The fifth entry in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Wish, which recently sailed its maiden voyage, charts its own course. While it does share many similarities with its sister ships, it also breaks new ground and has a distinctive personality. This won’t be an exhaustive rundown of the Wish’s many attributes; that would be a long treatise. Rather, I’m going to list a few of the ship’s striking features that caught my attention.
From stem to stern, the Wish distinguishes itself. Whereas the line’s other ships go for a classic, retro, steamship look and feel, the Wish has a decidedly contemporary aesthetic. Instead of polished brass, dark woods, and nautical callbacks, there are warm tones, occasional splashes of bright colors, and playful, inviting touches. The Wish asserts its personality the moment you step onto the ship.
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Be wowed by The Grand Hall
Featuring a statue of Cinderella, who holds court at the bottom of a sweeping staircase in her belle-of-the-ball regalia, the three-story-tall Grand Hall makes a dramatic statement. Looming above the space is an enormous chandelier adorned with a wishing star. The fixture is meant to represent an upside-down Cinderella’s dress as it transforms into a gown according to Dan Soto, VP of technology and digital for Disney Cruise Line.
“The theme of the Disney Wish is enchantment, which is so core to Disney stories,” he says. Soto adds that unlike the company’s other ships, which have three elevator bays, the Wish has two. “That gave us the opportunity to create this incredible atrium space,” he explains.
By the way, despite its fairytale castle inspiration and the presence of the legendary princess, the hall, as well as the rest of the ship, does not scream “Disney.” Sure, the branding is ever-present, but it’s not so in-your-face as to be overwhelming.
Go back in time to 1923
Guests can get their fix of dark wood, polished brass, and other retro stylings in the lovely 1923 dining room accessed via the Grand Hall. Themed to the year that the Disney company was founded, the handsome, Art Deco-inspired space features displays of over 900 drawings, animation cels, and other objects from the studio’s archives. With jazz renditions of songs from the Disney canon playing in the background, the ambiance is chic and charming.
Oh, and the food is wonderful. 1923 is one of three dining rooms that guests experience aboard the Wish. I cover them in detail, as well as other dining experiences on the ship in a separate article.
Indulge your inner Wookiee at Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge
There are plenty of places to grab an adult beverage on the ship, including The Bayou, a New Orleans-themed lounge that pays homage to “The Princess and the Frog.” But the one watering hole that everybody will want to experience is the “Star Wars”-based Hyperspace Lounge. I wrote about the bar and its wacky $5,000 cocktail and was the first to report what patrons get for the out-of-this-world price.
See a show (or two or three)
Disney has long been praised for its elaborate, Broadway-level shows aboard its ships. The Wish is no different. During the christening cruise I was on, we saw snippets of two of the shows, and they were spectacular. “Disney Seas the Adventure” is a jukebox musical of sorts anchored (see what I did there?) by Captain Minnie and wannabe Captain Goofy. It weaves together scenes featuring characters and songs from a number of Disney and Pixar films, including “Finding Nemo,” “Hercules,” and “Brave.”
“Disney The Little Mermaid” was even more enchanting. While it includes familiar tunes and characters, it is a “bit of a twist on the story,” according to Ed Whiton, director of artistic and talent casting for Disney Cruise Line. Instead of the heroine finding her man and living happily ever after, “the big difference with this show is that it’s about Ariel finding her voice,” he adds. The empowering, new take on the narrative is uplifting.
The production features puppets, with the actors’ faces showing in the style of Julie Taymor’s breakthrough stage adaption of “The Lion King” on Broadway. The tricked-out, 1,300-seat Walt Disney Theatre gets in on the act with digital projections that extend across the stage and up to the ceiling, hydraulic set pieces, and other effects. A third show, a new take on “Aladdin,” wasn’t available to preview on the christening cruise.
Catch a film
The other DCL ships have a movie theater; the Wish has two of them, which are themed to “Peter Pan.” The Wonderland and Never Land Cinemas feature the latest releases from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. My family really enjoyed seeing “Lightyear” in one of the intimate theaters, with its large screen, impeccable sound, and comfy chairs.
Yo ho as you ooh and aah
The Wish version of Pirate Night includes a live band in addition to fireworks. Well, at least some of the music is live, as a band rocks out to “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” and other songs with plenty of pre-recorded embellishments. It is so wonderful–and so Disney–to have fireworks light the sky above the ship. And how cool is it to party with the Pirates of the Caribbean in the actual Caribbean? (Answer: way cool.)
Get set to get wet on AquaMouse
As I share in my review of the AquaMouse, it‘s a bit of a stretch to characterize the water coaster as the “first Disney attraction at sea.” While the company might be overhyping the ride, it is nonetheless a lot of fun.
I haven’t even mentioned the Marvel Super Hero Academy or the Star Wars: Cargo Bay experiences that are part of the Disney’s Oceaneer Club programming for children. And there’s all kinds of other things to see and do aboard the ship.
Lest you think the Wish is targeted exclusively to families with young children, let me reassure you my wife, adult son, and I had a ball. There are plenty of things for grownups to enjoy. No, you won’t be able to indulge in the cruise industry staple, gambling. But hey, land-based casinos have proliferated to the point that you shouldn’t miss the slot machines. Besides, you’ll be able to hang onto your money so you can spend it on that $5,000 “Star Wars” cocktail.
Are you planning to book a cruise on the Disney Wish? What features are you most looking forward to experiencing? Have you been on other Disney cruises? How about cruises on competing companies? How do you think the Disney cruises compare to other lines?
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Thanks for this Disney Wish series, Arthur. I had never really considered a Disney cruise as my kids are now a little older, but these previews definitely make it look tempting!
This might be tough to answere, but a Disney Cruise is not cheap. Is it worth it?