by: Debra Martin Koma and Deb Wills Updated:
The newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, the Disney Fantasy, set sail on its maiden voyage March 31, 2012. The ship sails seven-night cruises, with itineraries alternating between the eastern and western Caribbean. Each cruise includes a stop on Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.
You may have heard about the Disney Dream, which launched last January.
If so, you know that the Fantasy is its sister ship. Like the Dream, the Fantasy is IMMENSE. Here are some facts and figures: the Fantasy is 1,115 feet long, 216 feet high, has 14 decks, and holds 4,000 passengers, plus another 1,458 crew members. She has 1,250 staterooms, two theaters, five table service restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, a full spa and fitness center, plus an assortment of pools and water play areas, an art gallery, a sports deck, shops and a game arcade. Yes, that's just on ONE ship. If someone tells you they got lost onboard, you can believe them -- with that much space, it is so easy to do.
There are several key differences between the Dream and the Fantasy, -- too many to cover here -- so this blog will focus on just two.
ANIMATION MAGIC – ANIMATOR’S PALATE
Many of the most exciting differences found on the Fantasy are in the area of entertainment. There are new theatrical productions each night, a new interactive game featuring the Muppets, and a new show featured at Animator's Palate restaurant.
Aboard the Dream, there was much excitement when Animator's Palate introduced the ability to interact with Crush, the giant sea turtle from Disney-Pixar's Finding Nemo. In that show, Crush not only appears on the restaurant's walls, but he can "see" diners, and converse with them about what they're wearing and doing, as he does in Epcot's groundbreaking show "Turtle Talk with Crush."
On this new ship, the restaurant offers yet another innovative program. Called "Animation Magic," this show combines classic Disney cartoon clips and characters with drawings created by the diners themselves.
The decor of the restaurant really sets the tone for what you are about to see. Details like preliminary sketches for classic cartoons and the Pixar lamp Luxo adorn the walls. The table settings are based on artists' tools, and even the menu is animated, with its lenticular cover.
Your server and your placemat provide very basic, easy-to-understand instructions about how to create your drawing. Don't worry if you think you have limited artistic talent. The key thing to remember is to not draw on the blue outlines. Once you've created your character, your placemat is collected and you enjoy your dinner.
Finally, sometime after you're through with your entree, the main event begins. The excitement ripples through the room as adults and children alike spot their drawings tripping across the screens before their eyes. Squeals of "There's mine! There's mine!" and a rumble of laughter fill the room. The show progresses for several minutes, and you wish it would go on longer. It is so cleverly done -- and just when you think it can't get any better, familiar Disney characters are interspersed with the audience's hand-drawn ones, adding another level of excitement. The show concludes with rolling credits, listing the names of all the evening's artist-diners.
This is one dining experience you don’t want to miss!
New water features also set the Disney Fantasy apart from her sister ship. Satellite Falls is a great addition to the adult-only water areas. Located on Deck 13 forward near the Currents Bar, this brand-new water feature is a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain that provides cool comfort. You can sit inside the rain curtain or outside of it.
A cruise industry innovation, the first-ever shipboard water coaster, debuted on the Disney Dream. Known as the AquaDuck, this high-speed flume ride is also featured on the Disney Fantasy. Stretching 765 feet in length and spanning four decks high, AquaDuck uses powerful water blasters to propel guests around the perimeter of the ship’s top deck.
The AquaLab, however, is a play area on Deck 12 near the AquaDuck that is totally the Fantasy's own.
According to Imagineer Peter Ricci, who also designed the AquaDuck, Nemo's Reef and other water areas on both ships, the concept is that Donald Duck's nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, created the lab to conduct a variety of water "experiments" before building the water coaster. Hundreds of gallons of water spray at you from every direction, from the walls and leaky pipes surrounding you, from the Ducky Dinghy inexplicably suspended overhead, and, Ricci's personal favorite, from the spinning "DuckBoy" paint buckets (a play on "Dutch Boy" paint) that tip over and dump on you when you least expect it. One walk through this new area and you can see why Ricci calls the AquaLab "a labor of love" and "so much fun."
This really is an area that can be enjoyed by everyone -- kids, adults and families alike. It is the perfect place to cool off and get silly on a sun-drenched Caribbean day at sea, before or after venturing upstairs to seek the thrills of water coaster snaking overhead.
While very much like Disney Dream, the Fantasy is more than just a clone-- it's more like the Disney Dream 2.0. Advancements in technology have enabled Disney and its Imagineers to raise the cruise standards bar even
higher, while creating a vessel that gives individuals of all ages a unique cruise vacation experience.
About the authors:
Deb Wills is the founder and webmaster of AllEars.Net (established January 1996). Debra Martin Koma is the senior editor of the AllEars® weekly newsletter. Both are veterans of numerous trips to Disney destinations. Follow them on twitter at: @dcdeb_allears and @allearsdeb