Last updated: 10:01 AM ET, Fri April 26 2013

Disney Magic to Undergo Massive Renovation

Features & Advice Disney Cruise Line Theresa Norton April 26, 2013

Disney Cruise Line’s first ship, the Disney Magic, will undergo its largest renovation this fall since entering service in 1998. The project will update the 2,700-passenger ship with a cleaner, more timeless design while keeping the original Art Deco style. Most of the iconic public spaces will remain—including the Animator’s Palate restaurant, the popular Oceaneer Club and Lab, and the bronze statue of Captain Mickey in the lobby—but a few will disappear, including the Mickey swimming pool. The entire ship will be updated with new technology as well as new features that were found to be popular on the newest ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, which entered service in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Disney Magic will enter Navanthia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 10. For a preview of the changes in store, Travel Pulse was invited to tour the ship in Galveston in late March with the man overseeing the renovation, Joe Lanzisero, senior vice president of creative development for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Here’s a summary of some of the changes in store: The popular children’s facilities will get updated. Oceaneer Club, for ages 3-12, will get Andy’s Room, a replica of the boy’s bedroom in the movie “Toy Story.” It will feature a large functional Mr. Potato Head and a slide built into a replica of Slinky Dog. New is the Marvel’s Avengers Academy, which will include the uniforms worn by Capt. America and Iron Man. The Oceaneer Lab next door will shed its now-dated outer-space decor in favor of a décor more inspired by pirates and Jules Verne, Lanzisero said. The nursery, for children age 3 months to 3 years old, is getting a new “It’s A Small World” theme and brighter colors.

Animator’s Palate, the restaurant that gradually transforms from a black-and-white cartoon outline into full-color animation, will stay. “Some things so define what we do here that we would never get rid of them,” Lanzisero said. The restaurant will, however, get the Animation Magic technology on Disney Fantasy, where cartoons hand-drawn by diners magically dance on the walls.

Parrot Cay, the Caribbean-themed buffet restaurant, will get a sleek, sophisticated new look at Carioca’s, a classic eatery with a South American vibe inspired by José Carioca, a character from the 1944 Disney movie “The Three Caballeros.”

Topsider Buffet will change to Cabanas, as the casual eateries are known on Dream and Fantasy. The old-school buffet line will be replaced with serving stations, and the new Aussie-inspired décor will feature “Finding Nemo” characters.

The adult-only area, now called Beat Street, will be renamed After Hours when it gets an update with an evening ambience more on par with the nightlife in cities like Miami Beach or Las Vegas, Lanzisero said. Rockin’ Bar D will be turned into a cool nightclub called Fathoms. Sessions, the piano bar, will become Keys and get a more sophisticated black-and-white color scheme. Diversions, the sports bar, will change into O’Gills, the popular Irish pub introduced on Disney Fantasy.

The pool area on Deck 9 will become one large family play area. The Mickey-shaped pool will disappear and be replaced by water sprays and a bucket dump, as well as a water play area for kids in diapers. The new AquaDunk thrill ride starts with a countdown until the floor drops from under the rider, who then shoots down a translucent tube that winds over the side of the ship.

Disney Magic will leave Galveston June 1 to operate four-, seven- and 12-night Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona through Sept. 7. After the renovation is complete Oct. 10, the ship will head for Miami to operate three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean from PortMiami. In January, the Disney Magic moves to Port Canaveral to offer three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas. The ship returns to the Mediterranean from May through August 2014.

A complete overview of the upcoming renovation, along with renderings of the new looks, appears in the May issue of Vacation Agent magazine.

Theresa Norton