1998: Dec at WDW/ DCL
Traveling with my mom for 4 nights at Beach Club followed by a 3 night cruise on the Disney Magic during the ship's inaugural season

Me- a 20something, mostly energetic WDW veteran going on my 3rd journey of 1998 to the world. (it’s been a very good year!)
Mom- 50something, likes to move at a little slower pace; has been to WDW with me several times including 1/96 and 2/97.

When we were at WDW for the 25th anniversary, we saw a video that featured upcoming attractions such as Animal Kingdom. That was the first time I remember hearing about the Disney Cruise Line. Having experienced "The Big Red Boat" cruise/ Disney vacation in 1990, naturally we were intrigued. We especially liked the idea of the restaurant that starts out in black and white and then becomes colored in while you dine.

We never explored the idea much further until sometime in the summer of 1998. I think it was right around the time of the Inaugural Voyage, or slightly sooner. It wasn’t a big apocalyptic type moment and I can’t even remember when we decided to investigate it. Initially, we had looked into going for my birthday in March. However, somehow we ended up going in December instead. And it worked out, by total chance, that we were going to be away for the 8 days of Hannukah. Now, why didn’t I get Hannukah presents like that when I was a kid?

We booked the package deal direct from Disney, because mom likes the convenience of package. (personally, I tend to prefer putting things together myself) Initially, we were going to get an outside room with a porthole or perhaps a "navigator’s veranda" (restricted view). But I held out for a full veranda- this was to be a once in a lifetime cruise, so I wanted to do it right. Admittedly, it is easier for me to spend mom’s money than my own (but of course she has more money to begin with). Eventually, she came to agree with me, and she was thrilled that we were able to get a cabin right in the middle of the ship. I decided we should stay at the Beach Club, even though I think mom would have preferred Boardwalk. But I like trying different hotels and had just been at Boardwalk in April.

I went through a period that was full of me saying "Are you sure you want to spend this much money?" and "Do you really think I deserve to be going to WDW 3 times in one year?" I am sure I drove mom crazy. I drove her even more crazy sending her to menus on the Internet and asking her to call for Priority Seatings. She was so relieved when we were able to get all the times I’d planned out for her as a guide. I could tell she was getting excited for the trip when she would ask me every now and then exactly which restaurant we’d be going to on Monday and which on Tuesday- and which parks we’d be doing each day. I kept telling her I wanted to keep most of our park plans pretty loose. She was also concerned that we didn’t have priority seatings for dinner on Wed night, and I assured her that I fully intended to eat- I just didn’t know where we’d be then. This kind of "loose" touring strategy works well with mom, and also for offpeak times and extended trips (my previous trips this yr had been 2-3 nights at busier times so I’d had more planned in advance). We’d both been to the parks before and agreed that we didn’t need to see "everything"

We also planned to light Hannukah candles every night and brought a small menorah with us. We were nervous about doing this on the boat, but as will be shown, we needn’t have worried. At the resort, we indeed lit candles each night when we came home and it was a lovely way to end the day.

Three days before the trip, I called the Beach Club and made some room requests. When they found my name in their computer, it finally sunk it that I was off to WDW! Yippee! >

I couldn’t sleep all night, so I got up at 3 am and started to get ready. The plan was for mom to drive here at 6 and then I’d drive to the airport and park my car there for the week. At 5:30, I was finally able to take a nap on the living room sofa, but soon afterwards I awoke to hear voices. Was mom starting to talk to herself and if so, did this mean I should be taking her somewhere special other than WDW? Nope- my father decided at the very last minute to do the driving so we wouldn’t have to pay for airport parking. Cool. I just had to move the bags I’d so diligently put in my trunk at 5am and transfer them into my parents’ car.

We got to the airport, yadda yadda blah blah blah- and then we were on our way to WDW! We landed on schedule at 10:30am. Mom had been fretting about the Disney Cruise representative who was supposed to meet the plane and where we should go if that person didn’t show up. But no prob- she was there with a big smile. Though, at that point, I think my own smile might have been even wider- we were there, it was real! YAY!

We soon saw that there were tons of Disney Cruise representatives throughout the terminal, as we made our way to the busses. It didn’t take all that long til we were on our way to our hotel at 11:30. We didn’t have to stop at baggage claim since the cruise people would be taking care of getting our luggage to our room. The bus ride was nice because they showed us a little video about WDW and the cruise.

After making sure our documents were in order, the Cruise people handed us over to the front desk to check in. We had to show them our passports and then give them an envelope with our documents. In return, they gave us our Key to the World and various Disney pamphlets. I’d say that we got the better end of that exchange.

We got to the room and not only was it gorgeous, but they’d satisfied every single one of my requests: top floor, full balcony, lagoon view. I’d been concerned that because we’d booked the cruise package, they might put us in whatever run of the mill room was left, regardless of requests. A very pleasant surprise! 5 minutes after check in, the refrigerator we’d asked for at check in was delivered with a smile. Ah, the wonders of WDW!

By then, I was just itching to get to the parks. We’d decided we’d go to MGM and stay for Fantasmic. I’d figured that this way, if the show should be cancelled due to bad weather, we’d still have other chances during the trip to see it. Finally, mom was ready and off we were off to the boat dock. Just as we got there, a boat pulled away. I knew it would be awhile til another one came so I was not too happy- remember, I hadn’t slept all night so I was tired. I was also extremely hungry. It was after 1pm and I hadn’t really eaten since my 4am breakfast. Also, it was pretty darn chilly out there and cloudy- not at all "happy happy cheerful" weather.

But not to worry, we eventually got to MGM. Mom wanted to know where we were eating. I’d been planning on The Brown Derby and, at this point, I felt it was a brilliant choice because it was not far to go from the entrance of the park. We didn’t have priority seating, but it was just a short wait and we were seated. The waiter informed us that they’d recently changed the menu. Mom decided to have the Grouper and I decided to have the Pastrami Salmon, which was recommended by the waiter. What it consisted of was smoked salmon prepared like pastrami (no actual red meat there) and served on a pretzel. If there was any doubt as to how hungry I was, it was erased when I started to dig into the cole slaw on top and eat it as if it was salmon. In fact, I wasn’t cognizant enough to realize it wasn’t the salmon until I dug deeper and found the real salmon. BTW, I’ve never eaten cole slaw and don’t much care for it. But at that point, I would have eaten most anything. We remembered to use our MKC discount and lunch came to $42, including tip.

Finally, time to go enjoy the attractions! We first went to The Little Mermaid- we just missed one show and had to wait for the next. It’s always a favorite of mine and guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. Next up was The Great Movie Ride, which was mom’s choice. The Mulan parade was in full swing so there was no wait at all. In fact, the entire vehicle in front of ours was empty. We had the gangster path and it was good fun.

By then, food was digested and the ToT beckoned. I walked mom to the waiting area where they sold the pictures and then backtracked and got in line. It was no wait to the preshow and not much of a wait after that. It would have been even less, but they shut down the left side of the line while I was waiting and so everyone had to be ushered to the elevators on the right. Mom was surprised that I got off so quickly. I would have normally gone on again, but I was feeling effects of missing sleep the night before, and I didn’t feel I’d be awake enough to appreciate a repeat ride. Since we were freezing, we just hung out inside for awhile.

At about 5:15, we decided to head over to Fantasmic. First my mom stopped at the ToT store and decided to get another sweatshirt (she already had on a shirt, a sweatshirt and a coat). I teased her that she had no right to wear a ToT shirt when she’s never been on the ride. Earlier in the day, she bought earmuffs in the shape of Mickey’s hands, so she put these on too, in preparation for Fantasmic. She got a lot of comments on them.

We got great seats in the middle, 2/3 of the way back. It was cold but it wasn’t as cold as some times when I have been to WDW. As I was sitting and waiting, I thought it would be wonderful if they sold hot chocolate in the theater- I had only seen signs for "cold beer" and anything with the adjective cold was not at all enticing! Then, Disney magic happened and we were able to buy hot chocolate in a reusable mug that was decorated with a Lady and the Tramp holiday theme. That was simply perfection- and it helped me warm up just enough.

The preshow guys were interesting, and that helped pass the time. The show itself was wonderful. However, I liked the Disneyland version better- it seemed more magical when the areas you’ve seen all day were transformed into the show. Still, it was nice having seats and it was still a lot of fun. Mom hadn’t seen the DL version and she loved it.

We then headed over to Wilderness Lodge for our 8:10 priority seating at Artist Point. I’d never been there and the wait to be seated gave me a chance to explore (while mom sat down and waited). I took some photos of the holiday decorations and was able to see their geyser erupt. I loved the hotel and I hope to stay there sometime.

Dinner was wonderful- I think it was mom’s favorite dinner of the trip. We both ordered the cedar salmon, which came to our table on a flaming plank. It was delicious and the restaurant was very peaceful.

On the way out, I went to the gift shop and bought some milk and juice for our fridge (either I missed it, or the Beach Club is the only WDW resort I’ve encountered that doesn’t sell bottled or cartoned beverages anywhere). Then, we took a taxi to our hotel ($12), called Dad, I checked my Email and then collapsed into the comfortable bed.
View from our Beach Club hotel room Wilderness Lodge Christmas tree
The plan was to get up at 8am, eat a quick breakfast in the room, and head over to Downtown Disney- or possibly to AK. However, I couldn’t get up. No, I wasn’t being lazy as mom thought at first (I am sure she was thinking "what do you mean making me get up at 8 and then not getting out of bed yourself?!") I didn’t feel very well. But finally, after some advil and some cereal, I was ready to go.

We decided to go to Downtown Disney since it was too late to start out at AK. Of course, there were 3 AK busses (and 2 MK ones) before we got our bus. We were not having good luck with transportation. When we’d investigated this trip, I’d asked about Hannukah on radp and someone said they’d seen Hannukah snow globes on sale at the marketplace. My mom really wanted one, but they didn’t have any this year. All trip, I kept looking and hoping to surprise her, but no luck. Bummer.

We did manage to load up on stuff at the World of Disney- I again remembered to use my MKC card and we had it all shipped back to the hotel. I had to make a stop at Ghiradellis and mom was pleased they had some sugar free selections though she wished there were more (she is diabetic).

Finally, we were off to the MK! We decided to go via Port Orleans, just for the heck of it (and because I don’t particularly like the TTC) I always get excited when I walk into MK and walk up Main St, especially the first time of my trip. And this was no exception- "We’re in the Magic Kingdom!" "Look at the tree, look at the decorations!" There is something special for me about MK- perhaps because it was the only park open when I was a kid, when I would hear about my classmates’ vacations and dream about going back myself. <imagine violins playing a sad song in the background>

We stopped off at the Emporium and they had the monorail toys that everyone had been talking about. Mom said I should get one, so I did and we had it shipped to the hotel room.

We went on the new Buzz Lightyear ride first and I thought it was cute. Mom would get upset when I moved the joystick to rotate the car, so I didn’t do it very much. We were pretty pathetic- mom got 100 points to my 25,000 (I think I got all of those on the same single target). Then, I sat mom down on a bench and went to Space Mountain. The sign on Main St said it was a 15 minute wait and the one in Tomorrowland said 20 minutes. So imagine my surprise when I walked and walked and walked- and saw that there was, in essence, no wait. It was a shorter line than on E-ride night last summer. I met mom in record time ("I wasn’t expecting you so soon- It’s never been nearly this quick before")

We headed over to Plaza Pavilion for cheese pizza for lunch. In the course of deciding whether to do Carousel of Progress or Fantasyland next, we determined that mom would go back to the hotel and nap and I’d stay at the park. Mom was afraid I’d be mad at her for bailing out on me ("Are you sure you won’t get mad at me?"), but it worked out for me to do some of the things I wanted, without making mom sit and wait for me.

Determined to better my score once I had full control of the joystick, I went back to Buzz Lightyear with a vengeance. But I got an even more pitiful 20,100. But hey, I think I actually hit more targets. Really. It’s just that they were for fewer points.

Continuing my day’s tour of the mountain range, I hit Splash Mountain followed by Big Thunder Mountain, and then an encore of Splash Mountain. Wait times? Practically nothing! Whoo hoo! I walked through Frontierland and Liberty Square to get to Fantasyland- I love just strolling around WDW and enjoying the fact that I am there. I went on Peter Pan (5-10 min wait) before going back to meet mom at the hotel.

While waiting for mom to get ready, I checked email again. Then we walked over to Epcot- the walk was kinda long for mom. Eventually, we made it to Horizons and Universe of Energy. By then, it was time for our priority seating at Coral Reef Café.

We loved the look of the restaurant- again, it was someplace very peaceful. I ordered an Asian style tuna entrée, which was terrific and I had a delicious chocolate chip cheesecake for dessert. Mom had either salmon or grouper, as well as a nifty banana split dessert (it was served in a banana leaf and had some fruits).

Then we staked out a spot for Holiday Illuminations- I think we were near Canada. We sat down by the fence. As I got up for the show, I suddenly had a bad stomachache. I think maybe the cheesecake didn’t agree with me- though it had been so good! At any rate, we enjoyed the show. In general, I loved the Xmas decorations and happenings at WDW this trip- it made the place seem even more festive.

Mom wanted to take the boat back to the hotel, but I opted to walk. I’d hoped the walk would help me feel better, but nope. I felt awful and just wanted to go to sleep. (getting a new stomach would also have worked) However, I’d promised mom she could use the computer to check email. So, despite the fact that I was curled up on my bed in a fetal position, with my eyes closed, mom made me set up the computer and she started IMing one of her friends. I didn’t complain too much- not only because I was thankful mom took me on this great trip, but also because I flat out didn’t have the energy to complain! Finally, she got off and we went to sleep.
Downtown Disney Christmas Tree Epcot Christmas decorations
We had 7:30 priority seating for the Cape May Café character breakfast. This was a first for us- in all my trips to WDW, I have never done a character meal. Mom was a bit disappointed in the characters that were supposed to be there (Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale) but it was at our hotel and she was game to try it. I kept telling her we could cancel if she wanted. Well, we had a ball! It wasn’t very crowded so we had plenty of character interaction (they were all dressed in swim trunks which was cute). Also, Minnie Mouse was there and not Pluto. We loved watching the reactions of little kids. I generally hate getting my picture taken, but Chip (or was it Dale?) was quite persuasive (after I had taken a picture of mom) and so I gave in. Luckily, my stomach was doing ok- I felt like I was about 90% better.

We headed out to AK after breakfast. Because of the vast expanse of the park, mom rented one of those ECV’s. She pronounced this the best decision she made, as it made her enjoy the park much more. We started off with the safari- we found it extremely confusing to find the wheelchair entrance but we made it. Mom liked this ride a lot (I think it was her favorite of the trip), even though she had thought of not riding because she doesn’t like getting bumped around a lot. After walking through the path formerly known as "Gorilla Falls", we headed to It’s Tough to Be a Bug- we got there as they were still filling up the theater so we missed everything in the pre-show area, which I enjoy (and I knew mom would have loved). Oh, well. This was also a big hit with mom.

We went to the Lion King show and that was great as usual- again, I sat in the Lions section, where I always sit. We went to the Pocahontas show and it had to be stopped at one point when an animal wouldn’t get offstage. We were all the way in the back and it was a bit hard to see, but it was cute. For lunch, we did pizza again, this time at Pizzafari. Then, it was off to CtX. I had tried to get mom to go on ("It’s really not that bad. There are no big drops or anything- they just shake you up"), but she wouldn’t. At least I convinced her to get in line with me and see the pre-show, and she was glad she did that.

Mom loved the park, but it was time to go to the hotel and take a mid-day break. We decided to make a priority seating for Alfredos that night. Because of the success of our breakfast, we decided to ask if the castle breakfast was available at the MK next day- as expected it wasn’t. Next time…

Before heading to Epcot for dinner, I went to MGM while mom still rested up. I actually had good luck getting a boat and I got to the park at about 6pm. After a quick ToT, I went to see the Osbourne lights- the main reason I’d headed over there. When I got to NY street, I saw the "snow" that I had read about. It was falling so gently, and everything felt almost like it was in slow motion. It was just so magical!

I’d seen the Osbourne lights once before (1996, I think) and they didn’t disappoint. Everything was so lovely and colorful! Walking through NY St and then through the lights was the best of Disney magic- truly incredible! They gave out these 3-D glasses that made the lights appear like angels, but I liked them better without the glasses.

There was a huge line for the bus to Epcot. I didn’t make it on the first one, but that was ok because the next one was something! It was sorta like a truck thing, hooked up to a passenger area. I’d never seen anything like it.

At 7:30, I made it to Epcot and set off on a counterclockwise tour of World Showcase, with Alfredos as my final destination. I bought lots of food and candy at the Japan pavilion- I love Japanese food! As I passed by the America Gardens theater, I could hear the orchestra playing- I assume it was the beginning of the candlelight processional. To my pleasant surprise, they were playing Hannukah music. Later, mom said that when she passed, they were singing stuff- she also enjoyed stopping and listening for a few minutes.

For dinner, mom ordered Salmon and I had Spaghetti and Meatballs (though I didn’t eat most of the meatballs). It was very good, and I’d been in the mood for Italian food after all the seafood I’d been eating! It was a huge restaurant, and they had people walking around and playing music which was nice. It wasn’t my favorite meal of the trip, but it was great.

Again, I walked back while mom took the boat. (she said she got to see Illuminations again while waiting in the boat) I stopped by Stormalong Bay and dipped a finger in- it was nice and warm! I planned to go there the next day- I hoped it would be a little warmer outside.

That afternoon, we’d been delighted to find our purchases from the previous day delivered right to our room. I’d already set up the monorail, but I didn’t have a screwdriver to get to the battery compartment. We asked at the front desk that night and some nice men came up to our room right away. Once we got the batteries in, they wanted to stay and see what the monorail was like- they quite enjoyed it and were like two little kids on Xmas day. It was indeed very cool.
Cape May Cafe character breakfast Cape May Cafe character breakfast Cape May Cafe character breakfast Osbourne Lights Osbourne Lights Osbourne Lights
My mom was justifiably skeptical that I would be able to get up as I'd planned to do early entry at MK. However, it was my last full day at WDW and I had never done EE, so I was motivated. I got up at 7am and got to the bus stop by 7:20. Unfortunately, it took forever for the bus to come and I didn’t arrive at MK until about 8am. I was worried it would be crowded by then, but I figured I’d do as much as I could. Mom had gone back to sleep once I left and the plan was to meet up with her later.

First stop was Space Mountain. As I walked and walked and walked through the queue, I finally saw that there was even less of a line than Tuesday- if that was possible. Way cool! I then went across the way to Buzz Lightyear and was pretty damn proud of myself for managing to get a score of 100,500. Then it was right back to Space Mountain. BTW, the monitors in the queue area (the ones with interplanetary commercials and the like) were not on and that seemed to make the ride darker than it had been in the summer.

I walked to Fantasyland, which the little girl in me considers to be "quintessential Disney." I saw that Dumbo had practically no line, and on a whim I went on it. I had entirely too much fun- much moreso than is justifiable for a 20something with no kids. I moved the joystick up and down- wheeeee! I don’t think I have been on that ride since I was 4.

I rode Snow White before making my way to the Adventureland gate at the main hub by 8:45 or so. I got there just in time for the announcement of the park’s opening and proceeded to follow the CM’s to my destination of choice, Splash Mountain. I would have been in the very first log of the day, except that they loaded the 2nd log before the 1st one. Darn. But the 2nd log was still pretty cool. When we got to the end of the ride, the people behind me asked if they could ride again- the CM said that there were people waiting who had to get on. Well, they were only waiting for the front row- so those of us in rows 2 and 3 stayed. Yippee! I was sure that wouldn’t happen again after ride #2, but once again there was no one waiting so my new friends in the front stayed on and I did as well. That made Splash Mountain 3 times in a row without getting off! I loved it! It was a little warmer than it had been on other days and I wasn’t even very cold from getting wet.

I’d decided it was finally time to move on (and to get a life... ha ha), which was fortunate because there was indeed a small line after ride #3. I went on Big Thunder Mountain and then walked around the shops at various places in MK. Time to head over to MGM for some terror! But before ToT, I noticed they would be doing Belle’s Enchanted Christmas in the courtyard in front of The Great Movie Ride at 11:30, so I went to wait there. I am a big BatB fan (my cat is named Belle) and it was very cute.

Continuing my trend of pizza lunches, I ate at Pizza Planet. And then it was time for ToT- even though it was just after eating. There were no lines at all, so I ended up going on 3 times. Of course, unlike Splash Mt, I had to actually get off and get back in line each time. Once, the CM at the gate greeted me with a "Welcome back!" I smiled as I walked by. I naturally had to ask for the seatbelt seat once, and CM Gary was terrificly creepy about it: "How do we ask?" I added a "please" and I was directed to the appropriate spot. I could have gone on all day, but I wanted to get back to the hotel to do Stormalong Bay and to nap.

I picked the right day for Stormalong Bay- it was sunny and it was warmer than any other day on our trip. Still, the couple next to me on the boat to the hotel thought I was nuts when I told them I was going to swim. However, I’d long decided that even if it had been in the 30’s all trip, damn it, I was going swimming! The pool was everything I’d heard it was- the sand bottom was cool and I enjoyed the slide, even though it seemed the stairs to get up there never ended. (I have a big fear of heights)

When I got up from my subsequent nap, I saw that Mom had arrived back- she’d slept in and done some of MGM: Muppetvision, the sound show, and Indiana Jones. Then it was off to dinner at The California Grille, by way of the MK. After we got seated and ordered, I went out on the observation deck to see the 6pm fireworks. It was getting chilly out but it was fun to watch from that vantage point.

Dinner itself was wonderful! I had California Roll as an appetizer and the main course was Udon noodles with tofu and mushrooms. (yes, I had quite the Japanese theme going) I’d asked for the mushrooms on the side because I don’t generally eat them, but I tasted them and they were ok, so I dumped them in with everything, as my mom laughed at me. She had a vegetarian egg roll appetizer and a salmon entrée. After we ate, our waiter apologized for not asking earlier if we wanted the souffle, but we were in no hurry and we decided to split one. One word: "YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!" It was a triple chocolate chip souffle with a light peanut butter sauce. It was almost like solid hot chocolate. We devoured it. Dinner was quite pricey but well worth it. I think mom would agree that the souffle alone was nearly worth the price of the entire meal.

We took the monorail to MK- as we had just missed one, I thought there was an excellent chance we’d get to ride up front. But no. Someone behind us had asked for it first. Not only that, the CM was extremely snippy and that ruined the magical mood that had been building up all day. It wasn’t a catastrophe (though I’d hoped to surprise mom with a monorail copilot’s license) but she should not have been so rude. In fact, she seemed to be snippy toward another CM as well.

It was immediately apparent that there were tons of people heading over to MVMCP, just like us. And in fact, we saw more crowds than at any other time during our stay. We headed over to Belle’s Enchanted Christmas and got 2 of the last chairs- it was a very cute show and it was fun how they brought children from the audience onto the stage. We then went on It’s a Small World which was a walk on, and the Haunted Mansion which had a bit of a line. We were walking to the Adventureland side but we were blocked by the parade. However, there was a photo taking place right before the parade and it had no line, so we seized that opportunity to get our free portrait taken.

Then we walked back through Fantasyland toward Tomorrowland. We debated going on Peter Pan, but mom thought it had a bit too long a line. I got some free hot chocolate and cookies- that was a really long line. Mom headed to get us seats for Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Xmas, while I walked closer to the hub for the 10:00 fireworks. The Xmas finale was great, with fireworks going off 360 degrees around the park. Mickey’s show was also very cute and very energetic.

At about 10:45, we staked out positions for the late parade- I insisted on Main St since it is supposed to snow there during the parade- I was disappointed it wasn’t snowing when we sat down, but it was when the parade started. Before the parade, I went into the Emporium and bought a stuffed Simba- it is a bit of a tradition for me to get a stuffed animal each trip to a Disney park, and I’d finally decided on one. The parade was great- long and a lot of fun.

I had originally intended to stay for closing, but I was tired and I knew mom really wanted me to come back to the hotel with her, so I did. We had to pack our bags and leave them outside the door by 8am so they could be picked up and delivered to our stateroom on the Magic.
Belle’s Enchanted Christmas Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Mickey’s Twas the Night Before Christmas Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party parade
We didn’t have to get our bus til noon, but I ended up sleeping in and not doing any of the parks. I’d originally intended to get some last minute stuff in, but I decided against it. The bus ride (less than 1.5 hrs) was uneventful, save for the sad moment when we passed back through the entrance gate to WDW. Mom told me not to be upset because we were still going to be on Disney. Yeah, but it just isn’t the same. They showed us a short video of the ship which was cool- and it was exciting to see the Magic in the distance and to see it get closer and closer.

The terminal was new and beautiful. Mickey was posing for pictures inside- and on reflection, I realize I should have taken one. But we wanted to get on the ship. So it was off through Mickey’s silhouette! There was no one to direct us to the stateroom- it might have been nice if there were. But we found it just fine. The elevators were crowded when we boarded, but they were fine the rest of the trip.

We entered the room and noticed immediately that the 2 beds were pushed together into one. Not good. Our going away package- the one Mom told Dad to order for us- wasn’t there. Nor was my suitcase- though mom’s were both there. We looked at our dining tickets and saw we had late seating even though we were supposed to have early seating. Everything was a big adjustment and neither of us were feeling very happy. However, we did immediately love the veranda- which also made the room feel more spacious and airy.

I went to Palo, the adult only Italian restaurant, to get reservations for the night we were due to eat at Parrot Cay (neither of us really wanted Caribbean cuisine)- I got there at 1:40 or so and they started taking reservations at two. They had three tables- one for each night. The ones for Fri and Sat were pretty empty- most everyone lined up for Sun, the last night. Which is also when I wanted to go. But I had no problem- the funny thing was that I was so stressed about getting ressies that when they asked me what time I wanted, I had no clue. Then they asked my cabin number, and I couldn’t think of it, either.

I looked at Topsiders Buffet, where my mom was supposed to be. It had quite a line and I didn’t see her, so I just went to Pinocchio’s pizzeria to have a slice of pizza. Yes, I am so predictable- yet another pizza lunch for me! I stopped by guest services to get credit for my annual pass and then went back to the cabin. Mom came by soon afterward and our cheese plate was finally delivered, so we enjoyed noshing on that.

There is a mandatory lifejacket drill at 4. We found the jackets to be quite uncomfortable and were happy when it was over. Still, it is a necessary evil.

We went to a Hannukah lighting ceremony in the conference rooms on deck 2- it was arranged by a young crew member named Larah, who was great. We were thrilled not to have to light our own candles, and there was a pretty nice turn-out. However, I missed seeing us start moving since that happened while we were lighting candles.

We had the 6:15 show each night, and the first night was Disney Dreams- it was about a girl named Annemarie who is visited by Peter Pan and by a slew of other Disney characters (including my faves, Belle and the Beast) and she learns that the magic of dreams is inside of her and she can fly. It was very cute, but there were technical problems. Also, the woman playing Annemarie was a little hyper and annoying. We’d had to wait awhile for the theatre’s doors to open (they were late) and I could feel the motion of the ship more than I’d expected- I was very happy when I was finally able to sit down! Then we went back to our cabin to change quickly for dinner at Lumiere’s, which is a bit formal. However, we were locked out. One of our pieces of luggage was also outside- neighbors walked by and told us it was delivered to their room by mistake, and the steward couldn't get in to put it in ours. So, now we’d gathered that not only our keys didn't work, but the steward's pass key didn't either. Pretty obviously, it was the door that was at fault. However, when I called down from another cabin, guest services insisted that I bring the keys down so I had to wait in line in order for them to tell me, gee, the key works just fine. They said they'd send someone to the room right away.

Meanwhile, mom was still talking to the stewards upstairs (not just ours but a couple others were around). They called twice for someone to come up. All in all, it took about 35 minutes for a manager to come up and 40 minutes for the carpenter. All that time, we were standing in the tiny, claustrophobic hallway seeing the same people go back and forth and ask us with amazement "You're still here?" So we finally got in and the manager got someone from the front desk to call and that person promised us she'd send something up to our room for our inconvenience (ok, so we prodded her to offer even that). When we finally came back that night, we were excited to see what our surprise might be- only to see that there was *nothing*

Anyway, dinner at Lumiere’s was great. We were seated with 2 young couples and they were very friendly and a lot of fun. For dinner, I had french onion soup, sea bass, and a bit of chocolate cake. There was a slight comic incident where mom picked up my glass of diet coke and it split in two (yes, it spilled all over) but other than that, things went smoothly. We went to Off Beat, the improv comedy club, afterwards and it was a lot of fun. They even took one of my suggestions- a stuffed Mickey Mouse bomb. I think you had to be there!

We returned to our stateroom to find towels on each bed shaped like a swan. How cute! Despite our problems of the day, we were definitely getting in the swing of things.
Lobby Atrium Adorable gingerbread village Disney Dreams Disney Dreams Disney Dreams Disney Dreams
I decided to sleep in and boy did I ever! Mom had gotten up earlier and eaten breakfast at Lumiere’s. We were already in port at Nassau by the time I got up, and we could see other ships out our windows. We made fun of them and thought our ship was nicer. Mom was going on a glass bottom boat excursion but I decided to stay aboard the Magic and explore. She ended up enjoying her excursion except for a part when they went near the Atlantic Ocean to see a shipwreck- she said the waters got very choppy. The later excursion didn’t stop there.

Meanwhile, I went to Lumiere’s alone for lunch. They had pasta which was great- I had a tomato soup with meatballs and penne with a roasted garlic tomato sauce. For dessert, I had chocolate frozen yogurt with chocolate sauce. Oddly enough, no one seated at my table (a family with a son about 20 and another couple) talked to me, so I just took notes on the WDW portion of my trip for my trip report.

I then explored the ship some more and saw some of the deck party on deck 9 by the family pool- it was mostly for kids but it was really cute. Anthony, the cruise director, was leading it and the Disney characters all turned up (Minnie, Goofy and Pluto- later replaced by Mickey, Chip and Dale). I participated in one of the games where they needed a line of adults. Music was playing and it was quite fun.

I then changed and went to the gym at the Vista spa on deck 9. It was excellent! There was a view of the bridge and the water and there were also personal video monitors that you could set to your favorite station (from those received on the ship) and then put headphones on. I went on the stairmaster for 20 minutes and watched the beginning of "A Goofy Movie" (there was an all-Disney movie channel). I then switched to the treadmill for a cool down and ended up doing 20 minutes there- I hadn’t intended to watch any TV, but I decided to put the headphones on (without pausing to change the station) and I saw the end of "Miracle on 34th St" (from an all-movie channel) I don’t think I’ve ever seen the beginning. All in all, it was a very pleasant experience.

Back at the room, I met up with mom. We went to the Hannukah ceremony again and then to that evening’s show which was Hercules. This was the weakest of the shows- they did it with the concept that they were a troupe of actors performing the show, and that a bunch of the actors were missing so understudies were going on. It didn’t really work. It wasn’t bad, but I could have missed it. However, it was fun recognizing people from the previous shows in their different roles (example- Peter Pan was also the young Hercules)

We decided to make some purchases at the gift shop. However, our keys to the world weren’t working for some reason and they wouldn’t take cash. Fortunately, mom had her VISA card. So then we headed down to Guest Services again. They never did explain why we weren’t able to charge- someone said that our original keys weren’t valid and had been changed and someone said they were never changed. We finally talked to a manager, Rodney, who was great about calming us down. We also told him about our experiences the previous day, and he agreed it wasn’t handled well. He promised to personally get back to us- he even fixed our voice mail so we’d be able to get a message. We never heard from him again.

Dinner that night was at Animator’s Palate- I was so excited to eat there! At first, I was disappointed since all they had were monitors that had a rotating selection of Disney pictures went from black and white to full color, while the music from that film played. However, there was more to it and it ended up being really magical. I had a dumpling appetizer and a veal entrée. Mom had smoked salmon appetizer and a salmon entrée. Yeah, that sounds redundant but she doesn’t eat meat out (she keeps Kosher). Dessert wasn’t that great- there was a choice of fruits or cheesecake and there was strawberry sauce you could put on it. I didn’t like the cheesecake very much- I thought it was pretty bland.

We again did the Off Beat club, and they had a different show. I thought it was better the first night, when there had been more audience participation. When we got back to the room, we laughed when we saw the night’s animal towel sculpture- it was a monkey, hanging from a hanger on the ceiling! It had some toilet paper as its tail- it was totally cool. I still wanted to stay up and read on the veranda, but I ended up going to sleep so I wouldn’t disturb mom.
Deck party Hercules: The Muse-ical Hercules: The Muse-ical Hercules: The Muse-ical Hercules: The Muse-ical Animator's Palate with our tablemates Towel monkey
This was the day we docked at Castaway Cay, Disney’s little private island. I actually managed to get up at 7am, and we went to Parrot Cay for breakfast. Both Parrot Cay and Lumiere’s have the same breakfast menu (there is also a breakfast buffet at Topsiders on deck 9, by the pools) and we decided on the Cay since we wouldn’t be there for dinner. It was a very colorful, festive place- and yes, there were parrots on the chandeliers. (no, not real ones!) There were also parrot sounds while you waited to get in. My waffles were ok, but kind of dry.

We got off the ship soon after they announced that it was ok to disembark. Then we walked to the tram to the main area, at which point we had to walk to another tram to the adult only beach. It was so quiet and peaceful there- we immediately snagged a red and white cabana type thing to be our home for the day- it protected us from the sun and we felt so secluded.

What to say about the beach? Ahhhhhhh! It was gorgeous and relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, that we both ended up taking short naps. The blue water was lovely, though a tad cold for me. However, it was fun to see the little fishies swimming around by my feet.

When mom wanted to go back, I stayed and walked on the hiking/ biking trail. It wasn’t that thrilling, but it was a nice walk and it was very quiet. I finally went back to the room and saw my mom there- she’d opted not to eat at the BBQ on the beach and she’d just ordered room service. So I placed an order as well and took a shower. I was amazed that my order came with mom’s order, just about 10 minutes after I’d placed it.

We also had finally received our surprise from Guest Services for our inconvenience. The note was addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Burwasser" which was weird since Dad wasn’t there. It was also kind of odd that we got a children’s package but it was cute- a pillow case with a picture of the boat, a storybook, and 3 chocolate chop cookies. It was apparently sent by the chief purser.

My mom called down to guest services for more towels and was told that it would take 10-15 minutes. They didn’t come til 3 hrs later. The steward said he’d just received the page 5 minutes earlier. Hmmm…. At any rate, I spent the afternoon reading on the veranda while mom watched Clinton stuff on TV. I was adamant that I didn’t go on vacation to see politics or to see stuff about Iraq.

We lit Hannukah candles once more, for the last night. I thought I might never hear the ship’s horn, but they sounded it right before we went downstairs- it plays the first notes of "when you wish upon a star" and it was definitely worth hearing. I also saw the Xmas tree lighting ceremony that night, which was very cute- the characters were there and they picked a child out of the audience and someone sprinkled pixie dust into her hand and told her to wish for the tree to light up. It was a lot of fun.

Our show that night was Voyage of the Ghost Ship, an original show. We liked it the best of all 3, even though it was really a "Scarlet Pimpernel" wannabe—and the leading character was totally a "Doug Sills/ Percy Blakeney" wannabe. Still, it was entertaining and I always love seeing a good swordfight onstage! We continued our little game of recognizing actors from the previous nights.

Then, off to Palo! We didn’t get seated by the window, but that was OK. The food was great! I had a four cheese pizza appetizer, a pasta dish of crab and eggplant tortelloni and the sea bass entrée. Mom also had the sea bass, and appetizers that I don’t remember. We started talking to the couple next to us, who were on their honeymoon. When we ordered our souffles, the wife also ordered one; she had already eaten her dessert but she’d tasted her husband’s souffle and she wanted one of her own. This was a chocolate hazelnut souffle- the waiter poured chocolate and vanilla sauces into it. Totally delicious! Though I admit I have a slight preference for the souffle at the Contemporary. (mom preferred this one)

Then, it was time to pack since our bags had to be outside our room between 10pm-12am. Sob… everything was coming to an ending. But we were treated to one more animal sculpture- it was a towel in the shape of a snake on my bed- it was surrounded by all my stuffed animals. The best touch was that he had put my sunglasses on the snake- we couldn’t stop laughing! After packing, I read outside on the veranda until it got a little too cold and then I went to sleep.
Parrot Cay Disney Magic at Castaway Cay Castaway Cay Meeting Minnie Castaway Cay Castaway Cay Tree lighting ceremony Voyage of the Ghost Ship Voyage of the Ghost Ship Towel snake
We had the late seating for meals which meant we had an 8:15 time for breakfast. Everyone was supposed to eat where they were assigned for the previous night (or they could go to the buffet at Topsiders) so we were once again at Parrot Cay. Our servers, the same ones who had rotated with us to the regular restaurants, were awfully slow; I had just gotten my oatmeal when they were making the announcement that the gangplank would soon be taken away at 9am!

We made it off and it was easy to spot our luggage- they had given us color coded tags based upon where our stateroom was located. There were plenty of porters on hand to help, and one of them took our bags through customs (which was a snap) and then over to the USAir desk. We were surprised and pleased that not only could we check the luggage in there, but we also got our boarding passes!

The bus ride was sad, but they showed us a Mickey cartoon: "Ship Builders" which eased the pain. We got in the airport at plenty of time and, after we looked around in the shops, we ended up chatting with someone else who was on our return flight and who had been on our initial flight as well.
  • WDW-this was the best time to visit! Attraction lines during regular hrs were practically nonexistent. I don’t think I ever waited more than 10 minutes. Plus, the Xmas decorations were an extra special touch. I’d definitely recommend early/mid December as ideal for going to WDW.
  • MVMCP- I think ticket sales should be further limited. It wasn’t so much that it was overly crowded- I’ve been there when lines were much greater. But, it was way more crowded than any other times that week. The shows were fun, though it is nearly impossible to see them all. I think it is worth going once, but I am not sure if I would go back.
  • Beach Club- Great location and a great hotel! I loved everything about it and recommend it highly.
  • The Cruise Line- still has some bugs, particularly with the responsiveness (or rather, the lack thereof) by Guest Services. But it is a beautiful ship and it is a lot of fun walking around and spotting the characters! Disney’s island is also great- I can’t imagine anyone not liking it. The other passengers were all friendly and down to earth. I’d recommend the ship for couples as well as for families (all the kids just loved their activities!)- really, for anyone who likes Disney. I also highly recommend getting a room with a veranda if one can afford it.
Meeting Minnie