From bathrooms to restaurants, Disney Dream has kids in mind

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Travel Weekly's Johanna Jainchill was on a two-day preview cruise aboard the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line's first newbuild in a decade. Her second dispatch follows.

Disney Dream, Dispatch 2: After two nights on the Dream’s inaugural shakedown cruise, this is what people — and by people I mean members of the press and travel agents, some sailing with their families — seemed to be talking about most:

Disney gets high marks for its bathrooms, a very obvious distinction from other cruise ship bathroom chatter over the last year.

Disney kept the bathroom design from its first two ships. In the vast majority of cabins, even most inside ones, the bathroom is divided into two rooms — one with a full bath and a sink, the other with a toilet and a sink.

People traveling with children say this makes a huge difference.

Parents with toddlers appreciate that one parent can bathe young kids in the tub while other members of the family can use the separate toilet and sink room.

A father of three teenage girls who constantly battle for mirror time said the additional vanity is greatly appreciated.

Another topic of discussion is the Animators’ Palate restaurant, and reviews were mixed. I ate dinner one night in this signature eatery, one of three offered on a rotating basis throughout the cruise.

During meals at Animators' Palate, video screens on the wall come alive with characters from Disney’s various underwater worlds, which "swim" from screen to screen to talk to diners.

This place is fantastic for kids. Crush, the turtle from "Finding Nemo," speaks at tables throughout the meal, even instructing them on the proper "lingo" of the turtle language, where apparently the word "dude" is used as much as possible.

The complaints were that Crush and company were loud, making it hard to converse. It’s true, and if I were traveling without kids, I would check out a specialty venue instead.

But this is clearly a place to take the kids. How many restaurants on any cruise ship give the kids a show during the meal? A

Crush the Turtle on Disney Dream

nimators Palate is the kids equivalent of dinner and dancing for grown-ups.

I spoke with a 7-year-old who loved eating there. According to his mom, that’s quite a change from most restaurants, where he lasts about 10 minutes before wanting to leave.

Then there’s the AquaDuck. Some people were disappointed that the water coaster wasn’t exciting enough, but it probably will be exciting for kids just tall enough to ride the AquaDuck (riders must be at least 48 inches tall).

I found the ride to be a perfect combination of fun and exciting. Full disclosure: I do not go for the scariest rides at amusement parks and haven’t been to a water park since I was 7.

But if there is one signature ride on a cruise ship, maybe Disney has it right by making it as approachable to as many passengers as possible. In that way the AquaDuck succeeds.

Is it an exhilarating ride for the most daring thrill-seekers? Not so much.

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