Photo credit: Matt Stroshane
If you’re a Disney lover, you already know about Disney magic (with a little m). It’s something that my family and I have experienced every year for the past few years. But our magic has always been contained at the Walt Disney World Resort. You know, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. And we always stay on property meaning we stay at one of the official Disney hotels (something I highly recommend).
But we haven’t tried all things Disney.
For example, we’ve only stayed at three of the resorts in Orlando. So many more to try. We haven’t visited the water parks at all. We haven’t been to Disneyland as a family. We haven’t done any of the Adventures by Disney. And we haven’t done a Disney cruise. Or hadn’t done one until last weekend.
It was about six weeks ago that the magical email from Disney appeared in my inbox beckoning me to Miami:
Be our guest on a two-night getaway cruise from the Port of Miami, sailing Oct. 25, 2013. Be among the first to experience the newest additions to the Disney Magic including the AquaDunk, an exciting new thrill slide on the upper decks, innovative kid spaces such as Marvel’s Avengers Academy, all-new dining experiences and a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for adults.
Disney Magic (with a capital M) was the first ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. It began operation on July 30, 1998 and has served many shipfuls of 2400 passengers in the last 15 years. But even Mickey Mouse has had a facelift over the years and Disney decided it was time to do the same for Magic.
Shockingly, a “re-imagining” or refurbishment for the Disney Magic was an extremely accelerated process. It was placed into dry dock for about 5 weeks while work was done round the clock. Add in about 2 weeks travel time and the Disney Magic was only out of service for about 7 weeks. Of course I wanted to check it out for myself!
Disney invited me on a quick 2 night Media Sailing that included airfare and accommodations for myself and a guest to experience the re-imagined Magic. Since we’re just a little family of three, I paid the airfare and shipfare for my son, Evan, to come along. It would be a working vacation for the Nallys!
So we packed our bags, headed out on a 6 am flight last Friday morning, and boarded the Disney Magic later that day. And that’s where my story gets stuck.
There are so many ways to share my experience. I could write about what it’s like to take a cruise for those that have never been on one. I could write about what this cruise is like compared to other cruises out there (for those that have been on other cruise lines). I could write about what’s changed in the Disney Magic for those that have sailed on the ship and want to know what’s different. Or I could just focus on kid’s activities or the food or the water amusements or adult spaces or the stateroom.
Or I could just show you my 192 pictures.
I can’t do it justice with one post and for those of you that are interested in Disney, Disney Cruise Line, and specifically, Disney Magic, I’m going to make sure I have you covered over the next few weeks.
For now, here’s a quick taste of what we experienced…
There was a lot of hurry up and wait to get on the ship. Airport security, baggage claim, port check-in, embarkment. It was a LOT of waiting for a 6 year old to handle, especially since we had been up since 4:30 am that morning.
And then finally, we boarded as a Disney Cast Member announces, “Disney Magic would like to welcome the Nally family!”
HOORAY! Until our stateroom was ready, the only agenda was to eat (which we did at a lovely lunch buffet), explore the ship, relax, and will the Miami sun to come out from behind the clouds.
The newly re-imagined swimming space geared towards kids has been dubbed the Aqua Lab and includes a twisty, yellow water slide that’s fun for kids AND grown-ups. Yes, I tried it.
The Goofy pool, also the scene of many parties and cartoon shorts! That big red tube in the background? That’s the new Aquadunk ride, or what I like to call, “the scariest thing Fadra has ever done in her life.” More to come.
Soaking up imaginary sun rays.
The adults-only pool. Sadly, something we didn’t get a chance to experience.
While it looked like we were the only ones on board, we had en early embarkation time so we had a chance to explore everywhere.
We even stopped to play some sports. You might catch a glimpse of the basketball court in the background (where I pulled a muscle in a place I didn’t really know you could pull a muscle). But we focused our energy on playing ping pong and actually managed to hit the ball a few times.
One of the newest features is the revamped kids area called Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Kids’ areas for exploration included:
Andy’s room from Toy Story (complete with Slinky Dog slide!)
Mickey Mouse Club, reminiscent of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (we could swear we saw Toodles)
Marvel’s Avengers Academy, complete with video games and Ironman simulation (you’re seeing the back of Evan as he was completely entranced)
And Pixie Hollow, perfect for girls who want to play dress up. And no, they don’t have adult sizes. I asked.
Other re-imagined spaces included Senses Spa & Salon where I felt like I had an out of body experience.
Animator’s Palate, a re-imagined theme restaurant that brings old and new animation to life (I LOVED this!)
The After Hours area meant for adults. Yes, you’ll see my husband and son to the left. I did manage to steal a few minutes in two adult lounges, Keys, and O’Gill’s. Both sophisticated and fun in their own way.
The downside to the whole trip is that I blinked and it was over. The average person gains 7 to 14 pounds on a cruise and I only gained 2. Does that tell you anything? But in those two quick nights, I learned and experienced so much from the food to the entertainment, from the spa to the movie theater. And it was all served up Disney style with warm and friendly service.
We promised Goofy we’d be back!
I’ll be writing about my Media Sailing over the next few weeks and would love to hear your specific questions so I can make sure I get to them. Want to know itineraries? See the stateroom? Hear about the food? Learn about the Disney imagineers behind it all? Talk about motion sickness or cruising in general? Leave me a comment so I can make sure I cover it!