I shamelessly admit that I am not a Disney person. My boys have only seen a small handful of Disney movies, and didn’t know (or care) who Mickey Mouse was until Nana began buying them several matching Mickey shirts for the upcoming family vacation. We’re not a big TV-watching family, we don’t have Disney soundtracks memorized, and they don’t know the difference between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
That being said, we had a fantastic time on our Disney Cruise and our stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nana and Papa took the whole family (a dozen total of us) on an eight day extravaganza! It was an amazingly generous gift and we are now blessed with lifelong memories. While I definitely don’t consider myself a Disney convert, I do see the draw for those who drink the cool-aid. They make your family feel like their top priority, take extra care in preparing allergy-friendly meals, and cast members go out of their way to take care of any issues.
The boys visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to be transformed into royal knights (their cousins had appointments to be transformed into princesses), and one of the cast members told Asher there was a dragon who lurked between decks seven and eight, but only came out at 3:00am. Asher is an extremely logical child who doesn’t believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or any other made-up childhood entity…but he believed this very convincing lady. I still can’t figure out why he latched on to her story the way he did, but he went to bed convinced that he would wake up three minutes before 3:00am to grab his sword and shield to hunt down this cruise ship dragon.
As Mark was putting the boys to bed, I snuck off to guest services to explain the issue. Strangest conversation I’ve ever had, to say the least! I figured if Disney caused the problem, Disney could solve the problem. I explained the elaborately detailed story related to Asher by the boutique cast member, and how devastated he was going to be when he realized he had been lied to (he’s an ESTJ, so dishonesty or being tricked is particularly upsetting). The very helpful crew member, Bianca, said she’d never before encountered this issue and offered to make a call to the stateroom, explaining to Asher that the dragon had been called away on a mission. When she called, he had already fallen asleep…but she didn’t stop there. She wrote a note in an official Disney Dream stationary card from the dragon’s perspective. It was Mushu from Milan. (Granted, he’s never seen Milan, but this lady gave it her all!) “Mushu” apologized to Asher for having to fly to China to help Milan with a special mission, but told him that he’d always be with him as a spirit guide. Did this all end in tears for my tenderhearted son? Yes. However, Bianca went out of her way to help; she truly went above and beyond. Asher found her note slipped under our stateroom door at 5:00am, when he woke up on his own to go find the dragon. My sweet boy shot up out of bed saying, “Dragon!” while grabbing up his sword and shield. He was met at the door with the card from Mushu; it softened the blow but still stung. Fortunately, he walked off the ship with many more happy memories than sad ones, so this wasn’t wholly devastating.
Aside from that disappointing escapade, the only negatives to speak of are the over abundance of commercialism and non-stop movies. Although, you kind of know what you’re walking into since it’s Disney, so that’s really no surprise. On the cruise ship, there’s a poolside Jumbotron that constantly plays Disney movies. It’s hard to avoid that one, but easy enough to ignore while swimming. Two pools and an epic water roller coaster proved much more exciting to my boys than the ginormous cartoons.
On the ship, they play the newest Disney movies that are currently playing in theaters worldwide. We could have seen Aladdin, Toy Story 4, and Avengers: End Game, but we did not. The idea of sitting in front of a movie screen for hours on end is not my idea of fun — especially during vacation. To give Daddy an after-pool-break, I did take the boys to see DisneyNature’s Penguins, which was adorably educational and entertaining. Every cable TV channel owned by Disney is accessible on your stateroom’s television, but that’s easily avoided by not turning on the TV.
The entertainment we did “indulge” in were the Broadway-style shows. We saw two of them: Believe and Beauty and the Beast. They were phenomenal; the extremely talented cast had the boys mesmerized and on the edges of their seats both nights!
Based on their phenomenal customer service, pristine beaches at Castaway Cay, and special attention to all of my food allergies, we would consider booking another Disney vacation within the next five years…but we’d never consider joining their vacation club and spending every vacation with Disney.