Disney Dream will sail her first cruise in January, 2011.
Kids Facilities on Disney Dream
By Paul Motter
Disney Dream has more features for kids than any ship ever built - almost an entire deck.
It comes as no surprise that there is plenty of focus on kids on a Disney cruise. After all, Disney has always used the "world of wonder" of children's imaginations as the main theme for many of its most successful and popular attractions.
Disney Dream is a dreamboat for kids, with more space dedicated to ages 12 weeks to 17 years than any other cruise ship afloat - nearly an entire deck. There is the It's a Small World nursery facility for infants 12 weeks to toddlers of 36 months. Next is the Oceaneer Club for kids aged three to ten, the Oceaneer Lab is for kids three to ten, the Edge Tween Club is for 11 to 13 year olds and the Vibe Teen Club is for 14 to 17 year olds. But the categories are not written in stone.
Unlike other cruise lines, Disney has learned over the years that there are often good reasons to let kids cross the age boundaries. Kids develop at different rates, for example, or parents may want to keep certain siblings together.
Basically, the age rules are there just in case Disney chooses to apply them (so the teens don't usurp the 10-year-old's Magic PlayFloor, for example), but under reasonable circumstances kids are allowed to go wherever they want. Age restrictions that are too strictly enforced is a complaint we hear fairly often about other cruise lines, so kudos to Disney for being flexible.
It's a Small World Nursery is located on deck five, amidships, and offers counselors to supervise infants and toddlers; three through 36 months. There is a one-way glass window where parents can peek in without disturbing the caretakers or the kids. The decor resembles the ride in the Magic Kingdom of the same name, with wooden puppets, small furry animals and kids represented. Hands-on activities for the toddlers include honking horns, spinning wheels and "magic" buttons. The soft surface floor has a river representation with a small boat (similar to the "Small Word" ride) surrounded by tables with crafts, books and games. There is also a separate, quiet area for napping.
The Oceaneer Club, for age three to ten, has various rooms including an undersea ocean theme, fairies and monsters. The main room is dedicated to Peter Pan and includes a stage where kids can create theatrical performances, listen to storytelling and even meet famous Disney characters. The focal point of the room is a 103-inch plasma screen movie theater with an added bonus; visits from animated Disney characters like "Crush" the sea turtle from "Finding Nemo." These characters will be able to see the audience and interact spontaneously with the kids in what will seem like their favorite movie stars coming to life and meeting them in person.
Also in the Oceaneer Club is one of two Magic PlayFloors. This is actually a very large interactive video game built into the floor where kids can play games and go on virtual journeys. The PlayFloor is like a large, virtual board game about 10 square feet, presenting a number of interactive games for kids to play.
Separate play rooms within the Oceaneer Club include Andy's Room, based on the Pixar movie Toy Story, where by making the toys in the room extra large the kids themselves become effectively toy-sized and can interact with proportionately-sized depictions of Rex the Dinosaur, RC Race Car, Hamm the Piggy Bank, a Slinky Dog big enough for kids to crawl through the slinkys and a super-size Mr. Potato Head with removable ears, eyes and noses.
Another room, Monster's Academy is based on the movie "Monsters Inc.," which combines video games with monster costumes for kids. Pixie Hollow is a magical forest with tiny fairy houses within the limbs of a pixie tree. Kids can dress up in fairy costumes and live the pixie life sitting on mushroom and acorn stools.
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Hamm the Piggy Bank
Sure to please is a full-size bright blue and yellow submarine within the Explorer Pod, based on a vessel from the Disney movie "Finding Nemo." Inside the sub are 16 computer stations, with eight more outside, for kids to play interactive undersea-based games individually or challenging their friends.
Oceaneer Lab is also for age three to ten, but is meant for more contemplative maritime activities. Rich woods and brass fixtures recreate the steering room of a great, classic ship with compasses, ocean maps, sextants and other nautical instruments. The heading is a sea of stars created from pin-point laser lights where the navigable constellations are famous Disney characters.
Here is another stage for kids to re-enact pirate theme plays plus watch movies and hear stories. The animated star of this stage is the alien "Stitch" from the 2002 movie "Lilo and Stitch" and star of his own movie "Stitch! The Movie," once again able to see, speak and interact with children in unscripted conversation.
Close by is the other Magic PlayFloor - also with a variety of original video games. The Animator's Studio is for the most creative kids with movable models, a lightbox and a camera for kids to shoot action poses and create moving animations similar to "claymation." The Sound Studio is a karaoke-based recording studio where kids can record their own voices. Both of these complex but kid-tested projects come with adult guidance to help them achieve real results.
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Explorer Pod Submartine
Rex the Dinosaur - Andy's Room
Connecting the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are two workshops where a number of supervised "science experiments" will be conducted throughout the cruise involving food, crafts, and safe home products that can be combined for "explosive results." There are also pads of paper, paint, ink and other fun drawing tools.
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Edge - the Tween Club: for that awkward age when youngsters want to feel grown up but are not too old to play. These kids get their own computer social network, for their exclusive use during the cruise, where they can post original blogs and public or private messages for their friends. There is a giant video screen five feet tall by 18-feet wide for interactive games, a dance floor and a 10-foot video screen for watching movies. This area takes karaoke a step further by adding a large "green screen video studio" where various backgrounds can set the mood for kids starring in their own music videos.
Vibe - The Teen Club: the most notoriously hard to please teen crowd has it good on Disney Dream. The special indoor/outdoor area on deck five forward is found at the end of long, winding corridor obscured enough to make younger kids retreat in fear before they reach the end. A special "swipe card" key is required to enter this nearly 9000-square-foot area anyway.
The décor is laid back, with easy to move modular furniture and a soda fountain offering juice, smoothies and even coffee drinks. There is a 103-inch LCD screen with digital surround sound as well as several individual seating "pods" built into the walls where a teen can plug in their personal iPod and listen at full volume. Computer stations offer video editing, games and another social media network just for this age group. In the dance club kids can take turns as the D.J.
The outside area is built into the ship's bow where one often finds the crew pool. This outside deck is surrounded by very high walls making it nearly impossible for other passengers to see inside or for teens to see over the edge. While working on a suntan they can cool off with water misters, swim in the small pool, or play in the pop jets and fountains. There are ping pong and foosball tables as well.
Teens have one more unique adventure - special spa treatments designed just for them, in the special Chill Spa for Teens area within the Senses Spa and Salon. Teens can order treatments like the "fabulously fruity facial," the "Hot Chocolate Wrap" - an instant tan from a special "bronzing" solution, and the "Ice Cream Manicure and Pedicure," where hands and feet are soaked in sweets.
Other Attractions for Kids and Grownups: The "D Lounge" is a special gathering place for families at night with dancing, group games and a selection of board game with plenty of sweet treats available for family fun before or after dinner.
As we mentioned last week, there are also all-ages pools for kids plus a pool where they can mix with the adults. Everyone is sure to love the AquaDuck water coaster as well as Goofy's Sports Deck with goofy-golf, virtual sports and a real basketball court. The "Arr-Cade" is a large "coin operated" game arcade with video games and table games like air hockey.
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Nemo's Reef slide for kids up to 8 years old
smokestack with AquaDuck running through it
Micky's slide in main pool area
The Buena Vista Theater is a beautifully finished, state of the art movie theater done in pure Art Deco glory. This theater will show movies nearly around the clock, all of them from Disney, and will even feature first run movies opening on the ships the same day they arrive in theaters on land. With 399 of the best loge-style reclining chairs, this theater will make watching the 3-D technology and Dolby surround sound movies a first-class family film experience.
The Walt Disney Theater is the state-of-the-art production show stage facility where families can see original Disney stage plays created just for Disney Cruise Lines featuring casts of professional singers and dancers with all of the latest theater technology.
In our next article we will look at Adult-Only areas and Disney Dream Dining.