One thing what makes the Disney Cruise Line’s cruises special is the ultimate “Disney Experience” they offer. Annie from Mama Dweeb asked me does the Disney cruise give the full Disney experience like the Walt DisneyWorld, and here is one example what kind of special Disney Experiences you can only experience on the cruises: garden tea party with Alice in the Wonderland in the one of the top gardens of North America.
I also guest posted in Annie’s blog and gave tips how to choose between DisneyWorld and Disney Cruise, but continue reading more about our day at the gardens in St. Andrews in New Brunswick, Canada.
One our Disney Cruise to New England coast and Canada from NYC we visited Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada and took a day trip and had a garden tea party with Alice in the Wonderland in Kingsbrae Garden in Saint Andrews. Kingsbrae Garden is an award-winning garden and it was recently named one of the “Top Five North American Gardens Worth Traveling For” at the 2011 International Garden Tourism Conference.
We climbed in a tour bus on the morning, and our tour guide Blue Bonnie, dressed in a blue dress like what they wore in the Revolutionist war, and we sat in the bus for about 1,5 hours hearing everything about the Bay of Fundy and its the most dramatic tides in the world, and Bonnie even showed us how to create a moose call out of a soup can and a shoe lace. The drive itself was beautiful, I can’t get enough of coastal scenery.
My favorite was the location of the gardens, in the small coastal town. The garden itself was nice, and reminded me of the gardens I’ve seen in the Scandinavia with many same flowers and plants. One of the fun parts of the garden was the garden maze, albeit rather small, but yet exciting for the kids, young and old, and you could just hear laughter as everyone was trying to find their way out from the high hedges. While I have seen better and more beautiful gardens (like the Botanical Garden in Atlanta or the rose garden in Bamberg, Germany come my mind), one thing made Kingsbrae different: the interactivity. We got to pet and feed animals, release ladybugs and then top that with an authentic Disney experience: garden tea with Alice in the Wonderland.
Tea with Alice in the Wonderland
If you have younger kids, this garden tea party with Alice in the Wonderland would be an amazing experience. My kids are 9 and older, and they were a bit amused by it all, little disappointed in the quality of the food (compared to eating a’la carte meals on the cruise all day long and our home food), but after begging did pose with Alice. The younger kids? They didn’t care less that the egg and cucumber sandwiches were tiny and we had to wait for our tea for good 20-30 minutes. They absolutely loved the fact that Alice showed up! If you have a little one who loves Alice in the Wonderland I can’t think of a better experience, but to me the price point of this port adventure didn’t sum up unless you had an Alice fan with you.
Part of the fun day was the live ladybug release in the rose garden. Ladybugs eat the bugs that prey on roses and other flowers, and it’s a natural way of keeping the bad bugs away – more importantly, it was fun activity for kids of any age. The ladybugs came in a fabric bag, and kids got to spread them evenly in the garden. They say that ladybug landing on you is a sign of good luck, and we got our share of good luck for the rest of the year! The ladybug release is part of Kingsbrae Garden’s daily activities.
Like said, one of the best parts of the Kingsbrae Gardens was the interactivity. Kids loved feeding the animals, and making new friends of the alpacas, donkeys and bunnies on the top of the ladybug release. We all liked the hands-on activities. In fact when the food garden part has harvest time – you can even eat directly from the berry bushes and fruit trees. We visited Kingsbrae in June, so the garden wasn’t yet in full bloom.
Duration: 7 to 7.5 Hours
Adult Price: $159 (ages 10 and up)
Child Price: $139 (ages 3 to 9)
The price included admission to Kingsbrae Gardens, lunch and the motor coach ride.
We received our port adventure and the garden tea party for free, but I discussed about the price point with also a few paying customers on the excursion and we all thought the price point on this one was a little high. Typically I find the Disney Cruise port calls and services well-priced (you really get what you pay for), but this price seems a little too much for cucumber sandwiches, especially because the tour guide was not nearly as good on this port adventure as it had been on the Halifax excursion the day before, nor the customer service at the Gardens (or the catering company) was on par with Disney’s.
Now, don’t take me wrong, the day was great, but I would not pay 600 bucks for our family to do it again. If you visit the Kingsbrae Gardens on your own, you can get a family ticket for around $32 – now, that’s a deal for all that the garden has to offer, but of course, minus the Disney experience with Alice.
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Disclosure: We were in Halifax as part of the Disney Cruise as Disney Cruise Lines’ guests, but we purchased additional flights to New York City (from Sweden, mind you!) and an additional state room to bring additional family with us – because we truly think Disney Cruises are amazing family vacations.