Not surprisingly, with potentially hundreds of kids on any given sailing (1,000 is typical), Disney's kids' facilities are the most extensive at sea, with at least 50 counselors supervising the fun for ages 3 to 17 between 9am and midnight daily. Nearly half a deck (comprising two huge play spaces and a nursery) is dedicated to kids. The Oceaneer Club is a kid-proportioned playroom with a Neverland theme and activities revolving around Disney/Pixar's Toy Story. Kids can climb and crawl on the bridge, ropes, and rails of a giant pirate ship, as well as on jumbo-size animals, barrels, and a sliding board; get dressed up from a trunk full of costumes; dance with Snow White and listen to stories by other Disney characters; or play in the kiddie computer room on PlayStations. The interactive Oceaneer Lab allows kids a chance to work on computers, learn fun science with microscopes, build from an enormous vat of K'nex (they're like fancy Legos), do arts and crafts, hear how animation works, and direct their own TV commercial. A new scavenger hunt is based on the superpopular High School Musical movies.
Disney recently started customizing its children's activities, meaning activities in the Oceaneer Club and Lab are open to all kids between ages 3 and 12 (to age 10 on Disney Magic), so children and parents can choose programs based on interest, not just age. Now, your youngsters can join siblings or friends in activities from Cinderella's Royal Ball (for princess wannabes) and So You Want to be a Pirate (billed as pirate training for young buccaneers), to Ratatouille Cooking School (where children bake chocolate chip cookies together), Animal Tracking Series (conservation education), and Flubber (where kids create magical green goo and other interesting concoctions). The newest kids' space aboard the Magic is called Ocean Quest (it's called Edge on the Dream) and the hangout space is geared to tweens ages 11 to 13 and features a replica of the ship's bridge, with real live footage of the real thing upstairs. Kids can sit in a traditional captain's chair and play a simulation game in which they can pretend to steer the ship in and out of port. A computer simulator like this was added to the Oceaneer Lab on the Wonder. Both ships also have computer and video games, arts and crafts, and movies. Overall, new activities are being introduced all the time to keep the program fresh for the ages 8-to-17 set. There's also a video arcade, though it's really cramped compared to most on Royal Caribbean, Princess, and the newest Carnival ships. Kids can eat lunch and dinner with counselors in the Topsider and Beach Blanket buffet restaurants, or one of the other dining outlets, on all evenings but the first one of the cruise.
For teens (ages 13-17), there's a teen hangout called the Stack on the Magic and Aloft on the Wonder. Isolated from mom and dad, the teen centers have two separate rooms, one large living-room-like space with video screens for movies and the other a teen disco with a handful of computers with Internet access as well as the popular Guitar Hero music video game. Dance parties, karaoke, trivia games, improv comedy lessons, and workshops on photography are offered for teens on all cruises. There are even more options on 7-night sailings, including learning how to DJ!
Neither ship has private babysitting services. Instead, the Flounder's Reef Nursery for kids ages 3 months to 3 years operates from 6pm to midnight daily, and also for a few hours during the morning and afternoon (hours vary according to the day's port schedule). No other line provides such extensive care for babies. Stocked with toys and decorated with Little Mermaid-themed bubble murals and lighting that gives an "under the sea" look, the area also has one-way portholes that allow parents to check on their kids without the little ones seeing them. The space has cribs, and counselors do change diapers (though you should bring your own). The price is $6 per child per hour, and $5 for each additional child in a family (with a 2-hr. minimum). Parents get a tuned beeper when they first check into the nursery, or the kids' program, so that counselors can contact them anywhere on the ship if their child needs them. To avoid suitcases bulging with diapers, a new service allows you to preorder diapers, wipes, and other baby supplies and have them delivered to your cabin on the first day of the cruise.
When the ship calls on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in The Bahamas, kids can head for the new Pelican Plunge floating platform of fun just offshore, with its two slides and other water features, or to the Spring-a-Leak water park onshore. Scuttle's Cove is also a veritable paradise for the ages 12-and-under set, with barrels to crawl through, a giant whale-dig site to explore, and a new water play area with jets and geysers. Kids' counselors are on hand to supervise the fun if Mom and Dad want to head to Serenity Bay, the adults-only beach. For families who want to play together, there are bike rentals and lots more. There's also a secluded teen hangout spot called Hide Out.
Upon request, at the guest services desk, Disney provides the complimentary use of Diaper Genie units (for soiled diapers), cribs and playpens, bottle sterilizers, and strollers.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.