Well bless Disney’s little revenue producing heart. You have to give them credit for finding new ways to extract monetary blood from the touristing turnips. The latest scheme is called Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise. It really is a brilliant idea: take one of the ferries that ferries guests from the transportation center across the lagoon to the Magic Kingdom, a boat that presumably is usually idle during the nightly fireworks presentation, and sell tickets to watch said display of colorful combustibles from a unique vantage point.
And to make it more palatable, they serve a buffet of desserts. And get this: alcoholic beverages, the sort of elixirs that the poor thirsty folks inside the theme park are forbidden to imbibe. It’s open bar in the open waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon, sort of the resorts version of the International Waters demarkation that those gambling cruises to nowhere set sail for.
In fact, I sort of felt like I was on a cruise to nowhere when I was invited to ride along on a media preview of the new feature. The elements are all there to make is sound like a winning proposal: a nice vantage point of the fireworks, with the accompanying music piped in; wine, beer, liquor or soft drinks to sip; and all the desserts you want.
Yet with the exception of the fireworks display itself, the cruise is, in a word, boring. Guests board the ferry more than an hour before showtime and then slowly circle the lagoon. Once you’ve made one loop, there isn’t much else to look at.
And most surprising was the miserable quality of the desserts. Disney employs a number of master pastry chefs, but there wasn’t a single item I could recommend (or that I didn’t discard after one bite). And let me just warn you right now: The most impressive looking dessert is a Cinderella slipper with an orange financier in it. (That’s a spongecake, not someone along to help you pay for the cruise.) The slipper is supposedly edible, but only if you like eating chalk. Took quite a while to get that taste out of my mouth. Small cupcakes, Mickey-shaped cookies, tarts. And for something savory, a tray of absolutely flavorless cubed cheese.
Of course, few of my fellow ferryers seemed to think the quality of the desserts was flagging, not judging the way they crowded around the buffets as though it would be their last chance to stuff themselves until their midnight sundae.
And this is a good point to mention that it’s a little unnerving when the fireworks begin and all of these overstuffed people head to one side of the boat, which listed noticeably. (Thank goodness the capacity is limited to 100 passengers.)
It was a good view of the fireworks, and the sound system was first rate. It would have been nice if they had dimmed the overhead lights during the spectacle.
And the cost? $69 for kids and $99 for adults, which, according to Disney, is anyone whose age is measured in double digits. My passage was comped and I still thought about asking for a refund. That’s still cheaper than the entry fee to the park but if you’re just interested in a good fireworks experience, the observation deck at the top of the Contemporary Resort is a better deal (and they serve drinks up there, too). How could it be made better? Maybe some live music to lessen the tedium of drifting before the show. And better quality desserts, of course. How about some cooking stations -- Bananas Foster or Crepes Suzette, anyone?
Oh, I almost forgot. Your fee includes a souvenir plastic plate that you might be able to sell on eBay for 50 cents if you throw in free shipping and a goblet with lights in the base that change color.
Best part of the experience: You’re only a couple of minutes from the dock when the fireworks end, so you can be in your car well ahead of the people in the Magic Kingdom.
Ferrytale Wishes: A Fireworks Dessert Cruise only operates on certain evenings, so check the official Ferrytale Wishes web page for dates and times.