Disney Cruise Line's newest ship is sailing out on preview cruises this week, and Disney fans can catch a glimpse of the Disney Fantasy without being onboard. Jetty Park, which is adjacent to Port Canaveral, overlooks the channel where the cruise ships enter the port in the mornings and head out to sea in the afternoons.
If you want to watch the cruise ships, head north to the park's 1,200-foot fishing pier. The ships pass so close to land that those watching on shore can see the passengers wave and hear the horn play its classic Disney songs. The Fantasy played "New York, New York" when it arrived in New York City last month. Wonder what it will play in Florida?
The parade begins about 4:30 p.m. as the ships make their way down the channel. It's slow progress, which is great for those taking photos, and, if you're lucky, spotting the dolphins that sometimes frolic around the ships. During the many times my family has watched the ships from the pier, the DIsney ships were always last. The Fantasy is next scheduled to leave on Friday, March 23, Monday, March 26 and Saturday, March 31. (Get the inside scoop on the Fantasy from Deb Wills and Deb Koma, who will be onboard beginning March 23. Follow them on Twitter @allearsnet , on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AllEars.net or on the website at allears.net)
Port Canaveral is now home to the Disney Dream, which sails shorter Caribbean cruises, and the Disney Fantasy, which will travel on weeklong Caribbean voyages. (See the Fantasy's arrival at Port Canaveral at http://land.allears.net/blogs/dnews/2012/03/disney_fantasy_arrival_at_port_1.html)
On Saturday, March 31, the Canaveral Port Authority will be hosting a Sail-A-Bration at Jetty Park for the maiden voyage of the Fantasy. The public is invited to come out and bid 'Bon Voyage' to the passengers and crew during a party from 4 to 6 p.m. Radio Disney and Disney characters are expected to entertain the crowd, and prizes such as theme park tickets will be given away.
Last January, attendees were given white Mickey Mouse glove signs to wave from the pier when the Disney Dream passed by on her maiden voyage shortly after 5 p.m.
Free shuttle rides will be available, beginning at 3:30 p.m. from event parking. Visitors are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Central Brevard Sharing Center and their lawn chairs. Last year's event was well-attended.
And if cruise ships are not the main draw for some visitors to this sprawling public park, the Brevard County site offers a wide variety of fun things for families to do.
Jetty Park is a 35-acre public park that includes a family beach with year-round lifeguards, a 24-hour lighted fishing pier with fish-cleaning tables and wheelchair access, a renovated campground for tents and RVs, an air-conditioned refreshment center, a tackle shop, a playground and outdoor showers and changing rooms.
Cars are not allowed to drive on the beach, which has a wide expanse of sand and a long shallow ocean bottom. In addition, the beach is clean and not noisy. There is a vendor that rents chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, paddle boards and boogie boards. Plus, it's a great place to see rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and to spot submarines in the waters offshore.
Jetty Park has made a number of improvements in preparation for the 2012 summer season. Among them are new beach initiatives, such as Surf School and better sand-cleaning equipment, and renovated campgrounds with WiFi and its first cabins.
There are fees for day parking and camping at Jetty Park. For cars, day parking is $5 for Brevard residents and $10 for those from other counties. Camping fees range from $18 to $47, depending on the utilities included and the season. For campground or picnic pavilion reservations, call 321-783-7111.
The previous post in this blog was Disney World's Storybook Circus improves area for kids.
The next post in this blog is Tips for maximizing the value of Disney's PhotoPass CD.