More magic at the sea: Disney Fantasy debuts

As if touched by a fairy godmother’s wand, the new Disney Fantasy debuted this spring with even more magical experiences to enable guests of all ages to live out their own fantasies. Disney Cruise Line’s fourth vessel and a sister ship to the popular Disney Dream launched in January of 2011, the new 130,000-gross ton/4,000-passenger vessel was built, like her sister, at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, and like previous Disney ships, is inspired in the grand ocean liners of the 1920s and 1930s. But she has more pixie dusted offerings for her guests and a personality of her own.

“From the moment I set foot in the lobby, I knew I was in another world,” said Alina López, a passenger from New Jersey.

The three-deck atrium lobby is grand in dimensions and decorated, like other public areas, in Art Nouveau style with that gracious style’s details and patterns in hues of blue, green, pink and gold (the Disney Dream is decorated in Art Deco style). A spectacular chandelier themed to peacock feathers and 22-feet in diameter, hangs from the ceiling and descends 13 feet in a cascade of blue and green crystal and stained glass beads. A bronze of Minnie Mouse also graces the lobby with the beloved character dressed in vintage clothing with a parasol and steamer trunk and seemingly ready to pose for photographs with guests.

The atrium lobby’s other magical touches include meet-and-greet sessions with Disney princesses and other characters (it is a dramatic sight that makes you do a double-take to see the princesses in their royal regalia descending the lobby’s grand staircase), and pieces of Enchanted Art (artwork that “comes to life” when a guest comes in front of it) introduced with the Disney Dream).

On the Disney Fantasy, children and the young at heart can use the Enchanted Art to get clues to play with the Muppets the new game “The Case of the Stolen Show.” Guests move about the ship at their own pace to discover clues as to who stole Kermit’s banjo, Fozzie’s squirting flower, Gonzo’s crash helmet, Animal’s drum sticks and Swedish Chef’s cleaver.

The princess and pirate fantasies of young sailors can come true in the first Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at sea and The Pirate League on the Disney Fantasy. Here little girls can be transformed into Cinderella or their favorite Disney princess with the perfect makeover before dinner in the princess-themed Royal Court restaurant onboard. And during the Mickey’s Pirates IN The Caribbean deck party youngsters can become buccaneers and join in the festivities.

At Animator’s Palate, where diners dine twice during a cruise (the Disney Fantasy continues the innovative “rotational dining” whereby guests and their servers go together from one restaurant to the next that was introduced with its first ship, the Disney Magic in 1998) two different show charm young and the young at heart. Décor is highlighted by giant pencils and brushes, character sketches, maquettes (three-dimensional character models) and film strips, During the first dinner show called “Animation Magic,” Mickey Mouse invites diners to draw their own character on a simple template on their placemat awaiting them at the table and through the magic of technology, guests see their character come to life along with Disney characters on monitors all around the room during the show –and when they receive their drawing back, it has a gold seal that proclaims them to be official Disney animators. Menu specialties for the “Animation Magic” dinner include popcorn soup, beef Wellington and roasted red snapper.

The second dinner show at Animator’s Palate, “Undersea Magic,” is themed to Crush, the turtle from the “Finding Nemo” movie. Guests are immersed in an undersea world and Crush makes an appearance on screens next to the tables and engages diners in impromptu live conversations as they munch on such specialties as sesame-flavored rock shrimp, Angus beef tenderloin and cookies-and-cream sundae.

“How do they do that?” our eight-year-old grandson exclaimed when Crush worked the room.

Why, magic, of course.

Other magical restaurants on the Disney Fantasy include the aforementioned Royal Court, inspired in the Disney classics “Cinderella,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The ambiance is that of a storybook palace dining room with such touches as glass slippers, roses, tiaras, chair backs, chandelier, sconces and columns with marble bases and fluted tops adding details from the fairytales. Handcrafted tile mosaics depicting the princess and their princess grace the far wall. Palatial menu items here include lobster and jumbo shrimp, escargot, beef tenderloin and Dijon-roasted rack of lamb.

The third of the main “rotational dining” restaurants is the Enchanted Garden, an enclave inspired in the gardens of Versailles and elegant conservatories in France, that transforms from day to night. Adornments include white trellises, green arches, landscape artwork, “flower” light fixtures, light columns and a fountain with cascading water rising seven feet tall –and with a whimsical touch, crowned by a with a cherub Mickey Mouse. At breakfast and lunch the Enchanted Garden is bright with the light of a blue-sky day; at dinnertime the illuminated ceiling transforms into a constellation of twinkling stars, the “flower” light fixtures “bloom” with color, wall sconces open to become folding fans and the fountain is bathed with light. The cuisine matches the ambiance with a seasonal menu with market-fresh ingredients.

Alternative restaurants for adults only are Palo (Italian) and Remy (French) both with ocean views, And Cabanas is the buffet-style restaurant for convenient quick-out-the-door breakfasts and lunches (there are 16 food stations) and table-service casual dinners. Located on Deck 11 aft and inspired in California beaches, tables are “sheltered” under trees, ocean views are on three sides and offerings include delicious stir-fry, pizza, pasta, comfort foods and grilled specialties.

In between meals or for quick, light meals, there is plenty of opportunity for snacking and munching at such venues as Flo’s Café (pizza, salads, sandwiches), and Eye Scream Treats, Frozone Treats (two quick service venues on Deck 11 featuring sweet treats such as fruit smoothies and soft serve ice cream).

The magic of the Disney Fantasy overflows at the three-deck 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre with musical productions that bring Disney stories to life. “Disney Wishes” is the ship’s signature show, a 45-minute journey by three friends who visit Disneyland to celebrate their high school graduation and are unsure as to what the future will hold. Along the way they discover that the secret to being a happy adult is to keep in contact with their inner child. The show presents a cavalcade of Disney characters including Rapunzel, Hercules, Pinocchio, Lilo, Stitch and others, as well as special effects including a Hawaiian sequence during which the stage fills up with giant windsurfing sails, kites and surfboards and one of the youngsters gets on a surfboard to “ride” a giant blue silk wave.

Another excellent show for all ages is Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. The Broadway-style production presents Aladdin, his wisecracking Genie, the Princess Jasmine, the evil Jafar and other characters from the popular animated feature. A spectacular highlight is the magic carpet ride as Aladdin and Jasmine soar to the tune of “Whole New World.”

Other production shows presented in The Walt Disney Theatre include “Disney’s Believe” (the story of a workaholic father who discovers what is truly important in life), “A Fantasy Come True” (welcome show) and “An Unforgettable Journey” (farewell show). Still other nighttime offerings include the aforementioned “Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean” deck party with buccaneers rappelling from atop the ship’s funnel and other swashbuckling fun and “Buccaneer Blast,” the only regularly featured fireworks display at sea.

Families encounter daytime fun H2O fun at the new AquaLab water park, a 1,800-square-foot area on the ship’s upper deck that has “water experiments” by Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, with the results being squirting walls, bubblers, geysers, falling water, pop jets and more. And more liquid fun awaits at the AquaDuck water coaster, a popular feature introduced with the Disney Dream.

A first at sea when it was unveiled on the Disney Dream, AquaDuck is a 765-foot long (more than two and a half football fields), four-decks high, flume ride that sends guests on a high-speed journey on inflatable rafts through drops, twists, uphill climbs and turns. Most exhilarating of all: a swing out loop sends passengers sliding 13 feet over the side of the ship in a transparent tube for a look at the sea a whopping 150 feet below. Another breathtaking moment for AquaDuck riders is a 335-foot stretch of “river rapids” before the splash down to the end of the ride on Deck 12. The ship also boasts the Goofy’s Sports Deck with a nine-hole miniature golf, ping pong, basketball court and other pastimes and swimming pools for families and adults.

Continuing Disney’s tradition of clubs and entertainment for all ages, the ship offers the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab including a huge interactive floor filled with sights and sounds for children ages 3-10; and other clubs like Edge for Tweens and Vibe for Teens. The It’s A Small World Nursery is for the little ones and D Lounge is a family club. Adults have the Cove Café, Senses Spa & Salon with a state-of-the-art fitness center (a separate area caters to teens), and an entire entertainment district, Europa, themed to popular European destinations.

Clubs and lounges in Europa include La Piazza, inspired in Italian squares; Skyline, a chic lounge that features changing vistas of European cities; O’Gills Pub, a rollicking Irish bar; The Tube, recalling London, and Ooh La La, an elegant French champagne lounge.

After days filled with activities and entertainment guests retire to comfortable and attractive staterooms with split bathrooms and nautical accents. Interior cabins offer a bit of techno-wizardry: a “magical” porthole that features real time views of the sea and appearances by cartoon characters.

The Disney Fantasy offers alternating seven-night itineraries to the Caribbean from Port Canaveral, Florida year-round. Eastern Caribbean runs visit St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas. Western Caribbean cruises call in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay. Special Eastern Caribbean itineraries in November and December 2012 stop at St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico, in addition to Castaway Cay/ Rates for the Disney Fantasy itineraries start at $959 per person, double occupancy, for a standard inside stateroom (category 11C). Government fees and taxes are not included. For more information, contact your travel agent or Disney Cruise Line, 210 Celebration Place, Suite 400, Celebration, FL 34747; call  888-DCL-2500; or log on to

By Georgina Cruz
For Al Día Today