Monday, August 30, 2021

It's Not the First Disney Attraction at Sea, but at Least It'll Have Two Cartoons

Back in April's Once Upon a Disney Wish presentation, Disney announced the AquaMouse, a new water coaster on the Disney Wish that's similar to the AquaDuck on the Dream and Fantasy (they also called it the first Disney attraction at sea, but that's another story).  The AquaMouse's biggest change from its predecessor is that on it, riders will watch a Mickey Mouse cartoon called Scuba Scramble.  This cartoon is being created exclusively for the AquaMouse, so I'm expecting its action to be synchronized with what's happening in the slide.  The slide looks like a lot of fun!

As fun as it seems, a concern I had about Scuba Scramble is that people who have rode the AquaMouse many times might get tired of watching it, unless it's the best cartoon ever.  Disney seems to have prepared for that, because the AquaMouse will have another exclusive Mickey Mouse cartoon, Swiss Meltdown!  Here's a quick look at it:
Apparently, Swiss Meltdown will be splashtacular.  If they're making up words to describe it, it's probably going to be good.  According to the Disney Parks Blog, Swiss Meltdown is inspired by Yodelberg, another Mickey Mouse cartoon.  
I like that Scuba Scramble and Swiss Meltdown have different themes.  Disney could've chosen to go with two tropical cartoons, but that theming would probably get boring.  Having two completely different cartoons should keep guests coming back to the AquaMouse.  These cartoons will also have many Disney references in them, and I'm hoping to see a few DCL references.

Each day of a cruise will only feature one AquaMouse of the cartoons.  I think the two cartoons will alternate between days.  If this happens, then on a 4-night cruise, each cartoon will be featured for two days.  However, on a 3-night cruise, one cartoon will be featured for two days but the other one will only be featured for a single day.  A poster near the entrance to the AquaMouse will announce which cartoon is being featured.  In addition to this, listing the day's cartoon in the DCL Navigator App or a paper Personal Navigator (if the Wish even has them) would be helpful.

The Wish will be launching with these two cartoons, but since they're played on screens inside the slide, more cartoons could be added after the Wish launches.  I don't think the AquaMouse needs more than four cartoons, since the Wish won't be doing any cruises longer than 4-nights for a while.  Maybe more cartoons will be added with the Wish's sister ships and come to the Wish after they launch.  Disney could even branch out and make a cartoon using non-Mickey Mouse characters.  Doing this would make the name AquaMouse a bit misleading, but it's possible.  Also, if Star Wars Day at Sea ever comes to the Wish or its sister ships, Disney needs to make a story for the AquaMouse involving Mouse Droids.  

The best way to learn more about the AquaMouse will be to ride it, but that'll have to wait until next summer.  The screens inside the ride will open up many possibilities, and I'm excited to see what Disney chooses to do with the ride after the Wish's launch.  The screens are the AquaMouse's largest difference from the AquaDuck, but will that make it a better ride?  I guess we'll see in summer 2022!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

It's a Phone Game

A while ago, I wrote about how a new version of the Midship Detective Agency from the Dream-class ships could work on the Wish.  In that post, I thought that if something similar does come to the Wish, Disney may decide to incorporate mobile devices like smartphones and tablets into the game, instead of the badge cards currently used.  While this would add more variety and more features to the game, it would limit the game's audience to people with these devices.  To avoid this issue, I suggested giving players the choice between using a mobile device or a traditional card, while keeping the game the same between control schemes.

While that would be great, it's not going to happen.  Last week, Disney announced Disney Uncharted Adventure, a new game on the Wish with a similar concept to the Midship Detective Agency.  However, unlike that game, Disney Uncharted Adventure uses mobile devices, not badges, as the only control option.  As I said, this will add a lot of functionality and features to the game, like augmented reality (AR).  Because it's using mobile devices, Disney Uncharted Adventure will probably be more immersive and engaging than the Midship Detective Agency.  Here's a video with some information about the creation of the game (it also gives a look at a rendering of an elevator lobby on the Wish, and wow, it's different).

The game will begin before your cruise starts, likely with some non-critical information about the game's story.  This will be great in getting people excited for their cruise, along with the DCL Navigator App's countdown.  Once on the ship, the goal of the game is to find all of the pieces of the wishing star, which recently fractured somehow, and put it back into the sky.  The game appears to be similar to the Midship Detective Agency, but with a lot more bells and whistles, as the technology behind it is much newer.  It sounds pretty cool, especially because the game lets players choose the order of the star pieces they want to find.  This freedom will probably allow for the game to be different every time for people who have played through it before.  Also, there will be a grand finale event physically on the Wish, where players will work together to defeat a villain who caused the star to break.  Not much has been revealed about this special event, but it seems like a really cool way to finish the cruise and meet other people who played through the game.  A nice feature is that players don't have to be completely finished with the game to participate in the finale.  Although, maybe this kind of event would be better at the start of the cruise so players can meet the people they may see while playing the game.  The Disney Parks Blog post says more information about Disney Uncharted Adventure is coming in the future.

All that is great, but I have some problems with Disney Uncharted Adventure.  First off, this game requires a phone or tablet to play.  In 2021, it may seem crazy that a family wouldn't have one of these devices, but there are some families out there without them.  These people would miss out on the game, and if it's a really enjoyable experience, they'd probably be disappointed.  The game will also probably need a stable and reliable internet connection.  I'm really hoping that the Wish is designed with Wi-Fi connectivity in mind, but if not, the game might not work in some parts of the ship, which could cause players to quit and not restore the wishing star.

I've seen a lot of younger kids playing the Midship Detective Agency game on the Dream and Fantasy, sometimes without their parents.  Many kids do not have their own smartphones or tablets, so in order to play Disney Uncharted Adventure on the Wish, they'd need to use a device belonging to a family member.  It's probably harder to trust a kid with an expensive phone or tablet than a card badge, a paper casebook, and a golf pencil.  It looks like Disney Uncharted Adventure is intended to be played by families together, so this shouldn't be a huge issue.  However, playing Midship Detective Agency alone or with a sibling (without our parents) was really fun, so some kids may miss out on this with Disney Uncharted Adventure.

Another concern I have about this game is that it may not be able to run on older or less-capable mobile devices.  The game's augmented reality features will likely require a decent device to work.  Even if it can run on some less-powerful devices, it might not run well, giving some players a subpar experience with the game.  If the game is really demanding on mobile devices, it could limit the game's audience even further.

Finally, Disney Uncharted Adventure won't even be a part of the DCL Navigator App.  To play, guests will have to download a separate app, Play Disney Parks.  This isn't a huge deal, but now, guests will need to have an additional app downloaded before their cruise (or pay extra to download it using onboard Wi-Fi) if they want to play the game.  It would've been much more convenient to have everything DCL-related in a single app.  This could change in the future, but hey, at least both apps are free.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Disney Uncharted Adventure.  With more information coming in the future, we should have a better understanding of the game soon.  What do you think about Disney Uncharted Adventure?  Are you happy with it requiring mobile devices?  Would you have preferred the option between using a badge-like card or a device?  Are you going to play it if you go on the Wish?  Leave a comment if you'd like!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

DCL Will Require Guests 12 and Older to be Fully Vaccinated on Cruises to the Bahamas Starting September 3rd

Today, August 24th, Disney announced that starting on September 3rd, all guests age 12 and older must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to sail on a cruise that visits the Bahamas.  This announcement was made because the Bahamian government recently announced that starting in September, everyone 12 and older is required to be fully vaccinated for a ship to be allowed to enter the country.  Even though the Dream is only currently visiting Castaway Cay, guests 12 and older are still required to be fully vaccinated.  Castaway Cay is Disney's private island, but it's still part of the Bahamas, so this requirement impacts it.  As of now, this mandate will remain in place until November 1st, 2021.  

The Bahamian government's announcement didn't leave Disney with much of a choice.  At the moment, all of their cruises from the US only visit the Bahamas.  So, if they want to keep going there, they need to comply with the Bahamian government's requirements.  If Disney chose not to mandate vaccinations, where could they go on a 3-night or 4-night cruise instead of the Bahamas?  They can't do Magic at Sea cruises from the United States (thanks, Passenger Vessel Services Act).  There also isn't any port of call other than Castaway Cay where they are in control of the entire experience.  Since DCL wants to keep going back to Castaway Cay, guests 12 and older will have to be fully vaccinated on the Dream, as well as the Fantasy when it resumes cruises on September 11th.

In addition to needing to be fully vaccinated, guests need to prove that they're fully vaccinated.  They can do this by using the Safe Passage website to upload their vaccination card.  This same website also must be used to upload results of a negative COVID-19 test for all guests under 12.  If you're going on a Disney cruise between September 3rd and November 1st, be sure to check the DCL website for more information.

Getting fully vaccinated isn't a quick process, since the United States CDC considers someone to be fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive the final dose.  Not being fully vaccinated will likely prevent some people from going on cruises they had planned, but conveniently, anyone booked on a cruise that visits the Bahamas from September 3rd to November 1st is able to change their reservation or cancel it without any negative effects like fees.  

I don't know if the Bahamas will continue to require cruise ship passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated after November 1st, but if so, Disney will have to require it on cruises that visit the Bahamas.  Be sure to visit the DCL website for the most detailed and up-to-date information.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Taking a Look at the Rest of the 2022 Itineraries on the Magic and Fantasy

Back in June, Disney Cruise Line announced their itineraries for the fall of 2022.  However, that announcement left out finsh later.  The rest of the 2022 itineraries on the Magic and Fantasy were recently announced, but Disney is still leaving everyone wondering about the Wonder.  While we're waiting to find out what the Wonder will be doing, let's look at what the Magic and Fantasy will be doing at the end of 2022.

Previously, the Magic had itineraries announced up to December 9th, when it'll be going on cruises from Galveston, Texas.  Starting on December 9th, the Magic will go on a 4-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise from Galveston that visits Cozumel, Mexico and spends two days at sea.  After that, the Magic will go on two 5-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruises that visit two Mexican ports, Cozumel and Progreso, and spends two days at sea.  Following those two cruises, the Magic will begin a 4-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise on December 23rd.  It's the same itinerary as the 4-night cruise earlier in the month, but it's significantly more expensive because it goes over Christmas.  On the 27th, the Magic will begin a 6-night (not Very Merrytime) Western Caribbean cruise that visits Cozumel and George Town, Grand Cayman.  Additionally, it spends three days at sea.  This cruise is very expensive because it goes over New Year's Day.  Overall, the Magic won't be doing anything too interesting to finish 2022, but at least we now know what it'll be doing.  

Let's see what the Fantasy's going to do in December 2022.  Before the most recent announcement, it was revealed that the Fantasy would be doing a 7-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise (this itinerary spends two days at sea and visits Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Castaway Cay) beginning on December 3rd, followed by a 7-night Very Merrytime Eastern Caribbean cruise (this itinerary spends three days at sea and visits Tortola, BVI; St. Thomas, USVI; and Castaway Cay) starting on December 10th.  Unsurprisingly, the rest of the month isn't too interesting.  It'll do another 7-night Very Merrytime Western Caribbean cruise and then a really expensive 7-night Very Merrytime Eastern Caribbean cruise that goes over Christmas.  After that is another expensive cruise, a 7-night (not Very Merrytime) Western Caribbean cruise that goes over New Year's Day.

We now know what every DCL ship but the Wonder will be doing up until the start of 2023.  The Wonder may not be doing any cruises at the end of 2022 because of a dry dock, but I doubt Disney would schedule one then, because as we saw, cruises can get expensive over holidays like Christmas and New Year's Day.  Maybe Disney just isn't sure what to do with the Wonder at the end of 2022 yet.  Or, maybe they're planning something big and don't want to announce it yet.  For example, they might move the Wonder to the West Coast of the US.  With the addition of the Wish, DCL will have more guests than ever before, so maybe they want to expand their offerings, which are mainly cruises from Florida at the moment.  This would be a major change, so Disney may be waiting for the perfect time to announce this.  Of course, the ship is called the Wonder, so maybe Disney wants us to keep wondering about the Wonder so we'll be more prepared to find out what it'll be doing at the end of 2022.  I don't know when they will make an announcement, so I'll keep wondering!

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Fantasy is Coming Back!

Today, August 16th, Disney announced their plan for resuming cruises on the Disney Fantasy on the DCL website.  It'll resume cruises on September 11th.  Before this announcement, the Fantasy's next cruise was scheduled to begin on September 4th, but that cruise is now canceled.  No other cruises on the Fantasy have been canceled, but the remaining cruises in September and the one starting on October 2nd have been altered.  

Instead of 7-night Caribbean cruises, these cruise are now 4-night Bahamian cruises that only go to Castaway Cay.   According to the Disney Cruise Line Blog, these cruises will have two days at Castaway Cay.  This will work because the Dream will stop visiting Castaway Cay twice per cruise (this is true as of me writing this, but Disney could make changes) before the Fantasy starts cruising again.  However, unlike the Dream, the Fantasy won't be doing any 3-night cruises.  It'll be cruising for four nights of the week, then doing nothing for the remaining three nights of the week.  This seems like a missed opportunity for Disney to make more money, but only having one cruise per week, like what the Fantasy would've been doing, makes things simpler.  Everyone booked on the 7-night cruises that got changed was automatically booked on the 4-night cruise that starts on the same date as their original cruise.  Because they're now booked on a shorter cruise, these guests will be refunded for the amount of the cruise they're not going on.  These guests will also receive a $400 onboard credit per stateroom, which is super nice.  To make things even better, these guests will receive a 25% discount on a future cruise as well (once their cruise is over)!  That's significantly better than the normal 10% discount for booking onboard.  If none of these benefits make guests want to remain on the shorter, restricted cruise, they can cancel their cruise and receive a full refund.

These shorter cruises on the Fantasy will be available to book starting on August 25th.

The restrictions on the Fantasy are probably going to be just like those on the Dream, and I wrote about those here.  Be sure to check the DCL website for the latest information about restrictions and safety precautions.

Cruises on the Fantasy coming back is good, but when will it be able to resume its normal 7-night Caribbean cruises?  There's no definite answer yet, but Disney is hoping to resume them in October.  Currently, the Fantasy's next 7-night cruise is scheduled to start on October 9th, so we'll see what happens with that.

The Fantasy will be the second of Disney's ships to resume cruises from the United States.  Cruises on the Dream started back up earlier this month.  As of now, plans for the other ships' restarts in the US haven't been announced.  Disney's taking little steps toward fully resumed operations, but hey, at least they're not taking steps back! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

The Dream is Back!

Later today, August 9th, the Disney Dream will begin its first cruise with regular paying guests since March of last year!  The Dream did go on a few test cruises recently, but they weren't real cruises, as they weren't available to the general public.  The cruise starting today, a 4-night Bahamian cruise, will be the first real Disney cruise from the United States after cruises were shut down.  It'll also be the first Disney cruise with normal guests to stop at a port of call since the shutdown.  On this cruise, the Dream will spend two days at Castaway Cay and one day at sea.  After this cruise, the Dream will alternate between 3-night and 4-night Bahamian cruises.  Both of these itineraries include two days at Castaway Cay.  

Since Castaway Cay is Disney's private island, everything guests experience there is controlled by Disney.  Nassau, the other port that Disney's Bahamian cruises typically visit, is not owned by Disney, and Disney has much less control over what guests do and who they come into contact with there.  Only visiting Castaway Cay will ensure that Disney's new restrictions and safety measures will remain enforced, so it makes sense why they're not visiting Nassau for now.  Speaking of which, there will be many of them in place on the Dream and on Castaway Cay, as I talked about in my last post.  Overall, it doesn't seem like they'd completely ruin the cruise experience, but it looks like these cruises won't be as much fun as normal (pre-shutdown) cruises.

As time goes on, Disney will likely start visiting Nassau again, but for now, guests get double the time on Castaway Cay.  That's way better than Nassau!  Can you please make this a permanent change, Disney?

Unfortunately, no.  The Dream is currently the only DCL ship going on cruises with guests from the US, so it's the only ship that's going to Castaway Cay at the moment.  However, when the other DCL ships resume, starting with the Fantasy on September 4th, the Dream won't be the only ship going to Castaway Cay, so the double Castaway Cay cruises won't always be possible.  Plus, Disney probably wants to keep the double Castaway Cay cruises limited so they can charge extra for them.

If you want to watch the Dream sail out of Port Canaveral, be sure to check out PTZtv's Port Canaveral Webcam in the later afternoon.  You won't see a deck party, but plenty of people should be up on Deck 11 and Deck 12.  I'm excited to see actual guests, not just crew, on the ship.  

Assuming the Dream's cruises go well, nothing terrible happens, and Disney doesn't change plans, the Fantasy will resume cruises on September 4th and the Wonder will resume cruises on September 24th.  Things will probably change, so be sure to check the DCL website for the latest information about cruises resuming.