Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish, set sail on its maiden voyage on July 14, 2022. With the new ship comes a plethora of new spaces to experience, foods to try and drinks to sip. As with any good Disney story, there’s always a villain lurking in the background before the hero triumphantly makes their way into the sunset after the conquest. For the Disney Wish, the hero in this story, the coronavirus pandemic has been the villain that caused delays for the ship to be able to sail into the golden sunset with guests aboard.
Thomas Mazloum, President of Disney Signature Experiences says, “We tell more stories than ever on this ship.” And that’s definitely true. With dinners themed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Disney animated film Frozen, lounges that take guests to a galaxy far, far away, and immersive shows that bring the stories of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin to life, the Disney Wish leans into the rich storytelling portfolio of The Walt DisneyDIS Company.
The Disney Wish was a pandemic project, but on a much larger scale than what people might have been doing at home crafting or making a backyard garden. “I don’t think any one of us thought we’d ever see a pandemic at all. We literally started a little bit before was officially a pandemic,” says Mazloum. According to Mazloum, what makes the Disney Wish such a special vessel, besides it being the fifth ship of the growing Disney Cruise Line fleet, is the team that worked on it.
“So what it really takes is an immense amount of focus, discipline, but also the immense passion of our Imagineers and our cast the Disney Cruise Line for what they do,” says Mazloum.
Before setting sail out of Port Canaveral for three and four-night voyages, the Disney Wish has to be built, which happened across the ocean in Germany. During the building of the ship, flights were canceled and the team from Walt Disney Imagineering couldn’t go to the shipyard to see and touch what they had been planning through computer graphics and scale models for years. This challenge also helped to prove the resilience of the Imagineers. “We as an organization adapted fast, and started to innovate fast, like our team at the theme parks,” says Mazloum.
Part of adapting meant working from home. Mazloum shared that one afternoon he called Laura Cabo, Vice President Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, to see what she was doing. She happened to be trying to approve fabrics for the Disney Wish from her garage in California. “She literally said, ‘I had [the fabrics] shipped to me and I’m trying to puzzle it together,’” he recalls. Throughout the pandemic, teams from Germany and the United States used technology, like Zoom, and a bit of ingenuity to make decisions big and small that would impact the final result of the Disney Wish.
The culture of collaboration is what allowed Disney to complete the project in time for its July 14 maiden voyage. “The fact that we actually had the culture in place all the time, a culture of high collaboration, really enabled us to ensure that there was a mutual trust that was always there,” says Mazloum.
As guests make their way around the Disney Wish they will see Disney touches in everything from the carpet, some of which has character faces hidden in the designs, all the way to the staterooms which are themed after Disney princesses. “This ship is about storytelling,” says Mazloum.
Two new stories the ship is sharing with those onboard are Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge and the AquaMouse. Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge takes guests into the world of a luxury starship within the Star Wars universe. The lounge is family-friendly before 9:00 p.m., when it then becomes an adult-only space. This is where the secretive, yet social media sensation $5,000 cocktail can be found. Then there’s AqauMouse, Disney’s first attraction at sea. The water raft ride takes guests into the world of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in the same cartoon style at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before splashing down on the ship’s deck to retreat to the all-you-can-eat ice cream.
While any cruise ship can have lounges, water rides, endless buffets, and nightly performances, Mazloum says what sets Disney Cruise Line apart is that every single cast member on board the ship and working onshore gets up in the morning and looks for ways to make people happy. “It’s about creating really truly meaningful memories for [guests], that touch them and that give them the happiness that sometimes the world hasn’t always provided.”