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November 24, 2013

Disney Magic - Re-Imagined

Deb's Digest Blog

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Disney Magic in Grand Cayman with Tender

My Re-Imagined Disney Magic experience was supposed to begin October 20th, on the first cruise out of dry dock. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that cruise was cancelled. The ship had hit bad weather during the crossing and was not ready for guests. As I learned more about the ships issues, I was almost glad to not be on the very first voyages.

As compensation, we received a full refund (which showed up very quickly) and the option of a free 5 night cruise on the Magic between October and May or a 35% discount on a future cruise. Since we were locals and didn't have airline changes to contend with our cancellation was fairly simple, in relative terms. Turned out we had friends already booked on a November cruise, so we opted to take our free cruise with them on November 15th.

Laura and Lee were on the Disney Magic for the 2 night media cruise. They did a great job documenting the new areas of the ship. So for extensive photos and videos check out their series of blogs about the Magic here: http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/disney_cruise_line/reimagined_magic_2013/.

So, how is the ship, now 3+ weeks since it began sailing again. Overall the ship is in decent shape, but there are still issues.

The parts of the ship that were re-imagined and are finished, look great - Carioca's, Kids areas, Water Play areas, After Hours, Senses Spa and the staterooms themselves.

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However, every day, several times a day, I saw contractors and Disney crew working in cabins on Deck 7 as well as the public areas on the ship. Clearly, there is still work to be done.

We absolutely loved Carioca's. What a huge improvement from Parrot Cay. The restaurant is nicely appointed with soft colors and refreshing decor. They really did a nice job here. The Server costumes were colorful and added to the theming quite well. In addition, we all agreed our best meal in the main dining areas was the South American night in Carioca's. Different foods, new tastes and a huge improvement.

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The Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club - a fantastic redo of an area that had been in bad need of being reimagineed. Technology has advanced greatly since the Disney Magic was designed back in the 90s and the kids area was in desperate need of a rehab. A walk through the kids clubs made me almost wish I was 10 again. Even better is the fact that all kids can roam from the Lab to the Club and back again, no more age separation so siblings and friends can all play together.

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From the amazing Avengers Experience to romping around Andy's Room, these adults remained wide eyed and a bit envious of the new play spaces for the younger set.

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The new Aqua Lab and Aqua Dunk are great additions to the ship, as is the Twist and Spout slide that will accommodate both adults and kids. I saw many families delighting in the Aqua Lab water play area. If there is a downside -- it's very small (compared to the Fantasy and Dream). However, with the space available, they certainly fit a lot in!

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The shaded areas in the adult water area are very nice additions too.

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However there are still areas that need help. We were in a Category 7 Navigator's Verandah on Deck 7 aft. This has always been our favorite cabin/location on the Magic. While our stateroom had new furnishings and upgrades, our verandah was in sad shape. So bad we didn't use it. In a nut shell: the railing was loose and almost fell off in our hands not to mention the masking tape on it in several places, there was often standing water on the floor from a plumbing leak at the railing, most of the verandah appeared to have been scraped for painting that never happened, rust, and the entire area needed to be refinished.

Around the ship we saw areas that needed finishing, areas that had been stripped but not refinished.

Computer problems were also an issue. For instance on the first day we tried to book several of the "tastings", but everything had to be hand written and our tickets delivered that night, once the computers were back up. Same issue with dining. Also, a few times we tried to make a spa appointment, but again, the computers were down, please call back. Even later in the cruise, there were issues in Palo with the computers.

Misc Tidbits:

There is a Character Meet and Greet at the Port of Miami but you have to search it out. Go to the far right end of the check-in area and there may be signs, certainly ask a Crew Member.

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The Aqua Dunk is NOT for the claustrophobic.

Grand Cayman shops are almost all closed on Sundays.

The Duty-Free shop at the port in Cozumel had much better prices for alcohol (scotch actually) than the one in Grand Cayman.

Especially in the lounges, buying a bottle of wine or champagne is a much better value than ordering by the glass. You have the length of your cruise to enjoy it and it can be moved to where ever you are dining. Just like wine purchases in the main dining room. Ice Imperial anyone?

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Each lounge has a different selection of adult beverages including, wines and scotchs.

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Palo Brunch is as yummy as always.

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It's fun to visit with the characters, even if you are an adult and doing it by yourself.

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Make sure to visit with Captain America!

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One last important cruise reminder! Even though your bags may only be going from the ship to the port, be SURE to have anything important in your carry-on luggage. One of our group had a missing suitcase for several days.

As I said in the beginning, we enjoyed our cruise but the Disney Magic is still a work in progress.

Leave your comments/questions and I will do my best to answer what I can.


November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Everyone at AllEars.net wishes you and your families a Very Happy Thanksgiving!!!
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November 30, 2013

Epcot's Holidays Around the World Opening Day Report

Deb's Digest Blog

November 29th was the first day of Epcot's Holidays Around the World so I took a stroll "Around the World".

At 9am the parking area was already starting to back up - but hey, it was the day after Thanksgiving so I figured as much. Back ups remain at the new turnstyles - folks confused about how to activate their admission ticket.


MAGIC BAND TIP:
Touch your Magic Band Mickey to the Mickey icon, wait for the white circle to stop spinning, THEN place your figure on the scanner and it will hopefully turn green allowing you to enter.

TIP: Be sure to pick up the Epcot Holidays Around the World Guide as you enter the park.

Goofy and Donald topiaries are at the entrance to greet you.

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You'll find Bambi on the left side of the planting.

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Thumper and Flower are on the right side.

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In the Epcot Holidays Around the World Guide the first item says NEW! Gingerbread Village in Future World West. Since no pavilion was mentioned, I (haha) assumed it was outside some place - maybe where the Butterfly House is during Flower and Garden .....so i wandered over there and walked from one side to the other and saw no village. Went over to Guest Services - at first the Cast Member wasn't sure, then said - Oh It's in the Land Pavilion. I asked if he were certain and he said yes. So back to the Land I go, only to find there is NO Gingerbread Village and it won't be up until sometime early December.

Back to the main Future World Walkway and Mickey and Minnie topiaries are there to greet everyone!

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On the opposite side is Pluto and his dog house.

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Between the 2 stores are some snowflakes...

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...and the Epcot Christmas Tree with ornaments representing the countries around World Showcase.

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NEW This year is the Holiday Passport. Those who visited during the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival or the Food and Wine Festival are familiar with the passport. It was difficult to find these on opening day but they are at the special holiday snack/beverages kiosks.

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This one points out special holiday snacks and beverages, special merchandise, entertainment and a holiday photo op. Don't forget to get your country stamp too!

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TIP: Some of the holiday snacks and beverages are part of the Disney Dining Plan snack program.

First on my agenda for the day was to visit Norway and see Anna and Elsa from Frozen. I arrived about 10:25 and was quite surprised to see the entire area packed. Folks were waiting for breakfast, others for the Maelstom, others for the princesses, but also filiming was taking place.

Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, was filming segments for Mickey's Christmas Day Parade.

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A long line had already formed for Anna and Elsa so I joined it. About 5 minutes later a Cast Member came through doing a head count and then the line for the 11am Meet and Greet closed (about 10:30). Talking to folks in the line they all commented how earlier in the week lines were anywhere from 90 minutes or more for the princesses.

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I'll have video and more photos up later!

TIP: If you must see Elsa and Anna head over to Norway before 10:30 to get in the line for the first meet and greet. You'll end up waiting whether you do it earlier or later in the day, so might as well get the waiting done.

The store is filled with merchandise from Frozen. Guests in the store told me the costumes are sometimes sold out - so if you want to purchase one - do so when you see it! Many little girls in the line were already in the princess costumes. Since the movie has just opened on Thanksgiving, I wondered how many of these children have even seen the movie?!

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The gallery in the Stave Church has reopened as "Creating the World of Frozen". The team went to Norway to explore, much as they did with Brave. Inside the gallery you'll find items and photos of things that inspired segments of the movie. I'll be sure to revisit the gallery again after I see the movie.

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TIP: The inside of the Stave Church is very dark and also small. May be difficult maneuvering for those in wheel chairs.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some holiday snacks and beverages available for purchase. A few of the Food and Wine Kiosks are still present but now with a holiday theme.

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The Holiday Passport mentions a photo op in Germany's decorated village. Indeed it is quite pretty.

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Time to start strolling World Showcase and see the Holiday Storytellers. I seemed to keep missing them until I got to Italy.

TIP: The Storytellers will take a few minutes after the show to meet guests and pose for photos.

La Befana remembers her first Christmas 2000 years ago.

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Angela tells the story of Hanukkah.

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TIP: Considering having the storyteller sign your autograph book!

At the American Adventure you will find Santa's Village with a beautiful tree as the centerpiece. Mr. and Mrs. Claus greet guests here and there were LONG lines to see the holiday couple! Also in the area are several holiday merchandise kiosks and the Sugar and Spice Bake Shop!

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TIP: New bathrooms are open on the right side of the pavilion, near Santa's Village. You no longer have to go to the far left.


One of my favorite storytellers is Pere Noel in France. He recreates the magic of Christmas through the eyes of a child.

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Holidays in Canada is new this year. The Canadian Holiday Voyageurs take you on a musical tour of the country. You'll recognize several members of the band from Off Kilter (who are on break til after the holidays). There is a new female singer and a great fiddler!

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It was nearing dinner time so I headed out of the park. On the way out the Stitch topiary thanks you for visiting.

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For complete Holidays Around the World Information visit:
http://allears.net/tp/holiday.htm

Schedules and more information on the Holiday Storytellers: http://allears.net/tp/h_epcotstorytellers.htm

2013 Information on Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: http://allears.net/tp/hol_mk.htm

And much more to come..............including more photos and videos from the 2013 Epcot Holidays Around the World.

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About November 2013

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in November 2013. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2013 is the previous archive.

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