ONBOARD THE DISNEY DREAM — The Millennium Falcon has landed,
and my 5-year-old was piloting it through the frozen lands of the planet Hoth.
The Oceaneer Club on the Disney Dream had been open for all
of five minutes when my daughter, my husband (a.k.a. the
household’s “Star Wars” superfan) and I were standing on the bridge of Han
Solo’s ship, or at least a pretty darn good replica of the bridge as dreamed up
by Disney’s Imagineers.
As LEDs blinked on the console, my daughter took the
controls and pulled a few levers, and faster than you can say “wookie” the
screen above the console changed to simulate a high-speed flight over snowy mountains
and under the feet of Imperial Walkers.
The replica of the Falcon bridge is the marquee design of
the new “Star Wars” installation in the Oceaneer Club, and one of the
highlights of the Disney Dream’s just-finished drydock refurb, its first major
overhaul since its introduction in 2012.
Disney Cruise Line invited media to view the upgrades during
a three-day cruise over the Halloween weekend, the ship’s second cruise with
the enhancements. Several of the additions to the ship were redone with adults
in mind. One of the biggest changes is the addition of Satellite Falls, an
adults-only space on the top forward deck. Fans of the Disney Fantasy will
already be familiar with the premise: The centerpiece is a wading pool and
waterfall encircling one of the bulbous satellites on the deck.
Another addition is shade. The line has smartly added
covered space around the Satellite Falls water feature and on Deck 12 just
above the Quiet Cove pool, so cruisers can get a break from relentless sun.
There’s also a new, small pool in the Deck 12 space, perfect for folks who want
to splash with their kids but don’t feel like braving the hectic pace of the
midship pool deck.
Another add to the Dream that nods to today’s adult guest is
a juice bar created out of the waiting room at the Senses Spa. On the way out
of the gym or spa, for example, a passenger could order a My Go Green: spinach,
banana, avocado, lime, soy milk and plain yogurt, for $4.50.
Granted, my cruise beverage of choice is more in line with
Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA, available by the midship pool. But I
appreciated the juices as an option, and the juice bar itself is gorgeous.
On the opposite side of the spectrum from the juice bar,
both in onboard location and calorie count, is Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, a
darling, high-concept candy store. Fans of “Wreck it Ralph” will get more of
the references in the store, but even those unfamiliar with the movie can ooh
and ahh over the presentation of handmade gelato, ice cream, brownies and
fudge. The take-home dessert, literally, is Vanellope’s Go-Kart Sundae: three
scoops of ice cream, a choice of five toppings and whipped cream presented in a
souvenir go-kart, for $12.95.
A castmember scoops out handmade gelato at Vanellope’s Sweets and Treats, a new sweet shop on the Disney Dream.
Another change was the Disney Vacation Planning Center,
where the future-cruise sales desk is located. The center was carved out of the art gallery on Deck Four.
But back to the youngsters. The ship now has a Bibbidi
Bobbidi Boutique on Deck 5, a salon concept imported from the parks where
princesses can be decked out and bedazzled with makeup, a manicure, a
sprinkling of pixie dust and brand-new gown and shoes. To call the room a jewel
box is almost to take it literally: There are boxes of play jewelry on each
vanity and crowns, wands, shoes and wardrobes of princess dresses. Prices for
young knights start at $18.95; to go all-in on a princess transformation is
In the Oceaneer Club, for the XBox /Wii/PlayStation fans
among us, the line has installed 10, two-player Disney Infinity video games,
and players can select from an entire display case of figurines to plug and
play, including unique figures like Darth Maul. An interactive game enables
players to become their own avatars, sort of like a controllerless Wii. (Ever
wondered what you might look like with Maleficent’s or Joy’s hairdo? Now you
can find out.)
Still, the biggest buzz on the sailing was the “Star Wars”
installation, which takes the place of a “Finding Nemo” sub. With the latest
movie set to debut in December, everything “Star Wars” is at a fever pitch. The
timing on the Dream’s drydock couldn’t have been better for fans, both those of
Oceaneer Club age (3 to 12) and adults.
Parents are permitted in the club during open-house hours.
As my kid was held in thrall by the Falcon, my husband wandered around the rest
of the Star Wars installation, nodding in approval of a replica of Chewbacca’s
bowcaster, on a shelf high above “Star Wars”-themed tablet games, and a
Danny Handke, lead creative designer from Walt Disney
Imagineering, noted that the themes had to be designed with a fairly big age
range in mind.
“We had to design it to make sure it was sophisticated
enough, so that way the 12-year-olds will enjoy the space,” he said. “So
there’s things like the cockpit ... and then there’s things for younger kids,
too, so those Holochess tables are really cool, and they double as craft
tables, you can bring out the crayons and paper and draw your favorite Star
Satellite Falls is a new adults-only space on the Dream.
He added, “I think a lot of fans on the [Imagineering] team
were thinking the original trilogy; that’s what we grew up with, that’s what we
appreciate. But then, you have a generation that all they know is the prequels
and the ‘Clone Wars’ animated series. Now, you have a new generation growing up
with ‘Star Wars Rebels’ ... we’re going
to grow up with the new films as well.
“So we have to make sure this space remains timeless. We
call it classic Millennium Falcon. So that way you can have all these different
Not surprisingly, the designers on the new spaces are major
“Star Wars” fans in their own right. “I’m talking story with Lucasfilm!” Handke
said he remembered thinking when the project got started.
Life at sea
Beyond the enhancements, life went on as usual onboard the
Dream. My family were guests on the ship earlier this year on a four-day
sailing; nearly everything else on the vessel remained just as it was when we
saw it in April. The color schemes, furnishings, primary dining venues and, of
course, the unique Disney programming were all in tip-top shape. Now, as then,
passengers were easily able to get a shot at a hug and photograph with Disney
Our daughter couldn’t wait to head to the Oceaneer Club
(occasionally garbed in a “Frozen” princess gown), which enabled my husband and
me to take advantage of the Quiet Cove pool. The club’s continuous hours also
enabled us once on each cruise to grab
predinner drinks (at the Skyline and Meridian bars) before dinner in the
adults-only Remy’s and Palo restaurants, a setup both child and parents
considered a win-win.