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It was on July 17, 1955, when Disneyland first debuted in California. I still remember my own first Disney encounter. Meeting Mickey for the first time at the age of 6 is a memory that still holds a special place in the mental scrapbook that makes up my childhood. 

Since 1955, Disney has never stopped being a visionary in the entertainment industry. Whether it’s amusement parks, movies, tv shows, Disney is an entertainment empire that always allows us to live out our wildest fantasies.  

I was reminded of this when I traveled on the inaugural sailing of Disney’s fourth cruise ship, Fantasy, in March, 2012. 

You want your own private island for the day?— no problem, mon.
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Spending the day at Castaway Cay, the Bahamian island owned by Disney was like living out a tropical fantasy, complete with palm trees, warm ocean waters, pristine sand and hidden coves.

The most incredible water coaster on the seas? — check! See for yourself how much fun I had on the AquaDuck.
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Broadway caliber nightly shows? Disney has the kind of deep pockets that make imaginative musical productions in a lavish theatre part of the cruise experience.  Big budget family-friendly Broadway style shows like “Wishes” and “Believe” have become as much a part of Disney’s cruise culture as the all-you-can-eat buffet.  

But the most amazing part of the cruise may well have been Animators Cafe. As always, Disney embraces the future with a nod to the traditions we old hold dear. Animators Cafe celebrates the art of animation by making each dinner guest an artist. That’s right, just grab your pen when you sit down and start doodling.
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Wait staff will then collect your drawing and by dessert, your simple sketch has voila… been turned into a moving work of art.

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It’s incredible entertainment, and as the Disney brand knows better than anyone, entertainment is what it’s all about, even when you’re dining.

Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist focusing on family travel. She spent many years as a writer and producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have been published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites. 

A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from tot to teen. After giving birth to 2 beautiful children she’s had the joy of becoming a mom again through adoption. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl, she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers!