Hidden SEAcrets of the DCL Disney Dreamby Jim Korkis, contributing writer
Are you smarter than a Disney historian? I certainly hope so, since I have some questions about DCL's Disney Dream and you might be the only one who has the answers.
When Walt Disney started Guest Relations at Disneyland, he told them that he only required two things of them: know the answers to the guests' questions or know where to find them.
My frustration was that whenever I cruise on the Disney Dream like I did in January, I have several questions that went unanswered or were answered incorrectly. I asked several people at the Guest Services desks, multiple tour guides of the "Art of the Theme Ship Tour" (which is a tour I highly recommend as each tour guide in addition to following a set script has the leeway to add in some different facts), and several crew members who were interacting with guests.
Imagineers claim that not labeling things promotes the guests to discover on their own and be immersed in the experience and not get distracted by the details. My feeling is that not knowing these things can promote confusion and frustration. I also feel that knowing about these things helps enhance the experience and certainly helps offset the fact that even the least expensive Disney cruise is easily twice as much as a similar voyage on another cruise line because of these details.
So here are some things I would like to know and maybe YOU are the one you can help.
The Plaques on Deck Five Midship
There are five faux raised brass plaques on the aft wall of Deck Five Midship on the Disney Dream before going down the hallway to the Oceaneer Club. They depict several Disney ships and there are no labels or other identification and neither the tour guides or Guest Services could help.
I was only able to identify with any assurance Captain Hook's Jolly Roger from Peter Pan and Mickey Mouse's steamboat from Steamboat Willie (1928), but the others were teasingly familiar. I suspect one might be Captain Jack Sparrow's Black Pearl or The Flying Dutchman. Is one of the ships from Treasure Island or Swiss Family Robinson? Do YOU know?
The Muppet character Pepe the King Prawn, who has a major role in one of the DCL ship's Midship Detective Agency games, has his very own stateroom on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream. Located at the end of the hall on Deck 5 AFT from the Oceaneer Club and Lab, the half-sized door to stateroom 5148 ½ is decorated with his activity schedule, photos of his Muppet friends and notes from guests. The door remains locked and closed since Pepe is out participating in the detective activity.
Puppeteer Bill Barretta, who created the character in 1996, based the Spanish accent on his wife's aunt. Pepe frequently hosted DVD extra material and was the spokesprawn for the fast food restaurant chain Long John Silver's commercials besides appearing in film and video projects. He is known as an inveterate schemer and ladies' man.
Why is he the character representing the Muppets on the DCL? Is it because he is a prawn so there is the ocean connection?
The Jolly Roger Steering Wheel
I have several friends who had done multiple voyages on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, but were completely unaware of the existence of the working steering wheel for Captain Hook's Jolly Roger that is located on Deck 5 Midship right outside the doors to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Turning the wheel brings to life an Enchanted Art scene in front of it and, by moving the wheel, you can guide the ship through the Neverland Lagoon. To the left is a throttle lever and by moving it forward you can increase the speed and by moving it back slow it down.
There are at least three several different scenarios where you can maneuver the ship toward an open treasure chest in the upper middle part of the lagoon and by touching it, have it spring aboard the ship. Another scenario had a giant open clam in the lower right of the lagoon with a pearl.
In a third scenario, people appeared by a pier on the left and I assume the ship was supposed to go and rescue them, but I ran into difficulty because the snapping crocodile (retroactively named officially Tick-Tock by Disney) from the animated feature popped up out of the water to block my progress. If you attempt to go around the menacing reptile, he merely pops back up in your new path. I can see why Captain Hook got frustrated by the persistent creature.
I found that I had to bump into Tinker Bell (who doesn't appear on any regular schedule) who would then pixie dust the entire ship and it would glow and briefly fly and if you were clever enough you could fly over the crocodile to get to the treasure. I know because I did it more than once but was unable to do it with any consistency.
Despite spending quite some time at the wheel, there were other things that I still have not figured out. Tiki torches on the shore started to flicker. Was I supposed to go toward them to trigger some new effect?
At one point, the eyes of Skull Rock started to glow red and there was also a red star in the sky. What does that all mean? Were they beckoning me to do something or were they sparked to life by something I had unintentionally done? Another guest taking their child into the Boutique told me they had seen a rainbow appear when they played with it, but I never did.
So, what's the deal? I am not a coordinated game player and in fact got the ship stuck on the shore more often than I would like to mention in this column, but I would at least like to know what I am supposed to do so I can work at getting better. Do you know the answer or is this all new to you as well?
What's In a Name on Castaway Cay?
On Castaway Cay, there are some signs that are purposely made to look antique and authentic, but are tributes to Disney personnel just like the windows on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.
As you get off the ship, on the left side you can see a sign proclaiming: "Captain Bob Iger. Shrimp Distributors. Quality. Reliability. Key West. Willow Bay." Iger, of course, is the chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company. On the right hand side is the Pump House with lettering stating: "Bob Chapek. Master Ship Builder." Chapek is chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and some people suspect he may become the next CEO after Iger.
I was quite proud of myself when on the outside of Cookie's Too I saw a sign saying "T. Skees and Co. Purveyor of Finest Seafood" because I was well aware of Imagineer Theron Skees' work and am a big fan. He has been with WDI for over 20 years, which is pretty impressive these days and oversaw work on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris, helped oversee the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland and oversaw the transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. In 2016, he was appointed the new portfolio creative lead for the Disney Cruise Line.
Another sign had "Seaside Fresh. James Urry. The Webster Cannery Co. Family Owned and Operated for 40 Years." With more than 35 years of cruise entertainment experience, Urry joined Disney Cruise Line in September 1999 to launch the Disney Wonder as cruise director. In his current role as Vice President of entertainment and port adventures for Disney Cruise Line, Urry is responsible for the total onboard entertainment and age-specific activities for adults, families and children, and also shore excursions.
Another sign says "Atlantic Trawling Co. Pat Gerrity. Shrimp Distributors Est. 1902". Patrick Gerrity is director of Safety Environmental Division, Disney Cruise Vacations Inc.
But there were others at Cookie's Too where I had no clue like: "Flash Norton. Flights Daily. Gorda Cay," "Itchy Cornnell. Abacos TV Repair," "Delaware Bay. O. Balli Fishworks," "Rime & Sons. Makers of Fileting Knives & Flailing Tools." Do you know who these people are?
It is not just at Cookie's Too where there are signs. At Cookies there is one for "G. Schmid. Buena Vista. Specialty Filleters. Fillet, Iced, Packed and Shipped to Order." I have no clue who he is. Do you?
I seem to remember that there was a "Capt. Tom Staggs & Sons. Towing and Salvage. Quality. Reliability. Key West. Canaveral" sign but I didn't see it this trip, nor remember where it was. Tom Staggs was the COO for the Walt Disney Company, but left in 2016 so maybe the sign was removed, as well.
However, outside around the corner of the She Sells shop is still a sign for "Chandlery and General Store. Fisherman's Friend M. Ouimet Proprietor" that is a reference to Matt Ouimet, who was DCL president in 1999 and served as president of Disneyland during its 50th anniversary 2005 celebration, but left the Walt Disney Company in 2006 to take the role of president, Hotel Group with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Was this just overlooked because it is partly hidden? I probably should have taken a photo.
Are there other signs referencing Disney cast members that I missed?
Primarily near elevators and staircases are pieces of "Enchanted Art" that seem to resemble artwork for animation cels, theatrical cartoon posters or vintage photos among other things. The Enchanted Art pieces are LCD screens equipped with facial recognition sensors. If you look closely on the surrounding frame you might find the little white circle. Disney claims there are 22 pieces of Enchanted Art on the Disney Dream.
I was disappointed in my recent sailing to see that the Vista Gallery had been replaced by Tiffany & Company store because it removed one of my favorite Enchanted Art pieces that was not relocated anywhere else on ship that I could find.
It was the "Minnie Lisa" (a parody of the famous Mona Lisa painting featuring Minnie Mouse by artist Maggie Parr). Minnie blinks and birds start chirping in the sky and Tinker Bell whizzes across the painting among other things if you were patient. A copy may still be on the Disney Fantasy.
Something that most people who discover a piece of Enchanted Art never realize is that each piece has three different variations and they walk away after just seeing one of the versions.
For instance on Deck 2 on the Port (left) side near the entrance to the Enchanted Garden restaurant, there is what looks like a painted cel from the classic Disney animated feature, Bambi (1942).
Thumper the Rabbit is on a tree log looking at the young Bambi. One version has a butterfly land on Bambi's nose making Thumper laugh so hard he rocks backward. Another version has the butterfly fly off of Bambi's nose and tickle Thumper's tummy and then land on Bambi's tail. The third version has Flower the skunk pop up from the underbrush while Bambi blows off the butterfly from his tail and it ends up on Flower's nose. (A laughing Flower falls back into the underbrush at the start of the next scene.)
No one, including the Walt Disney Company, has posted a list of all the Enchanted Art on board or its location. So, while according to Disney part of the fun is discovering some of these pieces on your own, I am sharing several that I found on the Disney Dream. I am not going to give away all the variations but thought this might be helpful for you to locate and enjoy them.
Obviously, I am missing some. Do you know of others?
Deck 2 - midship, to the right of the entrance of the hallway to the Enchanted Garden restaurant, is what looks like a cel setup of young Bambi, Thumper and Flower playing with a butterfly.
Deck 3 - near Guest Services, are two posters for the Silly Symphonies Flowers and Trees (1932) and Birds in the Spring (1933). With a little patience, you can see a flock of black birds fly from one poster to another and then back again.
Deck 3 - by the midship elevators on the port side toward the bar is a cel of Ben Ali Gator and Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia (1940) doing three different dance routines.
Deck 4 - forward is where two of my favorite framed photos are outside the balcony entrances to the Walt Disney Theater:
- One photo on the port side shows Walt sketching on a large piece of paper on a drawing easel and then the sketches come to life with brief animation from the first three Mickey Mouse cartoons: Plane Crazy, Gallopin' Gaucho, and Steamboat Willie.
- Just a few feet away on the starboard side is another photo of Walt standing by a camera and the screen springs to life with short clips from three of his earliest black and white silent cartoons: Alice in the Jungle (1925), Alice's Mysterious Mystery (1926 and featuring a bit of animation of Julius the cat that mimics the distinctive walk of another silent cartoon star, Felix the Cat) and Alice Gets in Dutch (1924). Even the reel on the camera near Walt twirls as the clips are shown.
Deck 4 - in the Skyline nightclub. A poster on the wall opposite the bar features an international image. For instance, the Italian poster has three Vespa scooters that will roar to life as the green, red and white colors of the Italian flag highlight them.
Deck 5 - aft by the elevators and stairs are two adjacent pictures of a pirate ship and an old fort. The two interact with the ship firing at the fort just like in the famous Disneyland theme park attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, the sounds that are heard are taken directly from the soundtrack for that attraction including the shouts of people.
Deck 5 - Oceaneer Club and Lab features a portrait of first mate Mr. Gibbs, a major character in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise portrayed by actor Kevin McNally. The portrait is located to the back on the Oceaneer Lab on the aft wall. The only movement is his lips but he says multiple phrases including "Time to hoist the Jolly Roger", "A pirate's life for me…and you and you and you….", "I'm setting a course for the poolside buffet. It's the cupcakes I'm after", "Remember the pirate code, no swimming without your floaties", "We never had no water slide" and "Welcome aboard, me buckos" as well as many others. It's one piece of art that adults can only view on the first day Open House.
Deck 5 - midship port. A map of the Caribbean by the cruise excursion desk. Over a dozen vintage things spring to life including a red crab scuttles across the Tropic of Cancer line, a green sea monster appears and jumps over the Dominican Republic, a pirate ship is in a sea battle with another ship and a cannon ball sinks that ship and colorful parrot flies through the picture.
Deck 5 - midship starboard. Turning Captain Hook steering wheel allows the guest to maneuver the Jolly Roger around the Neverland Lagoon on the quest for treasure.
Deck 6 - forward by elevators. Three scenes inspired by the cartoon Boat Builders (1938) with Mickey, Donald and Goofy looking at plans and building a boat. They build three boats: S.S. Goofy, S.S. Minnie and S.S. Daisy all with disastrous results.
Deck 7 - aft by the elevators and stairs is what looks like a cel from the Mickey Mouse cartoon Hawaiian Holiday (1937). Donald dances in a grass skirt that catches fire. Minnie dances in a hula skirt while Mickey plays the guitar. Goofy surfs atop some waves.
Deck 8 - forward elevators, portside (These poster images change each day)
- Poster promoting DCL Alaska cruise with Mickey in a lumberjack outfit laying on the wing of a totem pole figure, the totem pole faces move, the DCL ship leaves and returns, birds fly by and ice floes move, fish jump.
- Poster with Minnie in a beach chair on Castaway Cay. Butterflies move.
- Poster promoting Mexico cruise with Senorita Minnie where the moon rises and sets, white doves fly and more.
Deck 8 - forward elevators, starboard (These poster images change each day)
- Poster promoting the tropical lagoons of the Mexican Rivera. Goofy is scuba diving and he tickles the chin of a purple fish, ship horn sounds and shakes up Goofy so that his mask fills with water and spouts out his breathing tube
- Poster promoting Castaway Cay with Donald Duck parasailing while Huey, Dewey and Louie row in a kayak.
- Poster of Nassau with Goofy in an inner tube where he snores and zips around in the tube, Pluto pops up, jumping fish
Deck 9 - aft elevators, portside. Alice in Wonderland floats down the rabbit hole. She gets a cup of tea, then the Mad Hatter refills her cup and finally passes by a mirror where she is upside down and she sees the smiling Cheshire Cat in the mirror.
Deck 10 - forward elevators, portside. Ursula the sea witch conjures up two lost souls she has claimed; Ariel plays with red underwater flowers and seahorses come out; an octopus is surrounded by dancing lobsters and seahorses.
Deck 11 - Cove Café on wall to the left of the bar. Walt standing on the beach in Rio in South America with Sugarloaf mountain in the background. That's animator Frank Thomas standing on the left side of the photo. Panchito and Jose ride a flying serape between Walt and two other men and in one scene look at the viewer with telescopes.
Deck 13 - aft inside by door leading to the mini-golf course. Goofy is at a tee and lifting his club to swing he twists his entire body several times and when it untwists he flies off like a helicopter; he swings his club and loses his grip so it whirls in the air like a boomerang and smashes him on the back of his head; he swings at golf ball and it goes down his vest tickling him and then through his pants and into the hole.
There are some different Enchanted Art pieces on the Disney Fantasy. Are you smarter than a Disney historian? Do you know some of the answers to these questions and are willing to share? If not, then at least you have some new things to discover.