Seven Dwarfs Mine Train now Open!

unnamedThe Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is now open and ready for riders!  The Mine Train caps off the completion of the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom Park history.

On the Mine Ride the world of Sleepy, Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy and Dopey comes excitingly to life on a rollicking, musical adventure into the mine “where a million diamonds shine”. As guests twist and turn through the mine, the cars rock back and forth, adding an extra family-friendly thrill element. Riders tour through the cavernous mine’s winding track – jutting outside to climb and dip through the wooded landscape, and then re-entering the mine at different points.  Can’t wait to ride yourself?  Take a virtual spin here!

The Mine Train also includes a fun Interactive Queue where riders can discover a series of mining stations prepared by Doc, here are some of the highlights:

    • Jewel Sorting – Follow Doc’s instructions, etched into a nearby plank, and help match jewels by color and shape as they flow down a wooden trough – a.k.a. dozens of touch-screen video displays.
    • Jewel Washing – After the jewels are sorted, grab ahold of a musical water spigot and start cleaning. Each spigot plays its own melody – heed Doc’s tips and you may hear a collection of familiar tunes!
    • The Vault – Inside the door of the mountain, enter the center of the vault to find a collection of wooden barrels overflowing with glowing stones. Turn each barrel to see the ceiling above you transformed!

Cruising down the Mekong

ItineraryI am so excited to soon be leaving for an 11-day adventure through beautiful Vietnam and Cambodia!  I feel like it is such an amazing opportunity to be able to and I can’t wait to get started.  For the beginning and end of our trip will be on our own sandwiched with a 7-day cruise down the Mekong River with AMAWaterways.  Here’s a rundown of whats to come:

Days 1-4:  Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a stay at the gorgeous Sofitel Royal Angkor.  There’s plenty of time to get over the jet lag and then head to the amazing temples of Angkor Wat, including a look at Ta Prohm, and the Bayon Temple.  I really have my fingers crossed for an elephant ride as well!  We will also be spending this time in Siem Reap during the Cambodian (Khmer) New Year’s celebration which is typically celebrated for three days, can’t wait to see how it’s done! From there we transfer to our beautiful AMAWaterways ship and pass through local fishing villages as we depart for Kampong Chhang 

Ankgor Wat

Day 5:  Board a local boat and tour the floating villages in Kampong Chhang.  From there we take an oxcart ride and tour the pagoda pf Wat Kapong Tralach Pleu, also get the chance to tour a Buddhist Monastery and perhaps even receive a special blessing. Bonus highlight!

Day 6:  A visit to the silk weaving village of Chong Koh and then set sail for the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.

Day 7:  Today will be spent touring the Phnom Penh which is known for its French colonial architecture , busy cafes, and vibrant nightlife.  Also a visit to the spectacular Silver Pagoda and National Museum.  The afternoon will include a somber visit to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s S21 Detention Center.

Silver Pagoda

Day 8:  Crossing the border into Vietnam – a.k.a. a day of relaxing and recouping on the ship!

Day 9:  Hop aboard small boats to a floating fish farm and navigate the small villages filled with stilt houses.  From there take a trishaw to Tan Chau to visit a rattan mat-making and slippers workshop.  Afterwards off to enjoy a Mekong folklore performance.

Day 10:  A visit to the town of Sa Dec to see famous French writer Marguerite Daras childhood home.  Then a visit to the French military base of Xeo Quyt and a tour of a French Gothic Cathedral.  The day ends with a rice paper workshop and a candy making workshop.  Yum!

Elephant

Day 11:  Say goodbye to the ship and head to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) where we get to spend our remaining hours touring the city and perhaps the Vietnam War Memorial and Museum.  Then it’s time to say Au Revoir to Southeast Asia!

I can’t wait to meet the amazing people of both these countries and experience their culture… and the food!  Until next time….

(Photos courtesy of AMAWaterways)

Differences Between the Disney Dream and Fantasy

The new Disney Fantasy is modeled very closely after the Dream, so the ships are very similar in style and offerings. However, there are some major differences between the two.  There are some stylistic differences, the interior of the Disney Dream is art deco, and has an Admiral Donald in the lobby where the interior of Fantasy is art nouveau, and contains Mademoiselle Minnie in the lobby.  The Dream also sails on Bahamian itineraries and the Fantasy sails the waters of the Caribbean.

Other notable improvements to the Fantasy include:

• The addition of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – where princesses and pirates can receive a full fairy tale treatment and makeovers.
• Addition of the Aqua Lab – this 1,800-square-foot water play zone includes geysers, pop jets, and bubblers!
• For the Adults – The new Satellite Falls and Sun Deck area, an adults-only sun deck with a circular splash pool that includes benches and a gently falling rain curtain.
 New Nightclubs and Lounges -  Ohh La La, a champagne bar styled like a French boudoir; The Tube, a mod English nightclub; O Gills Pub, an Irish bar; and La Piazza, a lounge inspired by Italian cities.
• Enhanced dining experience at Animators Palate – This time around your personal creations become the star of this show, and you still get to say hello to everyones favorite turtle, Crush!
• Disney’s Aladdin at the Walt Disney Theater, an all new stage show and musical!

Disneyland Spring Offer

Disneyland has just released a new room only special offer for Disney VISA cardholders. And although this special offer is for resort rooms only, you can also add on park tickets and a meal plan to make it a complete vacation package.

This offers a savings of anywhere from 20% – 25% off on rooms at the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, and the Paradise Pier Hotel.  This offer is applicable for stays most nights March 1st  – April 14th, and must be booked by March 11, 2012.

This could really help you save some cash on that Spring Break trip!  Contact me for additional details on this offer.

Segway into Epcot

Inside the Innoventions West Plaza you can experience “Segway Central”.  This exhibit allows guests (ages 16 and older and less than 250 lbs) to learn about, and test-drive a Segway!

This experience is included with your park admission; however there are several extended Segway Tours you can decide to take for an addition charge as well.  Segway Central contains a roped-off area with 2-3 different Segway “test lanes”.  Before we could get in line we did need to sign a safety-waiver, I was surprised at this as most people on the Segways were going a maximum speed of 1 mile per hour. After we signed our safety waivers we got in line and while in line I thought to myself “why are all these people having such a hard time with this, it’s JUST a Segway.”  Easy-Peasy.  Man, was I about to learn.  To start off each person has their own instructor; the instructor first explains to you how the Segway works and shows how changes in movement are what controls the speed and direction of the Segway.  Before you can start going on your own my instructor first taught me how to stay in a still, standing position on the Segway (This is harder than it appears).  Once you have that mastered the instructor walks with you and teaches you how to go forward (without crashing into something), and how to stop.

I was extremely surprised at how hard all of this was! Now, I’m under no misconception that I have a lot of skill when it comes to having physical balance, or using any kind of machinery, but these Segways are very perceptive to any movements you make.  I know I have read articles in the past about people getting into crashes or getting injured on their Segways… I get it now!  Once I got the basic feel of how to go forward, and most importantly stop, I was able to take it on a little spin.  It was fun riding around in my little test-area, and trying to do doughnuts was a fun challenge.  After a few minutes of fun time it was time for me to go and let someone else have a turn.

In the end I was really glad we took the time to do Segway Central.  The line did take a bit of time to go through as it is such an immersive experience; however it was an experience that I’ll never forget.  I would probably have never had the chance to test drive a Segway at any other time in my life, and I now have an increased level of empathy for those who have crashed one.  Plus, spending time in either of the Innoventions Plazas is a great way to escape a rainy day at Epcot.

My Attraction Rating: 9/10 Stars