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Old May 3rd, 2012, 05:12 PM
Jason Leppert
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Hi friends!

I’ve got an extra large post for you today about the entertainment and adult-only dining onboard the Disney Fantasy. I’ll also follow up with an official review article soon after I return home. So, stay tuned for that as well.


It is very apparent that the Disney Cruise Line represents the culmination of the best elements of all that Disney has to offer worldwide, from entertainment to service. Along with this achievement, the line has also managed to include and balance a wide spectrum of cruise industry offerings as well, from casual to formal. For example, the formal dining experience at Remy was the best I have ever enjoyed at sea, and tonight we will enjoy a midnight premiere screening of The Avengers in Dolby Digital 3D just as it is released shoreside. I must admit I’m really geeking out about the latter.


The entertainment onboard is truly top notch. The theaters themselves are technologically impressive, and the performers are the best I have ever seen on a cruise. The Walt Disney Theatre hosts the broadway-style shows, but that alone is not worthy of describing the caliber of the performances.


While most cruise lines will offer a generic “Taste of things to come...” type show the first night, Disney tells a story right from the get go about a family rediscovering the joy they can share together and individually onboard, showcasing Disney numbers that appropriately convey said message. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed in the theaters, so all I have to visually share are images from the fantastic Pirate Night on the upper decks.


This ship is loaded with pyrotechnics. I am truly amazed by the sheer amount of impressive flashes and explosions on stage, not to mention the abundant showers of various confetti. Of course, such elements should only be used to support the narrative and not define it, and surely in Disney fashion, this is exactly how it is done. Their shows are far more than just spectacles of light and sound because they do indeed pull at the heartstrings with beautiful music, staging and stories.


The first main show is Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular, which is a remounted version of the long-running stage show at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim. And while some elements have been scaled down, the overall effect of the show is not lost. There are still grand entrances of characters and elaborate set pieces.


The magic carpet ride scene is also included. Hanging the carpet off of the ceiling as in the California show is infeasible on a cruise ship, so here the effect is quite impressively replicated by a fully articulated gimbal that is all but entirely hidden by a billowy cloud of fog. The audio quality in the theatre is superb and does a fine job of reproducing the stellar vocals of the cast as well as the unforgettable, signature music.


Another great performance is Wishes. In what would usually be just another medley of Gershwin tunes or the like strung together by a thin narrative or nothing at all on other ships, here is another great story of three best friends on the eve of high school graduation who spend the night at Disneyland for one final ride of their lives before stepping into the future. This narrative is indeed weaker than Aladdin and even the opening night show in my opinion, and this show does play a bit as a playlist of some of Disney’s newer or re-imagined hits.


Nonetheless, the show is still excellent and features many costumed Disney characters as all the shows do, and the characters in this show utilize the recently introduced technology of articulated-mouth and blinking-eye character masks that sync up perfectly with the vocals. Surely, this technology will eventually become common place across all of the characters in every show.


Tonight’s show is Believe from the Disney Dream which I’m certain will showcase Disney’s usual staging finesse. It really is impressive how well Disney utilizes every staging element and technology in the book to create a visual depth in a very size-restricted ship space. They spared no expense here.


Even the entertainment on the top decks is astounding. Disney remains the only cruise line to offer fireworks at sea, and to be honest, I was expecting far less explosions in the sky than we were actually treated to. Even the video from previous Pirate Nights that was previewed to the press on my earlier ship visits looked less than stellar. But I was blown away by the actual show which is much improved from what I saw on the video.


Captain Jack Sparrow makes a characteristic entrance via catwalk cantilevered from the top of the forward smoke stack, and from there all manner of pirate and Sparrow mayhem ensues. The interactive antics come to a climax with the infamous fireworks at sea which last for quite some time considering the physical limitations of how few can be stored and launched off of the smoke stacks.


All of this followed by the late night opening of the AquaDuck water coaster and the club music blasting from a sound system likely loud enough itself to launch fireworks shells makes for one seriously fun evening. Now if they would just increase the volume of their outdoor displayed movies to comparable if not just slightly higher levels – currently, dialogue is rather unintelligible from the Funnel Vision films.
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