PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Even a brief afternoon rain shower couldn't damper excitement around the christening of Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wish on Wednesday.
After all, the celebration has been a long time coming.
The 1,254-stateroom Wish, Disney Cruise Line's first new vessel in a decade, has faced setbacks in the runup to its debut, with pandemic-related delays causing Disney to push back its initial launch date in January 2022 to early June. Covid impacted the Disney Wish's timeline again early this year, as the omicron surge caused the ship's maiden voyage to be postponed to July 14.
According to Disney Parks chairman Josh D'Amaro, the Wish has been well worth the wait. He described the ship as a "labor of love."
During the christening event, D'Amaro touted the ship's sheer magnitude -- the number of entertainment venues (25), the amount of art pieces on display (4,400) and the volume of garments worn by cast and crew (70,000).
Another fun fact: the Rapunzel figure that adorns the Disney Wish's stern has hair that spans nearly 60 feet.
At the heart of the ceremony, however, was Disney's longstanding partnership with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
While on stage, Disney CEO Bob Chapek highlighted the work Disney has done with the nonprofit, which works to fulfill wishes for children with a critical illness.
"Disney making wishes come true is a defining part of our heritage," said Chapek. "Disney has helped grant more than 145,000 wishes, providing encouragement and inspiration to wish kids who have endured critical illnesses."
In a move that Chapek called a "reimagining" of the "maritime tradition of naming a godmother," he announced that the Disney Wish would instead have godchildren.
In fact, the ship will have a vast number of godchildren, with all Make-A-Wish children, including "past, present and future wish recipients" being appointed to the role.
Three Make-A-Wish children ambassadors were invited on stage to recite the blessing for the Disney Wish and were met with thunderous applause.
Chapek and D'Amaro were also joined on the stage by a bevy of characters, dancers and singers. In true Disney fashion, guests were treated to several flawlessly executed performances.
Of particular note was a performance by Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose, known for voicing the character of Tiana in the Disney animated film "The Princess and the Frog."
Fittingly, Rose sang a rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star."
Before the christening ceremony ended, Chapek made it clear that Disney Cruise Line won't be resting on its laurels, telling guests that two more Disney ships are in the pipeline and development of a second private destination in the Bahamas is still in the works.
The Disney Wish is the fifth ship in Disney Cruise Line's fleet. The vessel features several new concepts, including the AquaMouse, touted as the "first Disney attraction at sea;" a Frozen-themed theatrical dining experience; an interactive Marvel-themed dining adventure; and the Hyperspace Lounge, a high-end bar area that draws its inspiration from the Star Wars canon.