Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kids' Clubs on Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Cruise Line is known for its on-board entertainment for children. Kids of all ages and stages can participate in either of the ship’s kid clubs. Siblings are welcome to stay together or separate if they choose. The staff really looks out for the younger ones and is careful to direct them to age-appropriate activities. One bonus they mentioned is that their children (ages 3 and 8) are no longer separated, which helped to alleviate some anxiety in the younger child. The Disney Cruise Line is also introducing some new children's activities. One of the most popular is Cinderella's Royal Ball. Children get to meet Cinderella as she explains to them how to be a prince or princess.
The new Animal Tracking Series was developed by a veterinarian and conservationist from Disney's Animal Kingdom. While on the ship, children create a tracking device to use in an animal hunt while docked at Castaway Cay.
New wristbands have also been developed as a method of signing the kids in and out of the clubs. They are worn for the duration of the cruise and are equipped with RFID(radio frequency ID) to store the child's info and register them into the kids' clubs. They can even be worn in the pools. You all know the cruise commercials, right? The kids telling the parents they already have their own plans and the parents should go and find something to do without them. I am the mother of a child with separation anxiety issues. To say that I am overprotective is an understatement. This was our first cruise. We had always spent our vacations together doing activities together as a family, so I hadn't really put much thought into the children's programs onboard. Then, friends of ours came back from their Disney cruise, and their kids told my son about all of the fun things they did. After that my son started asking me if he was going to do all of those things. We were only onboard for five minutes when my kids started asking when we could go check out the kids clubs! Once the muster drill was over, we headed up to check it out. I was amazed with all of the space Disney has dedicated to the children's program. The kids clubs occupy a large portion of an entire deck. My youngest son has some issues with separation anxiety as well as being extremely shy. I was shocked that he was willing (and happy!) to join his siblings at the club and enjoyed every minute of it. Disney's Oceaneer Club was originally intended for ages 5-7. We walked into the club and I was very impressed. Disney's attention to detail was obvious everywhere you looked. There are definite security measures in place, but are so well disguised everyone feels very comfortable. Each child is given a name badge and bar coded bracelet that's linked to all of their information, including a private password that you select. Each parent is given a beeper so they can be in touch at all times. There were smiling cast member faces everywhere we looked. They all seemed more than happy to meet the new kids and make them feel comfortable. The cast members come from all over the world and even as the end of the cruise neared, all seemed to still be having fun.
The Oceaneer's Club looked like it came right from Neverland complete with Captain Hook's ship. There is a wonderful dress up station where kids can become Peter Pan or Cinderella (and more!), a bunch of interactive computer stations, and tons of room to play.The first day on board was available for parents and children to roam around and check out the facilities. We decided to look at the separate club geared for children age 8 - 12. It’s called Oceaneer's Lab, and that's a wonderful name for it. There was a computer lab, a science lab, and my son's favorite... the giant Playstation. There were game controllers that looked like they belonged to a giant. Disney thought of everything on this ship. They also created a special club just for teens age 13 to 17 called The Stack. Its set up as a New York-style coffee house complete with music, games and large-screen TV, even an Internet Cafe. They offer organized activities each day, including pizza and pool parties, 2 on 2 basketball, volleyball, and scavenger hunts. They even get to invade the Oceaneer's Lab! My kids couldn't wait for things to start the next day. After breakfast, they were ready to go! I spent most of the day wondering if my beeper was working, since I never received a message telling me to come pick him up. I even made a couple of passes by the club just to peek in. He did lots of fun things such as a treasure hunt complete with Captain Hook, and a photo session with Mickey that included their own photo and handmade frame. He was having so much fun that he did not want to leave for dinner!
The day we spent at Castaway Cay was equally special. We checked out the kids club on the island and it looked like a huge sandbox with all the trimmings. My daughter wanted to spend most of the day swimming and since the kids club was not near the water she chose to stay with us. Ok... so at first I wasn't crazy about the idea of my kids spending our cruise doing stuff away from us, but they did have so much fun and my husband and I found we enjoyed our private time together as well. We will have memories for a lifetime of our magical Disney cruise. If you are considering a Disney cruise, I’d love to help you plan and prepare for the greatest family vacation you will ever take!

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