This last part of our “live” coverage is coming at you with a 24-hour delay due to the virtually nonexistent internet connection I had onboard. We actually disembarked the Disney Wonder yesterday, but I’d still like to share a bit more of the ship experience before I post my full review and video in the coming days. A neat piece of news to report is that our particular cruise included the cruise line’s first ever stop in San Diego, my own hometown, and so it was great to see America’s finest city as a backdrop for Mickey and Pluto (as seen above).
Disney is first and foremost an entertainment company, and that aspect of the cruise line shines above all else onboard. With the fantastic fireworks deck party and exceptional Disney Dreams production show being featured on the last two nights, this cruise built up to quite the pleasing crescendo of entertainment.
What really strikes me most is how well Disney tells a story with its productions. While other cruise lines might simply feature revues, here the emphasis is always on narrative. Even the first night’s show – usually nothing more than a ‘taste of things to come’ on other lines – follows a family of passengers and their son’s dream to one day captain a Disney ship. The great costumed characters including Captain Mickey encourage the youngster’s ambitions through playful song. It’s also a nice nod to the entire crew onboard that the show even features players dressed up as deckhands in their characteristic yellow jumpsuits.
The first main production show on our cruise was The Golden Mickeys, and I must say this was the biggest let down of any show I’ve seen from the Disney Cruise Line. The tired conceit of an awards show as the narrative wrapper of this production was further inhibited by showcasing Disney’s second-tier musical numbers as award-worthy. I believe this one really needs to be retooled. The award show approach might actually work for Disney’s hits but certainly not its leftovers.
Thankfully, Toy Story: The Musical made up for the shortcomings of the preceding show. Disney’s usual originality was in full swing with this production that featured an famous cast of characters that delighted the crowd of Pixar fans. The creative showmanship required to bring alive some of the more complex figures like Rex, Hamm and Mr. Potato Head was impressive as was the use of excellent scene work through expert staging, oversized props and clever video transitions. John Lasseter’s personal supervision of this show is unmistakable.
Pirate Night is a definite highlight of any Disney cruise if for no other reason than its inclusion of the only fireworks display at sea, but it’s the whole deck party that is just altogether a lot of fun. Fans of energetic music will delight in the impressive sound system found on the ship’s top decks with thudding subwoofers and blasting satellite speakers. Add in a zip-lining Mickey Mouse, supporting cast of costumed characters, aforementioned pyrotechnics and a screening of the original Pirates of the Caribbean film, and you have a recipe for a great evening.
Rather than ending with a generic farewell, the last show of the cruise was the deservedly award-winning production, Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. The main character is a girl who wishes upon a star but still just can’t get the hang of believing in magic until she and Peter Pan rediscover such tales as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Lion King as they come to life in her bedroom. The complex staging of this show is alone worthy of praise with extensive use of the stage pits, puppetry, video and lighting that enshrouds the entire audience. The beautiful musical arrangements and performances poignantly deliver the message of all is possible with a little “faith, trust and pixie dust.” You just can’t help but fall in love with this show and quite frankly this ship and entire cruise line.
Stay tuned for much more to come including our full review, videos, and our interview on Cruize Cast recorded just today…