It’s been a while since we returned from our trip to Disney World , and I’ve yet to write about it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me! I do have some things I wanted to share with you, though, and I’m finally getting around to it!
As I mentioned before we left, on this trip I booked some extra experiences, things we hadn’t done before. I scoured the interwebz to find reviews of these things before we left (because I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear this, but they are pricey!) and while I did find some good info, I like to put my opinions out there too! So here we go – my thoughts on a few of the “extras” Disney offers. The descriptions in italics are from the Disney website – the rest is my own personal rambling.
Disney’s Pirate Adventure 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.
Kate had actually done a similar thing the last time we were at Disney, but she enjoyed it before and I wanted Sam to experience it as well – and Kate, well, she had to go along for the ride. We brought the kids to the Grand Floridian (ride a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then take a boat or the monorail) and signed their lives away, and sent them off. They were given pirate gear and life jackets, and they took a pontoon boat to different spots (one was the Contemporary, but truly I don’t know where else they went), trying to find a treasure. It’s a neat activity for them, and while Kate gave us the “I’m waaaaaay too old and cool for this” attitude, she mentioned things about it the rest of the trip, so I know she enjoyed it. Sam, of course, had a ball. Also, this gave Andy and me a couple hours to hang out together on our own, which was nice – even though we are such exciting people that we ate breakfast and then sat on a bench and waited for them to come back. This experience costs $31.95 per child.
Disney’s Fireworks Specialty Cruise Discover the perfect getaway for an extra special celebration or just a relaxing day out on the water. Choose from the Fireworks Cruise, which ends with a spectacular view of a Walt Disney World Resort fireworks show, or the Intimate Dining Cruise to savor a succulent meal. Both set sail from select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Explore our famed waterways with a variety of watercraft, including pontoon boats and a yacht. Set a course for the destination of your choice and launch into an unforgettable experience.
I booked this Fireworks Cruise as a surprise for my family – not even Andy knew what I had up my sleeve. It was sort of an “impulse buy,” if you will, because I called to book the Pirates and Pals cruise (more on that in a minute), which was already full and the nice Cast Member I talked to suggested I book this instead. We had spent the evening at Epcot, and after dinner we went to the Yacht Club, which is an easy walk. Three or four pontoon boats were docked and ready to go. My family boarded ours (and we had the best driver ever – I wish I could remember his name. He was on the construction crew that built Disneyland and pretty much knew everything about everything), got settled with our life jackets and the snacks and drinks that were provided, and set off to tour the lagoon around Hollywood Studios. We headed back toward Epcot, where we parked just past the bridge to the Boardwalk, for a front-row view of Illumniations, Epcot’s end-of-the-night display. Overall, it was a great experience. Andy loved it – the next day he told me he just kept thinking about the boat ride from the night before. However, I think some of the magic was lost on the kids. They thought it was neat, but not great – and for the price, I was looking for GREATEST. To be honest, if we had it to do over again I probably wouldn’t – at least in that particular situation. If we had been with another couple or two or had been looking for a place to have a birthday celebration (or to get engaged. Someone should do that, for real), I think it would be great. My biggest hang-up was the cost, so I don’t think I was looking at it objectively. Andy didn’t know how much it was, and like I said, he loved it! I believe it was $290 (I’ve tried to block the exact amount out of my mind), and I tipped the driver as well.
Disney’s Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage Sail the Seven Seas Lagoon on a voyage that comes alive with boisterous song, swashbuckling tales of adventure, daring Never Land pirates and dazzling fireworks off the starboard bow! Take your young seafarer by the hand and head to the docks, where Captain Hook and the bumbling Mr. Smee are waiting to give everyone a proper send-off, complete with photo opportunities. Then “shove off” onto the glimmering waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon for a journey, the likes of which you won’t forget! Experience: The refreshing humor of your comical pirate host, Patch, who leads you in merry song and high–energy Disney trivia games.
Magic Kingdom Fireworks, enjoyed from a perfect vantage on the water. Watch as the sky over Cinderella Castle lights up in a brilliant fireworks extravaganza, accompanied by music and breathtaking pyrotechnic effects—the most elaborate in Magic Kingdom theme park history! On the return trip, Patch regales you with the story of daring young Peter Pan. Not only is the tale a fitting conclusion to your journey, but a clue that points to one final surprise on the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. To everyone’s delight, a very special guest waits on shore and warmly welcomes you back.
As I said, I originally wanted to book this experience but it was booked – but I called while we were there to see if any spots had opened up, and we were in luck. The Pirates & Pals Cruise started at the Contemporary Resort, where there’s a pirate party in one of the ball rooms. They gave our entire family pirate gear to wear, and the room was full of food and drinks, which were all included in the price – even cooler full of Mickey ice cream bars! Before long, Captain Hook and Smee joined us, and all the kids lined up for pictures and autographs. I read somewhere that that’s the only place to see Captain Hook, but I can’t confirm that. Anyway, after everyone had a chance to take pictures, the characters hung around and played games with the kids. They had a fabulous time – and we weren’t even on the boat yet. Once we got on the pontoon (with, I would estimate, 30 other people), our guide “Patch” kept us all entertained with jokes, songs and trivia games. He was really fantastic. We viewed the Electric Water Pageant (which was much cooler in 1984, I must say) and then got a front row view of Wishes, the evening fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom. Patch played games with the kids on the way back, and most of them got prizes (most of them including Sam but not Kate, which she actually handled fairly well), and then told the story of Peter Pan. And guess who was waiting for us upon our return?
The Pirates & Pals cruise was a highlight of the trip for all of us, and I’d recommend it to anyone (except possibly adults going without children. Unless you really want Captain Hooks autograph… which, let’s face it, some adults do). It was $30.99 each for the kids and $53.99 each for adults – but worth every penny.