Family Travel: Cruising on The Disney Dream

The Disney Dream, as it will look when launched in 2011.

Christened earlier this year, the newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) fleet — the Disney Dream — was making waves long before it set sail. Top Disney execs and imagineers have been buzzing since 2009 about some of the coolest features on the new Disney Dream which, like other Disney vessels, brings together the whimsy of Disney with the romance and mystique of 1920s ocean liners.

The Dream includes a number of sizzle features that are actually rather astonishing. The rotational dining experience includes the new Enchanted Garden, a restaurant that transforms from blue sky to evening stars in one sitting; there is a 9,000-square-foot, no-adults-allowed, indoor/outdoor teen club (called Vibe) with cutting edge media stations and its own wading pool and jets; walls in the atrium lobby and elsewhere are decorated with enchanted art — which springs to life when admired; and Crush (from Finding Nemo) and Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) interact with kids in live, unrehearsed conversations on a 103-inch plasma screen.

However, perhaps the two coolest new features are:

The thrilling, 765-foot AquaDuck.

AquaDuck, a 765-foot water coaster that propels riders between the top decks of the ship at 20 feet per second. Riders zoom uphill and down, around twists and turns and through an extended section of river rapids. Remarkably, the flume includes a 13 foot section that swings out, 150 feet over the ocean below, which is visible through the translucent material of the slide.

An interior stateroom with virtual porthole.

Virtual portholes for inside staterooms, which will receive a live, high-def feed from cameras placed on the exterior of the ship to give those without a balcony or porthole a real-time view of what’s happening outside. In a nice touch, Peach (the starfish from Finding Nemo) or Mickey Mouse may pop by the virtual porthole for a visit.

The Disney Dream is the third ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, joining the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic. A brand-new ship, the Disney Fantasy, will join the fleet in 2012.

— Tim Johnson, contributing editor

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