My name is Jason Leppert, and I’ve been an avid reader of MiceChat for years. As a professional cruise travel journalist and unabashed Disney fanboy, I’m thrilled to now be contributing to my favorite go-to Disney site as a Disney Cruise Line columnist.

In fact, I serendipitously met fellow MiceChatter, Kevin Yee, for the first time onboard the newly redesigned Disney Magic. He had some great things to say about the experience HERE.


This was a big year for Disney’s original cruise ship, the Disney Magic, which was completely renovated to like-new condition. So what did I think of the NEW Disney Magic you may ask? Well, let me tell you…

Even before the Disney Magic was reimagined, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Joe Lanzisero, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering and lead ‘helmsman’ of all Disney Cruise Line projects, at the D23 Expo 2013. You can check out the video interview below.

Now that I have sailed onboard, I am happy to confirm that the modifications turned out great. Having sailed on 66 total cruises, I’ve examined the result of many ship refurbishments, and hands down, the Disney Magic represents the cleanest, most expertly performed maritime remodel I’ve ever seen. Let’s take a look at how it turned out…

The Atrium

Disney describes the atrium as the onboard equivalent of an establishing shot in one of its films, and in typical Disney fashion, the now asymmetrical design conveys an inviting atmosphere that is more open and airy than ever before. It perfectly sets the scene for the sailing to come.


You’d never know an entire stairwell has been removed here. The character frieze that wraps around the mezzanine level seamlessly continues where the stairs once intercepted the detailed golden band. Mickey, in statue form, has also been offset from center just a bit, making the overall layout more akin to that found on the newest Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. The handsome chandelier above and colorful carpet below have also been updated to be more consistent with the design of the newest fleet-mates.


The staterooms maintain their existing layout, but the nautical decor has been refreshed, and as a huge help to family storage, the beds have been raised to better accommodate luggage and all the souvenirs acquired over the course of a cruise.


Personally, on the inside staterooms, I would like to have seen the addition of Magical Portholes – the popular displays introduced on the Dream and Fantasy that show a real-time view outside the ship, overlaid with animated character cameos – but alas they were not included as part of the redesign. Joe Lanzisero informed me that adding them would have come at the expense of losing space in the cabins.

Family Dining

Rotational dining from one of three uniquely-themed restaurants to the next each night remains a signature feature on the Disney Magic. The elegant, art deco Lumiere’s continues to shine just as before. Parrot Cay, on the other hand, has made way for Carioca’s, now Brazilian in design and cuisine, as well as named after Donald’s parrot compadre from The Three Caballeros. Colors are more subdued but still bright with whitewashed paneling, and the flavors of South America like empanadas, ceviche and Brazilian sausage are tasty new additions.


The most impressive restaurant remodel comes in the form of an updated Animator’s Palate. Upon entering, the dining room looks mostly as it did before, but the static black and white character portraits have been replaced by digital screens. They progressively animate film scenes – from sketch to finished product – across the duration of the evening rather than just coloring the room. The overall effect is certainly more dramatic and engaging.


Later, the entertaining grand finale features dynamic new audio and visuals set to the classic Fantasmic! soundtrack and builds to a personal visit from Sorcerer Mickey himself. On 7-night or longer voyages, the bonus Animation Magic show invites diners to draw their own character that during dessert comes to life on screen alongside various Disney characters.


Upstairs, the Cabanas buffet has been reconfigured with a welcome addition of more seating space; 3,400-square-feet to be exact, with 455 total chairs. Food stations are far easier to access, and the new Australian Finding Nemo theme makes for a fun environment.

Kids Facilities

The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab have been completely redone to showcase the latest kid-favorite franchises, namely those from Marvel and Pixar. It’s easy for adults, myself included, to be jealous that the Marvel’s Avengers Academy and its display of Iron Man’s suit and Captain America’s shield, plus the chance to join S.H.I.E.L.D are for kids only.

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The new Andy’s Room area gets a major upgrade from the one onboard the Dream and Fantasy. On the Disney Magic, it’s two decks tall and includes a Slinky Dog slide stretching down from an oversized bed. Giant Mr. Potato Head and Hamm are also along for the ride.


Other fun additions include Pixie Hollow and the Mickey Mouse Club, and the digitally interactive Oceaneer Lab is now decked out pirate style. For the littlest ones, the nursery sports a new It’s a Small World theme, appropriate given the attraction’s recently celebrated 50th anniversary, and for family fun, the former Studio Sea has been redesigned into D Lounge.



For adults-only, Beat Street has been razed and transformed into After Hours where the decor is now less eclectic and more refined. All the spaces, save for the existing urban-cowboy bathrooms, which curiously remain, have been converted.


O’Gills, in all its Kelly green glory, has come over from the Fantasy with a more spacious rendition to serve up its great house Irish cream liqueur, and if you can look past the rhinestone-riveted chairs, Keys is a classy new piano bar with creative Mickey-head black-and-white wall paneling. The Fathoms nightclub and variety act stage sport a cool jellyfish-like fiber optic ceiling, backlit stone panels at the bar, and high-back alcove seating.

Rounding out the updated adult facilities onboard are the refreshed Palo Italian restaurant with new decor and the spruced up and expanded Senses Spa & Salon that now includes a Smile Spa for teeth whitening and a barbershop for gentlemen, plus a Chill Spa just for teens.

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Fun On Deck

It’s clear that Disney had hoped to add an attraction comparable to the AquaDuck – the sprawling water coaster found on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy – on the Magic as well, but with space being at a premium on the smaller ship, the result is the abbreviated AquaDunk. Narratively, Donald’s mischievous nephews are at it again experimenting with a free-fall version of their water slide creation this time around.


In reality, the new slide is very similar to those being installed on other cruise lines’ ships, but the AquaDunk is far better architecturally and chromatically integrated with the rest of the ship. In my opinion, the ride pails in comparison to the longer and more complex AquaDuck. It only takes seven seconds to swiftly follow the path of the tube after all, but it is indeed more thrilling and still quite a blast. In fact, I overheard several children onboard say that they preferred it to the AquaDuck.


Improvements were also made to the family aquatic area with its conversion into the AquaLab like on the Fantasy and the replacement of the existing water slide for the longer Twist ’n’ Spout one. Also, just off to the side is the Nephews’ Splash Zone. This entire outdoor space came out splendidly (or is that swimmingly?). The layout is, again, perfectly integrated, and there is plenty of opportunities to get delightfully soaked.

The Disney Magic redesign is quite the achievement for the Disney Cruise Line and brings with it a wealth of new shipboard experiences for guests to enjoy. We Disney fans have much to be thankful for with the Disney Magic and to look forward to if the Disney Wonder is next to receive such an extensive reimagining.


And now you too can sail onboard the Disney Magic, along with the MiceChat crew, from June 7-14, 2014 in the Mediterranean (contact [email protected] for details). I will not be onboard for this particular adventure but maybe next time. TTFN and Bon Voyage!

About the Author:


Jason Leppert is a dedicated Disney fanboy and cruise travel journalist with over 65 sailings under his belt and a fresh, youthful perspective on the cruise industry. He has been cruising – and more importantly, visiting Disneyland – since before he was even two years old thanks to his parents’ shared passion for traveling and their desire to experience all journeys together as a family.

Jason is the founding editor of and regularly produces videos for the Popular Cruising Video Podcast and YouTube channel He also contributes to the Travel Channel, Porthole Magazine,, and the U-T San Diego newspaper, as well as makes appearances on the Cruise Radio, Cruize Cast, and Weekend Travel Show audio podcasts.

You can follow him at the following social media networks: Twitter Facebook Pinterest

  • WONDERFUL review of the Disney Magic. We’ll be on the ship in one month and simply can’t wait. It looks beautiful.

    The Magic is the only one of the Disney ships I haven’t been on yet. Though it’s smaller than the two newest ships, I hear a lot of folks say that the Magic is their favorite. Do you favor one of the Disney ships over the others Jason?

    Welcome to MiceChat, looking forward to your next installment!

    • Thanks so much! It’s great to be part of the team and to see my first piece published on the site!

      You will love the Disney Magic as I love them all. Personally, the Disney Fantasy will always hold a special place in my heart as my “baby” since I saw her under construction in Germany and christened in New York before sailing onboard.

  • jcruise86

    That was excellent! Thank you, Jason!
    And thanks, Micechat, for connecting articles/writers/photographers with us, your readers.

    I’d like to reiterate my previously ignored generous offer to review Disney Cruise Line Mediterranean & Norway trips for MIcechat, provided that Micechat covers the cruise, airfare, and off-shore excursions for my family. And I think readers would like to know the long term effects of staying in the Walt or Roy (not picky–either one) suites.

    Your always sincere servant,

    • My pleasure! I’m still waiting to try out those suites myself! Maybe one day…

  • phruby

    Great review. The ship looks like a lot of fun but I’m still not convinced that it is worth the cost. So, if the kids join S.H.I.E.L.D, are they really joining HYDRA?

    • grizzlybear55

      Thanks, phruby. I was wondering that, too!

    • Haha! That’s a good point about S.H.I.E.L.D. I suspect the one onboard is one of Fury’s secret bases.

      As with everything, you get what you pay for, and even though Disney is pricey, I believe the premium is worth it. It’s the best Disney experience to be had anywhere in the world, in my opinion.

      • jcruise86

        I was extremely impressed with the Tokyo Disneyland CMs
        when I went there way back in the 90s,
        I thought the Disney Cruise Line crew was even more impressive.
        The people who hire Disney Cruise Line CMs do an outstanding job.

  • ayalexander

    I really want to go on a Disney Cruise. It looks like so much fun. I never had interest in other cruise lines except for Disney. I just don’t have the money to do something like that. 🙁

    • jcruise86

      Don’t rule out an inside cabin, Ayalexander. We never felt like we were in coach class on the cruise, even though we had a small, windowless room. The super-scenic, 6-night Alaska cruise was close to the price of a 4-night Bahama or Caribbean cruise. I’ve written this before on Micechat and probably will again, but my wife, kid and I all agree that this was the best vacation any of us have ever taken. Today I had a type of Twinings tea (I got at Cost Plus World Market) because it was on the Disney Cruise. and I love reminding myself of that trip.

  • tooncity

    These ships look fantastic. The Cruise Line operators really know how to please their customers.

    How can we get the Cruise Line people to start running the parks? The Disney theme park operators should be embarrassed by the comparison.

    • Actually, former Disney Cruise Line president Matt Ouimet went on to become president of the Disneyland Resort for a period of time, where he made some great decisions for the parks. It’s just unfortunate that he’s no longer with Disney.

      • jcruise86

        And with that brief post, Jason, you became one if the Micechat writers I most look forward to reading in the future. Instant cred in the knowledge dept. 🙂

  • Big D

    Great review, and the ship looks beautiful, but it makes me sad that Disney can do such an amazing, knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark kind of refurbishment on the Magic and yet neglect the theme parks so badly. Disney Cruise Line has tremendous competition, most notably Royal Caribbean (esp. the Oasis and Allure of the Seas, the biggest cruise ships in the world), and the parks just don’t. So here’s hoping that Universal, Sea World, and Knott’s continue to improve and push Disney to bring this level of quality to it’s parks.

  • KENfromOC

    Nice article from a seasoned cruiser! Never been on a cruise myself, probably due to living in SoCal with the only real local options are Mexican cruise… Not for me!
    My sister and her family did the Disney cruise twice, one in Florida and the other when it was here in LA to Mexico. Loved them, but also said she wouldn’t do a cruise to Mexico again.
    Wish they had regular cruises up in Alaska, that I would do for sure!

    • jcruise86

      They do have regular cruises in Alaska in the summer. Or you could take a Disney Cruise from L.A. to Vancouver or vice versa as the boat goes to and from Alaska. Then you’ll just need to buy one-way tickets. And a Disney Cruise ship would be a pretty nifty hotel during your stop in San Francisco!

      I just realized how much I sound like an ad for Disney. So be it. This segment of the company earned that from me.

    • Thanks so much! jcruise86 shares some great Alaskan cruise options…

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  • Conconhead

    The Slinky-dog slide in Andy’s room is adorable!

  • Kevin Yee

    Jason! Welcome on board! (so to speak… pun only kind of intended)

    It was nice meeting you on the ship, and even nicer to have you posting with us!

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Kevin! It’s great to be onboard! (The pun works nicely for me.) I hope we meet again soon!

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