This is another in AllEars.Net's blog series examining what makes the new Disney Fantasy different from its sister ship, the Disney Dream. Deb Wills and I have been writing about those differences this week, as we recap our experiences from our three-night media preview cruise on the Fantasy.
One of my favorite spots on the new ship is the adult nightclub area. Not that I am any kind of lounge lizard -- it's just that it was a really cool, well thought-ought place.
On the Dream, the adult nightspot area is called The District. I didn't really have the chance to spend much time there when I sailed the Dream preview cruise last year. In fact, aside from the champagne bar, Pink, and the changing scenery in the Skyline Lounge, I don't remember much about The District at all.
On the Fantasy, though, the nightclub area is themed around various cities of Europe. I've traveled to a number of European capitals, and really enjoy exploring the "Old World," so when I read about this, I thought it would be right up my alley. Oh yeah, I was right.
Dubbed Europa, the area features a central location, La Piazza, that acts as a hub (or the central square), with four other clubs branching off: O'Gills, a sports-bar/Irish pub; The Tube, a London-themed dance club with an electrified dance floor; Ooh La La, a boudoir-inspired Parisian champagne bar; and the Skyline lounge, which, like its Disney Dream counterpart, sports a cityscape backdrop that changes every 10 or so minutes.
The Europa theme hits you from the moment you step off the elevator at Deck 4 Aft.
If you enter Europa from this direction, the first spot you'll encounter is La Piazza, which features Italian accents like Venetian masks from Carnevale, and Vespa motor bikes, and elaborate glasswork you might find in Venice's neighbor, Murano.
La Piazza is brightly lit, with lots of seating and a very well-stocked bar patterned after an old-fashioned carousel. It's clearly meant as a hub for all the night-life activity -- it has the feeling of a central gathering spot, much like the squares you'll find in European cities, and sometimes features a live combo, which just adds to its vitality.
Leading out of La Piazza is a curving pathway with images of the face of Big Ben and other familiar British icons projected onto the walls. You hit a button, a door swings open, and you find yourself immersed in the sights and sounds of London.
When I spoke to Walt Disney Imagineering's Mike Davie, who was responsible for development of the Europa spaces, he said he was particularly proud of Europa's details, like the portals that led into each space. I have to agree -- seeing what was behind the door before upon my first entry into The Tube was definitely an "Aha!" moment for me.
I absolutely LOVED The Tube, and tip my hat to whoever was responsible for choosing the decor. Benches on one wall are upholstered to resemble British Rail and London Underground tickets -- there are even poles and straps like those you might cling onto whilst traveling on London's efficient subway system. The carpeting is dotted with British colloquialisms like "Jolly Good," and "Cheers!"
Different seating areas feature different English themes -- one area is designated for the Crown Jewels, with shiny gold leather overstuffed seats, another has benches painted with the Union Jack. Behind the illuminated dance floor, there are old-style red telephone boxes, while the music of British artists of yesterday and today is pumped out of the DJ booth.
I understand that once the Fantasy starts its regular seven-night sailings The Tube will also feature a live show with dancers, and a trivia game on pop culture. I could have definitely spent more time in The Tube!
Despite how much I enjoyed the vibe of The Tube, I think that the Skyline was my favorite of the clubs on the Fantasy. As I mentioned earlier, the "gimmick" of this nightspot is the changing skyline shown on a 65-inch LCD screen behind the bar. At any given moment, you may be gazing on the serenity of a night in Paris, London, Athens, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Barcelona, or Florence. But it's not just a static image that you're seeing. Oh no. It's a video! Look closely and you'll see the taxis speeding along the street, and silhouettes of residents moving around in their apartments. Be sure to have one of the bartenders show you the little Disney touch that is hidden in every city scene -- so much fun to find. I'll start you out with one, revealed to me by bartender Adriano -- somewhere in the London scene, you'll find Mickey Mouse waving at you from one of the buildings!
Dark and atmospheric, the Skyline Lounge has cozy corners and comfy seating that you can really sink into. The soft background music represents the city on display, and the drink menu (which changes throughout the evening) features specials with names inspired by the locales, like the gin-based "Londinium" or the "Aphrodite" from Athens. The Skyline was quieter than the other clubs, and I think that may remain the case, as I can foresee O'Gills and Ooh La La being more popular with most cruisers. Still, I enjoyed my time in the Skyline, and would have stayed there longer if I could have.
Part sports bar, part Irish pub, O'Gills seems destined to become THE destination for many aboard the Disney Fantasy. With three big-screen TVs (103, 70 and 50 inches respectively) scattered around the pub, and three smaller monitors behind the bar, there are plenty of chances for visitors to catch their favorite sports match-ups. Rich leather seating areas, and gorgeous vaulted wooden ceilings, really lend an Old World feel to the pub, which, of course, has both Guinness and Murphy's Irish Stout on tap, as well as Stella Artois and a red lager draft (called, funnily enough, O'Gills) made especially for the pub.
When I spoke to him about O'Gills, Imagineering's Davie confirmed what I had suspected: that the pub's name was taken from the 1959 Disney film "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," which featured a very young Sean Connery in one of his first major movie roles (and he SINGS in it!). You have to love the way Disney weaves little touches like that into everything it does.
Ooh La La
The final club in Europa is undoubtedly the prettiest. Inspired by the seductive look of a French boudoir, Ooh La La is home to opulent, plush chaises, velvet-tufted walls and ornate mirrors. This club is a place that beckons you to relax and indulge. Like Pink, the Disney Dream's champagne bar, Ooh La La offers a limited edition, private label champagne by Taittinger -- Ooh La La's features Jessica Rabbit from the classic film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit Roger?” on the bottle.
The nights we were aboard the Fantasy, Ooh La La seemed to be very popular, drawing big crowds eager to sip some champagne and sink into the almost decadently appointed room.
The Restrooms? Is that another nightclub? No, seriously, I want to talk about the restrooms in Europa. In fact, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention them. Why? Because these are some of the most beautiful restrooms I have ever seen anywhere, ever. Inspired by Spanish matadors and senoritas, the restrooms are covered in gorgeous mosaics. You have to see them to believe them, so I'll let the photos speak for themselves. One other note -- this is one of the few places on the ship where I found accessible restrooms... and they were just as beautiful as their regular counterparts.
DISCLOSURE: As an invited media guest, AllEars.Net's cruise expenses for the Disney Fantasy Media Preview Cruise were paid by the Disney company. Opinions expressed herein are solely mine, however, and do not reflect the opinions or policies of the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates.
The previous post in this blog was What's New on the Disney Fantasy: Animation Magic.
The next post in this blog is Disney Fantasy Merchandise - Inaugural and Otherwise.