Thursday, October 23, 2014

National Archives

Date of Visit: October 23, 2014

The main reason we visited the National Archives was because we had thought there was a War of 1812 exhibit there closing soon. Apparently, we were wrong or somehow we totally missed it. However, in the half a dozen times I have visited the Archives I have always found there is great temporary exhibit in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery and the current one definitely did not disappoint us.

The exhibit is called  "Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures." It features a variety of items that feature signatures including sports items given to Presidents (Lakers jersey and Giants World Series bat), letters to Presidents from other famous people (Johnny Cash, etc.), and laws. There is also an interesting part about electronic signatures and duplication machines.

Of course, you cannot go to the Archives and not also go through the Rotunda, which is wheelchair accessible through the exit. Seeing the original Declaration of Independence and Constitution is nice; but Mik's favorite part is actually the murals. Also, he was much more impressed by the Declaration of Independence being engraved inside the elevator doors and he has declared them his new favorite elevator doors (so I guess he's solved his dilemma with the Huntsville Airport elevator ranking).

Destination Info:
National Archives
Constitution Ave NW (between 7th & 9th Avenue)
Washington, DC

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 7 – See Ya’ Real Soon Dinner at Animator’s Palate

Date of Visit: October 3, 2014

On our last night and second evening at Animator's Palate we got to see how it really is different dining in the newer Animator's Palate. The concept of drawing a character and them coming to life at the end of the evening is definitely interesting. The cartoons and music playing on the screens during the meal is also nice, but they are also too much entertainment and Mik kept forgetting to eat his food because he was mesmerized by the clips from Disney movies and cartoons.

Mik tried the evening's non-alcoholic specialty drink called Kissss. He was surprised he liked it so much as he normally doesn't like pomegranate.

He enjoyed the Macaroni Cheese and Baked Potato Soup course.

For the main course he enjoyed the Roasted Filet of Beef Wellington. He did not like the mushroom puff pastry outside, but it was easy to avoid that part.

Mik loves finishing the cruises with the Baked Alaska dessert, although it was somewhat disappointed that they did not parade out with the cakes flaming like ever other Disney Cruise we've been on.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 5 – Pirate Dinner at Royal Court

Date of Visit: October 1, 2014

Mik enjoyed the Pirates Golden “Pot Stickers” as his appetizer.

He had the Caribbean-style Conch Chowder for the soup/salad course, which he didn’t particularly like.

For the main course he had The Dutchmen’s Dijon Crusted Sirloin of Beef, which he enjoyed as usual. He was not sure about getting it because it came with sweet potatoes, but we said he did not have to eat those. However, he tried them and for once he actually liked sweet potatoes.

For dessert he had his typical sundae. This time it was the Crunch Time Sundae. He wasn’t sure about the rum raisin ice cream part, but he enjoyed it because he mostly tasted the pineapple.

He also enjoyed my birthday mousse cake, which he had been looking forward to and claimed way back when we booked this cruise when we were on our last cruise in June 2013.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 5 – Guardians of the Galaxy 3D in Walt Disney Theater

Date of Visit: October 1, 2014

Mik mostly stuck to enjoying the stateroom and watching the on demand movies in the room this trip; but the one thing that excited him was the opportunity to see the Guardians of the Galaxy 3D movie. The movie was shown in the Walt Disney Theater as the evening show.

Dad noticed there were some wheelchair spots in the lower section and instead of asking how to get there he just took Mik down the steps, which really is not that hard, but seriously why would there be spots down there if there was not an accessible way to get down there. Of course, there is and after the show they asked and had to wait for someone to come that had the keys and could take them the accessible route out, which involves calling the bridge to go through some waterlock doors and going through crew quarters. Definitely worthwhile, though, as Mik was able to see the whole screen and really enjoy the movie unlike when we sat at the top of the theater to see Monsters University on the Magic.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 4 – Prince and Princess Dinner at Enchanted Garden

Date of Visit: September 30, 2014

Mik tried the Beast’s Potato and Sausage Casserole Soup for the soup/salad course. He did not like it because it seemed too bland.

For the main course he had the Peppercorn Crusted New York Strip, which he loved.

Since the sundae for the evening had Rocky Road Ice Cream and nothing else interested him, he skipped the dessert.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 3 – Pacific Rim Cuisine at Animator’s Palate

Date of Visit: September 29, 2014

The third evening was our evening for the Pacific Rim Cuisine at Animator’s Palate. The Finding Nemo theme with Crush and the screens doing the shapes with the fish is interesting, but as a Sorcerer Mickey fan I much prefer the original Animator’s Palate show. Yeah, you kind of got that on our second visit, but the way the original Animator’s slowly goes from black and white to color is much more interesting in our opinion.

Mik decided to try the evening’s specialty non-alcoholic cocktail, which was called the Bora Shake. He has tried a couple different specialty cocktails on the cruises over the years, but his favorite has always been the Lemonaska from the Alaskan Cruise. That is it was his favorite until he tried the Bora Shake, which is now his favorite he’s had on the Disney Cruises.

Mik had the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes for his appetizer, which must have been really good because I never even got a chance to take a picture of it.

For the soup/salad course, he had the Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup, which he only had a few bites of because he thought it tasted too much like nacho cheese.

For the main course, he had the Pennete Bolognese, which he also did not really like. I had the Seared Red Snapper, which both him and Dad tried a bite of and they both wished they had got that.

His soup and main course selection might have been duds for him, but his dessert selection was a guaranteed good one, as it was his favorite sundae (Cookies & Cream). We also got a special Spider chocolate mousse dessert since it was the Halloween evening on the ship.

San Gervasio Mayan Ruins

Date of Visit: September 29, 2014

Mik has long been interested in the Mayans. Thus, while we knew the ruins were not likely to be very accessible, we decided it was worth trying to see as much of it as we could with him. There are two entrance points with the first being basically just a shopping area for $5 per person and then the next being the ruins for $4 per person. They only take cash and thankfully Mik got in free because we ended up only having just enough cash for three people.

The first area has ramps to the left of the buildings to access the area and then get back to the ruins area. The ramps aren’t that great and are rather steep; but very accessible compared to what you end up going through in the ruins area.

In the ruins area the ground is definitely uneven, but there is a decent amount of the sidewalk style path that is not too bad.  The pathway does have steps at points, but only one at a time. However, there were a few places that were definitely rough with big rocks to maneuver through. One of the roughest adventures we have done in a long time, but totally worth it.

Mik had a great time exploring what we could. Not sure how much we really missed, but we definitely saw enough in the hour we were there and left more because it was hot and humid and Mik was tired of getting bit up by mosquitos rather than because we had explored everywhere we could get Mik to.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 3 – Cozumel Private Vehicle w/ Lift Port Adventure

Date of Visit: September 29, 2014

I kept going back and forth on doing any port adventure in Cozumel, but two weeks before the trip I went to look at the options and since I could book the private vehicle w/ lift option online I finally just went ahead and did it. I am glad we did because while we only used it for two hours, we had a great family adventure at the Mayan ruins.

The private vehicle w/ lift was really just an accessible taxi. The driver was a great guide, though, so they clearly are experienced taking people around as guides.

The lift was in the back and there were two bench rows of seats in front. He did have to duck his head when going in, though, which was sort of inconvenient. Good thing we didn’t bring the power chair, as that would have never worked in the vehicle or at the Mayan ruins.

There were no tie downs, but it must not have been too bad because Mik did not freak out that much and he is known to freak out on the Walt Disney World buses and Super Shuttles where they do use great tie down techniques. There also weren’t any working seat belts, so it’s not like the other passengers were any safer.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 3 – Driving Pirate Ship on Deck 5

Date of Visit: September 29, 2014

While waiting for our private vehicle port adventure to start, Mik and I took a little stroll around Deck 5 Midship and discovered a fun Peter Pan themed “painting.” It had a ship wheel in front of it and when you spun it the painting came to life and you could steer the ship around the lagoon. Mik really enjoyed playing with it and was proud to say he did not run the ship aground, as I had tried it first and did not realize you were really controlling the ship and ended up with it sort of stuck on one edge.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 2 – French Cuisine at Royal Court

Date of Visit: September 28, 2014

The second evening we were in the Royal Court restaurant, which has steps at the main entrance. The accessible entrance is on the port side.

Mik tried the Duck Confit as his appetizer.

For the soup/salad, he had the Potage Parmentier (potato and leek soup)

For dinner he enjoyed the Chateaubrand-Roasted Filet Steak. He also enjoyed having the server cut it up for him, which I remember him having done all last cruise and did not get why Dad did it the first night when the servers will gladly do it for anyone that asks (and they also offer to do it often).

Mik could not decide on just one dessert, so he had the Peanut Butter Mousse and the Strawberry Shortcake Sundae. He enjoyed both, but especially the peanut butter mousse because it was tasted like Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 1 – Continental Market Cuisine at Enchanted Garden

Date of Visit: September 27, 2014

Our first dinner was in the Enchanted Garden with the restaurant’s Continental Market menu.

For the appetizer Mik enjoyed the Lobster Ravioli.

For the soup/salad portion he went with the Heirloom Tomato Soup, which he ended up only having a few bites of because it had too much basil for his liking.

He loved the Slow Roasted Prime Rib he choose for the main course.

Mik went with the Apple Cinnamon Crunch Sundae for dessert, which he enjoyed, although not as much as other sundaes he ended up having on the cruise. There were also some little chocolate and jelly things they brought for dessert.

The food was good as usual, but the real fun thing about the Enchanted Garden is the ceiling/sky changes and the flower lights open up as you proceed through dinner.

Disney Fantasy Caribbean Cruise: Day 1 – Senses Spa & Salon Haircut

Date of Visit: September 27, 2014

Mik had been in major need of a haircut for probably going on two months and about a week ago Dad decided why not just get it cut on the cruise. Thus, as soon as the spa was open we made Mik an appointment to get his haircut. Mik enjoyed getting it styled, but most of all he enjoyed it for the scalp massage part. Sure it was more expensive than back home, but it was not that much more and he got a scalp massage. Plus, he looked good for family pictures the rest of the trip.

Disney Fantasy: Stateroom 8184

Date of Visit: September 27-October 4, 2014

This was our fourth Disney Cruise and our first on one of the newer ships. We enjoyed the back of the ship on our first cruise and have stuck with it ever since. To some extent the older ships are nicer because they are smaller; but accessibility wise the Fantasy is much better than when we have been on the Magic and Wonder (Magic is probably nicer now than when we were last on it, though).

The common area accessibility is not much different overall other than the bathrooms tend to have accessible stalls rather than companion ones. However, the stateroom has many nice accessibility touches that make a huge difference.

First off, when you use your key to open the door the door automatically opens. Inside there is also a button to open it or you can just start pulling it open and it activates the power opening. It’s a little slow to wait and make sure it closes before you leave; but definitely a helpful feature that I now want on our condo door.

The room is very spacious, but Mik was disappointed the space is in the stateroom rather than having a giant walk-in closet like he was used to on the other ships. He liked using the walk-in closest as a room.

The closet itself is cool, though, as it is designed so you can pull the top row of hangers out and down.

The verandah was nice and huge. We also liked that it was a regular style door rather than a sliding door. That makes it more accessible for getting in and out. The only issue is that the door seemed to tend to open on its own if you did not get it pulled closed just right and the lock is up high. I get that for child safety reasons; but it would be nice if they put an upper and lower lock so you could use just the lower one if you don’t need it for child safety reasons.

The bathroom is nothing special. In fact, it kind of seems smaller than the ones we have had on the Wonder and Magic. However, the layout does work out to be easier to navigate when we did want to take the wheelchair in there. Also, the shower is nice with a flip down grab bar as well as a flip down seat.

We still wish they had the flip down bar right by the toilet like we once had on the Wonder. While there is a grab bar on the wall to the right of toilet, it is not all that close to toilet and for Mik it’s nice to have something on both sides or at least on the left.

Two other things we noticed different is that there were constellations painted above the bed that comes out from the ceiling and there is space under the bed for storing stuff (or in Mik’s case it’s for hiding Dad’s shoes).