Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Disney's Pirate Adventure Cruise Review

Calling all Mateys and Scallywags! Have I got an adventure for you! 

Yesterday I posted about an awesome activity offered at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels- Pirate Adventure Cruises. You can check out the article and all of the pertinent info here. The following is our review of the cruise my daughter took in 2011.

We were staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort which offered the "Island of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise". While some resorts offer daily cruises, CBR offers the cruise only 3 days a week: Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday (though this is subject to change). We went on a Sunday. The cruise starts at 9:30am, but they ask that you be at the dock 20 minutes prior in order to sign release forms and go over some info. You can choose to pay however you'd like here- either use the card you held the reservation with, pay cash, or charge it back to your room.

Two cast members will be there to go over what the kids can expect (and parents, too) and let them all know what they're doing there- hunting treasure!! The story was really cute, especially since the CM (cast member) telling it was so enthusiastic. He had all the kids getting excited and laughing (again parents, too).

The CM got everyone fitted in their pirate gear (bandanas, name tags, and life vests)

They get them all loaded on their vessel, and they set off on their adventure.

Because I wanted photos for her to remember the experience by, and to be able to share with others, I maybe stalked their adventure just a little bit...

 They traveled to different ports (throughout the surrounding waters of the resort) chasing pirates and being chased. They got on and off the boat in search of their treasure until they finally found it and pulled it aboard. The kids could be heard throughout the grounds laughing and carrying on. Clearly they were having a blast!

Once the treasure was secured they made way to land to eat. Treasure hunting works up quite an appetite.

At the end of the two hour cruise they came back to sort through their treasure.

Tessa had an awesome time!!
As a mom, I was a little nervous at first, but clearly there was no need to be. The cast members were great at engaging the kids and getting them involved and excited. I could even see the boat for most of the time (we had lunch and ate outside). My only issue was the lack of photos, lol. I had thought about sending her with a disposable camera, but she was too busy to have taken any photos anyway!

We planned one for our trip last year since Colten was finally old enough to participate and really enjoy it. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to rain. I'll let you know though, they don't always cancel just because of rain. If it's only sprinkling, it will go on as planned. If it is not cancelled and you do not show, you will be charged.

All in all, we highly recommend checking this activity out!! You do not need to be staying at one of the resorts listed in order to do this. Simply call and book your reservation or ask your travel agent to do so. While the kids are cruising, the rest of the party can check out the resort, have brunch or an early lunch, or if you're at the Grand Floridian have a spa treatment!!

For right under $40, you can't beat this! The cruise, the pirate goodies to take home, and the smile on her face were all worth it!! For more info check out my previous post here.

Let me know if you have any questions! Have you done this? What was your experience? Will you be planning a cruise for a future WDW trip?

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Disney's Pirate Adventure Cruises

"Aspiring buccaneers between the ages of 4 and 12 board a pirate-themed boat and scour the waterways around Walt Disney World Resort in search of pirate treasure during a swashbuckling high-seas adventure.

On this guided expedition, each participant enjoys a light snack and beverage, learns how to talk like a pirate, visits legendary ports-of-call, and—if he or she is lucky—returns with a bag of pirate booty! Disney's Pirate Adventure is a 2-hour sailing voyage that takes place each day at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m."

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Know Before You Go
  • This activity is for children ages 4-12 only, and that does mean No Parents... not even for pictures
  • Children are accompanied by 2 Cast Members who are CPR certified
  • The "pirate-themed" boat is a pontoon boat
  • The lunch/snack usually consists of a peanut butter & jelly Uncrustables, Goldfish crackers, a treat, and a juice box
  • While some sites say children receive red & white striped Mickey ears, in most cases they receive a bandana

These Pirate Adventure cruises depart from four locations:

The current price with tax is $39.41 per child.

When booking make sure you consider your child's personality and whether you think he/she would be able to participate in the 2 hour activity without you, especially if they won't be having a sibling/friend going with them.

You must call 48 hours prior to cancel without penalty, if necessary.

To book your Pirate Adventure call (407) WDW-PLAY (939-7529) or speak with your travel agent.

Click Here to see my review of the cruise my daughter did!

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Ways to Save for Disney

Hello there! I'm starting a new blog series for Ways to Save for Disney, so Thursdays around here will now be known as Thrifty Thursday!

There are several ways you can save for your next Disney trip, but to get this series started I'm going to give you a pretty unique one- one you may not necessarily have thought of. And if you have, well, you rock because clearly you're on the same crazy brain waves as me! So, here we go...

I use my Flexible Spending Account to save. While I have currently used it to save for Christmas money, you can easily use it for Disney savings!

You can read more about an FSA through this link, but please check with your own employer about the details of the plan they offer. I'll give you the gist in short though to tide you over. Your employer may offer an FSA, an account in which money is pulled from your paycheck each week, pre-tax, and put into this account. The money is for medical or dependent care expenses. You may use the money in the account to pay for co-pays, coinsurance costs, prescriptions, and prescribed over the counter meds, or daycare costs. (Please be sure to check with your employer as guidelines for medical and dependent care are different. Also, in most cases, what you don't claim at the end of each year is lost, so be sure to use what you've set aside!) They give you a debit card that you may use throughout the year to make these payments/purchases, but they will also allow you to turn in your receipts and reimburse you.

What does this have to do with saving for Disney, you ask? Well, I currently use mine for Christmas money, but it would be excellent for Disney, too! As a matter of fact, I may just switch to that. Anyway, here's how it works... Rather than use the debit card all year, I simply pay for our medical expenses out of pocket as I normally would. Just before Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving), I gather all of my receipts for the year and turn them in. I usually have a check or direct deposit in a matter of days. Just in time to do my Christmas shopping!

You have to spend the money on the doctor bills and prescriptions anyway, why not set up the FSA, save your receipts and cash them in right before paying for your vacation package, or cashing in right before the trip for that spending money?!

Simply assess what you spend each year on co-pays and scrips, glasses/eye care count, too, (or the daycare expense, but again this works a little differently) and decide how much you want to pull out from your check. I'll give you an example... I counted up our scheduled visits- a wellness visit for each of us per year, a couple special condition check-ups, and factored in some sick visits. Then I counted the co pays for my medicines taken monthly, and threw in a couple for those sick visits. At the end of this, I was comfortable saying we spent at least $500-$600 a year in medical expenses. To make it easy on myself I only designated $10/wk be taken from my check, giving me a total of $520 for the year. I may have undershot a bit, but like I said, if you don't use it, you lose it. At least this way, I know for sure I'll get enough receipts to cover it all.

That's a guaranteed $520 just in time for Christmas each year... or DISNEY!

Well, there you have it, my not so conventional tip for Saving for Disney! I've done this four years in a row now, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Memories by Betsy ~ WDW Gift Services

Want to get your Disney vacation off to a magical start? How about a special delivery from your pals at the Happiest Place on Earth?!

On one of our trips we were fortunate enough to have such a thing, courtesy of Memories by Betsy!

Memories by Betsy provides custom gift baskets straight to your resort at a fraction of the cost of what Disney florists would charge! She does special theme baskets, resort baskets, special occasion baskets... whatever you can dream, she can do! She can even include Disney costumes in your delivery. All of her items are authentic Disney Parks merchandise, unless additional items are otherwise requested. The only thing she cannot include in the baskets is food, per Florida health regulations. The basket(s) will be ready and waiting at your resort when you arrive!

Betsy was so great to work with! Her website was easy to use, but I am one who likes to talk with someone one on one sometimes for peace of mind, and she completely understood that. She was great on the phone, and when we started emailing she was very quick to respond. As a matter of fact, I had an email within 2 days that she was already finishing my basket!

Depending on the resort/Cast Members, they could alert you of a delivery upon check in or deliver it directly to your room. Ours was given to us at check-in, but others have had it delivered to their room.

When the CM brought a large package with streamers hanging from it both of the kids took notice, as well as those checking in around me. It was a little too large to fit through the window so he walked it around the counter. That's when I saw the kids' eyes go wide! They practically ran to him. The fact that it wasn't delivered was clearly not a problem for them. They just had to see where it came from, so we read the cute little note attached :-)

The contents settled a little bit in the shuffle from the Customs House to our room, but I assure you it presented very well!

When ordering your basket, you give Betsy the details of whom the basket is for, their names and ages, some favorite characters, Disney interests, etc. She purchases your items, creates the basket, and sends you a photo of the finished product. Being that I love surprises so much, I simply gave her the kids' info and a few of their favorite characters and told her to surprise us! Seeing them open it was as much fun for me as it was for them!!
One of Colten's faves: Sully!

Minnie dressed as Aurora, Tessa's then favorite princess!

Some Cars for Colten

A Disney Princess activity set for Tessa

Once the wrapping came off I couldn't keep the kids out of it long enough to get a photo so I reassembled the goodie basket once they made it through everything. This is more how it looked when it first came around the counter in the first place.
There in the front you can see two autograph photo albums that came with a pen big enough for the characters to hold, one for each child. I highly recommend adding these to your package as they were immediately put to use!

Here's a little video to show you just how much my little guy enjoyed his gift from "Minnie"

And that "Thank you, Minnie" should really go to Betsy of Memories by Betsy! She truly got our trip off to a magical start. The kids had a blast getting such a wonderful surprise, and I enjoyed seeing them so happy.

You can see a multitude of sample baskets on her website, but here are a couple until you make it over there. Remember, you can make them as large or as simple as you'd like. And again, they can be themed, or just have various goodies. You can tell her exactly what you'd like, or she can give you suggestions... She can even have Ears personalized! Whatever you can dream!

Love a specific character?

Traveling in a group and want to surprise the others in your party? Send each of the rooms a little welcome gift :-) (I especially love this idea!)

Will you be in Disney around the holidays? Have a tree delivered to give your room some Disney Holiday Magic!! Then take it home to have a wonderful decoration that will remind you of your magical Disney vacation year after year!

Please be sure to visit Memories by Betsy, and remember her for that special delivery on your next trip!
Memories by Betsy
Betsy Grike

By email:

By phone:
(9am-7pm EST)

This post carries a disclosure Level of 1. Please see my disclosure page for more details. I am in no way affiliated with Memories by Betsy. I received this service at no cost, but that did not influence my opinion in any way! The opinions expressed of her products and services are solely my own. I was quite pleased and happily recommend her for all of your upcoming trips!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Silhouettes on Main Street

One of the things you'll need to prepare for when visiting Walt Disney World, or any of the Disney Destinations for that matter, are the onslaught of souvenir shops and merchandise for you to enjoy, peruse, and purchase! As you can imagine they've covered everything from stuffed animals and toys to kitchen gadgets and home decor and just about anything in between. I've come home with many 'o trinket and bobble, but my all-time favorite Disney souvenir by far is the Silhouette we had done back in 2011 on Main Street in Magic Kingdom.

While waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade to begin we found Jim tucked in a nook on Main Street, hot, but waiting patiently for someone to come along so he could get to work. My daughter plopped down first and Jim's busy little scissors came alive at the guidance of his steady hand. It was amazing to see Tessa's profile come out of this white paper so quickly and easily. 
Colten was a little smaller then, and he was pretty pooped by this point in the evening. He chose to sit in my lap as Jim worked on his profile. That didn't bother Jim any, and neither did the pacifier in his mouth.
What an awesome talent. Jim was very polite, but very focused on what he was doing. It amazed me how quickly his hands whipped around to pull my children's faces from that plain paper. 
You have the option to take the silhouettes as is or have them framed. The oval frames are perfect, and they weren't that expensive so I opted to have it done there.
Oh, and I'm not quite sure how or why it worked out that way, but since there were two kids I got two copies of each of their silhouettes. Which was perfect because I was able to give Grandma & Grandpa one, too!
And the finished product!
For only $34 we got two framed silhouettes of both children. Money well spent in my opinion!

Poor Jim, it was sooo hot!! He was so nice though. I'm not sure the policy, but we tipped him for his work. Personally I believe this is a craft worth tipping, but of course to each his own :-) I still can't get over how much they resemble my children. He got my little Colten down to a T!! 

This is by far my favorite souvenir! We may lose some trinkets along the way, or outgrow the stuffed animals or characters (dare I say! some of us never will), but regardless, these silhouettes will be something we'll forever cherish!

Have any of you done the Silhouettes on Main Street? Is it something you'll be looking for on your next trip? I'd love to see them. I'd love for you to head to my Facebook page and share your photos with me!

This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why, Hello There!

Hey there, the name's Bird, which is short for Brittiany... sort of, lol. When we were little my younger cousin would try to say my name and it always came out "Birdy" which was eventually shortened to "Bird" and it stuck. I am blessed to be happily married to my best friend, or rather, my Prince Charming, and even more so to be the mother of two amazing kids! I'm a working mom, but when I'm not at work, I'm doing something with the family. Once the family goes to sleep and I have a little "free time" I enjoy blogging and reading.

I didn’t get to experience the yearly trips to Disney growing up, but maybe that’s what makes the magic I experience now all the more special! My love for Disney started with the many Disney movies I would watch at home with my Mama. Disney movies taught me many valuable lessons, from believing in yourself, to having the courage to do what’s right, helping others, never judging someone from the outside, and so much more!

I have dreamed of becoming a wedding coordinator/event planner for quite some time now. Something about making someone’s dreams come true really appeals to me ;-) After a trip to Walt Disney World a few years ago though, my love for all things Disney really began to blossom, and that dream seemed to change a little...

What's better than planning a once in a lifetime event? How about planning a once in a lifetime event over and over again? VACATIONS!! Whether you go to the same place year after year, or venture to a new destination every few years, each vacation can be the trip of a lifetime with the proper planning.

I love helping others plan the vacation of their dreams. I hope to use my blog here to do just that by posting my reviews and tips. I really enjoy finding all the fun stuff to see and do at Disney, especially unique experiences. Maybe my little tidbits will help you find something new and exciting to try on your next trip. (If so, please come back to tell me all about it!)

The World of Disney is ever changing. There's always something new happening at the various Disney Destinations. I can't wait to share it all with you!!

Thanks for stopping by!
This post carries a disclosure Level of 0. Please see my disclosure page for more details.