Hello fellow riders and welcome back to the WDW Ride Guide Podcast. I’m your host Ben Crain! If you are wanting to learn about Disney rides then you have come to the right place. Normally, we focus our time on a ride located within Walt Disney World. However, today I’m very excited to have you join me as we set sail on a whole new type of ride. This ride covers a greater distance than anything in the parks and certainly wins the prize for carrying the most riders. It is the Disney Dream cruise ship.
A dream is a wish your heart makes, and if you are wishing for a ride that has a little bit of everything the Disney Dream is the ride for you! This ship is the third installment of the Disney Cruise Line, and if you have talked to anyone who has sailed the Disney Dream, chances are the first thing they will mention is the size. The Disney Dream is 40% larger than its predecessors the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. From the moment you first catch a glimpse of the Disney Dream through your Magical Express Bus, your eyes will grow wide as you take in the sheer size of the vessel.
Before you walk on board, you must first pass through check-in and in order to do that, you will need the proper documentation. For that let’s go back in time for just a minute. The Disney Dream currently takes riders on a 3 or 4 night cruise to the Bahamas. This means you will need a passport or other required documentation. I don’t want to spend all of our time today talking about the boring details, but this is a very important step. For a full list of what will be accepted, visit disneycruise.com. For today’s podcast just know that you need either:
- A valid U.S. Passport
- A valid U.S. Passport Card
- Government-issued photo ID along with one of the following:
– Original or copy of their state issued birth certificate
Guests under the age of 16 may present:
- Original or copy of their state issued birth certificate
Now, if you are like me and are embarking on your first cruise or trip requiring such documentation, you need to give yourself plenty of time. Obtaining a U.S. Passport or Passport Card is a rather time consuming process. The standard processing time is 4-6 weeks. You can pay to expedite, but this is costly. We learned this lesson the hard way, waited a little too long, and ended up paying an extra $120. To learn how to apply, visit www.travel.state.gov. When you visit the site you will see the options including pricing. A Passport book is about a third the price of a Passport, but does expire sooner and doesn’t give you access to all international travel. Obviously, how much and where you are planning to travel over the next few years will determine what the best option is for you.
Let’s get back to the fun stuff! Once your family has shown all the proper identification and documentation, you will be given your “Key to the Kingdom”. This is an actual key card. This key will open your Stateroom door, turn the lights on in your room, and serve as your payment for any extras you want to charge. It isn’t as convenient or stylish as a Magic Band, but serves the same purpose. With the key in hand, it is time to walk through the Mickey shaped tunnel and board the ship.
As you walk on board, your family will be announced by the crew. This is a nice touch, but frankly I was too busy taking in the visual feast of the main atrium to even notice our names being called out. The impressive exterior design of the ship is matched with equally intricate detail once inside. Just like the theme parks, the ship tells a story, and no inch of the ship is overlooked with this storytelling. The carpet, walls, windows, lighting, and artwork all combine to overwhelm your senses. In fact, it wasn’t until day 3 that I noticed some of the hidden Mickeys that I had been passing over and over. I’m not going to spoil those locations here, but be sure and keep your eyes open when you are on board.
The Staterooms are very impressive in both design and size. Inside Staterooms will range from 169 to 184 square feet. A Deluxe Ocean View with Verandah Stateroom will be 246 to 258 square feet or you can go all out with a Deluxe Family Oceanview with Verandah Stateroom and enjoy 300 square feet. To put this in perspective, a room at a Disney Value Resort is typically 260 square feet and a Disney Moderate Resort is about 314 square feet. So, the rooms aboard the Disney Dream won’t be as big as a Value resort room, but they will be more cleverly designed.
Rachel and I opted for the Deluxe Ocean View with Verandah Stateroom and we were impressed with both the efficiency and open feeling of the room. For the record, I am not a fan of confined tight spaces. This is one reason it has taken this long for us to go on our first cruise. Well, the walk out verandah with a view of the ocean made this a non-issue. The room also has more innovative storage than an Ikea. We had two good size closets with enough room to store a suitcase, shoes, and clothes. If you prefer, you can slide your suitcases under the bed as they are elevated with that in mind. There are also all kinds of little storage places throughout the room. Rachel appreciates organization and she was very excited by all these thoughtful nooks and crannies. The bathrooms are rather unique for the cruise industry: they are a split design. A toilet and small sink are located in one small bathroom and the shower/tub and another small sink are located in the other small bathroom. This does make it easy for two people to use the bathroom without having to step over each other. While the split bathrooms were the tightest spaces in the room, they were still very functional. Actually, the shower in our Stateroom was nicer and had better water pressure than the room we stayed in at Coronado Springs.
As nice as the rooms are, I bet you are wondering about the things to do aboard the Disney Dream. We are a ride guide after all! Well, there is so much to do it is hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with my favorite part of the cruise, the shows!
On a 3-night cruise you can enjoy 3 very different high quality shows in the majestic Walt Disney Theater. I say majestic because this theater is truly breathtaking. You would never imagine there could be a theater this size on a ship, but then again the ship is huge! The theater occupies 2 decks of the ship and can hold 977 guests. The stage is 40 feet wide and behind the curtain are all the modern day technical capabilities you could expect from a show right on Broadway. The cast and crew are just as impressive and serve to put on shows that will have you laughing, smiling, and maybe even crying.
There are a three different shows, one showing each night. When we set sail we had the pleasure of seeing “The Golden Mickeys”, “Villains Tonight”, and “Believe”. “The Golden Mickeys” is a charming show where the main character is pulled from backstage to center stage, and we learn we are all capable of more than we think. “Villains Tonight” is the comedy of the trio, featuring Hades from Disney’s Hercules. While this show wasn’t our favorite, it offers some good laughs while showcasing villains from a wide array of Disney classics. Finally, “Believe” is the real showstopper! This inventive show creatively marries some all-time favorite Disney songs with a brand new heart warming story. Dads will want to sit next to their daughters during “Believe” and be ready to experience a full range of emotions.
There are two showings of each production nightly to compliment your dining schedule. If you are an early diner then you can enjoy the second show. In our case, we had the late dining shift so we went to the theater each night and saw a great show before enjoying a fabulous meal. It was like a built in date night! The timing is all planned out for you so don’t worry about missing anything.
I read some mixed reviews about the shows aboard the Disney Dream before our trip, but I was highly entertained each night. Having paid good money to see a variety of traveling musicals, I had fairly high expectations. As I said before, the theater is a star in and of itself and the shows that take the stage are truly state-of-the-art. In typical Disney fashion, there are even some fun 4-D elements that help bring the shows to life. I won’t spoil all the fun here, you will have to go find out for yourself.
The Walt Disney Theater also is equipped to show not only first run movies, but to do so in 3-D! If you are really lucky, you can even watch a movie premiere on its opening weekend. Grab your popcorn and movie candy, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Speaking of movies, there is a second theater aboard the Disney Dream named the Buena Vista Theater. There are no live shows in this theater, but instead first run and classic Disney movies are presented throughout the day. Like the Walt Disney Theater, the technology is state-of-the-art. The theater is equipped with Dolby Surround 7.1 sound and Dolby 3D. The Buena Vista Theater is located midship on Deck 4 and 5.
Last but certainly not least, is the Funnel Vision located above Donald’s Pool on Deck 11. This 24 foot by 14 foot giant LED screen is called Funnel Vision because it is situated outside between the two main funnels atop the ship. Classic Disney films, television shows, and even sporting events are broadcast for the pool-going crowd to enjoy. Talk about an outdoor entertainment area! Deck 11 is a hub of activity most of the time. Besides showing movies while you swim, this giant screen and stage below serve to showcase some great live action as well.
Your hosts Mickey and his friends will use the stage and Funnel Vision to throw a Cast Off Party as well as other fun activities throughout the cruise. You can check the daily Navigator to see what all is happening that day. One activity you won’t want to miss is Pirate Night. This fun night has many adults and children dressing up as pirates and is capped off with a giant party on Deck 11. What would a Disney party be without fireworks, right? Yes, the pirate canons will blast those magical pyrotechnics into the dark night sky. Now, this won’t be on the same scale as any of the fireworks shows you see in the parks, but still, fireworks at sea are pretty cool.
Besides the shows, movies, parties, and the fireworks there is still so much to do aboard the Disney Dream! To cover everything in our podcast today would cause us to grossly exceed our normal time. Still, I want to at least introduce you to some of what this ride has to offer. Here we go! You can swim, eat, play BINGO, run, play mini golf, shoot hoops, play ping-pong, try a trivia contest, eat more, hit the gym, relax in the hot tub, get in a game of shuffleboard, spike a volleyball, ride the AquaDuck, play virtual sports, get a haircut, go shopping, eat again, subject your family to karaoke, attend a drawing class, enter a golf chipping contest, get a massage, take a picture with Mickey Mouse, go on a scavenger hunt, eat one more time, and finally, watch the sunset over the bluest waters you have ever seen. This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully you get the idea.
There are also fantastic youth clubs if you want the kids to have some fun of their own. Nurseries start at 6 months, the Oceaneer’s Club entertains 3 to 12 year olds, Edge is the place for ages 11 to 14, and Vibe is for 14 to 17 year olds. Now, I don’t fall into any of these age categories so I can’t speak from experience. However, those that have used the youth clubs aboard the Disney Dream rave about them. Not only are they very secure and safe, but each club is designed with their specific age group in mind, creating some super cool spots. For Star Wars or Wreck it Ralph fans, these areas are going to be even cooler beginning Fall 2015. It was announced earlier this year that the Oceaneer’s Club will be transformed to look like the inside of the Millennium Falcon! The pictures for this look so amazing I badly wish I could be 5 years old again. Click here to check out the Disney Parks Blog. Be sure and come over to wdwrideguide.com to check out this and all the really special things being added for kids aboard the Disney Dream.
Now, I know what you are thinking: what about us adults? Well, sadly there is no full size Millennium Falcon interior for 35 year old men. However, there are a plethora of lounges and nightclubs just for the adults. Both serve alcohol, the nightclubs are designed to entertain and the lounges are designed for conversation. These spaces may be used for family activities during the day, like BINGO or trivia contests, and will be accessible to the whole family during those times. In most cases they become adult only areas after 9 pm. If you are wondering about what to do with the kids after 9 pm, don’t worry. The youth clubs we just mentioned will be open as late as 11 pm or even as late as 2 am depending on the age group. Click here for a full list of lounges and nightclubs along with their operating hours.
Well, that just about covers it. I feel like I may be leaving something out. Oh yes, food, excursions, and the coolest ride aboard the Disney Dream, the AquaDuck! Have no fear, we will back next week to cover Disney’s own private island Castaway Cay, the AquaDuck, and the pools aboard the Disney Dream. As for food, all you need to know for now is that there is a lot of food pretty much everywhere you look. The Disney Cruise Line utilizes rotational dining which is really nice. We will talk about that in detail on a future podcast.
Thank you so much for coming aboard the Disney Dream with me this week! I hope today has given you a little taste of Disney cruising without the nasty saltwater aftertaste (my least favorite thing about the ocean). I hope you will come back next week as we learn more about riding aboard the Disney Dream.
For now, let’s all go make each day a ride worth taking!