Wednesday 28 September 2011

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Disney Cruise Line - The Characters

This is, finally, the last post on the Disney Cruise Line, and it's going to focus on the major difference between Disney and every other cruise line at sea, the characters.  I know that other lines have their own little sets of characters like Nickelodeon with their Shrek cruises, but nobody can bring the assortment of well loved icons that Disney can.  This is usually a big selling point to people with five year olds who are in awe of actually getting a chance to meet Mickey, but not so much for our children who might be deemed a little bit jaded.  Their favorite game now is trying to guess whether it's a boy or a girl inside the costume, and they're actually pretty good at it.  No, for our family the character selling point is aimed directly at Lori.  Being with Lori on a Disney cruise is like being with a politician during an election campaign - Every character must be met and spoken to, and a picture must be taken.  I'm not trying to say she was persistent, but I'm pretty sure this sign only went up after the first couple days of Lori chasing characters.

I spoke yesterday about Disney characters leading activities for the kids clubs on board, but it's quite obvious that more than just a little thought has been put in to this concept.  In the parks you can put a bunch of characters out for meet and greets, but you can't pair a certain character with a certain age group.  Take Goofy for example.  When Goofy went to the kids club to make cupcakes with the five year olds, he was a very gentle and kind Goofy.  When Goofy donned his track suit and led the pre-teens on the sports deck, he was a lot more physical and high tempo.  I imagine that the Goofy who went to the teen club was probably even more Rock n' Roll-ish, and the Goofy who showed up for the Tequila tasting.....well he might have been a hallucination, but you get the point.

One of the nice parts about the characters on the cruise is that they dress up differently than they would in the Disney parks.  This is great because we've had our picture taken with just about every Disney character there is at one point or another.  Sure Mickey is still Mickey whether or not he's wearing a captains uniform, but it's nice to have a little variety in the shots.  Pirate night in particular is a lot of fun, as you don't get a chance to see the characters in their pirate costumes very often.  It also opens things up for some really fun interactions between the characters that would be almost impossible elsewhere.

The main lobby is where you'll find most of the characters available for pictures.  Which character will be where is always listed in the daily program that you get each day, but quite often there seems to be a couple of extra characters around.  Since there are a limited number of guests on board, the lines to see a character never seem to get too long, and on occasion there are some just standing around with nobody waiting.  We once saw Chip and Dale with nobody in line, so they did what chipmunks do and started causing trouble.  They would scurry over to where Captain Hook was taking pictures and start trying to sneak in to the background (a kind of Disney photobomb).  When Hook noticed he turned and gave them his best pirate-y "Avast Ye Filthy Desert Rats!" which brought Peter Pan and (for some reason) pirate Stitch to their rescue.  It led to a minute of chaotic role play that you can get away with when you don't have 500 people waiting to get their picture taken with you.

The absolute best moments however, aren't planned.  Unlike in the Disney parks, here the characters don't need handlers to get them to where they're going.  I was once making the long trip up the stairs (gotta work off some of the guilt from all that food) from the kids club to the top deck, and when I turned the corner on the stairway I literally bumped in to Belle.  It took me totally by surprise, and I kind of stood there like the goofy high school kid who just collided with the hottest girl in school (Yeah, yeah, I know, Jasmine, but she's not who I bumped in to.)  She gave me an "Oh! Excuse me young prince!", twirled her dress to the outside and made her way around me.  Now first, I'd like to call your attention to the fact that she called me "young".  Belle is now officially my favorite princess.  More importantly though, is the fact that almost everybody we spoke with over the course of the cruise, had a similar moment.  There are characters everywhere you go on a Disney cruise ship, and eventually you're going to have a "Did anybody else just see that?" moment with one of them.  It's what makes a Disney cruise different, and if everything else was all equal, I'd choose "Wow!" moments with Disney over pretty much anyone else.