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7 Experiences You MUST Have On Your Disney Cruise with Kids

7 Experiences You MUST Have On Your Disney Cruise with Kids

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Gearing up for your first Disney cruise? Get the scoop on the amazing experience you need to have on your Disney cruise with kids!
This Disney Cruise with kids post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

A Disney Cruise Line vacation is totally Disney. However, it’s also totally unique. As with other Disney vacations, the Disney Cruise Line is all about family fun.

Yet there are so many exciting activities and clubs that are meant to be enjoyed by kids and adults separately. There are even port adventures exclusively for kids, teens, or adults.

That aspect of individual entertainment is unusual for a Disney vacation when the goal is usually to bring everybody together.

On the other hand, Disney Cruise Lines have plenty of awesome experiences that are meant to be enjoyed together as a family.

These are some must-do experiences for the family when taking a Disney cruise with kids, keep reading for all our recommendations!

7 Experiences to Have on a Disney Cruise with Kids

Pirate Night

First off, we have to talk about Pirate Night. Don’t miss out on Pirate Night, because it is so much fun. Make sure you are prepared and pack your costumes for the event.

The evening comes in three stages and it starts with an elaborate pirate-themed dinner. The experience includes a special pirate map menu that you will want to keep as a souvenir and a party bandana to wear even if you don’t have full-on pirate attire.

7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Pirate Night
Pirate Night character photo with Mickey Mouse. Photo credit: Disney Cruise Lines

After dinner, there is a wild Pirates in the Caribbean deck party. The party is full of characters, dancing, and theatrics. After which there is a stunning fireworks display.

Cruisers really get into Pirate Night. Don’t hesitate to pack pirate attire for the occasion if you are taking a Disney Cruise with kids.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique on board the ship also offers a Pirates League makeover complete with makeup/face painting.

There are character photo ops on the themed nights as well as pre-party activities for families and kids clubs. Pirates Night is an event held on all four cruise ships.

Live Entertainment and Character Dining

The Disney Magic offers a unique Rapunzel experience. A stage show adapted from Tangled includes vibrant sets and puppetry. There are even three new and original songs from Alan Menkin and partner Glen Slater.

In addition to this exclusive Tangled musical, there is Rapunzel’s Royal Table. That is a character dining experience that also includes live entertainment and participation.

The Tangled-themed entertainment and dining is only one example on one ship, but similar experiences are offered on the Dream, Fantasy and Wonder as well.

7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Exclusively aboard the Disney Wonder in the Walt Disney Theatre, “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” tells the classic story from the animated feature “Frozen” and is presented like never before with an innovative combination of traditional theatrical techniques, modern technology and classic Disney whimsy. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular” tells the classic story from the animated feature Frozen and is presented like never before with an innovative combination of traditional theatrical techniques, modern technology and classic Disney whimsy. Photo credit: Matt Stroshane

The Disney Dream has Beauty and the Beast in a reimagined stage show adaptation. The Wonder and the Fantasy each have a live musical adaptation of Frozen. The Magic and the Wonder also have a Frozen deck party.

Have a Movie Night…

or day. Every Cruise Ship has a Buena Vista movie theater midship on decks 4-5. You can view first-run movies on the cruise ship at virtually any time of day.

7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: At the 399-seat Buena Vista Theatre aboard the Disney Dream, guests can see a movie any time of day – morning, afternoon or evening! With comfortable, posh, Art Deco surroundings, families can sit back and enjoy first-run motion pictures, including films in Disney Digital 3-D. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
At the 399-seat Buena Vista Theatre aboard the Disney Dream, guests can see a movie any time of day – morning, afternoon or evening! Photo credit: Matt Stroshane, photographer

No matter what your schedule is, there is always time to take in a movie at the luxurious Buena Vista theater.

The comfy seats and Art Deco surroundings are part of the appeal of having a theatrical movie experience on the Disney Cruise Line. The movie is included in the cruise, but the concessions are an additional charge.

For a schedule of show times and films consult your Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.

6 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie and the Mouse4. Midship Detective Agency

Besides entertainment, lounges, and clubs, there are plenty of things to do in sports and recreation. One of Disney’s best features is that they will often incorporate interactive recreational activities into the experiences in parks.

The same is true on the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy. The two newest and largest ships incorporate a game suitable for all ages that is ideal for families.

7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Midship Detective Agency
My kids had a blast searching for clues. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Midship Detective Agency is an interactive, self-guided whodunit that you can repeat again and again. At a kiosk on deck two or five, you’ll receive your instructions. A badge with a unique barcode and a casebook will help you rule out suspects as you track down clues all over the ship.

These interactive quests are fun for kids and a really neat way to get to know the ship you are sailing on.

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    Themed Days at Sea

    There are a lot of characters and live entertainment on Disney Cruise Lines.

    There is even more character fun during your Disney cruise with kids with Marvel Day at See and Star Wars Day at Sea.

    The celebrations include character meet and greets and pop up restaurants that feature themed menus exclusively for the events.

    7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Star Wars Day at Sea, Jawa and Rey costumes
    My husband actually made our Star Wars Day at Sea costumes. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

    Jedi training is available on Star Wars Day at Sea as well as a live Star Wars spectacular, costumed fun and epic character encounters.

    For Marvel Day, there is a movie marathon as well as character meet and greets and an awesome Marvel stunt show. Doctor Strange will train kids in the mystic arts.

    The Animator’s Palate

    If there’s one restaurant that the whole family should enjoy together on the Disney Cruise Line, it’s the Animator’s Palate.

    This unique animation-themed restaurant is on every Cruise Ship, but it is constantly reinvented with each new ship. So, the experience will be different depending on what cruise you take.

    What doesn’t change is the fun and creative tone of the restaurant and the celebration of great animated Disney classics.

    7 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Animator’s Palate is a signature Disney Cruise Line restaurant that brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room for a one-of-a-kind experience that captivates the entire family. On the Disney Dream, the restaurant is inspired by classic animator’s studios and is filled with character sketches, paint brushes, film strips and other tools of the animation trade. “Paint brush” pillars and “pencil” columns span from floor to ceiling. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
    Animator’s Palate is a signature Disney Cruise Line restaurant that brings the magic of Disney animation into the dining room for a one-of-a-kind experience that captivates the entire family. Photo credit: Matt Stroshane

    Depending on whether you are on the Magic/Wonder, or the Dream/Fantasy there are totally different dinner shows.

    Drawn to Magic on the Magic and Wonder is a story of the evolution of animation, during which the black and white interior of the restaurant spring to life with vibrant bursts of color.

    On the Fantasy and the Dream, Crush from Finding Nemo interacts with you in Undersea Magic. And you can draw your own creation and watch it come to life on the big screen.

    Any version of this restaurant and the incorporated dinner shows is amazingly fun for families to experience together.

    Character Meet and Greets

    Character meet and greets on a Disney Cruise are magical experiences that create lasting memories for families.

    Unlike at the theme parks where lines can be quite long, character interactions on the cruise ships often feel more personal and relaxed.

    Image of a family meeting Olaf from Frozen on Disney Cruise Line
    We loved getting to meet Olaf!

    From Mickey Mouse to Elsa, a variety of favorite Disney characters roam the ships, often dressed in exclusive nautical or holiday-themed outfits unique to the cruise line.

    Whether you’re at a scheduled meet and greet, a themed party, or simply bump into a character around the ship, there’s always an opportunity for a quick chat, an autograph, or a photo.

    Disney’s commitment to character integrity means the experience is wonderfully immersive for children.

    Some cruises even feature Marvel and Star Wars Days at Sea, offering special opportunities to meet characters from these universes.

    So remember to bring your camera and autograph book to capture these magical moments!

    Disney Cruise Vacation FAQs

    What is the best age for a child to go on a Disney Cruise?

    Disney Cruises cater to all ages, from infants to teenagers. That said, children aged 3-12 often get the most out of the experience due to the numerous activities aimed at this age group, such as the Oceaneer Club and Lab.

    Are kids 3 and under free on Disney Cruise?

    No, Disney Cruise Line doesn’t offer free cruising for kids 3 and under. However, their fares are typically less expensive than those for adults.

    Which Disney Cruise ship is best for my family?

    All Disney Cruise Line ships offer family-friendly amenities and activities. Choosing the best one depends on your family’s interests. The larger ships (Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy) have more amenities, while the smaller ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) offer a more intimate setting.

    Does Disney have its own private island in the Caribbean?

    Yes, Disney does have its own private island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. Many of their Caribbean cruises include a stop at this island, offering activities like snorkeling, biking, and character meet and greets. They also have a second private island called Lighthouse Point that is set to open in the summer of 2024.

    Does Disney Cruise Line offer shore excursions?

    Yes, Disney Cruise Line offers a variety of shore excursions, known as Port Adventures. These range from cultural tours to outdoor adventures, and are specially selected by Disney for their quality and service.

    Does Disney Cruise Line have kids clubs?

    Absolutely. Disney Cruise Line offers kids clubs for different age groups. These include the It’s a Small World Nursery (for infants and toddlers), the Oceaneer Club and Lab (ages 3-12), Edge (ages 11-14), and Vibe (ages 14-17). Each offers age-appropriate activities in a safe, supervised environment.

    What happens on embarkation day?

    On embarkation day, you’ll check in, go through security, and board the ship. Once onboard, you can explore the ship, eat lunch, and attend the mandatory safety drill. The day usually concludes with the Sail-Away Celebration, a deck party as the ship leaves port.

    6 Experiences You MUST Have On your Disney Cruise with Kids featured by top US Disney blogger, Marcie and the Mouse

    Best Disney Cruise Ship Experiences Wrap Up

    A family vacation on a Disney Cruise Line provides an unparalleled mix of magic, fun, and relaxation.

    With opportunities to interact with your favorite Disney characters in a more intimate setting, each Disney cruise ship offers unique entertainment and activities for all ages.

    The kids clubs cater to different age groups, ensuring everyone from toddlers to teens is engaged and entertained.

    Visits to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, immerse families in a tropical paradise complete with exciting beach activities and even more character meet and greets.

    Every aspect of a Disney Cruise Line vacation is designed with families in mind, from the themed entertainment and dining to the comfortable and creatively designed staterooms.

    Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or considering your first family voyage, a Disney Cruise Line adventure offers unforgettable experiences sure to create lifelong memories.

    Looking for more Disney Cruise tips? Check out my top Disney Cruise hacks for your day at sea, where to eat on the Disney Fantasy, my ultimate Disney Cruise tips, and how to save money on your next Disney Cruise.

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