Disney Wonder Entertainment & Activities
Disney Wonder has two theaters, both of which have fantastic views with unobstructed sightlines from any seat in the house. The 977-seat Walt Disney Theatre, on Deck 4 forward, hosts the ship's spectacular production shows. The current lineup on Wonder is: "The Golden Mickeys," an awards-style show that rotates through some classic Disney films to present winners for best hero or best friendship (arrive early to be interviewed on the red carpet); "Disney Dreams" evokes the whimsy of Disney storytelling as a little girl named Anne Marie teams up with Peter Pan to find her inner magic; and "Frozen, a Musical Spectacular," which brings Anna, Elsa and Olaf to the stage for a retelling of the wildly popular "Frozen" Disney film with state-of-the-art projections, puppetry and all its signature songs.
Preludes is a bar and snack counter that sells drinks and goodies before the show. There is a lobby area in front of the theater, in between the Preludes counters on either side that sometimes hosts character appearances (including Santa during the holidays).
The Buena Vista Theatre, on Deck 5 midship, is styled like much of the interior decor on Wonder -- there's Art Deco touches everywhere you look from the marquee in front to the patterns on the carpeting. This theater shows first-run Disney films multiple times throughout the sailing -- some even in 3D. A cart selling popcorn, candy and souvenir cups with soda is located just outside. We had a chance to see some films onboard, before we ever had a chance to see them on land.
Disney Cruise Line strongly discourages saving seats in the theater before shows -- the venues open about a half-hour before showtime, so come early to guarantee you get the spot you want.
Disney's heart and soul is in its youth activities, and both kids and teens can barely be found once they make friends in their respective clubs. Apart from their dedicated spaces, most children (in warm enough weather) can be found splashing and sliding around on the outer decks. Here is where you'll find the FunnelVision jumbotron TV (midship on Deck 9), which shows Disney movies -- and even trivia -- throughout the day and night. Even outside of the kids' clubs and pool decks, there are still plenty of activities to occupy families and adults onboard.
Disney trivia or character drawing is held at least once per day in the Promenade Lounge or D Lounge. (Trivia for the older crowd is held in the Crown & Fin Pub.) We also saw 3D crafts, which resulted in miniature Mickeys and Minnies, and napkin-folding lessons. Bingo with a $10,000 jackpot is also held for the adults, but there's an extra fee to participate. "The Art of the Theme Show" complimentary ship tour is offered at least once per cruise, offering a comprehensive and behind-the-scenes look at the spaces onboard and some insight into their design.
Once during the cruise, a Royal Court Royal Tea is held to which tiny princes and princesses are invited to attend for an elaborate affair full of tea (really just juice, which is not as dangerous to spill), sandwiches, pastries, cupcakes, small gifts and their favorite Disney royalty. This tea is steep -- it costs $279 for one adult and one child; each additional child is $210 and each additional adult is $69. On our sailing, the event sold out online before anyone boarded, as such it wasn't advertised. We learned later in the cruise that it was held on the first sea day in Triton's.
Fitness classes at Senses Spa are held throughout the day -- from group cycling to yoga -- and cruisers are encouraged to join a trial class for free. Seminars, like Secrets to a Flatter Stomach, are also held in the spa.
Beverage seminars -- like tequila tasting or mixology class -- are available for an additional fee. Coffee meetups are organized for the 18-to-20 sect. We also saw a cooking class offered on one day.
Don't forget character meet-and-greets, which are held throughout the day, every day. While Disney claims it's making an effort to reduce wait times by offering pre-reservations, we still saw plenty of bright-eyed kids and their bleary-eyed parents standing in long lines to hug princesses and giant mice.
A lot of evening activities on Wonder are scheduled around bedtimes, so be sure to pick your dining time accordingly (it's the same for the entire cruise). Main theater productions are shown twice each evening; you can either dine before or after the show. Special events, like Pirate Night or Mickey's Tree Lighting Magic on Merrytime holiday sailings, are typically held between early and late dining, at around 7:30 p.m.
While the theater is the premiere entertainment facility on the ship, the Pirates in the Caribbean dinner and deck party is a 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 a pool deck party near Goofy's pool. Kids are invited to join a team and play a video game using motion-sensing technology to steer a ship or navigate a slippery deck. Afterward, you can dance with some of your favorite characters dressed in pirate garb, watch other people react as they're caught dancing on camera and featured on the jumbo LED screen, and see Mickey rappel from atop the ship's funnel to fight Captain Hook. The night is capped off with a fireworks display. (There are no fireworks on Alaska cruises due to environmental laws.)
If you're looking for a night out, activities in the kid and teen clubs run pretty late -- close to midnight. Family activities, like karaoke, are typically held in D Lounge. The bulk of late-night activities for adults is concentrated to the After Hours section of the ship, a collections of bars, lounges and a nightclub, strictly for the 18-and-over crowd after 9 p.m.
There are no casinos on any Disney ship, but in Azure, the nightclub, you will find late-night games with a naughty edge, and variety entertainment that on our sailing included a standup comedian, and a singer and impressionist who blew us away. The impressionist performed another, earlier show the next day for kids as well.
Disney Wonder Bars and Lounges
Adult beverages are available around the ship, and specialty cocktails are offered on the main dining dinner menus each night. There are always kid cocktails as well -- usually frozen concoctions made with ice cream. But if you're looking for a mature place to relax and unwind, head to Deck 3 forward, where most of Wonder's bars and lounges are grouped in a sleek 18-plus space called After Hours.
Promenade Lounge (Deck 3): For a general use lounge, we found Promenade to be an attractive and inviting space, also very much Art Deco. The bar, with eight cushioned stools, is surrounded by light maple wood and the velvet chairs are dandelion yellow. The lighting looks like stained glass with yellow and blue squares. There is a small stage, dance floor and piano here for live music. Most arts and crafts and demos are held here throughout the cruise. A small station to the right of the bar offers snacks throughout the day and late at night, like chips and salsa. Open 7:30 a.m. to midnight.
Crown & Fin Pub (Deck 3): The creators of this bar, which Disney refers to as a "Proper English Pub," drew inspiration from every Disney film that has taken place in London or England over the years, so much so that you can make a game of finding all the hidden memorabilia. (We'll give you a hint: There's a certain someone's umbrella on a shelf near the front door.) The English decor is on point, from obvious artwork of the Queen, to more subtle touches like an old-looking radiator. There's tons of flat-screen TVs playing the latest sports games, so no worries about missing your NFL Sunday football. Trivia, board games, darts, backgammon/chess sets and other amusements also pass the time. It's a fun bar, but we were surprised to find that the heart and soul of any authentic British pub -- the beer -- was seriously lacking. The one British beer on tap -- Newcastle -- was out for our entire cruise, along with Guinness and a few others. There are a variety of bottled beers, but they cost a bit more. The bar's own brew -- Crown & Fin -- was just OK, but it does come with a try at the spinning wheel -- if you land on the right spot, you get a free 5 oz. taster. Open from about noon to midnight.
Cadillac Lounge (Deck 3): If you think this spot is designed just for car enthusiasts, think again. This bar is glossy and sophisticated. The back of the bar features the grill of a car (presumably a Caddy), the tables are styled around tires and hub caps and the sofas and chairs feature stitched leather Cadillac seating. It's a vestige leftover from the days of when the adults-only area on the ship was known as Route 66. Cadillac Lounge is a good place onboard for bourbon or a cocktail and some live piano music. A lot of the extra-fee tastings are held here throughout the cruise. Open from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Azure (Deck 3): At first glance, Disney Wonder's nightclub seems a blank slate with bare white walls, but lighting effects transform the space depending on what it's being used for. Azure, used for activities and shows throughout the day, has a subtle marine theme with a coral partition, crests of waves carved from the wall, LED chandeliers that resemble jellyfish and a nautilus pattern in the carpet. Azure does many jobs, hosting information sessions, family dance parties, game shows for adults, bingo sessions, performers from comedians to singers and DJ'd music sets. As such, it's open to anyone during the day, but strictly 18-plus after 9. Drinks are flashy -- literally; one comes with a glowing ice cube, another with a bracelet made from acai seeds. Azure is open the latest of any bar aboard, until 1 or 2 a.m.
D Lounge (Deck 4): D Lounge is the family lounge; it's a modern-looking space with a stage for trivia, karaoke and games. There are light wooden tables and chairs, cushioned bench seating along the wall and a small bar with five chairs tucked to one side. Drinks are served here only during showtimes. If you look closely, the carpet tells a story.
Preludes (Deck 4): Wrapping the lobby of the Walt Disney Theatre, Preludes is a counter that provides all the snacks, drinks (both alcoholic and soft drinks), popcorn and cups shaped like Star Wars' BB-8 that one can manage. Open 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Signals (Deck 9): This outdoor bar with a few stools as well as wooden tables and chairs is the place to grab a colada while hanging around the Quiet Cove pool and sun deck. Open 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Sully's Sips (Deck 9): Next to the self-serve ice cream (Eye Scream) on the pool deck, Sully's is where you can grab a blended smoothie or the drink of the day. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pinocchio's Pizzeria (Deck 9): Yes, there's a bar here. No, our noses aren't growing. Open 10 a.m. to midnight.
Cove Cafe (Deck 9): Cove Cafe is an adults-only coffee and wine bar (but offers a full bar menu) with lounge space on Decks 9 and 10. There's even a specialty iced tea menu. All drinks incur a charge, but the case of baked goodies -- peanut butter-chocolate brownies and lemon cake -- is dangerously free. It's the only two-level version of this cafe in the Disney fleet; surrounded by glass, it's a great space to gaze out, especially during Alaska sailings. There's plenty of seating and some electrical outlets for those on laptops or other devices. A few shelves' worth of current magazines and books are available, and since Disney's ships do not have libraries, this is the place to come for extra reading material. The only caveat: The material must remain at the cafe, which is inconvenient if you begin a good book and can't spend the day with it on Castaway Cay. Cove Cafe is open 7 a.m. to midnight.
Concierge Lounge (Deck 10): An exclusive lounge for passengers booked in Concierge suites with indoor and outdoor space, you'll find complimentary drinks and canapes provided throughout the day in this lounge.
Disney Wonder Outside Recreation
For a medium-sized ship, Disney Wonder has a number of pool and splash areas, and they're nothing to scoff at. (Kids must be toilet trained to use the pools.) Another nice feature is the presence of lifeguards, not common on other cruise ships. There are also complimentary pool safety vests in a variety of sizes for swimmers who are still unsure of their skills. And, yes, the pools are heated.
Goofy's Family Pool, midship on Deck 9, is in the center of the pool deck action, with a stage and FunnelVision TV directly in front and pizza and ice cream just behind the pool area. The pool is 4 feet deep, and children 12 and under require direct adult supervision. The pool is usually open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are also two small hot tubs on either side of the pool, and we saw plenty of kids enjoying them with their family.
For the adults, the Quiet Cove Pool is an 18-and-over oasis. The area, located forward on Deck 9, is notably quieter than the rest of the ship, and the pool feels impressively large for a cruise ship (larger than Goofy's Pool, anyway). The rectangular pool overflows onto a platform where sunbathers can relax while soaking in shallow water, maybe sipping the drink of the day. There are two hot tubs on either side and the Signals bar is just behind. The adult pool is usually open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Twist 'n' Spout water slide is a hit, with a steady stream of kids spiraling down its yellow funnel. The entrance is on Deck 10, and sliders make their way down to Deck 9. There are a few requirements to ride: You must be at least 38 inches tall, toilet trained and able to follow all directions (no selfie sticks!). The slide is typically open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The AquaLab splash and play area is near the back of Deck 9, just in front of the Cabanas buffet. The theme for the area is the failed science experiments of Donald Duck's nephews; these are brought to life with spraying boilers and dumping buckets. A small swimming pool is located just off the splash area. While little ones are sure to love this area, it's only for kids who are toilet trained -- no swim diapers allowed. Children must be supervised at all times here; the area is typically open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For the littlest cruisers who aren't yet toilet trained, Dory's Reef provides a lovely enclosed splash area for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old. Located just behind AquaLab on Deck 9, this small area features figures of forgetful Dory and Pearl, a baby pink octopus, both from the "Finding Nemo" franchise. Wonder is the only Disney ship with this space. Dory's Reef is open the same hours as the other kids' pools and splash areas -- from about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Wide World of Sports Deck is near the top of the ship, on Deck 10 forward. The two or three times we came by, there was always a basketball game happening in the court with both kids and adults.
Shuffleboard and the jogging track are located on Deck 4; it's three laps to make a mile on the track.
There are about four rows of blue deck chairs on either side of the family pool, and to the right of the AquaLab. The chairs make a good home base, but if you're looking to actually take a nap, it might be hard with the TV or DJ music blaring and kids playing.
Quiet Cove is the place to come for peace and quiet. About 50 tan padded loungers surround the pool here. You must be 18 to enter.
Disney Wonder Services
The guest services and port shopping (shore excursion) desks are located off the main lobby on Deck 3. The back walls of the desks reflect the atrium's Little Mermaid motif, with murals of Prince Eric on the beach and King Triton presenting the ports, lit up in framed posters.
Also on Deck 3, in front of the Promenade Lounge, is the Connect@Sea desk, which helps cruisers get online. Packages are based on megabytes. A small package of 100 MBs is $19; a medium package with 300 MBs is $39; a large package with 1,000 MBs is $89; and a pay-as-you-go option is $0.25 per MB. Some cruisers commented that their preteens with a serious internet addiction were starting to go nuts without cheap and reliable access (we also found that the internet was spotty); whether this is a conscious decision intended to force families to spend more time together offline, or simply that Disney is one step behind the rest of the cruise industry when it comes to high-speed internet, we aren't sure. The Disney Cruise Line app, which is free to download, works off the ship's intranet and offers free messaging. It's excellent. We used the app constantly to track down activities or to easily snag a glance at deck plans.
One deck above, on Deck 4, are desks dedicated to the Disney Vacation Club and vacation planning. Also on Deck 4, midship, you'll find the Art Gallery, with a wall of Princess Elsa in oil paint and Peter Pan flying high above London, made to look like a Kinkade. There are no art auctions like you find on other cruise lines that we are aware of, but the sales desk is open from about 1 to 4 in the afternoon and 7 to 9 in the evening.
Shutters is the photo center and portrait studio on Deck 4, aft. Touch-screen kiosks take a simple tap of your Key to the World cruise card to make all your photos magically appear on the screen. A few accessories -- like frames and camera cases -- are sold at the desk here. A separate studio for private family portraits is just off the photo center. Portraits are made by appointment, but Shutters is open from about 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., daily.
Disney is a master of merchandising, and there are five stores onboard from which to buy everything from pirate gear to Star Wars memorabilia. (Just remember, shops are only open away from port.) In Sea Treasures, on Deck 3, you'll find a small shop dedicated to a galaxy far, far away. Mickey's Mainsail and White Caps are across from one another on Deck 4, just outside the Walt Disney Theatre. Mickey's is the one-stop shop for the latest Disney merchandise and also themed souvenirs during the holidays. White Caps sells apparel and accessories for adults, from simple nautical-themed hoodies to Dooney & Bourke handbags with Disney designs.
Quacks, on Deck 9, is a bit hidden, even out on the pool deck. It looks like just a giant round pillar, except when it's open, and then reveals a tiny round shop selling knick-knacks. Also on the pool deck is a chair for hairbraiding. The cost is $3 for each braid for kids and $5 for adults. (A charge of $0.50 is added to each braid for hair beyond shoulder length.) Braiding is by appointment only, open for a few hours each day (2 to 6 p.m., plus 9 a.m. to noon on sea days).
Also a bit hidden, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is located on Deck 10 (you can only get there via the forward staircase) -- look for the jeweled steps that say "magical transformations await." The boutique resembles a high-end shop and salon. The store is open 9 to 9 most days, but requires appointments in advance; it's popular, especially with princesses. Become transformed to the world of "Frozen" with hairstyle, costume, glitter, polish, a tote and an Olaf plush, to the tune of $165. A knight package -- with hair gel and a sword -- is just $20. Pirate makeovers and other costumes abound.
Laundry and dry cleaning are available onboard, and self-service launderettes (open 24 hours a day) can be found on Decks 2, 6 and 7. You can use your Key to the World card to purchase detergent and dryer sheets, and operate washers and dryers for a small fee. Use of ironing equipment is complimentary.
Smoking areas can be found on the forward port side of Deck 9 and Deck 4 starboard side from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.