Monday, 4 November 2013

Dream-class upgrades don’t diminish Disney Magic’s charm

Dream-class upgrades don’t diminish Disney Magic’s charm

By Tom Stieghorst
Animator's PalateONBOARD THE DISNEY MAGIC — Disney Cruise Line’s first ship has a new story to tell after undergoing the biggest renovation in its 15-year history.

The story is about a ship that got lighter, fresher-looking, with a new water slide and pools, an improved Animator’s Palate dining room, a remade kids’ club with a cool new Iron Man feature and more.

While the Magic’s makeover at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, wasn’t quite as magical as that of Cinderella’s coach and horsemen, it pleased Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz, especially the new Drawn to Magic show installed in Animator’s Palate.

“This is just a Disney classic experience that exceeded all of our expectations,” Holz said.

Disney top brass including Holz, Disney Parks and Resorts President Tom Skaggs and Disney Imagineering chief wizard Joe Lanzisero, were onboard a two-day cruise recently to inspect the ship, which will be departing from Miami on three-, four- and five-day sailings through year end.

“We tried to take an approach that this ship deserved everything we could give it in terms of what we’ve learned, every way we pushed the needle with the Dream-class ships, and yet retain all the charm that made Disney Magic such a beloved ship for these 15 years,” Skaggs said.

For passengers, the new look begins in the atrium where they step aboard to begin their cruise. Gone is the Dale Chihuly glass chandelier, replaced by an art deco fixture. Paired staircases have been reduced to one, and the gold, blue, coral and aquamarine color scheme brightens the space.

The pool deck has been notably transformed. A new, more daring water slide called Aqua Dunk may become the Disney Magic’s signature. Installed, for now, on no other Disney ship, the 37-foot-tall body slide starts high atop the forward funnel on Deck 13 and ends on Deck 10.
Aqua Dunk slideAfter riders enter a chamber, the floor drops out, sending them plunging through a tube that loops over the side of the ship before ending an exhilarating 10 seconds later in the runout.

A tamer slide, called the Twist ’n’ Spout, and an AquaLab water playground have been added where Mickey’s Pool used to be. Also new as of September are lifeguards to keep tabs on the hoard of kids in the AquaLab pool.

A second space on the Disney Magic that will generate buzz is Animator’s Palate, where all the sound, lighting and video equipment has been updated and a new show created.

The room’s signature trick, going from black and white to full color over the course of a dinner, doesn’t get old. The oversized digital wall canvases start out displaying the most tentative of pencil sketches and end with a symphonic splash of light, color, movement and character. The food is almost beside the point.

Two other restaurants have been revised. The former Parrot’s Cay has become Carioca’s, with a Brazilian theme, pan-Latin menu and snazzy, oversize modern lanterns. And the nautical Topsider Buffet gave way to the beach-themed Cabanas, which has been expanded indoors by 3,400 square feet to a total of 9,460 square feet.

The kids’ clubs on Deck 5 have been redone, with one standout addition being “Become Iron Man,” in which kids virtually test drive the Iron Man armor.

For adults, the old Beat Street nightclub section has been remade into After Hours, with a more minimalist black and silver color scheme and several new bar/lounge concepts.

And the Senses spa and salon has been expanded by an additional 725 feet to 11,500 square feet and now includes a two-chair barbershop that offers men’s haircuts and hot-lathered shaves.