Disney Wonder Day 1: Kids Club, Sail Away Party & Fat Kitty Stowaway

My least favorite part of cruising is the check-in. Even the most highly efficient system will result in headaches when dealing with an onslaught of 2,400 people.

When our shuttle bus arrived from LAX to the Port of Los Angeles, the process went quickly. The only confusion I had was as we waited for our group number to be called so we could board the Disney Wonder. I glanced over and saw frantic parents high-tailing it to the youth activities registration desk at the terminal.

Prior to the cruise, the Disney Cruise Line sends passengers a very thorough information packet. In the guide, it talks about registering children for the activity centers on the ship but I panicked when I saw the herd charging over to the desk. Were they taking all the spots? WHAT IF IT FILLS UP AND I’M STUCK WITH MY CHILDREN FOR THE ENTIRE TRIP?

Judge me all you want. I’m just expressing what all those frenzied parents were thinking.

Turns out we had no reason to panic. All children have access to the kids clubs and it is not necessary to register for specific activities. Haddie and Bode’s wrists were fitted with Mickey Bands (free but there was a $50 charge if they got lost). The bands provide secure access to the children’s facilities and act as a monitoring device.

Think ankle bracelets for criminals but in one of the happiest places on earth.

Then it was our turn to board. As we walked into the lobby of the Disney Wonder, an overenthusiastic lady announced our names into the microphone. We jubilantly stepped onto the red carpet, relishing in the roar of the crowd (OK, more like six gracious staffers) but we were thrilled that they gave each individual family their own special memory of boarding the ship.

Beach Blanket Buffet

We all have our priorities when cruising and ours was eating (we had not done so since early that morning). The Beach Blanket Buffet on Deck 9 serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and we gorged on classic American and international cuisine. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the buffet that had plenty of healthy and non-healthy selections, though I would have liked to have seen more choices in the salad bar.

Gotta make a few healthy choices to offset desserts like these.

Kids Clubs

There are several difference options for kids of all ages aboard the Disney Wonder:

Flounder’s Reef Nursery: Infants and toddlers (ages 12 weeks-3 years) are entertained with toys, crafts, book and games. Disney’s babysitting services services offer the longest operating hours of any cruise company.

Oceaneer Club (ages 3-12): This pirate-themed adventure areas is home to Peter Pan’s Never Land with games, storytelling, video games, musical fun and dancing.

Oceaneer Lab (ages 3-12): Offers exploration with experiment stations, music stations, computers, video games and more.

Edge (ages 11-13): This lounge and interactive play space is set up with plush couches, high-tech entertainment—videogames, televisions and computers—and features guided activities.

Vibe (ages 14-17) is the ultra-cool teen-only hangout patterned after a college dorm with plasma-screen TVs, Internet access, MP3 players, games karaoke and snacks.

There was been a lot of talk (and a bit of controversy) about Disney Cruise Line’s decision to revamp their youth activities program in 2009. While most cruise lines generally create smaller groups with kids of the same age, Disney eliminated age restrictions for kids ages 3-12 and activities are divided up by interest, not age in the Oceaneer areas.

While I liked the idea of Bode (age 4) and Hadley (age 6) being able to participate in the same activities, I was a bit worried Bode would get trampled by the older kids. Turns out, I had no cause for concern (as you’ll see later):

The boy simply migrated to his beloved Wii and life-long friendships with his home boys were born.

Sail Away Celebration

Following the mandatory Assembly Drill, we partied it up with Captain Mickey Mouse and Friends at the Sail Away Celebration on Deck 9. I caught a glimpse at Beatlemania during this 45-minute deck party with Minnie, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Captain Hook. Confetti rocketed through the sky and my kids joined the countless others in the revelries.

Parent tip: Bring earplugs. And your loudest voice.

Fine Dining, Disney Style
The nine restaurants on the Disney Wonder range from the adult-only fine cuisine at Palo to casual poolside dining at Goofy’s Galley. The ship features a Rotational Dining system that lets you rotate to one of three theme restaurants (Triton’s, Parrot Cay and Animator’s Palate) each night, while your servers follow you from venue to venue.

The good: I have never experienced this level of service on a cruiseship. Our beloved waiters Balwan and Titta always had our preferred beverages and Bode’s booster seat ready when we arrived and catered to our every need. The food was always delicious and the ambiance ever-changing and enchanting.

The bad: There is no flexibility on when and where you eat. There are two assigned seating times at 5:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., the latter obviously not desirable for families with young children (5:45 p.m. fills quickly).

On our first night, we were assigned to Triton’s grand dining room with French and under-the-sea cuisine. The children’s meals were varied and always served with a side of vegetables. Hadley devoured steak, shrimp, sea bass and topped it off with a chocolate sundae.

At the end of the meal, she coined the most beloved quote of our entire trip as she groaned in her chair: “Ugh, I’m starting to feel like Fat Kitty” (our very portly cat).

It wasn’t the first time we all felt that way aboard the Disney Wonder.


If you missed it:
*It’s a Wonder Cruising with Disney: A Day-by-day Guide
*Day 0.5: If Getting There is Half the Fun Then I’m in Trouble
*Day 1: Kids Club, Sail Away Party and Fat Kitty Stowaway
*Day 2: Stateroom, Oceaneer Club, Pools, Entertainment & Pyrotechnics, Oh My!
*Day 3: Our Slacker Character Breakfast, Oceaneer Lab’s Little Red Hen and the Magic of Animator’s Palate
*Day 4: Puerto Vallarta, Boogie Boarding and Not-nude Beaches
*Days 5 & 6: Cabo, Lands End, A Brush with Death and a Newfound Love
*Day 7: Farewells & Our Favorite Moment of the Trip

Other Related Posts Readers Have Liked