The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy raised the bar for the line's older ships. In order to keep pace, the Disney Magic received a nearly seven-week overhaul in fall of 2013 and the Disney Wonder received similar treatment in late 2016. The improvements reach from the waterline to the top of the forward stack, impacting nearly every area of the ship in small or rather large ways. While some are enhancements found on the new ships, others address fundamental weaknesses in the original design, or refresh decor and “theming.” But overall, this is “Dream-ification”—the more closely the ships resemble each other, the less reason cruisers have for preferring one ship over the other.
So what’s new? Let’s start with what you can see before boarding. Today’s cruise ships all sport recreational features designed to make passengers on neighboring ships envious (water slides and rock climbing walls in particular). The smaller Magic Class ships don’t have room for AquaDuck, the very noticeable raft ride found on the Dream Class. In its place, the Magic received AquaDunk, an exhilarating, enclosed body slide. The Wonder, however, did not get a thrill slide. Apparently, AquaDunk hasn’t been as effective a selling point as expected. From the top of the stack we move to the waterline, where a “duck tail” adds 20 ft. to the stern, in the name of greater fuel economy and stability. This makes the ships too long for the original Panama Canal locks. The Wonder’s overhaul, originally scheduled for 2014, may have been delayed by this feature, as she must pass through the canal for the Alaska cruising season. The expanded canal opened in June 2016, so the way is now clear for a “post-Panamax” Wonder.
The new chandelier on the Magic
The next changes are apparent as soon as you board, when you’re greeted by a redecorated Atrium Lobby. On the Magic, bright, sculpted-pile carpeting evokes the tropical sea bed. The Wonder's carpet subtly reinforces the ship's Little Mermaid theme, with undersea hues and circles that evoke bubbles. The lobby’s little-used starboard grand staircase has been removed to add much-needed floor space; the port side staircase remains. The Guest Services and Port Adventures desks received attractive new backdrops, and the distinctive Dale Chihuly chandeliers have been replaced by designs that harmonize with the refreshed decor. Colorful, deep-sculpted carpeting has also been added to the lobby of the Walt Disney Theatre, elevator lobbies, and other public spaces.
The Oceaneer Lab on the Magic
After boarding, many cruisers head to the pool deck for a bite, some sun, and fun. Big changes have come to the deck 9 buffet, now called “Cabanas," which features a Finding Nemo theme (Magic) and Finding Dory (Wonder). The cruise line bumped out the starboard and aft walls to create desperately needed seating space and elbow room, and the buffet lines now follow the same free-form approach found on the new ships. Also re-themed and re-named are the quick-service dining options on deck 9, though the menu offerings are barely touched.