6 ways we just learned the Disney Wish will indeed be the most magical ship at sea
Disney Cruise Line describes itself as “where the magic meets the sea.”
Since 1998, Disney has embraced its ability to use many of the same skills it uses in its captivating movie-making to create a real-life setting that sweeps guests away to a world where almost anything feels possible on its first four ships.
With its original class of ships, Disney introduced magic portholes in interior staterooms, fireworks celebrations at sea, paintings that “move”, rotational dining rooms that transform and four age-specific kids clubs where kids actually want to spend their time.
Given the opportunity to design what would await guests on the first all-new Disney ship in 10 years, and ultimately set the stage for the next class of ships at Disney Cruise Line, Disney Imagineers had both an exciting opportunity and an almost Herculean task with creating a whole new level of magic on the first of these new ships, Disney Wish.
There are very high hopes and expectations for Disney Wish, which will be the fifth ship to join Disney Cruise Line when it departs on a five-night maiden voyage on June 9, 2022, from Port Canaveral, Florida.
And while the physical ship is still under construction in Germany, TPG recently had the opportunity to travel to Florida to meet with the Disney Imagineers who are creating the onboard offerings.
Thanks to the magic of technology, and access to top-secret mock-ups of Disney Wish venues that Disney has constructed in warehouses, we got a preview of what surprises await the ship’s guests beginning next year.
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And while we can’t tell you exactly where the warehouses are that house Disney’s top-secret testing and mock-up spaces, we can share six ways in which Disney Wish is indeed poised to become the most magical experience at sea.
Related: Guide to the Disney Cruise Line
There will be a ‘hidden’ layer of magic
Disney gave us a sneak peek at an all-new way that guests can become a part of the story of the ship — and even control some of what happens on board — via the Disney Uncharted Adventure interactive game.
This game continues the Disney tradition of using technology to unlock new ways to tell stories. The technology behind how this works may be complex, but what shines front and center is the story and the magic it creates.
Before you even leave home for your Disney Cruise, you’ll learn a bit about how your phone will transform into a ‘spyglass’ from Captain Minnie herself. Then, once you are on your cruise, you’ll be able to actually join an interactive adventure to help recover pieces of the fractured wishing star that have landed in the worlds of Moana, Peter Pan, Princess Tiana and Nemo. You can do as little or as much of this adventure as you want.
While you do need a smartphone to participate, this isn’t a game you play by yourself staring down at your device.
Instead, this adventure for the whole family takes you all around the ship as you complete parts of the quest. Using your ‘spyglass’, you’ll see menu boards transform into messages from Princess Tiana, you’ll find ‘hidden’ constellations in the sky and perhaps even bring the glass slipper to life in the grand hall.
Those who participate in the Uncharted Adventure game will have the ability to unlock a hidden layer of magic all around the ship. This will all conclude with a big finale on the final night of your cruise where you’ll get to help battle the evilest witch in the sea in an epic live event.
The Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge takes you to another galaxy
I’ll spare you the “out of this world” puns to describe the adult-focused Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge that will be on Disney Wish. However, having now seen the mock-up of the actual “windows” that will look out into space, I can confidently say that this will fulfill the dreams of those who have always wished to experience a galaxy far, far away.
Ships from all timelines of the Star Wars franchise will fly by the seven monitors that feature such insanely high resolutions that it really looks like the actual Star Destroyer, Millennium Falcon, Tie Fighters and more are right outside. The Imagineers worked closely with Lucasfilm to unlock the entire library of ships. Every ship that whizzes by has a name, a story and a place in the greater Star Wars universe. You can expect to take that jump through hyperspace to a different part of the galaxy every seven minutes or so.
And to keep things as comfortable and immersive as possible, the direction you fly on the screens is indeed the same direction the Wish is heading, giving it an even more realistic feel.
But this space isn’t just about what is happening “outside,” there’s a whole lot going on inside the high-end, sophisticated lounge as well.
While Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge will be open to families during the day, this yacht-styled lounge is exclusively a place for adults to kick back and enjoy galactic-themed cocktails at night.
You’ll enter via a room that will be dark and serve as a “palate cleanser” from the rest of the ship to the lounge with a swooshing space door. Then, once inside, everything from the custom-designed furniture, to the liquor bottles and specialty cocktails to the tap handles for the beer will be themed accordingly.
As a child of the 1980s who lived and breathed all things from a galaxy far, far away, I’m more than ready to throw my hair in space buns and order an otherworldly drink from this gold-laden lounge with views of the universe beyond.
And fine, I’ll bring my kids here during the day, too.
The first Disney attraction at sea will tell two different stories
If you’ve sailed on Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, you’ve likely experienced the AquaDuck waterslide. The Disney Wish will also offer an experience that takes place in a waterslide tube on the top deck, but while both are waterslides in a sense and both wrap the ship, the AquaMouse is not the AquaDuck by another name.
Disney is calling the AquaMouse the “first-ever Disney attraction at sea”, which is a big statement for a company that knows attractions.
But while we already knew that the Aquamouse would feature show scenes, lighting effects, a dark tunnel, an original soundtrack and more than 60 water effects for a two-minute ride that spans 760 feet of tubing above the upper decks … we didn’t know until now that there would be two totally different experiences available. Disney said it is still figuring out how the different storylines will be available, but it’s possible that the one storyline (Port Misadventures) will be available on the first day of the cruise while the second storyline (Swiss Meltdown) will be available on the second day of the cruise and then on an alternating day schedule.
These shows are done in the same style as the newer Mickey shorts and what is featured at Hollywood Studio’s Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The cartoon show scenes take place during the 75-seconds you are traveling up the tunnel across multiple 85-inch screens … while you get soaked in a raft built for two.
At the height of the show, guests will blast out of the tunnel and embark on a wild water ride around the upper decks. This ride will also include a series of speed blasters and, finally, the grand finale: a soaring loop over the edge of the ship.
This ride will be open to cruisers 42-inches and taller (and for an extra perk, you won’t have to carry your own raft to the start of the ride).
New rotational dining restaurants
The first four Disney cruise ships revolutionized dinner at seat by introducing a trio of themed restaurants where you — and the serving crew — rotate throughout the nights of your cruise.
What Disney Wish will retain from its predecessors is the rotational dining format, but at a line-up of all-new dining experiences.
World of Marvel
When it’s your turn to dine in the Worlds of Marvel, which will be the first-ever Marvel cinematic dining adventure, you’re going to have a role to play in saving the universe as you dine at one of the 120 tables, each containing its own “quantum core.”
Between courses of your meal inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there will be a three-act event that starts off with Ant Man and The Wasp doing a demo of what your quantum core can do. Spoiler alert: don’t be too shocked if food can change sizes!
During the main portion of the dinner service, the screens all around the room will highlight the technology used by the super heroes such as Captain America’s shield and the vibranium that comes from Wakanda.
But then, the real excitement awaits you toward the end of your meal.
I won’t give away the ending, but you can expect a super-villain, as well as some extra help from the “good guys” such as Captain Marvel and Captain America. And you’re also going to need to use your quantum core in the battle against evil, so don’t fill up too much on dessert until you save the ship.
Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure
Next there is Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure. This will be Disney’s first “Frozen”-themed theatrical dining experience. The show takes place just after “Frozen II” and celebrates the engagement of Kristoff and Anna with “immersive live entertainment” performed in the round in the dining room.
The Arendelle menu will be Nordic-influenced (but don’t worry, I’m sure they have chicken tenders and macaroni stashed away for emergencies). During our time with the Disney Imagineers, we learned that this experience will have live music and very well may have a similar feeling to Tiana’s Place aboard the Disney Wonder.
And finally, there’s the new 1923 restaurant, which is named after the year the Walt Disney Company was founded. This restaurant will feature the best of golden age of Hollywood with the furniture style inspired by what was actually in Walt’s office. The menu will pay tribute to the company’s Californian routes and it will have a more intimate feel by being divided into two equal parts that mirror each other.
Related: The 7 best meals at sea
Additional dining options
Your list of places to eat aboard Disney Wish is actually even longer than those three included rotational dining restaurants.
For those willing to spend a little extra (and lucky enough to snag a reservation), the adults-only restaurants on Wish will be Beauty and the Beast-inspired Palo Steakhouse, which combines the best of high-end Italian cuisine with a steakhouse, along with Enchanté, featuring a menu crafted by a three-Michelin star chef who also was behind the menu at Remy, which can be found onboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.
Connecting both of these luxe dining options will be The Rose, a lounge that will offer wine, small bites and other adult-focused items designed for pre- or post-dinner enjoyment.
But, naturally, it’s not all just for the adults on Disney Wish. There will also be the Marceline Market (named after Walt Disney’s hometown in Missouri) featuring 10 food stalls and a beverage center. Each of these stations will be themed to Disney movies such as Tangled, Ratatouille, Alice in Wonderland, Zootopia and more. On the upper deck, you’ll find even more options including Mickey’s Smokestack Barbecue, Donald’s Cantina, Daisy’s Pizza Pies, Goofy’s Grill and Sweet Minnie’s Ice Cream.
Upgraded rooms and suites
I’ll sleep in Cinderella’s coat closet if that’s what it takes to get on Disney Wish, but I’ll happily admit to being a sucker for a suite at sea and Disney Concierge service amenities.
Disney Wish cabins will have a more subdued and upscale vibe than the cabins on Disney’s four existing ships. They’ll have a fairy-tale aesthetic with flourishes of gold and hidden surprises, such as special lighting effects over the pull-out child’s bunk bed.
In total there will be 1,254 rooms, of which 70% will have a balcony (Disney calls these verandahs) and 451 will have connecting doors. There will be a record-high 76 concierge suites and staterooms on the ship (double the number on other Disney vessels).
The one-bedroom concierge suites will have a separate living room, walk-in closets, two 43-inch televisions and two bathrooms, with the master bathroom featuring a rain shower, bathtub and double vanity.
New to Disney Wish will be seven oceanview rooms located over the bridge — a first for the Disney Cruise Line. These rooms will have an extended living area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bow and out across the ocean.
And if all that isn’t enough, there will be four royal suites with a Sleeping Beauty theme — two of which feature an insane two-story floorplan. Hey, it’s free to dream, isn’t it?
So, let’s fantasize about the soaking tub, private hot tub, two master bedrooms, spiral staircase and two-deck-high stained-glass frieze. Maybe they’ll just let me live in this suite’s jaw-dropping bathroom for a few days.
For cruisers who enjoy booking a room with access to the Concierge Lounge, Disney says it will be more than triple the size of previous Disney ships with a “full bar, delicious light bites … an outdoor terrace with incredible views” and a special area for kids.
There will also be a private sun deck with two whirlpools, a wading pool and a bar, which is great news as historically the main Disney pool areas can get pretty crowded.
Slide into the reimagined kid club
For families, one of the best parts of a family cruise with the Disney Cruise Line is that kids often actually want to go to the complimentary kid clubs. This gives grown-ups a chance to have a drink, not rush through dinner and just enjoy a few moments to themselves.
Now, your kids will be able to check into the Oceaneers Club from the Grand Hall on Deck 3 and then enter the club’s hub area from a magical slide that takes them from Deck 3 to Deck 2. Parents, this slide entrance puts you on the same deck as Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge for quick access to that intergalactic adult beverage.
Disney Wish will retain the cruise line’s trio of kids clubs: Oceaneers Club (ages 3 to 12), Edge (11 to 14) and Vibe (14 to 17). There’s also the colorful Small World Nursery open to the littlest baby and toddler sailors (the fee for that is not included).
The main kids club, Oceaneer, will offer a Marvel Super Hero Academy where kids can design (and virtually fly) in their own super suit.
This club will also house Rapunzel’s Art Studio, Belle’s Library and Anna and Elsa’s Sommerhus where there will be a variety of mini games with Olaf serving as the host. Additionally, there’s a Disney Imagineering Lab where kids can design and virtually ride their own roller coasters and more — similar to how the real Imagineers take their concepts from blue-sky ideas to actual attractions.
We learned that Disney has the tween club, Edge, located on Deck 5 modeled after what a teen club would usually look like.
Then it has the teen club, Vibe, modeled in the same way that an adult nightclub would usually appear. In this case, Edge will have a New York City-inspired loft hangout space with a faux-grass picnic area, photo walls and an entrance hidden beyond a framed piece of art.
Walt Disney himself once said, “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things.” The creation of Disney Wish embodies this forward progress by charting its own path with a new style for staterooms, all-new restaurants, a different layout, more pools, new ways to unlock “hidden magic” and beyond.
But it doesn’t leave the past completely in its wake. The exterior of the ship will keep that same modern classic design, you’ll still have access to beloved Disney characters and there will still be Broadway-caliber shows and entertainment onboard.
When Disney Wish first opens its doors to guests to enter its Grand Atrium in June 2022, it will offer more magic than Disney’s ever been able to bring to life before in a place where “the magic meets the sea,” and we can’t wait to check it all out.
Feature image courtesy of Disney