From the day it was announced in the Disney Store Scoop (cast member newsletter), I have been anxiously awaiting the time when my family will get to set sail on one of Disney’s ships. There are other Disney Mamas who can answer all your cruising questions – so, I’ll just stick to some of the fun facts as we celebrate the 17th year of the first sailing of Disney Magic!
Disney Magic began operation July 30, 1998. The bow features Sorcerer Mickey with Goofy on aft finishing up the paint job of the name plate. The interior is decorated in the Art Deco style. The ship’s horn blasts “When You Wish upon a Star”. The Magic was reimagined in 2013 to include a water feature called the AquaDunk.
Disney Wonder set sail on August 15, 1999. The Wonder was christened on October 1 by a laser-projected Tinker Bell. The bow features Steamboat Willie at the helm while Donald is doing his best to finish up the paint job on the aft name plate as his nephew, Huey, seems to be “helping” Unca Donald with a pair of scissors in hand. The interior of the Wonder is decorated in the Art Nouveau style.
Disney Dream launched in January 2011. The bow features Captain Mickey while the aft name plate is getting some last minute touch ups by Sorcerer Mickey and his mops. The interior design is art deco like her sister ship the Magic. The ships horn added “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”, “Be Our Guest”, “it’s a small world”, “Hi-diddle-dee (An Actor’s Life For Me)”, and “Yo Ho, Yo Ho (A Pirates Life For Me)” to its repertoire.
Disney Fantasy debuted in March 2012. The bow features another version of Sorcerer Mickey while Timothy and Dumbo touch up the paint job on the aft name plate. The interior follows that of the Wonder in utilizing the Art Nouveau style.
The most interesting aspect of the cruise line is the history of Castaway Cay. Before purchasing the island in 1996, Disney filmed a part of the movie ‘Splash’ here. The beach where Tom Hanks first encounters Daryl Hannah’s mermaid character is located on the island.
Gorda Cay, its former name, was rumored to have been a possible pirate haunt in the early 1700s. The story has some credibility as two treasure hunters from Nassau came across a few objects just off the shoals of the island in the 1950s: three coins and a 72 pound silver ingot. Markings showed that they belonged to Spain’s King Philip IV. These treasures most likely came from the San Pedro, a Spanish Galleon hauling treasure back to Spain that was sunk in 1733.
In the 1960s, Alvin Tucker purchased 150 acres on the island, along with several other plots in the Bahamas. He improved the island by adding an air strip for ease of traveling to the island. (The strip is used for the 5K and bike path now.) After years of neglect, Tucker heard rumors that his private airstrip was being used by drug smugglers to bring narcotics into Florida; and when he tried to put a stop to it, he discovered the police were privy to the action. Tucker eventually sold his land to a private company.
But, in the 1980s, the environment became more hostile to the locals who were being chased away by men with weapons. Come to find out, the “private company” that bought Tucker’s land was owned by Frank Barber, an American drug smuggler with a growing enterprise.
Disney purchased the island in order to turn into a private getaway for their cruise guests. It took about 18 months and around $25 million to prepare the island for guests. The work included dredging sand from the Atlantic Ocean to expand the beaches and building a pier so guests would easily be able to get back and forth from the cruise ship. Amazingly, only about 55 acres of the 1000 acre island are currently used.
In the snorkeling lagoon, two ride vehicles from the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage attraction at Walt Disney World have found a new home for guests’ enjoyment. After its use in filming the Pirates of the Caribbean, the Flying Dutchman pirate ship was on display in the lagoon as will. Sadly, the ship, which was a prop, didn’t weather well and had to be dismantled.