Friday, June 3, 2011

The Art of the Theme Ship

The Art of the Theme Ship

       While on the Disney Wonder we decided to take the Art of the Theme Ship Tour. This was an eye opening experience that showed us the attention to detail Disney took in designing their ships.

       Let’s start by talking about the color and general design of the ship. Disney wanted the ship to be of the classic design and bring back the feel of the great ocean liners of the 1930’s & 1940’s. They also wanted to make it unique. Disney wanted the ship to be Mickey’s colors. They went looking for the main color and just black was not right. They kept looking and finally after months of going over swatches one of the designers came into the conference room in a black/blue skirt suit. Everyone saw the color and started asking what color it was. They took a swatch of her suit to the painters and told them that was the winning color for the main body of the ship. Finally they named the color after her. Mickey’s shoe yellow is close to the color that maritime law requires for life boats, but it was not exactly right. Disney had to prove that the color of the lifeboats would be as visible in the open ocean and fill all safety requirements. Modern ship design does not require more than one smoke stack funnel on the ship. Disney wanted to have two to maintain the classic look of ships like the Queen Mary. They had the ships funnels painted red to complete the colors of Mickey Mouse. You will also see the Disney Cruise Line Mickey Logo on the stacks. The second stack is not just unused space. They are used for teen and adult spaces.

       There are over 300 different carpet designs around the ship. Each has a specific area and reason for its design. For example all the stairways have the same carpet. Each landing outside the lifts (elevators) is similar but each level has a different center design. If you know what center piece design is on each level you will easily know where you are when the lift doors open or when you are walking down the stairs. Running down the hall to the staterooms is a carpet with split anchors of red and blue. There were to be placed so they all ran the same way. It was designed so you could look down and know in a glace what end of the ship you were walking toward. When the Wonder was last in dry dock and got all the carpet replaced the carpet installers made a mistake and about ½ of that carpet was installed backwards.

       Each area of the ship is designed to appeal to the different groups of people. For example the area in front of Palo restaurant is designed so adults feel very comfortable there. The colors, carpet, pictures, lighting, cabinets and items in them are calm and heightens anticipation of going into this wonderful adults only area for a relaxing meal. Hailey Jo, the crew member that lead the tour told us she had only once in 3 years seen children playing in that area.

       The children’s areas have lower ceilings and bright bold colors. The bright colors attract the children to the area and the lower ceilings make them feel like the space is just for them. You will see this in the Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaneer’s Lab. In all the children’s areas there are plenty of things to for them to touch and play with.

       The Atrium Lobby area is breath taking! When you look around you see elegance and formal beauty that is what you would expect of a ocean liner built back in the 1930’s or 40’s. The massive chandler of each ship is beautiful and catches your eye from any location. It does not feel like you have walked into a Disney Park or a children’s area. There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about it! There is a beautiful classic bronze statue of a Disney Character predominantly displayed, each ship ahs a different “mascot”. The Magic has Helmsman Mickey, Wonder has Ariel, the Dream has Admiral Donald Duck and the Fantasy will have a 1920’s Minnie heading off on a trip. These will be the only obvious Disney Characters around. But stop and look closer! Look and the banister on those stairs. Who do you see there? Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Pluto are some of the characters worked into the rod iron work. Look up at the sides of the facing of the floors on the decks above. You see the beautiful bronze work? In there are various characters doing the work of the crew of the ship. Daisy Duck is cleaning rooms. Mickey is waiting tables along with Pete, Goofy is a sailor and Clarabelle Cow is a personal trainer. All of this is subtle and very tastefully done. Disney is amazing at adding the subtle whimsical in the classy and elegant. Even the lifts have Mickey hidden in the rod iron work covering the  glass in the Atrium Lobby.

       Disney is not above hiding things either. Above the door of Treasure Katch you will see a Sail Boat etched in glass. Under the sail boat there are signal flags. If you know the letters the signal flags stand for you know they spell out D~I~S~N~E~Y. To the right and left of the ship are 3 flags. Those flags are DCL for Disney Cruise Line. This shop is for the adults. It carries jewelry, adult clothing and collectables. They also have some personal items that you may have forgotten like first aid items, shampoo, suntan lotion and laundry supplies. When you see children in Treasure Ketch you notice the majority of them were brought in there by their parents and are quietly looking around but they are not very interested.

       They also have one other hidden thing on both the Magic and Wonder, to be honest I don’t know if they have the same thing on the Dream or if they will have it on the Fantasy. On the wall in the lobby of the Walt Disney Theater there is a beautiful picture of Walt Disney leaning on a piano. If you look closely at his hand you will notice it looks slightly wrong. This picture has been altered to hide something that Walt Disney did not want to have in his pictures. They removed the end of his fingers and the cigarette he was holding. If you look around his shoulder you can still see the smoke from the cigarette floating around. Walt Disney did not want pictures of him smoking published even though many people knew he was a chain smoker.

       Across from Treasure Katch is Mickey’s Mates. Mickey’s Mates is the second of 3 stores on the ships. It is designed to attract the children and the kid in all of us. It is brightly colored it attract the children and has children’s clothing and toys. There you will find Disney Pins of all kinds including some Cruise Line exclusive, little snacks, key chains, beach towels and other knick knacks.

       Each restaurant on the ship is designed to have a different feel. Lumiere’s on the Magic and King Triton’s on the Wonder are the formal dining restaurants. Parrot Cay on the Magic and Wonder has a casual Caribbean Island feel. It is like many restaurants you would find on the islands. Animator’s Palate is a playful place decorated to look like a animator’s work room. The restaurants are different on the Dream and Fantasy.

       The Buena Vista Theater is designed to look like the classic movie house of the 40’s. It is lush and comfortable. Hidden from view is state of the art projection, lighting and sound systems. They can play 3D movies there and they are top quality. Here they will play some old Disney movies along with current releases that are currently in theaters on land. They also use this area for lectures by people involved with Disney. You will not know who will be speaking there until you arrive on the ship.

       There are 3 pools for the guests. They are all on the same deck and in a row. Each pool is designed for a different group of people. The first is the Mickey shaped kids pool. This pool is in the shape of everybody’s favorite mouse and at it's deepest is 2 ft deep. This pool is next to the splash zone that the kid’s water slide ends at. There is also a small water play area of the tiny tots. The next Pool is the family pool and is called the Goofy pool. Goofy is on the bottom of the middle pool. This pool is for the families to swim together. There is the Funnelvision screen on the back of the forward funnel facing the Goofy pool. During the day they play classic Disney movies there. Also you can see the virtual tour of the bridge there. This is the outdoor party spot on the ship where all the Deck Parties are held. They cover the pool at those times so people can use the space to dance and party. This area is usually nosy and full of families having fun. The 3rd pool is just for the adults. It is the Quiet Cove pool. The family and adult pools are 4 ft deep. You will not hear the nose from the family or kids pools while in the Quiet Cove even though there is not much between them. The design of that area acts as a sound baffle. Both the Goofy and Quiet Cove pools have hot tubs to relax in. There is a 4th pool but this is not for kids, families or adults. The final pool at the bow of the ship is for the crew to use during off Their hours. You can see the crew pool while standing at the front of the upper decks.

       Let’s go back to the pool deck (deck 9 on the Magic and Wonder deck 11 on the Dream and Fantasy). Starting at the bow of the ship we have the adult area with the spa and salon. Then comes the adult pool and lounge area. After some sound buffers there is the family pool with the Funnelvision Screen. Between the family pool and the kids pool is a set of quick serve dining stations. There you get all the pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream you want. Just past the kids pool and splash areas is the soda fountain where you can get all the soda you want. Next to that is the door to the buffet style restaurant for relaxed family dining.

       As you can see by reading about the pool deck it is broken down in to areas for adults, families and kids. Family areas and interspersed between the kids and adult areas. It is designed so the families with kids in tow are not drawn into the adult only area but the families are encouraged to play together.

       Each area brings out a different feeling and attracts the groups of people it is designed for. This is well thought out and planned and nothing is by chance.

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