Disney Dream Cruise Offers Magic for Everyone in the Family


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Though a cruise was never on our bucket list, when I was invited by Disney Cruise Lines to take a trip on the Disney Dream, it was hard to say no — if not for us, for our 4-year-old son who had Disney on his mind. What we found was an awesome vacation with quality accommodations, a superb and friendly staff, and integrity that comes with the Disney name.

With Captain Mickey (Mouse) and Admiral Donald (Duck) as hosts; and loads of character friends onboard (Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Captain Hook, Jake and a dreamy cast of princesses); Broadway-style shows; interactive youth activities; nonstop food and beverage choices; and a deck-side fireworks show, the Dream is a magical vacation at sea.

On Deck

Within an hour of boarding the Dream, my 4-year-old son had taken photos with Pluto and Goofy, and was sliding down the big yellow waterslide by Mickey’s pool on Deck 11. The slide is a great for kiddos like mine who aren’t quite tall enough to ride the AquaDuck, which is the shipboard water coaster/flume ride featuring twists, turns, drops and river rapids through a clear tube that circles high above the ship. The AquaDuck is a huge hit with kids and kids at heart (like my husband), so be prepared to wait between 20 to 45 minutes to catch a ride.

In addition to two pools on Deck 11 by the slides, you’ll find Nemo’s Reef, a fanciful water-play area (think sprayground) for little ones who like splashing in puddles that includes a small slide for small tykes. Sundecks by the pools are lined with chairs for relaxing in the sun or watching a Disney movie on the 24-by-14 feet Funnel Vision LED screen. My son and I enjoyed an afternoon break watching Pixar shorts on the big (make that humongous) screen with a soft-serve cone from the Eye Scream Treats ice cream shop.

Though Deck 11 is the main pool hangout, there is a designated adults-exclusive pool and tween-teen pool. So if you have a tween or teen, you can release them to play the day away at their pool while you relax and read a book in the kid-free zone. Wave phones, much like walkie-talkies, enable parents to keep up with their sea-faring crew throughout the day.

Kids’ Clubs

Disney knows what it’s doing when it comes to creating youth activities to entertain different age groups’ interests, as well as give mom and dad a minute to themselves without worry. My son joined in the fun with Disney characters, interactive games, dance parties and more at the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, open to ages 3-12. Admission to the Oceaneer Club is done via the Oceaneer Band, an electronic identification bracelet that connects your information to your child. Children cannot leave the Oceaneer Club without a parent showing his or her key card and giving a secret password that is synced to the child’s bracelet. Youth activity counselors are specially trained and experienced in child care and have undergone background checks, so you can feel safe leaving them to play while you enjoy a date night at one of the adult-exclusive restaurants — Palo or Remy; or exploring The District — a nighttime entertainment neighborhood with clubs and pubs. There are also kid-only activities during the day. Kids can join in storytelling and group activities, and have fun playing in Andy’s Room with larger than life toys from Toy Story. Monster’s Academy includes a play structure for climbing and computers with interactive games, and Pixie Hollow offers a designated craft space. Meanwhile, you can steal a moment to yourself in the sauna at Senses spa on Deck 12.

Tweens can make their own movies with green-screen technology at The Edge on level 13, a tween-only hangout. Teens can hang out at The Vibe, a club-like space appointed with video-editing software and video games, plus a high-tech disc jockey that offers DJ trainings. Infants and toddlers are cared for and entertained at It’s a Small World Nursery, featuring a fully-trained and experienced child care staff.

Dream Dinner and a Show

Each night guests rotate to one of the three restaurants onboard: Enchanted Garden, Animator’s Palate and Royal Palace. Personal servers also rotate with you to the themed restaurants. Midway through our meal at Animator’s Palate, Crush, the sea turtle from the Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo, began popping up on screens around the room, naming and conversing with guests dining that night. After dinner, we attended Broadway-style shows at the Walt-Disney Theatre, where we were entertained with special effects, princesses, villains, and song and dance. Watch a first-run motion picture release or Disney classic at the Buena Vista Theatre.

By the time the show wrapped each night, my family was ready to call it a night. Our Deluxe Stateroom — complete with a queen-size bed, sitting area with a couch that converted to a twin bed and top bunk tucked away that could also convert to a bunk bed — offered a relaxing place to retreat and recharge. The chocolates on our bed each night made for a nice bonus.

Four days at sea passed by quickly, but lasted long enough for my family to get a taste of what makes a Disney cruise so special. My 4-year-old is already booking us for the trip again next year.

Michele Huggins is the editor at Charlotte Parent magazine.

 
More to Love About Your Disney Cruise

Castaway Cay

The Disney Dream sails from Port Canaveral, Fla., to Nassau, Bahamas, and then to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. While at Castaway Cay, you can parasail, take a glass-bottom boat ride, pet stingrays or ride bikes around the island. Children with Oceaneer Club bands can join in planned activities with activity counselors at Scuttles Cove — a good option if you have an older kid who might enjoy a bigger adventure with you elsewhere on the island.

Get-wet fun includes water slides and water cannons at Pelican’s Plunge, located within swimming distance from the shore. We purchased a shovel for $10 that was good for digging in the sand — and served as a nice souvenir.

My Kid’s Not-to-Miss Top 5 List

1. Midship Detective. Possibly the coolest thing onboard for my child was the Midship Detective Agency. Enchanted paintings, strategically placed for a ship-wide scavenger hunt, are actually LCD screens that give clues to help you solve either the mystery of the missing puppies or the missing artwork. Pick up a personalized QR-code badge (and map) on Deck 5 then hold it up to the interactive art to watch it come to life and provide clues.

2. Goofy’s Sports Deck. Play Goofy’s Golf — a miniature golf course — while gazing out at the blue sea from Deck 13. My son loved it so much we played a couple of times every day. Bigger kids can play basketball, foosball, ping-pong or group dodge-ball matches.

3. Room service. A first for my son, room service for breakfast while watching Disney cartoons is not a bad way to start the day. We were all happy to find warm cookies and milk in our room mid-afternoon, just in time for a little siesta break from all of the activities.

4. Free ice cream. We treated ourselves to free self-serve ice cream all day on Deck 11 at the Eye Scream Treats ice cream shop. You’ll know you’ve found the right place when you see Mike Wazowski from “Monsters, Inc.”

5. The Pirate Party. Though the show doesn’t get started until 10:30 p.m., getting decked out in pirate gear is almost as great as the live-action pirate show on Deck 11 before the Bucaneer Blast fireworks display.

 

 

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Calendar

December 2019

Wear your favorite holiday attire and dine with Santa Claus. Enjoy a delicious brunch, stories and crafts, and take pictures with the jolly man from the North Pole. 

Cost: $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Joyner Park Community Center
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
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See dancers and a guitarist from Flamenco Carolina perform a Spanish style of music and dance.

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by three spirits, but what about the next Christmas? With heartwarming excitement, discover how the Cratchit family has fared in the year that has passed since old...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic.

Cost: Free

Where:
Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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The choir presents its 49th performance on Handel's "Messiah."

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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The first day of winter is right around the corner! Help us welcome the season by making a snow globe to take home. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult...

Cost: For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Children will enjoy this wonderful book written by John Denver reminding us not to forget about the wildlife this holiday season. We will make a craft then take a walk to look for our wildlife...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Join RTOOT as it performs the music of great Italian composers as well as beloved Christmas classics. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $9/adult, $3 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Dan the Animal Man brings some of his animals from his vast collection to entertain all ages. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park before the Grinch turns them green. Ages 6-12. Registration required online. Choose course #127871. 

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

More information

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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Get into the holiday spirit by decorating cooking, making a craft and enjoying a holiday children's show.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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The Wake Forest Abilities Choir will present an evening of holiday music under the direction of director.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Celebrate pecans at the State Farmers Market.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Join us to learn about how Habitat for Humanity helps build houses, hear a Christmas tale and then build a graham cracker house of your own. Call to, 919-245-2532. Best for ages 4 and up with a...

Cost: free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Is there a man in the moon, and is the moon made of cheese? Sip on some hot cocoa and listen to some of the stories people have told about the moon and find out if there is truth to them. Then...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompanime

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Discover family traditions from North Carolina and around the globe. Create art, enjoy free access to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, and have a special visit with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


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Bundle up and enjoy an evening around the campfire learning about creatures of the night and listen to Native American tales about some of our favorite nocturnal animals. Roast marshmallows and go...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Kids ages 5-12 enjoy indoor activities while parents enjoy a night out. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Wear white clothing and play games, tumble and dance. Enjoy pizza, drinks and more. Ages 5-10. Registration required online. Choose course #127487.

Cost: $18/child; $28 for two children per family

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Friday, December 13, 6:00pm, at both the Millbrook and Wake Forest Campuses. Put on your Christmas jammies, grab a blanket and come out for a  festive night to watch the classic animated...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
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Have some fun and make something great at the Clay studio (and parents can sneak away and grab a bite or do some shopping at Northgate Mall). Each kid will complete and paint a piece of pottery...

Cost: $18 per child per workshop

Where:
1058 West Club Blvd
Durham, NC  27701
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Telephone: 919-560-2726
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum
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Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

More information

Sing along with the band as they perform holiday favorites of Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
, NC  27513
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Celebrate the love and joy that this season brings by creating art inspired by a Christmas tree. Register online. Choose course #126761.

Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Our Reindeer Romp is open to the entire community and our Girls on the Run families. So join us! Celebrate as nearly 1,000 girls reach their end-of-season goals – the finish line is only the...

Cost: $30 - $35

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Girls on the Run of the Triangle
Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
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Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Travel with us to Puerto Rico with books, games and arts and crafts!  Join the staff of ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) for a fun filled hour! Best for ages 3 and up with a...

Cost: Free Gratis

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m....

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
Website »

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Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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