More Magic from Disney Dream

March 30, 2010

Disney takes cruise interaction to new levels with video technology and other imagineering magic.

Disney Cruise Lines offers more than cruises; they offer immersion in the Disney experience along with the cruise - every waking hour. In fact, after spending the day interacting with Disney characters, watching Disney movies and even hearing the "When you Wish Upon a Star" ship's horn as you sail away from port, it would be surprising if you didn't have a fair amount of pixie dust on your pillow when you wake up in the morning. And so we look forward eagerly to the debut of the brand new Disney Dream in January 2011. Even if you aren't a Disney fan you have appreciate the company's ability to entertainment us in ways few other cruise lines even consider.

Disney Dream (debuts January 2011) and her sister ship Disney Fantasy (2012) will be two brand new, larger cruise ships for Disney with a whole slate of new features in the manner only Disney can imagine. Just like the theme parks, the attractions on Disney cruises are heavy on interactive experiences with normally non-communicative creatures; turtles, fish, mice, dogs, etc. Many are accomplished via the best modern media technologies available such as flat panel video screens and 3-D movies.

So, with all the new Disney "Imagineering" the very concept of just putting on a show with real people in costume seems somewhat anachronistic, but they still do some of the best stage shows at sea - having just debuted "Disney Villians" on Disney Magic sailing in Europe as a prelude to its real home aboard Dream once the new ship is ready. In fact, their onboard stage shows qualify as among the best in the cruise industry, even with ships like oasis of the Seas and Norwegian Epic raising the entertainment bar in 2010. Disney will also always have its famous "character experiences" where Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and others show up to hand out hugs and photo opportunities.

What's New on Dream? We have already told you about Dream having the largest water slides at sea, over 300 feet long. We also mentioned the new "inside stateroom porthole" where even inside cabins will have a "window" which is actually a porthole shaped video screen with non-stop ocean views. We hear that Disney creatures will occasionally pop up on your "window" just to say "Hello there!" But this week we got news of other new Disney Dream features:

The "portholes" in the inside cabins.

Animator's Palate. There are already restaurants with this name on the current, smaller Disney ships. The theme is an animator's studio where you see the room's décor becoming gradually more and more colorful and the "artwork" magically completed as dinner progresses.

More prototypes for the video portholes in staterooms.

But on Dream this restaurant will have a much more interactive aspect. It starts out pretty much the same way as on the smaller ships, but once dinner starts "windows" (actually video screens as described above) appear and come to life with ocean scenes. During dinner certain Disney characters such as Crush, the surfer dude turtle from Finding Nemo, will swim up to the diners and engage them in conversations. Other characters who may pay you a visit include Squirt, Bruce the shark and Dory - but not the same John Dory you may find on the menu. Yes, it could be a bit embarrassing if you are eating swordfish - let's just hope it isn't one of his former friends.

Animator's Palate at the beginning of the night before it "comes to life" One of the characters, Bruce the Shark, as he will appear in Animator's Palate - would you converse with this creature while eating a portion of monkfish?

The end of the meal becomes very interactive as Crush offers all the diners a surfing lesson as the video screens around the room envelope you in the East Australian Current. Other Nemo characters reappear to slowly return to simple pencil sketches - getting ready for the next seating.

For the Kids - Interactive Play Floor A video screen play floor will offer interactive games and puzzles for younger minds, such as floor with a maze where the angle of the walls changes depending on which way the children lean. Other features of the floor turn into interactive storytelling such as the feeling of flying over old London during the telling of Peter Pan.

Testing out one of the interactive game floors for the children's areas.

The kids' area also has a 103-inch video screen where real life-sized versions of Crush, the surfer dude turtle (once again) and his friend Stitch come to interact with the kids. The interaction is not pre-programmed, it is real-time, unrehearsed showings where the characters get to meet the kids by name and talk to them one on one.

Real Kids testing the game floor at the California technology development center.

I don't want to give away the "magic" here, but I just want to make it clear that these kids' shows and the Animator's Palate are not pre-programmed conversations - someplace there is a real person playing the characters and conducting the conversations with the guests onboard.

There is also a "treasure hunt" game where you go looking for a lost chest of gold, or missing puppies, where guests particpate with a magic "looking glass" device. By holding the see-through card up to various pieces of artwork onboard, animated "clues" come to life. Even better, the clues are interactive and the looking glass becomes a "wand" that can be used to turn keys and peer inside of looked doors.

The beautiful Explorer League center with it own interactive floor. Using the card to "open" the locker and see the clues inside to solve the puzzle

The Disney Dream is scheduled to depart on its maiden voyage Jan. 26, 2011, and will sail alternating three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. During summer months, the ship will alternate four- and five-night itineraries with two stops at Castaway Cay.

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