I recently took my family to Orlando's Walt Disney World, our first visit to the "House of the Mouse." For my two kids, this was certainly one of their trips of a lifetime, and they're itching to go back for more. The whole place is an incredibly impressive experience, and the Disney memory-making machine is certainly a well-oiled success. In 2010, almost 17 million people visited the Magic Kingdom alone; the company's worldwide parks and resorts generated a mammoth $11 billion in revenues in 2011. Big numbers aside, though, there were some areas where I left feeling a little disappointed. Here's why.
Food Fit for a Princess? Hardly.
I wasn't expecting gourmet food and knew that everything would be theme-park prices, but the food we had at both the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios was a huge letdown. We even tried dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's more upscale Kidani restaurant and left feeling that even its more exotic menu was dumbed-down for mass consumption. Given the huge demand and global clientele, I think Disney's missing a trick in introducing bolder, more imaginative flavors to its theme-park fare. Yell at me all you like about tasting the food at Epcot, but why can't this be a resort-wide focus? Perhaps then I might feel less aggrieved at parting with $40 for lunch for a family of four.
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February 02, 2011
As one of the lucky media types invited to preview the brand-new Disney Dream a couple weeks ago for its Inaugural Christening Cruise, I was frankly bowled over by this 4,000-passenger ship. Forty percent bigger—and two decks taller—than its sister ships the Wonder and the Magic, the Disney Dream is chock full of amenities and services that delight families, from the live musical productions in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre to incredibly tricked-out kids' clubs to its crowning glory: the AquaDuck water coaster, a first in the cruise industry.
That said, a Disney Dream Bahamian cruise may not be ideal for all families. With a call at Disney's private island Castaway Cay, guests step off the ship to enjoy a ton of gorgeous white-sand beach, but not one iota of authentic Bahamian culture. What you give up in genuine Caribbean experiences, however, you gain tenfold of all things Disney—from the show tunes piped into the public spaces to the "Hidden Mickeys" (subtle Mickey head-and-ears symbols) woven into the shower curtains to the Donald Duck, Pluto, and princess characters you'll see all over the ship, all day long, meeting and greeting their fans.
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October 03, 2009
Disney has just announced a new "Give a Day, Get a Day" program that will reward up to one million people who volunteer a day of service in participating programs with a free one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. The program kicks off next year on January 1, but you can sign up now at www.DisneyParks.com.
Interested in giving back when you travel? Visit Away.com's Volunteer Vacations Guide to learn more.
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April 17, 2009
The Away.com office has been abuzz with pirate talk this week after the somewhat surreal events off the coast of Somalia, no doubt pleasing one of our staffers who is one of the world’s biggest pirate-philes judging from his yearly Halloween pirate fest. But beyond all our swashbuckling pirate wit, it got us thinking about where to travel for some good old-fashioned pirate action—without getting in the crosshairs of AK-47-wielding Somali sea bandits (or indeed sharpshooting Navy SEALs). Here are our top ten picks; tell us if you know any other good pirate hideouts in the comments section below.
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