Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October 2011
Disney Magic Charts A New Course
By: Michael Bennett

1998 was a time of tremendous growth and achievement. It’s the year two college students founded, what is today the largest aggregator of information in the world – Google. Melissa Ward became the first African-American female commercial aviation pilot in history, flying for United Airlines. Seventy-seven-year-old Astronaut John Glenn blasted off onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery becoming the oldest person in space. That year also marked the launch of two iconic brands within The Walt Disney Company that further solidified Disney as the world’s largest and best-known brand of family entertainment.

In April 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It is the single largest Disney theme park in the world. Just two months later the 2,400-passenger Disney Magic set sail on her maiden voyage introducing the world to cruising Disney style. And a year later came Disney Magic’s sister ship, Disney Wonder.

That colorful Disney style makes these two ships easily the most recognizable sailing vessels in the world. There are a few stylistic differences between the two ships. The bow of Disney Magic has the Sorcerer Mickey and the bow of the Disney Wonder has Steamboat Willie. The stern of Disney Magic has Goofy painting and the stern of Disney Wonder has Donald Duck and his nephew Huey painting.

The interior of Disney Magic is more art deco with a statue of Helmsman Mickey. The Disney Wonder is art nouveau featuring a statue of Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.January 26, 2011 launched another milestone at Disney with the inaugural journey of the 4,000-passenger Disney Dream. This dream ship (pun intended) will be joined next spring by the Disney Fantasy. Both ships promise to continue the Disney tradition of innovation and family fun.

These new ships also come with expanded itineraries that include Alaska, Europe, the Mexican Riviera and multiple stops at Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island that allows passengers on and off the ship at their leisure as opposed to waiting for tenders to ferry them back and forth. These newer itineraries add to Disney’s current stops in the Caribbean and The Bahamas. Disney offers you the luxury of choice with three-, four- or seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean out of Port Canaveral, Fl., and seven-night trips to the Mexican Riviera out of the Port of Los Angeles with special voyages in 2011 to the Mediterranean and Alaska.

Of the 1,250 staterooms on the Disney Dream, 88 percent are outside rooms and of those 90 percent have private verandahs. For larger families and groups traveling together there are 500 connecting doors that adjoin staterooms. And for those truly looking for the ultimate in luxury travel, the Disney Dream provides adjacent, concierge-level accommodation for up to 25 guests with four suites and two staterooms all joined by connecting doors. Disney can also accommodate cruise/land packages for anyone wanting to extend their Disney vacation near one of the ports. Or try a land/sea package that includes at stay at Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney has been and will continue to be at the forefront of innovation in the cruise industry. Disney staterooms are family-friendly in size and include a bath-and-a-half. Disney ships have an innovative rotating dining concept featuring three themed restaurants where guests rotate to a different restaurant each evening, all while keeping the same servers and table mates.

Animator’s Palate has a Pacific Rim feel with both its culture and culinary influences on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. On the Disney Dream the restaurant transforms into a shimmering undersea adventure featuring wonderful Disney characters. Parrott Cay on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder is a Caribbean grill house featuring spices, fruits and vegetables from the islands. The Disney Dream has Enchanted Garden, a casual restaurant with a seasonal menu featuring market fresh ingredients inspired by the gardens of Versailles.

Elegant Lumiere’s Disney Magic, Triton’s Disney Wonder and Royal Palace Disney Dream combine the best of continental cuisine with casual elegance for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are multiple alternatives for quicker food service on every ship in the Disney fleet. In an industry first, inner staterooms now have views of the outside world through the Magic Porthole – a wall-mounted monitor that displays real-time video views from high-definition cameras mounted outside of ship.

Almost an entire deck is dedicated to children’s areas and activities. On the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder kids ages 12 weeks to three years are cared for and entertained at the Flounder’s Reef Nursery. On the Disney Dream those children are entertained at It’s a Small World Nursery. Disney Cruise Line babysitting services offers the longest hours in the industry.  Older children can customize their cruise experience by choosing from a variety of activities. Oceaneer Club is a pirate-themed adventure area and home to Peter Pan’s Never Land where kids can play games, take part in storytelling, musical fun and dancing.

Oceaneer Lab offers exploration with experiment stations, music stations, computers, video games and more. Tweens (ages 11 to 13) enjoy video games, a multitude of high-tech entertainment, arts and movies in Edge. Onboard entertainment on all Disney ships features a combination of Broadway-style song-and-dance with some of Disney’s best-known characters, to first-run movies in the Buena Vista Theatre. Understanding that young people have different wants and needs based on age Disney has dedicated space for teenagers known as Vibe. There’s music, Internet access, plasma screens, MP3 players, games, Karaoke and snacks. On the Disney Dream teens have their own private deck for outside fun in the sun.

While Disney is synonymous with family fun and togetherness, Disney also understands that adults need a playground of their own. A place where their wants and needs are indulged – after all it’s a vacation for parents too. If you need to soothe those aches and pains or are simply looking for a little peace and tranquility, try the Vista Spa and Salon on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

On the Disney Dream it’s the Senses Spa & Salon located on decks 11 and 12. How about a massage, body wrap and pedicure in the “spa villa” complete with an indoor suite connected to a private outdoor verandah with personal hot tub and open-air shower. The Quiet Cove Pool is a multi-level pool for adults only.  Looking for a romantic fine-dining experience exclusively for adults, head to Palo located high atop each ship in the Disney fleet. Remy on the Disney Dream is Disney Cruise Line’s first premiere adult-dining option.

If you need a sip of coffee, a little quiet conversation, watch the news or surf the net, Cove Café is the place. Cove Café comes equipped with WiFi. There is a Cove Café on each ship in the Disney fleet. On the Disney Magic adults can head to Sessions, a piano bar located in the Beat Street section. An adults-only bar, Signals is located on Deck 9 Midship on both the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.

On the Disney Dream is a nighttime entertainment area known as The District. This is an adult only area located on Deck 4 aft. District Lounge is a great place to relax and take in the live piano music and other forms of entertainment. Stop by 687, Disney’s modern interpretation of a traditional pub. Pink is an upscale cocktail lounge. Skyline is a chic “sky bar” with ever changing views of city skylines. Evolution is a contemporary nightclub for your dancing pleasure. On Disney’s private island Castaway Cay adults have their own private beach. At Serenity Bay there are two-person hammocks to enjoy with your spouse. Private ocean-side cabanas are great venues for luxurious spa treatments.

Group travel on a Disney cruise has never been easier whether it be for social club, family reunion, affinity groups or multi-generational travel. Disney offers everything from champagne toast and fresh fruit moments after boarding to a private reception in one of the many entertainment and dining venues complete with Disney characters. David J. Giardino, Worldwide Group and Convention PR Manager says the most important message to deliver is “our flexibility to work with each individual group to deliver unique, unforgettable experience onboard our ships.”

For keynote and other visual presentations that require audio-visual equipment the Walt Disney Theatre (Decks 3 and 4) has a capacity of 1,340 and the Buena Vista Theatre (Decks 4 and 5) can hold 400 on the Disney Dream. The Walt Disney Theatre on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder has a seating capacity of 977 and the Buena Vista Theatre is a 268-seat cinema style setting.

Regardless of the ship, each of these theatres has start-of-the-art equipment with projection screens, Dolby surround sound and plush seating. For groups in the 600-person range Disney can offer a private dining rotation each evening of their cruise. These facilities can also be utilized as event space during the day. Similarly, nightclubs in The District Disney Dream are available during the day for breakout sessions and smaller events.

On Castaway Cay there is no single space dedicated exclusively for groups, but the venue lounge space on the island such as the Heads Up Bar can be used for functions. The total capacity is about 100. Groups booking all of the ship’s suites and concierge staterooms can privatize the concierge area to create an ultra-exclusive oasis for attendees. These suites and deluxe staterooms provide a new level of personalized services. The exclusive-access concierge level boasts a private lounge and sundeck, upgraded amenities and the services of a dedicated concierge staff.

Disney offers corporate group agreements with pricing and concessions negotiated based on overall business needs. When it comes to families booking at the corporate rate, Disney’s minimum group size is eight staterooms – 16 full fare guests on the same sail date. Group bonus dollars are offered to travel agencies, which allow agents the flexibility to create their own unique offering. Direct guest groups will receive onboard credit. That amount varies based on the length of the cruise. To arrange a meeting or group gathering onboard one of these great cruise ships go to or call (321) 939-7221.

Those of us in the travel industry always hear about low season or shoulder season when looking to save a little money. While Disney frequently has special offers and promotions in the marketplace, the all-inclusive nature of a Disney cruise means you can probably find a good value at virtually anytime of year. The launch of Disney Magic charted a new course in cruising and the Disney Wonder further solidified that journey. The Disney Dream and the soon to be launched Disney Fantasy promises to continue the wonderful tradition of Disney and the “Magic” launch just over a decade ago.
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