Inside, the auditorium buzzed with energy as a Broadway-style show started in the tradition of Disney theatrics. One musical number led into another, Snow White crooning about her prince who will one day come, Tarzan swinging a la Cirque de Soleil, followed by a Toy Story tap dance, and more. The air dripped with Disney.
One after another, they continued, the music swelling, children applauding, parents stealing glances at the delight on their kids’ faces.
And when Mickey and Minnie appeared from behind the rich, red curtain, sparkling in golden formal attire, spinning and twirling amid a whirling dervish of golden dancers, I felt a little hand tighten in mine.
I looked over at Catalina, my 5-year-old. Tears were running down her cheeks. Before I could ask what’s the matter, she turned to me with an impossibly wide smile.
“Daddy, these are tears of joy!” she said and wiped her eyes.
The show ended in a crescendo. Golden confetti blasted from above. Everywhere, applause.
Catalina was out of her chair, clapping and spinning, reaching up toward the glinting rain, laughter — uncontrolled laughter — bursting from her little lungs.
Despite my joy at all these family fun activities, the Wonder does offer an opportunity for some alone time.
The Wonder has play areas where children are secure and supervised while parents check out the spa, jazz club, coffee house, adults-only restaurant or night club. The children get a GPS tracking device and a pair of walkie-talkies that work all over the ship so the staff — or the children themselves — can reach parents wherever they are on the ship.
There is a nursery for infants and toddlers. And for children up to age 13, two play areas, where they can play video games, draw, paint, dance with Snow White, have books read to them by Belle, and choose from activities that are varied and ever-changing. My daughters came home with several glittery projects and computer-painted portraits.
On our last night, we squeezed every last bit of joy from the cruise. After dinner and another original show, the girls went off to play in the video-game lab while I sipped a Rusty Nail at the Cadillac jazz lounge. Finally, we met back up to watch ParaNorman on the ship’s 3D stadium-style theater (where they also played Lincoln, Monsters, Inc., and Brave) as Sunday night became Monday morning, and Catalina fell asleep in my arms.
Emboldened by the knowledge that the crew lives on the ship, my oldest daughter wanted to know over our last breakfast if it’s possible to buy real estate aboard the Wonder.
Thanks to the legions who love Disney, it’s a thought worth pondering: Some may never want to leave this ship.