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Re-Imagined Disney Magic Part 1 - Overview

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Lee and I have just come off a two-day cruise of the Re-Imagined Disney Magic. There have been a lot of changes, so there was a lot to try and cover in just two days!

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Disney Cruise Line considers the Magic their flagship, so rather than simply trying to re-make the Magic into the Dream class of ship, they chose to continue to innovate and bring something special to the Magic. While there are some new elements inspired by the Dream class, they developed new enhancements that are exclusive to the Magic, so the Magic retains its own identity.

I found it interesting that even when there were guest favorites that they really couldn't do because of size or structural reasons (e.g. AquaDuck) they still found ways to bring us something that was at least as much fun, if not more (AquaDunk).

As you may know, the first scheduled cruise of the Disney Magic (which we were supposed to be on) was canceled because it just wasn't ready. Despite that extra five days, there's still things that were unfinished, and there were some problems on board. As we were boarding the captain announced they were still "spreading pixie dust". We noticed a number of finishing touches that weren't done - things like missing blinds, masking tape that hadn't been removed, areas where touch-up paint was still required, faulty lights, missing trim, etc.

I will tell you that I was a little disappointed - from what Disney had said, it sounded like the Magic would be a brand new ship. But we saw a lot of areas that needed significant TLC: rust, damaged railings, and dinged up paint. And all of the carpet - I was very surprised that the carpet in the staterooms, the hallways and many of the stairwells and elevator lobbies had not been replaced.

There were some larger issues, also - a group of staterooms on deck 6 had toilets that didn't flush reliably for most of the cruise, and there were hot/cold water issues. Many of the stateroom TVs didn't work (ours didn't, but it was later fixed), and some staterooms were missing refrigerators and/or safes. In addition to the TV problem we had minor nuisances like a shower drain that was stuck closed, and a verandah door that didn't lock - and the handle pulled right off. Our refrigerator did not fit well into the (new?) cabinet and we had to twist it slightly to open/close its door. We saw a lot more technicians and work crews in the hallways and public areas than we usually do - they usually work at night.

That said, it was still a nice cruise, and these things did not really detract from our experience (though if I'd had a non-working toilet I might not feel that way).

So...

There are many things I could write about and many, many details to share about the Re-Imagined Disney Magic, but for this blog I'm going to focus on an overview of the enhancements and my overall impressions. I promise more detail later. Lee is working on editing some videos that will also provide additional visual detail - if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more is a video worth? :-)

The first thing Lee and I noticed when we were waiting to board the Magic is a modification to the stern - appropriately called a "duck tail". It's 22' long, and adds stability and buoyancy to the ship to compensate for the additional weight added by features like the AquaDunk and AquaLab.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

And speaking of the AquaDunk and AquaLab - those are terrific new additions. The AquaDunk is a body slide through a tube that extends over the side of the ship. It starts at the top of the forward funnel with a vertical "launch" where the where the floor literally drops out from under you and ends in a splashdown zone on deck 10. The drop may seem a little intimidating, but we didn't think it was that bad and the slide was a lot of fun - but it's over really fast. I'd definitely recommend that you try it once.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Another new water feature is the Aqua Lab on deck 9.` There's a version of this on the Disney Fantasy, but I think it's been much better integrated into the kids' pool area on the Magic, where it replaces the Mickey Pool. There's the Nephews' Pool (about 18" deep) and the Lab itself where there's all kinds of devices that spray or dump water. A really fun place to cool off.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Right next to it in a shaded area is the Nephews' Splash Zone for kids three and under.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

There's also a new water slide: Twist 'n' Spout. This is an open flume slide that corkscrews down from the aft funnel to deck 9. At the moment adults are allowed to ride it also, but that could change - I guess they don't want the adults taking over something that's supposed to belong to the kids? I think this is actually more fun for the adults than the kids because we're heavier and we go faster down the slide!

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

You can see Lee's video of the new water features, including his ride on the AquaDunk, below:

The first new thing that guests wlll experience as they board the ship is the new Atrium Lobby. It seems much more open and bright than before: one of the staircases was removed; the Helmsman Mickey statue was repositioned; and the hanging Chihuly glass chandelier was replaced by a very bright (and much shorter) crystal chandelier. The new carpet is lighter in color which also makes it seem larger. I have a before and after photo below.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The kids' spaces on deck 5 were all completely re-done. "it's a small world" nursery replaces Flounder's Reef, and it's full of Mary Blair-style artwork - quite precious. And the attendants there could not WAIT to get their hands on some babies - in fact all of the kid counselors we talked to were overjoyed to have children back on board again.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club were completely re-done for the ages 3-12 set. These are so much fun - I think they make most of the adults (including us) want to be kids - or wonder why some of this cool stuff wasn't put into OUR spaces. Oceaneer Lab has a new pirate theme - there are pirate ship navigation simulators in addition to science projects, crafts and other activities.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

We were intrigued by the Interactive Table (we think it needs a better name than that) which uses a very large touch screen table to play a variety of games, from driving contests to hockey, memory games, and puzzles. There were more than 15 different games.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

In the Oceaneer Club is the new activity that we've been hearing about: Marvel's Avengers Academy. This is a two-day immersive experience where the kids become superheroes, and then have to work together to foil the bad guys. Captain America even makes appearances to help train and encourage the new superheroes. Being adults, WE did not get to experience this, but it sounds like SO much fun!

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Lee's video shows the spaces, and an interview with Imagineer David Duffy, where he talks about the Avengers Academy in more detail.

Also in that space is Andy's Room, where things are sized to make kids feel like one of Andy's toys. There's all kinds of things under Andy's bed, and an adorable Slinky Dog slide from the top of the bed to the floor.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

There's also Pixie Hollow, with a costume closet in Tinker Bell's teapot home.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

In the Mickey Mouse Club section kids can play video games or play with the magnetic gears on the Wacky Wall. (That was harder than it looked.)

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Almost all of the dining options on the Magic are new or updated - I think Lumiere's is the only restaurant that returns in its original form.

Animator's Palate was totally re-done - technology has changed a lot since the idea was first conceived and developed over 15 years ago.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

When we dined here we had a little bit of a surprise - we'd been told that Animator's Palate would feature the Animation Magic show from the Disney Fantasy, and that's what we expected to see, but instead we experienced an all new show that was developed for the Magic: Drawn to Magic. It draws (sorry) on the original concept of Animator's Palate, where the restaurant itself changes as dinner progresses, growing both more colorful and more, well, animated. On screens all around the room we can watch the animation process as it progresses from simple shapes to sketches, animated sketches, and full-color animated sequences.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Favorite Disney and Pixar characters are featured, and, just as in the original show, the finale includes a procession of Sorcerer Mickey and all of the servers through the dining room.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic
Re-Imagined Disney Magic

We both really enjoyed the show - it's quite different from Animation Magic, but more heartwarming. I think I'd still rather see/participate in Animation Magic, though. Once the Disney Magic starts sailing longer itineraries next year, Animator's Palate will feature both shows on every cruise.

In the video below we have most of the show, as well as images and video of the other restaurants.

Carioca's has replaced the Parrot Cay restaurant. I was happy to see this, because for whatever reason I just never cared for Parrot Cay. The new Carioca's is casual but elegant, and I thought the new decor, inspired by street festivals in Rio, was quite beautiful.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

But my favorite thing about Carioca's is the new menu! Dishes inspired by ingredients and cuisine from all over Latin America, from Argentinian empanadas to Peruvian potatoes (pictured below), Cuban black bean soup, and Brazilian sausage. I'll write more in my food blog, but I had a very hard time deciding what to order...and ended up ordering three entrees just to taste them - and there were STILL three others I wanted to try! We both really enjoyed the new menu.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

On deck 9, the new casual restaurant is Cabanas, which came over from the Dream class ships. It's more like a food court instead of a traditional buffet, where you go to different stations that feature different food selections. (Though unlike the Dream and Fantasy, this Cabanas does NOT have the aft stairwell/elevator located in the middle of the restaurant. For which I am very grateful.) For breakfast and lunch Cabanas serves this modified buffet, but they also offer table service casual dining on most evenings (typically every night except the first and last nights). The menu changes nightly, it's an abbreviated version of one of the other restaurant's menus. Right now that's Pirate Night, Animator's Palate, and Lumiere's.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

On the Dream and Fantasy I've found the food in Cabanas to be a cut above that served in Topsiders and Beach Blanket on the older ships, and that trend has carried through to the Magic. I'd rather have breakfast in Cabanas then anywhere else - the food is good and there's a nice variety of it - all the traditional stuff as well as some healthier options. Lunch also has some very good choices - higher quality food than at the quick-service places but a lot faster than Lumiere's.

Cabanas expanded the former restaurant space and offers more indoor (air-conditioned) seating now. Outdoor seating is still available at the back and up on deck 10.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The quick-service dining has basically stayed the same, but most of the names changed. So you can still get pizza, burgers, fries, and chicken strips, and sandwiches, wraps, salads and fruit at Pinocchio's Pizzeria (same name), Pete's Boiler Bites, and Daisy's De-Lites, respectively. The ice cream station has been expanded and moved - there are three machines now. They also added Frozone, where smoothies and other frozen beverages are available for an additional fee.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The self-serve beverage station is still located on deck 9, port side, aft. It might have been rearranged slightly - I'm not sure about that.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

After Hours is the new adult entertainment district on deck 3. There's three different bars/clubs: Fathoms, O'Gills Pub, and Keys. In the interest of research we spent time in all of them. All of the bars have menus with various signature drinks, though they are all full-service bars and you can order anything.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Fathoms is the show/dance club. It's been beautifully redone with colors and lighting that suggest being underwater. The lighting changes to simulate both daytime and nighttime conditions. During show times it was pretty crowded, but both nights we went in about 9:00 and had the entire place to ourselves - just us and the bartender. Kind of fun having our own private bar!

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

There's a legend behind O'Gills Pub. O'Gills was a fish, and one day he rescued a leprechaun from drowning. The leprechaun gave him a wish, but instead of wishing for stuff or riches (or to be human), O'Gills wished to share a pint with his new friend. Awwwww...

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

O'Gills is the sports and game bar - in addition to TVs all over the room there are some game tables and board games, too. The night we were in there a singer was performing, also. A couple of times each night they put out a small food buffet - things like veggies and dip, wings, chips and salsa, and they had a beef pie the night we visited. It's quite a large space and was not busy on a Friday night - we didn't go on Saturday night, where because of college football I expect it was a lot busier.

Keys is the third bar, and with a name like that, how could it be anything but a piano bar? It's relaxing but elegant (but they let us in anyway!). They had two pianists - one who simply played and one who played and sang. (I have to admit we enjoyed the former more than the latter.) It's the smallest of the three bars but it was also the busiest. Though the crowd tended to come and go, it was almost full at times both nights we were there. While it's not a champagne bar, it does offer our favorite Moet Ice Imperial champagne. We sat at the bar both nights and enjoyed talking to the bartenders and watching them work - they were quite busy.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Senses Spa and Salon is the re-vamped spa on deck 9 forward. This area was expanded and offers additional treatment rooms, as well as some specialized areas like a new barbershop for men, teeth whitening, and the Chill Spa for 13 to 17-year-olds. They also offer some new services like hair coloring and acupuncture.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Lee and I took a tour of the spa on boarding day where we were able to see most of the facilities - he'll have a video on that. I booked a hot stone massage for Saturday, which was quite lovely and relaxing. I tried to talk him into trying the special shave/facial offered in the barbershop, but he wasn't interested.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The staterooms are somewhat different, but I was expecting them to be completely redone. The furnishings, soft goods, and patio furniture are new but the bathrooms and carpet were not changed at all. The bed is a single mattress and no longer supports the split bed configuration - sorry, single travelers. :-( It's very comfortable, though. It's also been raised so that luggage fits underneath. I was hoping for on-demand TV, but that wasn't added.

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Our stateroom had two very nice Disney Cruise Line robes and slippers in the closet, though I don't know if that is ship-wide, or due to our category of stateroom (5B).

Re-Imagined Disney Magic

Well, this ended up being a lot longer than I intended it to be. But the Re-Imagining of the Disney Magic was a huge project and there's a lot to write about. There are so many details that I haven't touched on at all!

Even though there's still some work to be done, I thought most of the Disney Magic is better than ever and I am looking forward to sailing on the Magic again. I have to admit that the Magic is my favorite of the four Disney ships - while there are things I like about all of them, sailing on the Magic always feels like coming home.

Laura Gilbreath was an invited Media guest aboard the Disney Magic. Her opinions are her own.

The previous post in this blog was A Look Ahead: "Get A Horse," and "Frozen" Part II..

The next post in this blog is Re-Imagined Disney Magic - The AquaDunk and AquaLab.

Comments (11)

Kathy Rubin:

We also were on the much-anticipated (and far too short) 2-night Disney Magic cruise to nowhere. We did not experience any stateroom issues (inside cabin, deck 7) but we did notice that the rooms looked "old", esp the bathroom. Other than no background music on the TV (which I use to fall asleep), we had no problems. There was STILL no free soda water/seltzer/club soda available in any of the free soda machines, nor in the bars (had to order and pay for cans of club soda). Our cabin steward was great, unlike 3 short Disney Dream cruises where we never even met our steward! We chose to dine in Palo our first night, where the maitre'D was proud to point out the new flooring. The menu was new, with a fabulous Chef's tasting with wine pairings ($59/person extra fee on top of the $25 Palo fee, which we get waived as a Platinum Castaway Club member). The service was par excellence! All in all, we were very pleased with the changes we noticed, and the fact that the things we love about our favorite Disney ship remained.

Laura replies: Thanks Kathy - glad you had such a good cruise. I see that a lot of us still consider the Magic our favorite ship, even though it's the oldest.

Holly Wittsack:

Awesome thanks for the update! I have been waiting for this as we are going on one of the cruises sailing out of San Juan next September.

Libby:

We are leaving on the Magic on Nov 6. Thanks for all of the info. Can't wait to see the ship!

Krista Weaver:

Thanks for the photos and comments though I never understand why people have to always start off reports with such negative comments. You were on the first sailing out of the gate so of course things aren't going to be exactly perfect. I'd venture to say that those with mishap experiences were well compensated for their trouble if they chose to report them to management. If they did not report them and chose to just complain, that is unfortunate for them. Disney bends over backward to make guests happy. Honestly I was surprised to hear at the end that you enjoyed the trip and are looking forward to going back. We are scheduled to go in April and I, for one, can't wait! The Magic is my favorite ship and I have sailed them all except for the Wonder. I'd chose this ship over the Dream class any day. Again, I do appreciate the time you spent to share your experience and look forward to more photos as you post them. I just wish you had spent less time on the negative because people who have never sailed DCL will read this and may chose to go with another cruise line because of it. DCL is THE BEST in the industry, IMO, and I highly recommend sailing to anyone looking for a top notch vacation!

Kathie Sweeney:

I was disappointed to hear the Magic wasn't completely redone in the renovations. We are scheduled to sail on the Magic in October next year and were super excited to hear it was getting a makeover. From this report it appears it really wasn't made-over but just touched up a bit. I really hope the toilet issues as well as the hot/cold water issues are resolved completely before we sail. I don't want to have to spend one moment of a long anticipated cruise dealing with getting issues resolved.

Chantel:

Thanks for the update info. We sailed in May and loved it. The only improvements we wanted to see have for the most part been addressed it looks like. Our sone was only 18 months old and I am really excited about the new play area for the under 3 set. I will definitely see about getting a cruise booked for when my husband comes back from deployment! I still wish they had a play area for the under three crowd where parents could supervise them. The open house hours at the club were just few and far between. I will book more nursery time though because he loved the nursery. Those ladies were great!

Kevin Bartholomew:

Thanks for the imput. We purposely chose our 2014 cruise from Barcelona
Instead of 2013 just to wait for the Magic's refurb.
All the things look great.
Would have loved the magic portholes, but you can't have it all.
Please understand that observations are just that and not meant to be negative.
Honesty is always the best policy. Disney was short on time, but will be up to speed soon.
Again, we appreciate your feedback!

brielle beckerman:

When do you think you will have the new navigators for the ship. I am planning on going with my kids and want to schedule services at the spa for myself while the kids are doing certain activities but then there are also certain activities I want to do with them!

Laura replies: We were only on a two-night cruise, so I do not think our Navigators will be helpful to you. I do not know if/when we will be getting Navigators for the regular 5-night cruises.

Keith:

Laura,
thanks for the review. I am trying to persuade the family we want to go on the 12 day cruise out of Venice next year!
I was curious: do you know if the ships horn got a makeover or are we still just singing along with Jiminy Cricket?

Laura replies: Unfortunately the horn did not get a makeover, and still features only "When You Wish Upon a Star." One interesting thing, though: from the top of the steps to the AquaDunk you can look towards the top of the stack and see the different horns.

Anonymous:

Looking at your pictures and video, the stateroom carpets were replaced. They now resemble that seen on the Dream and Fantasy and are different than the prior carpets. Were they not in good shape for you to think they were the old carpets?

Libby:

Just returned from the Magic Nov 6-10 cruise. The ship is still beautiful (although we liked the "old" atrium better). The shows were great and the staff friendly and hard-working as usual. There are still quite a few problems on the ship. Our A/C wasn't working - the cabin was freezing for 2 days and then we had no A/C for a day. There was water dripping from our ceiling for the entire cruise. Quite a few cabins had A/C and dripping problems, and several of the people that we talked with were having problems with their toilets. Guest services staff were doing their best (although there was usually a long wait to get through on the phone), but the maintenance people were overwhelmed. There is still at lot of cosmetic work to be done. During our at sea day we went back to Miami for supplies - we needed to pick up coolant, but we were only in port for 30 minutes and arrived at Key West at our scheduled time. We still love the Magic and booked another cruise on her for Sep 2014.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 29, 2013 7:04 AM.

The previous post in this blog was A Look Ahead: "Get A Horse," and "Frozen" Part II..

The next post in this blog is Re-Imagined Disney Magic - The AquaDunk and AquaLab.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.