The Walt Disney Company, a force on land, the big screen, the airwaves and in retail, will soon have a presence at sea. In April 1998, Disney’s first cruise ship, Disney Magic, will set sail from Cape Canaveral, near Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and land on its own Bahamian island.
A recent tour of the 85,000-tonne ship, which is still being fitted at an Italian shipyard near Venice, looked, if anything, like a floating theme park.
Aside from luring cruise-crazed newlyweds and singles with guaranteed child-free areas to call their own, Disney is aiming to pique the interest of its future cruisers: kids.
‘Mickey is always with you,’ says the tour guide when entering the 15,000-square-foot playground that is devoted to children, from toddlers to teens.
Oceaneer’s Lab, for eight- to 12-year-olds, features the space-age Buzz Lightyear Command Post, where a giant statue of Buzz looms over a circular bank of 20 computers loaded with Disney Interactive software. At press time, Disney Interactive was still designing programming for the cruise line; it’s likely that Disney’s Magic Artist, a drawing and painting program that includes ready-made Disney characters, backgrounds and props, is typical of the software that will be offered on-board. The Lab will also be equipped with a giant video wall for group video and computer games.
The Oceaneer’s Club, for kids age three to seven, is modeled after Captain Hook’s pirate ship, but features video monitors inside the vessel’s barrels instead of cargo. Kids are free to run around and climb myriad ladders and walls, dress up and play with the ‘real-life Disney’ characters who will roam the kids areas of the cruise ship.
Teens aren’t so easy to please, but Disney has done its research and discovered that, on a cruise, teens more than anything want a place to hang out. In response, the ship is offering a Friends-type coffee bar with a few computers, an oversize TV, gaming tables and a music station with headsets.