arrived at 10:00 AM as planned and gave our luggage to the very happy, friendly steward who told us it was his personal responsibility to make sure out bags made it to the stateroom. Very nice start. We went to park the car in the garage.

I noticed that while most people seemed to be parking on the ground level and walking over the busy street to the terminal, there was an elevated walkway from building to building so we went up to the 3rd floor of the garage which was completely empty and parked right beside the entrance to the walkway. Walking across we saw a very long line in the building below for the 1st floor security checkpoint but when we entered the building there was no one in line for security on the 2nd level. We breezed right through after a sweet greeting from the security people.

After entering the terminal it wasn’t immediately apparent what we needed to do so we approached a lady at a table in the middle of the room. She was very intent on her paper shuffling but finally told us we need to fill out the health form for the cabin swearing we were all pictures of health and that no one had so much as a runny nose. She then directed us to the check-in line.

The fellow at the beginning of the line gave us a boarding card – boarding group 5 – and we proceeded through the check-in process with almost zero wait. In fact, the line was so short I was unprepared with our documents and I think slightly irritated the Disney worker. Despite that we were given our room keys and told to wait for our boarding group to be called. Also an important note here she gave us a card saying to expect the room to open at 1:30.

luggageSo we’re milling around a bit and notice a long line on the other side of the terminal. Did we need to go there too? We didn’t know because our not overly friendly check-in person didn’t mention it.

I wandered over and found a very nice Disney person who explained the line was for the kids to receive their arm badge bracelet GPS thingy that let them in and out of the kid areas. We didn’t have to do this now but we could.

She was kind enough to tell me that if we had registered the kids online already then we didn’t to fill the forms out again, just stand in line with the kids. We stood in that line about 5 minutes (it goes fast) and the kids were branded and tagged. OK so not branded.

At this point we appeared to be done. Mickey showed up – so we got in another line… do you see a pattern here.. there are lots and lots of lines.  But really total check in time was probably 30 minutes total.

Mickey at Disney Cruise Terminal

So it’s 10:45ish and we wandered the terminal, viewed the ship from the observation deck, made pictures and chatted with the rest of our group until boarding was called. (Did I mention we ended up being a group of 16?)

Oh yeah, we ended up being a group of 16. Four families of four. We never do anything alone, it’s always a neighborhood affair. Coming from Jacksonville they arrived closer to 10:45 and 11:00 and were give boarding groups 10 and 11 for those of you keeping score. They also each went through the process fairly quickly although the lines were getting slightly longer. Our friends that had to drive through storms from Universal Studios in Orlando were later arriving at the port about 11:30 and waited in huge lines for luggage drop off and check-in and didn’t board until after 1:30.

So here’s something funny.. at 12:20ish, as predicted the announcement came on saying they were about to start boarding. Then they called boarding groups 1–40. Yeap 1–40. Needless to say everyone in the terminal was in groups 1-40 and it caused a huge serge of people to get up and run to the boarding tunnel. Seriously. Major Crowd Crush.

Then this very apologetic fellow had to come on the speaker and say “Yeah we didn’t mean to do that. Our bad. We only meant Group 1.” And the crowd went grumble grumble but for the most part did not back off. I wish some Disney people had been more proactive about asking people to back away from the boarding tunnel.

This made it extra fun to push through when your actual group did get called. Which I would estimate they did about every 3-4 minutes or so. So then it’s show your card again, get your boarding pic, and boom your on board, name getting called the whole deal. We were on board by 12:00 and told to go to Cabanas on deck 11 for lunch – which was no big deal because by this time it was raining hard again and wandering on deck was not an option. Because of the weather the pool or the AquaDuck was not open. I don’t know if they would normally be.

I’ll stop this post at this point and talk about being on board in the next one but there is two things I want to mention. We knew from news reports the storms were causing delays at Orlando International of at least 2 hours or more when we arrived:

  • The terminal might have been more crowded if more buses of folks were arriving on time.
  • Second, Disney waited for everyone to arrive. Yes that’s right. The all aboard is supposed to be 4:10 or something like that to sail at 4:30 but we did not leave port until the middle of our dinner which started at 6:00. The captain announced that had late buses coming in because of the storms and they waited for all of the guests to get there – which I thought was pretty awesome of them.

Spring Break: The Beach Days

Each year we take the kids, two other families, for part of Spring Break to our favorite beach, New Smyrna. It’s old school Florida, you can drive on the beach and the hotels, which are walk-off to the sand are still run by Mom and Pop, at a price Mom and Dad can still afford.

We love this area for it’s slow, laid back, non-touristy feel. You can drive out, pitch your sun tent and hang out in the surf playing corn hole all day with very little crowd and only other family groups around you. If you are looking to come to Florida, avoid the crowds (as much as possible) and just spend quality time with your kids at the beach, this is the place.

Our hotel of choice is Coastal Waters Inn. They rock. Our room of choice, 309. Seriously we have a room of choice. It’s got a super huge wrap around balcony that runs the width of the building and has the best view of the beach. The rooms aren’t glamorous, but they are neat and clean and well maintained. It’s your typical two room with a kitchenette setup that will more than get you through the week with a family of four.



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Spring Break: Vacation Toes

Blogging was temporarily interrupted by Spring Break. We did our usual New Smyrna Beach haunt and this year kicked it up a notch with a cruise on the new Disney Cruise Line’s Dream. Needless to say there will be many posts to come including my real life, real mom, non-sponsored so I can say anything and I will review of the Disney Dream.

Until then I give you …

Vacation Toes




Because people asked, not because I'm getting paid…

Polish is Opi for Sephora – Mermaid to Order

Shoes are White Mountain from Bealls but they have them on Amazon too.