Disney took Manhattan on Thursday, giving a packed house a preview of Disney Dream, whose first sailing is scheduled for January 26, 2011. While the Disney Cruise Line is currently two ships strong (Wonder and Magic) within two years it will have grown twofold—Disney Fantasy joins the fleet in 2012.
First things first. On Thursday, Bob Iger, Walt Disney Company’s CEO, was the first to take to the stage and promptly commended the ship and line for its creativity, technology and eye on expansion. He was followed by Disney Parks’ chairman, Jay Rasulo, who outlined Dream’s breadth of facilities and technology. And, oh, there is much to talk about.
Hands down, the AquaDuck water coaster is poised to be the most-talked-about onboard attraction. The coaster is more than two and a half times the length of a football field and spans four decks. Guests climb into an inflatable and, at one point, will actually swing out beyond the ship with the ocean in view below. Water boosters accelerate guests upwards and forwards.
Another tech touch we love are the inside stateroom virtual portholes. Positioned above the bed, they project animated Disney scenes and Disney characters. Of course, a cast of Disney characters will be onboard and two theatres—the Walt Disney Theatre and Buena Vista Theatre—will provide nightly entertainment.
Adults, however, will not feel left out and there are a host of places for respite, such as the Senses Spa & Salon, The District nightclub and Palo, an upscale restaurant.
For family dining, Dream will reprise the Animator’s Palate, a restaurant that changes with new animation as the minutes pass, Royal Palace, inspired by classic Disney films, and Enchanted Garden for more causal dining inspired by the gardens of Versailles.
Dream, which will homeport at Port Canaveral and operate three- and four-night Caribbean itineraries, will have 1,250 staterooms (21 suites) and a capacity for 4,000 guests, about 50 percent bigger than Wonder and Magic. The job of selling the ship, which goes on sale November 9, falls to Randy Garfield, executive vice president of sales and travel operations. He tells Travel Agent that Disney will make a considerable push in marketing Disney’s third ship. He expects demand from both first timers and Disneyphiles. “There’s interest from consumer and agents,” he says. “We’ve always had strong demand from Disney cruisers and others who love Disney but have never been on one of our ships.”
As for operating in this precarious environment, rife with deals, he hopes it turns. “I hope the value-priced offers end,” he says, hoping for what he calls, “back to rack.” That said, “for consumers it’s the best time to travel.”