Home Tips The new Disney Wish: The world&x27s most magical cruise ship (PHOTOS) | Mapped

The new Disney Wish: The world&x27s most magical cruise ship (PHOTOS) | Mapped

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Disney wish cruise ship inside

What happens when you take the very concept of a Disney theme park and put it on a cruise ship?

Enter Disney Cruise Line (DCL) — and more importantly its newest and largest vessel, the Disney Wish.

Like other DCL vessels, the Wish is considered a mid-size cruise ship in the global cruise industry. It achieves a delicate balance between the number of options to keep guests entertained with ample space to move around and a certain quality in true Disney fashion that maintains both an intimate and magical experience. In layman’s terms: this is no sardine can of the seas.

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While this is the overall mantra of DCL ever since it launched its initial vessel, the Disney Magic, in the late 1990s, it could not be more true with the Wish, which is the first addition to the Disney fleet in a decade — since the launch of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The best practices and technological advancements in global cruise ship design — including health safety measures, such as touchless elevator buttons — have been adopted on the Wish, along with the latest creative innovations of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Every space on the Wish, which has been sailing since Summer 2022, is thoughtfully themed, going far beyond the detailing, scope, and offerings of her four sister ships.

Simply put, more Disney stories come to life than ever before on the Wish.

Just like Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, the focal point of the Wish is the castle — and it is the first vessel on the DCL fleet to feature a castle for its expansive Grand Hall atrium lobby, which also serves to establish the first impression when guests board the vessel for the very first time and enter through the hall.

A glowing “Wishing Star” chandelier is suspended over the Grand Hall, and the space at the bottom of the grand staircase would not be complete without a bronze statue of Cinderella, whose “wish will come true” story provides the inspiration for the design of the space.

This “castle on the seas” with its theme of enchantment also includes a stage for entertainment and showcasing Disney characters.

“As soon as you walk into the Grand Hall for the first time, we shout out your name to give you a proper warm honourary welcome,” Daniel Gallego, the entertainment manger for DCL, told Daily Hive during a press trip on the Wish. “It is a stunning space and you’ll notice that it is very different from all of our other ships.”

One of the first things that come to mind for an original Disney theme park is the all-important castle. The checklist box for this is now checked.

The next important thing for a Disney park is arguably the rides. To that end, the Wish is built with Disney’s first ride attraction at sea — the Aquamouse.

The Aquamouse is no ordinary water slide, as like everything else on the Wish there is a story to be told, with guests taken up an enclosed conveyor belt tube with LCD screens that show a cartoon animation of Mickey Mouse and his friends being forced to go an unexpected rafting trip, after realizing all the snow has melted. The “rafting adventure” downwards begins at the top of the ascent, encircling the top deck of the ship and gliding over Toy Story-themed water play area.

And finally, the third pillar of a Disney park is the entertainment. There is certainly no shortage of it.

Like her sister ships, the Wish has a fireworks night. DCL is the only cruise line in the world with fireworks as part of its regular programming for each sailing.

Denise Case, the director of entertainment creative for DCL, told Daily Hive the Wish’s nighttime fireworks have been created specifically for this ship, with “Rockin’ Parlay” combining rock and roll with Pirates of the Caribbean. Captain Red, a new character for this performance, joins Captain Jack Sparrow and a live band, which live performs the fireworks soundtrack.

Entertainment on the Wish also comes alive on the stage of the Walt Disney Theatre, a stunning 1,274-seat show venue with a design that takes inspiration from the forest worlds of the Disney animated classic Fantasia, and is equipped with the latest Broadway show technology, including state-of-the-art projection mapping.

Over two dozen performing cast members are involved in all three musical shows in the theatre, including two original shows made specifically for the Wish — Seas the Adventure, starring Goofy, who embarks on his own journey to take over the helm of the ship from Captain Minnie, and a new stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid. The fan favourite of DCL’s production of Aladdin, also found on other ships, is also one of the show offerings on the Wish.

But much of the entertainment found on the Wish is outside of its traditional theatre and stage settings. “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy,” reads an iconic plaque over an archway at the entrance into Disneyland in Anaheim, and this could not be more true for the Wish’s dining experiences.

Most modern cruise ships are known to have a single dining hall, often multiple storeys centred around its own atrium. But each DCL ship deviates from this conventional dining concept — instead, Disney provides a unique rotational dining system, with each ship featuring three main dining restaurants that are stacked, but completely separate.

The three main dining restaurants found on each of the sister ships feature extensive theming, but Imagineers took a huge step forward on the Wish by weaving in extensive immersive live entertainment with the dining experience for two of its three main dining restaurants.

The Wish’s “Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure” is a theatrical dining experience based on Frozen, with a storyline that designates diners as guests of the royal engagement party for Queen Anna and Kristoff. Case described this particular dining hall as a theatre first and a restaurant second, with table seating surrounding a stage in the centre of the space. Fan favourite characters from Frozen — including the couple, Elsa, and Olaf — make their rounds to each table between performances to greet their guests, young and old.

This theatre restaurant is equipped with state-of-the-art show technology and carries an interior design themed after Arendelle castle. As for the food, it naturally features a fusion of Nordic-inspired cuisine.

There there is the Avengers-themed technology showcase restaurant, called “Worlds of Marvel” — a one-of-a-kind, hands-on interactive cinematic dining experience.

Danny Handke, the senior creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, told Daily Hive the restaurant is equipped with over 100 large LCD screens to provide every table with optimal sight lines of the video shorts — an original production totalling about 60 minutes of new footage created with Marvel Studios, with extensive CGI for action sequences and starring the original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) actors playing their characters, including Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Anthony Mackie.

Diners need to help Ant Man, the Wasp, and other Avengers to save the ship from Ultron, who tries to take over the Wish. In between meal service, the characters will come up on the screen to tell the diners when to press the button on the “Quantum Core” device placed on every table to shrink or grow objects.

“We get to see characters team up. We’re actually in our own theme park universe, so we connect to Avengers campus at the Disneylands of Anaheim and Paris. The audience, the diners, are both the protagonist and heroes of their own story, and they get to help Ant Man save the day,” said Handke.

The interior design of “Worlds of Marvel” is dubbed “Starkitechture,” after Tony Stark with an Avengers Tower type of theme, and it aptly serves global cuisine from the fictional settings of the MCU.

As for the Wish’s third main dining restaurant, it is closest to a traditional restaurant on a cruise ship. There is no elaborate entertainment, but “1923,” named after the year the Walt Disney Company was founded, pays homage to Walt and Roy Disney and their company’s early animations. The interior design takes on a cozy, stylish, vintage flair, and features drawings and props showcasing Disney’s original works.

Under the scheduled rotational system, all guests have the opportunity to dine at each main dining restaurant at least once during the sailing. While formal attire is a requirement on other cruise ships for their main dining restaurant, smart casual attire is fine for entry into the Wish’s experiences.

Other dining experiences found on the Wish include Marceline Market, which is a traditional buffet, as well as premium specialty dining restaurants such as Palo Steakhouse and Enchante.

DCL ships have a reputation for being highly family-friendly, with an emphasis on the interests of the younger ones. But the Imagineers have taken note that adults want their own big-kid experiences, too.

The immersive, high-tech “Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge” is designed as a luxurious bar on a star cruiser, taking inspiration from Solo: A Star Wars Story. A giant LCD screen spanning the wall behind the bar is disguised as a giant window out into space, with ever-changing scenes, along with sounds, to mimic space travel and deliver the storyline. This bar is open to everyone during the daytime, but it is limited to adults only in the evening.

Just outside the entrance into the Star Wars-themed lounge is “The Bayou,” an open lounge with a bar and lush theming based on The Princess and the Frog. Other adults-only experiences found elsewhere on the Wish include the Viking-themed “Keg & Compass” pub, the Cinderella-themed “Nightingale’s” piano bar, The Rose lounge, Triton lounge, and “Hook’s Barbery,” which doubles as both an upscale salon and a hidden bar — inspired by Captain Hook’s ship, the “Jolly Roger,” in Peter Pan.

Of course, the kids get their own unique immersive experiences, too.

Found only on the Wish is “Star Wars: Cargo Bay,” where kids are provided with augmented-reality tablets to take care of the creatures in the storage area of the space ship, and assist stowaways Rey and Chewbacca.

In the “Marvel Super Hero Academy,” amongst the MCU-themed activities found in this space, kids can design their own superhero costume, and then use it virtually to fight the villains and save the world.

For a more educational experience — STEAM meets Disney creativity — the “Walt Disney Imagineering Lab” is akin to Roller Coaster Tycoon on steroids, where kids can virtually design and test their Disney theme park rides.

Young ones who want an arts, crafts, and/or reading escape can also choose to play in the “Fairytale Hall.”

All four of these immersive experiences for children — “Star Wars: Cargo Bay,” “Marvel Super Hero Academy,” “Walt Disney Imagineering Lab,” and “Fairytale Hall” — serve as not only entertainment offerings but also as high-quality childcare for parents who want some alone time to be a big kid, without the kids. The four experiences are found within “Disney’s Oceaneer Club,” which is gate accessed. A one-storey slide from the Grand Hall also provides kids with a whimsical arrival into this secure space.

Parents who have younger kids up to three years old can drop them off at the “It’s A Small World” babysitting services, with the nursery and activities themed after Disney, Pixar, and Marvel stories.

For both kids and adults, the Wish has two auditorium-style theatres that screen new and classic Disney property movies throughout each day. The Alice in Wonderland-themed “Wonderland Cinema” seats 84 people, and the Peter Pan-themed “Never Land Cinema” seats 86 people.

Disney’s newest vessel has prioritized a significant amount of interior space to keep people entertained, more than the typical cruise ship.

For example, on a comparably sized Royal Caribbean ship with a 138,000 gross tonnage (GT), there are 1,643 staterooms. In contrast, the Wish with a 144,000 GT has 1,250 staterooms — equivalent to each of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, which are both smaller than the Wish by over 14,000 GT.

The proportion of interior staterooms — rooms inside the core of the ship without any windows — on the Wish is smaller than most in the industry, with 90% of the vessel’s staterooms offering an ocean view, including 20% with a window and 70% with a verandah (a patio).

As well, the Wish has squeezed in a luxurious two-storey stateroom into one of its funnels, aptly named the Wish Tower suite.

And FYI: There is no shortage of Easter eggs integrated with the design of the ship — look everywhere for the “Hidden Mickeys.”

Currently, the homeport of the Wish is Port Canaveral on the east coast of Central Florida — strategically just over an hour-long drive away from Walt Disney World Resort. It is dedicated to three- and four-night Bahamian sailings, with a stopover at Disney Castaway Cay island.

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