Disney Wonder Headed Back to the U.S. After Upgrade

Disney Cruise Line finished its five-week dry dock refurbishment of the Disney Wonder in Spain and has sent the line’s second-oldest ship back to the U.S.

The Wonder, a sister ship to the line’s first ship the Disney Magic, debuted in 1999. Smaller than the Disney Dream and Fantasy, the line gave the 2,400 passenger vessel several new features and reworked spaces in the same grain as Magic’s upgrades back in 2013.

The most notable changes that were installed at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain are a new restaurant, new water park, Marvel-themed play space and the introduction of a Broadway-style production based on “Frozen.”

Spider-Man will be the star of the new Marvel Super Hero Academy space in a reoworked Oceaneer Club. The space that’s geared for kids is now built in the same way as the line’s other three ships, with four themed spaces and the Marvel space as the star. This is the second Marvel-themed space on a Disney ship following Magic’s Avenger’s Academy, but will be different including unique props like Captain America’s World War II shield, the Iron Man Mark VII and Ant Man helmets and Black Widow’s gauntlets. The other spaces will be Frozen Adventures, which will feature a digital Olaf and character visits from Anna and Elsa; Club Disney Junior featuring Doc McStuffins; and Andy’s Room, which is featured on other Disney ships and offers a multi-level play area where children romp around larger-than-life toys as if they were in the film “Toy Story” and will get character visits from Woody and Jessie.

The other big new feature is Tiana’s Place, a New-Orleans style restaurant based on the one featured in the film “The Princess and the Frog.”  The restaurant replaces Parrot Cay while the Animator’s Palate and Triton’s will remain. Tiana’s Place will feature a French Quarter atmosphere including live music on a main stage of jazz, swing and blues. The menu will be southern-style dishes inspired by the flavors of the Louisiana bayou.

Animator’s Palate is being reworked to add the two shows featured on the Disney Magic, the emotional roller coaster that is Drawn to Magic as well as the interactive Animation Magic show that lets diners draw their own characters and watch them come to life. There will also be new touches to the decor including the introduction of the most recent of Disney characters including those from “Moana” among the walls of the dining room.

The extra-cost Italian restaurant Palo will get a Venetian-inspired makeover as well.

Another big makeover is to the adults area of the ship, previously known as Route 66 and now heralding the moniker After Hours. The three featured spaces are now an updated version of the Cadillac Lounge, a new nightclub to replace WaveBands called Azure and the replacement of sports pub Diversions with an English pub called Crown & Fin.

“This is a proper English pub,” said Theron Skees, vice president with Disney Imagineering. “You can sample beers from all over Great Britain. You can sit back and watch a sports game with your friends. We looked at every Disney film that really kind of focused on England or on Great Britain and we’vem taken props from those and kind of hidden them all throughout the whole space.”

The line also said it will feature a brew unique to the drinking venue.

Water-based fun on the top deck will also get a new look with the introdction of the Twist ‘n Spout water slide, just like sister ship Disney Magic as well as the AquaLab interactive water play area featuring Donald Duck’s nephews and and Dory’s Reef for toddlers. Unlike the Disney Magic, no AquaDunk thrill slide was added on Wonder.

Some other changes on the Wonder include the introduction of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique that gives children both princess and pirate makeovers, the D Lounge for family game nights, reworking of the current Vista spa into the Senses Spa & Salon and the addition of a Chill Teen Spa.

For entertainment, “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” gets its moment to shine. The new show replaced “Toy Story – The Musical” while the two other productions on the ship – “The Golden Mickeys” and “Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic” will remain.

It will feature eight songs from the hit film along with a Broadway-style production heavy on puppetry.

“I think guests are going to be impressed with some of the really amazing effects that we’re working on,” said Jeff Conover, puppetry development director for the show. “I think there’s a lot of potential for unexpected surprises. They’re also going to walk away seeing something truly magical the way we imagine it to be.”

One other noticeable change for the Disney Wonder will be the sheer number of character interactions on board. Each of the four spaces in Oceaneer Club will have character experiences including Spider-Man’s Web-Warriors 101, Frozen Adventures: A Royal Frozen Coronation with Anna and Elsa, Club Disney Junior: Sofia the First Magical Storytelling and Andy’s Room: Woody’s Roundup.

The Disney Wonder won’t be sailing out of Port Canaveral on a regular basis until January. First up for the Wonder is duty in Galveston, Texas in November and December before a repositioning trip with a stop in Puerto Rico. Wonder will spend all spring sailing from Florida before it makes its way to the West Coast for its normal summer Alaska sailing duties.

To book travel on the Wonder, visit disneycruise.com of call 888-DCL-2500.

From The Orlando Sentinel

Author: Ray

I am a lifelong fan of everything Disney. My first trip to a a Disney park was to Disneyland as a child in 1970, but didn't make to Walt Disney World until I went with my wife and first child in 1990. A year doesn't go by with out at least one trip to either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. My wife and I are Disney Vacation Club members and also Charter Members of D23.

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