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February 1, 2011

Disney Dream Maiden Voyage - Day 2, Nassau

by Lori Edelman
Guest Blogger

The Disney Dream definitely has comfy beds! We all slept very well awaking to the ship cruising into the bay at Nassau. We watched from our balcony as the ship very slowly turned 180 degrees to back into its parking spot at the dock. Pretty impressive. The ship turns on a dime.

From the bridge

Lighthouse as we enter Nassau and Atlantis

For breakfast we chose to go to the Royal Palace. We had a number of different choices on the menu. I chose a vegetarian omelette, Michael picked an "everything" omelette with a variety of meats, cheese, and veggies. Aaron had the express which consisted of eggs, hash browns, sausage, and bacon. Everything was delicious and served warm. A pet peeve that I've had on prior Disney cruises is that toast was almost always cold. Not a good way to start the day. I'm happy to report that they seemed to have figured it out!

After breakfast, Aaron and I made a bee-line for the Aqua Duck!!! It was a little chilly, but together we made our first trip down the slide! Great fun!!! We promptly got in line to ride again only to have the ride close down for about 15 minutes. It seems that some children do not weigh enough and end up getting stuck. It was kind of funny to watch the cast members walk through the tube to rescue the stranded riders.

We chose Cabanas for lunch. Once again, lots of yummy choices -- shrimp with pico de gallo, sauteed green beans and carrots, fresh pizza, and more. 1:30pm was my appointed time to pick up my limited edition pins. This ended up being a very easy, well-organized process.

Maiden voyage gift - a Ducky Williams litho

In the afternoon, Aaron took a nap while Michael and I headed to the Walt Disney Theater for a special presentation for Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members. (Gold = 5 to 10 cruises; platinum 11 and more cruises. We are Gold.) The presentation was by Tom Staggs, head of WDW Parks and Resorts. He talked a little about the building of the Disney Dream. We learned that the Sorcerer Mickey figure at the aft of the ship (that's the back) was originally sculpted in Glendale, CA and then was sent back and forth to Germany and Florida before finally being mounted on the ship. He'd traveled close to 15000 miles!

Next up, a very special treat for Michael and Aaron. They went to the spa for a shave and facial. Both loved the experience and both looked even more handsome to me! While they were being pampered, I decided it was high time I burned some calories. I headed to deck 4 and the jogging track. On the Disney Dream, 2-1/2 laps equals one mile. (Three laps make a mile on the Magic and Wonder.) I lost track of the number of laps I walked, but then I took to the stairs. Deck 4 to deck 11 is quite the workout!

Trying out the Quiet Cove Pool

Crew Pool

Sail-away from Nassau was about 6pm. Aaron and I watched from deck 13 as the Dream slowly and smoothly made its way out to sea.

We headed back to our stateroom to relax for a bit and to get ready for Pirate night! This evening's play, "Villains Tonight" was showing at 6:45pm. On the Disney Dream, the Walt Disney Theater has a balcony level. We decided to check it out and thoroughly enjoyed the view. Michael and I had seen the show once before. It is a fun story with great music, but probably not our favorite show.

Villains Tonight!

Between the show and dinner, we had about 30 minutes to wander around. It looked like more craziness in the shops! The shops on this ship are much larger than those on the Magic and Wonder carrying a much larger selection of items.

Dinner tonight for us was in the Royal Palace.

Floor in front of Royal Palace

As we waited for the doors to open, we were joined by our AllEars friends, Deb and Linda. Their table-mates were in Remy so they invited us to join them. It was great fun to get better acquainted. The menu tonight was good, but mostly nothing that we had not seen before. During our appetizer course, our head server, Mario, found us with a special delivery: a huge bowl of coconut shrimp! Yum!

As you might guess, this elegant restaurant gives nods to several of our favorite princesses. On the backs of the chairs you will find a variety of symbols like an apple (Snow White), a rose (Belle), a glass slipper (Cinderella), and a pumpkin carriage (Cinderella - two nods!). We get to eat in this same location again tomorrow night for the optional dress-up evening. I'll try to spot more special Disney details to share with you.

Dinner ran a bit long. Aaron and I scooted out quickly to head up to deck 12 to watch the fireworks! Second time in one day I ran 8 decks worth of stairs. Yowee. Great display followed by a play featuring none other than Jack Sparrow!

Aqua Duck at night


After all of that excitement, we managed to hook up with Michael. He and I made our way to Meridian, the new cigar bar located in the area between Remy and Palo. Elegant and quiet. Michael enjoyed a cigar as we both savored generous shots of Patron Anejo. What a lovely way to end the day.

Meridian

Cigar patio at Meridian

Tomorrow: day at sea!

February 2, 2011

Disney Dream Maiden Voyage - Day 3

by Lori Edelman
Guest Blogger

And, what a day it turned out to be!

First thing, we slept in. Before we realized it, the time was nearly 9:30! We quickly got dressed and headed to the Enchanted Garden for breakfast. This restaurant features a delicious buffet with all of the offerings you would expect.

Next up, Aaron and I again headed for the Aqua Duck. We got in one quick ride before the BIG highlight of the day. We had been sailing towards Castaway Cay and guess what we found there? The Disney Magic! Captain Tom pulled close enough for us to have a great photo op and then came the real treat. Horns. Both ships addressed one another multiple times. The Disney Dream sounded all of its tones: "When You Wish Upon A Star", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Be Our Guest", "Bibbidy-Boppidy-Boo", "It's a Small World", and "A Pirate's Life for Me"! Wow. Tears, of course, welled up in me. I'm just too darn sentimental.

Disney Magic

Another peek at the Magic

With cruise director, Rachel Quinn

Next up: christening of the Aqua Duck! Cast members had two containers filled with water previously gathered from the two Walt Disney World water parks -- Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. They poured the water from the two bottles into the Aqua Duck water. Then, the real highlight of the christening: Donald Duck! Donald rode the ride named in his honor. Great fun.

Donald heading upstairs to ride!

The three of us had lunch on deck at Fillmore's, Luigi's Pizza, and Tow Mater's Grill. Pizza, burgers and fries, chicken tenders, and some healthier selections like salads, fruits, and wraps. For "fast food", everything we tried was delicious!

After lunch, even though it was chilly outside, Michael made a quick trip back to the room to change into his swimsuit. Then, he and I took a turn on the Aqua Duck! Fast and cold! The second we got off, we grabbed towels and headed back to the stateroom for warm showers. To further warm up we went to Cove Cafe for some coffee drinks and Internet time.

Before we knew it we had to get ready for the play and dinner. Tonight was an optional dress-up evening. Prior to the theater, we wandered into the shops and Michael bought me some very beautiful Mickey earrings. I am a lucky girl indeed.

Lori - dress-up night!

The show tonight was the Golden Mickeys. We have all seen it before, but I felt especially moved by the music this time. At the end of the Snow White scene, Dopey and Snow White were joined on stage by some children from the audience who were dressed up as dwarfs. Precious! I always enjoy the Tarzan segment. He is very easy on the eyes not to mention the amazing Cirque du Soleil-like moves on a single rope. A few changes/additions to the show that we noticed -- a scene and song from Tangled, Bob Iger replaced Roy Disney in the beginning sequence with Ensign Benson, and the girl that voices Tiana from the Princess and the Frog (sorry, don't recall her name) has replaced Angela Lansbury, the voice of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast.

Golden Mickeys

More Golden Mickeys

More Golden Mickeys

Snow White and her special dwarves

Toy Story

Mickey

As I said, the music and story were both wonderful and very moving. Yes, tears were streaming down my face through most of the play. I can hardly wait to see it again one day.

Dinner for us was once again in the Royal Palace. This time we returned to our assigned table with our new friends from Seattle. And, we had the opportunity to get a little better acquainted with our servers. Arvan is from Mauritius, an island near Madagascar. Soft spoken, pleasant, and very attentive. Somehow we got lucky enough to have two assistant servers. Annaya is from Brazil and Izabella is from Poland. Like Arvan, both have been delightful providing excellent service.

Our meal tonight had a French flair. We enjoyed favorites like escargot, French onion soup, steak and lobster. For dessert, I chose the creme brûlée in honor of my friend Jim. Actually, I had very little of the custard, but I ate all of the delicious crust on top!

After dinner, Aaron decided to go back to the stateroom to relax and watch some movies on tv. Michael and I headed to the District, the area on the Dream where you will find most all of the nightlife. We met up with our AllEars friends, Deb and Linda, in Pink. This lounge had a bubbly champagne theme featuring a variety of champagne cocktails as well as a full bar. And, of course, the decor is all soft shades of pink. (Anyone really surprised to find me here?)

In addition to Deb and Linda, we made some new friends -- Dotti, Donna, Carol, and Jo. Some of these gals have been contributing to the success of AllEars for years and years. For me, it was quite a thrill to finally put faces to names. We had such fun joking, sharing stories, and laughing. We closed down Pink at about 1am!

Pink!

Another special gift

February 5, 2011

Dining on the Disney Dream: Enchanted Garden

Andrew Rossi

Andrew Rossi continues his look at the restaurants aboard the new Disney Dream with a review of Enchanted Garden.

Whenever I cruise aboard the Magic or the Wonder, I always look forward to dining at the various restaurants. I have always enjoyed the elegance of Lumiere's on the Magic and Triton's on the Wonder as well as the magical quality of Animator's Palate on both ships. Parrot Cay, however, has always been somewhat of a letdown when compared with these other restaurants. The dining room's tropical theme is somewhat generic and there is nothing about the dining experience there that makes it special or memorable; it just does not have the same Disney-quality feel as the other restaurants.

Aboard the new Disney Dream there are some similarities, but also many differences, with the dining experiences aboard the other two Disney ships. Animator's Palate has been carried over from the Magic and Wonder but given an entirely new spin to make it truly unique. In addition, while Royal Palace does have a similar look and feel to that of Triton's or Lumiere's, it far surpasses them in elegance and refinement. For the third of the rotational restaurants, rather than brining Parrot Cay aboard the new ship, I was happy to see that Disney devised an entirely new concept and one which is completely unlike anything found aboard the other ships.

Overview:
Inspired by the picturesque gardens of Versailles in France, Enchanted Garden delivers the theming, detail, and magic that you come to expect from Disney restaurants. Located on deck two, just below the ship's atrium, the dining room is open for buffet breakfast and lunch in addition to being a part of the dining rotation for dinner. The restaurant's location was actually a concern for me. I thought that, being so low in the ship, you would really be able to feel the boat rocking. These fears proved to be unfounded. The only thing I did notice about the restaurant's location was that the portholes are smaller than those found on the higher decks of the ship. However, with so much to see inside the restaurant, your eyes will be drawn to many other things besides the portholes.

Enchanted Garden Sign

Atmosphere:
Enchanted Garden is just as beautiful as Royal Palace, but in a totally different way. While Royal Palace has a very upscale and refined feel, Enchanted Garden has more of a casual elegance. With a color palette comprised of whites, light greens, light blues and light pinks the dining room has a very serene, calm, and relaxing feel that provide a stark contrast to the opulent gold, marble, and crystal found in Royal Palace.

The theme of Enchanted Garden is that you are dining in an elegant conservatory amid the foothills in France and there is a tremendous amount of detail, both large and small, throughout the restaurant that help to immerse guests into this setting. Diners enter the restaurant flanked by beautifully painted murals depicting rolling hills, colorful gardens, and bright blue skies. The floor of the entryway is a stone mosaic that stretches down the center of the restaurant while overhead the ceiling is covered with an ivy-laced trellis and open views to the sky above. All these elements really help to bring the outdoors inside the restaurant, giving it an open and airy feel. This is especially important given the restaurants small portholes.

Enchanted Garden Entrance

Enchanted Garden Center Aisle

At the center of the dining room, and the main focal point of the restaurant, is a seven foot tall cascading fountain topped by a cherub Mickey Mouse.

Enchanted Garden Fountain

Another nice detail to be found in the restaurant is the light fixtures that blossom and become bathed in color throughout the course of the day. If you go for lunch the flowers were be closed and more pale in color, but for dinner they are in full bloom.

Flower Light Fixture

One thing I found interesting about the restaurant was that the center aisle is lined by semi-circular booths. The rest of the restaurants aboard the Disney ships generally feature only standard tables and chairs.

Enchanted Garden Booth

One of the main attractions of Enchanted Garden is its ceiling, which changes throughout the course of the day. If you visit the restaurant for breakfast or lunch you will encounter a vibrant blue sky, but later in the day this will change to a golden sunset and finally a dark nighttime sky complete with twinkling stars. The previous pictures were taken earlier in the afternoon with the daytime sky, but here for comparison is the nighttime sky that greets guests at dinner:

Nightime Sky Ceiling

I absolutely love this concept and it really makes the restaurant unique and lends to the overall sense of immersion into the theme of dining in a French garden. However, if you are not sitting toward the center of the restaurant you do not really get the full effect because the main portion of the ceiling that depicts the image of the sky runs above the center aisle of the dining room.

Also, execution wise, I think it would be better if the ceiling depicted an accelerated day, changing from daytime to nighttime throughout the course of you meal. I was in the restaurant for the second seating at 8:30pm. When we were seated the ceiling was already depicting the nighttime sky and there was no real change throughout the course of the meal. Those diners at the first seating, however, would probably witness the change from dusk to night.

Despite the openness and airiness created by the restaurant's atmosphere, I found the dining room to have a very crowded feel because the tables were positioned so close to one another. I was so surprised to see the tables basically right on top of each other because it was not like this at Royal Palace. Also it gave the servers very little space to walk between tables as seen here:

Enchanted Garden Tables

Despite this fact, however, the restaurant certainly lives up to its name and provides diners with a sense of enchantment unique among the restaurants on any of the Disney ships.

The Menu:
The menu is another area where there is a stark contrast between Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Whereas Royal Palace feature many rich and heavier dishes, Enchanted Garden features a lighter fare of what Disney calls "market-inspired continental" cuisine. In this way, the menus really go hand-in-hand with the atmosphere in cementing the theme of each restaurant. Also, the vastly different menus allow for a totally different dining experience each night, not only in terms of location but also in taste.

Just as with Royal Palace, I was impressed by the wide selection of choices available starting with appetizers and continuing all the way through dessert. Appetizer selections included an Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower with crispy noodles and wasabi dressing, a Golden and Red Beet Carpaccio, North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli, and a Thyme and Garlic Brioche filled with chanterelle, hedgehog, and black trumpet mushrooms.

For soups the menu featured a Duck Consommé as well as a Curried Carrot and Apple Soup while for salads there was a Romaine Wedge topped with a creamy Romano dressing and a Baby Spinach Salad served with seasonal pears, toasted pine nuts, and crumbled gorgonzola.

There were many appealing entrée selections that made it difficult to decide which one I wanted. My server noted that his two favorites were the Pan-Seared Sea Bass served with a saffron and fennel risotto and topped with a sweet chili glaze as well as the Grilled New York Strip Steak which comes accompanied by thyme roasted vegetables and a double-baked potato. Other entrees on the menu included Caramelized Sea Scallops, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Salt, The Enchanted Garden Tuna Salad, and Marjoram Scented Organic Chicken. Also, for vegetarians, there are the Glazed Portobello Mushrooms topped with a sundried tomato cream drizzle as well as the Peal-Barley Cakes with Shallots, Leeks, and Rosemary.

Finally, the dessert choices include a Steamed Lemon Buttermilk Pudding, a "Sacher" Chocolate Torte with apricot sauce, a Banana Foster Sundae, and Esterhazy Cake featuring almond meringue soaked in maraschino liqueur and layered pastry cream. There are also two sugar free desserts, the strawberry cheesecake and silky dark chocolate mousse. For those diners having difficulty choosing just one dessert, there is the Sweet Temptations which features a trio of Esterhazy cake, strawberry cheesecake, and silky dark chocolate mousse.

For my appetizer there was no doubt with what I wanted, the North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli. I found it interesting that this was an appetizer selection since ravioli is something you would usually have as an entrée. The ravioli came topped with some additional lobster meat, roasted garlic, and sweet basil. The garlic and the basil provided some extra flavor that complimented the lobster extremely well. What really impressed me with the appetizer was the sauce. Whenever I order lobster ravioli it usually comes in some type of cream sauce, but this was a light tomato broth that really helped to accentuate the flavor of the lobster rather than being overpowering.

Lobster Ravioli

Since there was really no soup or salad that appealed to me, I decided to double-up on appetizers and ordered the Thyme and Garlic Brioche. The brioche came filled with three different types of mushrooms, chanterelle, hedgehog, and black trumpet, along with leeks and a light buttermilk cream. The mushrooms themselves all had basically the same taste, but each had a slightly different texture that added some depth and complexity to the appetizer. Not only did the mixture of mushrooms have a light and refreshing taste, but the brioche itself was also light and fluffy.

Brioche

For my entrée I decided to try the Caramelized Sea Scallops. I am not usually one to order scallops, but I like to try different things that I don't normally eat when I am on a cruise. The scallops themselves were large, but extremely tender, almost as if they could melt in your mouth. What truly made the scallops special was the caramelized leek and veal jus reduction that accompanied them. I was unsure of how the combination of scallops with a veal-based sauce would taste, but it turned out that their flavors actually complimented each other very well. The sauce was very light and had just the slightest hint of veal flavor that did not overwhelm the taste of the scallops at all. Another interesting part of the dish was the pearl pasta that came served along with the scallops, which had an almost Asian taste. This was another light accompaniment as opposed to something heavier like a potato.

Sea Scallops

With the menu composed of many lighter dishes, I actually found that I had room for dessert and was not overly full as I usually am when dining on a cruise. The dessert menu had many delectable choices, but the Banana Foster Sundae immediately jumped out at me. This was a light and refreshing way to end the meal. The sundae featured creamy vanilla ice cream and was topped with a very light and fluffy whipped cream as well as just enough caramel to add some sweetness to the dessert without being overpowering. What made the sundae really tasty were the rum-glazed bananas that were full of flavor and paired perfectly with the ice cream and caramel.

Banana Foster Sundae

It should be noted that I found the presentation of the food, both at Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace, to be very impressive. Everything from appetizers to entrees and desserts looked just as good as it tasted. The presentation definitely helped to give the dining experience a more gourmet feel than the food I have had on previous Disney cruises. This is not saying that the food on the Magic and the Wonder is bad, but the Disney Dream takes it to an entirely new level.

The Overall Experience:
Enchanted Garden has everything you would expect from a Disney restaurant, from its wonderfully themed and detailed atmosphere to its high-quality food. Disney has once again delivered a dining experience that is completely unique, unlike anything you will find from any other cruise line or aboard any of the other Disney ships. It is dining experiences like Enchanted Garden that keep me coming back to Disney cruises because you know everything is going to be of the highest quality. This attention to detail and theming that is found in Enchanted Garden is carried throughout the rest of the ship and makes cruising on the Disney Dream truly an unforgettable experience.

February 8, 2011

Disney Dream Maiden Voyage - Day 4 Castaway Cay

by Lori Edelman
Guest Blogger

The ship arrived and docked early at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. We chose Cabanas for breakfast before we headed ashore. They had lots of good choices including eggs benedict, omelets and corned-beef hash - a favorite of Aaron's and Michael's. When we'd had our fill, we made our way down to the gangway on deck 1. Once on the dock we had our first up-close and personal view of the ship. Wow. She is at the same time beautiful and massive.

A number of things have changed on the island. The tram stop for the family beach has moved down island closer to the new Pelican Plunge water slide. This relocation seemed to help spread out the crowds along the family beach. Right as you exit the tram is another shop very similar to She Sells Seashells. Merchandise choices seemed nearly the same. They also have Cookie's Too; a second BBQ service located at Serenity Bay, the adult beach.

Once we got to our favorite spot just beyond the Conched Out Bar, Aaron and I decided to do a little exploring. We hopped on the tram to check out the adult beach. It was quiet and peaceful, but a bit windier. Then we decided to rent bicycles. Great bargain at only $12 for two bikes! Good old, solid Schwinn with the pedal-backward style brakes. And, my bike was pink! There were a couple different paths that we took. On one loop we stopped at a look-out tower that offered spectacular views of the entire island.

After our ride we headed back to our spot where Michael had settled in with his kindle, a cigar, and a Mickey margarita. (We made up this one ourselves: tequila, club soda, and lime juice and by the time we left the cruise a number of the bar tenders and servers were using the name!) We tried dipping our toes in the water, but it was pretty cold! Even though the water was cold, the temperature outside was very pleasant: 73 and sunny.

They started serving lunch about 11:30am. Selections were about the same as we remembered from past stops at Castaway Cay. Hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled mahi mahi, BBQ ribs, chicken, a variety of salads, fresh fruit, and desserts. You will never go hungry on a Disney cruise, that's for sure!

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. Michael and I did not go in the water choosing instead to simply nap/read/ipad on the beach. Aaron tried to lure us all into the water and did brave it himself for a short time. He's 19. It was our perfect day in paradise.

We headed back to the ship about 3pm on foot in order to capture a few more photos of the ship. When we got back to our stateroom, I decided to start on the dreaded task of packing. It went pretty quickly even though I had, of course, brought along way more than we needed.

Aaron wanted to head to deck 12 to watch the crew throw the lines in preparation for sailing away. We sailed promptly at 5pm preceded by the lovely tones from the horn of the Dream. This afternoon we were treated to "Be Our Guest" and "When You Wish Upon a Star". A trip to Castaway Cay is bittersweet; paradise arriving and during the day, very sad to leave as it signals our trip is coming to an end.

Tonight we were treated to a brand new production in the Walt Disney Theater: Disney's Believe. I absolutely loved it! The story is about a little girl celebrating her birthday and trying to get her dad to believe in magic. I was delighted that they included many musical numbers from some older classics like Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book, and Pocahontas. The genie from Aladdin acted as host trying to convince Dad to believe.

Dinner for us on this final evening was in Animator's Palate. This restaurant is located on deck 3 just down a really long hallway from the Royal Palace. The highlight of Animator's Palate is supposed to be the show. The screens around the room transform throughout the evening coming to life with characters from Finding Nemo. Unfortunately, our table was more toward the center of the room making it difficult to see and hear. If you've ever been to the "Turtle Talk with Crush" attraction at Epcot, you would find this show somewhat familiar.

Besides the show, I loved the decor. The color scheme was primarily black and white with splashes of color here and there. The backs of our chairs were red with yellow "buttons" -- kind of like the shorts of our favorite Mouse!

This was probably our least favorite menu. Michael had tenderloin, Aaron had a shrimp pasta dish, and I had a steak salad. Good, but not great as we've come to expect. While our servers did their best to be attentive, service was just not up to par. What we later learned is that the galley for this restaurant was quite a trek for the servers. (This is a good example of Disney building a beautiful ship, but not giving enough thought to what it would really take to make some things work.)

After dinner, Aaron went exploring after getting himself packed. I met Michael at Meridian. When he finished his cigar, we headed back to Pink for one final cocktail. Also, our friend, Yelena, had left a special gift for us -- a pair of champagne flutes from two of the pre-maiden voyage cruises. We promise you will not find ours on eBay!

Just before we left, our new friends, Dottie, Donna, and Carol stopped by. Fingers crossed, we plan to all meet up again when the Disney Fantasy sails her maiden voyage next year! (We have our reservation! Do you?)

And, one final thing. Donna mentioned that she was able to order one of the new Dooney & Burke designs available only on the Dream. People snapped them up within an hour or two (maybe minutes) the day they were released. Crazy. At any rate, I was so excited! We dashed to the store, White Caps, only moments before they closed the doors at midnight. Whew. Made it! And, I placed my order! It should arrive in plenty of time before our next cruise.

We called it a night around 1pm. All too soon we will be on the airplane home.

AquaDuck 1

AquaDuck 2

AquaDuck 3

Welcome to Castaway Cay

Water is cold!

Dream 1

Dream 2

Dream 3

Dream 4

Dream 5

Sorcerer Mickey

Dad Too Busy

Dad and Daughter

Genies

Merlin

Baloo

Lion King

Fairy Godmother

Be Our Guest

Mickey I Believe!

Minnie and Mrs Potts

Finale

Animators

Animators Table

February 9, 2011

Disney Dream Maiden Voyage - Heading Home

by Lori Edelman
Guest Blogger

Leaving the Dream was sad, but you have to say so-long in order to plan, anticipate, and take that next wonderful Disney cruise!

Since we had the late dinner seating, we didn't have to be out of our stateroom and at breakfast until 8:00am. Breakfast was in the same restaurant where you had dinner the evening before. In our case, that would be Animator's Palate. Narrow aisle space made it challenging to get everyone seated along with their carry-on bags.

After eating and saying goodbye to our table-mates and our servers, we attempted to make our way off the ship. What we discovered was an incredibly long line of people and bags. Apparently, it was taking longer than planned for the ship to clear customs.

Eventually we disembarked and went downstairs in the terminal to locate our checked bags. That was pretty easy and then we got in line for Customs. Despite being very long, the line moved fairly quickly. Next up we boarded one of the DCL busses headed back to the airport.

Fortunately, our flights home were pretty uneventful. On one leg I was assigned to a seat in a row that no longer existed (change of equipment), but they found me a new spot without any problem. The hardest part of the entire trip for me came at the Portland airport. Mike and I were home, but it was time to say goodbye to Aaron as he had one more short hop back to Eugene and the University of Oregon. We had such a great time with him; I didn't want it to end.

Now, we've been home for nearly a week and I can still say this was by far one of the very best Disney vacations we have ever had.

But, there is so much more to see and do!

Next trip we will take the time to play one of the "detective" games to see all that the different pieces of animated artwork can do.

Next trip we will visit more of the areas in the District. Evolution, Skyline, D Lounge.

Next trip I'd like to sneak a peek of a virtual porthole!

Next trip we will spend more time swimming in the Quiet Cove pool. In fact we will swim right up to the bar! Maybe we can warm up in one of the hot tubs on deck, too!

Next trip we will get a picture taken with Captain Mickey!

Next trip I'll take a class at the Fitness Center!

Next trip we will have dinner at Palo; maybe even brunch and high tea!

Next time. I don't know when we will get to travel again on the Disney Dream, but I do know that we will meet her sister ship, the Fantasy! We are booked on her maiden voyage scheduled to sail on March 31, 2012!!! (We will be 4 for 4 on Disney maiden voyages!)

See ya real soon! (I'm including some random photos from different days of our trip. Enjoy!)

Postscript from Michael

We're home now.

As I drove in to work this morning they were playing Southern Cross (by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) and I got a little sad. I love this song and it always makes me remember our cruises. Originally, Lori and I were planning to do back-to-back cruises for this maiden voyage and as I was driving in to work I was really wishing that I was waking up on the Dream getting ready for another day on the ship. On the other hand, instead of doing the back-to-back we took our 19 year-old son with us (who WANTED to go) and we all had a great time!

Lori and I have had a number of discussions along the lines of "what did you like best?" and "what did you like least?" and it has been difficult to answer these questions. The thing I liked the least was how when viewing the Disney Magic at Castaway Cay from the deck of the Dream, many people were referring to the Magic as old, beat up, and worse. The Disney Magic will always hold a special place in my heart and I think Disney continues to do a wonderful job in maintaining and enhancing the experience on the Magic for one and all. There is no need to belittle the older ships in order to make the newest one seem even more special. And, the Dream is special. It's Disney's first large ship and it has an elegance that no other cruise line can match. In fact, it is only matched by the Magic and Wonder.

I think my favorite restaurant is the Enchanted Garden -- it is very bright and comfortable. My least favorite is Animator's Palette which suffers from smaller aisles making it difficult for everyone to get in and out.

Cabana's was also very nice, but for some reason Disney made this one of the few ways to get to and from Meridian, Palo and Remy. Having to walk through Cabana's at a busy time to get to one of these other places can be a little frustrating.

The variety of places that make up Flo's is great and it is nice to have them all grouped together. For lunches and snacks, these little food-court-like venues can't be beat.

I really liked the variety of bars and hangouts. Meridian is a very pleasant place to have a drink and a cigar while overlooking the aft of the ship. Pink is a good place to hang with a group -- especially if you are sitting in one of the clamshells that make it easy to hear everyone in your group. We visited Evolution and other places in The District but did not have enough time to spend in all of them. Something for our "To Do List"!

I wish I would have been able to get in to Palo -- I think my son would have enjoyed it now that he is old enough. I know Lori and I would have loved it -- we have many fond memories and stories of our experiences in Palo. We heard good things about Remy, but the $75 price tag seems a little prohibitive.

The coffee in all locations on the Dream was much better than what I remember from previous cruises -a huge plus!

I wish they would have played the horn more in general and more of the new tunes. I know that the horn can be a little overpowering on the Magic and Wonder, but even sitting near the funnel on the Dream the horn was not hard on my ears. I feel fortunate that I remembered to record the medley on my iPhone!

One final note - this was a Maiden Voyage with a lot of new crew and staff. There were really very few problems but Disney has set people's expectations so high that little issues seem to be huge problems for some people. These people seemed to forget that this was a new ship with new crew and there would be mistakes and they were very vocal. Fortunately, most people seemed to understand.

Thank you for allowing us to share our experiences with you!

DCL Dream Bus

Sail away.jpg

Towel Mickey

Ships Photo

Mickey Blanket

Shutters new filing system

Kiss Goodnight

February 11, 2011

Tutto Italia in Epcot - Dining with Allergies

Ashleybanner.jpg

I have multiple food allergies (nuts, shellfish and smoked cheese) but Disney does a fabulous job of making sure the food I eat is safe for me to eat. I'm not the most adventurous diner because of my allergies but I've learned that I can trust Disney. We have our favorite places to eat but we are slowly but surely trying new restaurants. One of the restaurants we have tried recently is Tutto Italia.

We ate at Tutto Italia for the first time in December for the Candlelight Processional package. We enjoyed it so much, we wanted to go back and had the perfect excuse to do so on January 24- the AllEars meet at Epcot! I was able to get an 11:30 reservation that day.

We checked in at about 11:25. The lobby is gorgeous and spacious. It was not crowded at all, even when we left the restaurant.

Lobby

Lobby

The main dining room is lovely.

Main Dining Room

We were seated next to a window overlooking St. Mark's Square.

St. Mark's Square

We really enjoyed the view. It was very quiet inside the restaurant. Our server was very knowledgeable about the menu. The menu offers a variety of choices. I did not have it noted on this particular reservation but I did let my server know that I am allergic to nuts, shellfish and smoked cheeses (odd, I know) and he made a note of my allergies. He asked me what I what entree(s) I was interested in and I told him I was most interested in the Tagliatelle alla Primavera. He told me he would check with the chef and let me know.

At Disney World, I always have food options. I have yet to eat somewhere that I can't find something to eat or have something modified (take off a sauce, crust, topping, etc.). Dessert, though, can be another story but I'll get to that in a bit.

When our server brought the bread to the table, he let me know that the chef had said the Tagliatelle alla Primavera was okay for me to eat. I was very happy to hear this.

The bread came with the standard warning: They cannot guarantee that the bread has not come into contact with nuts at some point in time. Knock on wood, I have never had a problem in all the years/times I've eaten at Disney restaurants. The bread selection is excellent and the olive oil had a wonderful taste.

Bread

Our server was very engaging and while we were waiting on our entrees to arrive, he came over and talked to us about Italy, where we were from and Epcot in general.

Our food arrived piping hot.

Mom had the Farfalle:

Farfalle

I had the Tagliatelle alla Primavera:

Tagliatelle alla Primavera

The portion sizes were very generous for both dishes. The main difference between Mom's and mine is that mine had vegetables in it while hers had prosciutto. Both dishes had cream sauce and it was surprisingly light but very flavorful. The vegetables in mine were nice and crisp. Mom loved her dish as well.

The dessert menu at Tutto Italia looked very good. However, I knew based on our December dinner there that my options would be limited. I already knew I couldn't have the Copette Sotto Bosco because it has nuts in the "cookie" that is served with the berries and gelato. I *really* wanted to try the lemon ricotta cheesecake so I asked our server about it. He asked the chef and it does have nuts in the crust of the cheesecake. I was a little disappointed because I had wanted to try something new. I knew I could have had the tiramisu (it's excellent) and Mom and I did discuss having it. In the end, we decided to forego dessert. I did not ask about other desserts but plan to when I dine at Tutto Italia again.

We really enjoyed our lunch. We're very happy to add this to our Epcot "list" of dining options. Our water glasses were never empty and anything we wanted or needed was promptly taken care of.

If you have food allergies, you can have it noted on the reservation(s) but be sure to let your server know when you get to the restaurant. You can also contact Special Diets ahead of time. I contacted them in December about another reservation and they sent me a form to fill out with a list of where I would be dining and all of my allergies. They also sent me several sheets with information about the counter service restaurants' food items. When in doubt, contact Disney! They have worked some magic for me in the past, both ahead of time and at the restaurant.


February 13, 2011

Dining Aboard the Disney Dream: Cabanas and Other Options

Andrew Rossi

Guest blogger Andrew Rossi continues to explore the dining options available aboard the Disney Dream with a look at Cabanas as well as many other locations to get something to eat or drink.

One thing about cruises, there is never a shortage of food. Not matter which way you turn, there always seems to be something to eat. This is especially true of the Disney Dream. Of course, the three restaurants that comprise the dinner rotation receive the most notoriety: Royal Palace, Enchanted Garden, and Animators Palette. In addition to these restaurants, however, there is a plethora of dining options available throughout the ship offering a wide variety of choices ranging from a quick snack to a full-course meal. Here are some of the dining locations found aboard the Dream:

Cabanas:
Cabanas can be most closely associated with the Beach Blanket Buffet on the Wonder and the Topsider Buffet on the Magic, but major improvements and enhancements have been made on the Dream.

Cabanas Sign

Located on deck eleven, the theme of the restaurant is meant to evoke images of a California beach, complete with palm trees, Adirondack-style chairs, tables topped with seashells, and decorative surf boards. The dining room has a very light, open, airy feel with large windows allowing in plenty of natural sunlight and showcases beautiful views of the ocean below.

Cabanas Indoor Seating

There are also some uniquely "Disney" touches with appearances from some of the characters from Finding Nemo.

Cabanas Nemo Characters1

Cabanas Nemo Characters2

In addition, the restaurant also has outdoor seating, allowing diners to take advantage of the warm Caribbean sun and cool ocean breezes.

Cabanas%20Outdoor%20Seating

Two really nice artistic touches in the restaurant are a 30-foot mosaic depicting a scene of a coral reef complete with characters from Finding Nemo in addition to another piece of art depicting the various Disney castles from around the world in sand.

Cabanas Mosaic

Cabanas Sand Castles

Cabanas features a buffet breakfast and lunch, but rather than being one long counter, the food selections are divided into different stations meant to resemble beachside cabanas. As opposed to the setup on the Magic and Wonder, where diners have to wait in one long line, this new design allow diners to pick and choose which sections to visit and allows them to skip past those that don't interest them.

Cabanas Station1

Cabanas Station2

Cabanas Station3

Cabanas Station4

Cabanas Desserts

It also seemed to me that this new format allows for a wider variety of food choices than what can be found at the Topsider or Beach Blanket Buffets. The various food stations offer everything from soups and salads to pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and wraps, a carving station, and delicious desserts. I also noticed the food quality on the Dream to be higher than that of the Magic and Wonder (not saying that it is poor on the other two ships) with more gourmet and refined offerings.

Another improvement is that the drink station has been moved away from the end of the food line, with multiple locations throughout the restaurant. On the Magic and Wonder the buffet line would frequently get backed up as people were pouring their drinks.

Cabanas Drink Station

Another difference with Cabanas comes at dinner where the restaurant is transformed from a buffet to a table-service dining experience where meals are cooked to order. This offers cruisers a more casual alternative to dining in the main restaurants and offers the option of being able to dine outside under the stars. The dinner menu features a full four-course meal that includes some of the signature items from the main rotational restaurants as well as some unique items that can only be found here. This is a great option for cruisers who do not necessarily want to be locked in to either an early seating or late seating dinner time, allowing them to eat at a time of their own choosing.

Flo's V-8 Café:
If you are relaxing by the pool and looking for a quick bite to eat, then Flo's V-8 Café is the place for you. It is basically the equivalent of Goofey's Galley, Pinocchio's Pizzeria, and Pluto's Doghouse from the Magic and Wonder all located in one convenient location. Themed after the movie Cars, there are three separate counters from which you can order.

Flo's Cafe Sign

Luigi's features an assortment of pizzas ordered by the slice.

Luigi's Menu

Luigi%20Counter

Tow Mater Grill has traditional favorites like hamburgers and cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hotdogs and bratwurst, and chicken tenders.

Tow Mater Menu

Fillmore's Favorites has a lighter fare of sandwiches and wraps, freshly made paninis, and salads.

Fillmore's Menu

Fillmore's Counter

While it is convenient to have all three stands located right next to each other, and so close to the pools, I did find that this area became very crowded, especially during the afternoon lunchtime hours.

Cove Café:
One of my favorite spaces on the entire ship was the Cove Café located adjacent to the Quiet Cove Pool. Even though it is more of a place to get something to drink than something to eat, the Cove Café does have some food offerings during the course of the day with muffins, Danishes, and croissants in the morning and an assortment of pastries throughout the rest of the day, in addition to delectable chocolate covered strawberries that became on of my favorite snacks on the cruise.

Cove Cafe Sign

Cove Cafe Bar

The Café's furniture and artwork are inspired by the Art Deco era of the 1920s and 1930s, giving the interior a sense of luxury and refinement. Take time to look at some of the black and white photographs hanging on the walls as they feature many images of Walt Disney travelling with friends and family. With its comfortable chairs and couches, the Cove Café is the perfect place to relax, its quiet atmosphere great for grabbing a drink and enjoying a good book.

Cove Cafe Seating1

Cove Cafe Seating2

Bars and Lounges:
I was astonished by the number of bars and lounges to be found throughout the ship. It will be very difficult to go thirsty on this ship because wherever you are there is a bar nearby. While The District, the adults-only nightclub area, features a variety of differently themed bars and lounges, there are many others located throughout the ship. Here are just a few and where they can be found:

Located on deck 13 just above the Quiet Cove Pool, Currents offers ample outdoor seating where cruisers can enjoy the sun and a refreshing frozen drink by day or a cocktail sitting under the stars by night.

Currents Bar

One thing that really impressed me about the Dream was that the lounge chairs and other furniture out on deck was of much better quality than found on the Magic or the Wonder.

Currents Seating Area

Meridian is situated between Palo and Remy on deck 12, offering the perfect spot to enjoy a pre- or post-meal cocktail while enjoying the beautiful ocean views. Featuring both indoor and outdoor seating, Meridian's comfy leather chairs and dark-paneled walls give the lounge a feeling of luxury. In fact, the lounge actually has a dress code with a dress shirt or jacket required for men and a dress or pantsuit for women; no jeans are allowed.

arMeridian.jpg

The décor of the lounge pays tribute to world travel, specifically the early days of sea travel. There are many little details to be found here, from the navigational tools embedded in the floor, leather maps featuring passport stamps from around the world, and even a constellation map lit up with twinkling stars covering the ceiling.

Also on deck 12 is Waves, tucked just behind the aft funnel. Its location just below Goofey's Sports Deck makes it a convenient location for grabbing a cold drink after playing a game of basketball or finishing up a round of miniature golf. It is located in an out-of-the-way area, which makes it another nice quiet spot to relax.

Waves

The Quiet Cove Pool on deck 11 features the Cove Bar, which offers a Disney Cruise Line first. Cruisers are able to walk up or swim up to the bar, allowing the convenience of ordering drinks without even having to leave the pool. I noticed this to be one of the busiest bars on the ship, primarily because of its location, but Currents (located just above the Quiet Cove Pool) offers the same drinks while having less of a wait to get them.

Cove Bar

Overlooking the ship's atrium on deck 4, the Vista Café is very similar to the Cove Café, just in a less secluded setting. It still features comfy chairs and coaches and offers beautiful views of the atrium that make it a perfect place to sit and relax. In addition, its large portholes allow for great ocean views. The Café specializes in coffee drinks and also features an assortment of pastries throughout the day.

Vista Cafe Bar

Vista Cafe Seating

Just off the atrium on deck 3 is Bon Voyage. Its centralized location makes it a great place to enjoy a cocktail before dinner or prior to seeing a show in the Walt Disney Theater. The bar's Art Deco feel ties in perfectly with that of the atrium, offering a refined yet relaxing setting.

Bon Voyage

With a ship so large there are so many places to explore and things to discover. But, despite being so big, I found that the Disney Dream features many little, quiet places to sit and relax. These bars and lounges offer the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a refreshing drink. Then, if you get hungry, there are multiple dining options throughout the ship that make food readily available at nearly any hour of the day. It is safe to say that you will not go hungry or thirsty while on a Disney cruise.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

by Jack Tarulli
Guest Blogger

Even as a lifelong New Yorker, I still get a special excitement standing in the middle of 'The Crossroads of the World". The new Disney Store could not have a better location to tap into this excitement, right smack dag in the heart of Times Square.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

Rarely will you get pictures with so few pedestrians in them, unless it's early on a cold Sunday morning in February. At the top of One Times Square you can see the New Years Eve Crystal Ball that heralds in every year.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

My friends and I were here for the D23 event - The D23 Member Mixer at the Times Square Disney Store. It was the very first member mixer in New York City and billed as "a terrific opportunity for D23 members to socialize with other members and friends", and a chance to check out the new store. Thankfully the doors opened about 10 minutes early. Although warmer then it has been this winter, it still was below freezing and quite chilly. By the time the doors opened at about 9:50am, the line wrapped around the block.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

When entering the store you were greeted by a Disney cast member who checked your name off the attendance list. You were then lead to a cast member who wrote up a name tag for you and your guests. While there you got a brief glimpse of the first floor of the store.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

We were told to proceed upstairs to the second level, were we could mingle and wait for a Trivia contest by the Theatre. Nearby was the two story Princess Castle.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

The trivia contest was quite enjoyable, considering an audience of D23 members who pride themselves on knowing all things Disney, all the time. Even the moderator, Brittney made mention of this fact stating she expected basically perfect scores from everyone. Here are a few of the questions:


D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

This contest was strictly on the honor system, with no prizes awarded. Following Brittney came two D23 cast members, Laura Sanchez and Becky Cline (Disney Archivist). They introduced themselves and welcomed all the D23 members in attendance promising that they are going to try and have more D23 events outside of the normal Orlando - Anaheim locations, to which they received quite the rousing applause. Laura and Becky went on to hold their own trivia contest with harder questions knowing the type of audience they were speaking in front of. Their contest also came with giveaways.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

It was a pleasure to grab a brief moment to speak with both Laura and Becky. I expressed how great it was to have New York D23 events, and Laura told me she's working on events as we speak for 2011 and beyond, not only for NYC but for many of the more populated D23 areas of the country. Becky and I spoke about the upcoming D23-WDW 40th event and how exciting it's going to be. As a small gift of appreciation from D23, each participant today was given a collectible set of post cards, a key chain and a Disney Store magnet.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

After the contest was an opportunity for members to mingle with one another while exploring the store. As you all know, it's quite nice to meet folks with a similar love of all things Disney, even in the heart of Manhattan, miles and miles away from Walt Disney World.

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City


D23 Member Mixer in New York City

D23 Member Mixer in New York City

A special shout out to my buddy Erik Tyler who helped me take the pics!


February 14, 2011

Cars 2 D23/Toy Fair Event

by Jack Tarulli
Guest Blogger

It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, the kind of day where you felt we just might have made it through a tough winter here in the Northeast. Today (as well as being Valentine's Day) was day two of the American International Toy Fair at the Javits Convention Center, and it was a special D23 / Media presentation of the new line of Cars 2 toys at Chelsea Piers. My buddy Erik and I arrived early (come on, we are Disney Park Fans) which gave us a chance to walk around the lobby of the convention center and look who we found"

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A life-sized Lego Lightning McQueen made up of 325,000 Legos. It was amazing to look at in person, and told me the day was going to be great. We were directed to an outside area where Disney personnel would direct us to a special shuttle bus that would take us downtown about 10 blocks to Chelsea Piers.

We found ourselves pulling into Chelsea Piers about an hour early for the 10:30 start time. This was great giving us a lot of time to walk around and take pictures with minimal crowds around. At check-in we were given our credentials and we also ran into our old friends from the D23 event yesterday, Becky and Laura.

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cars2feb2011_07.JPG


We were then directed into a theater for the presentations, but before that we had a chance to take pictures of the hallways that were lined with Cars 2 material. The theater seemed to hold about 500 people (About 200 D23 folks had seats reserved for them in the center. Off on both sides were seats for Media and Toy Fair attendees). By the time the event started, there was hardly a seat available.

cars2feb2011_10.JPG

While waiting for the event to start we were able to get an early sneak peek in the merchandising room next door. This was a fantastic opportunity to walk around and take lots of pictures of the hundreds of toys coming out in conjunction with Cars 2, but little did we know what and who we would also run into. Take a look at just some of what we saw of the new Cars 2 product line coming to a Toy Store near you soon.

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It was at this point we came upon a life-sized covered car. We were told that this was none other than the famous British super spy, Finn McMissile, star of the new Cars 2 movie.

cars2feb2011_16.JPG


It was at that moment while looking at the covered car I heard an unmistakable British voice say, "Why I think that's me under those covers." It was none other then the voice of Finn McMissile, Michael Caine. He was amazingly charming and funny and a delight to speak with. While there he was directed to officially unveil the car. He spoke about how great it was to work for Pixar and John Lasseter, and how deep down he did this movie for his grandchildren (otherwise they would have to wait till they were 18 to see any of his other work).

cars2feb2011_17.JPG

cars2feb2011_19.JPG

cars2feb2011_20.JPG

Observing all of the new toys was another star of the movie, Emily Mortimer, voice of his spy-in-training, Holley Shiftwell. It was great hearing her discuss what it was like to be made into a toy, and how much her son loves Legos.

cars2feb2011_21.JPG

cars2feb2011_22.JPG


At this point the presentation was about to begin. It was hosted by Vince Klaseus, Senior Vice President of Global Toys, Disney Consumer Products, and it was set up like a 'Talk Show' theme. Vince spoke about the growth and strength of the Cars 2 product line, as did Mary Renner Beech, also from Disney. At one point Mary did mention the products are so strong they are even building a land devoted strictly to them, but this was the only mention of Cars Land at Disneyland. In addition, they also announced that a new Cars 2 character called 'Miles Axlerod' will be voiced by Eddie Izzard.

cars2feb2011_24.JPG

At this point Vince introduced a taped piece specifically for this presentation from John Lasseter. It was great to see such enthusiasm and excitement from someone, and it made for very enjoyable viewing. John also revealed that John Turturro will be the voice of the new character (and Lightning McQueen rival), Francesco Bernoulli. After John's taped piece they brought out both Emily Mortimer and Michael Caine to talk about the experiences they both had making the movie and it was very entertaining to the crowd.

cars2feb2011_25.JPG

cars2feb2011_26.JPG

cars2feb2011_27.JPG

Once the presentation ended, everyone was welcome to browse around the merchandising room, and grab some hor d'oeurves for lunch, plus as a gift for attending get a limited edition (of 500) Lightning McQueen Mattel car only produced for this Toy Fair. This was a great opportunity to get one last look at the Cars 2 toys that we know we will be buying, to chat with friends one last time, and to meet new ones before leaving. Having worn our AllEars.Net shirts, it was quite enjoyable walking around receiving so many positive comments from readers. Made us feel great to be even a small, small part of such a wonderful team.

(Pic 28, Pic 29, Pic 30)

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cars2feb2011_30.JPG

February 16, 2011

Disney Dream - Wheelchair Access Report

By Guest Blogger Terry W.

My daughter Anne and I were passengers on the Disney Dream's first regular 4-day cruise, from January 30 to February 3rd.

We stayed in a standard inside stateroom, category 11, just as we do when we sail on the Wonder and the Magic. We were thrilled with many improvements to wheelchair access.

Here are some things people in wheelchairs will be happy to find. And a few things that still cause problems.

Staterooms

1. The staterooms for people with wheelchairs are at the elevator-end of hallways now instead of at the far end. YEA!!! you don't have to navigate past the carts every time you go back to your stateroom to use the bathroom!!!!

2. The staterooms with roll-in showers also have automatic doors now. Very cool. Allows for more independence. They open when you tap your 'key to the world' card on the entry pad from the outside and when you push the door open button from the inside. Like the other Disney ships, the Dream continues to have wide doors and room for wheelchairs to turn around once you get into the room.

3. The higher beds in all the staterooms worked well for me as a caretaker of a person who needs help dressing and transferring to the wheelchair. I didn't have to lean over so far and the strain on my back was less on the Dream. But warning for people who are used to having the beds split so they can work from both sides. The beds don't split on the Dream.

4. The roll-in showers on the Dream have better drains; they have added a center drain as well as the drain around the edge of the shower area. This will prevent overflow and soaking of the bathroom floor when the drains can't keep up with the shower flow. The bathrooms continue to be well-designed for wheelchair users to transfer to toilet and shower chairs. There is enough room for personal care assistants to help. The counter areas are bigger, which is a help for all the stuff you have to have on hand.

5. Storage in the stateroom on the Dream was less than the Magic. This is partly made up for by the higher beds, which allow you to roll your suitcases under the beds... so you can leave things in the suitcases and get to them more easily. But a person in a wheelchair will miss having storage in reach. There is one really good new feature in the closet. There is a pull down hanging rod so that a person in a wheelchair can hang up and retrieve clothes on hangers!

6. Unfixed from the Magic to the Dream: there are not enough places to plug in your equipment at night in the stateroom. It is a must to bring a plug strip with you if you have to charge a power wheelchair, a speech device, your camera, your iPad etc. over night.


Public areas:

1. Several doors from the elevator lobbies have motion sensor openings and open to let you in/out to the decks without you having to open the doors.

2. Theater seating in both theaters is VERY much better. A person in a wheelchair may now sit in the front, middle or back of the theaters. This is exciting, especially in the Walt Disney Theater, where many of the shows have stuff coming down from the ceiling. Getting to the front and middle level seats in the WD Theater does require a host to assist you; you have to go through a crew area, on special elevators, and though some water tight doors at the front of the ship. The host has to call the officer on the bridge and arrange to have the doors released when the person in the wheelchair is coming through. After the shows you have to wait for a host to come help you back out. But it is really worth it!!

3. Dining Rooms are very tight. It seems to us that a person in a wheelchair can only sit on the main aisle. For our cruise, the table assignment took this into consideration. I hope every guest in a wheelchair will book a wheelchair access room so the team that assigns tables will have the party schedule for the aisle. When you go to breakfast or lunch at one of the main dining rooms, you have to request an aisle table.

4. Cabanas, for casual dining was much easier to navigate with a wheelchair than Topsiders on the Magic, with more tables and much wider spaces around the food serving areas. The tables are packed a little tight, but the hosts can find good ones.

5. Bathrooms in the public areas have very large 'assist' cubicles within them. The size of these is excellent. However, I think the solution is not as good as the family/assist bathrooms in the public areas on the Magic and Wonder. Two drawbacks are that only the same gender person can go with the person to be assisted and to get there you have to pass through two doors rather than only one.

6. Hallways in the public areas of the Dream are much wider and do not have as many obstructions. It was always hard to get through deck 3 and 4 on the Magic and Wonder. Getting from restaurants and activity areas on the Dream was much easier.

For people in wheelchairs, any Disney resort or Disney ship is a pleasure compared to the rest of the world. It was great to see that the Dream has incorporated most of the good things from past designs and taken access even farther. We were thrilled with it and look forward to the Fantasy! Please share any of this information that you thing other people will find useful.

Best wishes from a Disney fan
Terry W

February 26, 2011

Art of the Disney Dream

Andrew Rossi

Guest blogger Andrew Rossi returns to take a look at the artwork found aboard the new Disney Dream.

The Disney Dream is a ship that has an air of sophistication and refinement, much more so than the Magic and the Wonder. That is not saying that the two other ships are not beautiful in their own right, but the Dream takes it to the next level. The great strength of the Dream lies in its attention to detail. Wherever you turn, there is evidence of the tremendous skill and craftsmanship that went into constructing such a massive ship. The same level of quality that you would expect when visiting any Disney theme park can be found aboard the Dream. Its stunning beauty makes it truly unlike any other ship that I have been on.

One of the things which impressed me the most about the detail and theming of the Dream was the wide array of artwork found throughout the ship. Art can sometimes be overlooked by many or taken for granted, but it really helps lend to the overall sense of luxury and elegance aboard the ship. Not only does the Dream have more artwork than the Magic or Wonder, but I also found the quality of art to be far superior as well.

No matter where you are aboard the ship, you are almost always in sight of some piece of art, be it painting, portrait, or photograph. It is this artwork that helps to add little Disney touches throughout the ship, but it does so in a way that is both mature and not overwhelming. Here is a look at some of the art that can be found aboard the Dream:

The beauty of the Disney Dream is evident as soon as you enter the magnificent atrium and one's eye cannot help but be drawn to the massive chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The chandelier's Art Deco design sets the tone of elegance and luxury for the rest of the ship. If you look carefully you might even be able to spot Mickey.

Atrium Chandelier1

Atrium Chandelier2

Like the Magic and Wonder, the Dream features a statue at the base of the atrium's grand staircase. While Mickey holds the honor on the Magic and Ariel on the Wonder, on the Dream it is Admiral Donald.

Admiral Donald1

Admiral Donald2

While in the atrium also take notice of the gold trim along the edges of the fourth and fifth decks above. From a distance it may not appear to be anything special, but if you look closely you will see that it features the images of many Disney characters.

Atrium Trim1

Atrium Trim2

Atrium Trim3

The atrium also showcases two beautiful mosaics, one near the Bon Voyage bar and the other by the Guest Relations desk, paying homage to Disney princesses.

Atrium Mosaic1

Atrium Mosaic2

Overlooking the atrium on deck five are various works of art paying tribute to transportation with a distinctly Disney flair.

Deck Five Art1

Deck Five Art2

I found that the stairwells were a great location to spot a wide variety of art, many featuring beautiful panoramas, scenes, and even concept art and sketches from classic Disney movies.

Stairwell Art1

Stairwell Art2

One thing I liked about the artwork throughout the ship is that it was often themed to go along with the areas of the ship that it is in. For example, walking down the long promenade toward Animators Palette you can encounter sketches of many popular Disney characters:

Animators Palette Hallway

Animators Palette Hallway2

The entrance to the Walt Disney Theater features a wide variety of photographs of Walt Disney:
Meanwhile, near the Buena Vista Theater, you can find movie posters from many classic Disney films:

Movie Posters1

Movie Posters2

Not to be overlooked, the all the restaurants aboard the Dream also feature a wide array of beautiful artwork, such as the Royal Palace which features paintings of Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, and Aurora:

Royal Palace Princess Paintings1

Royal Palace Princess Paintings2

Outside the entrance to Enchanted Garden you can find some beautifully decorated ceramic vases:

Enchanted Garden Vase

As you enter Palo you encounter a magnificent chandelier and the dining room features many paintings of Venice:

Palo Chandelier

Palo Venice Paintings

Likewise, Remy features images of the Parisian skyline reminiscent of scenes from Ratatouille:

Remy Paris Skyline

For the best collection of art aboard the ship, however, be sure to visit the Vista Gallery. This area is like a small art museum and has art available for purchase as well. The quality of the artwork here is absolutely stunning and ranges from paintings of the ship to scenes from classic Disney movies and portraits of many of you favorite Disney characters in ways you have never seen them before.

Vista Gallery1

Vista Gallery2

Vista Gallery3

While all the artwork found across the Dream really helps add a "Disney" touch to the décor, nothing does this more than the Enchanted Art that can be found throughout nearly every deck of the ship (twenty-two pieces in all). While these pieces of art may appear just like any other painting they are actually LCD screens and if you look at them for long enough you will find that they are unlike any other artwork you have ever seen.

You can learn even more about the Enchanted Art and even see some videos by clicking here.

This enchanted art, that literally comes to life before you eyes, is unlike anything else found aboard the other Disney ships or on any other cruise line. It is a truly unique experience that helps make cruising aboard the Dream all the more magical.

This enchanted artwork also allows for another unique, fun, interactive experience aboard the ship called the Midship Detective Agency. If you are familiar with the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Epcot, this is very similar. Instead of helping Kim Possible, you are now helping Mickey, Goofy, and Donald solve a mystery by finding the evil Disney villain who is stealing artwork aboard the Dream. This fun adventure takes you across the ship in search of different clues that might help you uncover the villain responsible as well as helping to recover some of the lost paintings.

Your mission begins on deck five at the Midship Detective Agency desk overlooking the atrium.

Midship Detective Agency Desk

Here you receive a map of the ship along with a list of potential suspects and a detective "badge" that you will use throughout your mission.

Midship Detective Agency Badge

You then watch the monitor and are given instructions as to what you are looking for and how the badge works. Once you begin, the mission takes you across the ship from deck two all the way up to deck ten. What I liked about it was that you could go at your own pace. Unlike Kim Possible, where you have a Kimmunicator that times-out after fifteen minutes of inactivity, if you are doing a mission for the Midship Detective Agency you can stop in the middle for a break and resume later in the day.

I decided to play straight through and the mission took me about an hour and fifteen minutes, considerable longer than a twenty to thirty minute Kim Possible Mission. The map that you receive at the start shows you different locations that you can go to throughout the ship to find clues using various pieces of enchanted art. As you approach the art you hold up your badge and this either unlocks a clue or helps recover a missing painting.

I noticed a lot of people participating in the Midship Detective Agency throughout the course of the cruise, ranging from groups of kids to families and even adults. However, there are so many different locations spread across the ship that things did not really get backed up at the various pieces of enchanted art. I had expected that I would have to wait for a bunch of other people to get their clues before I could get mine, but this was not the case.

You can see a small sample video of what you may encounter on your mission for the Midship Detective Agency by clicking here.

I think the Midship Detective Agency is a great addition to the Dream, giving kids and families additional things to do while on board, and I would love to see it implemented on the other Disney ships. It is just another example of how Disney is at the forefront of the cruise line industry always looking for new ways to enhance the experience for its guests and utilize new technology. It is something that makes cruising aboard the Disney Dream unique, just as with all the artwork found across the ship. It is this artwork that gives the Dream a distinctly Disney flair, but at the same time enhances the overall beauty and elegance of the ship.

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About February 2011

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in February 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

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