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16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money via christineknight.me

I’m going to be upfront and say Disney cruises are REALLY expensive. Crazy expensive – much more so than a lot of other cruise liners, in fact, that offer similar itineraries. So why choose to spend your time and your money that way? Simply because the experience is unparalleled. We just got back from the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, and can happily say that here are 16 reasons why, for us, a Disney cruise is worth the money.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

1. It’s (almost!) all-inclusive
All your food at the main restaurants and snack joints, entertainment, use of facilities and even room services are included in the price. What’s an extra charge? The spa services, popcorn before the shows, snacks from additional cafes not in the main dining areas and alcohol, and gratuity at the end of the trip (it’s charged to the room at a rate of $12 per person per day).

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

2. The service is impecable
We received some of the best service of our lives on the ship, especially from the servers in the dining rooms. Our head waiter, assistance and dining room head all knew our name and our dining preferences (for example, I’m a fussy vegetarian and my daughter is fussy period), and would be prepared to offer us with alternatives to the menu each evening if they knew we wouldn’t like them. Our amazing servers followed us each night through the dining rotation (there are three restaurants that we rotated between) so we were always greeted with their smiling faces each evening.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

3. Mickey is everywhere
It’s fun to make a game of finding all the hidden Mickeys. From tiny nautical Mickeys made out of ropes in the shower curtains to bigger emblems on the ships decks, there are Mickeys everywhere you look in both discrete and obvious ways, but still pulled together so harmoniously as to present an elegant ship for adults rather than a carnival for children. A masterful design.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

4. Disney magic is all around
Disney is renowned for making the ordinary magical, and they don’t disappoint on a cruise, either. Little touches like magical pictures that guests can interact with, or a steering wheel set up in front of what looks to be an ordinary painting but turns out to be a pirate ship that you can steer in search of treasure really give the illusion of a bit of pixie dust sprinkled liberally over every element of the ship.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

5. See the world with zero effort
One of the big bonuses to taking a cruise is that you get to wake up at exotic destinations without lifting a finger. Everything is so incredibly easy and manageable, which is what we wanted with a young child. On our cruise, we visited Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Disney’s own island, Castaway Cay. We were offered off-ship excursions at additional costs, or you can also just walk straight off the ship and find your own way around.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

6. Incredible entertainment every day and night
Dazzling shows is what Disney does best, and again they bring this to the cruise. Every night there is a new show to see, the highlight on ours being Aladdin. The performers and staging in these shows is just incredible – it’s a standard of quality that you would happily pay to see under ordinary circumstances.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If you feel like seeing a movie on the cruise, you can head into one of the two movie theatres playing brand new or recent releases (on our ship we had Finding Dory the same day it was released globally in cinemas, Jungle Book and the new Captain America movie), or lie in luxury on the pool deck and watch the “Funnel Vision” movie screen playing Disney classics above the pool on the top deck during the day and night.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

7. Water play all day
The top desk is all about getting wet! Our number one fave water play activity was the AquaDuck slide, an exhilarating “water coaster” that sends guests clinging to rafts speeding around the ship enclosed in a tube. Kids can also enjoy a more sedate Mickey slide, the Nemo Reef splash area for littlies, the shallow Mickey Pool and AquaLabs for older kids. Adults can sit back and relax in adult-only pools, too.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

8. Everything is super high quality
This is Disney, after all, where nothing but the best is good enough. Every detail about the ship is flawless, and I’d challenge anyone to find a paint chip or a carpet stain on the entire boat. The rooms, the food, the facilities, absolutely everything is top notch, shiny and brand-new looking.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

9. The kids won’t want to leave kids’ club
There are plenty of options for kids to be entertained while adults take some time out to relax. As well as a nursery for babies, there’s the “Oceaneer Lab” and “Oceaneer Club” for kids 3-12, “Edge” for tweens 11-14 and “Vibe” for teenagers 14-17. Cheese was a great age for the Oceaneer Lab/Club and loved going so much she would request to be dropped off when we asked what she’d like to do. In the Oceaneer Lab/Club, as well as various open play areas, kids are also entertained with games and visiting characters such as Lilo and Stich or Tinkerbell.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

10. Activities are endless
Let me put it this way, no one will be bored. Every evening, an activity sheet is released for the next day which is jam packed with options for the whole family. Adults can choose from plenty of 18+ options such as bingo, animation and fitness classes, but the majority of activities are family-focussed, such as character appearances, trivia competitions and even baby racing. Yes, you read that right.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

11. The food is top notch
Dining aboard a boat was a major concern of mine, which thankfully we didn’t need to worry about at all. There were both plenty of options, as well as lots of fresh, healthy food to choose from. Each morning and lunch we dined at Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on the top deck, blown away with the choice of food such as fruit, made-to-order omelettes, yogurts, cereals, toasts, bagels, Mickey waffles and more for breakfast, followed by salads, more fruit, and hot food options such as vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza and so forth for lunch.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Dinner each night was served in a rotating restaurant – Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Court, where we were presented with a three course menu to select what we would like. While there were always vegetarian options made available, if I didn’t particularly fancy that night’s menu, the kitchen staff were more than happy to either send me a dish from another restaurant, or whip me up something specially in the back.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If we missed our dining rotation or the Cabanas buffet times, there were snack options available on the pool deck most of the day, including burgers, sandwiches, pizza and fruit, plus the 24-hour room service. It was hard exercising off all the food we ate!

12. Free-on demand tv
On a Disney boat, you’d expect a lot of Disney TV, wouldn’t you? In the rooms, Disney TV shows and movies are streamed 24-hours on demand, with a huge variety to appeal to both the kiddies during the day, and adults once the kidlets have gone to bed at night.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

13. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Wittout a doubt my daughter’s favoruite thing abut the ship was her transformation into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You can read about our experience here.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
14. Plenty of 18+ only areas

While we loved spending time with our daughter on the Fantasy, we occasionally needed some adult time, so when she was keen to head off to the kids’ clubs we would also happily wander up to the 18+ areas for a drink or just a coffee and would sit happily watching the ocean roll past and chat or read a book without having to listen to other peoples’ children screaming. Bliss!

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
15. Everything is seamlessly run

The ship is run with what can only be called Disney efficiency. Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to happen, to the very second, and there are no hiccups, no mishaps, no wrinkles in the perfect Disney holiday experience. A Disney cruise is a slickly run machine.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
16. Countless character interactions

The numerous character interactions were a big plus for our family and our daughter who is at the age where she likes to throw herself with gay abandon at all Disney characters like they’re a long-lost loved one. Luckily the characters are ready for four-year-old missiles and handle all the poking and whacking with swords with good humour.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

I did wonder if, after the first day or so, she’d get bored with seeing the same characters over and over again, but, the geniuses, have outfitted the characters in numerous costumes, so each time we saw them they always looked a bit different (except for Peter Pan, who always looked exactly like Peter Pan in his tights and little green hat). On formal night, for example, the characters appeared in tuxes and sparkling gowns, and needless to say, pirate night was full of eye patches and bandanas.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.meEvery day the times and locations for where the character meet and greets will occur is printed in the “navigator” that is distributed to the rooms each evening with the following day’s activities so you always know where to find your favourite giant plush or princess. Characters often just roam the ship too, so you never know who might start crowing over the balcony (yes, the crowd favourite, Peter Pan, yet again).

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

The most popular characters have free ticketed events that you can sign up for online before boarding the ship, such as the princess Royal Court, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and the Disney Junior character breakfast.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

Compared to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the characters on the boat spend a lot of time with each guest interacting with them personally, rather than it just being a quick photo op. This does make the wait a bit longer, but the characters and also Disney cast members who are managing the crowds, make the kids each feel so incredibly special that it’s worth it.

Ready to book a Disney cruise? Don’t book before you read my tips and tricks here!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Disney Cruise Planning Tips & Tricks

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

We’ve just gotten back from our first cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy – a 7-night Caribbean cruise. The cruise was incredibly fun, but there was so much to learn beforehand to really get the most out of the experience. When you’re planning your own Disney Cruise, tips and tricks like these will help you plan your own perfect cruise, before you even get on board.

    • Book well in advance. Hard core cruisers book a year in advance when the cruise is released. It’s believed they get the best prices then. Booking three months out is considered last minute but cabins are often still available.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Think hard about what cabin/type do you want. We went for middle ship with a verandah as I was terrified of sea sickness. The cabins to the edges and with a porthole or “magic window” are cheaper.
    • Log onto the Disney Cruise Liner website once your cruise is booked (https://disneycruise.disney.go.com) and input your reservation number to lock in activities.
    • Your advance booking window is determined by your Castaway Club membership level, as follows: First-Time Guests – 75 days prior to sail date; Silver Castaway Club Member – 90 days prior to sail date; Gold Castaway Club Member – 105 days prior to sail date; Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Member – 120 days prior to sail date.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Take note of the day that the activities are released in US time – 12:01 EST and log on during the night to book things like the princess royal court.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Book your activities as soon as you can as the popular ones book up fast. You can easily cancel your activities up to 3 days before departure – including the port activities. Some popular activities, like the Princess afternoon tea, book up as soon as they are released. Others have plenty of spots but you should still book in as soon as possible to get the days and times you want.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Free on-board activities that require booking include the Princess meet and greet, Frozen meet and greet and Disney Junior breakfast (currently only available on 7-night or longer cruises).
    • Join your cruise Facebook group – search for the ship departure date and name in Facebook. Many of the people in the Facebook group will be frequent cruisers so can answer all of your tricky questions.
    • Join a cruising experts Facebook group! This one I’m part of is run by a Disney Travel Agent.
      Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Many frequent cruisers hang decorations on their door called “Fish Extenders” and take park in a “Fish Exchange”. Every stateroom has a fish of some kind hanging on the wall outside the door where Disney staff place important communications to you such as excursion tickets and notes.  A Fish Extender (FE) is something that you hang off the fish while still allowing the Disney staff to use it for its original purpose. All the people in the exchange buy or make little items and place them in each other’s fish extenders. It’s basically a gift exchange.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Choose your dining rotation when you book your cabin – main dining is the early session which begins at 5:45pm, and second seating, which starts at 8pm. If you book too late you will be placed in late dining like we were and have to request a change and hope it comes through. For your assigned seating time and restaurant rotation, please check the dining tickets located in your stateroom upon arrival.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • “Main” or early dining fills up fast. If you’re not sure what dining rotation you want when you book your cruise, choose early as it’s the most popular. It’s always possible to change it to the late session when you board, but rarely the other way around. If you book late (like I did) you might be allocated the late dining session. if this happens, call Disney Cruise Line and request to be put on the wait list for the change.
    • Both dining session get to see the same live shows at night. If you do “main” or early dining, you will then be able to see the late show, which is at 8:30pm. If you do late dining, you can then do the early show, which is at 6:15pm.
    • If you aren’t able to get the dining session you want, you can still use several other flexible and included dining options on the ship, including the free 24-hour room service.
    • If you missed out on your dining session even after being wait listed, there are Disney Cruise Line employees set up in one of the main dining rooms on embarkation day to try to accommodate dining requests (which dining room it is will be listed on the Navigator that you get at the Port).
    • In case you forget where you’re supposed to eat dinner each night, your dining rotation will also be listed on the Key to the World card as well as the tickets in the room.
      Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me .
    • Many frequent cruisers place Disney magnets all over their doors, often with their family names and pictures on them. You can make your own or order some on Etsy.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Take note of your Port Arrival time (PAT). Your PAT determine your boarding number therefore when you board the ship. If you do not complete online checking then you will most likely get a high boarding number and sit in the terminal waiting to board the ship. PAT are first come first serve therefore by completing your checkin as soon as it is enabled online, you will have a better chance of a earlier PAT. Note: If you are taking the Disney Cruise Line busses from the Walt Disney World resorts then this is not that important since the buses will not get to the port until after 1pm anyway.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • If you buy a disney photo premium package in advance you get 15% off. If you don’t like the photos on board you can ask for a refund. This discount only applies to the most expensive packages, like purchasing all of the digital images. Go to: http://www.mycruisephotos.com/DCLDisney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • You are also able to register kids for kids’ club online before boarding the ship. I’d highly advise doing so as it just saves time filing in more forms when you go to drop them off for the first time.
    • Pack breakables in your carry on bag, plus anything you might need for the rest of the day as it can take a while for luggage to be delivered to rooms.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Put a pair of swimmers in your carry on so you can head straight to the pool when you get onboard.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Be early for everything onboard. If there is a movie, a show, even a character meet and greet, be early, by at least 15 minutes if not longer. If you want to see it, everyone else is bound to as well.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Formal, semi-formal and pirate dress-up nights are really optional. We were travelling a long way before and after our cruise so had minimal luggage space for special formal or dress-up wear, and it ended up not being a big deal at all. We just wore our nicest clothes and they were fine. Some people go al out, however, wearing suits and fancy dresses, and make the most out of the opportunity to get glammed up and have portraits taken.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • If you book another cruise onboard you get a discounted rate. The deposit you place down on the cruise is completely refundable so it’s a good idea if you’re strongly considering taking another cruise in the near future.
    • The water in the cabins is drinkable but a bit funky tasting. I’d advise taking large refillable water bottles with you and refilling them throughout the day at the free beverage station on the pool deck.Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • There are shops onboard where you can buy most things you might forget, like sunscreen, hats, toothbrushes and so on, but they are on the pricey side. Stock up on your own everything before boarding, including sea sickness medication, just in case. It is possible to get free sea sickness medication free of charge from guest services if you forget to pack your own.

Are you a Disney cruiser? I’d love to add your tips and tricks!

Hotel Review: Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Choosing a hotel when visiting Disneyland is a big decision. To make the most out of an expensive visit to the theme park, I like to stay as close to the park entrance as possible.

My ideal location is somewhere I can wake up as late as possible, get the kid out of bed at the last minute and walk 500 metres or less across the road to the entrance to Disneyland, arriving well before the gates actually open.

The best time to visit Disneyland is first thing in the morning, as soon as the gates open and before the crowds descend, so it makes sense that the best place to stay is as close to the parks as possible and minimise your time travelling to and from the parks.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

We decided to stay at the The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground on this trip. The hotel is extremely close to Disneyland – it’s actually closer to the park than two of Disney’s own hotels. On the Howard Johnson website it states that the hotel is an eight-minute walk away – I’m a fast walker though and I’m pretty sure I did it in five minutes or under. Fantastic location at a fraction of the cost of staying at a Disney resort.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson is renowned for their water playground. It’s a huge, pirate-themed water area that includes a 30-foot pirate ship with slides, water cannons, fountains and toddler wading pool, plus a 15-person hot tub and a garden pool.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Having such amazing pool facilities is great for visiting the parks for an extended period. It’s a good idea to leave the parks around midday when it gets busy and hot, return to the hotel for a rest and a swim, then return to the parks before the parades and fireworks – I find that this strategy really makes the stay that much more of a holiday than just a theme park visit.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The rooms at the Howard Johnson are another reason to stay at the hotel. They are huge! Bigger than any other hotel we have ever stayed at now I think about it. We had two bedrooms with a king bed in one and bunk beds plus a fold out sofa in the other, plus two bathrooms. Yes, you could actually fit a family of five grown people in this single hotel room.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

There was room for our mountains of luggage we collected along the way, which we had tripped over in every other hotel room. The added space just made us feel that much more relaxed as we had some real space finally to spread out.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson also features free WiFi, free parking and a free laptop-sized safe. We had a microwave, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities in the room, plus the Main Street Market downstairs next to the hotel lobby where we picked up a basic breakfast every morning as we walked to Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

One of the problems we always face with visiting Anaheim is finding decent places to eat dinner – there is a lot of fast food, but that’s about it. We were so happy to discover a really nice restaurant a few steps from the hotel, Mimi’s Café Anaheim Restaurant and Bar, that offered affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a decent kids’ menu.

Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me

We highly enjoyed our stay at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Playground in Anaheim and will absolutely stay here again when we visit Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground
1380 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

One of the most unexpectedly fun activities we tried at Disneyland this year was the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple show. It’s a really clever idea. Kids aged 4-12 can sign up for “Jedi training”. They then take part in a little show that runs 6 times a day, dressed up as Jedis with lightsabers, getting to live out their Star Wars fantasy to battle the forces of evil.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show runs six times during the day – when we visited the times were 10:30am, 11:35am, 12:40pm, 2:25pm, 3:30pm and 4:35pm. When registering for the show you can choose the time you want. The staff will ask your child a few questions to make sure they know what they’re in for, and won’t freeze up or freak out on stage.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

After registering we went on our merry way and returned at the time specified – around 30 minutes before show time. The kids had their names marked off and were taken into a group and given their special jedi robes. There were a lot of spots available from kids who didn’t arrive in time for the show, so at least 10 kids off the wait list were accepted into the group.

Once the group was complete, the kids were whisked off for some jedi training while the adults were guided to the nearby Galactic Grill stage, where the show would shortly commence.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The stage is quite wide and there are a lot of kids in each group, so it’s hard to know where the best spot is to place yourself to see your own child. I chose the front middle and lucky for me, Cheese was placed directly in front of me for the show.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show kicks off with the younglings entering in a group, and tells the story of a woman who wants to be a jedi – it’s really a story of her jedi journey with the kids as the supporting cast. She guides the kids through basic jedi training moves, just in time for the entrance of the villains – Darth Vader and a new enemy. The kids face off against the villains one-on-one on stage – surprisingly none of the kids freaked out either at the masked villains or the attention, so I’m guessing they were prepared for what was going to happen backstage.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

The show is 26 minutes long, a perfect length both for the kids involved and the audience watching. It was a lot of fun for families to participate and also to watch. For those involved, it was the highlight of their day.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

Need to know:
Participants must be between 4 and 12 years of age.
All participants must be present at the time of registration.
Register at the kiosk located outside the exit to Star Wars Launch Bay.
Registration begins when Disneyland Park opens for the day–including Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning.
Availability is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, Disneyland, California via christineknight.me

More info on Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple 

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Disneyland
After spending a gorgeous time having a princess transformation at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) on board the Disney Fantasy, my daughter asked if she could also try the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland. I thought it would be a good chance to try and compare both experiences, so agreed and booked her in.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

What is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience, you might ask?

Firstly, it’s called the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Not Biddidy Bobbidy Boutique, Bippiti Boppiti Boutique or Bippity Boppity Boutique Disneyland. It’s tricky! Let’s call it the BBB for short. The BBB is an experience at Disneyland where little girls and boys can receive a princess or prince makeover.

The BBB in Disneyland is located inside Cinderella’s castle in Fantasyland. It has a really cute shopfront that you can enter and just shop for princess dresses and accessories if you like. The boutique is at the back of the shop and is an absolute hive of activity. I had read that the boutique was popular, but was not prepared for how popular!

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

When we arrived for our appointment there was a mix up with our time slot – we had been booked in for a 1:30pm session, but when we arrived were told it was actually 1:50pm, which wasn’t a big deal, we were happy to look around the shop while we waited.

The fairy godmothers were obviously running behind when we visited as we didn’t get into the boutique to being the princess transformation until well after 2pm, closer to 2:30pm.

disneyland-BBB-1

This time we chose the “Castle Package” that included the works – dress, accessories, make-up, hairstyle and also a photo package taken in a little room with Cinderella’s carriage and express entry into the Royal Hall to meet the princesses. The photos and express entry into the Royal Hall are only available with this package, which is why we chose it over using an old dress and just getting the make up. Full details on packages and prices at the end of the post.

Cheese chose Tiana this time, with the adorable wand and crown included in the package. She badly wanted the gloves too (“Because Tiana in the movie wears gloves!”) and I caved and gave into the gloves as well.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

After choosing her dress, Cheese was led to a changing room that magically had her new outfit and accessories ready for her to change into.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

Next it was into the chair and the transformation begun. We had two fairy godmothers working on Cheese at one stage, I assume because they were so far behind in their appointments.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

While our fairy godmother was very sweet and did a great job, I did feel that the transformation was rushed in comparison to the one on the Disney Fantasy. Again I think this was due to the staff being really behind in their appointment schedule.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

After the transformation was complete, we waited to have portraits taken in front of and inside the Cinderella carriage. This option is only available with the Castle Package. Photos in the package are prints only – the digital negatives need to be bought separately.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me
With the photo shoot finished, we waited outside to receive the prints, and for our fairy godmother to escort us into the Royal Hall.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

The BBB was a lot busier and chaotic than I was expecting after the peaceful atmosphere on the cruise. I am assuming it’s because the BBB in Disneyland has to cater to a lot more “princesses” at a time. The staff were all extremely sweet and kind, but we did feel like we spent a lot of time waiting, and then had the transformation rushed through.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

We had some issues with the hairstyle too, unfortunately. The first time Cheese had the princess bun hair style aboard the Disney Fantasy she kept it in for the next three days until it was starting to go a bit gross and we had to bribe her to take it out – this time, it was tied up too tightly and gave her a headache, so sadly we had to take it out a few hours later (I also thought it was a bit wonky, but I’m such a picky perfectionist!).

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

After the transformation, we were escorted into the Royal Hall to meet the princesses. I think this was my daughter’s favourite part of the experience. There is always a long wait for the hall, so it was really nice to be escorted to a special entrance and skip the queue. The Disney staff all gave her a special reception as she arrived, bowing to the “newly crowned princess” and really giving her the royal treatment.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

Inside the Royal Hall, three princesses were waiting to meet us. It can be any three at the one time, and we met Snow White, Cinderella and Ariel.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland California via christineknight.me

The princesses were all sweet and friendly, especially Cinderella.

The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is definitely a special experience for little girls. My daughter had a wonderful time and felt so special, that it was definitely worth the money for us. Would we get it again? Probably not the full package now we’ve done it once, but definitely the hair and make-up.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Princess Transformation Packages

The Crown Package
Starting at $59.95 (plus tax), this package features hairstyling, makeup, princess accessories and nail polish.
Included Details
Hairstyle
Shimmering makeup
Princess sash and cinch bag
Face gem
Nail polish
Hair Style Choices
Girls have the choice of one of 3 hairstyles:

Fairytale Princess
Disney Diva
Color Star

The Courtyard Package

Starting at $99.95 (plus tax), this package features hairstyling, makeup, princess accessories and more.
Included Details
Hairstyle
Shimmering makeup
Princess sash and cinch bag
Face gem
Nail polish
Trendy tutu
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique t-shirt
Hair Style Choices
Girls have the choice of one of 3 hairstyles:

Fairytale Princess
Disney Diva
Color Star

The Castle Package
For $199.95 (plus tax), this package features choice of hair style, makeup, princess gown, accessories and more.
Included Details
Hairstyle
Shimmering makeup
Princess sash and cinch bag
Face gem
Nail polish
Princess gown of choice
Wand
Crown
The Castle Package also comes complete with a portrait package, courtesy of Disney PhotoPass Service—which includes a photo taken near Cinderella’s carriage and assorted prints presented in a themed folder.

Hair Style Choices
Girls have the choice of one of 3 hairstyles:

Fairytale Princess
Disney Diva
Color Star
Fantasy Faire
The imperial experience continues as newly transformed Castle Package princesses star in a personally escorted mini processional from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to the ever-enchanting Fantasy Faire.

Upon arrival, newly crowned VIPs will receive priority entry to the Royal Hall, where some of the most beautiful and beloved Disney Princesses—from timeless tales like The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty—eagerly await! Have those autograph books and cameras ready!

The Disney Frozen Package
Starting at $164.95 (plus tax), this package features an Anna or Elsa hairstyle—complete with a braided hairpiece. You’ll even receive sparkling snowflake hair accessories!
Included Details
Anna or Elsa hairstyle with braided hairpiece
Sparkling snowflake hair accessories
Anna or Elsa costume
Shimmering makeup
Face gem
Princess sash and cinch bag
Nail Polish
12-inch Olaf plush
Please note that this package is only available with Anna or Elsa hairstyling.

The Disney Frozen Crown Package
Starting at $114.95 (plus tax), this package is perfect for Guests who already own an Anna or Elsa dress.
Included Details
Anna or Elsa hairstyle with braided hairpiece
Sparkling snowflake hair accessories
Shimmering makeup
Face gem
Princess sash and cinch bag
Nail Polish
12-inch Olaf plush

The Knight Package
Starting at $19.95 (plus tax), this package includes hairstyling, along with a sword and shield. Please note that all prices are subject to change without notice.

How to Book a Reservation

Reservations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique can be made up to 60 days in advance and are highly recommended. To book your appointment with a Fairy Godmother-in-training, please call (714) 781-STYLE or (714) 781-7895.

Guests must be between 3 and 12 years of age in order to participate and must be accompanied by an adult (18 years of age or older).

Transformations take 30 minutes to an hour. Note: we were there for well over an hour with lots of waiting around in between everything.

More info about princess transformations at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Disneyland.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

A visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) is a must for little girls who are desperate to be a “princess” for a day. There are BBBs in Disneyland, Walt Disney World and also select Disney cruises. Our boat, the Fantasy, had the BBB located on deck five – a quiet space filled with tulle, glitter and tiny little girls with their faces alight with joy.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The BBB is a gorgeous experience for girls aged 3-12. Reservations are required to guarantee a spot at the boutique. When you book your spot, you can choose the type of package you would like for your daughter. Packages start from the “Crown Package” at $64.95 for hair, face decals, nail polish, shimmery make up, tiara, Mickey Mouse hair clip, BBB sash and a drawstring bag. See end of post for full details of pricing and packages.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Cheese already had a beautiful dress she loved so we took her dress and chose the Crown Package. Our fairy godmother in training let Cheese over to a chair and proceeded to do her hair in her select style of a princess bun (there are several other options available).

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Once the hair was up in the perfect princess bun, light make up was applied, tiara and hair clip slipped in, kiddie nail polish liberally brushed on, and, after many layers of hair gel to keep the wispy bits looking sleek, a hearty coating of “pixie dust” (AKA glitter) was applied, followed by a proclamation of “Bibbity, Bobbity Boo!” and a dramatic reveal in the mirror.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

Each guest takes home the drawstring bag plus the make up, nail polish and face decals. I really liked how clean and hygienic the boutique was, with each make up, nail polish and face decal set being brand new and sealed for each guest.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

When I saw the prices for the experiences I wasn’t sure how a 45 minutes “make over” could be worth the money. It comes down to the beautiful fairy godmothers in training, who guide the girls through the experience, tell them stories, get to know them, and make them laugh and feel special. My daughter was in heaven, not just with the make over, which she adored, but also the attention she received from the wonderful staff in the boutique.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The bun stayed in for the next two days until we went swimming and it needed to come out. It was a devastating moment when we had to take the hair down, which surprised me as she isn’t usually attached to hair dos.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique Aboard The Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

The BBB was a highlight of our cruise, and I will absolutely take her to enjoy the experience again at with Disneyland or WDW and hope that we enjoy the same wonderful time together.

FULL PACKAGE LIST
All prices in USD.

Crown Package
Price $64.95
This regal package includes hairstyling, a face gem, shimmering makeup, nail polish, a princess sash and cinch sack.
Hairstyle Choices: Disney Diva or Fairy-Tale Princess

Under the Sea Package
Price: $99.95
Plucky young adventurers can become little mermaids with the Under the Sea Package, which includes a 2-piece swimsuit and “mermaid tail” wrap. A floral hair clip, necklace and nail polish complete the look.

Please note this swimsuit is currently only available in 2 sizes: large/10-12 and extra-large/14.

Castle Package
Price: $199.95
Your little princess will be a vision to behold with hairstyling, shimmering makeup, nail polish, a face gem, princess sash and cinch sack. She’ll also receive a crown, a wand and her choice of costume!
Hairstyle Choices: Disney Diva or Fairy-Tale Princess
Costume Choices: Princess Minnie, Tinker Bell, Anna, Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Elsa, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Snow White and Tiana

Royal Knight Package
Price: $19.95
Young Guests who select the Royal Knight Package will be bestowed with heroic hairstyling of gel and confetti as well as a mighty sword and shield!

Disney Frozen Package
Price: $194.95
Is your little one free-spirited and fun-loving like Anna or regal and reserved like Elsa? The Disney Frozen Package provides a fun, movie-inspired makeover where kids can become their favorite character from the wildly popular Disney animated hit. The Disney Frozen package includes your choice of the Anna hairstyling with Anna costume or Elsa hairstyling with Elsa costume, plus shimmering makeup, face gem, nail polish, a princess sash, a princess tote and a huggable Olaf plush.

Celebration Package
Price: $124.95
Every day is worth celebrating on the Disney Magic and young guests can get in the fun with the Disney Cruise Line exclusive Celebration Package a perfect choice for a Sail-Away Celebration! The Celebration Package includes the choice of a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique hair style, plus shimmering makeup, face gem, nail polish, princess tote and princess sash. The party transformation is then completed with an exclusive Disney Cruise Line Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique tutu and t-shirt.

Captain’s Package
Price: $119.95
The Disney Cruise Line exclusive package includes the Disney Cruise Line Sailor Mickey costume, Captain Mickey hat and Captain Mickey plush.

A Family Guide to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

A visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSC) is an absolute must for anyone mad about space. Billed as “the world’s most authentic space attraction”, it is the number one place to go to see authentic space crafts that have flown in space, and learn about the history of mankind’s brave adventures into the unknown.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

The KSC was a high priority for Alec, our resident space-lover, so after debarking from our Disney Cruise at Cape Canaveral, we picked up a hire care and drive the easy 30-60 mins to the nearby Kennedy Space Center. It’s closeness to the cruise terminals makes it the perfect way to spend a day before or after a cruise.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

The center is well set up so adults and children of various ages can enjoy the exhibits. Some exhibits are geared more towards adults, but there are certainly many that are geared towards children, too, making it a day that the whole family can learn from and enjoy.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

At first glance it didn’t seem like the center offered all that much to do and see, especially for families, but we were wrong. The day flew by and we didn’t manage to see everything on offer. If you’re planning to visit the KSC, check out these highlights for families:

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me
Rocket Garden

Take a stroll among giants! These retired rockets each have a special place in history, such as the 77-foot Juno, which was used to launch NASA’s first satellites, and the 109-foot Titan II, which was used for 12 Gemini missions.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Climb aboard replicas of the one-, two-, and three-seat capsules from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo eras and let your imagination soar. On super hot days, kids can run through the Splashpad to cool down.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit
The exhibit begins with a video telling the story of Atlantis, followed by entry into the massive exhibition hall.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Space Shuttle Atlantis dominates the space, cleverly set up to enable visitors to see her up-close.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Surrounding Atlantis in the hall are over 60 interactive exhibits and high-tech simulators that let visitors experience life in space as close to the real experience as possible.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

The slide to the lower level is a particular hit with kids.

Shuttle Launch Experience
The Shuttle Launch was sadly closed during our visit but looks like a really fun simulation to try, promising to “immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and feelings of a Space Shuttle launch”.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour
We visited on a very hot day and were very happy to get on the bus tour for an easy way to see NASA landmarks such as shuttle launch pads, shuttle carriers and the vehicle assembly building. The bus also takes visitors directly to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Buses depart every 15 minutes from the Visitor Complex. Allow around 1.5-2 hours for the tour plus Apollo/Saturn V Center. Travel time back to the Visitor Complex from the Apollo/Saturn V Center is 20 minutes

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.meApollo/Saturn V Center
The largest rocket ever made, the massive 363-foot-long Saturn V, is the star of this exhibition hall.
Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.meKids can also touch a moon rock and learn about man’s greatest achievements in space.

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me
Children’s Play Dome

Junior astronauts can burn off energy in this rocket-themed play space filled with slides, tunnels, nets, a climbing wall and more. Even better, it’s under a shade cloth so nice and cool.

IMAX Theater
This was a bit old for Cheese when we visited, so we gave it a miss, but for older children it looks fantastic. Choose from two five-story 3D presentations – “One explores breathtaking images of Earth in A Beautiful Planet, and the other details projects that NASA is currently working on, like sending astronauts to Mars”.

Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted
We ran out of time to see this show unfortunately – there was too much to see and do in one day! From the website: “The future of space travel lies with you. Learn more about what it takes to explore Mars in this inspiring show. Exhibits provide a look at prototypes and designs that will launch the next generation to Mars and beyond, including rovers, simulators, and the Orion crew capsule.”

Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me Kennedy Space Center via christineknight.me

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, Titusville, FL
Hours: Open daily, 9am-7pm
Prices: Adult $50, Kids aged 3-11 $40
Get Directions

Thank you to the Kennedy Space Center for hosting us.

Florida Keys Family Road Trip

florida keys

Beyond the Beach Boys’ song, Kokomo, I’m embarrassed to admit I knew nothing about the Florida Keys until Alec decided he wanted to add in Florida Keys road trip to our summer USA adventure.

The Florida Keys are a string of islands stretching around 120 miles (193 km) off the south tip of Florida. It only takes around 2 hours to drive straight from Key West (the southernmost island) to Key Largo, the last island before the mainland. Most people stay a few days in the Keys swimming, snorkelling or fishing, but we had a tight schedule and allocated four days to drive from Key West through Key Largo, up to Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral where we were due to catch a cruise boat.

Key West

We flew into Key West, the southernmost island, known mostly for partying and fishing. Key West is also the southernmost point of the continental USA. A large buoy marks the southernmost point, with the next port of land Cuba – 90 miles away. People love to queue for a picture next to the buoy, but it was so incredibly hot on the day we visited that we decided to take a sneaky photo behind the buoy instead, which I thought made it even more southernly than the buoy itself.

Key West most southern point, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Key West most southern point, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

High season for the Florida Keys is during the southern hemisphere’s winter, when people from cold states like to escape the snow and defrost on the islands. We visited during the low season, June, which is also summer and so humid it was pretty unbearable. On the plus side, there weren’t as many people, but it was also face-meltingly hot, making it hard to do much.

Key West is home to a lot of historic buildings, making it a pretty interesting place to visit in general. We stuck to family-friendly activities that our four-year-old could also enjoy.

Butterfly Conservatory Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
This butterfly park is home to 50-60 different species of live butterflies from around the world, plus turtles, flamingoes and small birds. We spend a wonderful hour inside the conservatory surrounded by the dancing of butterfly wings.

Butterfly Conservatory Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Butterflies flutter high over head and around guests, occasionally pausing on flowers, fruit or even shoulders and hats for a rest. While we all wore bright colours in hopes of attracting butterflies, Alec was the only one who was lucky enough to have a butterfly land on his shoulder.

Butterfly Conservatory Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
1316 Duval St, Key West, FL
Prices: Adult $12, kids 4-12 years $8.50, under 4 years free

Hemingway's House, Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

The Ernest Hemingway House & Museum
This gorgeous house was home to the writer Hemingway for 9 years, from 1931-1939. We enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining and free 30 minute tour of the house, the highlight for our daughter being meeting some of the 53 cats who call the house their home.

Hemingway's House, Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat called Snow White by a ship’s captain. The cat was never neutered and bred with local cats, the result being a colony of 50-70 cats living at the house at any one time – the majority having six toes.

Hemingway's House, Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me The Ernest Hemingway House & Museum
907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL
Prices: Adult $13, kids 6-12 yrs $6, under 5 years free

Banana Cafe, Key West, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Banana Cafe
We stumbled upon this cute little cafe and fell in love with its French cuisine. Delicious omlettes, quiches, salads, smoothies and extremely friendly staff make this a must for lunch in Key West.
Banana Cafe, 1215 Duval St, Key West, FL

Marathon

An hour drive from Key West is a large key called Marathon. Driving there you’ll cross the incredibly scenic Seven Mile Bridge. If you pull over at the end of the bridge you can walk back along the old bridge and take in the view.

Dolphin Research Centre, Florida Keys via christineknight.me

Dolphin Research Center
This 90,000-square-foot series of saltwater lagoons is home to a family of dolphins and California sea lions. The Dolphin Research Center (DRC) “rescues and rehabilitates whales and dolphins, providing expert medical attention to help ease the way for our marine friends from the wild”. I’m generally very wary of any animal interactions, but was reassured that this facility is all about dolphin care and research rather than entertainment for tourists.

Dolphin Research Centre, Florida Keys via christineknight.me

Dolphins are not required to participate in any interactions that they do not want to – the two dolphins who we met, Tanner and Jaxon, were extremely friendly and excited to play. One of the dolphins, Jaxon, was an obvious example of a dolphin who had been rescued and was unable to be returned to the wild. He had a large bite out of his dorsal fin and tail, most likely caused by a bull shark. Our Dolphin Dip ($159pp, kids under 5 can be held by a paying adult for free) ran for around 20-25 minutes in the water with the dolphins swimming around us as we stood on a waist-deep water on a submerged platform.

Dolphin Research Centre, Florida Keys via christineknight.me

The dolphin trainer taught us about our new friends and encouraged them closer so we could give them back rubs (which they seemed to enjoy) and flipper shakes. We also learned some hand signals and asked the dolphins to perform natural behaviours like jumping and swimming fast, or “dancing” (spinning in the water).

Dolphin Research Centre, Florida Keys via christineknight.me

DRC is completely wheelchair/stroller accessible. The dolphin encounters are also wheelchair-accessible.
Dolphin Research Center
58901 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key, FL
Prices: Adults: $28 kids 4-12: $23, under 3 free

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

The Turtle Hospital
A must-see on a road trip through the Keys, the Turtle Hospital is a small, non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles. The Turtle Hospital is home to over 50 sick and injured turtles who are undergoing various stages of treatment, rehabilitation, or have been deemed unsuitable to be released into the wild and so have become permanent residents.

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In order to visit the turtles you must book in for a tour. The tour lasts around 90 minutes and includes a presentation on the various turtle breeds and the threats they face in the wild, a tour of the hospital facilities, and, what everyone had been waiting for, meeting the turtle patients. The majority of the turtles end up in the hospital after bodily trauma (such as being hit by a propeller blade) or sickness suck as infections or tumours.

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Close media panel Insert Media Create Gallery Featured Image Insert from URL Insert Media Upload FilesMedia Library Filter by typeFilter by dateSearch Media Search ATTACHMENT DETAILS turtle-hospital-15.jpg June 28, 2016 403 kB 526 × 700 Edit Image Delete Permanently URL http://christineknight.me/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/turtle-hospital-15.jpg Title turtle-hospital-15 Caption Alt Text Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Description ATTACHMENT DISPLAY SETTINGS Alignment Link To Size Deselect 1 selected Clear Insert into post Choose Files

Several of the turtles have what’s called “bubble butt” where an accident, such as a boating incident, has damaged their shell, letting air in underneath it, giving them the appearance of a “bubble butt”, which causes the turtle to float.

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Click here to find out what's new! Dismiss this notice. Enter title here Florida Keys Family Road Trip Permalink: http://christineknight.me/2016/06/florida-keys-family-road-trip/ ‎Edit Get Shortlink Add Media Add Contact Form VisualText Paragraph p Word count: 1240 Draft saved at 10:14:09 pm. Last edited by Christine Knight on June 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm Toggle panel: Easy Content Template Easy Content Template You haven't defined any templates yet. Toggle panel: Publish Publish Save Draft Preview Status: Draft Edit Edit status Visibility: Public Edit Edit visibility Revisions: 6 Browse Browse revisions Publish immediately Edit Edit date and time Publicize: Facebook: A Kiss Goodnight, Tumblr: Adventure, Baby! Edit Details Settings SEO: N/A Check Move to TrashPublish Toggle panel: Categories Categories All Categories Most Used Travel USA Florida Beauty Family Animals friends Kids Cheese Giveaway Product Reviews Love New York New York Food Brooklyn Bites Boerum Hill Brooklyn Heights Carroll Gardens Cobble Hill Coney Island Ditmas Park Downtown Brooklyn DUMBO Fort Greene Greenpoint Park Slope Prospect Heights Red Hook Williamsburg Brunch Survival Guides Guest Brunchers Manhattan Munchies Battery Park Chelsea Chinatown East Village Flatiron Governor's Island Lower East Side Meatpacking Midtown Midtown East Midtown West Murray Hill Nolita Roosevelt Island SoHo TriBeCa Union Square Upper East Side Upper West Side Washington Heights West Village Queens Rockaways New York Life Eat & Explore Outdoor Play Fashion Giveaways Governor's Island Indoor Play Museums & Galleries Outdoor Play Product Reviews Snack & Play Westchester News News News Photography Sydney Sydney Food CBD Chippendale Circular Quay Darling Harbour Millers Point Pyrmont The Rocks Ultimo Crows Nest Eastern Suburbs Bondi Brighton-Le-Sands Bronte Centennial Park Clovelly Coogee Queens Park Randwick Vaucluse Inner South East Mascot Waterloo Inner West Alexandria Annandale Balmain Concord Dulwich Hill Enmore Erskineville Glebe Leichhardt Marrickville Newtown Petersham Redfern Roseberry Rozelle St Peters Surry Hills Zetland North Shore Belrose Chatswood Kirribilli Mosman Willoughby Northern Beaches Manly Northern Sydney Macquarie Park South West Abbotsbury Hammondville Moorebank Mount Annan Parramatta Southern Sydney Caringbah Cronulla Helensburg Hurstville Kirrawee Kurnell San Souci South Hurstville Stanwell Park Sutherland Waterloo Woronora Yowie Bay Western Sydney Sydney Life Animal Experiences Indoor Play Museums Outdoor Play Beaches Bush Playgrounds Product Reviews Shopping Theatre Theme Parks Uncategorized Weekly Links Writing ACT NSW Queensland Victoria Arizona California Hawaii Massachusetts NOLA Utah washington dc Articles Audley Bayfront Bishan Bugis Bukit Timah Buona Vista BWMB Recommends City Hall Clementi Dempsey Far East Plaza Food Reviews Forum The Shopping Mall Giveaways Guest Writers Harbourfront Holland Village ION Joo Chiat Jurong East Katong Lavender Little India Mandarin Gallery Orchard Road Palais Renaissance Pasir Panjang Product Reviews River Valley Scotts Square Sentosa Serangoon Shangri-La Hotel Tanglin Tanjong Pagar Telok Ayer Telok Blangah Thomson Tiong Bahru Asia Australia Europe Expat Holidays Mexico Travel with kids Travel With Kids News UK Blue Mountains Greater Sydney Hunter Valley Wollongong China Japan Singapore France Germany Italy Spain Glenbrook Katoomba Leura Huskisson Shoalhaven London Melbourne San Francisco Venice + Add New Category Toggle panel: Tags Tags Add New Tag Add Separate tags with commas Choose from the most used tags Toggle panel: jQuery Pin It Button for Images - Settings jQuery Pin It Button for Images - Settings Disable "Pin it" button for this post (works only on single pages/posts) Toggle panel: Featured Image Featured Image Set featured image Toggle panel: AceFramework Setting AceFramework Setting Disable page title No Sidebar Full width layout Toggle panel: Webbgaraget bit.ly short URL Webbgaraget bit.ly short URL The username and API key don't match. Toggle panel: Yoast SEO Yoast SEO General Page Analysis Advanced Social Snippet PreviewThis is a rendering of what this post might look like in Google's search results.<br/><br/>Read <a href="https://yoast.com/snippet-preview/#utm_source=wordpress-seo-metabox&utm_medium=inline-help&utm_campaign=snippet-preview">this post</a> for more info. Florida Keys Family Road Trip - Adventure, baby! christineknight.me/2016/06/florida-keys-family-road-trip/ Beyond the Beach Boys song, Kokomo, I'm embarrassed to admit I knew nothing about the Florida Keys until Alec decided he wanted to add in Florida Keys road Focus Keyword:Pick the main keyword or keyphrase that this post/page is about.<br/><br/>Read <a href="https://yoast.com/focus-keyword/#utm_source=wordpress-seo-metabox&utm_medium=inline-help&utm_campaign=focus-keyword">this post</a> for more info. SEO Title:The SEO title defaults to what is generated based on this sites title template for this posttype. Florida Keys Family Road Trip - Adventure, baby! Meta description:The meta description is often shown as the black text under the title in a search result. For this to work it has to contain the keyword that was searched for.<br/><br/>Read <a href="https://yoast.com/snippet-preview/#utm_source=wordpress-seo-metabox&utm_medium=inline-help&utm_campaign=focus-keyword">this post</a> for more info. The meta description will be limited to 156 chars, chars left. Toggle panel: Revisions Revisions Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 12:16:18) Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 12:10:43) Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 11:52:45) Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 11:25:38) Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 11:02:32) Christine Knight Christine Knight, 1 week ago (June 18, 2016 @ 10:44:25) Toggle panel: Related Posts Related PostsConfigure These are the related entries for this entry. Updating this post may change these related posts. Boston Long Weekend (2) California and NYC Trip (2) NYC: The Highlights (2) A Day Trip To The Cloisters (2) Whether all of these related entries are actually displayed and how they are displayed depends on your YARPP display options. Toggle panel: Sharing Sharing Show sharing buttons. Thank you for creating with WordPress. Version 4.5.3 Link inserted. No search results. Close media panel Insert Media Create Gallery Featured Image Insert from URL Insert Media Upload FilesMedia Library Filter by typeFilter by dateSearch Media Search ATTACHMENT DETAILS turtle-hospital-15.jpg June 28, 2016 403 kB 526 × 700 Edit Image Delete Permanently URL http://christineknight.me/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/turtle-hospital-15.jpg Title turtle-hospital-15 Caption Alt Text Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me Description ATTACHMENT DISPLAY SETTINGS Alignment Link To Size Deselect 1 selected Clear Insert into post Choose Files

Turtles with bubble butt have weights affixed to them to help them balance out and give them the ability to swim underneath the water once more. At the end of each program guests are invited to feed the permanent residents – not touch them, mind you, but throw their favourite pellets to them as they swim happily in the pool underneath.

Marathon Turtle Hospital, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Because they are a working hospital, you must be part of one of the guided educational programs in order to visit the turtles. Reservations are highly recommended.

More info and pics here.

The Turtle Hospital
2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL
Prices: Adults: $22, kids 4-12 years old: $11, under 4 free

Sombrero Beach, Marathon, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

Sombrero Beach
A popular family beach with a playground, bathroom and BBQ facilities. If you’re lucky you’ll see the Loggerhead turtles who nest at the beach from April-October.
Sombrero Beach, Sombrero Beach Rd, Marathon, FL

7 Mile Grill, Florida Keys, via christineknight.me

7 Mile Grill
A little cafe we stumbled upon relatively close to the Turtle Hospital and Dolphin Research Center, 7 Mile Grill is an incredibly family-friendly place to grab a quick, delicious meal from their extensive menu featuring plenty of seafood, Mediterranean food, burgers, sandwiches, breakfast dishes and even several vegetarian options.
7 Mile Grill, 1240 Overseas Highway, MM 47.5, Marathon, Florida

After more weird and wonderful places to visit in Florida? You might enjoy this guidebook.

Hawaii Disney-style: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Back in 2012 my family and I met for Christmas in Hawaii, specifically the Ko Olina resort area. We rented an apartment on the beach, in a complex right along the waterfront from a brand new resort that was just opening to the public. The resort was Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and it was still under construction. Nevertheless, we were extremely impressed with the facilities of the hotel, even half finished – so impressed that we planned to fly back for a holiday when our daughter was old enough to make use of the pools and activities, at age 4.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We returned recently to Hawaii and made good on our promise to stay at Aulani. The hotel sits on 21 oceanfront acres, between gorgeous mountains and the quiet Kohola Lagoon. It’s about a 30-45 minute drive out of Waikiki – close enough to drive back in if you want to go shopping or exploring, and far enough away to be removed from the crowds in that main tourist area.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani is a big resort, with 351 hotel rooms, including 16 suites, 481 Disney Vacation Club units, 2 restaurants, 3 lounges and several quick-service dining venues. It also features a spa, fitness centre, Aunty’s Beach House kids club, Painted Sky teen spa, pools, waterslides, water play areas and more. It’s the kind of place you can stay at for a week and never need to leave the resort. I never used to be a “resort” person, but now I have a small child, a place where the whole family can enjoy themselves effortlessly is the perfect place for us to take a holiday.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

“Aulani” means “messenger of a chief” in Hawaiian – and really sets the tone for the resort. While it is, indeed, a “Disney” resort, the emphasis is firstly on being Hawaiian, with a touch of Disney. Around the resort you will see about 90% Hawaiian decorations and design vs 10% Disney – mostly small motifs and the occasional nod to Mickey Mouse.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The resort was intentionally designed to reflect Hawaiian traditions, and also offers guests many Hawaiian-inspired experiences, such as fireside storytelling, the Starlit Hui—an evening celebration of Hawaiian traditions and Disney storytelling, Hawaiian activities and crafts, including hula and lei-making classes.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Select Disney characters show up all over the resort – mostly Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, with the occasional appearance by Stitch, Chip & Dale and Duffy (Mickey’s bear). Mickey-themed ice creams, pretzels, and other snacks are available in all the snack bars, and Disney-themed activities are run alongside the traditional Hawaiian ones.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Upon entering the resort, we were presented with traditional Hawaiian leis and necklaces, which really set the tone for our trip. Hawaiian – with a touch of Disney.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We stayed in an ocean view suite, which had a queen bed and fold out couch, plus a microwave, bar fridge and sink. It was a small room, but since we didn’t plan on spending much time in it, it was fine for our purposes. The view from our balcony was spectacular.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The hotel as free wifi throughout it, which I really appreciated.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani is absolutely the most family-friendly hotel I have ever stayed at. A combination of their facilities plus activities and friendly staff make it the perfect place for an extended (or brief!) family holiday.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The resort features several pools varying in depth. Several of them are very shallow, plus an infinity pool and adult-only pools. Little kids can also enjoy two water play areas with fountains – one for young toddlers/babies, and one for kids under 42 inches tall (122cm).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Kids who are confident swimmers (or confident with floaties) can snorkel in the man-made tub/mini reef. And then there is also the beach! A shallow, gentle lagoon that is perfect for kids.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

My daughter’s favourite water play was the tube slide and the Waikolohe Stream, or lazy river, which wasn’t so lazy as she jumped in and out of the tubes and swam the majority of the river with the current.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

When the sun wore us out, there were plenty of indoor activities to keep us occupied, with the favourite being the Disney Animation drawing and painting class.

Parents wanting time to themselves can drop kids aged 3-12 off at the free kids club. We decided not to use the kids club on this occasion, but I did take a look and it was incredibly clean and full of great activities for kids. Tweens and teens are catered for too, with a special club for them, too.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Every morning the daily ‘IWA is released – a sheet filled with activities for families to do together, kids to do on their own in the kids club, or for adults, like “sunrise yoga”. The activities were incredibly popular, so in order to secure a spot at the events with limited numbers, it’s suggested that you line up either at 7:45am for the family activities or 7:30am for the kids club ones, particularly on weekends when they are the most popular. We missed out on the activities we wanted at first as I didn’t realise the registration system, and had to wake my jet lagged self up early the next morning to get in the queue to lock in our spots for the animation drawing class and ukulele class.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The animation drawing class was my favourite activity during our stay. the first part of the class was spent learning to draw a Disney character on paper, and the second involved painting an animation cell. It was really fun and inclusive of all abilities.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Cheese really enjoyed the “Menehune Adventure Trail” which was a particularly clever scavenger hunt around the resort using an interactive tablet. I wasn’t prepared for the resort to interact back with us on the hunt – we woke the volcano, caused streams to erupt, set fire to lamps and spooked the tiny kids in the toddler water play area when we set off loud noises and a water jet pattern. Cheese was delighted with the magic we found on the resort.

If you need some down time in your room, guests are invited to pick up a few free DVD rentals – all Disney of course – or a board game.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The last highlight for our family on the trip was the character breakfast with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy. At $32 per adult and $18 per child over age 3, it’s a pricey breakfast. The food was pretty good – the fresh omelette station produced delicious food, and the fruit was incredible, but it still came to over $100 for breakfast for the three of us, with only Minnie and Goofy in the dining room (Mickey stayed outside for photos).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Minnie was a sweetheart, coming to see us several times and really making an effort to interact with our enthralled daughter, but Goofy was a tough one to catch. It took us a while to flag him down as he bolted past our table, and even then we had a few seconds to try and get a photo before he bolted off again. It would have been nice for the cost to have additional characters like Stitch, Donald Duck and Chip and Dale since we knew they were on the resort.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

The only down side to our stay was the food. We found the resort food limited and expensive. The two main restaurants were either an expensive buffet at Makahiki ($49.99 per adult) or the “fine dining” option, Ama Ama, which was way out of our budget for daily dining.

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Being a vegetarian made it even worse – there was pretty much only pizza or a single veggie burger that I was able to eat. Even the salads mostly had meat in them!

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

We ate several of our meals off the resort at the little shopping complex across the road where we found a cafe and restaurant with additional choices (particularly for this vegetarian!), as well as an ABC Market where we bought basic groceries like yoghurts, fruit, cereal and so on so we didn’t need to eat every meal in a restaurant. (See the pic above for an example of a meal we found at the cafe across the road).

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Our stay at Aulani just what we needed it to be – a relaxing time for us to bond as a family. Hawaii has always been a special place for us, with my husband and I travelling the islands during our honeymoon, and also bringing Cheese here when she was a toddler. It’s still a very special, wonderful island that we love deeply. Aulani lived up to our very high expectations as the perfect family getaway. We can’t wait to return. Aloha!

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me
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Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me
aulani

Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me Disney Aulani Resort & Spa via christineknight.me

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa
92-1185 Ali’inui Dr, Kapolei, HI 96707

The Most Perfect Light: Antelope Slot Canyons

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

Some places stay with you your entire life, even if your time there was fleeting. My visit to the Antelope Slot Canyon was one of these times. I actually saw the canyons way back in 2007 when I did a road trip around this part of the USA – well before I started blogging! High on my list to see were these canyons, with their etherial colours and shapes. I thought at the time – and still feel today – like they were something out of a dream. Too incredibly beautiful to be real.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

The Antelope Canyon is a “slot canyon” located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona. The Antelope Canyon includes two slot canyon sections, referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

We visited the Upper Antelope Canyon, the Navajo name for which is Tsé bighánílíní, meaning “the place where water runs through rocks.”

The name is very literal, as the Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, mostly through flash flooding.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

The canyons have been accessible only by tour since 1997, which is when the Navajo Tribe made it a Navajo Tribal Park.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

The upper canyon is the most popular to visit because it’s so incredibly photogenic (it’s also the easiest to access, with the entire length of the canyon at ground level and no climbing required). Beams of light radiate down through the slots in the canyon roof, bouncing off the walls and creating the most spectacular  rays of light and coloured rocks. Depending which time of year and day you visit, the canyons will look different. The best time to see the canyons if you’re after this kind of light is summer, during the middle of the day – the beams are most often when the sun is in the middle of the sky, During winter, the colours are more muted.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

My prime purpose for visiting the canyons was to get photos like these. And I’ll tell you, they weren’t easy to get. I was on a tour group with many other tourists, so in order to get these photos with no one in them, I had to lag behind the group, or walk slightly ahead. Lighting in the canyons is really tricky too. I brought my tripod and I’m pretty sure it’s the only reason these photos are in focus.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me

To visit the Antelope Canyons, purchase tickets for a tour in nearby Page. They range from $35 to $82 per person, depending on the time of the day and length of the tour.

Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me Antelope Slot Canyons via christineknight.me