Disney offers a different type of entertainment mix than you'll find on other major lines. What bibliophiles and gamblers give up in public spaces (a ship library and casino) families gain in innovative offerings like Studio Sea -- the place for family friendly dance parties and hilarious game shows -- and the old-style Buena Vista Theatre which features current Disney new releases, (typically G-rated fare during the day and adult oriented movies in the evenings). "Disney Digital 3-D" is a cinema experience that uses lasers, fog, streamers and lighting effects.
Daytime offerings for families include 3-on-3 basketball tournaments, Disney-themed karaoke or an Art of the Theme Show Ship Tour. Adults can also attend wine or martini tastings, cooking demonstrations focusing on Alaskan seafood and an art auction.
Most of Disney's adult-oriented evening entertainment is tucked together in one specially designed area (Route 66 on Wonder), off the beaten path from all other entertainment venues, which is quite different from other cruise lines where you might find them located right off the main thoroughfares.
You'll know you've discovered Route 66 (Deck 3 forward) when you see clouds in the ceiling and highway barriers along the wall. Here you can "walk" from Chicago to California while passing plenty of old-fashioned billboards along the route, as well as places to sip and play. Wave Bands plays host to video dance parties with 70's and 80's themes, plus karaoke and a skit performed by the crew that can get pretty raunchy. While this is the ship's dance club, be warned that it is not like the clubs you might find on other ships - i.e. a crowded dance floor and the latest tunes being spun by a D.J. Here you'll find Disney's dancers taking over the dance floor performing skits to certain songs, and enlisting audience members to don a costume and join in for others.
Also along Route 66 is Cadillac Lounge, the resident piano bar, and Diversions, an upscale sports bar featuring plasma TV's, large comfortable chairs and beautiful sports themed paintings.
The premier entertainment facility is the 977 seat Walt Disney Theatre that spans three decks of the ship. This theater has comfortable seating, unobstructed views from almost anywhere, and is home to some of the best production shows we've seen at sea. Our family's favorite was "The Golden Mickeys" - an amalgam of song, dance, animated film, and special effects starring Disney's most famous and infamous characters. The pre-show was equally entertaining as guests approached the theater along a red carpet complete with paparazzi -- of the friendliest kind -- and a roving reporter conducted live "celebrity" interviews that were broadcast on giant video screens inside the theater. And then there was the moral of the musical: What parent wouldn't love a production that shows kids that heroes don't have to be big and strong, they can be anyone who tries to do the right thing.
Other productions include "Toy Story: The Musical," a live retelling of the beloved Disney tale.
While the theater is the premiere entertainment facility on the ship, the fairly new Pirates in the Caribbean dinner and deck party is the highlight event. This evening of adventure, music and dancing begins in the dining room with a pirate scroll menu and bandannas for all, then moves upstairs and outdoors to the pool-deck party near Goofy's pool. On deck you can dance near some of your favorite characters dressed in pirate garb, watch other people dance as they're caught on camera and featured on the jumbo LED screen, and see Mickey rappel from a top the ship's funnel to fight Captain Hook.(Editor's Note: There are no fireworks on the Alaska cruises due to environmental laws.)
Disney's 24-by-14 foot jumbo LED screen is affixed to the forward funnel on deck 9 near the Goofy Pool area and is the place to watch current and classic Disney films as well as popular TV shows and major sporting events.
For interactive family entertainment head to Studio Sea, where you can partake in scavenger hunts, family karaoke and game shows like "Walk the Plank," in which parent/child teams compete for prizes or just avoid "walking the plank." It's also the place for a Princess Tea, although it's not advertised in any daily schedules -- you have to be in the know to know about it (or ask at guest services)! The tea occurs once the entire cruise and tea party attendees get juice (it tastes better than tea and isn't hot when spilled, say the hosts), cookies and a chance to take a photograph with the Princess hostess, which was Ariel on our cruise.
Despite all of the elaborate entertainment, one of the biggest highlights of the cruise for young children is the character appearances. While I rarely saw them roaming about the decks -- as I'd envisioned from Disney's ads -- we could check the digital display board in the lobby for a listing of appearances. Many children arrived each evening decked out as Minnie Mouse, Belle, or Cinderella, others in their favorite Disney jammies, all anxiously awaiting a chance to get an autograph or picture with their favorite character.