Recurring Dream or New Fantasy: What's in Store for the Next Disney Cruise Ship?

May 20, 2011
(4 p.m. EDT) -- A paucity of pool space, return of chef rat and some European flare: These were the topics of conversation during yesterday's Disney Cruise Line reveal for 128,000-ton, 2,500-passenger Disney Fantasy, near-identical sister ship of recently launched Disney Dream.

Dream's controversial Remy, an alternative French restaurant named after the hero of "Ratatouille," is back. The venue has been chided by some for its $75-per-person fee, the highest at sea (it does come with a welcome cocktail). Other Dream firsts -- including Magical Portholes, innovative in-cabin video displays offering a "view" (and a few surprises) and the somewhat thrilling AquaDuck "watercoaster" -- will return to Fantasy, which will launch in spring 2012.

One Disney Dream element that's left us dry is the size of the pools, which many passengers have found too small to accommodate the ship's max load of 4,000 people. DCL Public Relations Director Jason Leisecki was mum on any potential pool size increase for Fantasy but told us that passenger feedback can still influence final design elements on the ship.

So what's new about Disney Fantasy? There are a handful of firsts, and Cruise Critic got some additional details from Joe Lanzisero, creative senior vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering, and Jim Urry, vice president of entertainment and port adventures.

"Animation Magic" at Animator's Palate: While "Undersea Magic" -- Disney Dream's version of the Animator's Palate restaurant, which stars Crush from "Finding Nemo" -- has an aquarium feel, Fantasy's equivalent will be a show made from a montage of food-themed moments from Disney and Pixar films, plus animated drawings created by cruisers themselves. Because Disney Fantasy is sailing weeklong cruises, Lanzisero says the line is able to offer two shows per voyage. (There's only one show per sailing on Dream.)

Lanzisero told us that passengers receive a placemat with instructions to draw a character, which will be collected during an intermission. After dinner, the drawings will magically appear -- not only fully animated, but dancing with classic Disney characters."

Europa Nighttime Entertainment District: Disney Fantasy's entertainment district for adults will have the same architectural layout as the one on Dream, but with a substantially different vibe. The entire district takes its design cues from European travel. Bars and lounges will include the Italian-themed La Piazza lounge, complete with Venetian masks and a classic Vespa sidecar, and Ooh La La, a bar turned elegant French boudoir with velvet-tufted walls and Louis XIV-style chaise lounges. For anglophiles/fans of public transportation, the Tube Bar will be a love letter to the London Underground. Decor will include a tube map, mod red furniture, an English phone booth and an illuminated Union Jack dance floor.

"Disney's Aladdin -- A Musical Spectacular": Another new ship, another new show. Fantasy's will feature favorite characters like Aladdin, Princess Jasmine and the wise-cracking Genie who grants three wishes, plus scenes and songs from the movie that include magic lamps, more than a dozen dancing genies and special effects like a "flying" carpet that can turn and pitch as Jasmine and Aladdin soar above the stage. We're told that some of the tech tricks on display in Disney Wonder's "Toy Story the Musical" will be used in "Aladdin"; likewise, the show will have its own specially created songs.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Arrrr, another place for parents to spend money. Bibbidi will transform children (so parents don't have to) into young princesses and pirates. Princess package choices will offer combinations of hairstyle, shimmering makeup and nails; Princess costumes, complete with crowns, wands and shoes, will also be available.

Pirate wannabes receive an official pirate name before heading to the "Muster Station" for beards, bandanas, swords, scars, earrings and eye patches.

--by Christine Koubek, Cruise Critic Contributor