Disney Cruise Line must have barrels full of pixie dust, because the transformation planned for Disney Magic is nothing short of magical.
The 2,713-passenger ship, launched in 1998, will undergo a “reimagineering” during drydock Sept. 7-Oct. 10 in Cadiz, Spain.
Amazing additions and enchanting enhancements can be expected for kids of all ages. After all, this is Disney.
Cue the duck.
Water, water everywhere
The new AquaLab, an interactive, 1,800-square-foot water playground and pool for kids ages 3 and older, pays homage to Donald Duck (Disney claims he’s the “original angry bird.”). The Donald Boiler is a duck-shaped figure that can spout bursts of water and mist.
There are pop jets, geysers and bubblers offering lots of random spraying opportunities for the wet set, plus a Twist n’ Spout water slide for guests taller than 38 inches and shorter than 64 inches. (I qualify! Who knew?)
For the littlest cruisers, there’s the new Nephews’ Splash Zone — another tribute to Uncle Donald — designed for kids up to age 3.
But leave it to Disney to come up with something spectacular: a 37-foot-tall AquaDunk slide that launches from a platform atop the forward funnel. Yes, fellow acrophobics, atop the forward funnel. On Deck 13.
And even scarier: The rider steps inside and waits for the floor to drop, sending him or her down about three stories in a near-vertical tube, then out 20 feet over the side of the ship before coming to a stop on Deck 10.
Think: Tower of Terror on the High Seas.
You’ve got to be taller than 48 inches — and have nerves of steel — to experience AquaDunk.
More kid fun
There’s lots for youngsters to do beyond the pool.
Disney’s Oceaneer Club, for ages 3 to 12, will now feature Marvel’s Avengers Academy, an interactive “training” experience for superheroes at sea.
Andy’s Room will bring the “Toy Story” movie characters to life, including a giant, working Mr. Potato Head. How many cruise ships can boast that?
Pixie Hollow offers dress-up fun and crafts for fairy fans. And the Mickey Mouse Club, a new themed area for kids, has games and crafts as well.
Teens can get pampered in Chill Spa, an area just for them in the new Senses Spa and Salon.
The tiniest cruisers are not forgotten in this magic makeover. It’s a Small World Nursery — inspired by the Disney Parks attraction — is a play area for youngsters from 3 months to 3 years. There’s even a quiet space for nap time!
Big kid fun
Sometimes you need to get away from the little ones. Disney understands that big kid fun is important, too. Deck 3 is home to a nighttime entertainment district renamed “After Hours.”
Fathoms nightclub replaces Rockin’ Bar D, offering guests a chance to relax in the early evening hours before cranking up the lights and sounds and turning into a dance club.
Adults who enjoy piano music will find respite in Keys — the venue formerly known as Sessions — a more relaxed, upscale retreat.
An Irish pub and sports bar, O’Gills, rounds out the trio of venues. Ballads, beer, ballgames: Sounds like a good time!
Other adult indulgences include the newly enhanced 11,500-square-foot Senses Spa and Salon. There’s even a two-chair barbershop providing hot-lather shaves.
Palo restaurant, open to guests age 18 and older, has received a makeover as well, but rest assured, the Northern Italian gourmet cuisine remains the same.
A new restaurant, Carioca’s, is named for Donald Duck’s parrot buddy in “The Three Caballeros.” Replacing Parrot Cay restaurant, Carioca’s offers festive buffet meals during the day, then a more elegant dining service for the evening.
Also new is Cabanas, which replaces Topsider Buffet on Deck 9. Food and beverage stations will be available during the daytime, and table service at dinner. The space is expanding, too, by about 3,400 square feet.
The popular Animator’s Palate restaurant has been updated with new furnishings and technology, and a “Drawn to Magic” musical animation experience has been added.
Post-dry dock itineraries
Lucky us in South Florida — we’re close to the magic.
Disney Magic will begin sailing out of PortMiami Oct. 20 with a special five-night voyage, with two stops at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, and a stop in Nassau.
The ship will continue to sail from Miami through the end of the year, offering three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean.
Beginning Jan. 2, Disney Magic will sail from Port Canaveral (an easy ride up I-95!) on alternating three- and four-night cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay.
In May 2014, Disney Magic will be sailing from Barcelona and Venice, then heads to Puerto Rico in September, sailing out of San Juan through mid-October.
Then she’s back in South Florida, cruising out of PortMiami again from October through December.