Sailing with Disney – Pirate Night!

Pirate night is one of the busiest nights on a Disney Cruise. What’s it like? Read on!

After a little rest following our fun on Castaway Cay, it was time for pirate night aboard the Disney Dream! This is another part of the cruise we’d been looking forward to, as we’d even picked up some Disney-themed pirate shirts for this night while we were at Downtown Disney a couple weeks earlier. Disney also leaves you Mickey-themed ‘Pirates in the Caribbean’ bandannas to wear as well, as we found out when we got back to our room!

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First on the night’s agenda, pictures with Captain Hook and Mr Smee! These took place down in the little rotunda outside the shops, and there really wasn’t too bad of a line:

We walked the shops a little during that time, and one little tip for those who want to participate but didn’t have a chance to pick up pirate shirts or gear prior to sailing: There’s plenty on-board. Disney knows it’s worth stocking the stores on pirate night, and they had a pretty good selection of shirts, hats, and other pirate garb.

At this point, it should have been show time for us, but based on the schedule, we decided to skip it. It wasn’t a Disney show, it was one with the on-board magician, and while I’m sure we’d have enjoyed the show, we wanted to partake in as much pirate goodness we could. As such, we also decided to skip eating in our assigned dining room (a repeat of Enchanted Garden) and instead headed for the buffet to try and save time. On arriving, we encountered a twist we’d never seen with any other ship’s buffet before: it was table service, and pirate themed at that. The service was outstanding, and while the food was good, I’d have preferred to have had a full buffet selection vs a smaller table service menu. We went to the buffet for a reason, to shorten our dinner time, and table service doesn’t really accomplish that.

After dinner it was time for the first pirate show, so we headed up to deck 12 to get a good spot overlooking the stage. Having decided on a faster dinner, we got a pretty solid spot that gave us a clear view of the entire deck below, and even allowed us to participate in the pre-show fun. They have various cast members dressed in pirate garb walking around  deck 11 playing various games with the guests. In our case, Bayley played ring toss with one of the girls. In addition, there was some pirate ship basketball going on a little farther aft on 11:

The first show, named Mickey’s Pirate Academy, was more targeted at the younger kids, and was a musical show that taught them the necessary steps to be pirates in Mickey’s crew. As you can see from the video, it’s a typical high-energy show Disney that the kids seemed to be enjoying!

Once over, we had a bit of time on our hands before the show that opens the fireworks, so we headed inside and walked around a little before getting in line for pictures with Pirate Stitch. Bayley’s always been a huge Stitch fan, and waiting for this was a no-brainer for her. We got there early enough to only be 78 people back in line, but this line did get and stay pretty long, so if you have plans to get pictures with pirate Stitch, get there early! Right below Stitch was Pirate Minnie, so we ended up getting pictures at both places! Those lower lines had been pretty long at one point as well, so we were happy to at least get shots with Minnie!

Shortly after, we ran in to the cruise director, who in my opinion had the best costume of the night. I’ll add that there were a number of guests in some pretty good costumes, but living on the ship, especially in an entertainment role has its benefits, one of those being that you have a reason to go all out for your theme costumes :).

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After all of our pictures, the time had finally come for the fireworks! We headed outside and found ourselves a spot a little over halfway back in the pool area on deck 11 (which they cover for these shows). In hindsight we probably should have gotten there earlier to get a little closer, or even aimed for the starboard side of deck 12 to keep the water slides out of our view. No matter, the spot still wasn’t bad, and we were able to sit down for the show and fireworks and still see all of it. Note that deck 13 aft was closed for this show, so don’t assume that area will be open if you want to see fireworks from there.

The pre-fireworks show was a Pirates of the Caribbean themed show where Jack battles for possession of some, for lack of a better work, magical wrist guard, which is billed as the ultimate weapon. The show is fine, but went on a little too long in my opinion. Most of it was made up of the bracelet going back and forth between Jack and those trying to get it. A long game of keep-away, basically. We really just wanted to get to the fireworks, so we were happy when they finally began. As you can see, even sitting in the back half of the open area on deck 11, we were able to have a pretty clean view of the show:

Not a bad show, especially on a moving ship at sea! Once again, Disney does not disappoint! That wasn’t the end of the night, either, we still had a couple of things going on, starting with the 10:45 pirate themed buffet! As soon as the fireworks ended, we headed up and grabbed some food, eager to get to our final event of the night. One thing I might not have mentioned yet is that Disney has a pretty large movie theater on-board, equipped with a solid snack bar. They do charge for items on the snack bar, but they also allow you to bring in other food, including stuff from the buffet, so all three of us had loaded buffet plates, including some dessert crepes, tacos, and other goodness.

The nice thing about the theater is that it plays some popular movies from the Disney catalog along with a first-run movie or two, so on pirate night, our goal was to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean while sailing in the Caribbean on pirate night, and by the time we got there, we realized we weren’t the only ones! The theater was pretty full, but we managed to find 3 seats down low and spent a couple of hours enjoying a movie that had only released days earlier while eating our buffet food. All in all, not a bad night!

A successful pirate night behind us, we headed back to the room to get some rest for our last day on the ship, which just happened to be a sea day! Next up, all the fun we had on that final day aboard the Disney Dream!

 

Random Disney Thoughts

I’m a bit late getting this done, but I wanted to get one last post in from our trip to talk about some of the things we hadn’t done on previous visits to Disney. The entire trip was a blast as usual, but a couple of the items below really helped make it even more memorable.

The 10-Day Pass

This is the first time we’ve done more than 5 consecutive days at Disney, and going in I was sure I was going to be sick of the parks half way through the trip, but can admit now that I was dead wrong. Normally we feel like we have to get everything done at whichever park we’re visiting the day we choose to be there, but having so many days on our hands, there was never any pressure to rush through the parks like we normally would. We went with a much more relaxed schedule where we’d head to a park whenever everyone work up, ride some rides, maybe head back to the hotel for a while, and later on either head back to that park, another one, or in a couple of cases to Downtown Disney for the rest of the evening. We had a general idea of which park(s) we wanted to visit every day based on the crowd calendar at EasyWDW.com, which we found to be pretty accurate. We did deviate from our plan a few times, but that was the nice thing about having so many days, as we felt like we had more flexibility in the schedule. If we had the time and extra money, it’s a pass we’d buy again.

We did make use of the ‘water parks fun & more’ option on our tickets, too, using them to gain entrance into DisneyQuest for a few hours the last Saturday we were there, before heading back to Hollywood Studios for one last park stint. For a Saturday, DisneyQuest seemed empty. I ended up sitting and relaxing most of the time we were there, as I wasn’t feeling that great (the heat was finally getting to me), but the kids had a blast.

Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios

Star Wars Weekends are something they only do from mid-May through mid-June if I recall, and it was kinda cool. In addition to the existing Star Wars stuff they have at DHS (Star Tours, Jedi Academy, etc), they have a lot of characters on hand for autographs and pictures, and even some special celebrity appearances. We didn’t partake in the celebrity appearances, so I can’t really comment on what it entails, or how you get access to it. The characters were aplenty, though. Just about everywhere we went there were lines for various characters. Chewbacca, Luke, Lea, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, and many, many more. It wasn’t just the kids who were in line either, there were plenty of adults, in some cases sporting Star Wars shirts, replica helmets they wanted signed, and a lot more. No judgement here, I have no leg to stand on, as I’m known to frequent autograph lines at races we attend :). Bayley got in on it too, taking pictures with a couple of characters. She was all too happy to wait 45min to get a shot with Chewbacca:

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One of the coolest things about Star Wars Weekends were the fireworks. They have a special ‘Symphony in the Stars’ fireworks show at 9:45pm each night of Star Wars Weekends with the fireworks shooting off to music from the movies. It was one of the best fireworks shows I’ve ever seen, to be honest. I have a few clips of it, but they’re nowhere near as good as the multi-angle video of the show that the WDWMagic guys have on their site. If you’re a fan, I highly recommend sitting through the whole 6+ minutes. Better than the nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom, in my opinion.

Magic Kingdom 24-hour event

On May 22nd, the Magic Kingdom was open from 6am Friday to 6am Saturday to kick off the summer, using a Frozen-based theme of ‘Coolest Summer Ever’. We’d initially planned to be heading home that day, but once my wife saw this was happening, we pushed our 7 days at Port Orleans back to accommodate. We really didn’t see much in the way of promotion anywhere for this, as Disney seemed to be more interested in publicizing the 24 hour event going on at the same time at Disneyland, since that park was kicking off its diamond celebration with the 24 hour event. That lack of promotion was quite evident when we arrived on Friday morning for the opening of the park, too. We got there around 5:40am to be there and see the rope drop, and had no problems finding a good spot to watch the festivities.

Once the rope dropped, we headed into the park. We initially headed for the Snow White mine train ride, but seeing that a long line had already formed there, we headed to Tomorrowland. The lack of crowd that early in the morning was evident here, as we were able to ride Buzz Lightyear a couple of times right away with no wait while the kids did Space Mountain twice, followed by a couple of rides in Adventureland, all before 7am. The park really didn’t start to fill up until 9ish, the normal opening time. The place really did fill up, too, with Friday being the busiest day we saw at any park during our trip. An employee we talked to the next day at Hollywood Studios said he heard Magic Kingdom hit a peak of 84,000 visitors at some point during the event. In a couple of the shots below you’ll see quite the crowd at different points in the day. Sorry a couple are blurry, I wasn’t going to stop in front of a large crowd and get run down 🙂

I’ll be honest, we didn’t stay the whole time. About 4pm Friday afternoon we headed back to the hotel to rest for a bit and freshen up. After that, we headed over to the Contemporary early in the evening for dinner before heading back in to the park. I expected we’d see people start to trickle out of the park after the evening fireworks show, but even with the normal mass-exodus that clogged up main street after that, the park was still pretty full all night.

Side note here – we got stuck in the main street crowd after the fireworks show (not the first time we’ve made that mistake), and saw some pretty sad behavior out of the supposed grown-ups. I get that people were tired and didn’t want to be stuck there, but intentionally slamming motorized scooters and strollers into people to try and make them move out of your way when they have no where to go is a pretty poor example to be setting. I even heard more than one spouse tell their significant other they were going to do it. Someone near us mentioned witnessing fights breaking out between parents, too. Truly pathetic.

Back on topic, once we were back in, we stayed until about 4am, riding various rides and watching the 1am electric light parade. For our last ride, we finally sucked it up and waited in line for the Snow White mine train. At 70 minutes it was the longest line we stood in all week, but we were glad we waited, as it was a really fun ride. All in all, the 24 hour celebration event was a blast, definitely something we’d do again! Here are a few random shots from our time at the park that day.

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