Sunday, March 31, 2013

Parental Responsibility at Disney Destinations


Parental Responsibility at Disney Destinations


            It seems to me that as soon as people arrive at a Disney Destination they assume their children are 100% safe. Sadly, this is not true. I guess the Disney Brand Name gives people a false sense of security. This seems to be especially true when it comes to the pools.
            Just last month there were two incredibly sad events involving Disney pools. Early in March a 13-year-old boy drowned at the Pop Century Resort. His family was there but not totally paying attention when he went under in the pool and drowned. Sadly, four days after he was pulled out of the pool and CPR administered he died in the hospital.
            Yesterday a four year-old boy drowned in the Donald pool on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship. Thankfully the ship was still in the port and there was no delay in getting him to medical care.
            The Fantasy was in port getting ready to depart for a week long cruise in the Caribbean when the accident happened. As people began to wonder why the ship did not leave port on time, as they watched various WebCams around the Internet the Disney chat rooms and message boards got busy with information. Those on the ship that saw the incident were calling friends and family onshore and telling them what happened. Some were even posting on message boards from the ship.
            The general sequence of events was something to the effect of the parents with three children boarded the Disney Fantasy for their cruise. They all got into their swimsuits and headed to the pools for a swim before the Sail Away Party. What happened next can only be assumed or guest at. It seems that the parents let their four-year-old son in the splash water play area and took the other two children to do something. They may have gone to get something to eat or drink or to show the other children the arcade they could play at nearby. It doesn’t matter the facts are the four-year-old was left unattended.
            The four-year-old was seen running over to the Donald Pool, the 4 foot deep family pool. He quickly jumped into the deep pool. Other children were roughhousing in the pool. According to some reports another child jumped into the pool and landed on top of the four-year-old boy causing him to drown.
            Guests pulled a child out of the pool and immediately started CPR. Within moments ship’s crew was there to assist and ships medical staff was also quick to arrive on scene. It took some time to locate the parents of the child as they were not in proximity. Someone recognize the child and told crew members the parent’s name. The parents were page by the crew while the person who recognized the child went to look for the parents. The parents arrived on the scene and saw their little boy’s condition they almost collapsed.
            After CPR was administered on the ship the boy and his family were taken to a local hospital for further care. The little boy’s condition was quickly assessed and he was airlifted to another facility were more advanced care could be given. As of the time of this post the little boy is still alive but his condition is not being discussed publicly.
            Now at this point you might say, “Where were the Disney lifeguards!” There are no lifeguards either at the hotel or cruise ship pools. Multiple signs are posted in the area stating there is no lifeguard on duty and children should not be left unsupervised in the pool area. There are lifeguards at the water slides, including the massive AquaDuck. Their job is to maintain a safe distance between slide riders so that they do not pile up on each other. They are there for the safety of the riders of the slides and cannot be responsible for the pools in their area.
            What I’m going to say next may sound harsh but in my opinion it is reality. The responsibility for both of these horrible incidences lies completely with the parents. It is up to them to pay attention to their children in the pool. Rules are clearly stated saying that is the parent’s responsibility. That said I believe there are other people responsible for the little four-year-olds injury. Where were the parents of the children that were jumping in the pool? I know on the Magic and the Wonder there are signs that clearly state no diving or jumping into the pool. Parents of the children that were being overly rambunctious and rowdy are responsible for not controlling their children. My heart goes out to the child who landed on this little four-year-old boy. Just think how they must feel! They were just having fun, being a kid, laughing, jumping and not comprehending the consequences of their actions. They were not bad there were just being a child, they don’t understand.
            I do not feel Disney has any responsibility in this matter! Do I think Disney is perfect and never makes a mistake or puts people in harms way? No! It is just they clearly stated there were no lifeguards. They clearly stated reasonable safety rules, no running, no diving, No Jumping and more importantly it states do not leave your children unattended. These rules were clearly ignored by multiple families.
            So the next time you stay at a Disney hotel or go on a Disney cruise and decide to spend time in the pool please be responsible! Watch your children! Your child may not be the one that gets hurt but they may inadvertently hurt someone else. I also suggest that you do not just tell your child don’t jumped in the pool. Explain to them you don’t jump into the pool because you might not see someone in the water and land on them and hurt them. That is how a child can learn to be responsible for their actions and understand the reason for the rules.
            Here’s a thought. Whenever you see a set of rules, whether it be at a pool at the hotel/ship or the safety rules for a ride in a park read them with your child. Don’t just say these are the rules but talk about why the rules are there. Why can’t we put our hands and feet outside of the car when riding on a roller coaster? Why can’t we stand up on the monorail or the Omni bus? Why can’t we run around the pool? When you discuss the rules and not just tell your child the rules you are teaching your child critical thinking. You are teaching your child to think of their safety and the safety of others. In short you are teaching them to be responsible adults. I’ll be honest I do not believe any parent is raising a child. Parents are simply raising future adults. It is our job to teach them the responsibilities of life. Disney can be a safe, fun and enjoyable way to learn the realities of life. So take the time to keep your child safe.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vacation Conundrum


Vacation Conundrum


            I have an interesting vacation conundrum. Do I buy a timeshare just 8 miles from Disney or do I opt to pay more to stay on Disney property?
            What needs to be considered is the obvious savings on lodging and potential savings on food (that can be substantial) outweighed by the added expense of car rental, parking fees, travel time and the loss of potential savings on dining plans. Savings can also be eaten up by other ground travel expenses if you choose to do a cruise after your stay at the timeshare and park.
            Let me talk a little more about the savings. Obviously a timeshare can save you on your hotel room. Now consider this. If you’re staying in a timeshare where you have a kitchen you can stop in a market and purchase groceries that are less expensive off Disney property. You can have breakfast before going to the Park, pack snacks to take with you and even pack a picnic lunch and/or dinner. This can be a substantial savings when you consider the cost of dining in Disney parks. Even a standard bottle of soda or water costs $3.25 in the parks. It’s a significant savings to bring your own food and drink.
            Staying at a timeshare off Disney property can also make it much more convenient to go to other local entertainment destinations or even to the market. Think of it this way, when you stay on Disney property you are in a 47 square-mile area. If you call a taxi to take you someplace they have to come into that huge area to pick you up and then drive you out of that area to get you where you want to go. Your taxi ride will be quite costly!
            If you stay on Walt Disney World property and purchase a ticket package you are often eligible to buy a discounted dining plan. This reportedly can save you as much as 33% on meals and snacks. Also Disney has a fantastic ground transportation package should purchase when you stay on property. They only time you have to touch your luggage during your travels is at your home airport. You check your luggage in when boarding the plane to go to Disney World and Disney picks it up for you at the Orlando airport and takes it to your hotel along with you. When time comes to go home Disney takes your luggage from your room and checks it in at the airport when they take you back to the airport.
            Another convenience to staying on property at Disney World is the time savings. You wake up in the morning walk to the bus stop, Monorail station or boat dock and board your transportation to the Park of your choice.
            If you stay off property (including timeshares) you have your drive from your hotel or timeshare then you have to choose which Park to go to and if you are planning on going to more than one Park in one day you have to consider where you park your car. If you park your car at the Park you start your day at and use the Disney transportation system to go to next Park you’ll have to ride the Disney transportation system back to where your car is parked. Then you have the drive back to your hotel. This can obviously take more time out of your day and staying on property than just using the Disney transportation system.
            One of the greatest disadvantages is staying off site is missing out on the Disney magic and simple Disney touches you get staying at a Disney resort. No Mickey shaped towelgami, Mickey themed toiletry packages or fantastic over the top Disney service.
            This is a decision that each family needs to make for themselves. For some each penny saved is worth the loss of Disney touch you receive at the Disney hotels and the inconvenience of driving every day. For others they can’t think of staying anywhere but Disney. They dream of finding Disney towelgami and enjoying the magic touches you receive at a Disney resort.
            For me and simply comes down to a balance. If the savings is significant enough to outweigh the loss of the Disney touches and the inconvenience I will do it. But the savings has to be significant. In truth I’d rather stay on property and soak in the Disney magic, it’s worth a little more to do that. But when I can save $50, $60 or each day I have to consider it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Disneyland Princess Fantasy Fair


Disneyland Princess Fantasy Fair


Yesterday I told you about the Royal Theater in the Princess Fantasy Fair. Today I’ll tell you a little more about the rest of the area.


Beside the Royal Theater entrance is Maurice’s Treats. Here you can find snacks and drinks to enjoy while you watch the performance in the Royal Theater or just walk around.

The Princess Fantasy Fair area looks like a miniature medieval village. There are streams and motes around the outer edge of the area. Even though the area is quite small it does not feel claustrophobic or over packed with things.

Inside the Royal Hall the Disney Princesses await their loyal subjects. In the Hall you will find various Disney princesses. Snow White, Aurora and Arial will be waiting inside the Hall to greet any and all visitors that wish to meet them. Inside the hall they will sign autographs and take pictures.

To the left of the entrance of the Royal Hall is Clopin’s Music Box. This wonderful music box is designed after devices made centuries ago. Turn the handcrank wheel and listen to Clopin’s music and watch the characters from the Hunchback of Notre Dame dance for your pleasure.



Continuing on, looking up on the wall you will see Figaro sunning himself on the window ledge. Next to the sleepy Figaro is a songbird in a cage. This sweet little bird sings its cheery song waking sleeping Figaro who meows at him before going back to sleep.

Continuing on you’ll see an archway leading to Frontierland. Above the archway on the wall see a shield with the letters CPG in the middle. CPG stands for Carnation Plaza Gardens, which is what this area was called from 1958 until the retheming to the Princess Fantasy Fair.

To the left of the archway that leads to Frontierland is the Fairy Tales Treasures gift shop where you can find everything for your little Princess.



In the middle of the Princess Fantasy Fair is Rapunzel’s tower. Hidden under one of the bridges in the Princess Fantasy Fair moat is Pascal. Remember he is a chameleon so he will be hard to find! Here is a hint, look near the archway that leads to Fantasyland.

I feel this area can be enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. I saw adults like myself without children at their side enjoying the area. It didn’t seem to matter male or female, young or old there was something for everybody to enjoy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DL's Princess Fantasy Fair Beauty and the Beast


Disneyland’s Princess Fantasy Fair
Beauty & the Beast Show

          With the opening of Disneyland’s Princess Fantasy Fair two new shows have come to the park. In the mornings Princess Rapunzel comes out several times and tells her story and in the afternoons Belle comes out and helps to tell her story.
          I have not seen the Rapunzel/Tangled show as of yet, but hope to in the next few weeks. If it is anything like the Beauty and the Beast show we saw yesterday I know I will enjoy it.
          The Beauty and the Beast show is done in the style of an old vaudevillian song and dance performance. You have Mr. Smith then Mr. Jones come out to tell the story. They both take turns being the straightman to the other one’s buffoon. It is quite a comical act filled with music and laughter. Only Belle is a truly straight character and can be taken anywhere near seriously.
Audience participation is very much part of the show. In a lot of ways this show is a Melodrama and you are encouraged to cheer on the heroes and heroines and boo the villains. But because the show takes place in ancient France you are encouraged to say huzzah and fi.
This is a totally corny show but as Walt Disney said, “I like corn!”
Here is video of the performance. This is a complete show.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Disney Inspiration at the Ronald Reagan Library


Disney Inspiration at the Ronald Reagan Library


            For a second time we went to look at the D23 Treasures of the Disney Archives exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was truly a joy to look at these wonderful items again.
            When you walk into the exhibit you are taking back in time to the beginning of Disney’s history in the entertainment industry. You see things from Walt’s early days in his first studio in Kansas to his arrival in California. Soon after that you see Walt’s “public” office. This is not the office where he worked that the office where he held meetings.
            After that you start to see more from the movies. Things like the miniature Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Then you see the car from the Absent Minded Professor along with the costume for Mary Poppins. The next room you see costumes and props from Babes in Toyland and the Shaggy Dog.
            Down the stairs you go to the second half of the display where you have the pleasure of seeing many costumes from various movies. There are several of Cruella Deville’s costumes from 101 Dalmatians along with the props from Cruella’s office. There costumes from The Princess Diary, Alice in Wonderland, Tron, Ironman (along with the Stark Industries racecar), Capt. America’s motorcycle is there as well.
            Then there are some things from the parks. The old Maleficent Dragon head from the nighttime show Fantasmic at Disneyland along with other props from the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Country Bear Jamboree are there for you to enjoy.
            To the largest items were the “miniature” ships, the Black Pearl and HMS interceptor. These were quite inspiring to see an amazing in detail.
            What caught my attention the most was a quote of President Ronald Reagan’s that was painted on the wall in the final room of the display:
“While it is said that faith can move mountains, Walt never tried.
Instead he built his own mountains, giving the children of the world new summits in what would become a small world of friendship and understanding.”
            Looking back at the pictures of all that I saw, and remembering the things that I could not take good pictures of, that saying sticks out in my mind and reminds me of all the things I’ve learned from all the great things Disney did and is still doing. 
            Rumor has it that this display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is a test run for Disney. They are trying to see if maybe a Disney Museum in the Los Angeles area would work. Now I’ve been hearing rumors about a possible Disney Museum in Glendale in part of the Imagineering complex. The building I’ve heard spoken of when the control tower for the Glendale Airport back in the 1930s and 40s. I do not know how true these rumors are.
            The Disney exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library leaves at the end of April. So if you are local to Simi Valley and wish to see this fantastic display I suggest you hurry up and get their.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

UK Phone Booths at EPCOT


UK Phone Booths at EPCOT

            One of the not too well known extra bit of fun in EPCOT is the three red phone booths in the UK section of EPCOT. People often called these phones from home just to say hi to whatever random guest that answers.      Some people have been known to stand off to the side where they can see the phones and call them with their cell phones and play games with the people that happened answer. I myself the been known just a call and ask what the weather’s like their at WDW.

            As of March 13, 2013 All in WDW (http://allinwdw.com) reports that all three phones are down for refurbishment. The phones are still there as of that date but all you get is a busy signal when you try to call them or and out of order recording. I did try to call today, March 24, 2003 and found all three lines still down. I’m hoping that these phones will be working again soon as it is humorous to call and say hello.

            Here the phone numbers in case you wish to try to call them yourself:
1-407-827-9862 (phone on the left)
1-407-827-9863 (center)
1-407-827-9861 (right)

 

            I will keep trying these numbers and calling Guest relations at Epcot to see if and when these phones will be back in service. I hope they are as it is always been fun to call.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Disney Pictures


Disney Pictures

            I’m more than a little bit of a shutter bug. I been known to shoot as many as 200 pictures in 90 minutes while in a Disney park. I will sometimes shoot pictures of family and friends but more often than not I’m looking for something different. I’m often looking for pictures to share here on my blog to go along with a post I’m planning on writing. Sometimes I just take pictures randomly hoping they will spur thoughts for blog posts.

            What I often shoot pictures of is signage for rides and various other things. I love taking pictures of the “fake” ads around the parks. I also find it fun to take pictures of normal things that people often overlook, such as benches. You’ll find that the benches at Disney parks change from area to area so they fit into the theme. There is no standard “Disney” bench.



I have even more fun adding Disney characters to my pictures once I get home. I will sometimes put Mickey and Minnie sitting on the benches or maybe Tinker Bell flitting around a flower or sign. It’s always fun to see how I can make the characters fit into a shot I took.



When I do take pictures of people I know, I often try to think of how I can add a character in the picture with my friend or family. I might ask my friend to look at her shoulder. Knowing how much she enjoys Tinker Bell I might put Tinker Bell on her shoulder and make it look like she’s looking at her.

I will even take pictures outside of Disney and put Disney characters in them as I did with this shot I took for St. Patrick’s Day.


There are certain things at Disney parks that I never get tired of taking pictures of. The flower Mickey at the entry of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom is always fun to take pictures of because it is constantly changing. They replant Mickey 7-9 times a year! They change the color of Mickey and the added special things around Mickey’s head to fit the seasons. In fact all the flower beds of the Parks are replanted often with different types of flowers to fit the seasons.


With the new addition of Facebook Cover Photos is a good thing to take some wide angle shots. You want a picture of the castle for your Facebook Cover Photo? Shoot a wide-angle so you can crop it to fit. If you don’t you will wind up with a close-up shot of maybe one of the windows of the castle or a spire. If you want more of the castle step back and go wide.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Disney Cruising? What to Carry onto the Ship


Disney Cruising? What to Carry onto the Ship


            Each person is allowed a reasonable amount of luggage when cruising. You can mail one box ahead to the ship per cabin. Each person in the cabin can have two standard sized suitcases that will be checked in either act the airport went Disney picks them up or when you get the ship and check them with the baggage handlers. You are allowed to carry one standard airline size carry-on bag, a computer bag and women can carry a purse when you board the ship. They are moderately strict on this.
            The bags you check-in you will not see Intel sometime in the evening. The majority of the bags make their way to the cabins before dinnertime first night. It is possible that your bag will not arrive in your cabin until after dinner. Occasionally bags be mislaid for a day or two. We all know things like this can happen when you’re traveling.
            Because of the possible delays recommend the following items they carried onto the ship with you placed in the checked bags.
·        Identification
·        Other boarding documentation needed
·        Medication (break in our original bottles with labels)
·        Medical Equipment (such as CPAP machine and one extension cord just in case)
·        Door decor (magnets to decorate your cabin door)
·        A change of clothing for dinner if you wish to change
·        Change of clothes the next day
·        A set of pajamas for each person
·        Camera(s) (batteries, extra memory chips)
·        Laptop Computer and any other Electronics
·        Unopened bottles of wine you may wish to bring
The most important thing to bring on the ship with you is your sense of fun. Leave your troubles on the dock and be ready to relax and enjoy!
What not to take on a Disney cruise.
·        Weapons and firearms (including ammunition, knives-swords, daggers or any other types of weapons) are not allowed onboard under any circumances.
·        Realistic replicas of firearms and weapons
·        Highly flammable liquids and combustible substances
·        Non prescribed controlled substances, illegal drugs, medically prescribed and synthetic marijiuana
·        Hookah pipes
·        Power Tools and Tool boxes (except those tools of the trade utilized by vendors providing services)
·        Sporting equipment (i.e., basketball and cricket bats, hockey and lacrosse sticks, pool cues, ski poles, fishing gear and archery equipment.)
·        SCUBA equipment (i.e. tanks, spears guns/slings, dive knives, pry bar, and underwater scooter)
·        Kites, balloons, surfboards, wave boards, inflatable floats/pools (including pool noodles) and wagons
·        Bicycles, Segways, skateboards, inline & roller skates, any footwear with wheels, (i.e. Heely’s type shoes)
·        Electrical appliences such as rice cookers, hot plates, coffee makers, electric irons, bottle sterilizer and bottle warmers, electric blankets, electric blenders, etc. Please note: A limited number of approved bottle warmers and bottle sterilizers are available upon request through Guest Services. Also all ships offer laundry facilities with irons and ironing boards. Valet laundry service is also available for a nominal fee.
·        Candles & Incense
·        DVD, VCR, or Blu ray players or, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Wii gaming systems are not allowed because of compatibility issues with the stateroom TV’s
·        Musical instruments
·        Large Ice Coolers (Please Note: small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12”x12”x12” brought onboard for the purpose of housing medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.)
·        Homemade, pre-cooked or other perishable food items plus any open snack containers
·        Metal detectors are not allowed on the ship or on Castaway Cay, as any object found using these devices would need to be returned to the owner or donated to charity
·        Personal fireworks or pyrotechnics
·        Seasonal and celebratory lighting strings
·        Liquid oxygen
·        Extension cords (power bars are not allowed but standard extension cords can be brought for medical equipment) Call and make arraignments if you need an extension cord for use in your cabin for medical equipment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Getting Ready for a Disney Cruise


Getting Ready for a Disney Cruise



            There’s a lot to consider when getting ready for any Disney trip. But there’s even more to think about for a Disney Cruise. A Disney Cruise is different than cruising on other cruise lines.
Let’s start with the general things you will need for any cruise, Disney or not the obvious things like appropriate clothing for the climate you are going to, formal clothing if there will be formal nights on the cruise, passport and personal necessities such as medication and suntan lotion will need to be readied. Passports should be ordered 6 months in advance so you don’t have to stress about it.
Once you’ve decided to go on a Disney Cruise you’ll need to decide if you’re going to join a Fish Extender group and if you’re going to decorate your cabin door. (Look at the bottom of this post for a link to my posts about Fish Extenders and Door Decor)
If you desire to join a Fish Extender group start early looking for a group and/or create one yourself. You’ll want to start early making your Fish Extender goodies so you’re not spending a lot of money to purchase things just before the cruise or finding yourself short on time to make things. If you start 8 to 10 months early (at least) you can make a few each month spreading out the cost and your time making things easier on yourself. If you wind up with extras it really doesn’t matter. You can take them along and give them out to new friends made on the cruise that are not in your Fish Extender group or save them for your next trip if they don’t have the cruise date on.
If you choose to decorate your door you are going to want to pick a theme. Will it be an eclectic collection of magnets, the likes of which you might find on a home refrigerator. Or will you take a theme such as an event(s) you’re celebrating on the cruise or maybe a pirate theme. You can have a collection of magnets that you can change out. We did this one cruise! We had a standard eclectic group of magnets but then on the days we celebrated our anniversary and my birthday we added magnets for those events. We also added several special items for the Pirates In the Caribbean deck party night.
Whatever you decide, Fish Extender/Door Decor you’re going to need a good amount of time to plan it and make or find someone to make it for you.
You can look in ESTY shops online for Fish Extenders and maybe even some goodies you may want to put in Fish Extenders. For Fish Extenders you can also go to local party stores, 99¢ Store or look in the party sections of department stores such as Walmart.
Sites such as WaltsBasement.yuku.com (PansTinkerBell is a person to ask on Walt’s Basement) and DISboards.com have members that are willing to make graphics that you can print yourself for ether Fish Extender goodies or Door Decor. All you need to do is purchase magnet sheets at the office supply store or online to run through your inkjet printer at home. Most of the people that make these graphics for you to print at home are doing it just for fun and do not charge. (Technically it is illegal for them to charge as the characters they are using are copyrighted by Disney.) They do have a right to ask you to pay for postage and materials if they printed for you.
Whether you make your graphics yourself or as somebody else to make them you will need time! If you have someone else make them you need to give them a chance to do it sometimes they are busy helping others or just dealing with day-to-day life. It does take time to manipulate graphics to create something that is fun and unique.
Another thing that some people do that takes extra time when preparing for a Disney Cruise is similar to what some people do when they go to the parks. Some people will make special T-shirts or other clothing for the trip. Once again doing this takes time. Don’t wait to for the last minute start early make it easy on yourself.
I do play with graphics, I am PansTinkerBell on Walt’s Basement I’ve had people ask me for graphics for Cruise Door Decor and had to work very quickly to get it done as they only had a couple of weeks before their cruise! I was more than happy to help them, and even more happy knowing that their cabin door will not be plain when they cruise!

Fish Extender?? What the Heck is a Fish Extender?!?!
Cruise Door Decor

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Storytellers


The Storytellers


I’ve been looking at my pictures of Disneyland. I noticed I seem to take a lot of pictures of the various statues at the parks.
Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom have their Partners Statue, and I love how it represents Walt looking back with Mickey Mouse at all they have accomplished together. For year’s Partners was one of the focal points of my camera lens. Last year, with the reopening of the reimagined DCA (Disney California Adventure) I found another beautiful statue to take pictures of.
The Storytellers Statue at DCA is beautiful and inspirational. Storytellers shows Walt as he was in 1923 when he came to California. Walt was 22 years old and was broke for the third time in his life. Yet, he was still hopeful and excited about what the future could hold him. Next to Walt, standing on Walt suitcase is the yet to be designed Mickey Mouse. This Mickey is a mix of the classic, original pie-eyed Mickey with touches of the more modern Mickey. Together these two bring such hope and joy.
Walt as depicted in the Partners Statue is the Walt of my youth. It is Walt as I remember seeing him on TV introducing that week’s edition of Wonderful World of Color. It is Walt as I remember seeing him a couple of times from a distance while growing up in Burbank, California. He is reveling in his achievements yet by no means resting on his laurels. He is saying, “Look Mickey, this is what we created!”
Storytellers Statue reminds me were Walt came from and the work it took for him to build is entertainment empire. Storytellers reminds me to hold onto hope, look to the future and find the blue sky even in the dark times. The Storyteller Walt is standing there thinking, “How exciting, there are so many things to do, so much fun to create and there’s nothing that can stop me!” In short Storytellers reminds me to never give up into just keep trying.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Disney Cruise Obsession


My Disney Cruise Obsession


            Several months ago I stumbled upon a fun Facebook page. This crazy Facebook page actually had a list of all the cruise ships pulling out of Port Canaveral! Of course listed among the ships are ships of the Disney Cruise Line.
            Along with the list of the cruise ship sail awat times was a link. This link was to the Port Canaveral WebCam website! When I saw that Disney Dream listed as sailing away one day I decided to sit down and click that link. Much to my surprise and pleasure I was taken to their very good WebCam live feed was able to watch the Dream sail out of port. It was lots of fun watching the ship and seeing the happy travelers waiting ship sailed out of port.
            When I first started watching the Port Canaveral WebCam it had no audio. I longed to hear the fog horns of the Disney Cruise ships play. At first I did not watch the WebCam very often because it was no audio. Then audio was added to the feed! Not only can you watch the ships you can hear the mighty horns blow!
            Now I try my best to watch the Disney Cruise Ships pull out of Port Canaveral every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The Dream sails out of Port Canaveral every Thursday and Sunday at 5 PM EST. The Fantasy pulls out of Port Canaveral every Saturday at 5 PM EST. You should always turn the WebCam on early as sometimes they to pull out as much as 20 minutes early.
            Sadly, these great ships do not blow their mighty horns every time they sail past the WebCam. When they do it is a special treat! Listening to the Disney Cruise Ships fog horns play any of their selections of songs is mesmerizing. It is fun to go in early and watch one of the Carnival Ships pull out just before the Disney Ship. It is humorous to hear the difference between the two ships fog horns.
            In general the bigger the ship the deeper and louder the foghorn. Most of the other ships sailing out of Port Canaveral are bigger than the Disney Ships. When the standard foghorn sounds off it sounds like a great flatulent beast. When the Disney Ships sail out and blow their foghorn a place in memorable music that we all know and love.
            The Port Canaveral WebCam is housed at the Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill. While you are waiting for the ships to sail you can listen to the music and the customers chatting in Fishlips. As the ship passes Fishlips you can hear the Sail Away Party on the deck of the Disney Ship. That is how close Fishlips is to the water.
Watch for Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill
when sailing out of Port Canaveral! Wave at them!
            Another fun thing about this particular WebCam is that it is not a static WebCam. It actually follows the ships as they sail in and out of the port. They will even focus in on people waving at the camera and holding signs. There even more apt to do this if you contact them and let them know you will be sailing out of port that day. They will also focus in on other interesting things in the port such as wildlife and any interesting boats happening to sail by. One evening they were chasing lightning over the ocean! What a beautiful sight it was.
            So no matter what cruise line you are sailing on out of Port Canaveral you can tell your friends to go to the Port Canaveral WebCam and watch you sail away. All you need to do is stand on the port side of the ship and wave at Fishlips as you sail by. You can even purchase a downloadable copy of the video of your sail away from Fishlips.
            You can check the links on the Port Canaveral WebCam website for links to other ports WebCams. They have New York Harbor and Key West Florida as well just to name two. I will say that the Port Canaveral WebCam is the best of them because it follows the ships and has audio unlike most of the others.
            So I must say thank you to the Port Canaveral WebCam and to Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill for providing me with such fun entertainment for a few minutes three times a week.
Here are links to the Port Canaveral WebCam Facebook page and website:
Facebook:
Port Canaveral WebCam:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Disneyland's New Entrance Policy


Disneyland’s New Entrance Policy


            For many years local parents would bring their kids to Disneyland and drop them off to play for a few hours or the day. Some kids as young as 10 to 12 years old would be handed their Annual Pass and maybe a little bit of money and dropped off at the entrance to Disneyland. Disneyland’s newest admittance policy will change that.
            Disney just announced that from now on children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by someone 14 years of age or older. I see both sides of this situation.
There are some very responsible 10-year-olds that can handle being left alone at Disneyland for a few hours or even a day. They most likely have been to the park often with their parents and know the rules and are well able to follow them. Leaving these children at the Park alone is actually very good for them as it recognizes their maturity level and rewards their good behavior. It can also help boost their self-esteem and confidence.
There are some very immature and irresponsible 10-year-olds they cannot handle being left alone anywhere for any length of time. Put into a stimulating environment such as Disneyland these children can be even worse. These children left alone at Disneyland can be a big problem. These children could cause problems for other guests, be injured not following safety rules and even cause general mayhem and mischief such as theft and property damage. Sadly some parents of children like this will drop them off just to give themselves a break.
While I do think it is good to reward responsible young children with freedom and extra responsibility beyond their years I do not think it is fair or good to reward the problem child with the extra freedom to be irresponsible and cause more problems. When parents will not use the wisdom when dropping off their children businesses like Disney have to make policies to control the situation.
I know of people that treat Disneyland as a low-cost babysitter. I’m speaking of people that live local to Disneyland. They buy their child an Annual Pass and their child has a place to go when the parent is busy. Even at $650 a year this is cheaper than a babysitter. During winter/spring breaks and summer vacation when the child is not in school some parents will drop the kids off at the park on their way to work and pick them up after. I can see how Disney would not be happy with this. Disney and their cast members are not babysitters.
I will be honest, when my daughter was younger if we had lived closer to Disneyland I too would’ve dropped her off every so often. I know that when she was 10 years old my daughter would’ve been one of the responsible ones that would’ve enjoyed the rides and shows offered and most likely even helped new guests to the park find their way around. I would’ve called in often to check on her. If I thought for one moment she would be a problem I would not have left her. As it was, when our daughter was 10 we would take her and a friend to the park and let them go off on their own for a while. We would check in on them frequently by cell phone and prearranged meetings.
I do not know exactly what happened to prompt Disneyland to make this policy change. I can only hazard a guess as to why. It can be assumed that several children or groups of children have been dropped off frequently and have been causing problems. The problems could have been anything from theft and property damage (such as tagging) to just not following safety rules and listening to cast member directions. No matter what the problem was I’m going to assume that it would cause problems for other guests along with causing safety concerns. Disney and their cast members are not babysitters. While I’m saddened by this decision for the responsible youth who self-esteem could be built up and responsibility rewarded I understand the decision. Once again a few abusers ruined it for others.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is Cruising Safe??


Is Cruising Safe?



            It’s been about a year since the Costa Concordia crashed bringing into question the safety of cruising. Let me start off by saying in general I believe cruising is as safe a way to travel as any other. You must use wisdom in choosing a cruise line as you would use wisdom in choosing an airline.
            The Costa cruise line is part of the Carnival cruise line. Since the Costa Concordia crashed there was another Costa cruise line ship that had mechanical issues at sea and now reports of several Carnival cruise ships with problems. Just a few weeks ago the Carnival Triumph was stuck at sea for days with no power after a ”small” engine fire. They had to be towed to shore by multiple tugboats that took several days to get to them.
            Today the Carnival Dream is stuck at the island of St. Martín in the Caribbean. They’ve lost partial power and several times lights and elevators have stopped working. But according to the Carnival Cruise Line all “hotel services” have continued to function. The ship will be “followed home” for safety. Guests on the ship will be refunded for three days of the cruise and get 50% off of their next Carnival cruise.
            In my opinion this is too many problems for the Carnival/Costa Cruise Lines. Upon further research I found that this cruise line and others often purchase older ships from each other. One of the ships that had problems had been purchased from a different cruise line after having had an engine fire and other issues. Guests have reported being told that these used ships were actually new when they sailed but they say they found conditions “disgusting and unsanitary”.
            According to Maritime Law all cruise ships must have a Life Boat Safety Drill within 24 hours of sailing. The Costa Cruise Line would often put off this drill for as long as possible. When the Concordia sank it was less than 24 hours out of port and there had been no Lifeboat Drill. They had followed the law but how many people would have been saved if they had not just follow the letter of the law but followed the intent and done this drill earlier in the cruise? It could’ve saved panic and therefore lives.
            Reading these reports just confirms my decision to never sail anything other than the Disney Cruise Line. You know what you’re going to get with Disney. You know that all four ships were built for the Disney Cruise Line and you know exactly when each one of them was built and the date it came into service. Disney Cruise Line never sails out of port until after the Lifeboat Drill. Every guest is required to participate in this Lifeboat Drill. I know that on the two Disney cruises I’ve been on besides the mandatory Lifeboat Drill I saw other crew drills for safety.
            Once again I suggest when you cruise no matter what cruise line you choose check their safety records. Also, once again I suggest you consider the time of year you cruise. Obviously hurricane season can be dangerous.
While all cruise ships are equipped with weather monitoring equipment and know where storms are they still need to stay within the area to stay somewhat on track of where your designated itinerary was to take you. They want to get you to as many of your stated Ports of Call as possible. They also want to return you to the port you expected to return to so that you are not inconvenienced getting home or going to your next destination.
You may not be hit directly by the storm but you may get bad weather and big waves. Not all furniture on the ship can be bolted to the floor. (It would be rather hard to sit at a table for dinner if you couldn't pull the chair up.) The rocking and rolling may cause you to fall or make you seasick. If you don’t want to deal with that don’t go during hurricane season. (I choose to not sail during hurricane season.) If you choose to sail during hurricane season I don’t think you have a right to complain much. Expect to get bumped around!
All this boils down to one thing, use wisdom! Choose your cruise line and time of year wisely. Do your research, check your cruise lines safety record. Consider the weather at the time of year you’re going. Will it be too hot or too cold? What are the possibilities of severe weather and storms? And do you mind not being able to go to your planned Ports of Call if the weather keeps you from them?
For me I will cruise Disney any time from December to April in the Caribbean. Again for me, anywhere else I’d sail it is Disney and I will look at the weather for that region before picking the time of year.
So bon voyage my fellow sailors! Do not be afraid to sail! But do choose who you sail with, where and when wisely.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

King Arthur's Jingles!


King Arthur’s Jingles!



            According to learner.org there is a legend about carousels. According to carousel legend, the lead horse of any carousel is always the biggest, most decorative horse. In many instances, this horse is a military or warhorse. If a chariot is included in the carousel the first horse right behind the carousel on the outside is the lead horse.
            There are 68 white galloping horses on King Arthur’s carousel. Each horse has a name and you can get a list of the horse’s names from City Hall on Main Street. But one of the horses is unique. The horse’s name is Jingles.
            Jingles was Walt’s favorite carousel horse, named for her ornate carvings which include beautiful straps of jingle bells hanging from her saddle and cantle. Jingles is King Arthur’s lead horse. She is right behind the bench seat and handicap loading area. During 2005s 50 anniversary of Disneyland Jingles was removed from the carousel and painted gold from the tip of nose to tail and trimmed with 18 carat gold and set apart as a photo opportunity near Dumbo Flying Elephants queue. When Jingles was reinstalled as the lead horse after the Year of the Million Dreams campaign, a major portion Body of Jingles were painted over with white, except where the gold bells and trim were showing through, with exceptionally striking translucent treatment of the rosettes on Jingles head. Decoration detail was painted on the saddle blanket representing the talking handled umbrella from Mary Poppins, and in four quarters as a crest upon the kneepad – the monogram “JA”, a raven perched upon high button shoes, the silhouette of Mary in-flight and a number 50 representing the 50 Magical Years anniversary of this original Disneyland attraction featured on opening day – all showing through the gold and blue outlined. Jingles was then ceremoniously dedicated to Julie Andrews on April 8, 2008 as “Honorary Ambassador”, the title painted beneath the hidden Mickey on her cantle.
            Julie Andrews was given a slightly smaller version of Jingles in honor of her being made a Disney Legend and “Honorary Ambassador”. This she proudly displays in her home for her grandchildren to enjoy sitting upon.
            Jingles is a guest and cast member favorite on King Arthur’s Carousel. Many people wait to ride Jingles. She is the most sought-after and pampered (most meticulously maintained) of the carousel horses. Jingles was recently missing from King Arthur’s Carousel for approximately 4 months. When I asked cast members where Jingles was they told me she was getting some extra hay and oats. Translation – Jingles was being repainted and repaired. Jingles is now back in her lead position on King Arthur’s Carousel, leading the charge of happy children writing their beautiful white chargers around fantasyland.