Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things I liked about the Disney Dream

Having now been on 5 Disney cruises (3 Magic, 1 Wonder, 1 Dream) I thought I would take some time to talk about what I liked and didn’t like on the Disney Dream.

For now I’ll focus on the likes and I’ll post about the dislikes later!

Midship Detective Agency
This game is probably the most fun new activity on the ship. I found myself wishing for additional mysteries to solve. For those wanting to see more about what this is check out the Allears.Net site. For those who don’t want to go to Allears right now, in a nutshell Midship Detective Agency uses the ships Enchanted Art
to help you solve a mystery. There are two “cases” you can solve, one about missing puppies (Dalmatians of course) and one about missing paintings. You pick up a “map” at a sign up location as well as special card you use to activate the art. You then use the map to find the art pieces that will give you a clue. You use our card to activate the piece and then follow the directions to uncover your clue or find missing puppies/paintings. As you progress and get more clues, you are soon able to identify whom the thief is. Then it is your job to find and capture the thief.

We started the first game within hours of stepping aboard the Dream. Although there’s no reason to do a game straight thru, we were having so much fun that we finished our first game within an hour and were eagerly looking forward to our second one.

One word of advice, do this early! The days we did it we rarely had to wait, and didn’t run into many people playing. Later in the cruise we noticed frequent “traffic jams” as several groups were wanting to access a clue at the same time.

Updated Buena Vista Theater
Now I know most people are thinking I must be crazy, but I LOVE watching movies on the Disney ships. I’m a huge movie watcher in general, and I love taking the opportunity on the Disney Cruise Line to either catch new releases I’ve missed or watch old favorites on a big screen. As much as I love this, the old Buena Vista Theater on the Classic Ships was one of the most uncomfortable theaters I’ve sat in. the problem had largely to do with the complete and total lack of legroom. Although I still would have liked to see a slightly more spacious aisle, the Buena Vista Theater is much improved on the Dream. I didn’t get to see quite as many movies as I usually do on a seven day cruise, but I did get to take mom to see Tangled for the first time – and Rupunzel is her new favorite Disney Princess!

Aqua Duck
Unlike many many cruisers, I was apprehensive about the Aqua Duck. At least until the preview cruises started and I saw video of real people riding on it. I enjoy roller coasters, and I enjoy water. However, for the last several years I’ve not been able to wear my contact lenses and am instead stuck with my glasses. And my glasses are EXPENSIVE. And I’m blind as a bat without them. So I was worried the Aqua Duck would be too rough for me to ride with my glasses and that I just wouldn’t enjoy it riding blind.

As the initial videos came out it appeared that the ride was relatively tame, but enjoyable. So, while everyone else was on Castaway Cay we hoped in the very short line for the Aqua Duck. I rode twice. The first was with mom, the second by myself. Despite mom wanting us to go together the second time, I held firm, and we LOVED riding single. Both of us thought that the solo rides were a little faster and the raft bounced about a bit more. So much fun!

Animators Palette Decor
Notice how I say the “décor” here? The technology will be addressed later. Visually this restaurant was GORGEOUS! I knew I was going to love the chairs from the video flyover Disney posted on the Disney Parks Blog some time ago.

But the entire restaurant was just visually stunning. I was concerned about it being Finding Nemo themed and how limiting that would be. But really the décor is Pixar themed and I just found myself staring around the room at all the little artifacts the entire time. Loved it!

There were many many new bars in the District on the Dream. The one I found the most interesting was Skyline. The light up menus were interesting, and I loved the comfy couch style seating. But what was really cool were the skylines themselves. And the hidden surprise that made this one of the things I liked on the Dream – is that they MOVE. I assumed it would be more or less photographs going up with each new skyline. But if you look carefully you’ll notice lights turning on and off and cars traveling down the streets. What a terrific little touch!

I am not against buffets by any means, but I also don’t make a habit of eating at them regularly. This changed with Cabanas on the Dream! And for that to change, it means that MOM had to want to go to. And she DID! We typically only have 1-2 meals in a 7 day cruise at the buffet, instead we stick to the dining room for breakfast and lunch. But on the Dream, we had all our breakfasts and lunches at Cabanas (well not lunch on Castaway Cay day, that was Quick Service on deck 11). Unlike a traditional buffet Cabanas is set up with “pods” and you are to just go to the pod you want to get whatever you want. There definitely was some confusion by guests earlier in the cruise who were lining up because the pods are kind of in a LINE. But with a day or two behind our belts this problem seemed to go away. We loved the quality and wide range of offerings available at Cabanas.

We also really liked that they seat your party as you come in. Part of the drag with typical cruise ship buffets is you get a big heavy tray of food and then wander around hoping to find a table (as I just did on the Navigator of the Seas). This is not an issue with Cabanas because upon arrival you check in at a desk and they ask how many in your party and bring you to a table! THEN you go get your food! The only bad thing about this was when cruising with a group of 400+ (as we were with the Lou Mongello and the fans of the WDW Radio Show )this method makes it difficult to sit with friends on the cruise. Unless you specifically planned to meet up and thus asked for an appropriate table size.

Not a whole lot here that needs saying. Those who have been on the Classic ships are aware there’s two primary stores and the duty free store. The Dream expands upon this with a series of larger shops that all kind of blend into each other. I was particularly pleased with the LARGE Vinylmation selection. In addition to more square footage, the shops seemed far less crowded then on the Classic ships so they were enjoyable to shop in even before/after show time when they are usually packed!

On Demand TV in Cabins
This goes back to the movie lover in me, but on the Classic ships in addition to catching movies in the theater I find myself also catching some movies I’ve not yet seen on the TV. But on the Classic ships you may catch them in bits and pieces because they run on a schedule. On the Dream, all the movies are available on Demand. So you pick what/when you want to watch. And if you only have 20 minutes? No problem, it remembers were you left off so you can start back up! Fantastic!

Updated Golden Mickey’s Show
Having seen it many many times, we’re big fans of the Golden Mickey’s. The performance on the Disney Dream was no exception. I was really looking forward to the updates and was not disappointed. Updates to the show included performances from my favorite Disney movie, The Little Mermaid, as well as some new songs from Tangled. The new scenes blended in beautifully and the show continues to be a favorite!

Well that’s it for my Likes ( I think! ) catch you in a day or so for some of the things I was less impressed with!

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