Disney's acclaimed kids clubs are what keep many loyal families coming back. It's not just the innovative, engaging spaces for kids and familiar characters that make them such a success; the counselors are truly extraordinary. They offer far more than smiling faces to greet you at check-in. Indeed, these men and women are experienced, attentive and downright fun, with a keen eye for spotting children who need encouragement, a friend to play with or a major timeout.
The Oceaneer Club and Lab on Deck 5 (ages 3 to 12) are connected on Dream (hooray!) so kids can roam back and forth, effectively doubling the space available to them at any given time. Club activities are geared to younger kids and Lab for older, but Disney's innovative approach of allowing kids of all ages to access both clubs means that siblings can hang out together if they choose, and children can pursue their own interests.
Highlights include the adorable Andy's Room, which has oversized characters like the dinosaur and pig from "Toy Story" for little ones to climb on. Added during the 2015 refurb is an entire area dedicated to Disney Infinity, a series of video games that are activated by Disney-themed character game pieces. In the Infinity section of Oceaneer's, kids will find 10 gaming stations, each outfitted with two controllers, as well as a life-size Infinity gaming station, where people become the game pieces and control the outcome of each competition with their body movements. Kids work in teams of two to rack up points in an effort to beat the highest scores.
Finally, the piece de resistance is the Millennium Falcon-themed Star Wars play area, which simply bursts with excitement and geekery. In the center is a replica of the Millennium Falcon's cockpit, complete with two chairs where kids can sit to "fly" the aircraft via a series of simulations. To the left is a control room that has so many lights, levers and buttons, you'll never push the same one twice. (We're told that when a certain sequence of buttons is pushed, it will trigger additional special effects.) To the right is a likeness of the Falcon's common room, which serves as a seating area for the kiddos. Throw in some movie props, boxes that move when you use "the force," and an R2-D2 replica that beeps, chirps and swivels his head, and it's enough to make adults wish they had an onboard space this awesome. (Don't worry, parents. You can visit the club during select hours to try out the fun for yourselves.)
Dream has a kids club dedicated entirely to tweens, ages 11 to 13. (Yes, 11- and 12-year-olds have access to the Oceaneer Club and Lab, as well as the tween club.) True to its name, the Edge is located in the funnel on Deck 13, far removed from the other kids clubs. What seemed like a decent idea in theory doesn't work here; we didn't like seeing preteens hanging out in the staircase, unsupervised. Inside, however, it delivers, with an 18-foot-tall video wall, video karaoke and computers with access to an intranet-based (limited to the ship) social media app. The 9,000-square-foot teen club, Vibe (ages 14 to 17), has modular furniture, a fountain bar and its own outdoor space (new for Disney) with a sun deck and wading pools. It's located forward on Deck 5.
The kids clubs also have an outpost on Castaway Cay, so parents can enjoy some private beach time while kids hang out with their friends in a supervised setting on the island.
For the tiniest tots, the It's a Small World Nursery on Deck 5 midship is reserved for those from 6 months to 3 years. The price is $9 per hour for the first child, $8 for each additional, and it's open from 9 a.m. to midnight. The nursery offers an age-appropriate playroom, as well as a quiet area with cribs, swings and rocking chairs.
Note that all children enrolled in the nursery and Oceaneer Club/Lab, for which they need to sign in and out with a special wristband, will be charged a $12.95 fee for the band. If it's returned at the end of the cruise, the charge will be removed.
If you want to play with your child in Dream's kids clubs, look for open house hours in the daily newsletters. These are times when the clubs are open for unsupervised (by Disney staff) play, and age restrictions don't apply. You can let your toddler explore Andy's Room or experience the Millennium Falcon. There are also special toddler play hours in the Nemo's Reef splash zone and in the waiting area outside the Enchanted Garden restaurant for safe baby play
For parents with babies and toddlers, the ship can provide Pack 'n Plays and diaper pails in your cabin, as well as high chairs and pureed food in the restaurants. You can buy diapers, wipes, formula and other baby supplies onboard at the Whitecaps store.