Disney Cruise Line has set the standard for the cruise industry for over 20 years — and next year, the bar will be raised even higher when the Disney Wish sets sail. Over the past few years, since Bob Iger announced the fleet would be increasing, we have gotten small bits and pieces about what the Wish Class of ships would encompass. But, with the Wish launching in less than a year, the information has been coming faster than guests going down the AquaDuck.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to a special Walt Disney Imagineer Showcase where I was among a small group to see firsthand some of the new magic that will be coming to the Disney Wish. From the beauty of the Grand Hall to the pure excitement of the first ever Star Wars themed lounge, we spent a day immersing ourselves in all things Disney Wish — including a few things no one had heard about. Since it would be pointless to try and cover everything, here are 5 Things I Learned About The Disney Wish.
THIS IS WHERE A KID CAN BE A KID – DISNEY’S OCEANEER CLUB
“There is no doubt that kids are going to have the time of their lives aboard the Disney Wish,” said Danny Handke, senior creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Where else in the world can kids explore a super hero headquarters, a royal kingdom and an Imagineering lab in a matter of steps? Put simply, it’s great to be a kid on a Disney cruise.”
Moving the Oceaneer Club to deck 2, parents now have the ability to check in their young ones in the Grand Hall and send them “down the rabbit hole” on a twisting slide that lands directly and securely into the central hub. Once down the slide, the new array of exciting experiences will keep those lucky kids (ages 3-12) busy well into the evening hours. I’ve always been a bit jealous of the children’s areas on the ship, as someone who loves the details, these areas have always been more than a place to play. I have been guilty of being one of the last adults out of the tours they offer just because there is so much to see and do and the Imagneers have really taken that to the next level aboard the Wish. We were shown three of the areas in the Oceaneer Club, but one thing we all took note of was a small map that was shown had two spaces without any information.
- Walt Disney Imagineering Lab is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for kids to discover the secrets of world-renowned Disney Imagineers — the creative masterminds behind Disney theme parks, resorts and cruise ships — with hands-on activities and inventive experiments. Sorcerer Mickey, the ambassador of Walt Disney Imagineering, may even stop by to lend a wand to the newly minted magic makers.
One of the most exciting things Imagineers get to do is design roller coasters. At the Ride Studio, kids will create a coaster along the lines of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain or Matterhorn Bobsleds – and then climb into a capsule where they will virtually ride their imaginative masterpiece.
- Fairytale Hall is a royal trio of activity rooms where princesses and princes will let their creativity shine at Rapunzel’s Art Studio, read and act out stories at Belle’s Library, and test new-found icy powers at Anna and Elsa’s Sommerhus.
- Inspired by her love of expression, Rapunzel’s Art Studio will be a creative escape where kids will have the best day ever making their own arts and crafts projects, like floating lanterns and paintings.
- Belle’s Library will be a cozy corner for reading and acting out stories with the help of Disney characters. An enchanted painting above the fireplace will magically transform to bring the tales to life.
- Anna and Elsa are never far from snow, even in their summer cabin. Here, kids will unlock icy powers during “Frozen Fun,” a series of gesture-based games hosted by Olaf, which include snowball fights with friendly trolls and a hunt for mischievous Snowgies – the tiny, playful snowmen created by Elsa in the animated short “Frozen Fever.”
- Marvel Super Hero Academy is a high-tech Avengers headquarters where young “recruits” will train to be the next generation of Super Heroes with the help of their own real-life heroes, like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Kids will begin by choosing a super hero suit from a selection of power sets based on Marvel heroes like Iron Man and Captain Marvel, and watching their choices become nanotech forms around mannequins in real-time.
Then it will be time for “Avengers: Mission Training,” a gesture-based technology game where they put their new suits and skills to the test as they virtually battle bad guys.
A WATERCOASTER WITH A STORY? NO 2 STORIES! – AQUAMOUSE
“Disney Cruise Line has pioneered many industry firsts through the years, including the first onboard water coaster and the first and only fireworks at sea,” said Danny Handke, senior creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering. “For the Disney Wish, we wanted to continue that tradition of innovation in a big way. With AquaMouse, we’re combining theme park thrills, iconic Disney animation and the magic of ocean cruising to create a one-of-a-kind water attraction unlike anything we’ve done before.”
When the AquaMouse was revealed as the next progression of onboard water attractions, I know everyone I knew was talking about how they would take a watercoaster and add a storyline to it? After seeing the mock up and the videos the answer is VERY WELL!
Being immersed in “The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse” animated shorts as your zig and zag through 760 feet of tubes suspended above the upper decks still sounds to me like something that is hard to wrap my head around. But, when they sprang on us that, instead of just one storyline as they had previously announced, it would actually be two, it left us all in awe. With lighting, show scenes, a water effect or two — plus the fact this is all taking place on a ship at sea — this will be a must-do. And, with the second storyline, it will be a “must-do a few times” over the course of the cruise.
As the story goes, Mickey and Minnie are starting their very own seaside excursion company — aptly named “Port Misadventures” — on board the Disney Wish, and adventuresome cruisers will join them on two exciting excursions that will inevitably (and hilariously) go awry.
- During “Scuba Scramble,” Mickey and Minnie lead an undersea adventure to Mermaid Lagoon.
- During “Swiss Meltdown,” Mickey and Minnie invite guests on a mountain sledding excursion, but when the snow begins to melt, adventurers are off on a frantic dash to the mountaintop, avoiding obstacles like avalanches, leaky rock walls and waterfalls!
- “Swiss Meltdown” is inspired by the Mickey Mouse short “Yodelberg.” Composer Christopher Willis adapted his iconic score from the show for the attraction.
- Each episode features fun Disney easter eggs and other favorite characters like Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Pluto — and, in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos, Chip ‘n’ Dale hitchhiking their way to Disney’s Castaway Cay.
“IT’S ALL CONNECTED” – WORLDS OF MARVEL
“’Avengers: Quantum Encounter’ is Disney Cruise Line’s most ambitious dining experience ever,” said Danny Handke, senior creative director, Walt Disney Imagineering. “We’re doing something that’s never been done before in a restaurant, developing an exclusive Avengers adventure that will immerse our guests in the action through sophisticated technology and innovative storytelling. It’s the perfect complement to the incredible menu of story-driven dining aboard the Disney Wish.”
For me, Animator’s Palate was one of the coolest places to eat, with ties to animated films I loved all my life. However, I would look around and see younger kids with no real emotional ties to the classics, so I fully understand why for the Disney Wish the premier dining location would be themed to something as well known as the Worlds of Marvel. Marvel films have become bigger than even Kevin Feige could have imagined merely 13 years ago, but the storytelling and mythology is so rich that every member of the family now has some attachment which made it the perfect concept for the Disney Wish’s “BIG” dining experience.
As we sat down to get a tour of this new location from Friday, Tony Stark’s personal AI (Artificial Intelligence), of course something goes wrong and Ultron (that pesky villain from Avengers: Age of Ultron) rears his digital head and starts to wreak havoc. Now you may be asking yourself “how is it all connected?” other than a villain from one of the films showing up, well this is where we go back to how cool the Oceaneer Club is. During the Marvel Super Hero Academy, as those new recruits are being trained, Ultron might just break in and cause some problems, which continues into dinner.
Anyone that has dined in the aforementioned Animator’s Palate may recall how you may be at a table far away from any of the screens in the room. Well, that was something WDI took into consideration. For the 700 guests this dining location is designed in such a way that while it might sound like this is a massive area the sections and tables are set up in such a way everyone will feel like they are part of the action.
Worlds of Marvel will feature an original storyline starring fan-favorite Avengers and an infamous foe. The debut of “Avengers: Quantum Encounter” will assemble some of Earth’s Mightiest — and tiniest — Super Heroes in a larger-than-life showcase of revolutionary quantum technology and world-class cuisine.
- Cinematic Dining – “Avengers: Quantum Encounter” will follow Ant-Man and The Wasp as they embark on their first public speaking engagement on behalf of the Avengers. Anxious to impress, they are hosting a special presentation of the most powerful Super Hero technologies, such as Captain America’s shield, Iron Man’s arc reactor and Ant-Man’s Pym Particles, giving guests an up-close look at holographic models, field reports and iconic scenes from Marvel movies displayed on the screens surrounding the room. The highlight of this special event is a hands-on demonstration of the latest and greatest Pym Tech, the Quantum Core, which uses cutting-edge — and highly unstable — technology to shrink and grow targets at the push of a button. A few “misfires” result in hilarious Ant-Man-style hijinks, but the real trouble begins when an unexpected villain shows up with a fearsome army in tow, eager to get their hands on this powerful quantum technology. Ant-Man and The Wasp will need all the help they can get to save the day, calling on Captain America, Captain Marvel and the brave diners of the Disney Wish for back-up.
- Quantum Core Technology – Every table at Worlds of Marvel will feature an interactive Quantum Core, “a brand-new device that can cause objects to shrink and grow remotely.” Guests will assist Ant-Man and The Wasp as they attempt some small-scale trials, perhaps shrinking oversized luggage for easy stateroom storage. When enough of the Quantum Cores are activated at the same time, the entire venue will become supercharged as energy pulses through the power channels in the walls and ceiling. Outfitted with state-of-the-art Pym Tech and decked out in signature Starkitecture style, the design of Worlds of Marvel will offer surprises in all shapes and sizes, from a distinctly Marvel hexagonal motif to the various “Easter eggs” and unknown details embedded in the show.
- Globally Inspired Menus – True to its name, Worlds of Marvel will take families on a flavorful tour of the real and fictional settings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with dishes inspired by legendary locales like African Wakanda, Eastern European Sokovia and the Avengers’ home base of New York City. Though menus are still in development, guests can expect to find a diverse array of globally influenced items and playful nods to the worlds and characters they know and love from Marvel Studios films.
COOLEST PLACE THIS SIDE OF OGA’S CANTINA – STAR WARS: HYPERSPACE LOUNGE
“Our guests are often surprised by just how much fun and relaxation there is for adults on a Disney cruise,” said Laura Cabo, portfolio creative executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “With the Disney Wish, we wanted to give our adult guests even more variety and options to customize their experience, whether they’re looking for elegant sophistication with just a touch of pixie dust, or full-scale immersion into some of their favorite Disney stories. Either way, one thing is for sure: adults will experience legendary Disney storytelling in all-new ways aboard the Disney Wish.”
Out of everything I got to see as I toured the WDI offices of Walt Disney World, nothing was more exciting or awe inspiring than walking in to see the virtual “window” that will be the centerpiece of the Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge. Growing up in the 70s/80s, I was in the Golden Age of Star Wars. So the idea of sitting at a bar and looking out into space to see a Star Cruiser fly by has always been a dream of mine and the Hyperspace Lounge will be where that dream can become a reality (virtually). Having the chance to stand in the room and watch ships flying by, learn about the technology that will be in the lounge, and talking to the creative minds behind this really took my childhood dream to the next level. One of the most interesting parts of the “window” will be the Easter Eggs that will pop up from time to time, including a Star Speeder direct from Star Tours flying past or perhaps the best view in the galaxy the Halcyon Starcruiser on its two-night cruise from just outside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The venue’s sleek interior design and metallic detailing is inspired by lavish star cruisers similar to Dryden Vos’ ship in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” While guests sip their galactic concoctions, this space-faring voyage will transport them to iconic locations from the eras of the Republic, Empire and First Order, employing hyperspace jumps to travel from planet to planet while sensational scenes unfold just beyond the ship’s panoramic viewport at each stop.
- Guests of all ages can experience the lounge during the day, but adults only evenings.
- Tatoonie, Mustafar, Batuu, Coruscant, Moons of Endor, as well as flybys of the Ace Squadron (from Star Wars Resistance) will all be featured as the “window” takes us from place to place.
- A holotube will present holographic models of nearby ships.
- Thematic beer taps and bottles will be used in the lounge containing many off world and Earthly wines and spirits.
- The “window” is 20 feet wide incompusing more that 16,000 pixels plus a state of the art surround-sound system giving guests a truly out of this world experience.
IT’S NOT JUST MIDSHIP ANYMORE – DISNEY UNCHARTED ADVENTURE
“We are infusing the Disney Wish with innovative technology, like augmented reality and physical effects, to create a hidden layer of magic that can only be unlocked with Disney Uncharted Adventure,” Feder said. “Guests might admire a beautiful painting today without realizing that, hiding right beneath the surface, there’s a hoard of mischievous Kakamora from the world of Moana just waiting to escape and wreak havoc on the ship. A digital menu board might showcase what’s for lunch in the afternoon, but later it will host a cooking lesson in Tiana’s own kitchen.”
As a huge fan of the Midship Detective Agency games on the other Disney Ships, the lack of information on what type of game would fill that spot on the Disney Wish was a big red flag for me. Would I have to actually sit out by one of the beautiful pools or learn how to play shuffleboard??? Thankfully that question was answered for me in the form of the Disney Uncharted Adventure game!
Over the past few years, I have really dedicated myself to earning all the Achievements on the Play Disney Parks app and have gone so far as to plan trips during the holidays to the Disney Parks because there are always special ones during that time. Thus, when I was told about this new game and that it would be played on that app, my first question was, “Are there special achievements?” to which I was told, “Yes” — and I was ready to book my cruise right then and there. Getting a hands on chance to play really was astounding transforming your smartphone into a “magical spyglass” and taking full advantage of things like the gyroscope system to do different movements or using your microphone to help “blow on soup” to cool it down just blew me away. But by far the coolest aspect of this new adventure is that instead of playing it for an hour and finishing it, Disney Uncharted Adventure will culminate in a group setting s to battle an infamous Disney villain (who’s been pulling the strings all along) and finally restore the wishing star to its rightful place in the sky..
- Once guests book their cruise Captain Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse, via the Play Disney Parks app will help guests prepare for the journey ahead by highlighting the important role of the night sky in seafaring — particularly the ever-shining wishing star that lights the way.
- On board the Disney Wish, guests will use their spyglasses to reveal never-before-seen views of the stars above, where enchanted constellations take shape as recognizable icons from Disney and Pixar stories. When the wishing star suddenly bursts and shatters, families will watch as its pieces are scattered across the sky, each landing in a far-off realm. Captain Minnie will need guests to help navigate the ship to these uncharted worlds to find the missing pieces of the wishing star.
- Guests will choose where to go next, charting a course toward adventurous locales such as Motunui, New Orleans, Never Land, Sydney and more. Each quest will take them on an expansive journey throughout the Disney Wish as they are prompted to seek artwork, signs and props that magically transform to bring the characters and settings of these story worlds to life all around them.
- Along the way, guests will join the heroic characters who inhabit each destination on a mission to find the star fragment that landed there. Highlights include:
- Teaming up with Moana to navigate their canoes beyond the reef;
- Helping Tiana cook up the perfect pot of her father’s favorite gumbo;
- Summoning Tinker Bell to give the Disney Wish an extra dash of pixie dust; and
- Making an epic dive into the East Australian Current (EAC) with Nemo and friends.
I will admit that prior to a few years ago I never thought I would want to spend 3 days on a ship of any kind, of course that changed after my first steps on board the Disney Dream and now I can’t wait for my next cruise but the Disney Wish has me counting the days. Getting a peek behind the keel for me was just a Fantasy, but to actually see some of the new Magic coming to this beautiful ship really was a Dream come true and it did leave me in Wonder of what else could be coming to the Disney Wish.
The Disney Wish will sail its maiden voyage on June 9, 2022, followed by a season of three- and four night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral, Florida. To learn more about the Disney Wish or to book a vacation, guests can visit disneycruise.com, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact MouseFan Travel.