The Disney Wonder and Magic are fantastic cruise ships, and even 10 years after their introduction, they retain the classy looks Disney intended for them to have. With the introduction of the Disney Dream in 2011 and Disney Fantasy in 2012, Disney once again is changing the cruise industry. The Disney Dream still has the classic feel of the older ships, but goes beyond and above in most of the public areas. The following are the top 10 improvements introduced on the Disney Dream.
#10: Edge Tween Club – This improvement is most in name at the moment, rather than execution. In the past, the kids club was for kids 12 and under, they then went immediately to the teen club. On the Disney Dream, they have set up a separate tween club in the stack called Edge. Kids 11 – 13 have their own space, free of the little kids and free of the teens, which can be imposing for these kids. The space is fun and unique, though the times I visited, seemed a bit quite, and the kids were a bit bored. I am sure as time passes, the staff will pick up on what the kids like to do both inside and outside the club. The Wonder has recently installed an Edge Tween club on deck 2.
#9: Ship Layout – This covers several different aspects of the cruise ship. On the Wonder and Magic, most of the public areas are right off of the main lobby. Disney did a great job of “hiding” many of the areas from public view. The nightclubs are all in one area, in the back of the ship away from where most of the kids may wander. You can often be feet away from a restaurant and not know it is there until you go around a corner. It makes the ship feel must smaller than it is, so you aren’t looking down a long hallway with a restaurant at the end, which is needed in a ship this large. They also did a good job of providing more seating areas in the lobby, including the Vista Cafe and other semi-private areas.
#8: Animator’s Palate – This is a tricky one. I talked to many people on board who love the old black and white Animator’s Palate found on the Wonder and Magic. I however, fell in love with the new version, it really feels like an animator’s studio, full of knick knacks and plenty of wood. My problem with the older version is it is static, same show every night, night after night. The new version features plenty of flat screen TVs, so everyone has a great view, and it even includes Crush, who “swims” around the restaurant and talks to people. It is now a great restaurant, look for this version to be installed on the Wonder and Magic during the next dry dock.
#7: Pools – On the Magic and Wonder, the family pool and Mickey pool are separate by a stack, and are quite a ways away. On the new Dream, the two pools are in one are, so you can go back and forth between the two. The great Mickey slide is still there, but what makes this a huge improvement is at night, when the pools are closed, it gives Disney almost three times the area to hold deck parties or to watch fireworks. The Funnelvision large screen TV is still there, but again, there is now a huge space for people to enjoy the events. There always seems to be something going on up on deck 11. In addition to the pools, Disney added Nemo’s Reef, a child play area featuring Nemo and friends, full of water, water and more water. Really cute, really fun.
#6: Category 8 Staterooms – The biggest improvement for families of 5 are the ocean view family staterooms. One the older ships, if you are a family of 5, your only options would be to go to a category 4 veranda stateroom or book 2 connecting rooms, both of which are expensive options. The new ocean view family staterooms fit 5, but just have a window, allowing you to book a less expensive room, but all be in one room. Plus, these rooms have the cool round showers, way, way better than the tub/shower combos.
#5: Palo and Remy – Palo has existed on the Wonder and Magic from the beginning, but with the new ships, they took it a step further. Palo is the adult only restaurant, it requires reservations, and there is a small fee to dine there, which basically covers the gratuities for the serving staff (currently $15 per person). Remy is a step beyond Palo in both atmosphere and food. The cost is quite a bit higher as well, $75 per person. However, when you consider the cost of the cruise, $75 per person is nothing for a world class meal, which Remy provides. The option to dine at these nicer restaurants is fantastic, especially on the longer cruises were you visit each of the rotational restaurants 2 or 3 times.
#4: Enchanted Art – Located throughout the ship, the Enchanted Art appears to be a normal piece of Disney art, but as you approach, the scene comes to life, a mini-cartoon if you will. Not only do they look beautiful around the ship, but they entertain everyone from little kids to senior citizens. Each piece of Enchanted Art has several different scenes, so you will see something different each time you approach. The art is so mesmerizing you see adults approach everything hanging on the walls to see if it will spring to life.
Not only does the enchanted art entertain you, it is part of the game Mickey’s Midship Detective Agency. In the lobby, you can sign up for the game, and get a guide booklet and card. As you approach each image with the card, the image springs to life with clues about where to find the kidnapped dalmatian puppies. The game changes each time you play, so you can play more than once.
#3: AquaDuck – Disney’s most visible addition, the first ever water roller coaster on a cruise ship. While fun, and a novelty, the AquaDuck really wouldn’t make it at a waterpark, it is too slow and too short, but on a cruise ship, it works really well. The AquaDuck will be popular with kids and teens, I think most adults will ride it once or twice just to say they did. This is probably one addition we will never see added to the Wonder and Magic.
#2: Vibe – Without a doubt, the coolest area on the ship is Vibe, the teen club. From the hidden entrance (if you aren’t a teen, you may never find it) to the night club feel as you walk in, Vibe is the place to be. Disney really went overboard to make the teen club a place where teens will feel welcome and want to hang out. With huge play areas, a 100+ inch TV with video games attached, their own coffee/juice bar, private movie theater, outdoor water area and hot tubs, most adults wish Vibe were open to all.
#1: Virtual Portholes – Ok, probably the best idea Disney Cruise has ever had, after Castaway Cay of course. On the Magic and Wonder, the inside staterooms are boring, and booked only because they are the cheapest on board, and there are a ton of them. On the Dream, Disney built very few inside staterooms, but added the Virtual Porthole to each room, giving guests a live view of what is going on outside, plus fantastic Disney characters showing up from time to time to entertain you. On the Disney Dream, Disney is finding that the inside staterooms are booking up quicker than any other category, as guests want to experience the portholes. In fact, Disney is often selling the inside staterooms for more money than the bigger ones with windows. If you get a chance, you need to experience these first hand to realize how well it works, and how cool they actually are.
Look for Disney to install these on the Wonder and Magica sometime in the futre. As stated, those two ships have a ton of inside rooms, added these will immediately make those rooms more valuable and more in demand.
Overall, the Disney Dream is a fantastic ship, full of surprises and amazing technology. We didn’t even talk about the fantastic Oceaneer’s Club with video floor and much improved layout, or Cabanas, the expanded buffet restaurant. It would be easy to do a top 20 list for improvements, but you will have to cruise on the Dream to find out the rest.
Have you cruised on the Disney Dream? What are your favorite improvements?