SEAcret Stuff on the Disney Cruise Line

by Jim Korkis, contributing writer
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I first set sail on the Disney Magic in 1998 while I was an animation instructor at the Disney Institute. In the beginning, three of us in that department (Graham Toms, Lock Wolverton and myself) were sent out individually to talk about Disney hand drawn animation, limited edition cels, Walt Disney and more backed with a visual presentation on a big screen.

These forty-five minute long presentations were designed to offer passengers something extra and something distinctively Disney that they might not experience on cruises on other ships.

It was my first experience ever being on a cruise of any kind and it was overwhelming but delightful. I boarded as a passenger and was unloaded as cargo thanks to the never-ending food offerings. I have since learned to be more moderate in my consumption without denying myself any enjoyment.

Over two decades, I have sailed ten times on the Disney Magic, the Disney Wonder and the Disney Dream. I most recently cruised on the Disney Dream in January 2020 as an instructor for a group of students from Buena Vista University in Iowa talking about the many storytelling elements on the ship.

I even wrote a book, Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line, about the history, art and storytelling of the ships including some information about the Disney Wish and Lighthouse Point. It is available on Amazon.

No matter how long your cruise you will not find or know everything and there are differences on each ship as well. For instance, the Disney Dream has a statue of the Maltese Falcon in the Meridian Bar because it is "the stuff that dreams are made of," but it is not on any of the other ships.

I am still struggling with the instructions for the Jolly Roger steering wheel but discovered some things through trial and error.

Today, I thought I would share some things you might not discover on your own to help enhance the voyage for you and your companions. As they said on the Titanic, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Pepe's Cabin

The Muppet character Pepe the King Prawn, who has a major role in one of the DCL ship's Midship Detective Agency interactive adventures, 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 prawn-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.


Pepe the King Prawn has his own cabin door, which also contains a clue for one of the Midship Detective Agency quests.

The door includes his photo with a note to call him at "41-5148". It connects to Pepe's Wave Phone (you are not charged) and features the following options:

1 – Joke of the Day
2 – Advice on the Dates
3 – Hear Me Woo You
4 – Pépe's Proverbs
5 – Your Fortune of the Day
6 – Tips for the Ship
7 – My Favorite Things
8 – Para Español
9 – Pépe's Pet Rant
0 – Random Legal Disclaimers

The door also has a list of excursions with color photos of various Muppets participating, and a betting form for Pepe's Crab Races with the crab names and the Muppets who bet on each one: Sandy Claws (Rizzo), Chum Runner (Pepe), Old Bay (Bobo), Sebastian (Pepe), and Peewee Hermit (Lew Zealand).

In addition, there is a list posted of the Muppet Mini Golf Team ("You're tee-riffic!"): Fozzie, Statler & Waldorf, Gonzo, and Beauregard, and Bingo winners: Fozzie, Rowlf, Lew Zealand, Sam Eagle, Rizzo, and Bobo.

According to his ABC television official biography, Pepino Rodrigo Serrano Gonzales was born off the coast of Mallorca, Spain and became a chef before immigrating to the United States to try to find a career in show business in Hollywood.

The four-armed Pepe takes great offense if mistaken for a shrimp. He speaks with a heavy Spanish accent, often ending his sentences with the word "…okay?" Puppeteer Bill Barretta, who created the character in 1996, based the accent on his wife's aunt. One of the reasons for his prominence on the ship is his relationship to the sea.

Pepe frequently hosts DVD extra material and being 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.

Buttons

Several DCL-specific buttons are available at the Guest Services desk for free by request. They are roughly about 2/3rd the size of the buttons available at Walt Disney World Guest Relations desks at the theme parks or basically two and a half inches in circumference. They are different than the free buttons you can get in the parks and sometimes change unexpectedly.

The buttons include "I'm Celebrating" (with colorful Mickey head balloons floating), "Just Graduated" (with a mortar board flung high in the sky with confetti), "Happy Birthday" (with an iced birthday cake and four lit candles; on one cruise with students I got the buttons for all of them and using the black marker available at the desk changed them into "UnBirthday" buttons in reference to the party in Alice in Wonderland), "Happy Anniversary" (with Mickey and Minnie holding hands) and "Happily Ever After" (with two exploding fireworks creating entwined hearts in the night sky).

The most popular button may be "Magical Moments" (with the image of a gold porthole and inside it the picture of a DCL ship with Tinker Bell overhead pixie dusting it). There was a previous "Magical Moments" blue button with Tinker Bell in the center and the phrase "Where dreams come true". At the bottom of each button it says "Disney Cruise Line". There is no "First Voyage" button currently.

If a child loses a tooth, there is an "I Lost a Tooth" button (with the grinning face of the Cheshire Cat who has a missing tooth). Guest Relations will also supply a certificate and sometimes a gift like a pin or a plush if notified of a lost tooth. Tinker Bell takes care of all lost teeth on the ship.


A lost tooth button from the Disney Cruise Line.

Cast members have conflicting stories about why she does it including that the Tooth Fairy can't fly out to sea to retrieve the tooth so since Tink is always on the ship the Tooth Fairy has designated her as the surrogate. Another version is that Tink is so possessive that she won't allow another fairy into her territory at sea.

Over the years, there have been DCL buttons celebrating Castaway Cay Crab Races (with the image of Sebastian), Maiden Voyage (with Mickey as Steamboat Willie in full color), a Disney Dream button with Sorcerer Mickey celebrating the ship's Spring 2011 debut, a Disney Fantasy button with Dumbo flying over the ship wearing a captain's hat and holding a DCL pennant with his trunk celebrating the debut of the ship in 2012, Sailor Goofy (from the cartoon How to Be a Sailor tipping his cap for an "I'm Celebrating" button), Happy 5th birthday (in celebration of the Disney Magic, Castaway Cay and Disney Wonder with Captain Mickey in his red captain uniform saluting), DVC buttons like a gold porthole with an image of the ship and the phrase "Our members are going places" and one with Pluto in a sailor cap and the phrase "I know the 'Sea'cret".

For Disney movie premieres at sea like Meet the Robinsons, Brother Bear, Bolt, and Cars ("The Ultimate Off Road Trip") among others, special buttons were issued.

To make it more frustrating for DCL button collectors, there have been some buttons only issued to cast and crew, some buttons for a special occasion like an anniversary of the ship and buttons are often added, changed or eliminated without notice.

Pressed Pennies

The only pressed penny machine is in the boarding cruise terminal at Port Canaveral between the check-in desks and boarding gate. You you won't be able to access it when you get off the ship, so if you want them, you have to get them before you board.

The pressed coin machine was installed at Disney Cruise Line's terminal at Port Canaveral in the fall of 2013. There are a total of six designs to collect, including one for each ship and one featuring Castaway Cay with Mickey and Minnie in beach chairs on the island and the ship docked in the background. The last design features a full figured Captain Mickey standing next to a DCL cruise ship.


The panel from the Disney Cruise Line pressed penny machine.

Magic features a full figured Sorcerer Mickey. Wonder features full figured Steamboat Willie Mickey. Dream features waist-high Captain Mickey saluting. Fantasy features waist-high Sorcerer Mickey with arms outstretched.

Each pressed penny costs fifty-one cents. The machine includes a built-in change machine to get quarters, but you will need to bring your own pennies and to be safe bring your own quarters.

Newer, uncirculated pennies that have the shield on the back instead of the Lincoln Memorial and minted after 1982 usually produce a brighter, better looking image, although some zinc may show through in the final pressing.

Just like the DCL buttons, designs have changed unexpectedly.

The Ship's Horn

The horn on each ship is able to play the first two lines from the song When You Wish Upon a Star from Pinocchio (1940).

With the launch of the Disney Dream in 2011, the Disney ships added to their repertoire the first line from Yo Ho! Yo Ho! (A Pirate's Life for Me) from the Pirates of the Caribbean theme park attraction, It's a Small World from the Disney park attraction, Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast (1991), Hi Diddle Dee Dee (An Actor's Life for Me) from Pinocchio (1940) and A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella (1950). In October 2015, the song Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Frozen (2013) was added to the horn's musical repertoire.

The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder use the "old" air horns. They each have seven of them. The Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream broadcast a digital reproduction of the sound through loud speakers.

Goofy Golf

Disney Design Group artist Ron Cohee did the artwork for the Goofy mini-golf area on the Sports Deck (Deck 13 aft) of the Disney Dream. In the area is a basketball court, ping pong tables, digital sports simulators and the nine-hole miniature golf course that includes comical "lessons" by Goofy and his son, Max.

For instance, Pluto's dog bone will guide you to the hole, but try to avoid the fire hydrants in Handling a Dog Leg. You grab a club from "Max's Country Clubs" bag and the golf balls are, of course, labeled as "GoofBalls".

The area was inspired by the Goofy short cartoon How to Golf (1944), which was another installment in the popular series of cartoons where a narrator explains the fundamentals of a sport while visually Goofy completely messes up.

Another inspiration was the episode Tee for Two (November 1992) from the animated series Goof Troop where Pete tries to tear down a miniature golf course and Goofy and Max stop him.

Cruise Cartoon

Shipped Out is the sixty-fourth episode and the sixth episode in season 4 of the Disney Channel Mickey Mouse cartoons. It debuted August 25, 2017 and is included in the Mickey Mouse cartoons shown on the stateroom television. Written by Darrick Bachman, Paul Rudish, Dave Wasson and directed by Wasson.

It tells the story of an exhausted Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse taking a cruise vacation to relax. They have booked the all-inclusive V.I.P. experience so red-headed, perky cruise director Erica (voice of Illya Owens) and her subordinates force them into a variety of high energy "fun" activities including bungee jumping, gourmet food sampling, rock climbing, paint ball, participating in a stage show and more.

While the ship has the colors of the DCL ship, the experience is meant to parody the offerings on the Royal Caribbean due to the inclusion of the FlowRider, the bowl slide, the SkyFly and more that exist on that cruise line but not on the DCL. In the end a disastrous fireworks demonstration while parasailing leaves Mickey and Minnie happily secluded on a deserted island where they can relax as the ship sails away.

The cartoon is part of the Mickey Mouse cartoon loop available on the television in the cabin.

What's In A Name on Castaway Cay?

On Castaway Cay there is some authentic signage like a vintage one on the side of a building of the Lone Ranger promoting Merita Bread.

However, there is also signage purposely made to look antique and authentic but are really tributes to Disney personnel just like the windows on Main Street. Upon the leaving the ship, on the left side there is a sign proclaiming: "Captain Bob Iger. Shrimp Distributors. Quality. Reliability. Key West. Willow Bay." Iger, of course, was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company.

On the right hand side is the Pump House with lettering stating: "Bob Chapek. Master Ship Builder." Chapek was Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and became the next CEO after Iger retired.

Outside of Cookie's Too is a sign saying "T. Skees and Co. Purveyor of Finest Seafood". Imagineer Theron Skees has been with WDI for over twenty years, which is pretty impressive these days. He 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 states "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. He has been involved in the conception, creation and implementation of all shipboard entertainment and programming components for the fleet. 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, as well as 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.

The colorful crates by the side of the bathroom include some fun references as well including: Lost Boy Maps, Belle's Books and Peter's Pans.

At one time there was a "Capt. Tom Staggs & Sons. Towing and Salvage. Quality. Reliability. Key West. Canaveral." sign. Tom Staggs was the Chief Operating Officer for the Walt Disney Company but left in 2016.

Outside on 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 celebration. He left the Walt Disney Company in 2006 to take the role of President, Hotel Group with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

The Plane

In the 1960s, businessman Alvin Tucker bought 150 acres on the cay and put in a small 2,400 foot airstrip to accommodate his visits. Unfortunately, that airstrip became an appealing location for smugglers and drug runners who took it over and eventually bought the land from Tucker, who no longer felt safe.

The emblem on the plane at the end of the runaway to the right as you head toward the adult beach Serenity Bay has a logo with Donald Duck wearing aviator goggles and riding on a yellow lightning bolt that is an homage to the insignia designed by the Disney Studios for the 438th Fighter Squadron during World War II. It is similar but with a few variations so it doesn't specifically duplicate the original.


A Castaway Cay pin featuring the Donald Duck logo from the plane parked on the island's runway.

The Post Office

The post office on the island is an actual functioning Bahamian post office with special Bahamian postage sold there and a "Castaway Cay" postmark. Postcards can be purchased at the gift shops on the island or on the ship. The Post Office is located conveniently just a few feet down the path from the ship on the right hand side on the way to the Tram Stop.

According to the back story, the manager is May B. Tamara ("maybe tomorrow"), which may help explain that it may take weeks for a postcard mailed from the site to arrive in the United States. In addition, the hours for the post office vary.

On August 1, 1998, the Bahamas issued two fifty-five cent postage stamps (daytime and nighttime) depicting Castaway Cay and a ship representing the Disney Cruise Line. Today, the cost of a stamp is sixty-five cents and can be purchased at Guest Services on the ship as well as at the post office. Bahamian postage must be used to mail a postcard from this location.

By the way, if you see a souvenir you like on Castaway Cay, buy it immediately. It will not be available on the ship or at the parks.

Bon Voyage and good luck discovering even more hidden treasures!