Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Disney Magic 2.0 Day 3 Part 1: Embarking the Re-imagined Disney Magic

Monday, July 20, 2014

We woke up at 6:36 a.m. We showered, ate breakfast and re-packed our bags. Our shuttle driver picked us up at 9:45 a.m. to head to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Magic.

We used the same shuttle company that we used in 2012, and we even got one of the same drivers from our last trip. We've had great service with Spaceport Transport, and it gives a cash discount. (It was cheaper for us to hire a private shuttle for our family of 5 than it was for us to take the Disney Cruise Line buses, and I also couldn't find a better deal on a one-way car rental).

We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:40 a.m., the same time we arrived for our cruise on the Disney Dream 2 years ago.

Except we were really surprised at how empty the terminal was! In 2012, at the same time in the morning, it was already packed. We checked in, got our identification photos taken, and received a card that let us know we were in boarding group #3 (out of 30+ boarding groups, I believe). Woohoo!

We also received the navigator for the first night on the ship.

As I mentioned in my 2012 trip report, there is magic and excitement in the air at the Port Canaveral Disney cruise terminal. And this time was no different!

I saw a roped off area in front of the ship model and a photographer already there, so we decided to get in line because we knew that Captain Mickey would soon make an appearance. There were only two families in line. Sure enough, within a few minutes, Captain Mickey appeared.

Next, we explored the terminal. The boys stopped for a photo with Olaf from Frozen:
We also went to the outside viewing area, which we couldn't even see last time due to the crowds.

The kids each got a pressed penny from the pressed penny machines

Seriously, the terminal was still relatively empty. I guess it's because the Magic holds about 1000 or so fewer passengers than the Dream. Around 11:45 a.m., boarding had started and our boarding group was called. We walked through the Mickey ears to embark the Disney Magic.

Welcome Aboard photo

On the gangway--almost there!

The coolest part about boarding a Disney ship is when the crew members announce your arrival on a microphone and applaud as you walk into the ship's atrium. On our first cruise, I filmed it, but this time I decided to put the camera down and just enjoy it. But my husband sneaked in a quick film on his iPhone.

Speaking of the atrium, it has been completely remodeled since we were on the ship last year.  It was a lot brighter and shinier, very elegant and classy. I don't have any pictures that do it justice.

Before heading to lunch, we stopped for a quick picture with the Mickey statue in the atrium:

Then we headed up to Deck 9 to the lunch buffet restaurant, Cabanas, which is also new with the ship's renovation. It now has smaller, more abundant food stations instead of one long buffet line. It was very similar to the version on the Dream.

We could have gone outside to eat, but with 3 kids and multiple trays, it was easier to sit close to the food stations and have a parking lot view while the ship was still in port.
We finished lunch at 12:25 p.m. and headed to the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for open house. These are the kids' clubs that enable us to have a little adult alone time while our kids have a blast. Again, these clubs were total re-done since our previous cruise. The boys were most excited to see the new Avenger's Academy section of the Oceaneer Club.

The clubs were unrecognizable from our previous cruise on the Magic.

The center floor of the Oceaneer Club

Pixie Hollow area

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse area

Andy's room

Slinky slide!

Mirrors in the Oceaneer Club bathroom

In the Avengers Academy room:

We then moved to the Oceaneer Lab, which is now connected to the Club by a back hallway. My 9-year-old really appreciated that, because the last time we were on the Magic he wanted to move between the club and the lab frequently but had to be checked out by a youth counselor each time. Now he could move about freely.

The Oceaneer Lab is much less themed than the club and geared for older kids, but still open to ages 3-12. While my oldest checked out the virtual cruise ship steering and other interactive games, my younger two had fun with some hula hoops.

A youth counselor showed the kids a trick with the hula hoops to make them come back after rolling them on the ground, kinda like a boomerang.

Before I can move on to the rest of our first day on the ship, I have to talk about the kids' clubs a little more. I don't know if it's because there were a lot fewer kids on this cruise (our last cruise was a Kids Sail Free special with double the amount of kids), or if it's because our youngest was now old enough to go to the kids' clubs (instead of the nursery)...but we thought the kids' clubs on the re-imagined Magic were the best clubs out of the 3 we've seen so far. Honestly, the kids' clubs are the deal-makers for us to go on a Disney Cruise. These new renovated clubs on the Magic were AWESOME!

The clubs are generally open from 9 a.m. until midnight every day. There is no extra charge for night, like most other cruise lines. Kids can enjoy the regular slides/costumes/video games in the clubs as well as special programming run by the youth counselors. Examples of the special programming included a Toy Story boot camp with the green army men, story time with Belle, super sloppy science (one time they made Flubber, another time they made volcanoes erupt), Hawaiian dance party with Lilo and Stitch, animation classes, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, etc. The activities vary on each ship.

The boys especially loved the Avengers Academy section, which is only on the Disney Magic. In addition to special Avengers Academy programming, there is a "Becoming Iron Man" activity that is way cool (see this video for more about these Avengers activities). The computers around the edge of the room had video games for various Marvel characters. Throughout the week, the youth counselors changed up some items in the area. Sometimes, there were a lot of Avengers books on the tables. Twice we came to pick up my oldest, and he was reading Avengers books. Other times, the counselors brought out Avengers costumes.

Brian and I have never had the opportunity to take a kid-free vacation since we've had kids, and we have no access to free childcare. So getting a few moments by ourselves on vacation is priceless! Brian and I got to eat 4 1/2 meals by ourselves, saw a few shows and shopped alone a few times, all while our kids were in the clubs having a blast.

Next up: Meeting other DIS group families, and our first night on the ship

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