Archive for DCL
The Disney Magic, Disney Cruise Line’s first ship, recently debuted after a major refurbishment. I had the chance to experience the ‘new’ Disney Magic on a recent 2-night cruise.
This past April when I first learned of the extensive dry dock renovation, or “re-imagineering”, the Disney Magic was scheduled to undergo, I immediately began following the transformation process.
As the news of each innovative new feature of the Disney Magic was announced – from the AquaDunk, to the re-imagined Oceaneer’s Club to the fresh, new restaurant, Carioca’s – I knew I had to get onboard. Luckily for me, I was able to set sail on the exciting 2-night inaugural of the newly re-imagineered Disney Magic! Unfortunately, it was a short 2-night voyage, but it was nonetheless packed full with all of the extra doses of magic and excitement Disney is known for.
First Re-Imagined Impressions
First impression? The Disney Magic looked just as beautiful – maybe even more so – than Disney’s newest ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. I recently sailed on the innovative Disney Fantasy this past December (you can read my Disney Fantasy review here). So, with that Disney cruise fresh in my mind I was able to immediately recognize the similarities in design to the newest ships in Disney’s fleet, as well as the distinguishing characteristics that make the Disney Magic unique.
The extent of the ship’s massive renovation was evident immediately – as soon as I stepped onboard. The spectacular three-story Grand Atrium Lobby was completely transformed with new chandeliers, carpet and color schemes. The lobby’s centerpiece and famed statue, “Helmsman Mickey,” which has stood in the atrium since the ship was launched, received a special makeover bringing new luster to its golden hue.
It was also clear that all of the ship’s textiles, carpeting and furniture had been replaced – it was spotless. On the second day, I even noticed some fuzz making its way to the top of the carpet (new carpeting is prone to shedding fuzzy puffs of material). So much had been updated and replaced, the crew even remarked how it felt as though they were working on a brand-new ship. The ship even had a brand-new-car smell, seriously! Features that were not replaced included hardy fixtures. One in particular I noticed were the sinks, they showed some age but in a way that added character to the ship.
Let me reiterate, the Disney Magic’s design and architecture is absolutely beautiful.
Top Pooltacular Decks
Next, it was time to explore the ship’s decks. I have sailed on the Disney Magic many times before, so I thought I knew my way around. However, that was not entirely the case! Some staircases were moved, and with other upgrades and replacements, it was almost like exploring a brand new ship! The crew was still in the process of putting finishing touches on the deck like banners and signs, but the deck itself looked wonderful.
Up on the pool deck, lots of splashtacular fun was added. The classic Mickey Pool, that was shaped like Mickey Mouse, has been totally replaced by the 1,800-square foot AquaLab (ages 3 and up) and new Nephews’ Splash Zone (up to age 3) that stars Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie. This was a little bittersweet for me, as I was fortunate enough to grow up swimming in the Mickey Pool on family cruise vacations, but the AquaLab and Splash Zone is actually a really nice change. The deck feels much less crowded, more open, and the actual swimming and splash zone is larger.
The Mickey slide was replaced with the Twist n’ Spout water slide featuring 250 feet of sliding fun, loops and turns. Located adjacent to the Aqualab, it is a kid-friendly waterslide, a little less daunting than the monstrously exhilarating AquaDunk (I will get to that added fun in a second). The Twist n’ Spout is loads of fun for everyone, and the ride down is actually pretty long!
Before I forget, I want to make a quick notable mention to a very welcome addition on the Disney Magic – Eye Scream and Frozone Treats, 2 new quick-service venues. Originally debuting on the Disney Dream, Eye Scream offers up soft-serve ice cream (complimentary) and Frozone Treats mixes up refreshing, frozen fruit smoothies (nominal charge). But, seriously. All-you-can-eat ice cream? Now that is vacation (especially when raspberry flavor is around)!
Okay, back to the AquaDunk. Imagineered by the crafty Huey, Duey and Louie, the AquaDunk is a crazy, wet-and-wild thrill slide, and a tribute to the wildly popular AquaDuck aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Without enough room to build a full AquaDuck water coaster, Donald’s nephews still managed to create an exciting, brand-new three-story body slide. Guests are propelled from a near-vertical launch (the floor drops from beneath like a trap door!) on a fast ride in a translucent tube that extends 20 feet over the side of the ship. As evident from the long waiting line for the slide, they did an excellent job designing the AquaDuck’s worthy successor.
Let me tell you…it was worthy alright. This was one of the new features I was most excited to try, so I anxiously awaited my turn in line. My nerves really didn’t get the best of me until I reached the top of the line, which is in the iconic, non-functional smokestack of the ship.
When I saw the person in front of me enter the slide’s chamber, the nervous butterflies came. You are actually enclosed, and stand on a transparent floor. Then Huey, Duey, and Louie count down from three. Next the floor drops out from under you as you practically free fall until the slide catches you and jettisons you on a 212-foot-long thrill ride, including 20 feet over the side of the ship, before a splashy finale.
Once I got to the end of the slide, I knew I needed to go again. The incredible rush of adrenaline and adventure makes it a must-do experience for any and all passengers. Don’t let your nerves take over, I highly recommend you stick it out – a great experience and feat of engineering!
New Magical Dining
We had lunch in the casual buffet; previously Topsider Buffet this dining venue is now re-imagined as Cabanas, similar to the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The Australian setting of the Disney-Pixar animated classic “Finding Nemo” inspires the décor with hints of the film’s fishy and feathered friends throughout the restaurant.
The options of food and beverage stations were plentiful and decadent. Lamb chops, chilled mussels and crab, swordfish, ribeye, salmon, and so much more. It was almost too much to choose from. Key word: ALMOST. I, of course, had to try everything and was not disappointed. The lamb chops were a standout and hit among the members of my family and fellow cruisers. We are still talking about them!
That evening, we had dinner in the main dining room, Lumiere’s. The restaurant is elegantly themed after the hit Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. Our overall experience was just as amazing as ever. All tables, tablecloths and chairs were replaced, and the wait staff was still dedicated and friendly, having already committed our names and any dietary restrictions or allergies to memory.
The delicious French-inspired fare means a lot of options on the menu; so, of course, I had to try it all (or close enough to it). I particularly enjoyed the “Mrs. Potts” French Onion Soup and the Fried Brie, along with the Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Slowly Braised Lamb Shank. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Lamb chops twice in one day? Yes, I cannot be yet lamb-chopped-out! Dessert was a Grand Marnier Soufflé with Vanilla Sauce, which was just as superb as it sounds.
The other main dining room has been changed to Carioca’s, named after Donald Duck’s parrot friend in “The Three Caballeros,” Jose Carioca. During the day in this Rio de Janeiro-inspired restaurant, there is a festival theme but at night the atmosphere transforms into an after-hours scene of Rio de Janiero. Carioca’s replaces Parrot Cay that was previously on the Disney Magic.
The second evening of our cruise, we dined in the updated Animator’s Palate which received new animation-adorned walls and a larger screen to provide the best views of the animation magic that takes place all around. The restaurant’s black and white “blank canvas” explodes into full color as favorite Disney and Disney-Pixar characters, such as Rapunzel from “Tangled” and Remy from “Ratatouille,” come to life right before guests’ eyes as the meal progresses.
Scenes from a variety of movies are displayed as you are taken on an emotional journey through all of the iconic Disney movies. I may, or may not, have almost cried when they showed the obligatory “heartbreak scene” of each movie all at once! As dessert begins to loom, color is continually added to the moving characters until the lights dim and they come to life! For the grand finale, Mickey comes out to the musical score of Fantasmic! accompanied by your wait staff, now adorned with colorful ties.
New Entertainment Roundup
Each evening at 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. there is a high-caliber show featured in the Walt Disney Theatre. The first night, we were treated to Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story, which is somewhat of a sequel to Cinderella starring Lady Tremaine (the Wicked Stepmother) and the Two Ugly Stepsisters. The show was an imaginative, enjoyable spin on the story, much better than the actual sequel to Cinderella. The actors and singers were spot-on, engaging and talented.
The second night of our cruise, we went to a performance of Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic, Disney Cruise Line’s award winning show celebrating the value of dreams and starring Peter Pan along with many of your favorite Disney characters. I was almost surprised by how much I still enjoyed this show. I have seen Disney Dreams before, but I realized it is a show you can see time and time again. The cast, laser and pyrotechnic effects are unsurprisingly professional and entertaining.
The first night, we were also treated to the Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party! I must say, I enjoyed the this Deck Party more on my Disney Fantasy cruise, but the show was still done well on the Disney Magic. This on-deck party is full of music and dancing, featuring pirate-themed festivities and starring Mickey and Pals along with Captain Hook and his motley crew. The highlight is when Mickey swings down from funnel to funnel to save the day, and then shoots off spectacular fireworks! The show was not set to the music of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, or any other Disney movie in fact, so that was a bit strange but in true Disney fashion, it was still very impressive and very much enjoyable.
Exciting New Characters and Children’s Programs
The Disney Characters onboard the Disney Magic were super. Princess Aurora even remembered me from my cruise on the Disney Fantasy; she called out me, “Oh, Prince Nico!” I was able to take pictures with Belle, Aurora, Snow White, and Cinderella, all of whom I did not have to wait long to see.
Something your little superheroes will be very happy about – with Marvel now a part of the Walt Disney Company family, the super hero icons were introduced on the Disney Magic! The newest, and one of the most highly anticipated, character aboard Disney Cruise Line is Captain America straight from The Avengers! We did have to wait to see him, but it was worth it. We were able to take a number of pictures, and he even remembered my name, acknowledging me in passing later that day!
Disney’s Oceaneer Club, open to 3- to 12-year-old children featured fun new character experiences. Young crime-fighters are transported to a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special missions and operations training. The Avengers Academy is a multi-day, immersive entertainment experience in which children interact with the Marvel characters and unleash their inner super heroes. It comes complete with inspiration from Iron Man’s armor, Captain America’s Shield, and Thor’s Hammer!
In addition to the new Marvel experience, other new magical realms include Toy Story characters in Andy’s Room, Tinker Bell in Pixie Hollow, and Mickey in the Mickey Mouse Club. Disney’s Oceaneer Lab was also added, a pirate-themed area allowing children the chance to discover and explore new adventures. This area is similar in design and activities to the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, including an area where you can ‘drive the ship’. And, okay, I may have spent more time in the Lab than I care to admit. Other games are available, such as Fix-it Felix Jr. from Wreck-it Ralph!
Another major addition to the children’s program on the re-imagined Disney Magic is the It’s a Small World Nursery. Available at an additional charge, the youngest cruisers, ages 3 months to 3 years, have a place to play safely with professionally trained Disney counselors.
Though our Disney Magic cruise was only two short nights, it was not short in fun or family memories. The re-imagined Disney Magic is just as magical as I was hoping it to be. I wonder how they will re-invent the Disney Wonder, next!
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Nico was born in South Florida and took his first cruise when he was 5 years old. Since then, he’s been on over 20 cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mediterranean. He is a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge and spent a semester as a Cast Member in the Disney College Internship program at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, where he became known as the Singing Bus Greeter. He’ll still tell you a bad joke or two if you ask. Nico specializes in family vacations and fun, having cruised extensively with both Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines. Outside the office, he enjoys running and Martial arts. He completed the Disney Marathon five times and is a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. If you don’t find him at his desk, he’s probably out having some adventures. Nico looks forward to helping you plan a magical vacation regardless of the cruise line.
At D23, Disney Cruise Line Presidet Karl Holz kept us in anticipation while speaking about DCL’s amazing Mediterranean and Northern Europe itineraries. Then called on Donald (Fauntleroy) Duck to help unveil Disney Cruise Line’s new destination – a life-size ice sculpture of the word “ALASKA”. The Disney Wonder will depart Vancouver and visit Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, and Tracy Arm Fjord. These are ports of call you’d find on most cruises to Alaska… but the key difference here, is the Disney Magic that sets it apart from the rest.
All this week there have been quite a few unofficial announcements of Disney Cruise Line headed to Alaska – of course none of them from the mouths of Disney Execs and the like. The biggest development prior to the official announcement was last night (09/10/09) from the Vancouver Sun stating “Disney Cruise Lines will introduce departures from Vancouver to Alaska…”.
If you’re a Disney dork like me, you know that Disney = awesome.
If you’re an iCruiser like me, of course you know that cruising = awesome as well.
You know where this is going right? But the end game here isn’t just a Disney Cruise, it’s Disney + Cruising + up to $125 in Shipboard Credit!
The low-down is that there’s still availability on select last minute Disney Cruise Line sailings, and we’ve got a magical kind of deal going on when you book yours today. Book your last minute Disney Cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean by August 23rd, and receive up to $125 in shipboard credit. Whether it’s a long Caribbean retreat, a Disney Cruise & Disney World package, or a Short Bahamas getaway, we’ve got spending money to give to make your Disney Vacation even more magical! Check out the details here.
I’m not sure what your idea of Disney is these days, but they are incredibly versatile with their brand and are able to cater to the needs and wants of a diverse market. Whether it’s couples on a honeymoon, families big or small, or a group of friends – a Disney Cruise is a great way to spend your vacation.
Disney Magic and Disney Wonder have got some the coolest public rooms. Their staterooms are pretty spiffy as well, personally I love the Disney Cruise Line stateroom decor. We’ve got some of the best 360 virtual tours of them:
Disney Wonder Staterooms
Disney Magic Staterooms
Hoping to be able to go back soon and get some 360 shots of the public rooms like Animator’s Palate and Cadillac Lounge.
ºoº Don’t forget to check out our Last Minute Disney Cruise Sale. ºoº