Saturday, March 26, 2011

Technology On-Board The Disney Dream

Technology On-Board The Disney Dream

When people think of Disney, images of colorful cartoon characters or magnificent theme parks usually spring to mind. Behind every one of its family-friendly creations, there lies most innovative state-of-the-art technology. The folks at Disney refer to it as "magic", and there's no shortage of it aboard the newly berthed, Disney Dream.
I had a chance to hop on-board for the inaugural voyage, and here's a sampling of my favorite high seas technology that made the voyage fun:


Stateroom Wave Phones

Forget extending your cell coverage or upgrading the cost data plan, Disney has the perfect no-cell phone solution for families who want to keep connected while on the high seas. They're called "wave phones" and each room comes equipped with a pair. Each are tied to a stateroom number and allows cruisers to simply call other members in their party - or pretty much anyone on the vessel, even leaving text messages. My wife found it invaluable on those nights when she sent me up onto the main deck in search of late night snacks. She could easily ring me up to add more food items to the list. (Of course, that's before we realized that room service was free!)

Children's OC Bracelets

If your kid is going to participate in the ship's Oceaneeer Club activites, they're going to need to wear a special tracking bracelet. As a kid, my daughter thought it was a cool piece of jewelry, which also magically opened the front gate to the Oceaneer's Club. Being a parent, I got piece of mind knowing that the Club's staff monitored the bracelets, tracking her whereabouts. It also came in handy when we picked her up, as the Cast Members could pinpoint her location, so we didn't have to hunt through the ship's sprawling kids' zone.

The Photo Pass System

One of my family's guilty pleasures is posing for theme park and cruise photos. It doesn't cost anything to have our photo taken by a professional photographer and there's never any pressure to buy. We often end up with a really nice family pic (where someone isn't inevitably missing - usually me - because they had to take the photo). The photo system works similar to other cruise lines I've been on, but I was impressed that our photos would all eventually be zapped to the LCD television in our stateroom. It was a smart marketing idea that always inspired us to make a trip down to the ship's photo center to look at more.

When we arrived, there wasn't the the typical confusion - like on other cruise lines - when searching for our photos, which are usually spread out over several walls among a sea of thousands of other faces. On the Dream, everyone is given a portfolio number. When you wanted to look at new photos of your family, they're located on reserved spot on a shelf in a classy-looking book. Folks can also tap their stateroom keycards at several kiosks located throughout the ship and view the photos there.

Magic Art & Windows

On every deck, throughout the ship you'll find framed posters and artwork from Disney productions through the years. When you stop and take a look, many of the artworks come alive  - whether it's birds singing a sweet song or a pirate ship firing canonballs from one painting to the next. Kids and adults alike can even sign up for a shipwide interactive detective game, and the badge they're issued activates a mini-game on the very same screens.

While everyone on the ship has access to all the same features, not every stateroom is created equal. If you're missing a verandah, then the Imgaineers make up for it with giving magical porthole. You'll get a live view of what's happening out on the ocean, with the added bonus of Disney characters making appearances right in front of your magical 'window'.

Movie Theaters

There's so much to do on the ship's itinerary that catching a movie seems like something quite a few folks might skip while cruising. However, I found the cinema experience on the Dream to be one of my favorite takeaway moments. I just couldn't resist seeing Tron: Legacy (again), in 3D. Everything about the presentation was perfect, from the quaint concession stand to the high quiality 3D glasses and sound system. Also, I found the later shows to be less populated, allowing for less children and plenty of room to spread out.

The Charming Talking Turtle

When dining in the Aniamator's Palate, there's plenty of interesting decor to keep your eyes busy. To keep you from getting bored between courses, the ornately decorated walls eventually slide away to reveal a virtual ocean landscape, complete with animated fish swimming about from Pixar's Finding Nemo. However the real highlight here is Crush, the surfer-dude turtle, who swims from the screens table-to-table, interacting with guests while they dine. Is he a computer program? How does he know what I'm doing? Is there a guy in there somewhere? Whatever the case, it's just the right touch of magic to make the evening dinner, and the whole Disney cruising experience, just that much more enchanting.


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