Set to undergo a major refurbishment in fall 2016, the Disney Wonder offers a smaller, more intimate atmosphere.
The Wonder is currently the oldest ship in the fleet that has not undergone a major refurbishment, but that is set to change soon. In fall 2016, the ship will be taken out of service for two months for a complete overhaul, the details of which Disney Cruise Line has not yet released. Just like the Magic, the Wonder is smaller than the Dream and Fantasy, which - for some families - can be an advantage. I, personally, like the smaller ships for their more intimate feel, smaller dining rooms, and smaller crowds. However, you will forego some of the bells and whistles of the larger ships such as the AquaDuck water slide and virtual sports simulators. Currently, the Wonder is the only ship that sails the popular Alaskan itineraries.
Recent itineraries: Alaska, Bahamas, Baja Mexico, California Coast, Caribbean, Panama Canal
Disney Cruise Line uses a rotational dining system for dinner, where guests are assigned specific times (usually 5:45 p.m. or 8:15 p.m.) to dine each evening in one of the three main dining rooms: Parrot Cay, Animator’s Palate, and Triton’s. At least one of these restaurants is also open for breakfast and lunch (times are not assigned), or you can dine at Beach Blanket Buffet which offers buffet-style dining for breakfast and lunch and table service for dinner, if you choose to skip your assigned dining room for an evening. The pool deck is home to three fast food options which are convenient for grabbing a quick bite: Pluto’s Dog House (burgers and chicken tenders), Goofy’s Galley (fresh fruit, sandwiches, salads, and wraps), and Pinocchio’s Pizzeria. Room service is available 24 hours a day. You may also make a dinner or brunch reservation at Palo, the ship’s adult-only Italian restaurant, for an upcharge of $30/person.
Deck 9 is home to three pools. The shallow Mickey Pool and adjacent toddler splash zone (Note: Swim diapers are not allowed in the swimming pools) are great for younger children. My 6- and 9-year olds enjoyed the pool and water slide, but my 11-year old found it too childish for her liking. The Goofy Pool and nearby hot tubs are better for older kids and adults and have a perfect view of the movies on the huge Funnel Vision screen. The Quiet Cove adult pool has two hot tubs and an outdoor bar and provides the most serene atmosphere that you’ll find anywhere on the pool deck. Wide World of Sports on Deck 10 offers basketball, volleyball, soccer, ping pong, and shuffleboard.
KidTripster Tip: While the other three ships have a pirate-themed deck party on most sailings complete with fireworks at sea, fireworks are not allowed on the Alaskan cruises due to environmental laws. Thus, the pirate party is replaced with a Pixar Pals Dance Party in the atrium.
Flounder’s Reef Nursery (reservations required; $9/hour) provides childcare for babies 3 months to 3 years old. The Oceaneer Club and Lab are for young children (ages 3 to 12) and all my children enjoy spending time there. Tweens (ages 11 to 14) have their own space called The Edge, and The Vibe is for teenagers (14 to 17 years old). All clubs are supervised by the youth services staff.
KidTripster Tip: If your little prince and princess have their hearts set on a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirates League, the Wonder may not be the ship for you. These experiences can only be found on the Magic, Dream, and Fantasy.
Each evening, an area of the ship transforms into an adult-only entertainment district called Route 66. As the name implies, it has a retro road trip-theme, complete with maps, old-fashioned billboards, and traffic signs. Here you will find the Wave Bands night club, the Cadillac Lounge piano bar, and Diversions sports bar. The Quiet Cove pool and adjacent Signals bar are open day and night.
The three main stage shows include The Golden Mickeys, Toy Story: The Musical, and Disney Dreams - An Enchanted Classic. A new Frozen-themed show is rumored to be replacing Toy Story: The Musical in late 2016. The shows are family-friendly and entertaining for all ages, and I highly recommend seeing them. They are performed two times each evening in order to accommodate dining times.
KidTripster Tip: The Alaskan itineraries on the Wonder recently began offering the Freezing the Night Away with Elsa, Anna and Friends Deck Party.
Built in 1999; scheduled for a major refurbishment in fall 2016 Nearly identical in construction to her sister ship, the Magic Holds 2400 passengers and 950 crew members on 11 decks Standard staterooms range from 184 to 259 square feet and sleep 3 to 5 people Suites range from 524 to 845 square feet and sleep 5 or 7
Diana Smith is an expert cruiser. She and her family, including her three Disney princesses, have set sail on six Disney cruises. For more, check out Disney Cruise Mom Blog.