The family friendly Disney Wish casts her spell as soon as you meet Disney cast members at Port Canaveral’s Terminal B. They are delighted to be back after a long pandemic absence and especially pleased to show off a beautiful new ship.
Step into Deck 3’s Grand Hall and imagine yourself in a fairy tale, in what the Disney Cruise Line team call “Disney’s Castle at Sea.” It’s just one of the many family friendly touches that will thrill first-time cruisers and surprise fans of DCL’s first four ships. On Disney Wish, expect lots of plussing, those extra touches that Walt Disney himself liked to add to his theme parks.
A Fairy Tale Castle at Sea
The Grand Hall, a design to be repeated on two more ships due in 2023 and 2024, is remarkable for several reasons. Boarding passengers of all ages are given a wand and asked to unlock the ‘enchantment’ as lights burst on. (Tip: ask Guest Services when other Enchantment Moments are scheduled.) Disney Characters wave from a balcony and raised stage while remaining safely distanced from these new wishmakers.
The ship’s décor is themed completely — yet subtly — to Disney stories instead of the elegant Art Deco and Art Nouveau design seen on other ships. A swirling white chandelier evokes the famous animated scene when Cinderella’s old clothes are transformed into a ballgown by her Fairy Godmother.
Astute observers will catch the tubular opening on one side of the Grand Hall that looks like a family friendly water slide. It the coolest way kids ages 3-12 can slide down to Deck 2 and right into the supervised Oceaneer Club. A swooping staircase, an ideal photo backdrop, completes the very theatrical and authentically Disney Grand Hall.
All Ages Come Together on Family Friendly Disney Wish
There are many differences between the Disney Wish and past favorites Disney Magic (1998), Disney Wonder (1999), Disney Dream (2011) or Disney Fantasy (2012) that fans will notice.
The layout (‘general arrangement’ in ship building parlance) is the most notable difference. Music clubs, lounges and bars that were segregated in adult districts on earlier ships are now spread throughout the ship. Explore the video screens that transport you to far-off galaxies in the family friendly Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge and the crystal bubble light fixtures at Nightingales piano bar. On Disney Wish, do it when these lounges are open to families with children, or at night with other adults.
Looking for a quiet Mimosa at Bayou, the New Orleans style lounge inspired by “Princess and the Frog”? Keep in mind that little ones may be consuming beignets and root beer floats till 9pm. Reservations may be required and should be booked before embarking. Family hours at each venue vary and are listed on the MyDisney Navigator app, the dominant planning tool. That app, by the way, notifies you when your load at the Deck 8 guest laundry has finished its cycle.
The Disney Makeover on the Family Friendly Disney Wish
The soothing Senses Spa, largest among all DCL ships, focuses on premium therapies for ages 18 and older. New at Senses Spa is a medical team doing acupuncture, cupping and injectables to inspire guests to return home feeling and looking better. Inquire about day passes to the outdoor Rainforest experience which occupies the Deck 5 bow. While some guests will thrill at the views, others will dislike the fact that there’s no longer a way to circumnavigate the ship on calorie-burning walks. On the positive side, the Fitness Room has free standing Spin Bikes and classes (some for a fee) in yoga, Spin and more.
Young fans again have a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for complete Prince, Princess and Pirate makeovers. The Tangled Salon (think Rapunzel, who graces the ship’s stern) mixes mani-pedis for kids with adult hairstyling. Adults get a shave and a haircut with a beer at the fun new Hook’s Barbery, named for Peter Pan’s nemesis.
Upgraded Family Staterooms are More Luxurious
The family friendly Disney Wish boasts 1,254 staterooms including 877 with a verandah. There are 76 Concierge Level suites with access to an exclusive lounge in addition to a glamorous four-bedroom Tower Suite. (This is also known as the Funnel Suite since it rises two stories inside the decorative bowside funnel.)
While similar in layout with a privacy curtain separating the main bed from third, fourth and fifth berths, Disney Wish staterooms have more efficient storage areas. There are fewer inside staterooms and none have the Magic Portholes that charmed families on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Instead, budget watching families should look at the oceanview Porthole staterooms which sleep five.
Luxury touches that make this family-friendly cruise feel more upscale include Frette linens, crisp white duvets and guest bathrobes and slippers in all staterooms. Disney storytelling continues in hallway carpets patterned after iconic film moments, themed light fixtures and hidden Disney symbols throughout the ship.
Evening Entertainment is Magical
The Wish’s retro style Walt Disney Theatre features two new shows developed in partnership with Broadway professionals. In addition to talented cast members (this is the company that brought us Steve Martin, Jennifer Hudson, Zendaya, Kristen Stewart and Demi Lovato among others), the productions are enhanced by remarkable sound. The Wish is the first cruise ship using Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos to immerse guests in sound coming from all sides of its theater and two cinemas.
“Disney Seas the Adventure” is an original story incorporating favorite Disney music and characters in a tale that elevates Goofy to the ship’s captain. With Capt. Minnie’s encouragement and the help of many other Disney and Pixar friends (seen in projections and in person), he finds inspiration and takes the helm.
“Disney The Little Mermaid” is a retelling of that popular tale using even more technological enhancements. One reason it is so enchanting is that the theatre is painted in a special shade of green to support light projections. Marvel at how projection mapping makes realistic waves and undersea bubbles appear around the proscenium, theater walls and ceiling, enveloping the cast. The “Under the Sea” number is a show-stopper.
Expect lots more family entertainment for all ages, including game and trivia shows in the multi-purpose Luna Libations lounge, live music in several of the family-by-day adult-by-night spots, silent disco nights, and the fan-favorite Pirates Rockin’ Parlay Party, now a live rock concert, on the pool deck.
Fresh Dining Venues Aboard Family Friendly Disney Wish
The Disney Wish’s fresh layout includes smaller, heavily themed food and beverage venues in contrast to the sweeping Art Deco and Art Nouveau spaces on past ships. At the huge 1923 Restaurant, for example, dining spaces are separated by glass cases of delightful Disney memorabilia. Commemorating the founding year of the Walt Disney Company, 900 historic drawings, maquettes and props keep Disney fans busy.
Families book an early or late dining time at the three ‘rotation’ restaurants where the same wait staff follow guests throughout the voyage. Like 1923, the two Deck 5 restaurants are new concepts. Superhero fans will love Worlds of Marvel, a space gray dining space encased in screens and light effects. In this restaurant’s story, “Avengers: Quantum Encounter,” Ant-man and The Wasp urge diners to interact with a Quantum Core tabletop prop (between courses) to save the world.
Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure is more dinner theater than sports bar. Guests dine on Nordic inspired fare around a large stage. An original musical story that picks up after the end of “Frozen 2” is performed by Queen Anna, Kristoff and Elsa. Keep cameras ready for the Olaf puppet.
Favorite Disney Cruise Ship Snack and Splurge Options
Marceline Market, named for a Missouri town Walt Disney lived in as a child, is Deck 11’s buffet dining area, with limited outdoor seating. Make sure to steer kids to the knee-high buffet line designed just for them. And, just as the table service venues offer a special Plant-Based Menu, guests will find many vegetarian and vegan options at the buffet.
Room service is available and, as always on Disney Cruise Line ships, complimentary. There is one 24-hour complimentary soda station where you can refill water bottles on Deck 11. Ask about beer or wine drink packages when you board because ordering bottled water and soda in cans costs extra.
Premium adult restaurants include Palo Steakhouse, popular on all the ships, plus two new venues inspired by “Beauty and the Beast”: Enchanté and The Rose. The rarified ambiance and exceptional cuisine (Enchanté menu has been designed by a three-Michelin-starred chef, Arnaud Lallement) available at each make reservations tough to score. Per person dining premiums start at $45.
Super Charged Children’s Spaces on Family Friendly Disney Wish
Disney has been intentional about carrying over their highly regarded, supervised kids’ clubs to the family friendly Disney Wish. Children’s programs are divided into three age groups. The youngest are brought to the it’s a small world nursery! for ages 6-36 months. Character themed rest, nap and play areas are state-of-the-art for childcare. No in-stateroom babysitting is offered.
Reserve the Oceaneers club for extensive facilities geared to ages 3-6, 7-9 and 9-12. Don’t miss an opportunity to check out the very cool STEAM activities at Imagineer’s Lab with the kids. Families also have five different pools with lifeguards to enjoy together, more than on any previous ship. The Edge is the tweens club for ages 11-14. Note that children in that age range can choose to participate in any of the three clubs.
Vibe, the stylish and exclusive teen space on Deck 12, welcomes ages 13-18. Ask about special exclusive programs for ages 17-19. We love that eligible teens can use their Key to the World cards to activate a private elevator straight up to that space.
Enchanting the Young and Young at Heart Aboard Disney Wish
Ready to witness new constellations using your app for Disney Uncharted Adventure? All ages find and unlock clues throughout the ship by pointing cellphones at digital signage. Magic unlocks augmented reality and other interactive features.
Remember the tubular slide off the Grand Hall? Turns out as many adults as school-age kids try to slide down it and into the Oceaneers club.
That’s even more true for the family friendly Aquamouse. Hailed as DCL’s first attraction at sea, it’s a raft-propelled, gentle water coaster through a 760-foot tube that wraps around Deck 12. Single and double rafts carry family members based on their size and weight. Guests with physical disabilities and wheelchair users are welcome to board. Cartoons, music and effects projected on inner tube walls advance the storyline; in our ride, Mickey and Minnie were confronting melting polar ice. Aquamouse is a wonderful way for all ages to enjoy the sea, the breeze and a gentle splash down into a shallow pool.
Hero Zone, a huge sports facility that accommodates basketball, volleyball and other ball sports is another brand-new concept for active families. Don’t miss a chance to tackle the inflatable challenge course because the successful family will feel like “The Incredibles.”
Factor in current public health protocols which require vaccinations from 90% of passengers ages 5 and older, plus 95% of crew.
Add in the news that this ship is cleanly powered by Liquid Natural Gas.
Consider the three- and four-day, close to home itineraries to the Bahamas. Yes, dreamy Castaway Cay is included on all departures.
Feel incredible? Totally enchanted? Sail on and discover which family friendly Disney Wish story will be yours.
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