Disney Magic Entertainment
First of all, there is no casino on this ship, but no one seemed fazed with so much to do and see.
Second, the folks on Magic sure know how to throw a deck party. The ones we attended were the most popular (among all age groups) of any we have ever seen, and no one quit until the lights were out. The Pirates in the Caribbean Party was the highlight of the cruise, with every cruiser wearing a red bandana and some donning Captain Hook hats, eye patches and other piratical paraphernalia.
The onboard entertainment is heavily focused on Mickey and other Disney and Disney-owned characters and superheroes. It's not rare to catch a glimpse of Captain America or some of the Disney princesses handing out hugs and high-fives, and live performances focus on familiar Disney friends.
Skeptics will soon discover that the multiple stage shows ("Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story," "Disney Dreams," and "Villains Tonight!") are Broadway-caliber, impressing adults with the costuming, staging and creative storylines, while delighting kids with fun and songs. These events take place in the Walt Disney Theater, which is large enough to hold half of the ship's occupants, offers fantastic sightlines with no posts or pillars, and has a 40-foot-wide proscenium stage. The high-tech setup is sophisticated enough for the most comprehensive Broadway musical or Las Vegas-style revue, but what the passengers see is a lovely theater with comfy stadium-style seating.
One entertainment perk is that whenever a Disney-owned movie production company has a theatrical release, Magic passengers get to see it at the same time. These are first-run movies, ranging from kid-friendly, G-rated flicks to PG-13 and even R-rated films, shown in both the Walt Disney Theater and the smaller Buena Vista Theater (depending on length of sailing). In addition, Disney Digital 3D movies combine the cinema experience with lasers, fog, streamers and special lighting effects.
Outside the theater, D Lounge is the hub for entertainment, where passengers participate in game shows, exhibitions and other family activities. Live music can be enjoyed before and after dinner in the Promenade Lounge, a quiet family-friendly environment around the corner from Lumiere's.
Adults can hang out in an array of bars and lounges on Deck 3. The After Hours area there is home to Fathoms, an underwater-inspired nightclub that hosts themed dance parties, the Match Your Mate game show and karaoke; Keys, an elegant piano bar and lounge with live music, drinks and snacks; and O'Gills Pub, which hosts a special gathering for college students, martini tastings, singles mingles and fantasy football competitions. On Deck 9, the adults-only Cove Cafe is an intimate coffee lounge, open from noon to midnight and offering cocktails, coffee, tea and snacks. Also on Deck 9 is Signals, a bar adjacent to the adults-only pool, open from noon to 9 p.m. Other adult activities throughout the ship include comedy shows, bingo (which offers some generous jackpots) and several trivia games (including beer-tasting trivia and Pizza Perfection).
Passengers can attend a variety of light enrichment programs, such as regional wine tastings, dinner party planning and the history of ocean travel, hosted by bridge officers.
For more kid-friendly options, families can choose from a number of activities such as Do Si Do with Snow White (among other dance classes), drawing classes, cabaret shows, outdoor sports games and talent shows. There is also a series of themed programs for both adults and children. They range from game shows and outdoor sports matches to more enrichment-based activities like the Ratatouille Cooking School.
An arcade on Deck 9 is open from 8 a.m. until midnight. Passengers can purchase a play card at the front desk and recharge it by purchasing more when their credits run out.
Disney's shore excursions offer a variety of experiences, usually including a family-friendly option with activities geared toward kids and an adults-only choice. Magic's Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries include visits to Disney's private island, Castaway Cay, with areas especially designated for families, teens and adults. Shore activities there range from adventurous (parasailing) to sedentary (for-fee cabana rentals).
Disney Magic Public Rooms
Disney put a great deal of thought into the design of its public spaces. The redesigned Atrium, although fairly small, is a great meeting point. It's also used for special low-key musical performances and character meet-and-greets.
Guest Services and the Port Adventures desks both can be found on Deck 3.
There are three shops onboard Magic, two on Deck 4 (Mickey's Mates and Treasure Ketch) and one (Up Beat) on Deck 3. Mickey's Mates has Disney memorabilia and postcards, everything from oversized Mickey hands and stuffed animals to miniature souvenirs and T-shirts. Treasure Ketch has lots of logo apparel, jewelry and watches, while Up Beat has duty-free perfumes and liquor.
Note: You can bring liquor onboard Disney ships, and you may use it in your cabin, but if you buy duty-free from their shop, it's held for you until the end of the cruise.
The Internet Cafe is located adjacent to the Promenade Lounge, with 10 computer stations for getting online. You won't, however, have access to any Microsoft applications (like Word) or be able to connect a camera or other device to these computers. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the ship, including cabins. While access is fairly good, it can also be unpredictable and slow at times.
As of Febraury 2014, Disney Magic offers a new Connect@Sea program in which you pay for the data you use intstead of per minute. Sample rates start at 25 cents per megabite and increase depending on what you do online. Examples include the small package at $19 for 100 megabites, the medium package at $39 for 300 megabites and the large package at $89 for 1,000 megabites.
Wi-Fi-enabled laptops are available for a fee in the adults-only Cove Cafe on Deck 9, midship. The cafe, located adjacent to the adults-only pool, serves specialty coffees and bar drinks. This was a favorite -- another spot that was conducive to quiet pursuits and the closest thing to a library onboard the ship. Comfortable sofas and loungers, little cafe tables and chairs are scattered around the smallish room, which looks out onto the adult pool and the port side of Deck 9. Racks of books, magazines and newspapers separate the seating areas.
Check the ship map to locate the nearest self-service laundry room. Each has an ironing board and iron, washers, dryers and automated machines selling laundry detergent and dryer sheets.
Disney Magic Spa & Fitness
The three swimming pools on Disney Magic are all located on Deck 9, each with a different theme or purpose. Kids must be toilet-trained to enter any pool. AquaLab, at the aft, is a kids-only water play area designed to portray a water experiment, with pop jets, geysers, bubblers and a freshwater pool. The area also includes the Twist n' Spout Slide -- an exciting way for little daredevils to cool off -- and the Nephews' Splash Zone, a fun water playground that's safe for little ones younger than 3 who aren't toilet-trained and must wear swim diapers.
Goofy's Pool (a constant four feet deep) and pool deck with two hot tubs is for families. Located midship, this is where many daytime deck activities take place, and it's the scene of the nighttime deck parties.
Quiet Cove, forward, is the adults-only area, and it's indeed quiet and peaceful. There's a pool, large enough for laps early in the day when it isn't crowded, plus two large hot tubs at one end and Signals bar and Cove Cafe coffeehouse at the other.
Hint: Looking for a really quiet place to rest and relax in the sun or to stargaze in peace? All the way aft on Deck 7 is a small, little-known deck area overlooking the wake. There are loungers and a couple of tables but no bar or food service. This quiet space is accessed through an unmarked wooden door, opens at 7 a.m. and is locked again at 11 p.m.
For adults and kids more than 48 inches tall, the AquaDunk, new to Disney Cruise Line, is an adrenaline-pumping slide version of the AquaDuck found on Dream and Fantasy. You walk up the forward funnel on Deck 13, step inside a capsule and count down until the floor opens beneath you. Passengers both young and old loved it, while others asked themselves, "What the heck was I thinking?"
The Wide World of Sports (open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.) dominates Deck 10 and features basketball and volleyball courts, soccer nets, Ping-Pong and shuffleboard. The deck below is where you'll find the fitness center, which is part of Senses Spa and Salon. The gym offers a variety of cardiovascular and weight machines, aerobics classes and, for an additional fee, yoga and Pilates. You'll also find an open-air track, showers, lockers and complimentary water and towels. Private hourlong sessions with a personal trainer are available for a $75 fee.
Disney went from a "same old" look in its pre-refurb Vista Spa to a sleek new approach with Senses Spa and Salon. A room just off the spa lobby, called The Rainforest Room, has neither rain nor a forest, nor is it particularly tropical. Decorated in Tuscan-inspired tiles, with a fountain in the middle, it's a coed steam room/sauna/aromatherapy environment with heated ceramic tile loungers and scented showers. It costs $16 for an unlimited one-day pass, or you can purchase a cruise-long pass, which is priced depending on the length of your cruise. (A three-night pass is $42, a five-night pass is $69, and a seven-night pass is $99.) If you have a treatment at the spa, you can use the room at any time during that day at no additional charge.
Spa treatments range from the usual (Swedish massage, hot stone therapy) to the unusual (spa ritual incorporating Japanese silk masks). For an even more intimate experience, Spa Villas (Mediterranean-inspired suites with verandahs) are ideal for couple's massages and extensive individual services. A standard Swedish massage costs $118, or you can spend several hundred dollars for a day of pampering. The Personal Navigator will indicate which specials are offered; port days usually have the best deals.
Next: Disney Magic Family
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