Disney Fantasy Christening Gala – Part 1 The Celebration

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I am so grateful to have been invited to attend the christening of the Disney Fantasy as part of the team from Magic Carpet Travel Service! It was an evening I will never forget, and though you may have already seen the media coverage, I wanted to share some of my favorite pics. In this post, I’ll focus on the entertainment and christening ceremony. In Part 2, I’ll report on the food!

Hope you enjoy!

The evening began with a lovely cocktail reception in the incredible lobby of the Disney Fantasy.

Disney Fantasy Christening Giant Champagne Bottle

Cocktail Hour Begins

Next, we moved into the Walt Disney Theater for the evening’s entertainment.

Walt Disney Theater Disney Fantasy

I don’t know what other people were expecting, but I figured we would see excerpts from the stage shows planned for the Disney Fantasy. As usual, I was blown away by Disney.

Neil Patrick Harris in the opening number

NPH Kickline

Some of you may recall that I am a HUGE fan of NPH from my earlier post on his appearance at the EPCOT Candlelight Processional. Needless to say, I sort of freaked out. You can see my entire recording of the show on YouTube. I’ll warn you now – not only is it recorded with my iPhone so the picture is awful, but you’ll also hear my ridiculous screaming…I do love NPH. The performance also featured Jerry Seinfeld (“I’m on a BOAT!”),  Heather Headley (that woman can SING!) and as I had hoped, excerpts of the musicals Aladdin, Believe, and Wishes.

Disney's Aladdin Musical Spectacular

Magic Carpet - Disney's Aladdin Musical Spectacular

Disney's Believe Musical

At one point during the show, NPH walked out into the audience to talk with Mayor Bloomberg, Ty Pennington, Tim Gunn, and Alan Cumming. Love him!

After the show, we all went back to the main lobby for the christening ceremony. Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs addressed the crowd, and expressed their appreciation for the crew of the Fantasy.

Crew of the Disney Fantasy

Then, the Fairy Godmother of the Disney Fantasy was introduced to christen the ship – Mariah Carey, assisted inside by Mickey Mouse, and outside by hubby Nick Cannon and Minnie Mouse.

Mariah and Mickey

Tom Scaggs, Mariah Carey, Bob Iger

And finally, the ship was christened and the champagne popped!

Champagne is Popped

After the christening, we all adjourned to the Royal Court restaurant for a lovely dinner (pics in Part 2), then to the Europa club district for the after party. We also had a chance to poke around the ship and take more pics. You’ll see them all eventually! So for now, I’ll leave you with some scenes of the evening.

After the party

Manhattan skyline from the deck of the Disney Fantasy

Oh yeah – I almost forgot the highlight of my night…

MouseChow and NPH

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Holidays Around WDW part 2 – Epcot Celebrations Around the World

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EPCOT’s World Showcase is magical at any time of the year, but during the holidays it is completely mind-blowing. (Part 1 – Resorts, is here.)

First, there are the storytellers.

In Italy, La Befana flies through the air on her broomstick and visits children on the eve of the Epiphany and leaves children gifts, just in case they are in fact the Gesu Bambino. The storyteller we saw was riveting.

La Befana, Italy Pavilion, EPCOT
In Japan, a traditional New Year’s gift is the Daruma doll.  From what I could gather, it’s basically a way to stick to your New Years resolution. The dolls have no eyes when you first receive them.  When you make your resolution, or set a goal, you paint one eye on the doll. When you achieve your goal, you can paint on the other eye. It’s keeping its eye on you! Creepy…
Daruma doll vendor, Japan Pavilion, EPCOT
Not an official Storyteller, but if she’s there, make sure to see Miyuki, the “Candy Lady”! She is one of only 15 artists in the world who still practice the art of Amezaiku, and the only woman. She makes incredibly detailed animal lollypops out of corn syrup. She is absolutely mesmerizing. And the lollypops get donated to kids at a local hospital.
Miyuki, Japan Pavilion, EPCOT
In Norway, your hosts are Sigrid and the trixter gnome Julenissen. Julenissen watches over the family’s animals, so the kids leave him porridge in the barn. It’s a charming story, and pretty funny.
Sigrid, Norway Pavilion, EPCOT
Julenissen, Norway Pavilion, EPCOT

Yet another jolly rotund fellow with a white beard is Father Christmas in the United Kingdom. Truth be told, he was a little long-winded. Plus, he wouldn’t stand still so that I could get a non-blurry picture. It is entirely possible that even surrounded by magic and wonderment, I started to get a little tired and grumpy toward the end of the night.

Father Christmas, United Kingdom Pavilion, EPCOT
After you visit the Storytellers, (Yes there are more, but man, it really takes a lot of time to get to each of them. So we didn’t.) you must, must, must see the Candlelight Processional. And you must, must, must have advanced reservations so that you don’t have to stand in line for two to three hours. It’s not difficult to get the reservations, it just takes a little planning. The Candlelight Processional package includes a three-course dinner at a restaurant in EPCOT. When you pay for dinner, you are given a badge. At your appointed time, you stick your badge to your shirt and stand in the special “shorter” line. Don’t worry if it looks ridiculously long. Once the gate opens it moves very quickly.
And why is it worth the effort and wait? It’s a spectacular show featuring a large orchestra and chorus, with a celebrity narrator who tells the story of Christmas. And we had the BEST narrator ever. What up, NPH?!
Neil Patrick Harris, Candlelight Processional, EPCOT

OK, honestly, my kid was whiny and bored. It was cold, and she was tired, and listening to an hour of the Christmas story and choral music was a little too much like being forced to go to church while at EPCOT. But I LOVED it.

More NPH

Seriously, this was a great time. I was singing French carols for a week.

Candlelight Processional, EPCOT
But as always, it’s sometimes the smallest touches that make EPCOT and Disney so special.
Winter on the Rhine, German Pavilion, EPCOT
Twinings Tea Shop, United Kingdom Pavilion, EPCOT
And it’s spending time with my two favorite people that makes it fun.
The Stave Church, Norway Pavilion, EPCOT
Happy Holidays. Until next year!
Christmas Tree, EPCOT 2011