Best of the Disney Wish Cruise Ship

More than the rest of the fleet, the Disney Wish is a ship of hits and misses, highs and lows. It does many things surprisingly well, and others confoundingly badly. In this “best of” list, we’ll take a look at the top 12 things we think the newest addition to the Disney Cruise Line fleet gets right.

It should go without saying, but this list is highly subjective. It’s more aptly an “our favorite things about the Disney Wish” list, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same way. It’s also based on only one sailing–the Disney Wish Christening Cruise. As covered in our First Impressions of the Disney Wish, not everything was ready or presented during that media itinerary, so this list is undoubtedly incomplete.

Still, we felt it would be worth sharing our preliminary pros & cons or highlights & lowlights of the Disney Wish. We’ve already heard from several readers who are on the fence about whether to book the much more expensive Disney Wish, or stick to the cheaper legacy ships. Between this, our first impressions, and upcoming “Worst of the Disney Wish” list, we hope to help you make a semi-informed decision about which one is right for your family. With that in mind, let’s dig in to what the Disney Wish does right!

Avengers: Quantum Encounter at Worlds of Marvel – Described by Disney Cruise Line as the first-ever Marvel cinematic dining adventure where guests play an interactive role in an action-packed Avengers mission that unfolds around them, Worlds of Marvel will make both this list and the worst of list. There are actually a few entries on this list that’ll also make that list, for reasons we’ll lay out in that subsequent post.

As for what makes Worlds of Marvel great, it’s the spectacle, humor, and blockbuster scale of the dining experience. While it doesn’t live up to its marketing, there is a certain larger than life quality to this rotational restaurant thanks to the booming soundtrack and appearances by so many super heroes. In the end, it’s age-defying wonder Paul Rudd who carries the entire production–it’d be a flop without him. So, if you’re one of the 17 people in America who doesn’t love Paul Rudd, this may not be for you.

Deck Design – This is going to be a divisive one, and another entry that’ll make both lists in some capacity. One thing we really like about the deck design of the Disney Wish is the way it breaks things up with tiers. Decks 11 and 12 have a half-dozen pools of various sizes and depths, staggered all around the upper decks and surrounded by lounge chairs.

On the plus side, it makes these areas more dynamic and pleasant. You’re not surrounded by a mass of humanity all crowding into one giant, flat area. This is one of the things I dislike most about cruising, and seldom used the normal pools on the other ships as a result. Despite more deck space, the Wish’s pools feel more intimate and enjoyable. From a practical perspective, this also makes viewing entertainment easier and closing any one of the pools for, ahem, “accidents” less impactful. The execution isn’t always perfect, but we like the ideas behind subdividing the deck space and pools.

The Little Mermaid – The caveat here is that we haven’t had the chance to see this stage show in finished or full form. With that said, even the unpolished, incomplete incarnation makes the list. The Little Mermaid theatrical production is a twist on the film, with contemporary storytellers and a reimagined script. Those buzzwords might have you worried it’s not the same timeless tale, but from what we saw, this “modern-day adaptation” mostly stays true to the spirit of the film, without many superfluous changes.

The performers are incredible, with Ariel delivering a powerful vocal performance and dancers breathing life into the music. “Under the Sea” is an absolute showstopper with puppeteers dialing the energy and excitement level up to 11. It’s like Finding Nemo: The Musical, but infused with an infectious joy–and even more adorable puppets.

Enchanté – The most luxurious dining experience on the Disney Wish, Enchanté features a gourmet menu crafted by Michelin three-star Chef Arnaud Lallement, who is also behind Remy on the Dream and Fantasy. It’s a given that the cuisine at Enchanté is exquisite–we had one of (if not the) best meals of our lives here. It’s also a given that the service is superlative–the best servers were chosen from other DCL restaurants.

What surprised me is the atmosphere and design. We arrived at Enchanté for dinner at dusk, and its gold fixtures and lighting absolutely popped against the blue of the ocean and sky. I’m not normally one for gold embellishments, as they’re often overindulgent or downright tacky. Not the case here, as the glistening golds absolutely popped against the shimmering lights, and were nicely offset by the elegance of soft blues and lighter colors.

The end result is something upscale and elegant, but also calming and comforting. As much as we love Remy, I personally find it a tad stuffy and intimidating. That makes it slightly outside my comfort zone, whereas I felt perfectly relaxed at Enchanté. Totally a personal preference thing, but it is my ‘best of’ list. 😉

Interior Design – Mostly an extension of the previous entry about Enchanté, but there are a number of places throughout the Disney Wish with exceptional interior design and furnishings. This includes all of the specialty dining, the Bayou, Nightingale’s, the spa, retail, and other locations. (This is not across the board–look for a similar entry on the ‘worst of’ list.)

From my perspective, these merit inclusion on the list because they’re done in styles we haven’t seen much from Disney in recent years. There’s a lot of real elegance, upscale upholstery, and attention to detail in the finishings in some spots. Thankfully, Imagineering didn’t indulged its “repurposed warehouse” aesthetic for anything aboard the Wish.

Kids Clubs – The reimagined Disney’s Oceaneer Club is fantastic. It’s really nothing new for adults to rave about the kids clubs, wishing there were spaces like this for us aboard Disney Cruise Line. I’m not going to rehash all of that familiar commentary–like these spaces on other ships, the Marvel Super Hero Academy and Fairytale Hall are very good.

However, it’s the Imagineering Lab and Star Wars Cargo Bay that are next level. All of these areas offer interactive fun, but the Imagineering Lab challenges in a way that’s educational and enjoyable–it’s like the best of Innoventions. (There are also some great attraction nods, like Figment and Mystic Manor models.)

Then there’s the Cargo Bay, which is easily the best Star Wars space aboard the ship. This cherry picks elements of the marketplace in Galaxy’s Edge and rooms in Galactic Starcruiser…and does a much better job with putting them to use in ways that are actually engaging. The whole area looks fantastic, but it’s not just superficial–it’s actually fun, too. (Disney should just put some tables and chairs down here at night–it would make a much better bar than its counterpart upstairs!)

Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party – Hot take: pirates are awesome, DCL Pirates Night is not. Okay, it’s not bad, but it is tired. It’s still good and a crowd-pleaser simply by virtue of having pirates (which, again, are awesome) but is old hat for a lot of Disney Cruise Line fans.

Featuring both Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Redd, a live band, stunts, and fireworks set to classic rock, Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party is an absolute blast. I’ve gotta applaud the choices DCL made here–both of the main characters are mired in faux controversies with various groups, and people with poor taste in music might not like classic rock. Personally, I love it all. The characters are great, the music is great, and obviously, the fireworks are great. Surprising as it might sound given those details, the Pirate’s Rockin’ Parlay Party breathes fresh life into the Pirate Night concept.

Staterooms – No surprise here given how Walt Disney World has done a good job transforming its higher end hotel rooms in the last few years. The Disney Wish staterooms offer an array of little form and function improvements that, in aggregate, make them a lot nicer and more comfortable than their predecessors.

Everything from the movie art (which varies from deck to deck) to the lighting to the utilization of space is more thoughtful than the other four ships that came before. As with so much of the ship, it seems like DCL learned from what worked and didn’t in the past, and made incremental improvements on those bases. (We have received questions about storage space, but we had no issues with this whatsoever.)

Mickey and Friends Festival of Foods – Nothing caught me by surprise as much as the pool deck food court on the Disney Wish, which takes the concept of Flo’s V8 Cafe on the other ships and improves on it in every way. There are four distinct ordering bays–Mickey’s Smokestack Barbecue, Donald’s Cantina, Daisy’s Pizza Pies, Goofy’s Grill, and Sweet Minnie’s Ice Cream–and all are surprisingly good.

However, it’s the two newcomers–those for barbeque and Mexican cuisine–that really deliver. The latter was like Chipotle, while the former was on par with any of the best counter service BBQ at Walt Disney World. (Imagine if Regal Eagle were all you can eat.) We usually skip the pool deck food court fare because it’s slow-cooked under a heat lamp, but ended up eating at Mickey & Friends Festival of Foods a lot. It’s arguably better than the (underwhelming, in my opinion) Marceline Market.

Disney Seas the Adventure – This is the other new theatrical production for the Disney Wish–the first day stage show in the Walt Disney Theatre. The premise of the production is that Captain Minnie Mouse hands over the helm to janitor Goofy, who has always dreamed of being captain. It’s billed as a “journey of discovery,” and there’s definitely some of that. But it’s mostly a montage show framed by a lot of goofiness.

There are two things going on here that we absolutely loved. First, that this stage show lets itself be a little silly. In recent years, Disney has leaned a bit too hard into tugging at your heartstrings and eliciting emotion via trauma. It’s effective, but I’ve had my fill of tragedy–I want to have a good time. Goofy is the perfect protagonist for that, and he provides several laugh out loud moments while the montage scenes still deliver plenty of emotion–and fantastic musical numbers.

Second, the song and movie choices really make this feel like “Happily Ever After: Goofy Edition.” For us, this was very reminiscent of the beloved Magic Kingdom nighttime spectacular that was taken away too soon and replaced by something inferior. I didn’t think Happily Ever After could possibly be any better…but perhaps bringing it back with Goofy as host would up the ante. This show isn’t quite on par with the Little Mermaid, but for the montage show, it’s fantastic, fresh, and fun. (Seriously, I cannot overstate how nice it is to have joyous entertainment rather than tedious or taxing productions, which should be obvious.)

1923 – There’s a dynamic Disney duo behind all three rotational restaurants. While the other two leverage intellectual properties and the fictional Anna & Elsa and Ant-Man & Wasp, 1923 one highlights the real life Disney brothers. Named for the year they founded their eponymous company, 1923 is the more upscale of the rotational restaurant trio on the Disney Wish. Its dining rooms are steeped in old Hollywood glitz and glamour, with Art Deco-inspired flourishings and furniture, plus decor that pays homage to the company’s creative roots and offers a look at the evolution of Disney animation.

1923 is less an overt love letter to Walt Disney the person–which is what I was hoping for–and more a tribute to the animation process and work product. Think of it as a grown-up version of Animator’s Palate, without the interactivity. I love the way that there are two dining rooms–for Walt and Roy–and that there’s further subdivision within those to give it a cozy atmosphere. If you took out all of the display cases, it could pass as somewhere Walt, Roy, and the Old Men would’ve dined in Los Angeles. The style is totally different, but it evokes more or less the same mood as the Tam O’Shanter–and that’s a good thing.

Arendelle: A Frozen Dining Adventure – When it comes to Frozen, I’m Switzerland. Totally neutral–don’t love or hate it. With that out of the way, Arendelle caught me by surprise and was one of my absolute favorite components of the cruise. The Nordic-inspired cuisine was exceptional, with a couple dishes that were particularly memorable. Although it’s one cavernous seating area due to the entertainment component, the design has tons of personality and depth, imbuing it with charm and warmth.

Of course, it’s the immersive live entertainment that everyone is there to see, and this was fantastic. I was a bit apprehensive about the “royal engagement party” premise, but that’s only a portion of the celebration. The cute Olaf character plus the princesses are the crowd-pleasers for families, but that that’s not what made this work for us.

More central to Arendelle are the local couple playing folky Norwegian renditions of Frozen songs, who essentially make most of the experience a relaxed meal with a live musicians. Then there’s Oaken, who steals the show with his “Hearty Party Planning Service… and Sauna” and comedic chops. We did not expect to love this as much as we did, but it was the highlight of the rotational dining for us.

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Any thoughts on our ‘best of’ list for the Disney Wish? Which of these spaces, restaurants, entertainment, or other things to do look most or least appealing to you? What else would you like to know about the Disney Wish? Think this ship will appeal to you, or will you stick with the first four? Do you plan on booking a cruise aboard this ship, or are you awaiting more reviews and info from the actual guest sailings? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

9 Responses to “Best of the Disney Wish Cruise Ship”
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