Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Walt Disney World: Downtown Disney - AMC Dine-In Theatre

AMC Dine-In TheaterDate of Visit: July 31, 2011

Mik and Dad discovered that the AMC in Downtown Disney had Dine-In theaters and Mik just had to try it out.  There are several spots for wheelchairs in the last row.  However, the way they are set up does not work well if the group is more than one person with the wheelchair.  The seating is mostly in groups of four.  The set up for the wheelchair areas has theaters seats on the side and two wheelchair spots in the middle.  While it is nice it allows for two wheelchairs to sit next to each other, it made for an awkward empty area between us.  It would be better have the two seats in the middle or have portable chairs available for companions like they do at a lot of ballparks.

Overall the Dine In theater was a fun experience, but it has one big problem.  The biggest issue is the theater chairs are far away from the table, so you cannot really easily eat using the table.  Mik actually had a better experience because he could roll up just like a regular table and enjoy eating just fine.

The food is a definite plus and way better than a regular theater snack bar.  Plus, you still can get the regular theater stuff with the bonus of a waiter who can bring it to you during the movie instead of having to go refill the popcorn yourself.  Not necessarily worth the price every movie, but if you are going to do dinner and a movie in Downtown Disney anyways this is a great deal.

Destination Info:
Downtown Disney
1490 East Buena Vista Dr
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Monday, August 29, 2011

Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios - The Great Movie Ride

Great Movie RideDate of Visit: July 2011

The Great Movie Ride is a fun ride through various movie scenes.  The line queue is fun with you going by some props from movies including a carousel horse from Mary Poppins.  It is a nice long ride and a good way to escape the hot humid Orlando weather for a little bit.

Great Movie Ride
All the vehicles for the Great Movie Ride have room for wheelchairs in the back.  This area has wide open area to the right of two benches and probably could fit two wheelchairs with the group being able to sit right next to them.

Destination Info:
Disney's Hollywood Studios - The Great Movie Ride
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disneyland: Mark Twain Riverboat

Mark Twain Riverboat RideDate of Visit: August 22, 2011

With all the times we have visited Disneyland, neither Mik nor I could ever remember going on the Mark Twain Riverboat.  I probably did when I was little, but I really doubt we ever took Mik on it before.  Thus on this trip, Mik and I decided to finally go on it.  Of course, we were almost thwarted because when we went over to it first thing in the morning it was temporarily down.  Luckily, it was back up and going within a few hours and we did end up getting to try it out.
Mark Twain Riverboat Ride

They had the wheelchairs load onto the boat first.  Note the boat is not level with the dock and they have you load on backwards.  When we got off they did not seem to care when we unloaded just that you also go backwards going off.  Definitely not a ride to go on when the tippers are on, as they certainly would have been in the way. but we usually leave them off when Mik is not wheeling himself anyways.
Mark Twain Riverboat Ride

The ride around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain is not all that exciting, but it is a relaxing break from walking around the park and gives a different look at the areas around the River including some parts you can only see from the boat rides (canoes, Columbia, Mark Twain).


Overall the Mark Twain Riverboat is not a bad ride, but you really cannot explore the boat and are stuck on the bottom level with the wheelchair.  One time around every once and a while might be worthwhile, but it would be much cooler if they worked out a way to get wheelchairs up on the Columbia.  Going around the Rivers of America on a pirate ship seems so much cooler!!


Destination Info:
Disneyland
1313 South Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Walt Disney World: All Star Music Resort

All Star Music ResortDate of Visit: July 27-August 1, 2011

We have never cared about accessible hotel rooms, as they do not really help Mik other than the roll in shower.  Plus, Mik finds handicap raised toilets harder for him. Also, we have heard the accessible rooms are in high demand at Disney World and others actually need them. Thus we never even tried to get an accessible room for the All Star Music Resort.  It was not horrible without, but i certainly would not stay there again without an accessible room.

Jazz Inn at All Star Music Resort
As a budget hotel the rooms are extra small.  We have stayed at budget hotels before, but never anything this small with Mik.  The room was barely big enough to have a place to put the wheelchair anywhere you wouldn't trip over it.  It certainly could barely fit anywhere past the area near the window and door, as the bed was so close to TV stand.  Luckily Mik preferred to relax on the floor and take a break from his chair anyways.

The bathroom is not that big, but that was expected and not really an issue.  I was just surprised at the limited area to move about the room.

We liked that to get to the food court the building had motion sensor sliding automatic doors, so no need for a button.  The same type of doors lead out to the buses from the lobby.  The food court was sometimes hard to navigate through with the crowds and minimal space in the ordering area, but there is plenty of seating and the service was great.  One day Mik got a taco salad and because he could not see what the toppings and such were the CM went through the options one by one asking if he wanted that on his salad.  Plus, since he didn't want certain things she gave extra of the things he liked.

First thing we got at the food court was refillable mugs.  They costs about $15 each, but you get unlimited refills during your stay and we certainly got our money's worth out of them.

Line for Buses from All Star Music Resort
The bus transportation to the resorts worked our pretty good during our stay.  There are lines depending on where you want to go and most have a line specifically for wheelchairs.  However, a few do not.  We did not wait in the regular line for those without one, as they still need to load the wheelchair first and that did not make sense to us.  Instead we found waiting by the sign for these lines worked fine.

Bus to Theme Parks
Note that sometimes the buses arrive full still needing to drop off passengers at the All Star Movie resort and you end up having to wait for the next one.  Also, I noticed every once in a while Cruise Line buses were being used.  These buses are not the ones with lifts.  Luckily, none of the times it affected us, but I felt bad for the two people who had been waiting for a bus that still had to wait when I was leaving Magic Kingdom one night by myself.  However, it does seem these are added in addition to the regular ones to help when the bus lines get long for certain routes and accessible ones still come around at normal intervals.
Bus to Theme Parks
Most buses are kneeling buses with ramps that flip out.  However, some are still old style with a lift.  All can accommodate at least 2 wheelchairs/scooters and some can handle 3.

Destination Info:
Disney's All Star Music Resort
Walt Disney World
1801 West Buena Vista Drive
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Saturday, August 20, 2011

D23 Expo 2011: Mickey's of Glendale

Mickey's of Glendales souvenirsDate: August 20, 2011

We almost did not go to the Mickey's of Glendale shop because I asked Mik if he wanted to go in as we exited the Carousel of Projects and he did not say anything.  Then as we were about to leave the Expo I asked if there was anything left he wanted to see/do and he said the Mickey's of Glendale shop, so we went back to it.  We were glad we did, but it was not a fun experience.

The Mickey's of Glendale shop is very crammed with displays and merchandise.  Even without the crowds of people it would barely be navigable with the wheelchair.  Add people and we got stuck being unable to go any direction for 5 minutes.  I ended up leaving Mik in one stop and looking at the stuff.  Luckily, I found a must have pin for Mik's collection that made the whole experience worth it in hindsight.  It was a Sorcerer Grumpy pin for Mik's Grumpy (Mik's favorite Disney character) pin collection.

Grumpy Sorcerer
It was not fun to be stuck once I came back to him with what we wanted and were trying to get out of the shop, but Mik has keeps bringing up how happy he is to have a new Grumpy pin for his collection, so it was worth the hassle with it being the highlight of the trip for him.  The funny thing is when I came back to him and handed him the Grumpy pin, he gave me a weird look like is the pin your getting what about one for me?  Sorcerer Mickey is my favorite character (I do not collect every pin, though, as too many feature him) and he thought the Sorcerer Grumpy was a Sorcerer Micky pin.  Once he figured out how awesome it was to finally have a new Grumpy pin (its been over a year since he has found one he did not already have), he was speechless until of course he could not stop bringing it up as we were walking to hotel/Disneyland and waiting in line for rides.

We both also ended up selecting a Carousel of Projects pin to buy at Mickey's of Glendale.  Mik also got a red Sorcerer Mickey tumbler cup and I got a magnet with Sorcerer Mickey and a Smashed Penny Mystery Pin (ended up being the New Year's one and not of interest to me, but maybe another thing I could trade).

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

D23 Expo 2011: Carousel of Projects

Date: August 20, 2011

We got to the Carousel of Projects right before the Expo opened to the public.  It was a little wait to go into the little room that shows a quick movie.  The movie was not that interesting and we ended up stuck in the back because they held the wheelchairs off to the side and ended up in last with others cutting ahead.  Mik was annoyed that he could not see anything, but I could pretty much see everything and it really was not like he missed anything great, although it was kind of cool how the exit thing worked with Tinkerbell opening the curtain to the exhibit.

Carousel of Projects
Inside the exhibit area it was quite kind of crowded, but it was not too bad to go around and see everything.  I liked seeing the concept vehicles for the new Carsland, especially watching the firetruck's eyes.  However, we actually are not interested in the new land, as it does not seem any of the new rides will be the type that can be accessible, although the flying saucer style one Mik would try if we brought along someone to transfer him.

Carousel of Projects
Mik loved seeing the concept vehicle for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride for the new Fantasyland area at Disney World.  We knew about the ride and he is not actually interested in it, as he is not into roller coasters, but he loves Grumpy and liked seeing him as one of the dwarfs in the ride vehicle.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

D23 Expo 2011: Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives

Treasures ExhibitDate: August 20, 2011

After shopping at the Treasure Trove shop, we headed back around to go through the Treasures exhibit.  The exhibit was nice and empty considering it was still only about 10 minutes after the Expo opened for members and people were mostly downstairs for the Arena or maybe had just done it yesterday already.  This was our favorite part of the Expo mainly because there were no crowds to deal with, but also it was set up with more space to move around than most other exhibits/stores.

Treasures exhibitTreasures Exhibit

The exhibit featured a variety of props from Disney movies and shows.  Our favorite part was the props from the National Treasure movies.  We also liked the Tron area, but thought it would have been cooler with the motorcycle or maybe a lightcycle.   The props from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie were also interesting, but the they had a much larger exhibit of the 4th movie props in the main exhibit hall.  Other movies/shows represented included Hocus Pocus, Zorro, Rocketeer, Lost, and Roger Rabbit.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

D23 Expo 2011: Treasure Trove

Treasure Trove souvenirsDate: August 20, 2011

Today they let the D23 line in way before 9am to line up inside for the areas you wanted to go right at 9am.  The first level was very crowded with people wanting to go to the Arena, so we decided to go up to the Treasure exhibit first.  We ended up getting in the Treasure Trove store line first, since yesterday the lines for the stores got bad quickly.

Inside the Treasure Trove store there was plenty of room to navigate and it was also pleasantly not very crowded because very few cam up to the Treasures area first thing.  Mik ended up getting the Snow White Book pin and I got a D23 Expo magnet.

The checkout queue was not bad because it was not very long, but it was set up barely wide enough to even turn Mik's wheelchair for the turns.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

Friday, August 19, 2011

D23 Expo 2011: First Day Issue Disney Stamps

D23 Expo Disney First Day of Issue StampsDate: August 19, 2011


I was excited to learn that the newest Disney stamp sheets were being First Day Issued at the Expo.  We did not end up hanging around long enough to even think about lining up for the ceremony, but I did end up buying them, which was more what I wanted anyways.  The line was much shorter than the ones for the Disney shops, but it actually moved so slow it at least seemed as long as the one for the Disney Store.  It turned out it was pretty much a full service USPS booth, so they were actually packaging and shipping stuff and not just selling the stamps.

I bought a sheet of 20 to go with my collection that includes all the other Disney stamp sheets issued so far.  I also ended up getting the D23 Expo First Day Issue envelope featuring the Buzz Lightyear stamp.  I debated about getting the stamped envelopes, but liked the D23 Expo ones better and it did not seem worth paying for the whole set.  I kind of wanted the stamped postcards, but I only wanted to have one to mail for my postmarked postcard collection and it was not worth buying 19 extra just to do that.

The line itself was accessible, but when we got to the front I ended up leaving Mik off to the side, as he would have blocked the path for others to get to the other counters if they opened up.  Not to mention it would have been awkward to get him back out with the minimal space to go through the counter area and since he was not interested in the stamps it did not matter to him to not go to the counter.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

D23 Expo 2011: Dream Store

D23 Dream Store PurchaseDate: August 19, 2011

After getting through the Disney Store at the Expo, we headed over to the Dream Store.  The line for this store was much longer just to get in and then was quite ridiculous inside.  At first we were regretting not going there first, but it all worked out okay in the end because we still got the pins we wanted.

The Dream Store was technically laid out more roomier to navigate through than the Disney Store, but it was extremely crowded and the line weaved around through it making it way worse to navigate.  To browse the store we had to cut across the line.  Then to get into the line, we had to cut across twice to find the end.  I think they should have been better limited the crowd inside or have better thought out how the line should go around if people are also trying to wander around browsing in the area the line is winding through.

It took us about an hour to just get into the Dream Store.  We then soon realized we just needed to get in line because we only wanted pins.  Getting through that line took us about 90 minutes.  It did seem like forever, but it ended up being worth it because Mik got the pin he really wanted as did I.  Mik got the Star Tours Piece of History Pin.  I got the Sorcerer Mickey Annual Pass Exclusive D23 Expo pin.  We were also pleasantly surprised that we got to save 20% here with out Annual Pass just like when we shop in the parks.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

D23 Expo 2011: Disney Store

Disney Store PurchaseDate: August 19, 2011


After waiting in line for 9am early entry to the Expo and taking about 20 minutes to move up in line enough to be inside the D23 Expo, we began tackling the shopping.  We started with about a 20 minute line for the Disney Store.  The line into the store area was wheelchair accessible.  Inside the store it was mostly accessible, although it was hard to get to the edges.  However, the stuff on the edges was mostly extras of stuff you could get from the middle area.

Mik and I have both avoided buying Vinylmation in the past.  We have looked, but the only ones I ever sort of watned were the penguins, but they are both part of series that you do not know what you get until after you buy and open it.  Mik has really been wanting a Vinylmation for his miniature collection, but only saw one he actually liked yesterday at Disneyland.  However, we both refused to buy anything  until after the Expo.

25th Disney Store Anniversary Vinylmation
There was not much of interest for us in the Disney Store, but Mik instantly wanted the Vinylmation.  It is a cool silver 25th Disney Store Anniversary one.  What he really liked was it also came with a pin.  I ended up also getting one because I wanted a pin and did not like the big one sold on its own.  It was about the same price as just the big pin, so I figure I might just sell the Vinylmation or maybe I could trade it for a penguin one.  Maybe, I will just keep it, though, as it is kind of cool.

Jiminy Cricket Ornament
Mik also fell in love with the Expo exclusive 25th Anniversary ornaments.  He thought for sure I would want the Sorcerer Mickey one, but I felt it was too pink looking.  Mik thought about getting it anyways, but ended up settling on the Jiminy Cricket one.  I kind of thought he would go for the Buzz Lightyear one, but it also had pink, which was even odder.

When we got to the checkout line, I was worried it would be annoying because it was set up with little room to go through the queue.  I thought we might have to keep moving the pedestals like we had to at the Twins Team Shop.  However, when we got to entering it the Cast Member had us cut the line to the front.  It was still kind of awkward because we had to go against traffic coming out to the register and then after paying had minimal room to turn around and get out, but everyone was friendly and it was better than having to try to squeeze through the queue.

Destination:
D23 Expo
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Ave
Anaheim, CA

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Goofy's Galley

Ice Cream from Goofy's Galley
Date of Visit: July 2011

Goofy's Galley was our favorite place to get breakfast on the cruise.  Mik especially liked the little croissants, which had chocolate in them.  They also had yogurt, parfaits, other baked goods, and various fruit.

Chocolate CroissantBreakfast from Goofy's GalleyBreakfast from Goofy's Galley

The best part of Goofy's Galley though is the self serve soft serve ice cream.  Only one machine was working the whole trip, so it was easy for the line to get long, especially in the afternoon.  Also, annoyingly the machines were often closed in the late evening even though the navigator said they were open until 11pm.  There are cones to out the ice cream in right by it, but you can also go get a cup from the soda area to use.  Too bad they don't have root beer, though, as it would be great to make a root beer float.

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Pinocchio Pizzeria

Pinocchio's Pizzeria

Date of Visit: July 2011

We only had the pizza once or twice on the cruise.  The slices are rather small, but you can ask for the amount you want.  The pizza is not bad, but it is not all that great either.  Also, we found it easily got cold since it was cold outside and they didn't were often only just warm when served.  Definitely, does not work out well for getting and carrying back to the cabin to eat.

Pinocchio's Pizzeria

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Pluto's Doghouse

Pluto's Dog House
Date of Visit: July 2011

Pluto's Doghouse was our favorite place to get lunch on the ship.  I enjoyed the veggie burgers and the fish burger was okay.  Mik liked the hot dogs and burgers.  It was nice you could put what you wanted on it and how much on your own with the toppings bar.
Veggie BurgerPluto's DoghouseFish Burger

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Cabin 7138

Cabin 7138Roll in Closet 
Date of Visit: July 12-19, 2011

On our Alaskan cruise we were in cabin 7138 at the back of the Disney Wonder.  The cabin big enough for Mik to roll around everywhere.  The closet is even a nice big roll in one, which was a great place to put the wheelchair out of the way when Mik wanted to be on the floor or bed.

Bathroom Cabin 7138Accessible Bathroom

Mik really enjoyed that the toilet set up was almost like home, as the grab bar comes down from the wall and ends up being right next to you.  At home he has ones like that on both sides of the toilet so he can go by himself.  He could almost do it with the one in the cabin, but not quite.  However, he was very excited to find the one time we went in the accessible restroom on Deck 3 they do in fact have them on both sides, although kind of far apart.

Roll in Shower

The shower is a flat roll in style one, but it kind of sucks.  The bench looks unstable with the feet barely seeming to reach the ground, but Mik said when on it seemed fine.  However, the real issue is the shower grab bar is behind the fold down seat, so he could not lean back and thus really had nothing to help him sit up.  Of course, he is lazy and sitting on the edge is just the kind of thing he should be doing more of to improve his balance, but definitely means only try taking a shower when in port if balance is poor.

Sink in Cabin

Another problem Mik had with the bathroom was the sink was very awkward to roll up to with the pipe under the sink being in the way.

The room has a bed, a couch that folds down to a bed, and beds that come out of the wall.  Be sure to leave nothing on the couch bed when the stateroom host comes in to clean.  We had been playing Monopoly and left some of the cards and money on the couch and came back later to find them missing.  We finally figured out they had flipped the bed around to make up and the cards and money were under the couch along with some trash and such from previous people.  Definitely, not fun to have to fish the stuff out, but at least we found everything.

Playing Monopoly in Cabin

The little table in the room was great for playing Disney Monopoly on, which we bought on the cruise after wanting it for years.  There is a lever under the table that we used to raise it up as far as it goes, which was just high enough for Mik to roll under.

Out on VerandahVerandah

The verandah had plenty of room for Mik to go on it in his wheelchair, although he preferred to mostly stay in the cabin watching Disney movies on the various channels.  Opening the sliding door is rather awkward, though, as the handle is made to turn upwards when you pull to the left, but you have to keep it in the down position to open the door because it being up locks it.  Also, there is a top lock, but it was not ever engaged except when we did it.  The stateroom host can leave it undone if it happens to be locked when you arrive and you cannot reach it.

Overall we love the cabins at the back of the boat.  Of course, we do not know how it compares to the rest of the ship, as we have only ever stayed in the back accessible cabins.  We like then, so see no reason to try anything different.  The only problem this cruise was that the open deck in the middle of the back was sometimes quite loud.  Surprisingly, it was not an issue the day we sailed through the fjords and it was crowded, but it was annoying the two times the kids club was out there and they were encouraging the kids to yell to say stuff.  We are hoping that on our next cruise by being on the corner instead of middle we will be far enough away to avoid that annoyance if they do it again.  I do not remember anything like that happening on our Caribbean cruise.

Mik really enjoyed getting the towel animals in the room every evening.  The chocolates are nice, too, but really it was the towel animals he liked seeing every evening when we returned.

Towel AnimalTowel AnimalTowel AnimalTowel AnimalTowel Animal

Disney Wonder Alaska Cruise: Till We Meet Again in Triton's

Till We Meet Again in Triton's
Date of Visit: July 18, 2011

The final dinner of our Alaskan cruise was in Triton's.  The final meal is called Til We Meet Again.

Till We Meet Again in Triton'sTill We Meet Again in Triton's

For the appetizer Mik enjoyed the Grilled Chicken Sate and I had the Tuna Sashimi, which was probably my favorite thing of the whole cruise.


Till We Meet Again in Triton'sTill We Meet Again in Triton's

Mik had the steak, which was not anything special, but good steak nonetheless.  I tried the Vegetable Strudel, which seemed interesting yet ended up being rather bland.

Till We Meet Again in Triton'sTill We Meet Again in Triton's

The final dessert menu featured the famous Baked Alaska, which the cooks all come out and parade around the dining room with the servers carrying flags.  Mik had the Baked Alaska and considered it one of his favorite desserts of the cruise.

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