Tag Archives: travel

3-Day Disney Dream Cruise

This is an overview of the 3-day cruise on the Disney Dream. I am going to give you a bit of general information about the Dream, then give the 3-night itinerary, and the ports of call. I will also give an overview of the dining and entertainment on board the ship and finish with transportation options to get to the ship.

The Disney Dream was the 3rd ship Disney introduced into its fleet in 2011. There are 14 passenger decks onboard ship with a passenger capacity of 4,000 and a crew of 1,458. The ship is opulent with an art deco design. There are a total of 1,250 staterooms; with some having a veranda, some an ocean view, and some an inside “view” (Disney does provide a view of the ocean in the room with a state-of-the-art “magic porthole” .) To read more, click here and continue on our new website!http://www.familytravelescapades.com/overview-3-day-disney-dream-cruise/

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Hi,

We have our new website up. We still have work to do , but it is coming along. We found out that we can’t just automatically bring all of our followers over. I think that is odd since they are both wordpress sites. One is wordpress.com and one is wordpress.org. We are going to still post the link to the new articles over on the new site for the near future. We don’t want to lose any of our followers. We enjoy the interaction and since we won’t even be on the reader any more, we will come over and still read the people we are following. We won’t appear on the reader though. Again, I don’t understand this, but can’t change it. Just wanted to update you. We now have the buttons to follow on twitter, Facebook, instagram, Pinterest, etc. See ya real soon!

Family Travel Escapades

Our new site is now online!!  It is named Family Travel Escapades with the address  http://www.familytravelescapades.com.  We will no longer be posting on this site.  Our new site will still be mostly the same.  Our primary focus is on all things Disney, but we will also expand to other travel topics.  We are thankful for all of you who have followed us, and we hope that you will continue to follow our new  site.   Unfortunately, there was no way to automatically keep you subscribed.  Our posts will no longer be on the WordPress Reader, but we will continue to receive your blog emails and will continue to check the Reader.  We will also have Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Perdita, Pongo, and Roly

Staying Cool in Epcot

Summertime in Florida is HOT! And HUMID! Keeping comfortable at WDW in summer is a challenge. I have covered Magic Kingdom in an earlier article (Places to Rest In Magic Kingdom). Today, we will focus on Epcot.

Mickey-Short_StayinCool_26

First, I recommend a midday siesta or pool break during the heat of the day if you are staying on site. You escape not only the hottest, but the busiest time of day. The mugginess often begins early and drags on till late in the evening. So, even with a siesta, finding cool places to rest are still important.

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The universe of energy is a great place to cool down!
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The Land is also a cool, air-conditioned place.

Finding a cool spot is actually not the hard in Future World, as pretty much everything is indoors and wonderfully air-conditioned. There are not a lot of places to sit down and actually rest, though. Ellen’s Universe of Energy is maybe the best spot to cool down. This attraction offers over a half hour of seated AC. Many people find the ride outdated, but I enjoy it. That said, it is a one the best places in all of WDW to catch a nap. The Land Pavilion is as a whole a great cool down spot. Seasons restaurant is one of the best quick service restaurants with a large, diverse menu. Grab a bite, find a table, cool down, and rest your legs. While you are there, Living with the Land and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable are great places to rest. Living with the Land is a wonderful, educational boat ride about agriculture; Circle of Life is a movie starring Pumbaa and Timon from “The Lion King.” It is mildly entertaining, but has seats and AC with no wait. Club Cool offers free, cold international soda samples, like the wildly popular Beverly,  inside climate control for a quick refreshment. Some of the flavors are good; others, not so much.

club cool
Try the famous Beverly drink. You won’t be disappointed.

Cooling-Off-at-Epcot-in-Futureworld

Kids enjoy the spray stations. If you are  okay with getting wet, adults can partake, too.  There is one near Test Track and another between Future World and the World Showcase.

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The interior of the Mexico pavilion is cool, and often not very crowded.

America-Pavilion

The World Showcase offers less options. Most of us wander form pavilion to pavilion and spend a lot of time outside. Pretty much all of the quick service and snack options have outdoor seating only. The food and beverages are a large reason why Epcot is so popular. One obvious option is to actually go into the stores and shop. Some of us are not natural shoppers, but you do what you have to do to get comfortable. If you do not like shopping, there are still some options. Inside the Mayan pyramid of the Mexico pavilion you will find shops, crafts, a tequila bar, and table service restaurant. It also houses The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Cabelleros.   This boat ride will keep you comfortably climate controlled and off of your feet. It is an entertaining break, too. With the demise of Maelstrom and upcoming Frozen ride, likely with long lines, Norway no longer offers a good option. The China pavilion has an indoor show, ‘Reflections of China’ which rarely has a wait. As you are passing the African Outpost, pull open the lid of the cooler for a refreshing treat. Go ahead. It’s okay. In the American Adventure, there is a great show aptly named “The American Adventure” which will give you nearly 30 minutes of AC and comfortable seating. The show is educational, entertaining, and patriotic. ‘Impressions of France’ is an outdated movie in the France pavilion; but there is rarely a line, it is in AC, and the seats are comfy.’ O’ Canada’ in the Canada pavilion, hosted by Martin Short, is the best video log of any country, but you have to stand.

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Try and spot the hidden Mickey in this photo

O-Canada-Epcot-Attraction

Enjoy your day at Epcot! Even in the heat, and humidity of summer in central Florida, you can stay comfortable. Remember these spots as you traverse the park, and it will be a little easier.

Pongo (dad)

June 12, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

*  Disney now states that MagicBand+ will not be coming to Disneyland in Anaheim anytime soon.  They say it doesn’t fit the demographics with most guests being local or staying off property.

*  The new Starbucks in Animal Kingdom will open on June18 in the prior location of Creature Comforts on Discovery Island.

*  Frozen Summer Fun at Hollywood Studios will return on July 17 featuring Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf.

*  The animated short, ‘Frozen Fever‘ will be shown in the ABC Sound Studio at Hollywood Studios twice every hour from 10 a.m till closing starting on June 17 and running through September 7.

*  Registration for Star Wars Half Marathon will open on June 16, 2015.  The race is held on January 17, 1016 at Disneyland in California.

*  New merchandise is now available in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

*  A world class lounge from Los Angeles will be opening a sister location in 2016 at Disney Springs  in WDW to be called ‘The Edison’ .  It will feature American food, craft cocktails, live cabaret and live music.

*  Tokyo DisneySea‘s 15th anniversary will be celebrated from April 15, 2016 through March 17,2017 with “The Year of Wishes,” and will feature a new harbor show called “Crystal Wishes Journey,” an updated Big Band Beat, and a new projection show in the Hangar Stage in Lost River Delta.

*  Mickey‘s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at WDW has expanded from 2 to 4 days per week.

*  Walt Disney Animation Studios has released a trailer for the film ‘Zootopia‘ which is be released next.  It looks promising!

*  A preview for ‘Frozen Ever After,” the attraction set to replace Maelstrom in the Epcot Norway pavilion has been released.  I miss Maelstrom.

*  DisneyXD will premiere ‘Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything’ on Wednesday, July 22.  Cameron Boyce of Disney Channel‘s ‘Jessie will star.

June 5, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

***Second Star to the Right Disney Blog will be undergoing fairly major changes this weekend.  We are changing our name  and we are changing our theme to more of a magazine based format.  Our articles, the News Roundup, and Weekly poll will all remain the same, but hopefully in a more attractive, user friendly format.  We hope that you follow us through this transition***

*  Disney and the NBA are developing a new attraction for Disney Springs at WDW to be called the “NBA Experience at Walt Disney World.”  It will offer hands on interactive experiences to help bring the game to life.

*  WDW is testing new pricing on Rapid Refill Mugs at Pop Century, the All Star Resorts, and Port Orleans-Riverside.  There will no longer be 1,2, or 3 day options, only the length of stay option.  The price of the length of stay option has been decreased from $17.99 to 16.49 (plus tax).  It is anticipated that this will be employed at all WDW resorts later this year.

*  The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival  will have a new experience for this fall:  Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt.  Special maps will be given to lead you through the World Showcase in search of hidden Remy statues.

*  Epcot is now showing sneak peaks of Disney/Pixar‘s ‘Inside Out’ at the Imagination pavilion, former home of Captain Eo.

*  New DVC member merchandise can be purchased at DisneyStore.com.

*  The Emotions from the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’ will precede the Pixar Play Parade at Disney California Adventure beginning on June 19.

*  Harambe Market in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom is now open.

*  The annual attendance report from the Themed Entertainment Association shows that Disney parks are the 6 busiest parks in the U.S.: 1. Magic Kingdom 2.  Disneyland  3. Epcot  4. Animal Kingdom  5. Hollywood Studios  6. California Adventure.  Attendance rose from 2%(Animal Kingdom) up to 4% (Magic Kingdom).  Universal Studios Orlando followed at #8, but had an attendance increase of 17%.

*  The D23 Expo 2015, at the Anaheim Convention Center, will feature a new concert, Silly Symphony Celebration, on Sunday August 23 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It will feature a 32 piece band playing songs from the Silly Symphonies while showing clips from the shorts.

*  Disney Channel has announced that a new series based on “Tangled” and with the voice talents from the movie (including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi) will premiere in 2017.

*  Disney will be making a live-action film based on the ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ scene from “Fantasia.”

*  Tron 3 has been canceled.

*  In October, Disney will release a new high-tech toy, Playmation, that is somewhat different in that it hopes to get kids away from the computer and out moving about.

May 29, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

*  Duke Energy is going to build a solar farm in Orlando, Florida, near WDW, in the shape of a Mickey head.

*  Magic Kingdom‘s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will feature a new show in front of Cinderella Castle this fall called the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular,”  hosted by the Sanderson sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.”

*  Disneyland has released new Made With Magic merchandise for it’s Diamond Celebration including a new Mickey ears hat with the Diamond Celebration pattern on it and a paintbrush with light up functions.

*  Epcot will soon be offering a new tour called ‘World Showcase Destinations Discovered.”  It will be a 5 hour walking tour through and backstage at the World Showcase pavilions.  It will include a lunch and a cultural demonstration.  The cost will be $109 dollars per person.  (Ouch!!)

*  The Harambe Marketplace at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has now opened.

*  Guests to Animal Kingdom can now see several new baby animals including sable antelope and white rhinos.

*  This fall, to help celebrate it’s 10th anniversary, Raglan Road restaurant in Disney Springs at WDW will host a Raglan Road Master Chef Contest.

*  Disney is working on building robots that walk and move like cartoon characters for the parks.

*  The Walt Disney Company announced this week that it will be expanding the use of the MagicBands technology in WDW.  What this means was not announced.

*  DVC resorts will soon be updating their laundry rooms with new “high tech” laundry equipment as well a mobile website to check on washer/dryer availability.

*  The Drew Brees Passing Academy is returning to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at WDW this summer featuring other NFL stars and 20 or more prep football teams from around the country.

*  For a “nominal fee” ($35 per adult to be exact), DVC members can view the Magic Kingdom‘s Independence Day eve fireworks display from the convention center Port Cochere of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  The “DVC Independence Day Dessert Party” will include an delectable array of desserts, a cash bar and performances by the Dapper Dans and the Dixieland Band.

*  The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise will sailing to Alaska this year.  Check members services for details.

*  “Teen Beach 2” is to be released on DVD on June 26.

*  “Tomorrowland” brings in a lackluster $40 million on it’s opening weekend.

Running / Walking at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Fort Wilderness, and the surrounding area transport you away from Florida to the mountain west.  It is home of my second favorite running/walking trail of the WDW resorts.  The lodge is themed after Yellowstone National Park and is absolutely stunning.  The area surrounding Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness fits into the theme with a forest of towering pines all around.  The path winds through the “forest” from Wilderness Lodge through and around Fort Wilderness and back.

This is a wonderful place to run.  It also makes a great walk for the whole family.  The tall pines provide ample shade.  Most of the path is paved, but pine needles soften your stride.  You are surrounded by the fresh pine scent.  Deer, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit can be encountered as well as the horses at Fort Wilderness.  The Spanish moss, palmettos, flatness, and humidty let you know you are still in Florida, but with a little imagination, you can picture yourself out west.  I haven’t been to Yellowstone, but it takes me to the Ponderosa Pine forests of two of my favorite places to run:  Flagstaff, Arizona and the Black Forest, just north of Colorado Springs.

Maps of the exercise trail are available at the Guest Service desk.  Starting from the dock behind Wilderness Lodge, running along the path to Fort Wilderness, and then circling though campground is 2.5 miles.  Running straight back to Wilderness Lodge comes to about 3.7 miles.  The out and back is a 5 mile jaunt.  There is a small hill coming up from the docks at Wilderness Lodge.  The trail is otherwise flat.  If you want, you can wind further through the camp ground and make it an even longer run.  The trail is mostly shaded and is rarely crowded.  This enables you to enjoy the trail at any time during the day.  You do have to cross roads a couple of times and part of the run is along roads in Fort Wilderness.  So you will need to pay attention during these portions.

Pros:  Pine trees.  Shade.  Critters,  All day access.  Rarely busy.

Cons:  Road Crossing and potential traffic at Fort Wilderness.

Overall:  This is a great running trail that blends in with the wonderful theming of the resorts.  It makes a nice place to take a walk with your family, too.

I hope you give it a try.

Pongo (dad).

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Top 5 Money-Saving tips for Disney World-

Perdita (mom) here-

I am the money-manager in the house so I do the investigative work when it comes to saving money for Disney World. Some of the 5 tips for saving money are so long I will have to elaborate in a separate article, but some are not

1)Eat Cheaply-I have covered this in a previous article, but it bears repeating. This one tip alone can save hundreds easily. Some people don’t think about how much a meal can cost (easily $30-40/person). If you have a family of 4 that is about $160. If you factor in 3 meals/day that could easily add up to $500/ day plus any snacks and drinks you may buy at the park. Let’s just say you do spend this much and you are staying 7 days. You can easily see how the meals can add up to thousand alone. I know Disney isn’t cheap for even the “cheap” meals I have advocated, but it makes a real difference.

2) Buy Disney Vacation Club (to save even more, buy on the re-sale market)-
I am writing a couple of articles about this because there is so much about this topic. This one move has enabled us to go to the parks much more frequently than we otherwise would have been able to.

3)Use Miles Cards and sign-up bonuses for your travel
Again I will elaborate more later, but if you have a favorite airline or have one airline (for us it is Southwest Airlines) that is convenient for travel, get their credit card.

4)If you don’t have Disney Vacation Club consider Value and Moderate Resorts
When we called in to Disney in 2009 to make a reservation we didn’t even know there were value resorts. (There are value, moderate, deluxe, and deluxe villa resorts.) They booked us in a deluxe resort. When I thought back to the time I called several years before and they priced the vacation (the one we couldn’t afford) they also had booked us into a deluxe resort. Ask about all options and check the website.

5)Don’t fall for the “Dining-Plan-Package”
They will tell you that you are saving money when in fact they have that built into the package. If you price the vacation for room only I have found you save money. (a caveat is that is only if you don’t care about eating at the fine dining restaurants). I have found that on room-only reservations you can get about 30% off on the rooms most of the time anyway and they put the dining plan in the package and keep the room at full price. There are exceptions to this but I have found this to be the case when we have called.

More tips later!