Disney Dream, April 2011: Embarkation Day (Part 5: Shopping, “The Golden Mickeys” and The District)

Shopping

Inaugural Voyages Logo
Dream Inaugural Voyages Logo

After dinner, we had a little time before the evening’s theater presentation and we decided to explore the shops on deck 3, located near the Walt Disney Theater.  There are actually three shops in that area.  Mickey’s Mainsail is the main source for typical Disney souvenirs, including t-shirts, hats, plush, etc.  The selection includes a lot of merchandise with the Disney Dream logo as well as some more generic Disney Cruise Line items.  At least on our cruise, much of the Disney Dream specific merchandise still was identified as being for the inaugural voyages.  We bought t-shirts and hats here and I was also able to get a model of the Disney Dream to match one that I bought on our earlier cruise on the Magic (the one sold on the Wonder was identical to the one on the Magic). 

Disney Dream Souvenir Model
Disney Dream Souvenir Model

Across the way from Mickey’s Mainsail is Sea Treasures.  This store features some more upscale clothing as well as some higher-end merchandise like watches and jewelry.  This store also has a fairly large toy section.  Most of the toys are not cruise-specific, although they do have some Disney Cruise Line plush here.  My son found and purchased (with some of his saved up allowance) a plush cruise ship containing plush figures of Mickey and friends dressed in nautical outfits.  It is very cute, although he was a bit disappointed to discover that the characters are sewn in.

Disney Dream Hat
Disney Dream Hat

The third store in the area is Whitecaps, which is primarily a duty-free liquor store, although they do also stock a number of sundries, such as common over-the-counter medications, sunscreen and other similar essentials. 

All of the shops on the Dream are only opened while the ship is at sea, which allows them to sell all merchandise duty-free (tax-free).  Guests do have to declare all purchases at the end of the cruise and will be charged taxes if you exceed the $800/person duty-free limit.

"The Golden Mickeys"

Note: I didn’t get any photos in the theater or The District, which is why there aren’t any more pictures in this post.

Disney’s ships employ a full theatrical troupe that perform in elaborate productions in the Walt Disney Theater.  While this is not unique to Disney’s cruise line, the shows benefit quite a bit from Disney’s experience with live productions, including those for Broadway and the theme parks.  The result is a pretty consistently high quality to the shows presented on the Disney ships.  The shows also benefit greatly from Disney’s extensive library of stories, characters and songs, which provides strong source material for the shows to use.

On both of our previous cruises, the first night featured a "Welcome Aboard" variety show instead of a full-blown theatrical production.  On those previous cruises, we skipped that opening night show in favor of more general exploration of the ship’s features.  The schedule was different on the Dream, though.  The first night featured one of the major productions, "The Golden Mickeys", which we didn’t want to miss. 

Of the three shows featured on the Dream, "The Golden Mickeys" was the only one that I had seen on one of our previous cruises (on the Wonder), although the show had some significant revisions compared to that earlier version.  Before seeing the show on the Wonder, I had relatively low expectations as the premise of a mock awards show didn’t sound too promising.  I was very pleasantly surprised, though, by a show that featured elaborate, well-produced production numbers as well as a central storyline that has a surprising amount of heart.  Seeing the revised version of the show on the Dream only reinforced my positive reaction.

The central premise is that we are attending an awards presentation that would honor characters from Disney movies in several broadly-defined categories such as "Best Hero", "Best Romance", etc.  The premise is really just an excuse to re-create on the stage musical numbers from a number of Disney movies (in fact, this is really the case with all the shows presented on the cruise), but those production numbers are elaborately-staged and very entertaining. 

The show features a central character of a "stagehand" at the awards show who is drafted as host after being told that the ship’s captain couldn’t make it.  This adds a little meat to the story, allowing for a couple original songs as well as a touch of sentiment as the character works to overcome stage fright and a lack of self-confidence.  All of the current shows on the Dream (even "Villains Tonight") have a central "believe in yourself" moral.  While this does introduce a little bit of repetition, it is a reasonably effective and easy way to bring some emotional impact to this kind of show and it certainly fits pretty well with most Disney stories.

As I mentioned, there were a few changes to the show since the version that I saw on the Wonder.  One that I had expected was the replacement of an early segment that involved a recorded (but pretended to be live) video featuring Roy Disney, who had died since our previous cruise.  The segment is still included in the show, but it now features Disney CEO Bob Iger instead.  Since there is no longer a member of the Disney family in a prominent position in the company, Iger was probably the most logical choice, although he does seem kind of uncomfortable with this kind of thing.

Other major changes in the show included new segments featuring songs and characters from "The Princess and the Frog" and "Tangled", two Disney musicals that were released fairly recently.  I was actually momentarily surprised that they had managed to already work in material from "Tangled" so soon after the film’s release (recent enough that the movie was showing in the ship’s Buena Vista Theater), until it occurred to me that the ship was actually newer than the movie! 

One bit of advise that I do have is to try and get to the theater reasonably early.  The doors open 30 minutes before the show and the best seats in the center sections fill up pretty quickly.  We took long enough with our shopping that we got there about 20 minutes before the show and ended up a little more off to the side than we would have liked.  "The Golden Mickeys" also has a pre-show featuring one of the actors playing an entertainment reporter interviewing guests as they arrive at the show.  It is kind of silly, but it does provide some  entertainment while waiting for the show to start.  

Drinks in the District

Even though it was pretty late (well past his bedtime) when the show let out, our son really wanted to have a little bit of time to play at the kid’s club.  Other than the brief tour at the open house, he hadn’t yet had a chance to explore it on his own and he really was excited to do so.  My wife and I decided it wasn’t an unreasonable request and, to be honest, we liked the idea of having a little bit of time to visit The District, the ship’s adults-only nightclub area and unwind a bit with some adult beverages. 

Neither of us have ever really been that interested in noisy/crowded nightclubs, so we ended up at Skyline, a quiet and intimate bar.  This bar’s gimmick is the HD video "windows" behind the bar that show the skyline of a major city.  The specific city shown changes every 10 minutes or so.  This really is a cool decor and we actually got a bit of a kick out of identifying the cities.  The only one we weren’t able to recognize ourselves was Hong Kong, but the server was happy to quickly  help us identify it when we asked.

While there, I had a glass of white wine.  I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but I admit that I’m not much of an expert and honestly don’t remember what type or vintage it was.  I do remember that I enjoyed it, though.  My wife wanted a strawberry margarita and this was an opportunity for us to see the kind of go-out-of-the-way service that is common on a cruise.  Skyline didn’t have the ingredients for her margarita, but the server immediately volunteered to go get her the drink from one of the other bars that did.  The area is fairly compact, so it really didn’t take that long either.

After about 30-45 minutes, we decided it was time to go get our son and then head back to the state-room for the night.  He actually paged us that he was ready to be picked up while we were headed over there, so the timing turned out to be right for all of us.  We were all definitely tired out after a very full day and ready to get rested up for the next one!

Coming up next: Nassau

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