Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Week on The Disney Magic: Part 2 - What Disney Gets Right

Now that I’ve got the nitpicking out of the way, I’d like to take the time to discuss some practices that really emit the Disney culture that captures us as an audience and earns our love.

Great Imagineering:
From Disney-famous forced perspective as soon as you enter the ship, to subtle but thought-out theming on each deck, you can tell a lot of research and hard work was put into each cruise ship.  Standing at the bottom floor of the foyer looking up, the ceiling seems to stretch up forever with a colorful (plastic) glass-blown sculpture at the top.  When you reach the 5th deck and look down on the foyer, however, you notice it was an illusion and if you happen to look above you the ceiling is actually quite low.  This is all part of the forced perspective effect, and it serves double to give a psychological illusion to the children as well.  The 5th deck is where all the youth activities take place, so placing the ceiling lower makes them feel larger, and therefore more “grown up” and important.  And we all know this is something kids love to feel, especially on a Disney cruise!

The view from Deck 5 of the foyer

Another fun fact we picked up from our wonderful Art of the Theme Show Ship Tour was the fact that each DCL ship is gendered.  The Magic is decidedly masculine, as it adapted an art deco design feel, which was carried throughout the entire ship.  The other ships are either likewise, or feminine with art nouveau style.  It’s incredible the attention to detail from signage and typography to the gender of character statue that stands in the foyer to greet guests.  And I’m a sucker for well-done extensive theming so I was in heaven!  However, I'm also a social-minded person, and thus wondered why such care was taken to give different ships different genders in the first place.  And why must the "male" and "female" ships be stereotypically themed to their binary?  Theming-wise it was intriguing and beautiful but otherwise the concept sparked many different questions and emotions.

Cultural Diversity: 
Over 60 countries were represented by the cast (or crew) members on our cruise.  And they weren’t just in passive roles, but front and center and extremely interactive with guests.  We made a few friends with CMs from Peru, Serbia, Indonesia, the UK, and India.  The great thing is Disney does a great job of active diversity, and you can’t help but want to get to know more about them and where they come from, how much alike you are, or how they got the job as a DCL CM.  Your nightly dinner servers rotate with you around to all the restaurants so by the end of the cruise you know lots about each other.  They are very engaging and have extremely interesting stories. I saw children hugging their servers goodbye after “It’s a Small World” was played along with a parade of country flags the last night, and it’s things like this that make me believe in Disney. 

It's important to note, however, that even with so many great people around it can be tempting to subconsciously place them in a different category than yourself.  Sociologists refer to this as "othering," and people are known for mistaking this separation for cultural appreciation or diversity.  It's especially tricky when the people from different countries are the ones serving your dinner or turning down your bed for the night.  It's possible to get the idea that they are still beneath you while you relish being around so many who come from a different place of origin.  It can easily become a tourist point rather than a learning opportunity to meet a fellow human being.  Many guests are very respectful and treat the CMs with kindness, but it is an important thing to mention and keep in mind.

There is much more I could cover in a DCL review but I tried to stick to the psychological and sociological aspects.  I was excited to view this experience in a cultural light so I could share it with the Disney community, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!


  1. I've been on two cruises in my life (non-Disney), and while I had fun, I also felt almost like a prisoner on the ship. When we went to Alaska, we had mere hours in each port. They want you back on that ship, gambling and eating and spending! Hopefully Disney cruises at least make the ship experience a lot more fun.

    1. What I like about the Disney cruise is that you can make it as Disney as you want. There are activities for adults, families, and kids of every age group all day everyday. You can even hang out in different lounges or by the pool all day if you're not a huge Disney nut. It's exactly how you want to make it. And the port visits were the majority of the day, which was nice as well. I'd recommend it.