Disney Wish: 9 things to know about Disney's newest ship
Editor’s note: TPG writer Summer Hull sailed on Disney Wish on a free trip provided by Disney Cruise Line. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.
It’s official: Disney’s "Wish" has indeed come true, as Disney Cruise Line's first new ship in a decade has joined the fleet.
Disney Cruise Line describes itself as “where magic meets the sea” — and now that it's recently wrapped up a media preview sailing of the ship, we can confirm that it is not only magical but also absolutely beautiful and very different from the other four Disney ships.
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Since 1998, Disney has embraced many of the same skills it uses while making its captivating movies to create a real-life setting on its first four ships that transports guests to a world where almost anything feels possible.
With its original class of ships, Disney introduced “magic” portholes in interior staterooms, fireworks celebrations at sea, paintings that “move,” rotational dining rooms that transform and four age-specific kids clubs where children actually want to spend time.
Given the opportunity to design the first all-new Disney ship in 10 years and ultimately set the stage for the next class of ships at Disney Cruise Line, Disney Imagineers had both an exciting opportunity and an almost Herculean task of creating a whole new level of magic on the first of these new ships: Disney Wish.
Sailing from Port Canaveral for three- and four-night itineraries to the Bahamas for the foreseeable future, Disney Cruise Line's fifth ship is a stunning departure from its sister ships, to say the least.
Here are nine things unique to Disney Wish that we feel really set it apart.
Upgraded rooms and suites
I’ll happily admit to being a sucker for a suite at sea and Disney concierge service amenities, but all of the cabins on Wish are a big step up for Disney Cruise Line.
Disney Wish cabins have a more subdued and upscale vibe than the cabins on Disney’s four other ships, with a fairy-tale aesthetic featuring flourishes of gold and hidden surprises, such as special lighting effects over the pull-out bunk bed for kids.
In total, there are 1,254 rooms, 70% of which have balconies (or verandahs, as Disney calls them). Additionally, more than one-third (451) have connecting doors. There is a record number of concierge-level staterooms and suites, too, with 76 available (double the number of concierge-designated accommodations you'll find on other Disney vessels).
Each one-bedroom concierge suite has a separate living room, walk-in closets, two 43-inch TVs and two bathrooms, one of which features a rain shower, a bathtub and a double vanity.
Related: Review of a 1-bedroom suite on the Disney Wonder
New to Disney Wish are seven ocean-view rooms located over the bridge — a first for Disney Cruise Line. These rooms have an extended living area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the bow and ocean.
And if all of that isn’t enough, there are four royal suites with a “Sleeping Beauty” theme, two of which feature a wild, two-story floor plan. Hey, it’s free to dream, isn’t it? So, let’s fantasize about the soaking tub, private hot tub, two master bedrooms, spiral staircase and two-deck-high stained-glass frieze.
For cruisers who enjoy booking a room with access to the Concierge Lounge, Disney says it is more than triple the size of lounges on previous Disney ships, offering a “full bar, delicious light bites … an outdoor terrace with incredible views” and a special area for kids.
There is a private sun deck with two whirlpools, a wading pool and a bar, which is great news, as the main Disney pool areas tend to get pretty crowded.
If you want the best of the best, go for the almost 2,000-square-foot Wish Tower Suite, which is set in the forward funnel of the ship. It's hard to believe this is an actual place people can stay on a ship.
Related: Is Disney Cruise concierge service worth it?
All-new on-ship attractions
Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge takes you to another galaxy
I’ll spare you the “out of this world” puns to describe the adult-focused Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge on Disney Wish.
However, after watching (and feeling) the ship make multiple jumps to hyperspace, I can tell you this is a must-visit spot to grab a drink. You'll love sipping a space-themed cocktail at the bar while watching ships pass by — even if you don't go for the $5,000 "Star Wars" drink.
Ships from all timelines of the “Star Wars” franchise fly across seven monitors that feature such insanely high resolutions that it really looks like Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters, the Millennium Falcon and more are right outside. The Imagineers worked closely with Lucasfilm to unlock the entire library of ships. Every ship that whizzes by has a name, a story and a place in the greater “Star Wars” universe. You can expect to take that jump through hyperspace to a different part of the galaxy every seven minutes or so.
To keep things as comfortable and immersive as possible, the direction you fly on the screens is indeed the same direction the cruise ship is heading, giving the experience an even more realistic feel.
But this space doesn't merely focus on what is happening “outside” — there’s a whole lot going on inside the high-end, sophisticated lounge as well. While it's not as immersive as Disney's other "Star Wars" bars when you factor out the high-tech windows, it's still a cool — and very popular — space.
Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge is open to families during the day, but every night starting at 9 p.m., the yacht-style lounge transforms into an adults-only venue ideal for kicking back and enjoying galactic-themed cocktails.
You’ll enter the lounge via a room that is dark and serves as a “palate cleanser” from the rest of the ship. Then, once inside, everything from the custom furniture to the liquor bottles and specialty cocktails to the tap handles for the beer is themed accordingly.
As a child of the 1980s who lived and breathed all things “Star Wars” growing up, I had a blast enjoying a few otherworldly drinks from this gold-laden lounge with views of the universe beyond. It's no "Star Wars" hotel, but it's still pretty memorable.
And, fine, maybe on my next Wish cruise I'll bring my kids here during the day, too.
Related: Is Disney’s new Star Wars hotel worth it?
The waterslide is more than just a waterslide
If you’ve sailed on Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, you’ve likely experienced the AquaDuck waterslide.
Disney is calling the AquaMouse (the waterslide on Disney Wish) the “first-ever Disney attraction at sea,” which is a big statement for a company that knows attractions.
The AquaMouse, which any cruiser who is at least 42 inches tall can ride, features show scenes, lighting effects, a dark tunnel, an original soundtrack and more than 60 water effects for a two-minute ride that spans 760 feet of tubing above the upper decks (and there are two totally different experiences available).
The waterslide had a few issues on our preview cruise, so not all the effects were working, but my understanding is that the two storylines (Port Misadventures and Swiss Meltdown) will be available on a schedule of alternating days.
These shows are done in the same style as the newer Mickey shorts and what is featured at Hollywood Studios’ Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The cartoon scenes take place across multiple 85-inch screens during the 75 seconds you are traveling up the tunnel while you get soaked in a raft built for two.
At the height of the show, you blast out of the tunnel and embark on a water ride around the upper decks. This ride also includes a series of speed blasters before its grand finale: a soaring loop over the edge of the ship. As an added bonus, you won't have to carry your own raft to the start of the ride.
I'm not sure the experience was so different than AquaDuck to label it a full-on attraction like you'd find in the theme parks, but it is certainly a waterslide worth checking out.
Lots of (really good) pools
One feature that was a bit under-hyped leading up to the first Wish sailing was the pools.
There are more of them on Disney Wish than you'll find on the other Disney ships, and they are spread out, so you have a better chance of finding one that is tucked away and less crowded.
The adults-only pool is especially worth mentioning, as it is an infinity pool that looks off the back of the ship. That said, all of the pools are much better than others I've seen on Disney Cruise Line.
New rotational restaurants
The first four Disney cruise ships revolutionized dinner at sea by introducing a trio of themed restaurants where you — and the serving crew and other guests — rotate together throughout the nights of your cruise.
Disney Wish retains the rotational dining format but with a lineup of all-new dining experiences.
Related: Preview of food to be served on Disney Wish
Worlds of Marvel
When it’s your turn to dine in the Worlds of Marvel restaurant, which is the first-ever Marvel cinematic dining adventure, you’ll have a role to play in saving the universe. As you eat at one of the 120 tables, you'll have access to a “quantum core” to use throughout your meal.
Between courses, all of which are inspired by the Marvel cinematic universe, there's a three-act event that starts off with Ant-Man and the Wasp doing a demonstration of what your quantum core can do.
During the main portion of the dinner service, the screens all around the room highlight the technology used by the superheroes, such as Captain America’s shield and the vibranium that comes from Wakanda.
The real excitement begins toward the end of your meal.
I won’t give away the ending, but you can expect a supervillain as well as some extra help from “good guys” like Captain Marvel and Captain America. You’ll also need to use your quantum core in the battle against evil, so don’t fill up too much on shrunken desserts until you save the ship.
Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure
Next up on our foodie tour around the ship is Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure. This is Disney’s first “Frozen”-themed theatrical dining experience.
The show takes place immediately after “Frozen II” and celebrates the engagement of Kristoff and Anna with immersive live entertainment performed in the round of the dining room.
The Arendelle menu is Nordic-influenced, though there are options from a little closer to home, too, should you prefer less-adventurous items. The food here was some of our favorite on the ship, and the show was also pretty top-notch. There's even a celebration line toward the end similar to what happens in Tiana’s Place aboard Disney Wonder.
But seriously, don't miss this dinner unless you hate "Frozen," live music and all things fun. In that case, maybe consider booking Palo.
The last of Disney Wish's new rotational restaurants is 1923, which is named after the year the Walt Disney Company was founded.
Disney says this restaurant features the best of the golden age of Hollywood, with the style of the furniture inspired by what was actually in Walt’s office. The menu pays tribute to the company’s Californian roots, and the dining room has a more intimate feel thanks to being divided into two equal parts that mirror each other.
While there are not any villains or live entertainment here, the more laid-back setting is much appreciated, especially if you're seeking a similar dining pace and styling to what's available on the first four Disney ships.
However, if you are on a shorter cruise and need to skip one or more of the included restaurants to try out one of the adults-only spaces, this may be the one to forgo, unless you prefer quiet dinners. You can also visit for breakfast or lunch on certain days if you're set on working it into your cruise.
Additional dining options
The list of places to eat aboard Disney Wish is actually even longer than the three previously mentioned rotational dining restaurants.
For those willing to spend a little extra (and lucky enough to snag a reservation), the adults-only restaurants on Wish shouldn't be missed. Options include Palo Steakhouse, which combines the best of high-end Italian cuisine with a steakhouse in a setting that features subtle nods to "Beauty and the Beast," and Enchanté, where French-inspired fare concocted by the same chef who was behind the food at Remy (an upscale restaurant on board Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) is on the menu.
I tried out Palo while on Disney Wish, and it was over-the-top amazing when it came to the service, the views and, of course, the food itself.
Connecting both of these luxe dining options is The Rose, a lounge that offers wine, small bites and other adult-focused items designed for pre- or post-dinner enjoyment.
These restaurants and the adjacent lounge are absolutely gorgeous, and the food ranks as some of the best I've ever had ... anywhere.
A meal at Palo will start at around $45 per person, though that's for the set menu. A la carte items where the price is not set are available, too. Meals at Enchanté cost $125 per person for the set menu or you can order a la carte dishes. At The Rose, drinks are by the glass, so you can pop in whenever you're free — and you should, as it's an incredibly elegant spot ideal for unwinding without kids.
If you're looking for a casual venue to dine in with kids, be sure to check out the new version of the buffet: Marceline Market. Named after Walt Disney’s hometown in Missouri, this eatery has 10 food stalls and a beverage center. Each station features a Disney movie theme, such as “Tangled,” “Ratatouille,” “Alice in Wonderland" or “Zootopia.”
The food was delicious here, and I appreciated the addition of a place to order premium coffee and other beverages adjacent to the market. Know, though, that the seafood is a little hidden. You'll find it tucked away from the other stalls all the way in the aft.
On the upper deck, you’ll discover a number of poolside options, including Mickey’s Smokestack Barbecue, Donald’s Cantina, Daisy’s Pizza Pies, Goofy’s Grill and Sweet Minnie’s Ice Cream.
This food is vastly better than the pool deck food I've had on other Disney ships, so be sure to save time for at least one meal out on the deck. Don't skip the hot sauce bar, either.
Related: The 7 best meals at sea
A reimagined kids club
For families, one of the best parts of a family cruise with Disney Cruise Line is that kids often want to go to the complimentary kids clubs. This gives grown-ups a chance to have a drink, not rush through dinner and enjoy a few moments to themselves.
While this holds true on all the Disney ships, my 6-year-old never wanted to leave the kids club on Disney Wish.
In a pure stroke of genius, Disney added a fun, unconventional way for kids to enter the Oceaneer Club. After checking into the kids club from the Grand Hall on Deck 3, children can zip down a magical slide that takes them straight into the space on Deck 2.
In addition to the Oceaneer Club for kids ages 3 to 12, Disney Wish retains the cruise line’s other kids clubs: Edge (for children ages 11 to 14) and Vibe (for teens ages 14 to 17). There’s also the colorful Small World Nursery, which is a fee-based option open to the littlest baby and toddler sailors.
Kids club highlights include the Oceaneer Club's Marvel Super Hero Academy, where kids can design (and virtually fly in) their own super suit. This club also houses Rapunzel’s Art Studio, Belle’s Library and Anna and Elsa’s Sommerhus, where there will be a variety of games with Olaf serving as the host. Additionally, there’s a Disney Imagineering Lab that offers kids opportunities to design and virtually ride their own roller coasters and more — similar to how the real Imagineers take their concepts from the drawing board to actual attractions.
In Deck 5's tween club, Edge, kids can hang out in a New York City-inspired loft space with a faux-grass picnic area, photo walls and an entrance hidden behind a framed piece of art.
And at the teen club, Vibe, the decor draws inspiration from a Parisian loft, offering lots of spots to lounge, watch movies, meet new people and play games. Honestly, this space looked so cool, I'd want to hang out there myself.
New activities for the family
Olaf’s Royal Picnic
If your kids have always wanted to celebrate summer via a picnic with Olaf in Arendelle’s Castle, they are in luck on the Wish. Set in an indoor space with a backdrop of a meadow of flowers, Olaf's Royal Picnic features Olaf, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and a song-filled picnic complete with a ton of goodies for the kids to keep.
Unlike the included rotational restaurants, this experience costs extra. Expect to pay a hefty fee of $220 per child and $69 per adult.
We weren't able to try it out during the media preview cruise, as it wasn't available for testing at the time, but we'll be sure to report back once we do.
A Disney Cruise Line embarkation greeting was already extremely special, but the company has dialed up the magic for kids sailing on Disney Wish. Every child that boards the ship receives a wishing wand to make a "first wish" of the trip and to wish again in the Grand Hall on the final night of the voyage. The latter even features a special appearance by none other than the ship's Fairy Godmother, who kicks off a farewell show.
Inside Out: Joyful Sweets
If you’ve visited Vanellope’s Sweets & Treats Shop on Disney Dream, you already know how big children's eyes can get over the massive sundaes and sugary concoctions.
On the Wish, there's a new dessert shop called Inside Out: Joyful Sweets, where about 40 flavors of gelato and ice cream are served.
So far, I can vouch for the PB&J and Kit Kat gelato flavors — but really, you can't go wrong with any flavor you choose. There are even a few plant-based options available.
Should you crave a cupcake instead of gelato or ice cream, you're in luck: You’ll have your pick of emotion-flavored cupcakes, such as Joy (lemon), Sadness (blueberry), Disgust (pistachio), Anger (red velvet) and Fear (bubble gum).
Fantastic adults-only spaces
While the kids are at the variety of clubs designed for them, adults can take advantage of spaces for the 18-and-older crowd. In fact, that’s one reason why I love Disney cruises so much — the kids want to do the kids activities, which means adults get to enjoy amenities designed for us, too.
The adults-only spaces on Disney Wish are not clustered together in one area like they are on Disney's other ships. Instead, they are sprinkled throughout, with several located right next door to a kids club.
We've already talked about The Rose near Palo and Enchanté and Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge, but on the same deck as the Hyperspace Lounge by the main kids club, there are two additional lounges worth noting: Nightingale's piano bar and The Bayou, a New Orleans-themed space inspired by "The Princess and the Frog."
Both have delicious drinks, but Nightingale's offers a more upscale vibe than what you'll find at The Bayou, which features more of a full-on party setting, especially when live music is playing.
Additionally, this ship is the first in Disney's lineup to provide an outdoor space at its Senses Spa. It's an ideal place to relax while taking in the fresh sea air.
For adults craving a pint, there is also the Keg & Compass pub, which draws inspiration from an 1800s Norwegian sailor’s map room. It serves three custom craft brews you can only get on Disney Wish.
Lastly, there's a space made for adults seeking extra pampering beyond the spa. At the bright and airy Untangled Salon, you can treat yourself to a number of hair and nail services, including haircuts, blowouts and manicures.
New Broadway-style shows and entertainment
Disney Wish has a full roster of new Broadway-style shows, along with several other new entertainment offerings.
On embarkation night in the Walt Disney Theatre, which now has an enchanted forest design, there is a “Disney Seas The Adventure” show that stars Captain Minnie, Goofy and other Disney and Pixar characters.
Disney Wish is also home to “A Treasure Retold – Disney The Little Mermaid,” which is said to be an original Broadway-style stage adaptation of the 1989 animated movie — with a modern twist.
Additionally, the ship offers “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” on one night of every cruise. This show is a reimagined adaptation of the classic film, depicting it as a fast-paced musical comedy.
Don't forget to pack your eye patches and bandanas, as pirate nights are a go with a “Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party.” And yes, there are pretty substantial fireworks out on deck that night.
Related: Why now is a great time to take a Disney Cruise
A ‘hidden’ layer of magic
While it wasn't quite operational on our preview cruise, a few months ago, Disney gave TPG a sneak peek at an all-new way that guests can become a part of the story of the ship — and even control some of what happens on board — via the Disney Uncharted Adventure interactive game.
This game continues the Disney tradition of using technology to unlock new ways to tell stories. The technology may be complex, but what shines front and center is the story and the magic it creates.
Before you even leave home for your Disney cruise, you’ll learn a bit about how your phone will transform into a “spyglass” from Captain Minnie herself. Then, once you are on your cruise, you’ll be able to join an interactive adventure to help recover pieces of a fractured wishing star that have landed in the worlds of Moana, Peter Pan, Princess Tiana and Nemo. You can do as little or as much of this adventure as you want.
While you do need a smartphone to participate, this isn’t a game you play by yourself as you stare down at your device.
Instead, this adventure for the whole family takes you all around the ship as you complete parts of the quest. Using your spyglass, you’ll see menu boards transform into messages from Princess Tiana, you’ll find “hidden” constellations in the sky and perhaps even bring the glass slipper to life in the Grand Hall.
Those who participate in the Uncharted Adventure game will have the ability to unlock a hidden layer of magic all around the ship. This will all conclude with a big finale on the last night of your cruise when you help battle the evilest witch in the sea in an epic live event.
How to book the Disney Wish
You can book cabins on sailings starting in August 2022. Prices start around $3,000 for double occupancy or $5,000 if sailing as a family with two adults and two kids.
If you are not in a rush to board and are looking for a more affordable price, you can book a cabin for four people in early 2023 for about $3,000 or a cabin for double occupancy for about $1,700.
Disney Wish is based out of Port Canaveral and sails a mix of three- and four-night sailings to the Bahamas. Each includes a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. If you want more time on the ship, you can book back-to-back cruises to create your own seven-night journey.
Related: Best credit cards for booking a cruise
Bookings typically require 20% down, with the full amount due closer to sailing. TPG has an array of tips to save money on a Disney Cruise that you can use to keep costs under control.
You can book directly with Disney Cruise Line or via a travel agent and potentially get goodies like an onboard sailing credit. TPG also has a Disney booking partner in Mouse Counselors, should you want assistance with booking your cruise.
Walt Disney himself once said, “We don’t look backward for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things.”
The creation of Disney Wish embodies this forward progress by charting its own path with a new style for staterooms, all-new restaurants, a different layout, additional pools, new ways to unlock “hidden magic” and more.
Disney Wish doesn’t leave the past completely in its wake, though. The exterior of the ship retains that same modern classic design, and you’ll still have access to beloved Disney characters, Broadway-caliber shows and entertainment on board.
Without question, Disney Wish is in a class of its own for Disney Cruise Line — at least, until the next two ships join the fleet in the coming years. I can't wait to sail it all over again.