Disney Wonder Review
I began my love adventure with cruise vacations sailing on the Disney Wonder. After my very first cruise, I was hooked for life. Years later, following a college degree, a husband, and a fur baby, I finally convinced my husband to experience his first cruise vacation ever, which was also aboard the Disney Wonder. I surprised him with this cruise for his thirtieth birthday! I told him it was non-refundable and we were going to have a good time! He was always concerned about being “bored” on a cruise ship because he prefers the business of city-life. He reluctantly agreed and eight cruises later, he is glad he did.
The Disney Wonder is the second in the fleet of Disney Cruise Ships, but it is foremost in my heart. My first cruise on the Disney Wonder was in 2001; although, her first voyage was in 1999 joining the Disney Magic. The Disney Wonder is nearly identical in construction to its fleet mate, Disney Magic. The interior of the Disney Wonder is decorated in the Art Nouveau style, in contrast to her sister ship, Disney Magic, which is decorated in the Art Deco style. Both ships have eleven public decks. She accommodates two-thousand, four-hundred passengers in eight-hundred, and seventy-five staterooms. The Disney Wonder has a crew of approximately nine-hundred, and fifty. As of 2015, Disney Wonder sails various North American itineraries on a seasonal basis. Beginning in early September to late October 2016, the ship will undergo dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, where it will have many new dining, entertainment, and accommodation enhancements.
Do you enjoying eating? The Disney Wonder is for you! Let’s start with breakfast! Our favorite place
for breakfast is the Beach Blanket Buffet, which operates as a buffet during breakfast and lunch, and as a casual sit-down restaurant during dinner. It is open seating and has an array of items to choose from for all meals. Further, the Beach Blanket Buffet is conveniently located on deck nine, Aft. Other eateries include Triton's and Parrot Cay, which serve American food, during lunch, with Triton’s offering a sit-down lunch, and Parrot Cay offering a buffet, which you may find calmer than The Beach Blanket Buffet at lunch. For dinner, Disney Wonder uses a dining rotation that you receive upon embarkation. There are three main restaurants aboard the Wonder: Triton's, Parrot Cay and Animator's Palate. (Parrot Cay will be changing to Tiana’s Place fall of 2016). Each night, the guests "rotate" to another restaurant, sitting at the same table number, eating with the same people, and having the same wait staff. We love this! Each night of the cruise you have the same wait staff so they learn your likes and dislikes. For example, they remember my preference on how I enjoy my dessert coffee…with lots of cream and sugar! Each of the restaurants' decor and menus are themed. The main dining room is Triton's, after Ariel’s father in “The Little Mermaid,” featuring an Art Deco dining room and serving French cuisine. Parrot Cay, themed after a Caribbean grill house, and Animator's Palate featuring a dining room that changes from black-and-white to color over the course of the meal and serves delicious contemporary cuisine.
Disney Wonder has several quick-service restaurants located near the pools: Goofy's Galley, which serves breakfast and lunch as well as evening snacks, and Pluto's Dog House, which serves hamburgers, veggie burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs for lunch and dinner. Our favorite is Pinocchio's Pizzeria, which serves pizza during lunch and late-night hours. Another option is the twenty-four-hour room service, which is always a hit. I highly recommend the huge chocolate chip cookies!
The Disney Wonder also features a fine dining restaurant, Palo, which serves Northern Italian fare. In addition to nightly dinners, Palo serves brunch on days at sea. Palo is limited to guests eighteen years of age or older and charges an additional per-person dining charge. As a Platinum cruiser, Palo is included; therefore, we always make reservations and dine at this exquisite restaurant on the high seas, especially when celebrating a special occasion. My husband spent his thirtieth birthday at Palo aboard the Disney Wonder, while docked in Nassau, Bahamas, with Atlantis in the backdrop.
Make a splash in the middle of the ocean! Everyone enjoys cooling off in a pool at sea. Whether you are catching rays by lying out or playing with your kids, the pools aboard a Disney Cruise ship will give you the ultimate pool experience. The Disney Wonder's aquatic layout consists of three pool areas: The Mickey Pool designed for children from three months to around three years and has a depth of one foot, with two hot-tubs shaped like 'ears' and a winding enclosed slide. The pool located in the center of the ship and where the deck parties take place, is the Goofy Pool, which is also the family pool. In addition to the pool, it has two whirlpool spas and a huge screen in front of it referred to by Disney as "Funnel Vision" due to its location on the rear of one of the ship's funnels. The last pool is the Quiet Cove Pool. This pool and surrounding areas are reserved for adults ages eighteen and up only. This is the pool you want to lay by and read your book and soak up your vacation. It is the perfect place to relax.
Do you have a cruiser that enjoys sports? Wide World of Sports with areas for basketball, soccer, volleyball, ping pong, and more is located aboard the Disney Wonder. This area contains a net enclosed basketball court (sheltered from the wind by a large glass screen) and other sports accouterments. It is also a great place for teens to gather and get to know one another. The Disney Wonder also has a video game arcade called Quarter Masters.
Do you want to stay in shipshape while cruising? Lose yourself to sweeping ocean views at the full-service fitness center, featuring state-of-the-art weight machines, instructional classes, and seminars. My husband enjoys working out aboard Disney Cruise Ships, he likes to keep his normal exercise routine while indulging in the finest meals! (Note, I have only seen the fitness center when meeting him, the only way I would run on vacation is if someone was chasing me).
Disney specializes in activities for children…and the activities aboard the Disney Wonder live up to that expectation. For children (age’s three to twelve) there are the Oceaneers Club, and the Oceaneers Lab. The Club provides a slide, multiple TVs, dress up clothing, and counselor-led activities. The Lab provides video games, computers, cooking classes (my daughter learned to bake cupcakes), and TV time geared towards the older end of that age bracket. Disney Cruise Line has implemented a Magic Band type system using what they call an “Oceaneers Band” which the kids receive on the first day at embarkation. This band is not like the tradition “Magic Band” used on land at the Walt Disney World Resort. These bands are “borrowed” during the cruise and returned at the end, a failure to do so will result in an additional charge. My daughter always cries upon returning the band, but it is not worth buying. During the cruise, your child cannot take this band on and off, which is amazing, you do not have to worry about it getting lost and facing the large fine. These bands insure the safety of your child. The cruise staff can track your child’s location while wearing the band. They can tell you exactly where your child is located; this makes it easy for parents when coming to pick them up. The best part about the Oceaneers Club and Oceaneers Lab is the cost…it is free!
Tweens can kick it at Edge—where videogames, music, and movies are available all day. Inside Vibe, teens can mix and mingle until 2:00 AM in a college-dorm-inspired, parents-free, venue where karaoke and dance parties rule.
The shows! The shows! The shows! This is where Disney sets the bar and excels above all others in the industry! Disney storytelling comes to life right before your eyes nightly in the Walt Disney Theater with original song-and-dance spectaculars and award-winning live productions. Aboard the Disney Wonder, you can experience Toy Story – The Musical, The Golden Mickey’s, and Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic. I have seen all three of these shows many times now, and each is just as spectacular as the first time. Each show is unique, entertaining, and will leave you wanting more. Your show time is always opposite of your dining schedule. If you have first seating, you will go to dinner and the show after dinner. If you have second seating, your show is first, followed by dinner.
Deck parties are another exciting feature of a Disney Cruise. You may ask, “What exactly is a deck party?” It is a dance party featuring some of your favorite Disney Characters. Your voyage begins with “Adventures Away, Sail Away Party” This deck party takes place on decks nine and ten aboard the Disney Wonder; directly above the Goofy Pool, which converts into a stage for this event. The “Funnel vision” screen is a part of the show. At the sail away party, guests will meet many characters, cruise staff, and your cruise director. As you set sail, the ship’s horn sounds the tune “When you wish upon a star.” This deck party will jump start your vacation and get you more excited than you possibly can imagine, as you will head back to your stateroom humming songs and ready for the next exciting event that evening.
Ahoy mateys! Our favorite night aboard a Disney Cruise is “Pirate’s in the Caribbean” night, which features a special “pirate themed” Caribbean menu in all rotation restaurants. Pirate night is all about fun and keeping the scurvy at bay. Let’s start with “costumes”. On this night, everyone on board is invited to join in on the fun and dress in their favorite pirate attire, including the Disney characters. If you did not bring a pirate costume, you can purchase pirate gear in the gift shops, or a Mickey pirate themed bandana will be in all guest staterooms the evening before. You will be delighted to find Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and Captain Jack Sparrow around the ship in abundance on this evening, but beware, some pirates do not like Mickey being in charge of this mighty vessel and try to overtake him and claim the Disney Wonder. Who will win? You will have to attend “Pirates in the Caribbean” deck party (same location as Sail Away party) to find out, and then dance the night away. Shiver me timbers! During the show, a fantastic fireworks display, an industry first, is sure to delight landlubbers and freebooters alike! The fireworks show is weather permitting and may be postponed or canceled due to weather conditions, including high winds. All of the dancing, is sure to stir up your hunger again…don’t fear, Disney has you covered...after the party enjoy a special late-night buffet served on deck 9 mid-ship. This pirate themed buffet features turkey legs, a taco bar, an enormous potato bar, a crape station, fresh fruits, desserts, and much much more. You do not want to miss this special treat.
As we board any of the Disney Cruise Ships, our daughter immediately starts inquiring about the Disney characters. They are everywhere, even Castaway Cay. Make sure to find your favorites and see them first! Also, the last evening two showings of a final farewell allow you to take pictures with some of the favorites in case you have missed them!
The Buena Vista Theatre is a great place to catch the latest Disney motion pictures releases, some in digital 3D, while they are still on at the movies.
Days at sea are the best! Disney Cruise Line offers fun-filled onboard activities for every member of the family, including karaoke, game shows and bingo.
Make sure to download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App on your Smartphone before you go to stay up-to-date on the character greetings, shows, and movie times. Everything you need to know to make your cruise magical is literally in your hands. I recommend turning your phone on “Airplane Mode” while aboard the ship. You can use the navigator, and take pictures, but will not use international data charges.
Need to make calls? When the Disney Wonder is docked find local establishments that offer "free Wifi” and connect. You can even Facetime! Do NOT take your phone off of airplane mode or international fees will be charged!
Wave Phones are offered onboard the ship allowing you to stay in contact with your travelling party. You can call or text other wave phones, making dining at Palo, or be reached if you are using the Oceaneers Club and Lab and your children need you. These are amazing to help families find one another while roaming the ship.
Disney is known for their “Special Events” and Disney Cruise Line is adding many activities to exceed our expectations. Halloween on the High Seas is now available on the Disney Wonder this year! It will be the first year this event is offered on the Wonder. Families sailing this fall from October 1 to October 23, will be treated to a wickedly good time as the Disney Wonder host frightfully fun events and activities, special decorations, unique menu items in the restaurants, and themed parties on deck, and even a Pumpkin Tree that magically transforms throughout the cruise. Your favorite Disney characters will be dressed in Halloween costumes, with plenty of photo ops during the cruise. You will not want to miss Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, a celebration in addition to Pirate Night with games, dancing and lots of trick-or-treating. A Nightmare Before Christmas, Sing and Scream, an interactive movie experience where guests are part of the action, followed by a meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington and Sally. The bravest cruisers gather under the stars to hear some true, or not so true, tales of the sea told by a mysterious sea captain storyteller at Haunted Stories of the Sea. Creepy Cabaret, a party in the atrium featuring favorite Halloween-themed music performed live by a band of ghostly musicians. Spooky Movies will also be shown in the Buena Vista Theatre, on Funnel Vision by the family pool and in guest staterooms. Ghoulish Delights treats will be offered including chocolate cake with pumpkin filling, spider cakes and “Spooky Juice.”
Get into the Christmas Spirit onboard a Disney Cruise with “Very Merrytime Cruises” offered this Christmas season. Delight in seasonal magic at sea and discover a jolly fusion of holiday-themed entertainment, activities and décor. Our personal favorites are the life-sized gingerbread house made of real gingerbread and a twenty-four-foot Christmas tree, which is lit during a gathering on the first night of the cruise. Garlands, poinsettias, and shimmering lights also put you into the Christmas Spirit. Other special events offered: Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party, Candy-cane limbo, dancing and games. Santa Claus will also be on board for special meet-and-greets and Mrs. Claus will have a special story time in the atrium by the Christmas Tree. There are many themed activities and crafts for the children including decorating stockings, creating festive cards, and a holiday scavenger hunt. Castaway Cay also gets a makeover for the Christmas Season. Disney's private island paradise is transformed with "snow" flurries, a Christmas tree, and more. Mr. and Mrs. Snowman, dressed in their island attire, will also be on the island. Plus, the island's tram is decorated to resemble a reindeer, complete with antlers and a tail.
We have covered most of the Disney Wonder Ship, but you may be asking, where will I sleep? The Disney Wonder has four main categories encompassing nine different room types. Each category tells you about your room.
Photo Credit: DisneyCruiseline.com
Concierge is the most luxurious accommodations, each with a large private verandah. Here, you will feel on top of the world, as you sail to new destinations, all while being pampered with first-class amenities and exceptional service. Complimentary WiFi Internet Service (up to one hundred mb) is offered to all concierge guests. Each room has a separate living room and bedroom, a sprawling private verandah and special touches like a well-stocked library of music and movies, it is everything you can imagine while at sea. There are three room “types” in the concierge level: Concierge Royal Suite with verandah, concierge two-bedroom suite with verandah, and concierge one-bedroom suite with verandah. The one-bedroom suites sleep five and are six hundred and fourteen square feet in size, including verandah. The room configuration: one bedroom with queen bed, double sleeper sofa in living room, wall pull-down single bed in living room. These suites are classified as Category T and are located on deck eight, forward, midship, and aft. The two-bedroom suite is a lavish retreat for up to seven guests. They are Category S and are located on Deck eight, forward. They are nine hundred and forty-five square feet, including verandah. The room configuration: two bedrooms: master with queen bed, second with two twin beds and upper berth pull-down bed; and double sleeper sofa in living room.
Photo Credit: DisneyCruiseline.com
The next levels are verandah staterooms. These rooms are the most spacious non-concierge staterooms available, each with a private verandah. They are offered in three categories: deluxe family oceanview stateroom, deluxe oceanview stateroom, and deluxe oceanview stateroom with navigator’s verandah (we have stayed in the navigator’s verandah several times, the only difference is part of your balcony is a white wall offering you a partial view…still highly recommend, to us, it did not make a difference). The deluxe family oceanview staterooms with verandah are classified as Categories 4A, 4B and 4E and are located on deck eight. These rooms sleep five and are three-hundred and four square feet, including verandah. The room configuration: queen bed, single sleeper sofa, wall pull-down bed and upper berth pull-down bed. The deluxe oceanview stateroom sleeps three to four guests and is two-hundred and sixty-eight square feet, including verandah. Room Configuration: queen bed, single sleeper sofa and upper berth pull-down bed (if sleeping four). These are Category 5A: Deck 7, Category 5B: Decks 6 and 7, Category 5C: Decks 5 and 6, Category 6A: Decks 5, 6 and 7, Category 7A: Decks 5, 6, 7, and 8; enclosed verandah with limited views.
Photo Credit: DisneyCruiseline.com
The next level of staterooms is the oceanview. A deluxe oceanview stateroom, which offers a porthole window for you to view the ocean or islands when the ship is docked, is the only oceanview room available on this ship. Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah classifications and locations are as follows: Category 9A: Decks 5, 6 and 7, Category 9B: Deck 2, Category 9C: Deck 2 and Category 9D: Deck 1. These rooms sleep three to four guests and are two-hundred and fourteen square feet. Room Configuration: queen bed, single sleeper sofa and upper berth pull-down bed (if sleeping four) Some of the oceanview staterooms have two portholes, but are limited.
Photo Credit: DisneyCruiseline.com
The last level is the inside staterooms. They are considered the “base accommodations,” featuring a classic nautical motif, porthole mirror and no exterior view. They come in deluxe inside stateroom and standard inside stateroom. My first three Disney Cruises were while I was in college and a cast member at the Walt Disney World Resort. We always stayed in the inside stateroom, all we cared about was being on the boat, and these rooms were on the boat! Deluxe Inside Staterooms classifications and locations are as follows: Category 10A: Decks 5, 6 and 7, Category 10B: Deck 2, Category 10C: Decks one and two. These rooms sleep three to four and are two-hundred, and fourteen square feet. Room Configuration: queen bed, single sleeper sofa, upper berth pull-down bed (if sleeping four). Standard Inside Stateroom classifications and locations are as follows: Category 11A: Decks 6 and 7, Category 11B: Decks 5 and 6, Category 11C: Deck 2. These rooms sleep three to four guests and are one-hundred and eighty-four square feet. Room Configuration: queen bed, single sleeper sofa and upper-berth pull-down bed (if sleeping 4).
New and exciting enhancements are coming this fall for the Disney Wonder. The ship will dry dock September 9 to October 23, 2016, in Cadiz, Spain…for these amazing enhancements.
Frozen, A Musical Spectacular
“Bring Back Summer” literally as Frozen debuts as a musical on the high seas! This spectacular show will feature Anna and Elsa, as they embark on a journey to discover the meaning of sisterhood, inner strength and true love.
Disney said Frozen's emblematic ballad, Let it Go, will be transformed for the show into a "full-fledged stage spectacle ... complete with real-life magic." Also, watch for flurries to fall as this blast of winter hits the Disney Wonder.
Marvel Super Hero Academy will be added in Disney’s Oceaneers Club. It will offer extraordinary adventures in which kids play an integral role. With the mentorship of some of Marvel’s greatest Super Heroes, young trainees will learn the value of teamwork, bravery, and problem solving through hands-on play and programs. Also, Spider-Man will appear in person to help children hone their spider senses by perfecting their skills of reflex, speed and sharp minds.
Hands-on activities will be added with the Frozen Adventures. On a digital screen, Olaf leads summery games with a wintery twist and a sing-a-long of “In Summer.” In another festive activity, young guests prepare for a coronation and receive a truly royal and in-person visit by Anna and Elsa.
Club Disney Junior features favorite Disney Junior characters, storytelling and games. During one activity, Doc McStuffins pays a visit to the club to help children diagnose and treat the stuffed animals.
Andy’s Room will be added to the Disney Wonder. This is always where our daughter is when we arrive to pick her up from the club on the Dream, Fantasy and Magic. Here, kids feel toy-sized in the multi-level play space themed to the Disney•Pixar “Toy Story” trilogy. Woody appears in person to join youngsters in a hoedown and Jessie stops by to join in a scavenger hunt.
Tiana’s Place Restaurant
Replacing Parrot Cay, Tiana’s Place restaurant, inspired by Princess Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”, will transport you to an era of southern charm, spirited jazz and street party celebrations. You will be treated to New Orleans dining and entertainment, with live music creating a French Quarter supper club atmosphere. Chefs will cook up Tiana’s recipes, inspired by the Louisiana bayou. Tiana’s personal touch will add to the menu, the entertainment and throughout every detail in the themed rotation restaurant.
Cheers, to an English Pub
An English tavern will be added to the adult district. The perfect pub atmosphere will be created by the décor of dark woods, plush leather furniture, and brass accents, as well as subtle nods to classic Disney films set in London. British and specialty beers served daily.
An enhancement will be made to one of the main dining rotation restaurants to introduce the popular “Drawn to Magic” and “Animation Magic” dinner shows.
This casual dining location will be added to the Disney Wonder.
Palo, a specialty restaurant on the Disney Wonder, will receive a makeover with Venetian-inspired décor.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
A popular transformation from little girl to princess is now available on land at Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Dream and Fantasy will now be offered on the Disney Wonder.
Tweens want to have fun too, now they can have their very own club aboard the Disney Wonder.
“It’s a Small World” Nursery
It's A Small World Nursery is the best thing ever if you have a smaller child cruising and want a little time to enjoy the adult areas. Our first time cruising with our Giuliana, she was six months old. We had booked a few time slots ahead of time for her to play in the nursery. After they were complete, we wanted more. We both felt confident she was well taken care of and loved being in the nursery. In fact, I cancelled my spa afternoon to spend more money in the nursery and my husband and I hit the Aqueduct that afternoon instead. (Note: that sailing was on the Disney Dream) I also highly suggest booking times during the shows and the end of dining. For a six-month-old baby, the one hour show and two hour dining experience can be long. Dropping them off to play makes these experience more enjoyable for both the parents and the children. In case you cannot tell, I am more excited about this enhancement than any other!
Water Activities Added to Upper Decks
Twist ‘n’ Spout water slide provides splashtacular fun
Dory’s Reef is a splash zone for toddlers
AquaLab is a pool and interactive water play area for kids and families.
Sailings starting November 10 from Galveston, Texas will premier these new enhancements. The Disney Wonder will continue to sail from Galveston to the Bahamas and Caribbean, until the ship sails to San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 20, 2017. On January 26, 2017, a three-night cruise takes guests from San Juan to Port Canaveral, Florida, where the ship will depart from in the spring.
The Disney Wonder is one of the first Disney Cruise ships, but in my opinion one of the best! These new enhancements and ports will offer a whole new cruise ship to guests, without changing the atmosphere and ambiance of the Disney Wonder. I cannot wait for my family to sail on the Disney Wonder yet again!