Disney Parks vs. Disney Cruise Line, Part I

I can’t truly pick which is better: the Parks or a the Cruise Line?  This really isn’t a fair comparison.  It’s like trying to decide which tastes better: bacon or cake?

Sure, they’re both edible items that aren’t considered healthy by the general public, but they each have a totally different taste.  When you get up in the morning, chances are you’d like some bacon.  Then after dinner, cake sounds better.

A Disney World vacation and a Disney Cruise vacation present two totally different vacations.  I can’t just say that one is better than the other.  But, there are situations in which one would appear to be the better option.

Note:  This article is written with the experience of many Walt Disney World (not Disneyland) vacations, and one 4-night Disney Dream cruise.  I have no experience with other Disney cruises or other cruise lines.

Younger kids

I don’t know first hand what it would be like to cruise with a baby or toddler (the “it’s a small world” nursery place looks adorable though!), so I’m just going to jump right into younger kids ages 4-8ish.

Magic Kingdom is any kid’s dream.  Attractions like Enchanted Tales with Belle and  Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid make little princesses and me squeal with joy.  Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and The Barnstormer bring our our adventurous spirits.

A Disney cruise is also eye-widening for kids.  Aboard the Dream, the Oceaneer Club & Lab present some awesome experiences everyone will love!  The space was made for parents to drop off their children and so they could go do… I don’t know, sit on the adult deck and chat?  But there are also frequent “open houses” when all ages are welcome to come play.  When the Club has open house, the counselors and kids are all corralled into the Lab, and vice-versa.

Little with Pepe's door

I’d go pick up my sisters and Alex had been making crafts in Pixie Hollow, Anjalena had been playing in the Millennium Falcon (Dream only), and Alli had been at toy boot camp with one of the green army men from Toy Story!  They rarely wanted to leave.  They played Sloppy Science, trained to be Jedi (a different, more group-oriented program than the Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), and played with the floor’s interactive virtual game board.

Winner: Disney Cruise
Aboard the ship, everything is close by.  While at the Disney World time is spent getting to-and-from your hotel and the parks, and then more time in the parks walking to-and-from other attractions.  Younger kids will love having the entire world- the ship -in their own walking distance.  If they’re hungry, just take the elevator up to Cabanas.  If they’re tired, it’s just a hallway to your stateroom.

Older Kids

To point out the pros and cons for older kids, you really need to know your child.  I was just as big (if not bigger) a Disney Princess fan at age 12 than I was at age 6.  However, some think themselves too cool for meeting Cinderella (by the way, tell that child that line of thinking makes you un-cool).

Older kids will have a better grasp of the Parks.  Transportation, planning, and lines all make sense in their heads.  Plus, they’ll understand the magnitude of the trip.  They understand that every kid in America wants to go.  There’s nothing more magical than anticipating the Castle, and it still taking your breath away.  Older kids are tall enough to ride the thrills and appreciate all the shows (not just the preschool ones).

The Oceaneer’s Club and Lab are open for ages 4-12.  In my opinion, the twelve year olds will have even more fun than the four year old.  Besides the in-your-face-Disney themed rooms, there is a room chock full of craft supplies, a room full of tablets with pre-downloaded Disney games, and a pirate room where you can steer your own ship on a monitor, just to name a few.  I haven’t even mentioned the activities around the rest of the ship.

Winner: Draw.
Both vacations offer a great amount of stuff for older kids.

Jedi Training

I mentioned before that the Dream offers its own Jedi training program.  It takes place in the Millennium Falcon room of the Oceaneer’s Club during an open house so parents can watch.  This one is open for any and every kid to participate in.  Kids meet a Jedi, stormtroopers, R2D2 (encased) and an imperial officer.  However, they are generic and there’s no Darth Vader.  Kids use the force on objects and people.

Dream Jedi training
Though not a great photo, the kids are about to use the force on the troopers.

In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there’s Jedi training open for 5-12 year olds too.  This you have register for (no additional charge, it’s just really popular) near the old American Idol Experience building.  It’s so popular, you need to be there when it opens.  We once tried to sign up Anjalena for it, and she was put on the waiting list.  We arrived at the proper time, and waited, and waited… the group was full.  The next year my mom registered on time and all three of my little sisters eligible made it.  The show was in front of an audience with more effects, lightsabers, and Darth Vader himself.

Anjalena vs Darth Vader
Jedi Training Academy in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Winner: Disney’s Hollywood Studios (the Parks)
The crazy sign-up is totally worth seeing your kid using a lightsaber against Darth Vader.

Disclaimer: I don’t know what has changed or will be changing since The Force Awakens.

Characters

There were many character opportunities aboard the ship.  Less than 15 minutes after we boarded, the we saw Cinderella!  Ana and I grabbed the kids and ran up to Deck 4 to say hello!  It was fantastic!  Later that trip, Alli, Alex, and I were hurrying to make it to dinner in time, and we nearly ran into Peter Pan!  We hopped in the unnaturally short line.  I didn’t have the regular camera (I videoed it!), and Peter just chatted with Alli for two minutes.  Awesome.  Most of the time, however, there were crazy long lines.  The big princess event (with 4 or so princesses to meet) and Anna & Elsa were ticketed events, but you’d still have to wait.

 

The Parks offer more character opportunities, but they’re not as concentrated as the cruise.  There are better chances at getting to meet rare characters at the Parks.  There are still many lines, many long lines.  At that point, it’s a draw.  The Parks offer character meals.  The cruises do not.  The cruises have themed restaurants, great service, and it’s all included, just not characters visiting the table.

Winner: The Parks
This is a close race, but I pick the Parks because of the variety of characters and settings.

Swim Time

The Parks themselves don’t have swimming pools, though some have attractions that will get you SOAKED.

No ponchos
My sisters showing their wetness after riding Kali River Rapids without ponchos

The resorts and hotels have some great pools!  The Moderate and Deluxe resorts have some cool water slides.  The legit Florida beach is a about an hour and a half’s drive away.

Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are water parks filled with water slides and giant pools.  Typhoon Lagoon even has a snorkeling area.  Both are

The Dream has two small pools on Deck 11.  They get extremely crowded on at-sea days due to their size in proportion to the thousands of guests on one ship.  The Aquaduck is a water slide aboard the Dream and Fantasy.  It’s pretty mild, but that doesn’t detract from its awesomeness.  The slide is a clear tube that you can see through all the way around.  It’s especially cool going over the ocean; it’s like you’re flying!

Castaway Cay, the private island, offers the gorgeous Bahamian water and white sand.  They have a free snorkeling area, with rental gear available for an additional fee.  Pelican Plunge is a couple of water slides that offer the same amount of thrill Parks’ slides do.

Winner: Cruise Line.  Nothing beats the clear blue of the Bahamas.

 

Stay tuned for Part II which will include teens, adults, and food!

 

Photo cred:
cake: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonathanmcintosh/3747501620
bacon: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cookbookman/6175755733/
castle: http://quotesgram.com/cinderella-castle-quotes/
ship: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-cruise-line/11-ways-to-save-money-on-your-disney-cruise-line-vacation.htm

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Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review

The Force Awakens

  • My star rating: 5 of 5
  • Kids? Yes, but it contains violence (not much worse than the earlier films)
  • Do I recommend it? Yes!

Part I: A story

This was me this year.

counting-down-to-star-wars

I was SO excited for this movie.  Star Wars pretty much runs in my family.  My uncle is one of those (awesome) nerds who owns a “Revenge of the Jedi” poster.  My dad tells me how he and his brother waited in a line around the building to watch Empire Strikes Back with surround sound (a cool, new thing back then).  My mom saw The Phantom Menace while pregnant with me.

Who am I kidding?  I am still so excited for this movie!  I’m the second-generation Star Wars fanatic.

So we find out that our long-awaited-for Disney cruise vacation (more articles on this to come) falls on the premiere night for The Force Awakens.  We read that typically Disney cruises showed movies that were in theaters and/or to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray.  We (my mom and I) did all sorts of internet searching to find out if The Force Awakens would be shown on the ship.  If it wouldn’t be showing, I needed to buy tickets!  My mom called Disney, but received an automated message.  Finally, about two weeks before we embarked, we read on a DISboard (a Disney forum website) that someone as obsessed as us had emailed Disney and had received a yes: The Force Awakens would indeed premiere on the ship!

Once on the cruise, we learned that they were prepared.  There were lots of Disney Cruise line/Star Wars souvenirs.  All of the crew/cast members were getting ready (As the animation class instructor put it, “We’re having ten hours of meetings for a two hour movie!”).  There would be five showings: two in 3D, three in 2D, including one at 5:15AM!

Voyage Through the Galaxy

We had the early dinner seating, which was moved to 5:15pm (rather than the normal 5:45).  We skipped dessert, and headed up two decks to join the growing line of excited Star Wars fans.  We opted to watch it in 2D because we suspected more people would go for the 3D and because Mom and some of the girls were apprehensive about the motion of the 3D while on the ship.

At about 6:40 the doors of the Buena Vista Theater opened, and at 7:15 exactly, the LucasFilm logo appeared on the screen.  The theater went crazy when STAR WARS started sliding backwards.

Before Disney bought LucasFilm, I’d sometimes ask my parents, “What was it like to see ‘STAR WARS’ appear on the big screen for the first time?”  Now I know.

I had to pee for an hour and a half during the movie.  I was not going to miss a single second of the greatest movie of the decade, maybe of the century.  As soon as the director’s credit appeared, I shot out directly toward our stateroom.  Let us hope that they stuck to tradition rather than the Marvel trend of after-credit scenes.

After the movie (and using the restroom), I felt like I could do anything.  On the drive home the next day, despite the break we took in South Carolina for Papi to fix the van, I was in a fantastic mood.  “How are you doing?” people would ask me to be polite. “Awesome! I just saw Star Wars!”

Star Wars VII - The Force Awakens review and Disney Cruise story

Part II: A short spoiler-free review

Like I said, I’m a second-generation Star Wars fan, so I was raised on the prequels as equally as the originals.  The Force Awakens doesn’t leave story of the prequels, but it’s definitely more reminiscent of the originals.  Some say it was too reminiscent, but I liked it.

The acting was great.  The new guys (Finn, Poe, and Rey) are going to do well holding up the franchise in their own, new, ways.

If you can afford it, see it now!  The theater offered some cool force sound effects that I don’t think will deliver the same effect my home TV does.  Also, how long are you going to be able to avoid spoilers?

Speaking of which…

Part III: STOP SCROLLING AND GO PLAY MINECRAFT.  DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN IT YET.  Spoilers ahead!

Continue reading “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens Review”

Why A Muppet Christmas Carol Is the Best Christmas Carol Ever

It seems that everyone has their own version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

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The classic from 1951
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A Christmas Carol starring Mickey (Bob Cratchit), Donald (Scrooge’s nephew Fred), and Goofy (Jacob Marley)
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That weird one where Jim Carrey was everybody
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Barbie’s was one of the worst

But the Muppets’ is the best A Christmas Carol.  When you pop a version of Dickens’s story into your DVD (or VHS if you’re cool) player, pick this one. Here’s why:

Gonzo quotes straight from Charles Dickens.
ae22e6ba0debf8ad2b938a6b6c8bc514
Gonzo plays Charles Dickens (Rizzo plays himself), and not only does he tell the story, but he quotes so much from the book!  Other Muppets and Scrooge quote as well.  This movie isn’t just filmmakers telling a story from memory, but filmmakers striving to tell Dickens’s story.

The villagers
The Muppets do such a great job living with humans, and the humans do a great job living with Muppets.  It’s like that’s the way the world was made.  Below are three of my favorite villager moments.
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Exhibit A: The Baby Band during “It Feels Like Christmas”.  Check out the beginning of it here on Youtube.  Watch the two babies on the right in the front row, and you’ll see what I mean.

muppet-christmas-carol-talking-veggies
Exhibit B: The classic singing vegetables. “If he could be a flavor you can bet it would be sour!”

Screenshot (52)
Exhibit C: The carolers. “He must be so lonely, he must be so sad, he’s really a victim of fear and of crime, look close and there must be a sweet man insiiiiiiiiide!  NAH!”

Heatwave
image_de32f3b0
“How would the bookkeepers like to suddenly be UNEMPLOYED?!”
“Heatwave!  This is my island in the sun!”
I’ve seen the movie a dozen times, but this part still makes me laugh.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
muppet
He’s super scary, but he doesn’t infiltrate your nightmares (like Jim Carrey’s).  He’s the best Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in A Christmas Carol‘s movie history.  He’s creepy and dark, but not downright evil (like Pete in Mickey’s).

Why do you think (or not think) that the Muppets have the best A Christmas Carol?

the-muppet-christmas-carol-poster

Photo cred:
Classic – http://derekwinnert.com/scrooge-1951-classic-film-review-552/
Mickey’s – http://amdoar18ani.ro/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/mickeys-christmas-carol-10.jpg
Jim Carrey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kihm2da45sE
Barbie – http://www.amazon.com/Barbie-Christmas-Carol-Kelly-Sheridan/dp/B001B7CNZQ
Gonzo – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/552042866797617145/
Baby Band – https://muppetmindset.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/weekly-muppet-wednesdays-bobby-benson/
Vegetables – http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2014/12/23/the-muppet-christmas-carol-is-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/
Heatwave – http://muppets.disney.com/muppets-most-wanted

In Defense of Pocahontas

I’m taking a basic American History course at my local community college.  I have a lot of great things to say about my instructor.  She’s well-spoken, confident, knowledgeable, gives me good (and fair) grades…

However, she hates Disney.

One of her biggest issues with Disney is the movie Pocahontas (1995).

The legit, real-life Pocahontas was a twelve year old girl of the Powhatan tribe when the English established Jamestown in 1607.  Her name was Matoaka, which means “flower between two streams”.  Her father was Chief Powhatan, and he had over a hundred wives.  She was called Pocahontas in honor of her late mother.  John Smith was an inhabitant of Jamestown who knew Matoaka.  He was 27.  There was no romantic relationship.  The idea of Pocahontas saving John Smith remains legendary.  For certain, though, it did not happen in the dramatized way the events unfolded in the film.  Matoaka grew up, married an English tobacco businessman named John Rolfe, and sailed to England with him.  Somewhere in the process she changed her name to Rebecca.  Matoaka-Pocahontas-Rebecca died after giving birth to her first son while on the ship sailing back to America at age 22.

Disney’s Pocahontas is nothing like the historical one, obviously.  Here’s the thing I don’t think my history instructor understands: Disney was not trying to make a historical documentary.  Disney is an entertainment company.  They wrote their own fairytale from an idea from a legend.

And Pocahontas is a magnificent fairytale film.

The songs – oh the songs! – are beautiful.  The love story is romantic.  There’s action, (major) social issues, gorgeous landscapes… what more makes a great movie?  It’s a MOVIE, not an educational film.  Watch it and appreciate it as such.

Now, I should mention that three years after Pocahontas came out in theaters, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World was released on VHS tape.  It was made during that sad, disgraceful era of low-budget sequels.  This film’s Pocahontas is not our Pocahontas or the real Matoka.    Pocahontas II tried to squish the magnificent musical into a couple of historical facts, such as John Rolfe.  Don’t watch it.  It ruins everything.  You’re welcome.

Also worth noting: I don’t know who that is.

Nor do I know whose costume this one is (even though it’s pretty).

I know who this is.  This is Pocahontas.

This is a Pocahontas costume.

Thank you to the stranger who pinned this on Pinterest.

As you can see, I’m a bit of a Disney purist.  I will defend my characters to the end.

Pocahontas @ Unreached by the Frost

Give me some feedback!  What do you think of Pocahontas?  Who are other characters in need of a blog post such as this one?  Answer in the comments!

Photo cred:
– 2012 redesign http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20150420061439/disney/images/9/90/Pocahontas_Redesign_HighQuality.png
– 2015 Disney Store Costume http://cdn.s7.disneystore.com/is/image/DisneyShopping/DSCostumePocahQ3S15?$full$
– Stranger in good Pocahontas costume

– Falling with the Waterfall https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a8/d2/0d/a8d20d02b69ddf2cbe5ba6c683f65d44.jpg

Cinderella (2015) Movie Review

  • My star rating: 4 of 5
  • Kids? Yes, but be aware of the romance and the deaths.
  • Do I recommend it? Yeah, pretty much.

Part I: The short answer for those who have not seen it

Cinderella is yet another shot at this classic fairytale.  I liked it, not as a replacement of the classic Cinderella of 1950, just as a separate movie of its own.

Screenshot (11)

It was a very appropriate for kids kissing-wise.  I wish that Cinderella’s dress wasn’t so revealing with the collar.  The only other modesty issue was the stepsisters’ collars of their fancy chemises in one scene.  The chemises were relatively covering, hardly worth mentioning, honestly.  While talking about issues you might have with kids watching, let’s bring up deaths of the film.  There was hope and healing after each one, but the deaths can still be really sad.

It’s worth watching, especially with a little sister to snuggle up with.  The characters of the classic story were expanded which made it interesting for me.  To see what I did not like, come back after you’ve watched the movie and read Part II.

Part II: A peek into my analysis of the movie

First off, Cinderella’s gown was GORGEOUS (even though it wasn’t anything like Ella’s mom’s dress as she requested).  Fantastic job, costume department.  It owned every scene it was in marvelously.  The blue was nearly a character of its own.  It was so bold, yet seems ever-changing.

Screenshot (12)
See what I said about owning the scene?

I liked the wardrobe of the film overall.  My sister did not like it because it seemed to jump too many time periods.  I liked that aspect because the movie did not take place in a particular historical period.  It was timeless, like other original fairytales Disney has animated.

About the prince, called Kit: He’s not charming in my opinion, but he’s handsome and stupid-fairytale-prince-like.  Kit’s not much like the prince of Disney’s original, but Disney’s original wasn’t much of a character until the low-budget sequels anyway.

The “love” was perfect for a fairytale, but not anywhere close to a model we should follow.  Kit was ready to marry Ella before he knew who she really was.  When he did find out – OH! – that was such a sweet moment!  He accepted her without hesitation!  So enjoy watching the romantic “love”, but keep it there.  Don’t apply it to your daydreams of Mr. Right.

“What do they call you?”

Lady Tremaine was awesome.  I couldn’t picture Galadriel (also Cate Blanchett) as the shallow and evil stepmother.  You know why?  Because she isn’t!  Lady Tremaine was a character with depth and a story of her own I’d like to know more of.

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That face.
That face.

The deaths of all the kind parents were necessary to the story, but I wish there was another way around them.  There were too many sad deaths for a movie that has kids as a major part of the target audience.  The only advantage to that many deaths was the sweet connection at the end of the film with Kit and Ella.  That’s it.  There were too many tears for me to justify it.

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One last negative thing for this article: Fairy Godmother.  I was into her introduction as the hag, but after that grew only dislike.  I particularly hated her eye make-up with her fantastic white dress.  The pumpkin/greenhouse into the coach transformation was fun, but not enough to make up for her character.  Considering she’d been following Cinderella around for 16 or so years, she was a tad too arrogant for her ignorance of magic.

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This picture says it all.
This picture says it all.

Oh, and one more thing.  Shout out to this guy who doesn’t have a name.  You’re new, but you’re nice.  We like you.

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That’s all I’ll share for now.  What do you think of the new Cinderella?  Who are your favorite characters and why?

Cinderella Movie Review @ Unreached by the Frost