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Making Disney Magic At Sea
If You Were a Princess "Then," Be a Princess Now

by Linda Coffman

Poor Alice... even for a young girl whose exploits in Wonderland are extraordinary, it’s not easy to be tiara-deprived when surrounded by royalty on Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic. The glamour explains why little girl passengers eagerly dress up as their favorite Disney princesses and patiently line up to have photos snapped with their big-screen idols. It also explains why Alice in Wonderland, relegated to an out of the way corner on an upper deck, had only two admirers waiting to meet her—a toddler and me—while the lobby below filled with miniature costumed fans of Snow White and Pocahontas.

A touch of leftover childhood curiosity inspired my desire to meet Alice, the heroine of my favorite childhood book and Disney movie. While I’ve never followed a white rabbit to Wonderland, I remember my wide eyed excitement upon entering Disneyland for the first time. In my day—I was surely among the earliest Mouseketeer fans—things were just a bit simpler. I was thrilled by the rides and attractions, but there were no daily parades and live staged entertainment. Characters, even princesses, didn’t seem to have any particular talent beyond stepping out of the silver screen to welcome visitors to the landmark Magic Kingdom. 

So it came as something of a surprise to discover throughout my cruise that princesses on Disney Magic not only made personal appearances, but also starred in the lavish on board shows. Thinking that poor Cinderella already had a lot to do, what with sweeping floors and still finding the time to win the heart of a handsome prince, I asked Disney Magic Cruise Director Rachel if she really found the time to carry out double duty on board—both greeting her fans and performing. Rachel’s response, “there is only one Cinderella.” Okay. As I learned, that means today’s Disney characters have the ability to entertain on more than one level and are as accomplished on stage as off.

Naturally Mickey and Minnie Mouse lead the wildly popular cast of characters at sea, as they do in the landlocked resorts. Indeed, any cast member on board will tell you “it all started with a mouse!” So, which of Mickey and Minnie's pals regularly set sail aboard Disney Magic? According to Kevin Neary, author of Disney trivia books and a popular cruise ship lecturer, just as Disney theme parks are not museums and have evolved over the years, the same holds true with Disney’s cruise ships where new features—for instance, the 24-by-14 foot poolside movie screen—are regularly introduced. Likewise, the popularity of individual Disney characters ebbs and flows in cycles.

In that case, it is pretty obvious that Cinderella currently tops the A-List, with her own musical extravaganza, “Twice Charmed,” staged in the Walt Disney Theater. For Cadie Williams from Bradenton, Florida, Cinderella is a particular favorite. Cadie packs her tiara and princess gowns to wear during her cruises. At age four, she’s already a veteran of five sailings, all on Disney Cruise Line.

Cadie’s father Wray confided that she was initially hesitant about meeting the animated characters on board—they do appear pretty big to little tykes. But he also pointed out that they are all smiling, even the villainous Captain Hook, and Cadie now loves any character in a costume. In addition, she particularly enjoys her time participating in the children’s club for her age group and doesn’t want to leave unless it’s time to join her parents for a dip in the Mickey Pool or ice cream from Goofy’s Galley.

While Cadie’s Oceaneer Club certainly looks like a lot of fun with its pirate ship and myriad of activities, I found the Ocean Quest area for ten to fourteen year-olds to be the most appealing. During an Open House, I got to give its newest feature a spin—a ship simulator with an actual video feed from the Disney Magic's bridge that allows young mariners to “virtually” take over the helm and steer the ship.

With the kids seemingly in charge of navigation, that leaves adults with free time to explore their own interests. From the reaction of Cadie’s parents, one of the biggest attractions for grown up princesses and prince charmings is a spa session in a Villa for Two. A Disney Cruise Line exclusive, the Villa experience begins on the private open air verandah with a foot exfoliation and some alone time during a bathing ritual in the whirlpool before moving inside to adjacent tables for massages. To wrap up the indulgence, tea and fruit is served back on the verandah during a final session of lounging on the sun bed. Available as a treatment for one or two, it was impossible to find such nirvana at sea on any other ship until the Villas were also installed on sister-ship Disney Wonder. The 50 to 75 minute packages run from $449 to $589 for two or $199 to $295 for singles. Champagne and strawberries and truffles are decadent additions to the tariff. That may seem somewhat pricey, but as Wray Williams and his wife Carol agreed, “it was the best money we spent.”

While a Disney cruise isn’t all-Disney-all-the-time, upon hearing the ship’s horn play “When You Wish Upon a Star” at sailaway, it’s obvious this isn’t a been there and done that sort of voyage. It’s well known that Disney versions of classic fairy tales don’t always follow the stories as written, but they always end with a happily-ever-after and so do Disney cruises.

For more information about Disney Cruise Line, visit on the Internet.

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