Sunday, August 30, 2020

Uncrowded V.S. Convenient: Which Class of Poolside Quick-Service Restaurants is Better?

If you've been on at least one of each class of Disney cruise ships, the Magic-class (Magic and Wonder) and the Dream-class (Dream and Fantasy), you probably know that the poolside quick-service restaurants have different layouts between classes.  The poolside restaurants on the Magic-class ships are spread across Deck 9, while they're grouped together in Flo's Café on Deck 11 on the Dream-class ships.  Both layouts have their advantages and disadvantages, but, which layout is better?  Let's find out.

All four ships have three main poolside restaurants.  There's one that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries.  This is Duck In Diner on the Magic, Pete's Boiler Bites on the Wonder, and Tow-Mater's Grill on the Dream-class ships.  There's also a restaurant serving pizza.  This is Pinocchio's Pizzeria on the Magic-class ships and Luigi's Pizza on the Dream-class ships.  The remaining restaurant serves food that's a bit more healthy, like sandwiches and salads.   This is Daisy's De-Lites on the Magic-class ships and Fillmore's Favorites on the Dream-class ships.  I won't be discussing Eye Scream or Frozone Treats and Sulley's Sips in this post, since they're very similar on all four ships.

Since the poolside restaurants on all four ships are very similar, the main difference is how they are laid out around the pool deck.

On the Magic-class ships, the quick-service restaurants are located all around the pools on Deck 9.  Having the restaurants in three separate and distinct locations spreads out crowds.  Instead of having just one place to get food, there are three.  If someone wants pizza, then they go to Pinocchio's, no question about it.  If someone wants French fries, then they go to Duck In Diner or Pete's Boiler Bites, nothing confusing about that.   It's simple and straightforward.  

Even though it's simple, this design does have its disadvantages.  What happens when someone wants food from more than one restaurant, like pizza and a sandwich?  Assuming it's around lunchtime, they'd likely have to wait in line for their pizza, then walk all the way over to Daisy's and probably wait in another line for the sandwich.  This can be a little inconvenient, but the Magic-class ships aren't ridiculously massive, so it's not too big of a deal.  Another potential issue is if a guest accidentally goes to one restaurant wanting something from another.  This would be somewhat irritating for them, but it could be avoided by looking at the dining section of the DCL Personal Navigator App.  The app is free and sometimes reliable, so use it!

Contrary to the layout on the Magic-class ships, the Dream-class has all of the poolside restaurants lined up together in Flo's Café, right outside of the Deck 11 Midship elevator lobby.  Next to the three Cars-themed restaurants is a condiment and topping station next to them.  There are also tables scattered around Flo's.  The biggest advantage to this design is that all of the poolside restaurants are together in one place.  It's incredibly convenient, especially if someone wants something from multiple restaurants.  Instead of having to walk to a completely different restaurant, they'd just have to walk up to the other counter.  It also eliminates the problem of going to the wrong restaurant that I mentioned earlier, because they're all right there!  

However, this major advantage is also a major disadvantage.  The problem is that it's too convenient.  With the three restaurants grouped together, crowds are common, especially around the middle of the day.  While the lines for food usually don't take too long, there are just so many people!  The crowd makes getting around the area difficult, especially when carrying a plate stacked high with fries.  Crowds are also probably annoying for adults just trying to pass through Flo's Café to get to the Quiet Cove.  Plus, finding a table can be a challenge.  Well, at least the food is good.

So, now that I've discussed both classes of DCL quick service restaurants, we can finally answer the age-old question.  Which layout is superior?

I prefer the Magic-class layout.  The three different locations usually aren't busy, and getting around them during popular times is much easier than on the Dream-class ships.  I don't dislike the Dream-class layout, but the lack of crowds on the older ships are why they win in my book.  I think the scattered layout works better on the smaller ships because, well, they're smaller, so all of the points of interest on the pool deck are pretty close to each other.  Even if someone wants food from multiple restaurants, they don't have to walk very far to get to each restaurant.  I'd be interested to see how this would work on a larger ship.

I'm hoping the Wish has a pool deck design similar to the Magic-class ships, partly because of the restaurant locations.  I'm currently working on a post about what I hope the Wish's pool deck will be like, so keep your eye out for that!

Which poolside restaurant design is your favorite?  Leave a comment if you'd like!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

I Watched Someone Ride the AquaDuck at Home and It Was Great

Today, while searching for something to blog about, I found a cool video uploaded by the official Disney Parks YouTube channel.
For maximum immersion, pour water on 
yourself and rock from side to side while watching.
It's a video of a ride on the Dream's AquaDuck!  Disney tried to trick me by opening with a shot of the Fantasy, but I've been on the AquaDuck enough to tell the two ships' versions apart.  On the Dream, the tube in the final section of the slide (at the 1:11 mark in the video above) is white.  However, on the Fantasy, this section of the tube is blue because of the AquaLab, which is a water feature that the Dream doesn't have.  Nice try, Disney, but you didn't fool me.

Anyway, in addition to the slide, the video includes facts about the slide.  Did you know the AquaDuck is 765 feet long?  And did you know it uses roughly 10,000 gallons of water every minute?  I didn't.  I always knew it uses a lot of water, but I never realized just how much it uses.  This means that after an hour of AquaDuck usage, it uses around 600,000 gallons of water!  The AquaDuck is my favorite feature of the Dream and Fantasy, so I'm really happy this was uploaded.

Talking about the AquaDuck got me thinking.  How can the Wish improve on this already great slide?  Well, let's consider what problems the AquaDuck has.  If someone gets stuck in the slide, it feels like an eternity until the line starts to move again.  To solve this problem, Disney's Imagineers could make the new version stuck-proof.  By examining where people get stuck most frequently (I'm assuming the two dips on the port side) and why they get stuck (probably from having insufficient weight), designers could eliminate riders getting stuck, or at least greatly reduce the amount of times it happens.  Also, lines for the AquaDuck can get pretty long, especially on days at sea.  A reasonable way to solve this would be to add alternatives to it, for example, smaller water slides like the Twist n' spout and Mickey's Slide.  They could even have an AquaDunk in addition to the AquaDunk if they wanted to go all out.  I just wish Disney would announce more about the Wish, because the anticipation of all of the possibilities is killing me!

If you want to watch more DCL videos, be sure to check out the Disney Parks YouTube channel and my post about Tangled:  The Musical.

Monday, August 17, 2020

I Think the Wall Is Trying to Tell Me Something

My family and I are currently on vacation. We're not on a Disney cruise, although I kind of wish we were.   I still can't believe cruises are canceled until November.  Since we aren’t on a cruise, we're renting a beach house in North Carolina. When we arrived at the house, I noticed that there were signal flags on the wallpaper in one of the bathrooms, and being the DCLKid, of course I had to find out what they said.

Using the key, can you translate the flags? You can click on the images to make them larger.

From left to right, these flags spell the alphabet! They spell "WXYZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZNOPQRSTUV". At first I just assumed the flags were just random letters, so it's cool that they're in an order that makes sense. But since when has N been after Z?  And why does it start with W?  Hmm, it must be a beach thing. 

If you want to decode more signal flag messages, here's where I made the shocking discovery that the flags represent letters and here's a collection of the signal flags I found on the Disney Fantasy and
Castaway Cay.  If my family’s cruise on the Fantasy in January doesn’t get canceled, then I’ll continue the search for more signal flags!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Reopening the Youth Clubs Reasonably

Since cruises are suspended until November, Disney has plenty of time to make the reopening process as smooth as possible.  When they resume, there will be many changes regarding safety and health resulting from the pandemic, and the youth clubs will definitely be impacted.  I'm hoping that the youth clubs will remain as fun as usual and that the modifications made won't take away from the experience.  The easiest way to make the people in the youth clubs less likely to spread illnesses would be to completely close them.  While this may be effective, I doubt it'll happen.  Going to the youth clubs is one of my favorite activities on a Disney cruise, and the trip wouldn't be nearly as fun if they were shut down.  Here are the changes I think may occur when DCL reopens.

First, let's discuss what health and safety measures that I noticed were in effect before the pandemic, in January.  Whenever I entered Vibe, the youth club for teenagers, I used the provided hand sanitizer.  However, there wasn't a counselor watching everyone enter to ensure everyone used hand sanitizer.  So, someone could sneak through without using it.  If we were there for a while, the counselors would remind us to sanitize again.  Items that were frequently touched, like railings, tables, handles, and video game controllers were cleaned periodically.  We were allowed to eat and drink in Vibe, as long as we sat at the barstools.  Of course, there were the signs next to the mirrors in the bathrooms telling us to wash our hands as well.

As I mentioned in the two other posts about reopening (here and here), I think both DCL crew members and guests will be required to wear masks at all times, except when in a pool or eating.  If you've read those posts, then you know that I think wearing a mask on a cruise would be incredibly annoying.  The youth clubs are no different, however, I doubt the babies in the nursery would be required to wear masks.  Do they even make masks that small?

Speaking of the nursery, there shouldn't be too many changes there, unless Disney decides to suspend nursery operations for a while after cruises resume.  If it remains open, there might be a limit on the amount of kids in the nursery at a time.  Also, there probably won't be any open house times in an effort to reduce the amount of people that enter the nursery.  Instead, guests could be able to use the DCL Navigator app to reserve a time to tour the facility.  The crew working in the nursery will wear masks and they'll likely clean frequently-touched surfaces and items more often.  The little kids might not be able to play with others at all or may be restricted to play in small groups.  In the check-in area, a transparent plastic wall may be installed on the desk for extra safety.  When a family is checking their child in, the child might have to have their temperature taken.  At Disney World, if a guest's temperature is over 100.4°F, then they'll be taken to an "additional location" for further health screening.  If this happens on the DCL ships, then that additional location will be the Health Center on Deck 1.  Finally, when families come for drop off and pick up, they might have to stand six feet away from the cast member assisting them.  For the most part, these changes are minor, and, for the youngest DCL passengers, the experience should still remain pretty close to normal.

Next, let's talk about the Oceaneer Club and Lab.  Like the nursery, there may be a limit to the amount of kids in these two areas at a time.  This wouldn't be too hard to implement, since kids scan their Oceaneer wristbands when entering and leaving the area.  Because of this, the crew knows exactly how many kids are in the club at all times.  But, what would happen if the child limit was reached?  Would they just say, "Sorry, we're full.  Come back later."?  That seems unlikely and kind of mean.  What if a kid's parents were going on an excursion without the kid, and wanted to put the kid in the Oceaneer Club while they were gone, but the club was full?  Also, would there be a limit on how long a kid gets to stay in order to let others have a turn?  There's just too many questions and possible negative scenarios involving a limit on kids.  But if there's not a limit, then how will they ensure it doesn't get too crowded?  I'm glad I'm not the one at Disney responsible for creating the reopening plan.

Aside from the possible limit, what else could be done to decrease the spread of illness?  Well, upon entry, kids are normally required to wash their hands using those really cool handwashing machines.  This should remain the same, since the machines are motion-activated and don't require a touch.  In addition to this, guests may have to have their temperature taken before entering.  Frequently-touched surfaces and items will surely be cleaned much more often than before the suspension.  Also, counselors may try to get kids to spread apart from others, but there just aren't enough counselors to cover every kid.  Lunch and dinner are normally served in the Lab and Club, but these meals might not be served when the suspension ends, because it would require kids to remove their masks.

Since Edge and Vibe are pretty similar, in the sense that people can come and go as they please, I'll cover them in the same section.  As I mentioned earlier, hand sanitizer is normally provided upon entry.  Instead of just being provided, it'll be mandatory for everyone.  Even the crew that often passes through Vibe will probably have to use it.  A counselor will probably be standing at the entrance telling everyone to sanitize.  There won't be any sneaking past that.  Also, like the other youth clubs, these two might have a limit on the amount of people allowed in at a time.  For Vibe and Edge, a limit would be more difficult to implement, because people are constantly coming and going.  Also, these two clubs are much smaller than the Club and Lab, so these clubs won't allow nearly as many people as the Club and Lab.  In addition to this possible limit, all of the cleanliness procedures I noticed in January will probably be increased to the nth degree.  Counselors might walk around the clubs holding a bottle of hand sanitizer.  Video game controllers, one of the most-touched objects in the youth clubs, will likely be cleaned after every use.  Like at the Club and Lab, eating at Edge and Vibe might be prohibited when DCL reopens.  Finally, the signs telling restroom users to wash their hands might be enlarged to be more obvious.

The changes that I think DCL may make to the youth clubs aren't terrible, but if there's going to be a limit, I'm going to be sad.  Of course, Disney could completely disregard any health concerns and just require everyone to wear the Child Detection Agency suits from Monsters, Inc.  WE HAVE A 2319!  I mean, it'd be better than a child limit.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Update: All Disney Cruises Are Canceled Until October 31st

They did it again!  Earlier today, August 6th, on their website, Disney announced that all cruises on the Dream and Fantasy are canceled until October 31st.  These cancellations are complying with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announcement that was made yesterday.  This announcement states that all cruise lines that are a member of CLIA, including Disney Cruise Line, will suspend cruises starting at or visiting ports in the United States until October 31st.  CLIA made this announcement because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will probably still be going on by October.  If CLIA extends this suspension, they'll make another announcement sometime before September 30th.

Since there won't be any cruises in September or October, there won't be any Halloween on the High Seas cruises in 2020.  That's too bad, from the pictures I've seen, they look like a lot of fun.  Oh well, at least there'll be some in 2021.

Interestingly, the Wonder's eastbound Panama Canal cruise, which would've been from November 6th to the 20th, is included in this suspension.  It makes sense, the Wonder is currently on the US's east coast, and there's really no point of going all the way back through the Panama Canal for only two cruises.  This means that the Wonder won't do any more cruises on the west coast of the US in 2020.

As you know, all of the people affected by this new suspension will have the choice of receiving a full refund or a full cruise credit (as long as they've paid the cruise in full), the same as all of the previous suspensions.

If necessary, this suspension will be extended past Halloween.  At this point, anything is possible.  I wouldn't be too surpised if it's extended until 2021.  That is crazy to think about.  Finally, as always, be sure to check the Disney Cruise Line website for more information and the latest updates.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

I Watched Tangled: The Musical at Home and It Was Great

Recently, Disney Parks posted a complete recording of Tangled: The Musical to their YouTube channel for people to watch from home.  This live show, based on the movie of the same name, originated on the Disney Magic in 2013.  When my family and I went on the Magic in 2015, I went to see it, and I enjoyed it.  However, since that was almost five years ago, I didn't remember much of it.  So, I went to the Walt Disney Theatre in my living room to see it again!

Both the movie and the musical tell the story of Rapunzel.  If you've never seen either of them, here's the synopsis from  "When the kingdom's most wanted, and most charming, bandit Flynn Rider hides in a mysterious tower, the last thing he expects to find is Rapunzel, a spirited teen with an unlikely superpower: 70 feet of magical golden hair! Together, the unlikely duo sets off on a fantastic journey filled with surprising heroes, laughter and suspense."

Overall, the musical does a nice job of retelling the movie in just under an hour.  The actors are entertaining, the songs are fun, the choreography is amazing, and the sets are very detailed.  Also, the puppet of Maximus the horse is complex and expressive, and I'm impressed the designers could create it.  One of my favorite aspects of the show was the lighting effects.  Light was used to enhance the sets by showing parts of them that weren't even there.  It was also used for the backgrounds, and in one scene, for water.  I enjoyed the show, and I would definitely see it again at a real Walt Disney Theatre if I had the chance.

The video of the musical is excellent.  It opens with Lee, the cruise director, explaining the creation of the show.  It's cool to see how much work goes into making a DCL live show.  The various camera angles throughout the musical provide views that you just can't get from sitting in the audience.  The audio is also great, dialogue and sound effects are clear, and the music is catchy.  Two of the songs in the musical were made exclusively for the musical and weren't in the movie.  The video was taken during a cruise, since there were guests in the audience.  Remember when people could go on cruises and not have to worry about a virus?  Those were the days.

Tangled is actually kind of relatable today.  At the beginning, Rapunzel is bored in her tower and wishes she could go outside and see the world.  Sound familiar?  Also, the kingdom that Rapunzel and Flynn go to is called Corona.  Coincidence?  Probably.  Plus, we can't forget about how Rapunzel is going to be on the back of the Disney Wish!

In addition to this musical, the Disney Parks YouTube channel has other Disney vacation content to be enjoyed from home, like the fireworks show from the Magic Kingdom, various videos of rides...
...and this.  Be sure to check it out if you wish you could be on a Disney vacation right now!