We recently sailed aboard Disney Cruise Line’s newly refurbished and aptly (aftly?) named Disney Wonder for one of their Very Merrytime Cruises, and it was all those things: new, merry, and full of wonder. Note, Disney is really good at what Disney does.
Based out of Galveston, Texas (if you need local accommodations, I cannot recommend Hotel Galvez enough—it’s haunted!), the Disney Wonder, the second ship commissioned by Disney Cruise Line, is back from its dry dock makeover, and the overhaul has done it wonders.
Also, I can’t stop saying “wonder.”
The work done wasn’t just a new coat of paint but a complete reimagining of dining, childcare, and entertainment areas, not to mention guest staterooms. The sailing that we were on (as media), was the first voyage with all of the new amenities, and the crew of cast members seemed just as excited as the guests (Disney is really good about that, too).
The internet isn’t big enough to list all of the things we loved about the Disney Wonder, but I’ll try my best to share the highlights below:
Tiana’s Place Restaurant is a new dining experience exclusive to the Disney Wonder, and our meal there was the first served to guests (they had a cast member sailing prior to ours), which is fun.
Inspired by Princess Tiana in the Disney animated feature The Princess and the Frog, guests are treated to a celebration of New Orleans jazz and dining—this is the first Disney Cruise Line restaurant with live music in it, and it’s a winner!
Bonus: The story of the film is told throughout the meal, even the plates propel it forward with each course.
Animator’s Palate has the most creative and interactive guest experience I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. Prior to ordering, everyone is given an art project, and just before dessert said art becomes the night’s entertainment. This is Disney magic at its technological best.
Crown & Fin English Pub is a brand-new pub in the adult district (not what you think), and it basically became our stateroom away from the stateroom. The beer selection is impressive and the subtle nods to classic Disney films set in London were a great way to justify day drinking.
“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” will wow you. Seriously. I know what you’re saying: “Oh, come on, we just got the kids to stop watching the movie four times a day,” but don’t let that keep you away from The Walt Disney Theatre for this stage show.
The puppets, the technology, the whimsy, all of it is done to Broadway levels, and is the “must-see” on a ship full of “must-sees” (Must-seas? I really have a problem.)
While all of the kids’ clubs and childcare were plussed with new features (and/or locations), the real fun happened in Disney’s Oceaneer Club, where, in addition to areas themed to the Toy Story films, aka Andy’s Room, a Frozen room, and interactive time with Disney Junior characters, you can also experience the Marvel Super Hero Academy. Yes, the Marvel Super Hero Academy.
From Disney Cruise Line:
Exclusively on the Disney Wonder, Marvel Super Hero Academy offers extraordinary adventures in which each young guest plays an integral role. With the mentorship of some of Marvel’s greatest Super Heroes, young trainees learn the value of teamwork, bravery and problem solving through hands-on play and programs.
In one mission, Spider-Man appears in person to help children hone their spider senses by perfecting their skills of reflex, speed and sharp minds. Children work on their web-slinging and then get to see themselves in the headlines of the Daily Bugle.
The high-tech command post is also where other Marvel Super Heroes interact with children via a large digital display, helping them unleash their inner heroes. In one program, kids can control the movement of a character on screen to practice super skills like repulsor blasting.
Throughout the academy, displays feature equipment that helps make Marvel Super Heroes the mightiest in the universe.
Don’t worry, during the cruise there will be a few “open house” times in which the rest of the family can get in on the superhero action (and you really should).
As I mentioned, we were on a Very Merrytime Cruises, so take all of the above and add beautifully decorated and seasonally themed magic to it; however, don’t let a booked holiday calendar keep you from sailing with the Disney Wonder—the dining, the shows, the experience, that lasts year round. Don’t worry, Olaf will still be there come summer.
Take a trip with Disney Cruise Line, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner (see what I did there?).
Photos courtesy of Disney Cruise Line